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EDITOR’S BLOG 260117 Together we are stronger

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It only took, what, 25 years? It only took decades of use by consumers for SMS to finally be recognised as the key way that people want to interact with brands – but there you go, you can’t rush these things.

According to a study by OpenMarket, a large chunk of consumers want to interact with brands and retailers, banks and more via SMS or similar OTT messaging apps – and interestingly most aren’t that afraid to talk to bots when they do, so long as they get their questions answered.

This whole move is part of how retailers and brands are looking to up how they interact with consumers. The e- and m-commerce revolution has pretty much played out across most companies and there are no clear differentiators between most mainstream merchants and brands – they all have sexy apps, they all have slick websites and they are all competing on price. The one remaining metric that will define one brand or retailer from another is customer service.

This is an interesting development for the telemedia sector. The industry has long been the place to go for innovative use of contact technologies, starting with voice and now with SMS and messaging. With mainstream businesses looking to reach out more to customers – and moreover let them reach out to them – the opportunities are immense.

In 2016 much of what I frothed at the mouth about in these weekly blogs was charge to mobile and mobile payments. This is still a central plank of where the telemedia industry can generate some huge revenues, but this new shift towards customer service and contact takes what was possible with charge to mobile and combines it with the SMS capabilities that the industry has developed.

Together, these things make for a powerful combination. The ability to run payments and messaging makes for a wonder engagement and reengagement tool. The fact that consumers largely also seem to be unphased by chatbots in this context makes this all the more pleasing.

Imagine the ability to seamlessly pay and to get confirmation via SMS and therein have an offer sent to you to park in your mWallet on your phone for next time – when it will tell you its there and you can chose to use it or not?

Imagine how digitised receipts can be used for marketing and how that marketing can use loyalty card balances that are also stored on the same phone?

All these things are more than possible and are where the joined up thinking telemedia companies are heading: just take a look at what veoo is doing. This is the future of this sector, not least as micropayments for media are now a true reality. Combining all this is a powerful tool for any kind of merchant. Interesting times lie ahead in 2017 – assuming, of course that Trump and Brexit don’t intervene.

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Editor and content creator for Telemedia – for 18 years and counting

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