Saturday, May 18, 2024

    EDITORIAL Welcome to the world of conversational everything – where messaging providers are king

    The surge in use of messaging technologies – SMS, WhatsApp, social DMs and, increasingly, RCS  to name but a few – has had a profound impact on modern business. In 2020, when the pandemic struck, most businesses had never even considered that the would talk to their customers and prospects via WhatsApp or Instagram. Outside of a few leading retailers and brands, the good old-fashioned ways of using email and phone calls worked just fine.

    Only it didn’t. The stress to the system from the rapid change in consumer habits wrought by the pandemic showed just how out of date these modes of communication were – certainly in the minds of mobile-first consumers.

    Thankfully, three years on, and the landscape for business comms has changed radically. Now interactions over WhatsApp are as routine as via SMS, more so in many ways, while most businesses have built social DM messaging into their communications strategy.

    And this has created a whole new way of doing business. Now, communication underpins the start, presence and future of many customer interactions. Welcome to the era of ‘conversational everything’’.

    According to data from Infobip, there has been a 73% and 51% increase in WhatsApp Business Platform and Email interactions in 2022 compared to 2021, highlighting the ongoing critical nature of these channels. Meanwhile Google Business Messages and Apple Messages for Business interactions increased by 186% and 232%.

    For customer engagement, WhatsApp Business Platform, Voice, and mobile app messaging saw the highest growth in 2022. Since the introduction of marketing messages over WhatsApp Business Platform, customer engagement and promotional usage increased interactions on the channel by 2.5 times. Meanwhile, Voice and mobile app messaging increased by 191% and 92%, demonstrating how customers now prefer instant, rich, and human-like experiences with a business or brand.

    Despite this, operator messaging traffic also continues to grow and expand, as SMS still offers an excellent channel for conversational interactions, even if it isn’t yet transactional.

    According to the latest data from Juniper Research, Operator business messaging traffic is set to reach a whopping 2.8 trillion messages by 2027; rising from an already impressive 1.9 trillion in 2023 – driven surprisingly by RCS.

    Interestingly, much of the rise in SMS traffic is down to OTPs in two-factor authentication process, traffic which may yet be heavily eroded as the GSMA’s Open Gateway programme is rolled out. However, with the desire for communication across all mobile channels riding high, there is still enough growing use by businesses not yet using even SMS that this slack may yet be taken up.

    Further research by Infobip, finds that only around a quarter (28%) of UK organisations have omnichannel connected their organisations, yet more than 60% of UK organisations see the value in connected communication channels, new data shows.

    The research, carried out for Infobip by research company IDG, polled 215 organisations spanning retail & e-commerce, transport and logistics, telecommunications, financial and insurance and public sector industries. The aim was to assess the integration of digital channels and how connected they are across differing departments within an organisation and how this informs the customer experience.

    The results also find that there is a slower adoption of newer digital messaging apps, with three-quarters (76%) of businesses using email and 59% using SMS. Only 7% of UK businesses are using digital messaging apps – however, next year this figure is set to double (14%).

    Evidently, there is still much room for growth in how even simple things such as SMS are used by businesses. And it is not just in the UK. While this data points to that particular market, the situation is replicated across the world. With consumers everywhere wanting a more conversational interaction with brands and businesses, the opportunities in messaging continue to be immense.

    However, the rise in interactions between consumers and businesses and vice versa naturally is a double-edged sword. Yes, more contact means more sales, but it can also mean more problems. The rise in use of chatbots to handle the increasing volume can harm consumer perceptions. Likewise, the use of bots to contact consumers is also leading to a rise in fraud.

    Tackling the rise use of bots and systems like ChatGPT for bad is now a priority for all businesses and telemedia needs to play its part. Time to extend the excellent work in tackling DCB fraud into these new realms.

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