Users want to get in touch with businesses, but they increasingly want to do it on channels that were once reserved for talking with friends and families. Texting, messaging services, and live chat have all seen growth in business use as users continue to move towards ways of communicating with businesses that allow them to have more control and talk on their schedule and in places where a voice call may not be convenient (like on public transit).
But what are the pros, and cons, of texting vs messaging services and live chat? Let’s take a look.
Chat services can mean a lot of different things, but it’s often associated with things like Facebook Messenger, but we’ll also include any other social channels where users can get private messages from companies (like a Twitter DM).
There are two big benefits to services like these. The first is that they’re mobile — whether it’s Facebook Messenger, Twitter, or something else, they can be accessed from a mobile phone, allowing users to interact with businesses anytime and anywhere. They’re also asynchronous, allowing for a user to message a business during off hours with the expectation that they’ll receive a reply at a later time or date; while some users may try to use chat services for emergency needs (say DMing their cable company when service cuts off), it’s not the best use for either party.
So what are the cons to chat services? The first thing is that they require the user to download an app if they want to connect on the go. While a lot of your customers may already have these accounts, and the apps associated with them, depending on your demographics, this may keep some users from contacting you if it’s the main channel you rely on for communications. On top of needing to download an app, you also have to have an account with these services, which may also turn some users off from contacting you.
When customers are sitting at work, or even at home, it’s often easier for them to jump on their computer and chat with a business than sitting on the phone. There are a range of online chat options, from integrated options that companies like Verizon use as a customer support channel, to options like Drift or botsplash that can be added to any website and used as both a customer service and sales tool.
The pros of online chat can depend on the level of integration. Using your cable company as an example, different levels of their online chat can require you to login to your account, allowing the agent you’re chatting with to easily access your information without you having to have it handy. Other, more surface-level services will require you to share some information, but they’re a great way to quickly answer questions or initiate sales inquiries.
So what are the downsides to online chat? Unlike chat services like Facebook messenger, it’s not asynchronous, so you do have to monitor it. Also, while it doesn’t require the downloading of an app, they’re not typically mobile friendly, so you’re more likely to get someone sitting at their desk than walking down the street. That being said, companies like botsplash are starting to integrate SMS, Facebook Messenger, and voice calling into their online chat tools, allowing for a more unified experience.
We love to text. While once something we only did with friends and family, texting has become a preferred way to interact with businesses for us as well. So why should businesses look into texting as the channel for connecting with their customers?
A lot of the pros align with chat services — it’s mobile (since we take our phones everywhere with us) and asynchronous. On top of that, there’s no real learning curve since everyone knows how to text. There’s no application to download since our phones are ready to text as soon as we buy them, which also means there’s no account to create and manage, a barrier for a lot of people.
On top of all that, you can easily send photos as well as text, which is great when working with certain industries (think real estate or insurance). So what about the cons for texting?
To be honest, there really aren’t any. Users are comfortable using their mobile phones as a primary means of communicating, and in most cases would rather give out that number than a home phone/landline (assuming they still have one).
So which channel makes the most sense for your business? While using chat services or online chat may be helpful for connecting with certain customers (and you certainly shouldn’t ignore those channels; we don’t), texting via SMS and MMS is a sure-fire way to connect with your users.
|Texting||Chat Service||Online Chat|
|App Required?||No||Yes||Varies; you may need to be a customer of the service in some cases|
|Must Be Online?||No||No||Yes|
|Mobile Friendly?||Yes||Yes||Varies; some services are integrating mobile-friendly solutions|
|Open Rate||Highest||High||NA; customer initiates communication|
Ready to learn more about how your business could use text messaging?