Millennials are setting a new trend using popular messaging applications, such as WeChat, WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger, to communicate, pay, and exchange information not only with their peers but also with companies, according to research from Yahoo's Flurry Insights.
Like Gmail or Outlook, these applications provide an environment in which people interact in real time but with the addition of a social dimension. Looking at this trend from an enterprise perspective, it would appear that customers would trade off simplicity and convenience over brand loyalty, security, and confidentiality.
Messaging applications are used 4.7 times more frequently each day than the combined average of all other mobile applications, and users also reportedly keep messaging applications on their devices for longer periods of time. As this trend grows, this is a threat for any company spending millions of dollars acquiring customers every year but remaining a click away from losing customers to other service providers existing in the same mobile environment.
What do customers really want?
What customers want are simple and convenient ways to interact with the companies with whom they choose to do business. They want to be notified in real time, access data in a single place and share it, gain instant feedback, and be able to take action in an instant. It seems trivial, but many companies today are failing to deliver such basic features. The reason: Their mobile assets (mobile website and mobile applications) look like their desktop website. Unlike messaging applications that have mastered mobile enablement for a while now, mobile core capabilities, such as geo-tagging, instant notifications, address book, or payments are not well integrated into enterprise mobile services.
A new tailored solution
Called enterprise messaging applications (EMApps), they can turn into massive new business opportunities if a company is positioned to deliver unique content (statements, offers, notifications, new product announcements, etc.) to customers. Picture this:
A pipe bursts and damages the ceilings and walls in my house. As a customer, I call my insurance claims department to submit a claim. After the claims agent has taken my details to send me a First Notice of Loss letter, she suggests I download their Claims Direct mobile application (a branded EMApp) from the App Store or Google Play. Once the mobile application is set up on my smartphone, all communications related to my claim case are pushed into the Claims Direct application. I receive instant notifications, such as confirmation of meeting times by the loss adjustor. I easily communicate back and forth with the claim agent—for example, sending additional pictures of the damage at their request. I digitally sign a settlement offer, saving $20 and weeks of printed paper processing. The claim is closed faster, and I am reimbursed sooner too. Once the claim is completed, I remove the application from my enterprise messaging application, and I am a satisfied customer.
These EMApps can be developed specifically for each enterprise and line of business. They come with:
- A branded customer experience
- Seamless registration/log-in enablement
- Enterprise-unique content and history
- A mobile-optimized customer experience (e.g., responsive content in HTML5, unlike PDF)
- Embedded calls to action, such as digital signature, one-click payment, or call-my-agent
- Geolocation-based services
- Content sharing capabilities, photo capture, and tons more features
Antoine Hemon-Laurens is a customer communications expert at GMC Software Technology. He focuses on mobile solutions, customer engagement and digital signatures to help enterprises grow their revenues and reduce their operational costs. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.