Digital communications may feel tired and true, but with our growing dependence on remote teams and a focus on a more innovative workplace, plenty has changed recently. While most of us still rely on trusty emails, recent disruptions in the marketplace have drastically altered the way business communication is conducted. Many experts postulate that just as messaging has overtaken email, the same thing is going to happen in the business space.
I think these experts are right. After all, messaging is definitely becoming easier for businesses to grasp and access for ease of communication with their customers and prospects. Let's take a look at how this works.
Within the past few years, companies have seen a heavily dependence on tools such as Slack and HipChat, both of which are intended for inter-team communications. Slack is the startup that is determined to kill email, instead using its real time chat environment to replace it. Need something from a colleague? The idea behind both Slack and HipChat is to ask your colleague directly through its instant messaging features. Both also utilize channels, which give teams the ability to silo off their communications from other projects or teams.
A channel can be used to announce new leads, funneled in from a website, and can be handled by a sales rep. That same sales team can have another channel dedicated to discussing sales opportunities, which is great for national or international sales teams to collaborate easily without reply-all emails. A marketing channel could serve the needs of the marketing team, interns, and graphics designers. In another channel, the entire team can congregate for company-wide discussion and announcements. Every Slack team I've ever been on has also had a catch-all channel for company randomness, which silos the distractions all in one convenient place.
Another disruption in the business marketplace is business to customer communication. While live chat and online support ticketing systems have been particularly dominant over the past decade, two newer technologies have surfaced that deserve some attention.
For one, social media continues to momentum with customers. Many find challenges in getting adequate assistance with traditional means of customer support, instead using public forums like Twitter to converse their frustration with businesses. Tools such as Sparkcentral, Respondly, and Sprout Social are committed to serving the customer service needs of brands finding support demand across social media.
On Facebook, companies are also finding the need to address current needs of their clients, with customers utilizing both wall posts and direct messaging. Facebook's Messenger for Business tool allows businesses to have direct conversations with their customers, giving customers an unprecedented level of support on the platform.
The other business to customer communication disruption that we're seeing resides on the business's website itself: in-app messengers. These sophisticated tools reside on the bottom right hand side of a website, allowing companies to communicate with customers and for customers to engage directly with companies within the realm of sales and support. The frontrunner in this space is Intercom, but a new promising startup, Nudgespot, is doing the same at a more affordable cost for all types of companies, instead breaking the barriers from Intercom's SaaS model and catering to sites like media publications, small blogs, website communities, and other platforms that may not have a monetization strategy.
With in-app messengers, customers can start a one-on-one conversation with a company by clicking on the message bubble on the bottom right hand side of the page, and will either use that to converse with the brand or to read a message that the brand has pushed to the customer.
Behind the scenes, though, is where the magic happens: in-app messengers are able to determine customer data, such as where the user has logged in from, social media account information, pages the customer has visited, number of times the customer has visited the site, among other interesting statistics to better inform companies how to respond to the customer. This also helps with a push messaging strategy, giving companies the ability to target specific messaging to individuals based on location and behavior.
For example, if a blog is hosting a promotion in the US only, the blog can send out a message only to US individuals and invite them to participate. If an ecommerce site hasn't seen a user visit them in the last 30 days, a message can be sent to the customer inviting them back, along with an enticing promotion.
While plenty of business communications are "business as usual," it's clear that the space is rapidly changing. Business communication is shifting away from its dependence on old school email technology and traditional communications methods, as companies are rapidly becoming more receptive to newer methods of communication in real-time across a variety of unique and promising platforms.