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Article 5 min read

Messaging apps are open for business

By Warren Levitan, VP of conversational business

Last updated April 22, 2024

The future of business is conversational

Messaging apps are how many of us communicate today. Around the world, people are connecting on their favourite messaging platforms, such as WhatsApp, iMessage, WeChat and Facebook Messenger. At work, we collaborate with enterprise messaging apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams. We chat in real time like we previously did on the phone (“I’m pulling up at your house, are you ready?”), or we chat asynchronously through email (“Any ideas for dinner tonight?”). In both cases, it is faster and more convenient.

It should be no surprise that 9 out of 10 consumers would like to message a business. Global messaging platforms have recognised the opportunity and have all opened their doors to business messaging.

However, the real beauty of business messaging is not just that it makes it easier for customers to reach businesses. Messaging is a channel that creates the opportunity to break the trade-off between customer experience and cost. Brands can not only increase customer satisfaction by reducing the barriers to customer engagement (see pdf) and serving customers where they already are, they can do so at a lower cost. Research has shown that messaging can reduce contact centre costs due to higher agent occupancy, a result of the asynchronous nature of messaging and the brevity of conversations.

These efficiencies don’t even factor in the opportunities available to automate marketing, sales and service interactions by integrating bots and the latest AI into your business messaging strategies. Bots and AI can help users select flights, book hotels, complete purchases and more from within the messaging experience. This is what we call conversational business. Any experience you can imagine on a website or in a mobile app are all now possible within messaging—a space where your customers already spend the majority of their time and where they want to engage with you.

Sunshine Conversations

Customers want to communicate with businesses the way they would a human. They want experiences that are interactive, responsive and immediate so they can get things done from a simple and seamless conversation. Customers expect uninterrupted discussions that don’t start or stop in the middle of their interaction or get lost in a different channel.
Part of the Sunshine family, Sunshine Conversations is an API-based messaging platform that allows you to integrate messaging across your entire business as a medium for communication and commerce. Sunshine Conversations lets businesses build the kind of conversational experiences customers expect today.

So what should you do about all this messaging? We’ve talked to thousands of customers on the subject, and here is how we break it down:

1. A single continuous conversation, everywhere your customers are

Providing support on every channel used to be difficult. Each new channel meant a new piece of software, with a new agent interface and workflow, and more siloed conversations trapped in applications. No longer. Never again should a business have to say that they can’t afford to be on a channel. Your support agents should never have to say, “I’m sorry but I don’t have access to that conversation.” And with Sunshine Conversations you won’t need to say that. Whether it’s a proactive business notification or a customer-initiated request; whether you are using Zendesk or a 3rd party CRM tool, Sunshine Conversations takes all the complexity out of omnichannel messaging and provides a unified record of all conversations, so you can focus on your customers and not channels.

2. Messaging on the web and in your apps

There is no question every business should be present on the global messaging platforms, from WhatsApp to WeChat, but that isn’t permission to neglect your owned properties. When customers come to your website or use your mobile app, you should be ready with the same modern messaging experiences we have all come to expect from our personal lives. Instead of live chat queues and precious time wasting by customers and agents alike, with Sunshine Conversations’ SDKs you can deliver modern, asynchronous messaging on your own properties, with the UX tailored entirely to your own brand.

3. Next-gen conversational experiences

Natural language is a must for meaningful conversations, but messaging today offers business more than that. Messaging is a platform where you can deliver interactive, personalised conversational experiences that will amaze your customers, and you can do it at scale. Your customers can make a reservation, book a flight, buy a product, complete an application, provide structured feedback and more, all with messaging. With Sunshine Conversations’ open APIs you can integrate any bot, commerce, reservation, payment or survey platform you choose.

4. Shared and connected conversations across your business

Now that you are where your customers are—having integrated modern messaging on your website and in your mobile apps, and built amazing conversational experiences, you have one more challenge to tackle: connecting these experiences across marketing, sales and support. When someone starts to chat with you on your website or on WhatsApp or Apple Messages for Business, who are they trying to engage with? These are shared channels that need to be connected to all your business functions.

And perhaps your different teams are not using the same software to engage with customers. Like the shared 0800 number, businesses need the equivalent of call routing, but for messaging. We have seen the rise of Customer Data Platforms (CDP) which allow teams and systems across a business to share customer data, such as profiles, behaviours and transactions, but here we are talking about sharing conversations. Beyond a traditional CDP, businesses need a conversation data platform. This is a big part of our vision for Sunshine Conversations, and if you have active challenges or opportunities here, we’d love to hear about them and tell you about our upcoming release of a new set of conversation orchestration APIs currently in beta.

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