CX Insight Magazine

January 2022

Messaging: Service at your Customers’ Fingertips.

By: Execs In The Know

Customer expectations are shifting faster than ever. The pace of dramatic change in needs, perceptions, expectations, and behavior across the customer lifecycle is unprecedented. The blistering speed of digital adoption over the past two years has contributed significantly to this changing landscape, upending the way customers expect to interact.

Customer experience (CX) leaders are expanding their digital customer service channels in response to these changing dynamics. Striving to ride the digital transformation wave and meet customers where they are, messaging has become one of the hottest channels in the customer service landscape. Consider this: U.S. mobile users sent 2.2 trillion SMS messages in 2020. Yes, trillion. With that type of engagement in a communication channel, what better way to deliver seamless interactions with customers?

Whether you are just getting started with messaging or looking to ensure that your offering is the best it can be, this article is for you. It starts with an overview of messaging and popular technology platforms, and then explores the pros and cons, top considerations, and a few best practices of companies leading the way in messaging customer support.

Using Messaging in Customer Service

So, what is it, exactly? Customer service messaging is any text-based interaction aimed at resolving an issue using a messaging app (such as Messenger, iMessage, WhatsApp, Twitter), SMS/text, or a brand’s app. Being virtual, this digital channel requires no face-to-face interaction or verbal communication; it is, however, human to human. This type of messaging is asynchronous; participants on both sides of the conversation have the freedom to start, pause, and resume at their convenience while retaining the history and context of the interaction. This channel may also be called conversational messaging.

Messaging apps are the most popular platforms that brands use to offer this channel as a way to connect to their customers. The top options include Messenger (formerly Facebook Messenger), iMessage/Apple Business Chat, Google Chat, WhatsApp, and Twitter. Companies also may opt to offer direct private messaging through a brand app or via SMS/text using the native functionality of a mobile device.

How Effective is Messaging?

Like all contact channels, messaging is not a perfect solution. Some brands report a few negative impacts when offering messaging as a contact channel. One of the most common is “channel mismatch.” This occurs when customers use messaging for help with an issue that needs to be handled through a live support channel. Time-sensitive and complex issues that require escalation are not the best choice for this channel; similarly, contacts that require information that messaging agents do not have access to also are better served in another channel. However, customers do not understand internal process flows and are trained to reach out on the channel that works best for them. Avoiding this takes effort to re-educate customers and a process to get the customer to the right place as quickly as possible.

Alternatively, many CX leaders argue that the positives far outweigh the negatives. Some of the merits of conversational messaging in customer service are:


The entire interaction occurs in a branded, verified, post-authentication environment, making it safe and secure for both the organization and the customer.



Customers no longer have to wait on hold for a live agent. Instead, messaging conversations can take place intermittently, giving customers the freedom to start, stop, and resume the conversation as it suits them. And these interactions occur in a way that allows customers to multitask using their mobile device.



Messaging enables a written record of the entire conversation right in the thread, visible to both the customer and the agent. This record contains the history and context of the conversation, allowing for a more valuable interaction and faster resolution.



Messaging allows for asynchronous, personal, and immediate communication between a customer and an agent. Either party can share links, photos, and emojis, which can deepen the connection and increase the effectiveness of the interaction.


With these advantages in mind, it is easy to see where messaging excels, from both the customer and the brand perspectives. For instance, messaging can help companies improve response times and provide better CX often while improving standard key performance indicators (KPI), including satisfaction, cost per contact, and agent productivity. Offering a messaging channel can deflect some phone contacts, freeing up agents in that queue for more complex and time-sensitive interactions. Like some other channels, the messaging queue is easily scaled based on volume and other operational considerations, but generally at a lower cost. Overall, messaging works well to engage customers across their entire journey. From discovery, engagement, transaction, support, and re-engagement, messaging is a platform that can deepen engagement with customers, making the interactions more personal, customized, and convenient.

Optimizing the Messaging Channel

It’s not surprising that the messaging channel is growing so quickly. Let’s explore some considerations to help get started with messaging as a contact channel or just make sure the channel is performing at its best:


Journey map the key use cases where messaging allows the organization to deliver the best customer and employee experiences. Once you have mapped the ideal journey, use the learnings to inform the research, development, and launch of the messaging channel. This journey map should also guide training, process, workforce management, and other groups involved in the channel.


Fielding a touchpoint study that identifies customer preferences is an easy and effective way to accomplish this. Looking at the data by customer segments and demographics can help deepen this understanding and inform decision-making.


Instead, identify your use cases and define the business requirements. From there, you can select and implement the technology solution that best fits your needs.


Like other channels, the language, style, and tone of an interaction delivered in the messaging channel should be consistent with the overall brand experience. Engage your marketing colleagues to help craft the interaction protocols for your agents to use in this channel.


This training should mirror what agents will experience with messaging communications. It also should identify ways to bring the brand promise to life in all interactions, as well as transfer protocols for channel
mismatch scenarios.


Create a small agent team to help determine the optimal number of concurrent messaging interactions. Balance efficiency with effectiveness to set the standard based on actual data and testing with this agent team.


Limit usage to a small group of customers, track channel performance, and make adjustments accordingly. This will help minimize risk while collecting actual data to inform your operational metrics and workforce modeling.


Continue to monitor the channel, measure its success, and optimize its operation. Include metrics and targets in your KPI scorecard to monitor performance over time and in relation to other channels.

Brands Using Messaging Successfully

Applying the considerations discussed above, careful planning, and customer adoption, many brands are creating memorable CX using messaging as a customer service channel. Let’s take a look at a few.


Much like its other products, Apple used iMessage to reimagine its user experience for customer interactions. To help reduce incoming contacts, Apple customers can receive proactive SMS messages from the company for things like an upcoming Genius Bar appointment. Apple advertises its messaging functionality as making “connecting with your favorite companies as easy as texting your favorite people.” Apple not only uses its technology to improve its own CX, but it also sells Apple Business Chat to other companies, including Discover, Four Seasons, Lowe’s, and many others.



Delta was the first airline to use a messages app via Apple Business Chat to connect with its flyers. The option to message from an iOS device allows customers to connect with a live representative to receive in-the-moment assistance. This real-time assistance can be critically important to a traveler facing flight delays, travel changes, or information that provides a lifeline when customers need it most.



Within its app, Verizon has extensive customer support options via text. Verizon customers can text with agents to receive help on a variety of issues, from account updates to billing questions. A particularly effective use of messaging is troubleshooting phone issues: agents can  communicate with customers to resolve issues when making a phone call is not possible.



Retailers like Crate and Barrel and Warby Parker are also using text to help customers answer merchandise questions, inquire about product availability, and check the status of existing orders. This strategy helps reduce contacts in other channels and empowers the customer to be in control. Both companies prominently display the availability of text as a contact channel on their websites, making customers aware of this option and allowing them to easily take advantage of this channel.


Why Use Messaging?

Today’s customers demand real time, hyper-personalized, one-on-one communication via contact channels they prefer. With penetration and reliance on mobile phones at an all-time high (and growing!), messaging is a great way to deliver interactions that please customers. Using messaging, CX leaders are delivering quick and easy resolution in a safe, secure environment — a win for both companies and customers. As customer expectations continue to evolve, organizations can rely on messaging as a powerful channel to ensure a seamless CX. The best digital customer service approach works to build and strengthen a deep connection between customers and the brands they favor. In this relationship, the brand treats the customer as a real person with a name, a history, and a value to the company. Messaging is a powerful tool for CX leaders striving to deliver seamless experiences that keep customers delighted with the service they receive and loyal to the brand.


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