Billions of people around the world use instant messaging apps, platforms and software to communicate with each other every day. It’s a great opportunity to better reach your customers or communicate with colleagues and clients. But what is the best instant messenger platform for business? In this article, you’ll learn about instant messaging for business, both for your customers and your team.
What is Instant Messaging for Business?
If you’ve used instant messaging apps like WhatsApp, Messenger or Microsoft Teams, you’re already familiar with instant messaging. Not only are they useful for communicating with friends and family, but you can also use them for business operations.
From sales and support to internal communication, there are many benefits to business messaging. But how does it compare to traditional channels like phone calls and emails?
Instant Messaging vs Traditional Channels
Traditional channels like email and phone calls are the official means of communication between businesses. But because they are slow and cumbersome, they’ve fallen out of favor with many people.
Instant messaging offers real-time communication that is mobile-centric. It’s a convenient and effective way to message one another without the hassle that traditional channels bring.
Next, let's look at the best instant messaging software you can use to communicate with customers.
Instant Messaging Platforms: The 8 Best Apps to Message Customers
Conversational sales and conversational support are on the rise and there is a slew of instant messaging software for your business to connect with customers. But not all these apps are created equal. Despite a shared core function, these apps have many differences that you should be aware of.
So which is the best instant messaging app for your business? Here are some instant messaging platform examples for your consideration.
Instant Messenger For Business: WhatsApp Business
WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging platforms in the world, with 2.4 billion users globally. It’s obvious why many businesses are on this channel. If you want to take advantage of this huge audience, then you should use a WhatsApp Business product.
There are two WhatsApp Business products that allow businesses of all sizes to reach out to WhatsApp’s massive user base, and even from other Meta channels like Facebook and Instagram.
Use cases for WhatsApp Business include marketing, sales and support, which are the core of many businesses. But it can do so much more. If you use WhatsApp API, you can integrate your tech stack and connect it to your existing CRMs and e-commerce platforms.
Instant Messenger For Business: Messenger
Messenger shares many similarities with WhatsApp, other than being owned by Meta. It too has over 2 billion monthly active users and has products for both small and large businesses. It also has a global reach, especially in North America and Europe.
You can leverage Facebook’s features to reach out to more customers. Businesses can engage with customers through QR codes, chat links, chat widgets, comments and ads. These are all means to draw customers into a conversation with you to provide sales assistance or support, or even market your products or services.
Instant Messenger For Business: Instagram Business Chat
Instagram Business Chat is a powerful instant messaging app for a business looking to engage with their customers on Instagram. It has features like Reels, Stories, and Instagram Direct Messaging, with over 2 billion monthly active users worldwide.
Instagram Business Accounts also provide businesses with the tools they need to increase brand awareness and sell their products or services on the platform. It supports insights into followers' demographics, highlights products in Stories with Instagram Shop and runs ads on Instagram.
You can choose an appropriate Instagram inbox for your needs depending on the number of messages you send and receive. In ascending order of message volumes, businesses can use the Instagram App Inbox, Meta Business Suite or Instagram Message API connected to a messaging inbox.
Instant Messenger For Business: WeChat Official Account
If your customer base is in China, then there’s one clear choice for you: WeChat. It holds a dominant position there with 80% of its population being active users. And unlike other apps in this list, WeChat is more than just a messenger.
It is also a social media, payment and even ride-hailing platform. It has mini-programs that further add features and services when using the app. Basically, WeChat can be used anywhere in China for just about anything.
Because of the app’s versatility, you can expand your business and create an e-commerce store to perform marketing, sales, payment and support tasks all in one place. This makes it very convenient for your customers to do business with you.
Instant Messenger For Business: Telegram
Telegram is known for its focus on privacy and security. It offers a secure instant messaging experience with end-to-end encryption for a business to communicate with customers. Unlike some of the other channels in this article, Telegram doesn’t have a dedicated business app.
Instead, businesses can use a Telegram bot to create a branded Telegram account. However, the Telegram bot lacks an interface and needs to be connected to a messaging inbox like respond.io to send and receive messages, just like WhatsApp API and Messenger API for Instagram.
Instant Messaging Platforms: LINE
If you’re looking to create a presence in countries like Japan, Taiwan or Thailand, consider using a LINE Business Account to reach your customers. In these key markets, LINE is more than just an instant messaging app.
It also has a digital payment system, a ride-hailing service, a cryptocurrency trader, an advertising platform and more. LINE’s versatility allows businesses to do promotions, sell products and services, make payments on the app and provide customer support.
Instant Messaging Platforms: Viber
Viber has over a billion users worldwide, with a strong presence in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Businesses can leverage this huge user base with either Viber Business Messages or Viber Chatbots to send transactional, promotional and conversational messages to customers.
If you’re a large business that sends and receives a high volume of messages, Viber Business Messages is the way to go. A unique feature of the service is that SMS is used as a fallback when there isn’t an internet connection, so sent messages are almost guaranteed to be delivered.
For small to medium-sized businesses, Viber Chatbot is the better choice. You get up to 10,000 free chatbot-initiated messages per month, but you’ll need to connect it to a messaging inbox as it doesn’t have a user interface.
Keep in mind that using Viber Business Messages or the chatbot may incur charges. New chatbots created after 05/02/2024 will need to pay for every chatbot-initiated message and a maintenance fee of EUR 100.00, per Viber’s updated Chatbot Commercial Model.
Respond.io: The All-In-One Instant Messaging Software
Respond.io is a customer conversation management software that supports all the instant messaging channels listed above and more for your business. Its omnichannel inbox allows businesses to manage all these channels in one place. It also offers features to improve performance and the customer experience.
Examples of these features include merging contacts to create a single customer story across channels, setting up broadcasts for multiple channels from a single broadcast builder, automating tasks like routing and assigning contacts to agents, analyzing the performance of agents and broadcasts and more.
Integrate channels like WhatsApp, Messenger, Viber, Telegram and others with third-party software like CRMs and e-commerce platforms. Businesses have access to popular software like Salesforce, Hubspot, Shopify and Magento among others.
Respond.io can do all of this and more. It has the potential to improve the way your business interacts with customers and build brand loyalty in the long term.
Now that you’re familiar with instant messaging platforms for customer communication let’s look at instant messaging apps for internal communication and collaboration.
Instant Messaging Platforms: The 7 Best Apps for Internal Business Messaging
Instant messengers aren’t just for communicating with customers; they are also crucial tools for communicating with colleagues. These instant messaging software also have other features that improve productivity and collaboration.
Which is the best instant messaging app for your business? Here are the top 7 instant messaging platforms for internal communication.
Slack is an instant messaging platform that enables real-time messaging, file sharing, and integrations with various business tools. It offers channels, private groups, and direct messaging for effective internal collaboration.
There is a learning curve for new users, but once you get used to it, you can take advantage of features like a workflow builder and app integrations to boost your productivity. Best of all, it can be integrated with respond.io to consolidate internal and external communication.
Microsoft Teams is a comprehensive collaboration platform integrated with the Microsoft 365 suite. It combines chat, video conferencing, file sharing and project management tools into one interface. Even external parties that work with your organization can join internal channels and groups to collaborate.
As powerful of an instant messaging app Microsoft Teams can be for your business, it can be buggy and unreliable at times. In fact, there are so many issues that there’s a list of common problems and solutions to fix them.
WeCom is the enterprise version of WeChat, offering secure communication for businesses. It has features like video calls, file sharing and integration with third-party apps. If you already use WeChat, you’ll feel right at home when using WeCom.
What makes WeCom special is that it has office automation tools like attendance and approvals. Unfortunately, some WeCom features are not available in some languages or regions. So, to make full use of it, you need to be in mainland China and set the language to Simplified Chinese.
Google Chat, previously called Hangouts Chat, is a communication service by Google. It offers group chats, Google Workspace integration and Spaces where tasks can be assigned and files can be shared. It can be accessed through their website, app or Gmail.
However, there is a concern that Google might not maintain Google Chat for the long term. This is because Google has been known to halt support for many of its products.
Workplace from Meta
Workplace from Meta, formerly known as Facebook Workplace, is very similar to an ordinary Facebook account but with additional features that are built for businesses, like video calls, group chats and integration with third-party apps.
It also has unique features, like a Knowledge Library that stores key information all in one place, just like a company intranet.
Unlike Meta’s other products, your data is not sold to advertisers. In fact, no ads are shown in Workplace.
ProofHub is an all-in-one project management and collaboration tool. You can draw up project plans, manage tasks and files, communicate with stakeholders and do so much more. It also has a simple pricing plan, charging you a flat fee regardless of the number of users you have.
If your business relies on third-party apps, ProofHub might not support integration for the apps you use. If you do choose ProofHub, you should expect a steep learning curve before mastering it.
For technical teams that want a highly bespoke platform, look no further than Mattermost. Open source by design, your team can tinker around with the source code to customize this instant messaging software in a way that no other app on this list can offer.
There is a free plan for smaller teams, but this must be self-hosted, meaning you need to bear the costs of setting up and maintaining a server. Mattermost also offers cloud plans, but you’ll need to pay at least $10 per user per month.
Which Should You Choose?
Selecting the right instant messaging app for your business depends on your specific requirements, target audience and geographical focus. Whether it's for customer communication or team collaboration, the apps listed above offer a range of features and capabilities to suit various business needs.
Assess your goals, consider the pros and cons and choose the instant messenger that aligns best with your organization's communication strategy.
Ideally, the app you choose should be powerful and flexible enough to support both customer messaging and internal communication, like respond.io. This will consolidate your communication efforts and simplify things for you and your organization.
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