How do I develop instant messagers

The 9 best messenger apps for customer service

The ease of use of mobile messenger apps make them the ideal medium for customer service.

Over 41 million messages are sent per minute via the various messaging apps. Together with the informal nature of communication, it makes this one of the most promising channels for customer service.

Customers ask their question on the fly and receive a notification as soon as the answer is there. Unlike email and telephone, messaging support is more in tune with their daily habits.

As a company you are faced with the question which one Messenger should be used for support. Messenger apps have shot up like mushrooms in recent years, so the decision is not necessarily an easy one.

In addition to the well-known heavyweights, a wide range of niche players has established themselves in the market who are ahead in certain geographical areas, use cases and / or age groups. So let's take a look at the nine most interesting messenger apps that are available for customer service.

  1. Facebook Messenger
  2. Whatsapp
  3. Telegram
  4. Threema
  5. WeChat
  6. Viber
  7. Line
  8. SMS
  9. Website Messenger

Facebook Messenger - From social network to 1: 1 support

Facebook's Messenger is the first to add to your list of favorite messengers for customer support. Even if it does not yet come close to the number of WhatsApp users, it is more widespread geographically. In addition, Facebook's Messenger is technically more open than WhatsApp, so that the step to customer service is much easier.

The natural advantage of this messenger is that it is connected to what is still the largest social network. For you, that means on your Facebook business page; for your customers, on their private accounts.

Especially if you are already investing in Facebook in marketing, adding FB customer service is a sensible option. Customers see your post or ad, click on your Facebook page and can then send you a message directly.

Customer service options

Facebook offers a number of service options. These are:

  • Facebook page mailbox. This is the interface to interact with your customers. It offers some basic service functions such as labels, notes and status tagging. You can assign team members who can then reply to messages.
  • Messenger mailbox. A mobile tool that helps you manage your customer communication directly in the messenger app. When you respond to a message, you can choose whether to reply with your personal profile or as a company.
  • Messenger greeting. Create a welcome message that customers will see before they message you.
  • Customer chat plugin. insert a simple Facebook chat box on your website.
  • Automatic replies. Create responses that appear automatically after customer messages. They are available for a wide variety of scenarios, such as out-of-office notifications, direct messages or answers to previously defined, frequently asked questions.

WhatsApp - support via the most popular messenger app

WhatsApp is the second 300-pound gorilla alongside Facebook Messenger. However, the two have not been in competition with each other since Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014.

  • Active users:2 billion
  • End-to-end encryption:Yes
  • Userlike connection:Yes

WhatsApp is the messenger standard in many countries. Compared to Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp feels more closed and secure. This is probably because it isn't linked to a public social profile, just your private cell phone number.

WhatsApp also wants to maintain this external perception, which is why it is more difficult for companies to cooperate with them.

Customer service options

WhatsApp nevertheless offers two entry options for customer service: (1) through the WhatsApp Business App and (2) the WhatsApp Business API.

WhatsApp Business App. The app was developed specifically for small businesses. It allows you to create a company profile and a catalog with your products and services. It also includes some basic support features like instant replies, out-of-office notifications, and contact labels. A major disadvantage is that it is not designed for use with multiple users (= service team). For this you need the API connection.

WhatsApp Business API. The API was developed for medium to large companies. In contrast to the business app, it does not have a front-end interface for communicating with customers. The idea is for companies to dock the API to their own company software, for example to Userlike. Read more about this in our article on the subject.

Telegram - customer service for privacy-conscious users

Telegram doesn't dominate any particular market, but it's still widespread. The app is an “underground” alternative to Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

Telegram is an interesting example because of the foundation on which its success rests: privacy and security.

Telegram offers the option to secret chats : End-to-end encrypted, self-destructing messages in which the conversation history is only available on the devices of the conversation partner. Telegram owes its reputation as a privacy and security specialist to this function - although the messages are not encrypted by default, as is the case with WhatsApp.

The secret chats have made Telegram an important adversary in totalitarian regimes - even if some researchers doubt the emphasis on security. It's probably less secure than the lesser-known Signal app, which we'll talk about in a moment. And yet it is perceived by many customers as the safest option.

Another thing that speaks for Telegram is the rich ecosystem of chatbots, which elegantly leads us to the customer service options.

Customer service options

Telegram does not offer any specific access for companies. You can easily create channels or groups and use them for marketing or community purposes.

For 1: 1 customer service, you could only create one Telegram account and operate it directly via the Telegram user interface (an assigned telephone number is required for this). Or you can create a bot for an advanced setup and connect it to your company software, such as Userlike. In this video we show you how it works.

Threema - customer service on the most secure messenger in the world

Threema is a messenger from Switzerland that is designed for security and data protection. What sets it apart from other messaging apps is its comprehensive encryption: Not only messages and calls are encrypted, but also group chats, media files and even status messages.

  • Active users:8 million
  • End-to-end encryption:Yes
  • Userlike connection:Yes

Since the app works on the principle of collecting as little user data as possible, you do not have to register with a telephone number or an email address.

This means that you can use the channel completely anonymously. And since Threema is not financed by advertising, your data will not be passed on to third parties.

With Userlike, Threema can be used for customer communication.

This makes it an ideal choice for many different types of corporate communications, particularly recruiting, customer support, and internal customer service.

Customer service options

Since Threema is not as widespread as WhatsApp, for example, it probably doesn't make sense to have your own business interface just for Threema. However, it makes perfect sense to offer Threema as part of your "messaging mix" in order to reach your data-conscious customers.

In addition to the reach, this channel also has a positive effect on your brand, as it conveys that data protection is important to you.

Threema does not offer any special functions for customer service. However, it is possible to establish a connection with a few selected company applications. In order to offer Threema alongside your other messaging channels (website chat, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc.), you can consider our customer messaging software Userlike.

WeChat - Service behind the Great Firewall

WeChat is in a completely different league. In terms of the number of active users, the app is close behind WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, but almost all users are located in China. Within China, WeChat is the undisputed winner. So if you are planning to do business there, the WeChat direct link to customer service is a must.

Like many other digital tools and apps, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Telegram are blocked by China's Great Firewall. The Chinese government only allows companies access if they agree to the required data access - which has given WeChat the immense freedom of competition to grow into a gigantic hydra.

Due to the state protection, WeChat has become anything but complacent. In fact, it's more unique than any other messenger by comparison. You could say that WeChat is a combination of WhatsApp, Facebook, Tinder and other apps. Similar to the app store, thousands of mini apps are linked to the platform.

Customer service options

In order to start with WeChat in customer service, there are a few obstacles to be cleared. First you create an official WeChat account, then you have to go through a paid verification process.

The so-called “WeChat Official Account” comes in four different forms:

  1. Service account. As the name suggests, this is the account we are interested in in customer service. It allows you to open a WeChat store and use additional functions. A service account allows the WeChat user to contact your company directly with questions or feedback; Your team's replies end up as messages in the private area, just like messages from friends. To avoid spam, companies can only respond to inquiries and not proactively approach contacts. This is only allowed via broadcasts (messenger newsletters), which are limited to four per month.
  2. Subscription account. This is also an account for customer communication, but more for marketing content. It is basically focused on broadcast content. You have to do without 1: 1 customer interactions completely, but you can send a mass broadcast per day instead. So seven times more often than with the service account.
  3. Mini program. You need this account if you want to build a mini app for WeChat.
  4. WeChat Work. You need this account if you want to use WeChat as a chat communication platform with your colleagues, just like Slack. Yep, WeChat can do that too :)

After you have created the account, you still have to go through the verification process. This includes providing additional information, uploading various documents and transferring a fee of $ 99.

Viber - Support on a “call-first” messenger

This messaging app was developed in Israel and then bought by Rakuten, an e-commerce giant from Japan.

  • Active users:+1 billion
  • End-to-end encryption:Yes
  • Userlike connection: No

Viber is another app that has become very popular, especially because of its secure user experience. Thanks to Israeli regulations, Viber is not required to disclose information to third parties.

In addition, Viber had the focus on calls from the start, which is reflected in the user interface. It is divided into three main menus:

  • Chats. Where are all current conversations.
  • Calls. See all your contacts and just start a phone call.
  • More. Discover bots, stickers and brands.

Customer service options

It was once possible to have one Public account to create. If you have one, you can chat with your customers like you would with friends. However, public accounts are no longer available. Instead, there are now these options:

Create community. You can create a community with up to a billion users. For use in customer service, it makes sense to build a community in which customers can give each other tips on your products and services.

Do you want better customer relationships?

Try Userlike for free and chat with your customers on your website, Facebook Messenger and Telegram.

Learn more

Create Viber bot. This is the way to 1: 1 customer service. You can create a Viber bot if you have a personal Viber account. With the bot profile, you can create your company profile. As soon as you have created this, you can instruct the bot to take over the service interactions for you or you can use the token that is made available to dock with an external service. Userlike does not yet offer a connection to Viber, but it will be coming soon. Contact us via web chat if you are interested.

Line - WeChat's little brother

Japans Line is another messenger app from the Orient. Line is like WeChat's little brother, who opted for end-to-end encryption.

Line and his crazy but pretty successful Line Friends.

The app was originally a response to the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, which paralyzed Japan's telecommunications infrastructure to a large extent. It has since developed into the go-to messenger in Japan, Indonesia and Taiwan.

Just like WeChat, Lines interface consists of four areas:

  • Discovery. Group creation, line apps, contact recommendations and lists of friends and official accounts.
  • Chats. Classic messaging overview for conversations.
  • Newsfeed. Posts from contacts and companies (Line Official Accounts) that you follow.
  • News aggregator. Location-dependent news feed.

To use Line as a company, you need a Line Official Account. This comes in three versions:

  • Not verified. The free accounts can be created within a short time, but their profiles are adorned with gray lettering, which indicates that the account has not been verified. In addition, your company profile will not appear in search results.
  • Verified. The advantage of a verified account is the verification symbol (inspires trust). Your company profile will also appear in the search results. It takes a few days for the account to be verified.
  • Premium. The advantage of Premium over the verified account is that it allows you to send more broadcasts per month.

For larger companies, Line also offers Line Business Connect This is the option to link Line with your own customer data system and to send automated responses to customers from this. You can find out more about Line on this Line Engineering Blog.

Customer service options

Line offers some rudimentary service options. Like Facebook Messenger and WeChat, several service employees can log into the backend at the same time.

  • Reply to customer chats. Customers can text you, you can reply to them like in a regular chat. However, the chat interface is not really optimized for customer service. For example, you cannot forward the chat to a colleague.
  • Keyword-based auto-responses. Line does a pretty good job of covering automatic replies. You can create keywords and corresponding automatic responses that are triggered when they match the customer's message.
  • Welcome messages. Line also offers standard greetings that are sent when a customer opens their Line account.
  • Out of office messages. You can also set up an out-of-office message that is triggered during offline service hours. Keep in mind, however, that keyword-based answers are the stronger option.

SMS service via the original messenger

SMS or text messaging is not an app in the strict sense of the word. Your customers use them in the same way, so it doesn't really matter.

  • Active users:5+ billion
  • End-to-end encryption: No
  • Userlike connection:Yes

SMS has several key advantages, namely:

  • It is platform independent. It works on all mobile phones and does not require the download of a special app.
  • It is internet independent. If the internet connection fails, customers can still reach you.
  • It's as good as free. Many mobile phone providers allow unlimited texting for free. And those who don't, only charge low fees.
  • Customers are already used to communicating with companies via SMS. Be it through promo information, two-factor authentication, codes or something else.

Website Messenger - Bring messaging to your website

Let's start with a disclaimer that the last point is self-promotional, but honest :) At Userlike, we saw the potential of messaging in customer service and decided to combine it with website support.

Your website is still the face of your company. In the event that your customers have not yet contacted you via the app, the first thing that comes to their mind is to search for your company on Google.

Website Messenger is a chat integration for your website. Messages that your customers send from here end up in the Userlike Message Center, along with messages from all other messaging apps that you have connected. Your support staff respond to responses from this, whereby they can access special support and sales features.

In addition to the fact that the communication takes place on your website and not in a mobile app, the website messenger has all the functions you would expect from a modern messenger - emoji, voice messages, in-app video, media exchange and more.

If you're thinking of adding mobile messaging to your service mix, your website is a natural place to start.

A messenger app for customer service that brings them all together

In addition to the website messenger, Userlike allows you to integrate numerous of the messaging apps presented above. On the one hand, there is no longer any need to decide which service to choose. On the other hand, you can use all channels supported by professional support and sales functions - this includes ready-made messages, auto-translation tagging and more.

If that piqued your curiosity, just sign up for our free trial. So you can try the premium version for 14 days. You will then automatically switch to the free package. Learn more .

Pascal is Mister Marketing at Userlike. When he's not pushing Userlike's marketing plan for world domination, he spends his time watching old movies.