7 Best Business Messaging Apps for 2021 (With Use Cases)
The way we communicate with people — especially our customers — has changed.
One of the main developments in how we communicate with each other has been the rise of messaging apps. Today, 3 in every 4 smartphones have messaging apps on them, and every minute, over 41 million messages are sent using messaging apps.
For companies, business messaging apps present an opportunity to connect with customers outside of mainstream methods like email and advertising. With the right app, businesses can now connect with customers directly, increase human interaction, solve problems, and send automated responses.
This leaves you with a rather big question to answer: Which business messaging app is the right one for you?
In this piece, we're going to look at why you should use a messaging app for business and break down our picks of the seven best business messaging apps.
Before you start hunting for a business app, it's essential to run through just how much value you can add to your business by integrating one into your tech stack. These are the three main use cases for business messaging apps:
The more businesses move to automated solutions like chatbots, the less human contact we have with our customers. Business messaging apps can solve this problem by giving you the best of both worlds: a platform that your customers like to use and a way to increase interactions with them and answer their questions.
There are only so many customer service agents you can employ to answer emails and phone calls. Business messaging apps give your team an avenue to deal with several real-time conversations at once using a dashboard. Not only that, messaging apps give your customers — and your team — the chance to talk no matter where they are, as long as they have a phone with a messenger app handy.
Business messenger apps are just easy — they don’t require your customers to look up your email address or phone number.
As there are so many messenger apps that are already widely used (which we will explore later in this post), it’s likely that a majority of your customers already have one installed on their phone. You can contact them directly through an app they already have.
Before you start using business messenger apps, it's important to understand just how many there are on the market and how different they are.
Certain apps have distinct features, and they also have differing active users — ranging from thousands to billions.
Let’s take a look at seven picks for the best messengers.
First on our list is Facebook Messenger — one of the most widely used messenger apps in the world.
When it was first released, Facebook Messenger was intended solely for personal communication. But over the years, it has morphed into a comprehensive communication channel for businesses. Customers can now use Messenger to ask about a product, book appointments, or respond to an advertisement.
Active users: 1.3 Billion
JivoChat integration: Yes
- Customer messenger inbox: You can communicate directly with customers using a 1-to-1 inbox. Here, you can answer customer queries or send product recommendations straight to their inbox.
- Automate customer service responses: For busy companies, Facebook Messenger allows you to set up "playbooks" that are automatically triggered when a customer starts a conversation. If a customer asks a common question, they will receive an automated answer instantly instead of having to wait for a representative to jump into the chat.
- Learn about your customers: Like other Facebook features, Messenger gives you a deeper insight into your customers, like what company they work for and where they live. Having access to this information makes it easier to build a deeper connection with them.
Apart from standard SMS, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging platform globally, with over 2 billion users.
It's widely used for a lot of reasons. You can send documents, links, and media in individual and group chats, and WhatsApp has end-to-end encryption, so it's very secure.
The platform has a separate WhatsApp Business App that’s designed specifically for small businesses. Once it’s installed, you can use the app to reply to customer queries and share product updates. There’s even a separate API you can use to link the messaging app to your existing stack to make it easier to deal with bulk communications, if your business is scaling.
Active users: 2 billion
JivoChat integration: Yes
- Automated responses: Never miss a chance to introduce yourself to a new customer! You can set your Business WhatsApp to automatically send a welcome message to a customer when they reach out to you and use that message to tell them a little more about your company.
- Custom profiles: You can create an in-depth profile about your company that gives your customers access to information like email addresses, phone numbers, website links, and a brick-and-mortar address, if you have one.
- Canned responses: Ask your customer service team which questions they answer most often, then create canned responses for those answers. You’ll free up more time for your agents, when they aren’t responding to routine inquiries all day.
Telegram is another one of the customer messaging apps on our list that includes encryption/secure chat. Telegram goes one step further in protecting user privacy — you can set a "self-destruct" timer that will automatically delete a message from both the sending and receiving device after a certain amount of time.
Telegram has an army of chatbots companies can use to automatically field answers to customer questions and respond to complaints, making it a good choice for businesses that want a more hands-off approach to their messaging channel.
Active users: 500 million
JivoChat integration: Yes
- 1-to-1 customer support: Talk to your customers directly through the app and keep communication secure.
- Create customer groups: Telegram allows businesses to create "groups" where they can send communications to an unlimited amount of customers. It’s similar to a marketing email, in that you can send the same message out to your entire customer list at once.
- Deploy the bots: Use Telegram’s bots or build your own and integrate it into a Telegram channel, so you can handle customer service requests 24/7, without the help of live agents.
Apple Business Chat (ABC) launched in 2018 to give companies a way to communicate with their customers for free. The app integrates with other Apple products like Apple Pay, Siri, and Safari, so customers can do everything from launch the chat by voice command to pay for products while talking to a customer service rep.
This app can be launched using a chat link button or even by scanning a QR code, making it easy to incorporate into customer service and marketing campaigns. And with this app, only the customer can initiate conversations, so it’s appealing for customers that don’t want to be interrupted by messages.
Active users: 1.5 billion active Apple devices
JivoChat integration: Yes
- Integrate product lists: You can use ABC’s "Lists" feature to create a shareable multiple-choice list of your products that you can share in the app when communicating with customers.
- Receive direct payments: ABC is integrated directly with Apple Pay, so if a customer service member is talking to a customer about a product and they decide they want to buy it, you can close the transaction within the same conversation.
- Book appointments: As the app is integrated into calendars, consultants and marketers can use ABC to prompt potential clients to book a follow-up phone call.
Viber is now owned by the Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten, but it was originally developed in Israel and was one of the first platforms to float the idea of using an internet connection to make free calls and texts.
Companies can take advantage of Viber’s For Business account, which includes features like 1-to-1 customer service messaging. One of the app's key features — Viber Out — lets users call people in their contact list on a landline by using in-app credits (an inexpensive way to make international calls).
👨💻 Active users: 1.16 billion
💬 JivoChat integration: Yes
- Chat links: Like Apple, Viber has integrated chat links and QR codes into its platform so customers can quickly scan and access the app and instantly start a conversation with a customer service rep.
- 1-to-1 messaging: Viber’s 1-to-1 messaging feature gives customers a way to see if a representative has read their message, thanks to read receipts.
- Mass messaging: Companies can use the broadcast messaging feature to send bulk communication to customers in their contact list.
Sometimes it's best to keep it simple — which is why standard SMS is still one of the best instant messaging apps for businesses.
SMS works on every modern phone that’s sold, without the need for customers to download a separate app. And at the end of the day, it achieves what companies are looking for when investing in a business messaging app: direct communication with their customers.
Active users: Over 3.5 billion
JivoChat integration: Yes
- No need for app downloads: Every phone comes with SMS capabilities, so your customers don't need to download apps.
- No learning curve: If your customers have a mobile phone, they'll likely be able to send and receive an SMS message. Talking to them through a channel they already know how to use means there’s no learning curve.
- Offline capabilities: Unlike other apps on the list, SMS isn’t reliant on an internet connection, so customers can reach out to you as long as they have a signal.
WeChat is arguably the most popular app for businesses wanting to serve the Chinese market.
With roughly 1.2 billion users, WeChat combines the functionality of Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter and allows people to send links, talk about products, and download Android and iOS apps made specifically for the platform.
WeChat is a must-have for companies looking to connect with the Chinese market, because of the restrictions on apps within the country. This app is one of the few that meets the government criteria for data access and is approved for download, making it overwhelmingly popular among the Chinese population.
Active users: 1.2 billion
JivoChat integration: Yes
- Subscription service: This feature is geared towards companies that want to send mass marketing messages. One broadcast can be sent out per day, replacing a blast email, if you choose.
- Direct contact: Using WeChat’s service account, you can give customers a direct channel to contact you and ask questions.
- WeChat Work: For internal communications, WeChat Work is a channel your team can use to talk about features or redirect customer queries to the right person.
Finally, there’s the option of integrating an omnichannel business messaging app on your website.
Unlike the other apps on our list, a chat app on your website doesn’t require your customers to download anything and will give them a chance to get instant support when they land on your site. You’ll be able to view, and respond to, messages from all the apps mentioned above from a single dashboard that integrates directly with your CRM.
- Omnichannel messaging: Instead of having your customer service team jumping from window to window to juggle communications, they can respond to inquiries from all the major messaging apps from a single dashboard.
- Proactive triggers: You can set up a website messenger app to launch automatically, should a customer show exit intent on a page or visit bottom-of-funnel pages (like pricing or sign-up).
- Rich insights: Get to know more about your customers by tracking their movements and what domain they visited before landing on your site. This gives you a better idea of who your target customers are and what their buying behavior is like.
Your ability to interact effectively with customers will determine the success of your relationship and, ultimately, influence whether customers come back again.
With the right business messaging app, you can answer customer queries and sell products. However, customers are using multiple channels to reach out to businesses, and you need to respond on their preferred platform to keep them happy.
This is where omnichannel business messaging comes into play. By pulling multiple different platforms together in a single dashboard, your customer service team will be able to answer every customer on their chosen channel without jumping from app to app. Not only will you keep your customers happy, but you’ll give them a seamless, consistent experience when they are dealing with your company.
The best thing about happy customers? They stick around.
Learn more about getting started with omnichannel customer experience here.
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