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137% increase in mobile app messages as AI begins to impact conversational brand interactions

Conversational messaging channels are seeing the fastest growth in terms of brand interactions with customers, with Infobip research recording a 137% increase in mobile app messages in 2023 compared to 2022, including a 73% rise in social media messages, and a 63% increase in chat app messages.

Infobip analysed more than 473 billion digital communications interactions on its platform in 2023 between businesses and consumers to identify the latest global business messaging trends, concluding that conversational experiences are increasing throughout the customer journey, whether for marketing, commerce, or support.

Conversational support 

Whether a person is dealing with a human agent, a chatbot, or a combination of the two, conversational support provides an effective, efficient, and positive experience. WhatsApp remains the primary channel brands use for conversational support, where businesses send 90% of support messages over the chat app. However, brands are beginning to diversify their channel mix, leveraging chat apps in specific regions.

For instance, Infobip has recorded increases of 541%, 146%, and 284% in Messenger, Viber, and Line, respectively. Brands are now using conversational AI to provide personalized customer service and support. For instance, Megi Health Platform uses a virtual assistant on WhatsApp to help improve the patient experience. Meanwhile, insurance firm LAQO uses our Azure OpenAI partnership to provide a fast, 24/7 and personal service.

Conversational marketing

The two-way exchange of information is the basis for conversational marketing, and brands are ramping up their efforts to meet customers on the channels they use with their family and friends. Overall, the data shows a 29% increase in mobile app messaging for marketing in 2023 compared to 2022.

WhatsApp remains the top digital channel for conversational marketing in absolute numbers, driven by new features that enable customers to start and complete a purchase in a single WhatsApp chat window.

Infobip is also seeing significant increases in other messaging apps such as Telegram, Line, Viber, and Messenger. More specifically, WhatsApp messages increased by 421% in Asia Pacific in 2023, while mobile app messaging increased by 146% in the Middle East and North Africa and by 18 times in North America. Meanwhile, RCS Business Messaging is an emerging channel for conversational marketing.

Regional difference

With brands adopting conversational experiences globally, there are some regional differences:

  • Africa: conversational channels gain traction with social media messages increasing nearly 2.5 times
  • Asia Pacific: strong growth in mobile app messaging, with WhatsApp increasing by four times
  • Europe: rapid growth for RCS, as interactions increase by 11 times
  • Latin America: strong growth in mobile app messaging, with Viber increasing by more than 2.5 times
  • Middle East North Africa: rapid adoption of conversational channels, as voice and video interactions double
  • North America: exponential growth in rich messaging, with RCS interactions increasing by 50 times

The changing role of SMS

Infobip’s data from 2023 shows that SMS remains an important channel for business communication, but usage is changing where SMS is now being used alongside chat apps. Across all industries, brands most commonly use SMS with WhatsApp, with 25% of businesses choosing this combination. Moreover, where businesses and brands use two channels, SMS is one of the two options in 63% of cases.

Ivan Ostojić, Chief Business Officer at Infobip, said: “Our data shows how conversational experiences are rapidly spreading across the globe as businesses roll out marketing, sales, and support use cases. Where 2022 revealed a spike in omnichannel adoption when brands recognized the importance of connecting with their customers on their preferred channel, 2023 shows how brands are perfecting the end-to-end customer journey. Customers can now seamlessly progress through a journey within a single conversational thread on a chat app or RCS. With the emergence of interactive AI, we expect brands to incorporate a federation of different chatbots and AI algorithms working together to trigger actions at the ideal points during the customer journey. In the next year, we foresee the widespread adoption in customer service, marketing and sale automation, and for operational use cases like scheduling deliveries and managing payments.”

Positive customer service now ‘crucial’ to brand success

British customers are more likely to vote with their wallet when they are unhappy with a brand, with 1 in 2 (51%) said they will only give brands two chances after a bad brand interaction before choosing not to buy from them again.

64% said a good customer call experience would make them brand advocates, making the short call centre interaction even more crucial to brand loyalty, according to new online research from Infobip.

The research polled 2,000 UK Adults aged 18 and above, and aimed to find out the motivations and avenues which British consumers are complaining. The findings revealed the following about customer complaints in the UK:

  • Per my last email: Almost half (45%) of Brits say they prefer using email to lodge complaints; with almost half (48%) saying they preferred to because of convenience.
  • Please leave a message after the tone: Of the 17% who said they preferred call centres, unsurprisingly, Gen Zs (18 to 24-year-olds) came in last at only 10%, and it’s those aged 25-34 and above 65 that came in tops at 20% and 21% respectively. A finding that suggests that while millennials are commonly known to steer clear from making phone calls, younger customers will do so to get their problems fixed.
  • Poor service, product and delivery delays the biggest gripes: 33% say poor service was the main complaint motivator, followed by poor product (27%) and delivery delays (28%).
  • Retailers are repeat offenders: 2 in 5 (44%) said they complained about the retail sector, ahead of food delivery companies (19%) and utilities (16%).

Despite the motivations behind and methods of the complaints, the findings also showed that brands still have the chance to turn an unpleasant experience into a positive one, and even convert customers into brand advocates with a positive customer service experience.

  • Don’t show me the money: 1 in 3 said speaking to an agent who empathises with their problems (33%) help improve the overall complaint experience, more so than receiving monetary compensation (17%) – in a finding that suggests that people do not want money thrown at the problem.
  • There is no time to waste: 4 in 5 say that call centre workers who can address their issues (44%) and quickly answer their queries (40%) make the unpleasant complaint experience better.

James Stokes, Country Manager, UK & Ireland at Infobip said: “Regardless of the preferred method of complaining, brands only have a short timeframe to turn irate customers into brand advocates. Making customers happy is no longer a ‘good to have’. With customers showing willingness to vote with their feet, good customer service is crucial to businesses’ overall bottom-line. With an omnichannel customer service platform solution, we hope to empower call centre workers with the right tools to perform at their best, and ultimately allow customers to reap the benefits on their preferred communications platform.”

Only over a quarter of UK organisations have omnichannel connected in their organisations 

Traditional communication methods are still the popular with three quarters (76%) of businesses using Email and three-fifths (59%) using SMS, but only 7% of UK businesses are using digital messaging apps.

The ongoing cost-of-living crisis has set a gloomy tone for consumersacross the country. Whilst customers tighten their pockets, businesses are looking for ways to deliver relevant and personalised communications that keeps customers keen. Yet businesses are missing the mark, according to exclusive new online research from global cloud communications platform Infobip.

The research, commissioned with research company IDG, polled 215 organisations spanning across  retail & e-commerce, transport and logistics, telecommunications, financial and insurance and public sector industries. The research aimed to assess the integration of digital channels and how connected they are across differing departments within an organisation and how this informs the customer experience.

The research found that only over a quarter (28%) of UK organisations have omnichannel connected in their organisations, yet over 60% of UK organisations see the value in connected communication channels.

The results also found the following about channel use in UK organisations:

  • There is a slower adoption of newer digital messaging apps: Traditional communication methods are still the popular with three-quarters (76%) of businesses using Email and 59% using SMS but only 7% of UK businesses are using digital messaging apps; next year this figure is set to double (14%).
  • (66%) of data used in the different channels is customer information, yet only 6% of communication is personalised by behaviour or context.
  • Businesses are finding omnichannel difficult to implement: 61% of UK businesses see a lack of collaboration or connection between departments as the main challenges for implementing an omnichannel Customer Experience

With half (50%) of UK organisations in the process of selecting such technology now, and a third  (33%) planning to invest in having omnichannel messaging platform over the next 6-12 months, the research shows that having connected communication channels is of priority. However there seems to be difficulty in integrating this and using it. The main challenges cited for implementing an omnichannel Customer Experience is difficulty in integrating data with legacy systems (62%) and lack of collaboration or connection between departments (61%).

Almost half of UK and European companies (45% and 41%) have high levels of some digitisation within their organisation, and consistent with the Europe-wide finding, almost all (99%) companies in the UK have customer experience automation integrated into their business at some level. But only half of companies in UK and Europe are actively implementing omnichannel into their systems. There is still some way to go for businesses to achieve optimal omnichannel experience for their end-users.

Ivan Ostojić, Chief Business Officer, at Infobip said: “Just like ourselves, our customers have an abundance of choice ranging from WhatsApp to Skype with their communication apps. While traditional communication methods are still going strong, to deliver effective and personal communication we need to tap into the digital messaging apps that our customers know, prefer and love. It’s encouraging to see we are recognising where our customers are and how we can reach them, this is informing where businesses are investing and funnelling their efforts. However, this can be a confusing task with legacy systems predating omnichannel methods. Partnering with businesses that specialise in supporting businesses transform their customer offering can lighten their load.”

Kids speak to Alexa more than to their own grandparents

Generation Alpha, those children born after 2010, speak to their smart speakers, such as Alexa, Siri and Google Nest, more than their own grandparents.

That’s according to research from global cloud communications platform Infobip, commissioned with global public opinion firm YouGov, which polled British children aged 6–11 years old.

The survey aimed to assess the impact technology is having on how children see and interact with the world around them. Results reveal a quarter (25%) of Generation Alpha with smart devices speak to Alexa and other smart speakers every day. Yet only one in ten (11%) speak to their grandad and just 14% speak to their grandma daily.

Other key daily habits of this youngest category of the generations include:

–          Nearly half (46%) have an active social media account, despite Facebook, TikTok and Instagram insisting on a minimum age of 13 for account holders;

–          Three-fifths (61%) who have access to a tablet have their own device, compared to a third (33%) who use a family device;

–          Half (49%) of respondents have their own smart phone, while a further two-fifths (43%) use a smart phone belonging to a family member;

–          Three in ten (30%) of those surveyed are liking, swiping and texting on their smartphones for more than an hour a day.

The research also discovered that two-thirds (66%) of Generation Alpha children started using tablets such as iPads before the age of five and under. Two-fifths (41%) say they have been speaking to smart speakers from the age of 6 or younger, and, incredibly, a third (34%) claim to have first started using iPads before even reaching their fourth birthday.

In terms of most popular ways to stay in touch, over a third of 6-11 year olds surveyed are on WhatsApp – with a whopping 73% of 11 year olds well-versed in this channel. SMS isn’t far behind, with a third (29%) of Generation Alpha still using this more traditional texting method and a third (33%) using Facetime.

Catherine Thevenot, Professor in Cognitive Developmental Psychology at the University of Lausanne, said: “Whether in Preston or Paris, Lausanne or London, the children of Generation Alpha rely on digital tools to learn and play, which influences the way they develop and see the world around them. From the age of just 18 months, children can understand the difference between a robot and a human: they recognise that only humans have a conscious goal, but the fact remains that they are interacting more with their smartphones and tablets than with some of their own family members. While the impetus is on the adults in their lives to guide them to use digital tools in the most positive and safe way possible – both in the home and the classroom – brands and influencers should also consider how they can curate digital experiences that will enrich this future generation as potential employees and active citizens. It’s about striking the right balance between virtual and real-life activities”

Nikhil Shoorji, Managing Director Europe at Infobip, said: “For all the talk about Millennials and Generation Z, it is Generation Alpha who have been surrounded by technology since the moment they were born: the first truly digitally-immersed humans. In the same way that they develop everyday relationships with family members, this group has grown accustomed to interacting with technology on demand from a very early age.”