Messaging apps

Messaging apps are changing how companies talk with customers

By Gadi BenMark and Dilip Venkatachari
Messaging apps are changing how companies talk with customers

Online business powered by natural-language technologies is new terrain in the competition for tech-savvy consumers.

Here’s how pioneers in the field are gaining ground.

H&M: So how would you describe your style?

Me: Classic.

H&M: Perfect! I’ve just created a custom style for you. Here’s an outfit with a polo shirt. Do you like this?

Me: Looks great.

H&M: Awesome! Would you like to shop this, share it, or save it?

Me: Share it.

H&M: Which friends do you want to share this outfit with?

An engaging conversation with a helpful retail employee. Except the person helping me wasn’t a person, it was a bot. And the conversation didn’t take place on H&M.com or the company’s mobile app. It happened on Kik, a third-party messaging app.

Welcome to the era of “conversational commerce,” the term for online business powered by natural-language technologies. With a combination of rich, visual interfaces and conversational artificial intelligence (AI) technologies from Google, Facebook, Amazon, and others, brands can scale relevant, personal, and helpful interactions with customers.

Users already interact with friends (or with “others”) on messaging apps; use of brands’ mobile apps has exploded since 2008. But “brand app fatigue” is starting to settle in. By contrast, today six of the top 10 global apps are messaging apps, used by 1.4 billion people worldwide and growing 12 percent annually.

Read the full article on The Harvard Business Review website.

About the author(s)

Gadi BenMark is president and general manager of McKinsey Social in the New York office, and Dilip Venkatachari is a McKinsey Digital VP in the Silicon Valley office.