May 27, 2015
Back to the future? In the aftermath of the app revolution, its good old texting that has the capability of revolutionizing business and its communication with customers.
When the iPhone came out, every business had to integrate with top applications or, better yet, have its very own app. Some of those apps, such as stalwarts Facebook and Gmail, and others such as addictive games like Candy Crush and Daily Celebrity Crossword, have built successful legacies and even now, many new ones are impacting key business areas like customer communication, sales, and marketing.
“Sales is at its core is an extended conversation about somebody’s needs and somebody else’s product. To succeed as a salesperson, it’s extremely important to have all the datapoints together as one holistic, actionable picture at one’s fingertips,” said Branko Cerny, the CEO of Immediately, one of my own portfolio companies, which integrates a salesperson’s entire workflow into a mobile app.
But, with users’ phones shuddering under the weight of pages and pages of individual apps, fewer and fewer customers are actually using those apps to engage meaningfully with companies. Even many larger apps are suffering from both declining user base size and declining user engagement. The answer for businesses may to go retro, to step back and simply better facilitate direct communication between customer and business through regulated text messaging.
“There are millions of apps for millions of companies that connect only once a user downloads the app or signs up. There are seven billion cell phones in the world and texting is on all of them. No signup required, no download needed. Companies that use texting are instantly available to the greatest possible number of customers without pushing any new technologies onto them. Plus, there’s no learning curve or hold times. It’s a win-win,” said Matt Tumbleson, the CEO of Teckst.
The great challenge for the future lies in marrying simplicity of customer communication with efficiency in actually completing the customer’s required task. We know texting is faster and more linear, but will text based communication work as efficiently as, say, the Seamless platform? It’s impossible to say – but startups will line up to try because of the scale opportunities if they succeed.
Of course, with room for growth comes rivalry. New startups are quickly rising to fill the business-text void, the aforementioned Teckst joined by Zingle, Sonar, and others. The potential upcoming “text revolution 2.0” has also begun to catch the attention of venture capitalists, with many expressing interest in funding new telecommunication platforms as a business tool for engagement.
“As messaging on phones continues to grow and become an acceptable means of communications consumers will want and expect customer support services provided over this medium as it will be in-line with the majority of their device usage,” said Jay Levy of Zelkova Ventures.
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