For everything from ordering a pizza to getting an insurance quote, smartphones are increasingly at the centre of our lives.

Many of us are now used to contacting brands through the same mobile channels we use to chat with friends and family, but the business world is yet to make the most of this messaging revolution. Where you would have a back-and-forth conversation with a friend, some businesses can be painfully slow to respond on mobile channels, while some simply do not reply to messages at all.

From Apple Business Chat to RCS and WhatsApp Business, the number of messaging channels available to businesses continues to grow. These are evolving to allow businesses to grow even closer to customers than ever before, enabling them to share audio and video clips, and have intelligent, two-way and proactive conversations. However, mobile simply wasn’t on the agenda for large consumer-facing businesses when their IT systems were built, so it can take time for them to add new channels and incorporate them into their existing customer communications mix.

Integrating mobile channels in a piecemeal style can be a time-consuming process, which limits businesses’ ability to provide a mobile-first customer experience that lives up to expectations that the likes of Uber, Monzo, and Deliveroo have created. This race against time to adopt new channels may lead to brands chasing their own tails; it’s worth stopping for a moment to think about how to make the most of each existing channels and what newer channels would actually work for their business. 

Mobile-first is the only way

Consumer expectations are sky high, meaning that when they aren’t met instantly, customer experience and brand loyalty can take a serious hit. Take the situation at Gatwick Airport in the UK over Christmas as an example: when reports of drones near to runways left flights grounded, passengers would have expected to be able to access the latest travel information through social media sites or via messaging apps, but were instead left queuing for information at desks.

As customer communication failures threaten to cause irreparable losses in reputation and revenue, it is surprising how many businesses are guilty of not centring their communications strategy around mobile. Indeed, ‘do not respond’ messages are all too common; in this day and age, customers want to interact with businesses the same way they do with friends and family, which means two-way conversations that are open to a response. 

Ovum predicts that smartphone connections will account for 78 percent of global mobile connections in 2022, so adopting a mobile-first approach to customer communications will only continue to become more vital. Modern customers expect more from businesses when it comes to communications and want to complete actions regardless of the channel they are on.

In financial services, for example, this sees people transferring money from one account to another without worrying about logging into their account on the bank’s website or app. This is also being put into practice in the utilities sector, with energy provider npower using Apple Business Chat to support its smart meter roll-out and sharing rich media messages with customers to illustrate the benefits and installation process of smart meters.

People are getting used to seamless mobile experiences and are likely to grow increasingly frustrated by businesses unable to meet expectations. Centring your communications strategy around mobile channels will meet customers’ demands for interactions anywhere, at any time, that don’t require them to leave an app or get redirected to a website or voice channel.  

A platform for success

Businesses must avoid forcing customers to switch channels when they don’t want to. To make this a reality, they must adopt a mobile messaging-first communications strategy, and using a platform enables them to make this happen in practice. The phrase ‘Communications Platform as a Service’ (CPaaS) is already becoming more common, and a recent Gartner Hype Cycle said it is ‘climbing the slope’, indicating that this approach will be adopted by an increasing number of businesses over the coming year.

At a top level, CPaaS acts as the glue between existing business systems and digital customer touchpoints, allowing businesses to manage all channels centrally and orchestrate customer interactions within the wider IT ecosystem. Building customer journeys centrally with a platform that can support a variety of mobile channels – including the likes of Apple Business Chat and WhatsApp Business – makes it possible to centralise communication strategies and ensure interactions remain smooth, timely and consistent. 

Meeting mobile needs

We live in a mobile-first world, but when it comes to customer communications, not all businesses are taking a mobile messaging-first approach. There are many examples of clunky, inefficient interactions that drive customers away, but the solution is relatively straightforward: adopting a CPaaS approach ensures businesses have the ability to create seamless, two-way customer journeys that flow across any channel. Increasing competition makes customer experience more important than ever, but by ensuring a mobile messaging-first communications strategy, businesses can meet the expectations of consumers both today and in the future.