(Originally published on The Drum, March 2021)
Messaging is the most personal way to communicate digitally, not only between people and their friends, families and colleagues, but also between brands and their customers. More and more brands are embracing messaging as a more human and effective way to speak to their customers. But some remain resistant. They usually have two main questions: Can they trust messaging apps as a secure way to send sensitive information? And what steps are messaging apps taking to ensure brands' messages are secure?
Whenever a new technology emerges, or an existing technology is used in a new and innovative way, it prompts fears of it being misused or leaking customer data. To allay this fear, it’s useful to look at the example of how technology has revolutionised banking in recent years, and inexorably improved the relationship between bank and customer.
Time was, any banking that required sensitive financial or personal information meant a long, drawn out process: you had to gather up all sorts of documents verifying who you were, trudge down to your local branch and spend hours in a queue. Mobile technology has improved this dramatically. Now, all you need is a phone to open or close an account, move money, edit payments or do virtually any other type of banking. Both businesses and consumers have benefitted from the change. And while now we might take it for granted, when it first arrived, mobile banking was regarded with suspicion by many who saw it as unsafe.
The same is true of messaging apps today. And just like mobile banking, messaging apps like Viber, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are opening a whole new way for brands to communicate with their customers.
If you’re looking for what is the best secure messaging app, you need one that will tick certain security boxes.
For many businesses – especially banks and other financial institutions – security and delivery time are the most important aspects when choosing how to communicate with their customers. They want to deliver messages in the safest, and most convenient way for their customers, and also in the most cost-effective way.
Messaging excels in all of these areas. It can be cheaper to send messages via messaging apps than with traditional SMS, and messaging apps have a much higher open rate than emails – one study put it at 75 percent, which is over 45 times higher than email and nearly three times higher than push notifications. Messages sent via messaging apps can also have more characters than traditional SMS – in some cases, 1,000 versus 160 for SMS.
Even though messaging is a great choice for communicating with customers, they may still be wary about receiving communications from your brand in this way. Let’s look at some of their concerns and how you can address them.
Security will be the most pressing concern for most customers. As long as you choose a messaging app with the security features mentioned above, and you communicate this with your customers, their minds should be put at rest.
The other major concern is whether the entity they are communicating with is actually the brand it purports to be. Some messaging apps have several measures in place to verify this – for example the message sender will appear as the company name rather than just a mobile number. The sender will also have its own profile replete with company information like an official logo, physical address, phone number if you want to call them up, and a blue tick showing they have been verified by the messaging app as an official partner brand.
Lastly, users can rest assured their messages will stay confidential once they arrive on their devices. That’s because the most secure messaging apps for business don’t display the contents of the message on the lock screen notification – instead, all the user sees is “1 new message”. To read the message, they will have to unlock the device and open the messaging app.
It’s all about giving customers the confidence to use messaging in this way. Once they have that, we’re sure they will embrace messaging as a tool to communicate with brands in a manner that’s quick, safe and convenient for both parties.