In 2021, over 3bn people used a messaging app on their mobile device, according to Statista. WhatsApp is the unquestionable leader, followed by WeChat and Facebook Messenger. As they compete to become the market leader, they keep on adding features to become more entertaining and useful. New players that enter the game are also cooking up some new and exciting features. Here’s what you need to know to stay up to date.
Trend 1: AI-assisted virtual meetings
According to this McKinsey report, 9 out of 10 companies saw an increase in productivity when they switched to the hybrid work model, so it’s here to stay. This means a greater emphasis will be put on improving the employees’ experience when it comes to virtual meetings. AI systems are capable of organizing and prioritizing information like the human brain. This power can be used to process data from virtual meetings. What kind of tasks can they perform exactly?
AI assistants can be helpful at managing workloads: they can assign tasks as you make decisions during meetings. They can also generate meeting summaries and notes, and automatically send them to a recipient list. Auto-generating captions, recording the meetings and indexing data enabling searchability are other useful use cases. From a different perspective, AI assistants can also help enhance the video quality. Examples of such AI-powered assistants include Sembly.ai and MeetGeek.
Trend 2: Multidimensional chat
Emojis, GIFs, stickers and memes are flowing through our messaging threads and already created a vernacular of its own. Some applications, e.g. Viber, have already gone a step further and offer custom stickers. Soundmojis are also making a breakthrough. But it certainly won’t end there – chatting will become even more multidimensional.
2mee is already working to benefit from a volumetric studio that will allow them to deliver messages as holograms. It’s currently in beta mode, but promises brands to help them make stronger emotional connections with consumers through holographic messages. The Frenmoji application, in turn, may become useful for NFT owners. The app allows you to turn a token into a sticker or meme and use it in virtual chat. These are just a couple of examples suggesting that chat communication will become even more visual and interactive.
Trend 3: In-chat and chat-out shopping
In the near future, messaging apps may become the starting point for online shopping. WeChat has already introduced an ecosystem of mini-programs that run inside the messaging app which can redirect users to specific shopping apps, services or other portals.
We are also observing examples of messaging apps being embedded on websites, as is the case with the German furniture giant woodboom. The company not only featured the WhatsApp tab in the top right corner of its page, but also under every product description and as a call-to-action in its articles. When shoppers opt to use the feature, they are taken care of by agents who aim to finalize transactions in a personalized manner. When a shopper obtains answers to their questions, they can then click on the chat-out feature that directs them straight to checkout.
Trend 4: Greater emphasis on self-service
Customers prefer to solve issues by themselves over chat instead of having to engage in long telephone conversations with support agents. On top of that, they expect a fast response – HubSpot research shows 82% want immediate answers. Because of that, digital support is in fact more effective than traditional customer service.
Companies like Sephora, Europcar or Orange are offering customer support via live chat and other companies join in by using the feature in increasingly creative ways. On top of that, the channel can be used to upsell, offer personalized promotions or show different deals.
Live chat support isn’t going to solve all the problems at all times, but this channel can also be used to give customers access to the information they require or redirect them to the knowledge base where they can find it – all of this information can be delivered via a bot.
Trend 5: Greater automation in live chat
Live chat isn’t new in customer service. However, since agents often complain they have to answer the same question every day, there is greater focus on improving the quality of their work via automated chatbots. Automation solutions can e.g. gather information about the client and pass it on to the support agent before they engage in a conversation.
More specifically, improvements focus on better interactions with the customers through applying AI. Technological developments in the field allow automated chatbots to understand increasingly complex inquiries and offer a response that is genuinely helpful for the customer.
When it comes to automating chat apps, the application of contextual chat can also greatly enhance the application. The messaging application we developed for one of our biggest clients – a logistics company Trans.eu, makes use of this feature. A contextual chat allows to open separate discussions on specific inventory (here: freight). Thanks to this functionality, shippers may discuss specific freight with the same user in separate conversations, making it much easier to negotiate and close individual deals.
Trend 6: Safety first!
Personal data security is, has always been and will remain a major issue – the more so when we observe frequent hacks and breaches. That’s why we are noticing the rise of WhatsApp alternatives that promise utmost security and privacy of conversations: Telegram and Signal are among the better known, with Session, Elixxir or Threema generating an increased interest.
Why this trend? Because WhatsApp doesn’t encrypt metadata of your messages, the app will collect and keep the data related to the conversation, which may also reveal a lot in itself. Some of the alternative solutions offer fully anonymous signup options that don't require either a phone number or an email address.
Trend 7: Even better collaboration
According to McKinsey Global Institute, the number of people working remotely rose to 40% in the post-pandemic times. Before the global lockdown, remote workers amounted to a mere 5% of the working population. As more companies adopt the remote-first approach to teamwork, the need for reliable communication and collaboration solutions is becoming more important than ever.
The next-generation messaging solutions include videoconferencing and features that support virtual events. The focus is on delivering high-quality, immersive software, capable of enhancing collaboration. One way to achieve this is via VR solutions. A good example is Spatial, a metaverse environment that promotes remote collaboration through meetings that can take place in a virtual office.
Another example is the usage of spatial audio in applications with audio calling features. It greatly enhances the sound quality, making conversation participants feel as if they were together in one room.
Trends in chat application development
Looking at the trends, it seems like messaging apps will keep us connected even more closely than ever. They are also likely to play a more important role in our lives, by offering better assistance in shopping, work-related tasks and other daily routines. It’s certainly a good moment to create a new chat app, but the competition is fierce, so make sure you find your niche.
If you want to build your own custom chat application but feel like you don’t know where to start, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will connect with our most suitable specialist who can assist you in this process.