- For most people, direct messages, whether that be directly on a company’s website or via an external chat app, is the most convenient way to get answers to common questions, from stock and pricing to order status and returns, and more.
- Some of the top messaging apps are free, like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
- SMS text messaging can be another great option that users are comfortable communicating through.
A reliable messaging system is an essential customer service tool for all businesses, irrespective of their industry or size. When choosing customer support tools, it is important to prioritize the needs of the customer. Direct messaging is often the most convenient means of brand to customer communication, as texts are quick to send and both parties can see when messages have been received and read. In this respect, text messaging should arguably take precedence over calls, emails, and other communication options.
Which messaging customer service software is right for you?
There are dozens of great dedicated messaging apps available – many of which are free to use. When deciding which option is right for your business, consider the following:
- What is your customer demographic? Think about where they are based and how tech-literate they are likely to be.
- How big is your business? Some apps support service team use, while others do not.
- How important is security? You may wish to opt for a high-security option if you have a large customer base and are likely to share sensitive data in your messages.
- Which customer service tools to you currently use? You will need your messaging app to integrate well with your website and existing customer service tools.
Best Customer Service Messaging Apps
To help you make the right decision for your business and customer base, we’ve outlined the top customer service messaging apps below.
The business version of WhatsApp was designed for small businesses and is entirely free to use. It is compatible with Android and iOS, and both versions come with all basic support features. These include quick replies with pre-programmed messages, automatic away messages and contact labelling. The standard business version only allows for one user and is not suitable for customer service teams. However, the business API version does support team use.
WhatsApp Business standard is free. The API version costs around $90 a month.
- Auto responses
- Away messaging
- End-to-end encryption
- No connection to social profile
2. Facebook Messenger
Facebook Messenger has the second largest user base in the world, following closely behind WhatsApp. As the app is linked to Facebook’s social media platform, customers can connect with your business from their personal profiles, while you have easy access to your business page. Facebook Messenger for business is ideal if you already use the platform’s paid marketing services, as it allows customers to connect directly with your service team via your advert. This app features auto responses, customizable greetings, a customer chat plugin, and advanced options for your business page inbox. Facebook Messenger is compatible with Android, iOS, and desktop.
Facebook Messenger for business is free to use for anybody with a Facebook account.
- Customizable greetings
- Link with paid ads and business page
- Auto responses
- Chat plugin
- It’s likely a large percentage of your customers already use Facebook
Threema markets itself as the world’s most secure messaging app and is known for its advanced data privacy features. It does not require phone or email address details to sign up and can be used completely anonymously. Threema offers fully encrypted messages, calls, group chats and file sharing. While these are not dedicated customer service features, they do work well for many external support functions and are ideal for internal communication. Threema is compatible with Android and iOS.
Threema offer a generous 60-day free trial for their Threema Work app, which is suitable for most small to medium-size businesses. After the trial, a monthly subscription costs only $1.99.
- 60-day free trial
- Advanced data privacy features
- Messages, calls, group chats
- No dedicated customer service features
Viber is a communication app which, like Threema, has better than average data protection. It places a heavy emphasis on call communication and text messaging but does have some other customer service worthy features. It also facilitates group calls, video chats and community channels, which can become a useful peer-to-peer support network for your customer base. Viber works on Android, iOS, and desktop. One of Viber’s best customer service features is the ability to program a “Viber bot” with automated message responses. Viber is compatible with Android and iOS.
Viber business accounts are free.
- Programmable Viber bot
- Group chats and calls
- Video calls
- Text messaging
Telegram is far less widely used than the other customer support messaging apps on this list. In many ways it is just as suitable as a customer service tool, it is simply less well known. One of Telegram’s standout features is the “secret” messaging option, in which messages automatically delete themselves. This offers some security, though the app does not offer end-to-end encryption for normal messages and calls. Businesses using Telegram for customer support can set up channels or groups relating to specific products and services. It also has a wealth of chat bot options and is compatible with Android and iOS.
Telegram is entirely free to use.
- Chat bots
- Self-deleting message options
- Syncing across devices to access messages anywhere
- Share unlimited media files up to 2 GB each
WeChat has almost as many users as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Nearly all of WeChat’s user network is based in China – large part because Messenger and WhatsApp aren’t permitted by the Chinese government – which makes it a must have for any company planning to do business there. Using WeChat for customer support can be a complex process, which involves setting up an open account then paying for verification. This app offers all basic communication options such as calls, group calls and messages, text, and live chat. It’s compatible with Android and iOS.
WeChat is free to download and set up an account. However, the verification process can cost as much as $99.
- Perfect for businesses with a Chinese customer base
- Business verification is expensive
- All basic chat options
- Limited security/no end-to-end encryption
- Social media aspect
Line is a Japanese app, much like WeChat. The main difference is that Line offers end-to-end encryption. The app offers all basic chat options, including instant message, video chat, group chat and calls. It also has social media features where users can view a newsfeed populated with posts from their liked businesses and contacts. Businesses wishing to use Line must choose from three verification options: unverified (not visible in searches), verified (trust badge, appear in searches), and premium (like verified but with improved visibility). It is compatible with Android, iOS, and desktop.
Line’s unverified plan is free. Their paid business plans start at $50 a month.
- Perfect for Japanese customer base
- All basic chat options supported
- End-to-end encryption
8. Website Messenger
Userlike’s Website Messenger is designed to integrate with any business website but works best with Userlike products. It functions well alongside other messaging tools and is desktop-friendly, though not compatible with Android and iOS. Messages sent via the Website Messenger will land in your business inbox (or dedicated customer service inbox) alongside messages sent from elsewhere. Like its mobile-based counterparts, Website Messenger supports live chat, video chat, voice messaging and file sharing.
Userlike’s basic Website Messenger is available for free on all their plans.
- Desktop only
- Live chat and calls
- Free to use
9. Standard SMS
The final option is not a messaging app, but it is a great customer service tool for many small businesses. Opting to use regular SMS text messages as your primary medium for customer communication has its advantages. Most prominently, it’s extremely reliable as it will work on any cellphone and does not rely on having an internet connection. SMS is also a “safe” choice, as all your customers will be accustomed to using it, regardless of their demographic.
SMS is free with mobile subscriptions.
- Easy for all customers to use
- Works on all operating systems
- Not internet dependent
- Text messages and media files
Making Your Final Choice
When it comes to making the final choice on your messaging app, try to prioritize simplicity over high-tech features. The main purpose of customer service technology is to connect your business with your customer base with minimal hassle to anyone. Rather than opting for bells and whistles, choose something affordable, functional, and user-friendly.