How Messaging Apps Are Revolutionizing Customer Service

Bonin Bough
4 min readDec 12, 2016


Customer service is one of those things that everybody deals with at some point but almost nobody has anything good to say about.

If you’ve ever been on hold with a business before, you’ll know it can be one of the most painstaking and time-consuming ways to spend your day. Whether it’s just trying to ask if a product is in stock or an inquiry about a return policy, you can easily waste hours sitting on hold and jumping through hoops just to accomplish something that you think would take only a few minutes.

It’s something that can be dramatically improved and I believe that messaging apps are one way to do that.

Richard Smullen, the CEO of a company called Pypestream (a customer service app), believes that his service is going to revolutionize customer service as we know it.

“I found myself on hold with an airline. While I was waiting, I started texting my sister on What’sApp and asked her if she could just wait on hold with them for me… I needed to do something to sort my situation out… Wouldn’t it be easier if I just messaged them directly? Here I am, already using a direct messaging to my sister. Why couldn’t I do that with a business?”

Using messaging apps like Pypestream changes the game because it’s fast, convenient, and is easily scalable. When a business uses text messaging, customer service becomes incredibly more conversational, natural, and (sometimes most importantly) transactional.

How? It makes it a bi-directional process and it means that it’s built on the cadence of the consumer and not the business.

Let’s say I want to reach out to my cable company and my number one question is “how do I reset my modem.” Instead of waiting on the phone for 15 minutes to get a simple answer, it would be great to be able to send a message, get a quick answer that can take less than a minute.

It’s fast; that speed creates opportunity. For example, if you’re that cable company and you notice that I don’t have Showtime. So, in the minutes you’ve spared me agonizing over a long hold, you can ask me if I want to add it to my package.

The problem for most businesses lies in the scalability of customer service. If you have hundreds of customers calling in, you think you’d have to staff hundreds to pick up those phones. Call centers are the lowest hanging fruit and they represent a large portion of customer service. If a company can start replacing agents with text messaging bots that can handle the common, repetitive questions, then they can start reducing costs. The efficiency is off the charts when comparing messaging versus calling (15 to 1)!

That scale comes from bots that can easily get trained to handle repetitive tasks, which, by the way, are 80% of inbound queries. The humans, on the other hand, are reading a script. A bot can read that script much faster and at the fraction of the cost. If 80% of the queries are the same, then save your human staff for the 20% of inquiries that require higher touch-points and empathy.

Another beauty of using automated messaging apps for customer service is that it’s introducing technology native to the ecosystem.

Richard shared an interesting fact with me:

“In the next year, 8.2 trillion messages will be sent via social apps.”

While that staggering number fluctuates slightly with the source, what’s even more impressive is the behavioral implications it represents. If you think about it, those 8.2 trillion messages could have been a voice call. But instead, people are choosing to text message instead.

So what does that mean for businesses?

It means that if you adapt messaging into your customer service model, you’re introducing technology that doesn’t require a learning curve. People are already choosing to contact the most important people in their lives with text messaging over traditional phone calls, so why shouldn’t they be able to do it for businesses too?

Most companies and businesses these days are at a point where they want to fix the way they are talking to their customers. I believe that messaging can solve that issue and it’s another reason why I think messaging has the potential to become the omni-channel for any business interactions in the future.

To catch my full discussion with Richard, you can watch the video here:



Bonin Bough

Host of @ClevelandCNBC | Former Chief Media & eCommerce Officer @Mdlz | Magazine Fanatic | Talent Enthusiast | Txt Me: +1 (646) 759–1837