Fonolo CEO Shai Berger on whether chat or messaging will dominate B2C communication

shai berger

Between companies like Facebook announcing its dedication to bots and Shopify announcing that it acquired a social marketing bot, it seems like chat is the next frontier of customer service.

But as Fonolo CEO Shai Berger pointed out at TechToronto, it’s still unclear whether chat via channels like SMS or instant messaging, like Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp, were more suited for business-to-customer communication. “Whether it’s with our family on SMS, friends on Facebook messenger, at work with Slack, we love this ‘I type something, you type something’.”

But Berger said that when it came to business to customer communication, chat’s biggest problem was that it wasn’t as successful in the mobile context, besides embedding a chat feature in a company app. Messenger, on the other hand, has an advantage as most people don’t like adding apps of individual companies. “With chat, I hire a chat company and I add them to my website. It’s like adding a widget and my brand is still dominant,” he said. “But when you use Facebook, the brand of that platform is still very dominant. When you use chat, you close the browser window, the history is gone.”

He said that the fact that messenger conversations are more “permanent” will become a bigger conversation in the future, as companies have a permanent record of how you interact with them.

“If I’m the company and I bring in a chat provider, I own the channel but I’m paying them, so that’s all that matters. If I use Facebook, they have an agenda too — they’re offering this for free, and it’s not a charity,” Berger said. “I’m sharing a communication channel with other businesses, and with Facebook’s agenda.”

Watch the whole talk below:

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Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang

Freelance tech writer. Former BetaKit News Editor.

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