More channels, more risk, more fraud?

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These days, my phone is my life. It’s used for everything from checking the weather to booking my holidays. Very occasionally, I may even use it to make calls. But for the most part, one of its main uses is as a messaging platform.

Whether it’s SMS, Whatsapp or Facebook, my status bar’s full of notifications of instant messages. But it’s not just chatting to friends and family where these tools come in handy.

This was shown in a recent report from the Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF), which revealed that these are now a popular option when it comes to talking to businesses as well. Instead of picking up the phone or firing off an email, people are now tapping away on their phone when they have a query or a complaint.

The rise of messaging apps

This shows you can’t overlook messaging apps when it comes to building a good contact centre. More people than ever are happy using these as ways of getting in touch with businesses, though it seems that tried and tested solutions are still preferred over newest upstart rivals.

You can see this as good old-fashioned SMS is still the most trusted messaging channel for speaking to brands. Some 35 per cent of survey respondents said this was their most trusted messaging app for communicating with businesses.

As for the rest of the results, messaging apps such as Whatsapp or Instagram pulled 28 per cent of the vote, while the figures were 18 per cent for Facebook, Yahoo! Messenger and Skype, and 16 per cent for push notifications directly with a company’s app.

This suggests that while millions of us are happy to have tools like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger on our phones, we’re not quite ready to see this become a main channel.

Tackling the increased risk

There’s no doubt that people want a wide variety of options to chat. But the challenge for businesses is that, as they open up their contact centres and customer services to more channels, they also open themselves and their customers up to more problems.

We’re all familiar with the irritation of getting spam text messages on our phones. In fact, the MEF’s report found this is a daily occurrence for more than one in four of us! But the real problems emerge when this goes beyond merely an annoyance and strays into outright fraud.

One in three people said they’d received a mobile message from someone pretending to be someone they’re not. For instance, this could be a fake message from their bank, or a retailer they have an account with.

This might be fishing for personal information or directly asking users to send them money – but often, it can be very hard for users to tell them apart from a genuine communication, and the consequences for falling for one of these scams can be huge.

Helping customers cope

Obviously, it’s ultimately down to consumers to recognise these and ensure they aren’t taken in, but there are still things businesses can do to help their customers.

Firstly, they need to think carefully about the use of messaging apps and SMS as an outbound channel at all – it might be a great extra to add on to your inbound, but if a customer knows they aren’t going to get unsolicited messages from a company, they’ll be in a much better position to spot fraudsters. Of course, firms still need to communicate this to their customers.

It’s great that companies are embracing tools like SMS and WhatsApp to stay in touch with customers and give them the services they want. But the recent report serves as a reminder that whenever the world jumps on to a new technology, criminals aren’t far behind, so it’s up to us to make sure these channels are as safe as possible and consumers have the knowledge they need.

Find out more about how Aspect software can help you create a truly omni-channel environment.