Over the past few years, messaging apps have gone from a cool consumer tool to one of the go-to ways that users interact with a business online. Quick, personal responses and contextual information have made messengers a catalyst for improving online customer service.

Intercom, a company known for its in-app messaging services, officially launched a new tool called Messenger for business on Thursday to further address this trend. The new version brings a host of new features specific to the needs businesses have when addressing customers.

One of the biggest upgrades to Intercom with Messenger for business is personal teammate profiles. Now, when a user sends a message through the platform, they’ll get a response from “Joe from Intercom,” instead of from a generic account.

The types of messages available and the way messages are delivered are also changing. Messages can be a small post, a note, or a chat to start a conversation. In terms of delivery, they can be sent as a small badge, a snippet, or a full-sized message. Chats are getting a new “floating” borderless interface that are supposed to make it easier to open a chat within an app or website. Emoji reactions, GIF support, and new customization options are also coming to Intercom.

Eoghan McCabe, co-founder and CEO of Intercom, said that the big problem with email is that “it’s out of context.” Messengers, such as the Intercom Messenger for business, can provide better context with live user data and workflow tools. Being an in-app tool also helps Intercom differentiate itself from some of the existing, consumer-oriented tools, McCabe said.

“If you use something like Facebook Messenger to talk to your customers, you don’t have a lot of the things you need on the business side to be able to manage the scale,” McCabe said.

SEE: The US military wants its own encrypted messaging app built on blockchain (ZDNet)

The company got its start in 2011, around the same time as Facebook Messenger and iMessage, and a few months after WhatsApp. McCabe said that messenger clients have exploded because of the authenticity they bring to brand conversations.

“We think that they’re the most personal, human, expressive, real way that people have to connect virtually today,” McCabe said.

The modern customer doesn’t have the time or patience to respond to generic emails detailing their ticket number and a timeframe in which they’ll be responded to. The growth of messaging tools shows that customers clearly have confidence in the medium and value the ability to quickly and directly connect with a business. Whether it’s Intercom Messenger for business, or another tool like Facebook Messenger, customer service operations must consider messaging.

The Intercom Messenger now reaches over 1 billion end users in total, and McCabe said they have 13,000 paying customers. That means that your favorite app or service might be getting these features soon. Interested businesses can sign up for a two week free trial on the Intercom website.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Intercom recently launched Messenger for business, an enterprise-focused update to its Messenger product with new admin profiles, emoji and GIF support, and multiple message types.
  2. Intercom Messenger for business is in-app, meaning it can provide live user data and workflow tools for users, and you could be seeing its new features in your favorite app.
  3. Customers are moving to messenger clients as a way to get quick, contextual answers, and any business with a customer service department will need to begin engaging customers through that medium.