How to think about allowing users to manage their conversation history

No matter what changes in the world of digital customer experiences, one thing will always stay the same—the need for speed.

We’ve traditionally seen the need for in website development. Every second of loading time delay can result in lost revenue. In fact, 40% of web shoppers will abandon a website if it doesn’t load within 3 seconds.

You have to expect the need for speed to carry over into your branded messaging experience, too. One piece of a fast messaging experience is access to conversation history—manage it carefully.

The Two Approaches to Managing Messaging History Access

Just because you’ve organized your conversation list conveniently doesn’t mean users will never have to sort through past messages.

Think of all the times you’ve sat scrolling back through old text messages trying to find that address for an upcoming event. You fly past a collection of recent messages, the app pauses to load more, and you continue until you’ve discovered what you’re looking for.

You may take historical access to your messages for granted, but there’s actually a right and wrong way to offer this service for your own users. Consider how these two approaches impact speed (and overall messaging customer experience):

– Load on Request—The Wrong Way to Offer Messaging History: Some messaging experiences only focus on the here-and-now. They wait for users to open a conversation and start scrolling back before loading historical messages. Fetching historical messages on demand may sound harmless, but it can add seconds of delay that degrade the customer experience and lead users to switch to your competitors.

– Pre-Fetch Old Messages—The Best Way to Eliminate History Load Time: If you want to virtually eliminate the perceived time to load historical messages, you have to take advantage of local device storage. Storing a portion of messaging history on the user’s device lets you display those messages quickly rather than forcing users to stare at endless loading indicators. Local storage also gives users access to some conversation history when their devices are offline. We live in an always-connected world, but that doesn’t mean we don’t hit dead zones from time to time. Don’t let service dead zones hurt the customer experience.

Don’t Go Overboard with Local Messaging History Storage

The phrase “if some is good, more is better” doesn’t necessarily apply to conversation history access. You have to be careful how many messages you store locally as you strive to reduce friction in the messaging experience.

Store too few messages locally and you leave customers to wait for history to load. Store too many messages locally and you might start impacting app performance. Find the happy medium to make conversation viewing as seamless as possible.

However, finding the balance that ensures smooth historical access to messages is just a small part of making your messaging experience engaging for users. Taking the best approach to offer historical access won’t do much good if the messaging experience as a whole is flawed.

If you want to learn more about what goes into a high-quality, branded messaging experience, check out our full Messaging Best Practices Guide.