How conversational commerce uplifts the retail experience

KT Prasad
How conversational commerce uplifts the retail experience

Messaging and chat, when appropriately embedded in an online shopping experience, ensures that customers can immediately get the help they are after

Today’s customer experience is a journey and not a destination. In order to be successful, companies need to be accessible wherever their customers are.

Enter ‘conversational commerce’; social messaging and live chat platforms created solely to connect customers with their favorite brands in real-time. It fills the gap between a customer trying to find what they want, adding it to their cart, and checking out. This has led to significant implications particularly for the retail industry. Chat and messaging now allow brands to be omnipresent throughout the customer experience, regardless of when or how customers, either current or potential, choose to interact with them.

Considering the manner in which the online sector traditionally operates in Asian markets, conversational commerce holds a lot of promise. Unfortunately, the importance of customer service has waned, with many brands being accused of focusing solely on financial gains. We have seen a number of examples where popular e-commerce sites lock consumers into confusing navigation with multiple options to choose from before shortlisting their preferred purchase, as well as confusing payment and delivery options.

This experience often leads to a shopper leaving the site without making a purchase, or leaving negative feedback of their experience. The ideal e-commerce site helps customers select their preferred product and make their purchase seamlessly and conveniently, with support as and when they need it. This is where automation can make life much easier for both the business and the customer.

A chat platform works on both a company website and within a mobile application, while messaging works through a third-party, like Facebook Messenger or Twitter Direct Message. While both are real-time, conversational, and have the potential to be proactive, the key difference lies in how customers use them. Hence, it’s less about the products or channels and more about which ones your customers choose to access at any particular point in time.

Also read: Social commerce goes beyond social; It also requires tweaking user behaviour

For instance, most people now spend a large part of their day on social media and the struggle of inertia is very real, particularly amongst millennials. When potential customers see something interesting on the company’s Facebook page, they are typically unwilling to jump onto the website to get their questions answered.

Think of it this way: Amid all the distractions and conversations on their News Feed, they are expected to stop and engage with you. Why would you risk losing their interest by making them jump channels just to get a response?

Messaging and chat, when appropriately embedded in an online shopping experience, ensures that customers can immediately get the help they are after. Even the busiest e-commerce seasons can be successfully streamlined by drawing on a key tenet of customer service: Be willing and able to help, even before the customer realizes that they need assistance.

Chat vs. Message

Across e-commerce platforms, you will find numerous AI-enabled chatbots that can respond to queries about products ranging from t-shirts to smart phones. It can communicate with customers, explore their preferences and deliver personalized recommendations accordingly, based on the keywords that it is trained to watch out for.

For instance, BrowserStack, a cloud-based service provider that enables developers to test their websites across various desktops, mobile phones and on different operating systems, uses email and Twitter to solve a customer’s issue. This allows the company’s billing support team to speak directly to customers in order to achieve a faster resolution. Their average First Response Time (FRT) had also improved to 5 to 10 minutes on Twitter, leading to a drastic change in the average response times. As a result customers benefit from the new adaptations which also results in the company seeing improved CSAT scores.

Messaging is the next step which draws upon many of the same ideals. However, when applied to social media, the company’s representatives can interact with users on a far more exclusive level. With Messenger, agents can save chats from these social channels and answer queries all from a single interface. This helps companies reach an entirely new generation of customers and also expand to different support channels with which customers are already familiar, thereby moving towards the “always-on” channel.

It’s a win-win for everyone: When the customer sends you a message through Facebook Messenger their experience is no different than it would be if they wished to contact a friend. From the representative’s perspective, they can successfully manage all incoming queries through Zendesk, whether it’s via a chat widget on your website or Facebook Messenger.

The human angle to automation

Automation still requires a human touch to gauge what customers are asking for and how to best serve them. For instance, if someone comes to your website and navigates to the pricing page twice, it is most likely to be a potential customer who will make a purchase. Using this information, companies can send them a proactive chat to help clarify what is included in their purchase, or even offer a special discount to incentivise the sale. Or perhaps they have stalled while checking out, or not returned to their shopping cart — in this situation, brands can again proactively offer assistance with shipping, billing, or a special offer to ensure that they complete their purchase.

An omnichannel experience designed to incorporate multiple real-time channels will help ensure a more seamless relationship with your customers. It translates to being anywhere and everywhere at any given time. Hence, conversational commerce is here to stay and is a phenomenon that we are going to see a lot more of as the technology continues to evolve.

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