Messaging Apps and Conversational Commerce: The New Customer Experience

[24]7.ai | April 15, 2019

Let’s bring context to the idea of conversational commerce by taking a moment to envision an olden-days general store. You enter and are greeted by the owner working at the counter. They helpfully work with you to ensure that while you are in the store, you can purchase what you need, have any questions answered, and pay with ease. Along the way, you might share some pleasantries; nothing too personal, just enough to keep things friendly. When we fast forward in time to the present day and you consider your business model, are you treating customers this same way? Or, are they faced with being shuttled from a person on the phone, to an email, to an online account? Are they left frustrated with an impersonal experience that requires ongoing effort on their part? How do they get their questions answered? And what does this mean for your brand?

In episode 7 of Solving for CX, we hear a presentation from Art Schoeller of Forrester Research. Art walks us through the ways in which messaging apps and conversational commerce can drive growth results for your business, by providing a seamless experience for your customer from the moment they “walk through the door”.

Opening up New Possibilities

Consider what “doors” your business currently has that your customer might come knocking at. Your telephone number, email, and website are likely the first things that come to mind. Perhaps you consider your social media accounts as portals of entry as well. But emerging in this field are new “doors” to your business: messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, and many others. There are billions of people using these apps to communicate, and they provide a powerful customer service capability. In the past two to three years, they’ve also provided a platform to sell goods.

The goal of engaging with messaging apps and automation is not reducing headcount; instead the goal is lowering barriers to entry and opening doors to new customers!. Keep in mind, conversation through messaging apps doesn’t necessarily mean fewer phone calls or website visits; instead you may find there are different or new customers available to you through these channels. Messaging apps provide a place for customers to evaluate you, ask for help, engage with you in addition to buying from you and using the services you provide.

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One of the most powerful tools able to be integrated into these apps is proactive personalization. With this approach, you effectively engage customers directly and encourage quick purchasing decisions. This is because it can mimic a human interaction. Think back to our general store, where over time the owner would get to know you. The chit-chat would be lodged in mind and eventually, they’d be able to suggest products to you. This is the kind of personalized interaction that makes a customer loyal and returning, and is immensely powerful for e-commerce retailers.

The full lifecycle of interaction with your customer has become complex, and should engage your digital, customer experience, marketing, and social teams, as well as your contact centre. As customers discover and evaluate you, purchase and use your products, seek help or evangelize, there are opportunities to connect. To do so effectively, however, your teams need to be aligned both in goals and strategy.

You vs. Your Competitors

If we’re aligning goals of many departments, you might be left wondering, are these tools being deployed for customer service? For marketing? For sales? How much of an investment are we making into this customer experience process? Absolutely, it can be about service and marketing prior-to or post-sale, but in the big picture, it’s about contributing to decisions and customer loyalty. Blending automation with agent-assisted interaction can make your customers’ brand experience faster and more personalized. Most of all, it is a way that you can set your business apart from your competition, ensuring your doors are open and your smiling shop owner is always ready to serve.

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