Is Conversational Commerce the Future of Customer Experience?

In recent times, brands have taken a more personalized approach to providing great customer experiences.

As social media channels grew in popularity, proactive engagement on these platforms became the rule as conversation proved key to a personalized experience. Now, according to a Business Insider report, the preferred conversational channel has become messaging apps, which have surpassed social networks in terms of monthly active users. Simply put, customers are embracing their favorite messaging apps not only to chat with friends but also to connect with brands in a personal, efficient way, and brands are rising to the challenge.

The increasing popularity of messaging has paved the way for a new trend named conversational commerce.

Coined in 2015 by Chris Messina, Uber’s Developer Experience Lead, conversational commerce is, by his definition, a way of using chat, messaging, and other natural language interfaces to interact with people, brands, or services and bots in a bidirectional, asynchronous messaging context. To be more specific, chat and messaging apps refer to using platforms such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Kik, or Slack, while natural language interfaces may include voice recognition software such as Siri, Cortana, or even IoT devices that complete customer requests. The reference to “asynchronous messaging context” demonstrates a massive shift in the way commerce has traditionally taken place. Typically, in the domain of digital commerce, customers research product information and make purchases on company websites or through mobile apps. Proactive service in a sales context may be limited to a live chat pop-up, when available at all. Customers are often the ones to solicit help, and the process can become time-consuming and daunting when they are transferred to other channels for more in-depth support.Conversational commerce is redefining the entire service experience by allowing customers to speak with brands–through humans, bots, or a mix of both–with highly personalized service till the end of each sales transaction. While email is asynchronous by nature and chat synchronous, messaging has the potential to be both when both brands and customers are online at the same time. Conversations can be as immediate and “real-time” as the customer wants it to be.Several companies are following the conversational commerce model with great success. Uber, for example, allows customers to order a ride through the Facebook Messenger app and complete the entire transaction without ever leaving the app (and, therefore, the conversation). Cosmetics retailer Sephora developed a chat bot on the messaging app Kik for direct customer engagement during the sales process. As for brands embracing a voice recognition approach, Amazon’s Echo has been successful in allowing customers to do everything from controlling home devices, playing music, and perusing the retail giant’s product catalog through its virtual assistant Alexa.Already a global industry leader in cloud-based contact center software solutions for service and sales, Vocalcom is taking customer engagement into the future with its conversational commerce platform. Recent developments such as personalized video messages on the fly, the industry-first intelligent reconnect, and universal conversational messaging are simplifying customer engagement for truly seamless and effortless customer experiences. The Vocalcom conversational commerce platform offers a data-rich context that enables customers to switch easily between channels in a single interaction, saving them time and inconvenience. Conversational interactions through text messaging, in-app messaging, and platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Telegram, WeChat, Viber, and others allow customers to engage with brands in real-time or asynchronously through a single thread. Currently, 40% of companies have seen a call deflection rate when shifting customers to SMS, and 23% have plans to add it this year, resulting in more than 60% of all contact centers offering SMS support by the end of 2016. Conversational commerce is set to revolutionize the seamless customer experience, fueling sales, service, and customer satisfaction alike. Learn more about the Vocalcom conversational commerce platform for creating effortless customer experiences.

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