Conversational commerce is rapidly changing the way businesses engage with customers. Messaging apps, chat interfaces, and SMS continue to dominate as daily communication channels, paving the way for brands to find new and meaningful ways to deliver great service and drive brand growth. However, with all the different terms used these days to define this new revolution in customer experience, it may be difficult to understand just how conversational commerce works and which channels are involved. Here’s a closer look at the five essential conversational commerce channels and how brands are using them to redefine great customer experiences.
Of all the conversational commerce channels, messaging apps are arguably the most dominant. According to a KPCB study on Internet trends, messaging apps are the most frequently used apps worldwide, while a Statista study conducted this year found that Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are the leading platforms. Brands are now turning to messaging apps to offer the most optimized and personalized service yet while driving sales. E-commerce retailers such as Spring and Everlane have been using Facebook Messenger to offer personalized service and assistance with making purchases using Messenger’s chat bot function, while Burger King has used the same platform to enable customers to place food orders. Cosmetics brands such as Lancôme are turning to millennial-friendly messaging apps such as Snapchat to market products and empower customers to purchase in-app through Snapcash. With eMarketer’s prediction that global use of messaging apps will reach 2 billion people by 2018, messaging apps will undoubtedly dominate among conversational commerce channels.
Chat interfaces within apps.
While some brands are using messaging apps in their conversational commerce strategy, others are engaging customers directly within their own apps. Chat interfaces embedded within brand apps are also popular ways to assist customers and are often considered ideal for simple, direct transactions. For example, Marriott Hotels introduced a real-time chat function within its app to enable guests to make requests before, during, and after their stay. Electronics retailer Best Buy also offers live chat within its mobile app for assisting customers with everything from product research to making purchases and tracking orders. For some brands, direct chat assistance through their own apps has proven the most efficient way to engage customers and conduct conversational commerce.
With all the talk about messaging apps, it’s easy to forget that SMS plays a vital role among the conversational commerce channels. For many brands, SMS is already an integral part of their omnichannel strategy, enabling customers to perform such tasks as requesting service and tracking deliveries. However, some companies are especially dedicated to using SMS for customer engagement, tailoring their service to the channel. Clothing retailer Nordstrom, for example, enables their customers to shop through text by inviting customers to text general questions about products of interest, assisting customers with personalized recommendations, and eventually enabling purchase with a verification code at the end of the transaction. Other companies have built an entire service around SMS, most notably concierge service Magic Plus. The service enables customers to do anything from ordering food or flowers to planning events, all through simple text messaging.
Another aspect of conversational commerce is the use of natural language interfaces, more popularly known as intelligent assistants. Voice recognition software has been around for awhile, but they are becoming increasingly more sophisticated and popular in use. In addition to assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, Facebook launched Facebook M, Amazon introduced Alexa, and Google unveiled Google Voice. Alexa, for example, offers to assist customers with searching the Amazon catalogue, consulting customer purchase history, and making purchases. Intelligent assistants offer yet another channel for engaging customers on the go in a highly personalized manner.
Last but not least, traditional voice is still considered a prime channel for customer engagement. Numerous studies have shown that, when other channels are not optimized for service or a case is too complex, customers wish to speak to agents over the phone. Other studies have pointed out that older generations who are less familiar with social media are actually likely to prefer calling brands. Therefore, it’s critical for companies to recognize this traditional channel as yet another pathway to conversational commerce and customer service.
In our modern age, brands are able to engage with customers more quickly, efficiently, and meaningfully than ever before. With the prevalence of conversational commerce channels, brands can adapt their services to their targeted customers for optimum engagement. As a global leader in cloud-based contact center software solutions for customer service and sales, Vocalcom chose to integrate Facebook Messenger, Telegram, WeChat, Viber, Kik, and conversational SMS into its cloud contact center platform to evolve into a premium conversational commerce platform. Conversational interactions through text messaging, in-app messaging, and platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Telegram, WeChat, Viber, and more allow customers to engage with brands in real-time or asynchronously through a single thread, offering a data-rich context that enables customers to switch easily between channels in a single interaction for true customer satisfaction. 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. Learn more about the Vocalcom conversational commerce platform for creating modern and cutting-edge customer experiences.
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