There was a time when interacting with clients or customers was limited to asking open-ended questions over the phone or during face-to-face interactions. Your role in your business was to develop short-term relationships with these individuals to understand their needs, answer their questions, solve their problems, and more. Ultimately, your role during this conversation was what we're referring to as conversation marketing or, conversational commerce.
What is Conversational Commerce?
Using conversational commerce is moving a step further beyond that of speaking directly with the consumer regarding their needs or solving a problem. It's engaging consumers through the use of highly viable e-commerce channels which will ultimately sell your products. Conversational Commerce allows companies to offer their customers buying and shopping experiences utilizing personalized chat-like technologies that primarily use advanced technologies including messaging apps.
What this means is you're utilizing chatbots to have a real-time conversation with a lead or customer. In doing so, it's possible to take a personalized approach toward collecting data and increasing sales while simultaneously nurturing long-term relationships using dialog. Using this kind of marketing entices users to interact, instead of pushes or make them feel forced to engage in using the content.
These technologies are chatbots that are AI-enabled which process messages from the consumer and provide responses that are relevant in return. So, in other words, when companies utilize conversational commerce, they're helping consumers engage by using an automated customer sales platform. These interactions don't need employees on the other end to help with responding.
Why is this beneficial? The main reason is that, in addition to saving the company money and time training employees, customers are receiving "real-time" chat experiences. As soon as they arrive on a website, the bot appears and alerts them about an available message. Consumers have the option of clicking it for a question and answer discussion, or they can opt to shop without assistance.
Even though there are many options available through AI chatbot platforms, consumers also have the option of interacting using messaging platforms including Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp, WeChat, Viber, and many others. Through the use of these messaging apps, it's possible for consumers to ping their favorite retailer or company's handles regarding their favorite brands and begin real-time conversations.
A Brief History of Conversational Commerce
The first time conversational commerce made its emergence was in 2007. At this time, Joseph Jaffe wanted to teach marketers ways to re-engage with their customers through dialog, community, and partnership. He stated, "There are literally millions of alive, flawed, human, passionate, influential and authentic conversations going on around you right now: isn't it time you joined in?"
How has conversational commerce changed throughout the years? Previously, when we were interacting with consumers, we were speaking to them. These conversations happened face-to-face and then moved on to digital interactions through email, social media, and website contact. We were never having conversations with them. Do you see the difference?
User behavior changes when customer interactions are meaningful. What this means is, the customer journey isn't as shallow when the interactions between the customer and the business can shape a relationship. In doing so, the customer will establish loyalty because they feel they can trust the brand and they feel like the company cares about the purchase the consumer made or the services they're using.
Buying journeys feel like they did "back in the day" again, whereby the customer enters a store and is greeted by a customer service representative. Instead of entering through a doorway, consumers are now clicking through websites. Chatbots are greeting them similarly and giving them that warm welcome they may be familiar with before and, through those engagements with previous shop owners, why they returned and were repeat customers. These philosophies are now adapted to AI and it's working. Customers are sharing their interests, problems, and what they need with chatbots to help complete every step of the buying journey just as we used to do in face-to-face interactions with shop-keepers years ago.
Omni-Channel Apps at Play
When chatbots are at work, consumers have assistance throughout their buying journey. For example, when consumers are purchasing, they'll:
- Engage as soon as the consumer logs on:
"Hi, how may I help you today?"
- Begin assisting by using the customer's first name as soon as they log on:
"Good afternoon, Jane, how may I assist you?"
- Ask questions about the customer's purchase:
"Are you finding everything you need today?"
"Can I assist you with your order?
- Provide order confirmation:
"Thank you for ordering with us today, Jane! Your order confirmation number is xxx-xxxx-xxx."
- Offer follow-up assistance when orders have shipped:
"Thank you for inquiring about your order, Jane. I see that your tracking number for order number xxx-xxxx-xxx with tracking id #xxx-xxx-xxx."
Just like any other piece of technology, there are potential drawbacks, as well. For example, chatbots have a difficult time understanding some contexts. Bots will understand a straightforward question:
"Does the blue shirt come in size 5?"
"Does it come in size 6?"
"I don't understand it."
The bot will not understand a question that isn't straightforward, unfortunately, because AI isn't equipped with that human element. However, this is a simple fix. If a live agent compliments a chatbot, this ensures nothing will fall through the cracks. It also helps to have a customer service communication platform available to help answer questions and allow consumers to have a space for discussions.
The Bottom line
When businesses embrace conversational commerce, they're helping attract new customers and retain their existing ones. Not only with this technology assist their customers with their buying decision, but it makes them feel valued and establishes brand loyalty. While chatbots are an effective tool, they lack the human element regarding answering straightforward questions. Therefore, it's vital to have alternatives for your consumers available.