Due to the rise of new technological applications, consumer behavior is changing fast. For instance, research conducted by Deloitte shows that 95% of all European and American consumers are already using their smartphones on a daily basis.
These consumers spend a large part of their time on messaging apps. More than 5 billion people are now using messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat. According to WhatsApp owner Facebook, approximately 100 billion messages are sent per day using the messaging app.
These people have become accustomed to certain communication channels and a large part of them are set in their ways. Once they start using a specific messaging app they are less likely to make a switch. As a company, you have to be able to anticipate this by being present on these channels. You also have to make sure that you interact with the customer in the right way. For instance, some people on messaging apps are used to a personal kind of interaction and expect to receive a swift and appropriate response to their questions.
More and more companies are using their messaging apps for their business communications, meaning this is increasingly becoming the starting point for customer interactions. Within this context, think of a search using Facebook or a ‘swipe up’ on Instagram to start a conversation.
It then becomes a matter of continuing the conversation with the customer. After the initial contact, messaging apps are perfect for customer service and offering the consumer the options of making instant payments or purchases. This has been tried and tested in China, where 1 billion people are already using WeChat, 90% of whom use it for online payments and purchases. We call this combination of communication between companies and customers and in-chat payments Conversational Commerce.
3 Crucial Advantages of Conversational Commerce
Besides optimizing your customer contact, by, among other things, offering the option of direct payment through messaging apps, Conversational Commerce also offers companies several other crucial benefits:
- Improved service
- Increased security
- Enriched content
Thanks to Conversational Commerce, you’ll gain a lot of insight into, and invaluable information on, your customers. For instance, you’ll immediately see which communication channel has been established, how it runs its course, and the result thereof.
You can then use that data to improve your customer interactions and adapt your marketing strategy. For instance, by putting more time and energy into a certain channel because that’s where the highest conversion rate is achieved.
Conversational Commerce will also lead to improvements in your service provision. You in fact capitalize on the needs of customers by enabling them to ask questions and be assisted simply and instantly through their favorite communication channels. By doing this swiftly and properly, you’ll ensure an optimal customer experience and contribute to customer loyalty.
There are many opportunities online, but at the same time it’s increasingly becoming a hunting ground for criminals. Just recently sources in both The Netherlands and United Kingdom reported that online fraud has significantly increased since the lockdown in March, and that scammers have set up fake web shops for Christmas gifts and shopping.
Conversational Commerce can help overcome this. For instance, a growing number of messaging apps are adding a check mark to verify the company with which you are communicating. Vice versa, you as a company can authenticate that you are talking to the right person by means of a fingerprint or facial recognition.
There are already various content formats available with which you can initiate interaction with the customer. Besides text, images and videos, you can, for instance, work with relatively new formats such as carousels, list pickers or augmented reality (AR).
This content doesn’t just help you strike up a conversation with the customer, it also provides valuable insight into their preferences. Customers can, for instance, choose their favorite shoes from a list and then select a time and schedule an appointment to try them on, or pay for them instantly
Augmented Reality enables users to first select a product and then check out how it looks ‘in real life’. For instance, the consumer can select a corner sofa, which is then projected into their living room using an AR app on their mobile phone to see if the shape and color suit the interior.
Conditions for Successful Conversational Commerce
The biggest challenge of making Conversational Commerce a success is planning your business processes properly. This cuts both ways. On the one side, it ensures that your interaction flows through channels on which your customers are active, while on the other side, it helps simplify and make it faster for consumers to complete a payment, pay an invoice or sign up for a subscription. You’re not just making things easier for the customer, you’re also making your company’s customer contact simpler and more efficient.
That’s why it’s important to think about your company structure. As a company you don’t just send out information and data, you also receive and respond to it. A good example is the ‘no reply’ messages that many companies still send. As a consumer you are already asked point-blank not to respond, which is quite odd in a day and age that you are used to always being able to respond to a message. So, stop sending these types of messages and initiate the interaction with your customers. Encourage them to respond when they have questions or want to know more.
What’s more, it’s good to think about how you as a company:
- Anticipate certain questions from customers. Which ones are urgent and which ones can you come back to later?
- Is the information you are sharing through these channels accurate and useful?
- Are you fostering trust through the channels you are using?
- How do you deal with data and privacy? Be as transparent as possible!
- Which communication solutions fit with your ambitions for growth?
- How do you process payments and cash flows?
- How easily can you respond to changes in the market? Like, popular new messaging apps.
By properly organizing your business structure and processes, you’ll get a head start on your competitors and you’ll be ready to take full advantage of the opportunities that Conversational Commerce has to offer.