The promise of 'conversational commerce' is being exactly where your customers are, and ultimately making websites and apps redundant. The shift to mobile has fundamentally altered the way people interact with each other, opening up the way for true conversational commerce. Whether it be for personal or business use, consumers are increasingly using messaging apps to find and select products and services, and to communicate with their brands of choice, all without having to call, email, or even visit a brand’s website.
Similarly, conversational commerce offers the opportunity to automate these conversations on a large scale, all without losing that personal touch. But more about that later.
Let's look at what is happening in the market first
Less than two years ago, the larger OTT players in the market presented their vision of how they were going to enable companies to communicate with customers through their channels. Most used OTT channels are WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Viber, Apple Busines Chat, Line and Telegram. What followed was a rat race to determine which party would be the first in successfully open the channel for companies. Well, nobody won. That's why everything is now combined in Business Messaging.
But what does Business messaging actually bring us and how does it help us? It gives companies the opportunity to have rich conversations with their customers. From video, buttons and smileys to carousels, menus and data pickers – all features are possible to include on the channel which they prefer.
What’s the link with Conversational Commerce?
Business messaging is one of the three required building blocks to implement conversational commerce in your business processes. If Conversational Commerce is successfully implemented, it should lead to more sales, higher customer satisfaction and more loyalty. To get all this working, we need additional technology and tooling on these channels. That is where CM.com comes into play.
But in addition to Business Messaging, these are two other building blocks required for conversational commerce:
1) In-Channel Payments solutions: The step from conversation to conversion is made by adding payment solutions to the conversation. Payment solutions connected to your phone such as Google and Apple pay, or a well-integrated iDeal payment.
2) Data and personalization: A bot and a Customer Data Platform is required to enrich, personalize and automate the conversations. All data can be stored in it and can be used by a smart bot and connected in personal conversations.
Change of communication
Implementing Conversational Commerce in your organization requires some changes in the way you communicate with customers. The biggest difference when compared to the current basic chat on a website or service desk is that the customer can now choose with the business messaging channels how and when to start and continue a conversation; we also call this asynchronous communication. With a basic chat or call, the call stops when hanging up the phone or clicking away from your browser window. In a conversational commerce conversation within a business messaging app, a customer can easily send a message to the help desk that the delivered shoes are too small. Then drink a cup of coffee and continue the conversation at a later time.
Better Marketing and Sales:
Imagine you are the owner of a big fashion webshop and you have your customer data platform in order. You can create a segment of all people who bought new Nike sneakers six months ago. Assuming they are almost worn out. You can send a message via a connected campaigning tool to the channel that this person used during the last interaction with you, say Facebook Messenger.
You have the same big fashion shop again and this time a customer has failed to pay. A payment reminder is sent, but the customer has no idea which invoice it concerns and seeks contact support via WhatsApp.
But, how do you get people to use these new channels instead of the old familiar channels such as mail and telephone? That is an exciting opportunity - you could achieve this by, for example, adding in your voice menu the option to handle the call via WhatsApp. Ask the caller to enter his number and send a text message with a link to your WhatsApp Business channel and continue the conversation from there.
What's the next step?
Before we reach the point where websites and apps are redundant and all interaction with consumers moves to business messaging channels, a lot has to be tested and learned first. We, at CM.com, help many companies to become more mature with conversational commerce.
First a number of basic steps have to be followed and to set this up completely as a company is quite difficult. That’s why we build a platform that takes care of a large number of things for you. Think of registration, capacity, connections with the channels, payment methods, bots and a data platform.
Start small and concrete by finding a process that needs to be improved. Connect the messaging channel(s), program the bot in a smart way and you are ready to start. We are happy to help you along the way!