Posted at Jan 7, 2020 3:58:00 PM by THAT Agency | Share
Conversational commerce has quietly grown into a major factor in digital marketing. It has been mentioned as an on-the-rise trend, but it's embracing its potential ahead of most expectations. It differs from chatbots by focusing on messaging apps instead of websites.
Conversational Commerce vs. Chatbots
According to Social Media Today, one in every three consumers messages a business to find out more. A chatbot can handle the basics, but they're still inherently limited in their capabilities. Chatbots can tell you about deals or prices. They're best used to help narrow a customer down quickly to particular product suggestions.
That's incredibly useful, and the reality is that it's also not always what the customer is looking for. While chatbots can take a major burden off your real, human staff, customers will often have more complex questions. In these cases, conversational commerce takes over.
How is conversational commerce defined? It's in the name. It's a conversation about commerce. Forgive the obvious, but you don't need a more complex way of understanding it than that. Sometimes implementations of new digital marketing strategies are complex. This is one place where the simple and straightforward works best.
The Starting Point
It's funny that in an era where so much is being taken over by A.I. and automation that something so new relies on real people. Every point of conversational commerce still relies on technology, as well as your team using it well, but the goal is to quickly get those who need it to real people. There are several components to getting conversational commerce right.
Yes, technology still has to play a part. You can't assume every conversation is going to require live help. That would cost a fortune. Chatbots can still manage a large segment of the messaging taking place. For people who just need information or want to find what they're looking for quickly, chatbots are the most efficient way of getting it done in messaging apps.
Where chatbots need to be programmed and “trained” is in recognizing which conversations need to go to a real person. Measure the effectiveness of and satisfaction with your chatbots. If there are a lot of conversations where customers are becoming frustrated with them, then your conversational commerce is already failing.
A Skilled Team
Conversational commerce can't happen without support staff or a sales team who can manage productive conversations. That means you need a team who can handle this well, who know their way around your systems, who know your product lines and services, and who can be both friendly and efficient.
We have all had experiences in our lives trying to talk to support staff or a sales team who offer none of these things. Conversational commerce can't be frustrating for the customer. The goal of it can't simply be to get the customer off the phone with any answer, regardless of whether it's right. The goal is to build a relationship the customer will seek out again. To do so, it has to satisfy the customer.
That means that you need to hire skilled people to manage it. You need people with good communication skills, and you need to give them an environment that supports their communication.
Resource These Conversations
There's often a tendency among marketing departments to throw money at anything that gets you a technological leg up, and to starve out anything that relies on real people. The idea is that people can adapt under pressure, stress, and without proper resources, where technology has to have investment in order to adapt. This is not a good approach to conversational commerce.
Real people who you expect to be friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable need to have an environment that enables them to do those things. They need to have access to technology and be trained in its implementation because they need to be fast in solving problems and closing customers. They need to be transparent, and able to access information the customers want quickly. Key to conversational commerce is the customer being able to buy directly through the messaging apps they're using.
In other words, conversational commerce needs technology to at least be accessible to a skilled and trained staff. In many cases, it means technology needs to be built around that staff.
If they need to think about the process of finding an answer for the customer, then they're not engaging the customer or speaking to what the customer wants. They're speaking to the customer about a process. That's not fun for the customer. When your team is empowered enough to be able to find that answer like it's second nature, they can focus on the customer themselves, and speak to their likes and wants.
Is it Worth It?
If you were asked to mount a new campaign on Facebook, you'd take that investment very seriously. Yet the top four messaging apps see more active users than the top four platforms in social media. Investment in those apps shouldn't be backseated. It should be taken just as seriously.
Perhaps even more importantly, this approach creates customers who spend more and come back more often. This is because conversations create relationships. It's how human beings are wired. It's how we build community. A productive, helpful, friendly, and maybe even caring conversation makes a customer feel like your brand is part of their community, and as if they're part of yours. This is what creates loyalty and repeat business. It also helps customers who are still uneasy with online shopping to feel as if there's at least one place they can trust to do it.
They'll also be more likely to recommend it to others, especially through the mode that they feel most comfortable. This means they'll recommend their friends and family communicate with your business through the same messaging apps. In this way, conversational commerce builds an incredibly strong and purchase-focused customer base.