As far back as 2011, Gartner predicted that customers will manage 85 percent of their relationship with an enterprise without interacting with humans by the year 2020 – and we’re tracking to do just that. We all text in today’s mobile world, and because of this, the way daily transactions are occurring is shifting. Enter: Conversational commerce, the process of using chat, messaging, or other natural language interfaces (i.e. voice) to interact with people, brands, or services more than we ever have before.
Conversational commerce is all about delivering convenience, personalization, and decision support while people are on the go – with only partial attention to spare – and expands the mobile footprint by using texting’s potential to send payments, buy products, order services, pay bills and more. Conversational commerce is in its “learning phase” as companies wrestle with technology, customer experience, and support, but despite its nascent stage, there is plenty you can do to elevate your customer’s journey through this new technology.
Conversational Commerce and the CX
Messaging provides a continuous thread between customer and brand, unlike the siloed experience of email. An order confirmation email, even one prompting further action, often dies in an inbox, but conversation on messaging apps acts like an ongoing dialogue. This difference makes follow-up conversation easier, increasing the opportunities to cross-sell, encourage sharing, solicit input, and flow seamlessly between commerce and support.
Traditionally, we focus on conversational commerce as a way retailers can engage with their customers to trigger a purchase. However, conversational commerce has its place in the telecommunications industry. Self-service carrier apps are often used to help a customer keep track of their account, or notify them when a bill is due, but it also can be used to digest behavioral cues from the consumer and identify opportunities to upsell or cross-sell a product or service they might find of interest. For example, our Universal Messaging Suite helps our service provider customers stay competitive as they seek to offer more feature-rich, reliable messaging – on any device – through email, chat voice and video messaging.
It’s our job as the brand to utilize conversational commerce to present these options that the consumer may or may not have necessarily known they wanted in the first place.
Striking the Right Balance
We’ve all been in the situation when we’re on the phone with our bank and the first interaction is an automated response generated from a bot on the other end of the phone. That generic interaction asking “If you are inquiring about XYZ press one” can exist anywhere, in almost any app that a company seeks to engage with a customer.
But our duty as the brand providing this experience is knowing when interacting with a human and interacting with a robot – or some form of technology – may provide a better or more enhanced customer experience. At the same time, one of the biggest keys is the shift to humanizing our communications between the brand and consumer. These conversations may take place via a text message or voice call, with a bot or a human, or within a native app or a dedicated messaging app. At the end of the day, the brand is still communicating with the consumer or vice versa.
At Synchronoss we recognize the importance of this developing trend and we’re working with the world’s biggest operators, including AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone, Orange and SingTel, to provide their subscribers with the best possible customer experience. In order to succeed in conversational commerce, a disciplined, skillful understanding of the customer experience is critical.