Customers are adopting conversational commerce practices far faster than almost anything else. Conversational commerce adoption rates outpace even those of social media. Unsurprisingly, it's poised to have a big impact on user experience.
In recent years, there’s been a lot of discussion surrounding conversational commerce, a term that Uber’s Chris Messina first pioneered in a 2015 Medium article.
Conversational experiences in eCommerce are when customers can message through apps (WhatsApp, Uber, etc.); social networks (Facebook Messenger); or voice assistants (Google Home, Amazon’s Echo) and receive customer support.
These text message-like services, frequently powered by chatbots or artificial intelligence (AI), have become increasingly popular among customers, who prefer real-time answers.
In fact, customers are adopting conversational commerce practices far faster than almost anything else. Adoption for messaging apps has grown quicker than social networks, with 37% of people worldwide using some kind of messaging app, and over 40% of people own some sort of smart speaker.
Unsurprisingly, conversational commerce is poised to have a big impact on user experience.
Personalization & Convenience
Conversational commerce capitalizes on two of customers’ biggest desires in their shopping experience: personalization and convenience.
Bots and voice messaging services work well for people because they’re timely, helpful, and easy to use. There’s nothing to install, no special configurations – all you have to do is talk or type.
Truly well-designed bots also interact naturally with other apps and services. For example, your friends ask you to meet up with them after work today. They share with you the address of the selected pub via Facebook Messenger.
After work, you can request a ride from Uber just by tapping on the address or using Facebook’s transportation services. Your friends can even follow your progress. If by chance you’re running late, Messenger will let your friends know you’re behind schedule and exactly when you’ll arrive at the pub to meet them.
This seamless customer service benefits everyone - you, your friends, Facebook, Uber, the pub.
Furthermore, customers have come to expect brands to deliver this level of instant, convenient, and personalized customer service. Brands that do see results:
Properly executed, conversational commerce is a direct path to consumer satisfaction.
Bots Have Gotten Better
If you’re still hesitant to implement customer service via messaging platforms, you’re not alone.
The initial wave of chatbots was obviously flawed. From poor user experience, limited natural language processing capabilities, and stilted interactions, there was vast room for improvement - and improvements have been made.
Now, bots are being used to address customer questions, but also to automate otherwise manual processes. Bots can build complex quotes, diagnose issues, and make personalized recommendations for products and services.
The NumbersBot for example, lets you simply ask questions about your company’s sales, conversions, average cart value, and other key metrics, rather than reading through tedious reports.
Modern platforms like Oracle Cloud offer access to a broad range of leading SaaS, PaaS and IaaS services enabling rapid bot development powered by AI and machine learning technologies, as well as bot-to-human hand-offs, seamless side-routing to humans, context transfers among systems, and even back to bot abilities, as needed.
Bots don’t just improve your customer experience but also enhance your workflow.
Keep It Customer Focused
It seems obvious, but it’s critical to keep your conversational commerce efforts customer-centric.
Let your customers decide how they prefer to engage with conversational features. Many consumers prefer messaging options because they can multitask without worrying about bookmarking tabs, keeping track of emails, creating accounts, and other inconveniences.
Additionally, make the experience feel real. Customers still prefer to interact with real people - just on their own terms. Often, that means 24/7 access, in their preferred environment, in the easiest way possible.
While 1:1 human interaction isn’t feasible or fiscally responsible for most eCommerce brands, chatbots are certainly a step up from depersonalized and clunky “contact us” forms. Invest in good natural language processing to provide a fast, efficient, and real-feel experience.
Finally - and especially for global brands - offer conversational experiences across multiple platforms. While some customers are comfortable with Facebook Messenger, others might prefer WhatsApp or a voice assistant. The more channels on which you can offer conversational experiences, the more customers you’ll reach.
Sarah is a nimble and creative marketing leader with 15 years of experience in a mix of agencies, B2B, and B2C enterprises. She brings a background in building and driving impactful marketing practices and processes for growing businesses. Sarah has expertise in brand, content marketing, lead generation, and marketing operations. She’s a co-author of the 2019 book on B2B eCommerce Digital Branch Secrets: eCommerce Playbook for Distributors.