August 30, 2018 | By

Conversational Commerce: The Next Evolution of Digital Engagement

Before the explosion of e-commerce websites in the 90’s, print ads brought customers to brick-and-mortar stores, and businesses leveraged salespeople to sell their products. Today, static product and service reviews and online shops are replacing in-store visits – leaving little room for conversation while shopping. In this new era, customers with questions or concerns simply move on – leading to less interaction and lower customer loyalty.

So what’s a business to do? Conversational commerce is emerging as a solution to the low-contact problem with online shopping by helping to provide a “vintage” sales experience feel without the store front.

What is Conversational Commerce Exactly?

Conversational commerce is all about bringing together messaging (like live chat and AI chatbots/virtual assistants) into the shopping experience to answer customers’ questions and concerns whenever, wherever. Customers are given hands-on, personalized support, just as they were accustomed to before the e-commerce boom. Additionally, with tools like proactive outreach, businesses can intervene at critical moments, like when a visitor toggles back and forth between two product options, or hesitates at checkout. Conversational commerce also provides for a much more unique experience for every customer and can spark prospects to become more engaged and likely to buy.

Adding Conversational Commerce to a Customer Engagement Strategy

So how do you deliver a great conversational commerce experience?  Here are a few key tips:

  1. Support Multiple Conversation Channels. Where a website is a one-stop-shop for all customers, additional channels (Apple Business Chat, Google RCS, Facebook Messenger) help to extend your reach.  Think of these like traveling salespeople.  They help meet customers where they already are instead of waiting for them to reach out.  And these channels are just the beginning of the conversational commerce journey – voice-based applications like Alexa and Google Home are quickly developing their place in the conversational commerce ecosystem.
  2. Don’t Be Scared of Chatbots. While some companies are setting a hardline on leveraging bots for conversational commerce, they are helping companies support their customers quickly and outside of normal business hours. For those still wary about AI, modern chatbots built with Natural Language Processing can understand the intent of customers’ questions – no matter how it’s asked — making the process of interacting with chatbots easier and more effective than ever before.  In addition, AI-powered assistants are also helping agents behind the scenes by quickly feeding them information and recommendations to help create a personalized experience in real-time.
  3. Be Sure to Avoid Data Silos. All too often, customer, web, commerce and conversion data all live in disparate systems making it impossible to see the full customer journey.  By breaking down data silos, companies can understand both the individual customers and the experience at a macro-level to help inform strategy shifts.

The Impact of Conversational Commerce

Conversational Commerce isn’t necessarily new, but as consumers are becoming more comfortable with their digital lives and messaging becomes more commonplace, it’s quickly emerging as a great way for brands to deliver an experience that can create long-term loyalty.  Companies we work with have seen improvements in conversion rates, net promotor scores, and call center volumes all thanks to their ability to reach customers where they are.  AI is making a big impact in the world of conversational commerce by adding an additional layer of intelligence that can help create faster more personalized interactions with customers and better overall results for companies.

Learn more about Bold360’s tools for conversational commerce and see how you can create a modern and convenient digital experience for your customers.

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