A recent survey has found over 80% of customers are willing to pay more to get a better experience, suggesting that in the modern world of commerce, it is not always the products or prices that have the most significant impact on conversion but the positive customer experience a brand delivers.
Conversational commerce, also known as chat commerce or conversational marketing, represents a way for online retailers to unleash the potential of conversation to sell their products and services.
It doesn't matter whether the conversational experience is delivered to a potential customer via a chat app, a chatbot, a voice assistant or messaging platform — as long as customer communication is personalized, helpful and moves the consumer through the sales funnel, it serves the purpose.
Conversational commerce can allow brands to compensate for the lack of a personal touch in their online stores. That doesn't apply only to the physical absence of a helpful shop assistant, but to the type of content customers receive.
With the global spending of conversation commerce channels set to equal $290 billion by 2025, it is increasingly evident that conversational commerce is the way of the future.
How Does Conversational Commerce Really Work?
Conversational commerce gives ecommerce stores the chance to connect with customers at every step of their customer journey.
Unlike aggressive pop-ups and banners, this form of selling opens a dialogue between you and your potential customers that lets you establish much better relationships.
The customer journey map can be divided into the following five stages, which highlight where and how to use conversation commerce at every step:
This stage begins when a customer realizes they have a problem. They start to look for ways to solve it and discover you in the process.
The awareness stage may be the most important stage of the entire funnel. You can sell great products and design beautiful pages, but how can customers purchase from you if they don’t know who you are?
Conversational tools let you connect with customers who have just begun their journey and are searching for providers like you. You can use those tools to show customers that you understand their issues and know how to solve their problems.
Customers have already conducted preliminary research and learned a bit about you at this stage. However, their hunt for information hasn’t stopped yet.
They’re still looking for more information, comparing you with available competitors and reading user reviews. At this phase, you can use the power of conversation to give customers even more details to help them get to know your offer.
This is the moment when the customer is ready to purchase. However, you shouldn't rest on your laurels, even if they chose you. You need to assure the customer that they are making the right choice.
At this stage, you must keep the conversation going to strengthen the customer's decision. Provide social proof, and resolve issues instantly if any appear.
If the customer has arrived at this stage, you’ve provided all they’ve needed so far.
That doesn’t mean you can stop doing your best. Taking special care of customers who have arrived at this stage is highly beneficial, as data shows that it’s five times cheaper to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one.
To maintain a good relationship with your customer, you need to send messages from time to time and respond to their messages, even if they are negative.
This is the last stage of the customer journey and the one that’s the hardest to arrive at. By this point, the customer should be a brand ambassador who eagerly recommends products to their friends and family.
Beyond that, there are more potential benefits. If you continue the conversation with customers, you can ask them for testimonials or product reviews and make them feel a part of your team. Doing so can strengthen those relationships and give your business greater credibility among future customers.
Types of Conversational Commerce
You’ve already learned where and when you can connect with your customers. Now, it’s time to find out how you can do that. Luckily for you, there are quite a few good options you can choose, including:
Live chat is one of the most popular communication channels. It enables one agent to chat with two, or even three, customers at a time, reducing the wait time and boosting customer satisfaction.
Live chat apps have huge ecommerce potential, too. You can use it to proactively engage customers visiting your website and with those who otherwise wouldn’t ask for your help. Afterward, you can guide the customer on your website and offer personalized recommendations to help them choose the product.
A chatbot is a software that helps users by providing answers to their questions via text messages. Chatbots can chat with multiple users simultaneously and provide information within seconds around the clock.
What’s more, you can implement them on both websites and messaging platforms to deliver an everyday experience at different stages of the customer journey. These functionalities have made chatbots a prevalent form of conversational commerce, allowing brands to connect with customers with relatively low effort.
A messaging app is a chat platform that lets you exchange instant messages, with popular examples including Messenger, WeChat and WhatsApp.
They allow for the use of memes, GIFs, videos and emojis to keep the conversation light and boost customer engagement. Consumers typically use them for private communication, to contact brands or for online shopping. Consumers typically use them for private communication, to contact brands or for online shopping.
Many messaging apps have outpaced social networks, garnering 20% more users than social media platforms. They help create much more personal and natural customer communication, which can translate into higher conversion rates.
A voice assistant is a software activated by voice commands that answers user questions. Voice assistants — such as Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, Cortana or Siri — are becoming increasingly popular on many electronic devices.
The growing popularity of voice assistants has encouraged brands to use them in their ecommerce marketing and customer service strategies. Voice assistants can offer fast answers or direct searchers to your website, which can help you to increase your brand awareness.
Benefits of Conversational Commerce
Conversational commerce lets you recreate the experience your customers get in a typical corner store. The difference is that they don’t have to leave their comfortable couch for that to happen.
By taking special care of your customers, you can also achieve your business goals faster, including:
Reduce cart abandons.
Cart abandonment is a serious issue, with up to 70 % of shopping carts abandoned. To fight this problem, you must find its source first.
One of the most common reasons customers don’t finalize their purchase is the high shipping prices. Customers are often discouraged by the requirement to create an account or a confusing checkout process.
Additionally, consumers often treat the shopping cart as their wish list. They collect multiple items to find out how much they cost, then leave the cart to compare similar lists at other sites.
How can you reduce the rate of abandoned shopping carts with conversational commerce?
Send proactive greetings via live chat to customers who have gathered items in their carts but haven’t purchased them: Offer your support to help the customer complete their order.
Use theFacebook Messenger Checkbox plugin: It detects active Facebook sessions, allowing you to connect with users who haven’t finalized their order. You can offer customers a discount to incentivize them to return to your site and place an order.
Helps close potential leads.
Conversational commerce platforms are a great way to support customers considering a purchase. Moreover, 49% of consumers say they would spend more with a brand that gives them a message option rather than a call.
**Send customized live chat greetings:**Tell customers about your seasonal discounts or offer them expert advice, giving customers all the information they need to make a purchasing decision.
Use a chatbot on the checkout page: 47% of respondents are open to buying items using a chatbot. Let it answer all the questions concerning your delivery options or refund policy.
Use chatbot reminders: They enable users to use the bot to monitor the price of products and get notifications when they are lowered.
Direct messaging for support cases.
While some products may be easy to use and simple to understand for customers, many products and services require additional support post-purchase.
Reach out to customers with complicated products: If you have a product or service that is known for being difficult to understand or operate, a check-in email could be a fantastic way to bridge the gap and let customers know that there is a resource available if they need anything.
Review open support cases: By reaching out to any customers with open support cases, you can quickly solve any of their issues, all while making the customer feel as if they are valued and that their satisfaction is thoroughly appreciated.
Collecting feedback from your customers through natural conversations is much more effective than leveraging typical web forms.
Use a Facebook post reply tool: It allows you to send a chatbot message to every user who comments on your Facebook post.
Use a live chat post-chat survey: It lets you collect customer feedback after they finish up the conversation with a chat agent. By asking customers about their opinion right up front, you can double your chances of getting their feedback and learn more about your customer’s needs.
Provides upselling and cross-selling opportunities.
Upselling and cross-selling strategies can give you a chance to double your profits by selling more to customers who are already considering purchasing for you.
Providepersonalized product recommendations**via LiveChat:**According to a study, 59% of US consumers who have experienced personalization believe it has a noticeable influence on whether they purchase a product.
Use a Messenger chatbot to proactively connect with previous customers: For instance, a chatbot can let the customer know that you are now offering a product that complements their previous purchase, which can help cross-sell your products. It can also remind them that the face cream they bought is probably out and needs to be replaced.
Builds customer loyalty.
You only get one chance to create a good first impression. Offering a helping hand to a customer who has entered your store for the first time lets you seize this opportunity.
By supporting customers through the next steps of their customer journey, you can establish much better customer relationships and build trust.
Use a chatbot to share promo coupons: Customers love getting promotional coupons and more often engage with brands that offer them.
Use a voice assistant to support your customers: It can help customers search for information or to order products easily. Give it a friendly name and the type of character that reflects your brand’s values.
Challenges to Conversational Commerce
No matter how successful your entry into conversation commerce is, you will likely come across certain challenges, including:
Data can be siloed.
As with any multi-department or omnichannel project, data siloed can quickly become a problem if you are not careful.
Consider a customer who decides to message your business on Facebook Messenger or on Etsy. The conversation may eventually transition over to SMS text messaging or email. What happens if one channel’s data center doesn’t translate to another? The customer can easily find themselves having to repeat what they’ve already said, potentially leading to frustration and a diminished customer experience.
When selecting a conversation commerce tool, ensure that it can integrate with others easily.
Can feel dehumanizing.
It is often an inevitable side effect of automation tools that the user experience can ultimately feel dehumanizing, especially if the tool’s artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t up to date or sufficiently empathetic.
To compensate for this, businesses should make sure that their tool can pick up on keywords effectively while understanding phrases that indicate frustration or that the customer would like to speak to an actual human.
It can be highly frustrating to speak fruitlessly with a chatbot that doesn’t understand you — your goal is to make sure that doesn’t happen.
How to Get Started with Conversational Commerce
Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor can your conversational commerce strategy come together in 24 hours. You can achieve great results and stand out from the crowd only if you pay attention to the smallest details.
Here are five steps to help you take the first steps with conversational commerce:
Analyze your business needs.
Before you implement your conversational tool, consider the problems your team and your customers face. Set realistic goals you would like to achieve.
Maybe you want to increase sales? Reducing shopping cart abandonment can help in achieving that.
Maybe you would like to deliver faster, more convenient customer support that will help you improve brand loyalty. You name it.
After your dream list is ready, group and prioritize your goals to decide which are the most crucial for your business, vital because you might not be able to turn all your processes around at once. Sometimes, it’s better to introduce novelties one-by-one and test how they work.
Do your research.
Before you decide on a specific solution, set your benchmark. Research how other companies in your industry utilize the potential of conversational commerce.
Then, list all of the available solutions you can choose from. Ask for demos and sign up for free trials to learn about each solution's pros and cons. If you already have a specific solution or channel in mind, get to know the most popular and outstanding examples you can draw inspiration from.
Don't forget about your customer's opinions, either. Check out your reviews to find out what they are missing from your services. You can also interview some of them to understand their current needs better.
Identify a partner.
Choosing a reliable conversational solution that easily integrates with your ecosystem is half the battle. The second half is implementing and managing it effectively, which may not always be possible without having specialized people on board.
For instance, if you decide to use live chat, you must train your team to deliver high-quality live support via text. The average live chat response time is 47 seconds, and some customers get angry when they have to wait longer. If you can’t offer fast service, it may be better to use a chatbot platform — though that would require some conversational design knowledge, too.
Consider how you can solve your aches and pains with available resources. Ultimately, hiring an agency to implement your tool and manage the conversations could be easier.
Launch your conversational commerce tool.
Once you have selected your conversational tool, there's one thing left: key performance indicators (KPIs). This could be the number of customer conversations, the satisfaction score or conversation rates.
Your KPIs will help you measure your success, give you hints on which of the solutions brings the best results and tell you which should be reconsidered or improved. When everything is ready, you can hit the road and start using conversational commerce.
Even if you’ve tied everything up in a bow, you still need to monitor your performance.
Quality, real-time metrics can help you evaluate your performance and improve your conversational activities at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
The Final Word
Through the use of real-time communication tools such as bots, messenger apps and voice assistants, conversational commerce can generate significant benefits for any brand.
Creating a new strategy will likely take some time, and managing conversations may also prove challenging. But every great relationship starts with a small, casual chat.
By treating conversational commerce as a human, empathetic journey, you can go a long way toward making your customer feel comfortable and right at home.