Understanding Conversational Platforms: What Every E-Commerce Brand Needs to Know
Most brands know they must improve customer experience (CX) or risk losing customers. However, digital CX isn't about providing more content or using technology to streamline transactions. A digital experience needs to be a human experience. And human experiences are built on conversations — authentic ones between two people.
A conversational platform lets brands reach out to customers proactively. Using behavioral analytics, conversational solutions can identify shoppers that may be nearing the point of purchase. Shoppers receive an invitation to connect for more assistance. However, instead of automatically routing inquiries to customer support teams, shoppers have other options. They can choose to connect with a chatbot for routine service. Alternatively, they can converse with an on-demand brand expert for pre-purchase advice. That way, consumers can get insight on purchase options and evaluate whether the products or services they're considering match their lifestyles and needs.
A conversational approach like this allows you to reach customers during critical moments before they purchase from you. Clear, honest insights on how people think and feel during their shopping journeys come from conversations with customers about their purchase decisions. People's needs are different — and that makes their experiences different. People often bring emotions from other parts of their lives into their digital shopping experiences.
On-demand brand experts are able to reduce cart abandonment, listen to customers’ emotions, and utilize conversations as a source of data for insights.
These conversational platforms and product experts help decrease cart abandonment, an issue that various studies estimate to be a multibillion dollar problem in retail. Every day, millions of people place items into online shopping carts but click away without completing the transaction. Factors such as unexpected costs (e.g., shipping) or the need to set up an account before buying can drive consumers away.
Recent statistics reveal that the global cart abandonment rate is 77.24 percent, with an 85.65 percent abandonment rate on mobile devices. While many companies use cart abandonment emails to try to lure shoppers back to complete a purchase, this strategy is rarely effective. Consumer research shows that less than half (48 percent) of these emails are even opened, with an even smaller percentage leading to conversions.
By connecting visitors to brand experts, companies can ensure that consumers can ask all the questions that could hold them back from following through with a purchase.
As Gartner notes, companies have traditionally used enterprise feedback management (EFM) to gather post-transaction feedback. To improve upon this, brands need to accelerate their capability to listen to customers in real time.
Brand experts are able to listen to emotions and have two-way conversations with customers. They can effectively respond to customers’ feelings and sentiments. Independent product experts can address negative situations and potentially turn them around. If a customer expresses positive emotions, they can also deepen the bond with the brand by adding to the good customer experience.
A conversational approach also makes customers know that their views matter. They receive the prompt, one-to-one answers and support required to make confident buying decisions.
Brands can use the conversational input they receive to make critical changes to how they do business and serve customers better. This cycle of listening and responding to feedback is crucial in a brand becoming customer-centric.
Using transcripts of conversations between product experts and customers allows brands to study trends and themes in customer communications. By examining the text of conversations, brands can identify pain points in the digital journey — along with what they do well. Building on this insight, brands can look for opportunities to eliminate customer frustrations and remove roadblocks. By analyzing their conversations, brands can become one of the elite 1 percent of companies that are using customers' open-ended comments to shape decision making.
Conversational platforms aren't yet second nature to some retailers, but the need for them is essential in the digital world. As a new era takes root, more retailers will be ready to shed outmoded practices and adopt new innovations, including onboarding brand experts. Brands need to start focusing on what matters most: human connection.
Terrence Fox is the head of innovation at iAdvize, a leading conversational platform being used by major retailers across the globe, including Lowe's, L’Oreal, Disney, and Best Western.
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Terrence Fox is Director of Strategy at iAdvize, the only conversational platform dedicated to building genuine relationships at scale.
As a semi-professional endurance athlete, I thrive in challenging environments and live to push boundaries. To say this attitude spills over into my work would be an understatement. My time as a trusted consultant for worldwide Hospitality Executives at TripAdvisor and marketing innovator for global Enterprises at HubSpot created a fascination with brand saliency and consumer perception.
2020 has tasked retail brands with differentiating through unique experiences, and I’m excited to run this race with you.