The latest social media developments have facilitated a progressive shift from traditional brick & mortar to e-commerce. The dethronement of the computer by smartphones has further enabled social commerce as well as conversational commerce.
According to Juniper Research, global spending on conversational commerce grew by an incredible 63 per cent from 2021 to 2022. And with this trend being projected to continue upward until at least 2025, it’s clear that conversational customer engagement is the future of commerce. Conversational commerce is the phenomenon of customers interacting and shopping with brands through chat and social apps.
Chat App Or Shopping Platform?
Smartphone owners have their go-to apps for chatting and socialising. As such, they are normalised to expect live updates and as such have developed the need to be engaged constantly and consistently. Businesses with social media presence for marketing intent only no longer suffice. Consumers expect an enriched, timely and seamless shopping experience whether they are browsing on social media or chatting on an app. By setting up a brand presence on chat apps popular with your customers, you empower customers to shop with you on whichever channel they prefer. Contrary to transactional websites, chat apps are easy to navigate given their familiarity by users.
From pre-sales to post-sales, customers expect quick replies and expedient communication. This, however, can strain the company’s existing resources, especially if a brand has an established presence on different social and conversation channels.
In our latest consumer insights report, we found that only 22 per cent of the entire sample was happy to wait longer than 24 hours for a response. 36 per cent of the sample wanted an immediate response, and a further 24 per cent said that an acceptable time for a response is within an hour. Companies must therefore innovate and develop a self-service strategy that delivers excellent customer experience. Given this need for real-time servicing, on different social platforms, there is an opportunity for the use of Conversational Artificial Intelligence.
Nonetheless, conversational AI empowers businesses to automate self-service solutions. These chatbots are available 24/7 for customers to resolve simple queries on their own. They can also be programmed to chat using informal language to maintain the human touch. When asked whether they had ever had a sense that they were dealing with a chatbot and not a real person, 82 per cent of this sample answered yes.
Clearly, too many businesses are getting this wrong by poorly implementing chatbots.
The Four Pillars to Choosing A Conversational AI
- NO CODE CONTENT MANAGEMENT
The most significant part of responding to a customer’s query is the conversation. Customer experience managers should be able to design conversations and manage the content behind those conversations without technical know-how. A well-built CMS allows anyone within the company that doesn’t have any knowledge of AI or NLP (natural language processing) to build dialogues and conversations for any virtual assistant. Examples include chatbots, voice bots, dynamic FAQs, and knowledge base management. These are then distributed to different platforms and channels such as WhatsApp Business, Telegram etc.
- CONTROLLED AI
Conversational AI also has one supreme advantage – it provides 24/7 support in delivering answers that match customers’ questions. By understanding customers, you understand customer conversations, a task that is necessary for generating accurate answers. Nonetheless, it is important that a user of conversational artificial intelligence remains in control of its NLP fully to best monitor and safeguard conversation quality.
Customer service is the backbone of every business, as its interaction with its customers directly affects its success. The conversation must be personalised with a human touch. Or is the agent on the other side responding from a script in a robotic manner? A multi-channel approach with 24/7 support allows us to build a “Bot first, agent follows up” strategy. Conversational AI can hand over to a live person, allowing the agent to focus on more urgent matters and far more complex queries.
- SECURITY FIRST
Your customers should not be worried about their data security. As such, here’s what you should look out for in order to comply with data protection regulations:
- Role-based access control (RBAC)
- Four-eyes principle of change management (workflow)
- Development, testing, acceptance, and production environments
- Authorisation logs, audit logs, and location-based access restrictions
- ISO 27001 certification and GDPR compliant to monitor and safeguard conversation quality
In summary, conversational AI can be used to enhance the customer experience as it provides insights, given the data it stores on customers’ histories. By understanding customers, you understand customer conversations, a task that is necessary for generating accurate answers.
How Can Conversational AI Enhance CX?
Customer acquisition and retention are incredibly competitive. What sets apart a business is the customer experience, which is a fluid combination of automation and human interaction. The former takes care of repetitive tasks while the latter leaves you with room to innovate, and strategies. Brands that are keen on being found where their customers are have leveraged these apps’ conversational nature to increase customer goodwill and experience.
The first and the last mile are the most important for DHL. They implemented conversational AI the moment they saw the need for other digital channels. It was important to get the backend right, though. A bot with only standard answers, not linked to systems, has less added value. Their tip is to have a good backbone so that you can quickly and easily provide the correct answer to the user. DHL made it more than a FAQ bot by creating a bot that gives customer-specific answers. That’s why they use context.
Being among the first online insurers, InShared focused on self-service, believing that a customer service department was unnecessary. Yet the questions kept coming in albeit having made everything available online: from requests to adjustments.
The chatbot implementation proved valuable as InShared could monitor the results to increase customer experience. The customers wanted to be reached via the chatbot, email, Facebook, or Twitter and to be immediately understood and provided with a correct answer.
After several optimisations on content, chatbot appearance and name, they were able to accrue knowledge that enabled them to build an internal knowledge base for InShared employees.
The fashion brand had a website at the time that was hard to navigate, with unmanaged and inconsistent content, and the help page where most customers would go to find an answer merely consisted of an unstructured list of FAQs. They adopted a real-time internal chatbot that reduced its operating costs by 14 per cent. They were not looking for a massive overhaul. They needed a prompt solution integrated into their existing architecture.
Today’s AI chatbots are considered the closest thing there is to being human. Or, rather, mimicking being human. And if implemented correctly, can be seen as the key to reaching customer experience goals.