Chat is the New Phone Conversation: Pivoting to Include Conversations as Part of Your Master Data for Customers

Ben Rund

By Ben Rund

On October 15, 2020

“Generation Mute” likes chat commerce. Generation Mute is made up of digital natives – those who have not known life without technology let alone a smart phone – who use those same phones for everything…but physically talking on them.

What do they do instead? Text, share, shop. The consumer power is still there. So how do you empower and tap into that power?

By 2020, 70% of customer interaction will involve emerging technology to like messaging, chatbots and more. Live phone chat is dead according to Sparkcentral. The new gen is not willing to talk on phone calls, preferring just text and voice messages.

 Chat Commerce: Two Third of Requests are about Products & Service

According to an analyst conversation with Leftherios Hatziioannou, the Co-Founder of Smoope and Forrester Analyst Laura Naparstek, 36% of conversations in chats are centered around “products & services.” This emphasizes the need for rich and contextual product master data to power the conversational commerce channel with the right and relevant data so that the customer can make a favorable purchasing decision.

“Omnichannel” continues to grow, encompassing new interaction channels such as messaging, so integrating messaging platforms into the master data fold is increasingly important as well. Whether you are talking to a human being or an AI-driven bot, answers (and eventually customer satisfaction from using that chat) can only be as good as the data foundation to offer the right product at the right moment.

There is an appetite to talk to brands through messaging, but the brands need to be clear on expectation setting and their processes. Many brands seem not to do well and are not able to go beyond the welcome message. These same brands are not set for advancing, let alone automating, the conversation beyond the “hello.” This is a missed opportunity based on the growing needs of Generation Mute.

 The New Customer Engagement: Social, Individual, Fast

Next, a personal story. I had an issue with a well-known online clothing company. It’s a brand I buy from frequently for suits, shoes, and accessories.

On my phone, I was trying to order shoes in 44.5 (EU size). Online, the company showed that this size was not available, but I could create an alert to let me know as soon as it was available. I did this, or tried to; the alert was not working properly, allowing me to select only size 39.

So I decided to tweet about it.

Master Data for Customers

With that, my customer experience journey started. They immediately sent me a direct message via Twitter. They identified me and my customer profile, verifying it with my  Twitter name @benrund to match it to my full profile and email address. The company let me know they logged the size and sent me a direct URL to process the order.

Was this good customer service? It was fast and responsive to where I was…immediately…on Twitter.

But the company also made it easy for me to spend my money. A direct link led me to the shopping cart, where I just had to do the transaction. Done.

A few minutes later the next Twitter message was in, informing me of a new service which could be custom-tailored to my style, preferences, and history. I usually pass on these services because I enjoy creating my own style and outfit. But smart brands and retailers are doing this with PIM apps for merchandisers and marketers. These apps group products together into a bundle and promoted in a campaign. While this sounds like an obvious up-sell to a loyal (and now very happy) customer, most companies haven’t mastered targeting, packaging, and selling to the right consumer at the right point of need.

I decided to test it, as they showed real service and focus on me as a client. I filled out my preferences, and a few hours later, I was contacted (with permission) via WhatsApp.

To recap: I tried to order something on my phone to no avail. My retailer saw my frustration in real-time via Twitter. They sent me a link to resolve my issue, which I did. Then they used chat to ask me to try a new customized service. Which I did. They continued the conversation in a speedy fashion over WhatsApp. Do I feel like this was great service? Yes. Did I feel like the service was lacking because I didn’t actually speak with anyone? No. The problem was resolved fast. Period.

Chat Bot vs Human Being

Consumer goods giant Beiersdorf shared insights on next level of 1-2-1 (or 1:1) consumer dialogue with our chatbot-based conversation platform during DMEXCO 2020.

“[Their chatbot-based conversation platform] scaled to more than 40 markets in speed, fully standardized, channel-agnostic and highly qualified conversion,” Martin Böhm, their CDO posted, “[It is] fueling our mission to have a 1-2-1 relationship with million of consumers.”

Whether you prefer to use an AI chatbot like Levi’s or a live person using chat functionality, you need to make sure these customer interactions are part of your master data in order to analyze and improve your customer experience. It depends on your chat strategy. Do you want to provide a chat experience to handle simple requests, or use it to handle more complex requests?

For simple requests, you may be able to automate worthy, bot-useful responses to inquiries such as:

Do you have Product A in color Black and size M?

Where can I find the Replacement Part A for Product B?

What is the customer service hotline?

Where can I find the user manual for my e-bike?

For some customer service needs, you may want to offer a personal interaction with a live person. For example, in the insurance business, you have regional agents who manage the sales, and can securely handle changes or updates to your insurance policy. When registered, a bot may tell you what your current contract or policy number is, but the dialog may be handed over to a live agent who continues the chat or calls you back.

Buyers are always demanding a better experience. With an expanding array of choices, they will rapidly migrate to your competition if they don’t like what you offer, how you offer it, and how you service it after the sale.

For leading companies, the ideal customer experience starts when you connect the dots between the customer profile, the interactions, the transactions, the shopping history, the interest, the location, and other demographics and variables. For many companies, this data is still often scattered across different silos and apps in many organizations.

As a solution, MDM (master data management) unlocks the potential of the data by connecting the right product to the right customer at the right moment. As a result, you can provide a higher quality, more relevant, and more contextual customer experience to your buyers.

Chat for Generation Mute is the “what’s next” for staying relevant to the next demographic wave of buyers. How you respond, and how you contextualize those conversations, will drive your bottom line and create loyalty in an increasingly fickle market.

For supporting information, check out these two webinars:

Riversand and Smoope and 451 Research on Business Transformation.

 

About The Author – Ben Rund

Ben Rund is Riversand’s General Manager in the DACH region and Vice President Business Development, Europe.

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