Conversational Commerce – the next phase of omnichannel customer experience

Conversational Commerce Communication creates data and data creates knowledge. Over the past decade we have been writing about the growth from single to multi to omnichannel commerce, following the goal for a consistent customer experience across all touchpoints. Next to voice commerce now a new channel has entered the omnichannel stage. It is called “conversational commerce”. It is not completely new, but it is time the conversational commerce comes of age and companies adopt it for their customer engagement strategy.

Enterprise have tremendous potential in analysing all communication streams internally and with their clients or business partners. The new paradigm is to own your customer experience. Combining a 360-messaging platform with a 360 view of your most important business data of your customers, products, services, locations and more takes customer experience and agility to the next level. Leveraging the power of AI and chat bots combined with the power of individual employees, enterprises can take their data to the next level of customer service and experience.

I had the great pleasure working with Smoope, a messaging as a service vendor recently. The segment is super relevant in these days selling to millennials. In these days every smart company is trying to find their strategy for turning conversations into transactions.

What I learned from a research in an analyst conversation with Lefti Co-Founder of Smoope and Forrester Analyst Laura Naparstek was, that 36% of conversations in chats are centered around “products & services”.  That emphasizes the need for rich and fast product master data to power the conversational commerce channel with the right and relevant data so that the customer can take a purchasing decision.

Conversational Commerce

I my opinion the omnichannel term continues to expand adding new interaction channels, such as messaging. This brings the need to integrate data and connect master data to new apps like messaging platforms. Clearly this is tied to the AI and chat bot discussion and blog, I published this summer. Whether you are talking to a human being or the AI-driven bot, answers can only be as good as the data foundation to offer the right product at the right moment. This promise and challenge, has just become more complex.

There is an appetite talking 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. Many are not set for taking the conversation to the next level and advancing the conversation, which will turn customers away easily.

The future vision in this segment is clearly impacted by the Zeitgeist of Alexa and Siri where customers are getting used to the most simplest way of formulating their need. Like texting or saying “please transfer 20 Euro to Ben”, or “please send me the shirt which was delivered today in size M” without filling out a complex form.

Conversational Commerce: ChatBot vs Human Being

Who is able to deliver more value with today’s technology? A chatbot like Levi’s or a real person from Zalon? (You may also check what Suitsupply is doing using WhatsApp.) I checked the Levi’s bot and obviously, it delivers all answers right away like my 505c I was not finding in stores, but I was limited showing the used style I wanted.

Clearly, omnichannel customer engagement has found one important new trend and channel, called “conversational commerce”, where vendors like Smoope or Twilio are playing. An important question will be how serious WhatsApp owner Facebook will be going after this B2B market opportunity. (Read more here.)

Conclusion:

Regardless of what strategies, companies will use, data will be the foundation it. Combining the communication of a customer, with the internal communication and connecting the dots between customer, product, service, location and many more business-critical factors, will require a flexible, and scalable data management base, like Master Data Management. But even here the transformation is happening a rapid speed. Real-time information for commerce, analytics and IoT are now required at a much higher scale. The cloud is no longer just an option, cloud-first strategies are just reality. And finally, the concept of platforms, with the flexibility to build and configure additional apps are state of the art in the MDM space.

Ben Rund

By Ben Rund

On January 16, 2018

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