Strategy

A timeline for conversational commerce implementation

Gabriela Porto
Gabriela Porto May 20, 2022
A timeline for conversational commerce implementation

Consumers’ new shopping habits, the boom of social commerce and the trend of purpose-led brand communications have highlighted the importance of a solid conversational commerce approach for online retailers everywhere.

With a conversational commerce approach, brands have the chance to engage new and existing customers through communication tools. No matter what platform is used, the goal is to cater to clients’ needs in an intimate way and connect brands to people by offering an omnichannel way of shopping. 

It’s a new approach to customer service, one where ecommerce brands can offer real-time support during the shoppers’ journey. It has proved to be a good way of increasing conversion rates through cross and upselling, improving customer experience and brand loyalty, with 90% of people stating that they are more likely to buy from brands they interact with.

There is no way of getting out of this trend so here is how to implement conversational commerce for your online store.

Take a step back and look at your options

Building a conversational commerce strategy is not simple. There are various ways of approaching it depending on budget, amount of effort and labor force. The main options include chatbots, artificial intelligence replies and person-to-person interaction. It’s up to you to decide which ones to jump onboard with and which ones to drop.

Implementation timeline: channel by channel

After deciding what exactly will be featured in you conversational commerce strategy, you can begin to map how to roll it out. An important step, since the way channels connect is crucial to deliver a seamless omnichannel experience. 

Each channel represents a different storefront, requiring different strategies. For instance, one channel can require chatbots while the other requires a real person. And each path will impact directly on the implementation.

Ecommerce website

This is your main window on the online world: it’s where customers will understand what you sell, how and for how much. It’s a very straightforward place, but, like a physical store, it must also be the place where clients can request and receive more information. 

The most seen strategy for online stores is directing consumers’ questions through FAQs, help centers with menus or an automated chatbot that uses artificial intelligence to predict and understand what information is needed. 

The first two alternatives work great for the retailers who still don’t have a budget for automated responses. If your customer still has questions after checking the help center, you can redirect him to a customer service email or a call center. This could be a third-party service or a smaller team focused in customer experience as a whole. To roll them out, map previously asked and most common questions received and offer answers.

When it comes to chatbots, it’s a different story. It’s more complicated than just compiling information on one page, because it requires APIs and other plug-ins in order to work. There are three ways of going about this: hiring someone to build a customized chatbot, hiring a customizable chatbot solution or building your own. Whatever way you choose to go, make sure that the answers are correct, your chatbot is easy to use and that it has an artificial intelligence background to learn from customer interactions.

Having both of these on your website is a good way out because there are customers who prefer getting immediate feedback on what they are requesting, while others would rather just look for the answers themselves.

How brands are doing it

  • Airbnb uses a step-by-step menu that takes the visitor to where they need to go depending on which option they choose. If the question remains unanswered, AirBnB redirects customers to an inbox section of the website where they have the opportunity to chat with an Airbnb consultant to get further help. 
  • FARM Rio, a Brazilian brand that is now going international, is one example of combining chatbots and real-person treatment in the same chatbox. If not getting the desired answer, customers can keep talking with a customer service specialist.  

Social media

In social media, each approach must be different. The main channels of communication between brands and consumers today are Facebook Messenger, Instagram DMs, iMessage and WhatsApp. Each of these platforms has its own features and tools for retailers and other online sellers.

On social media, the main thing is defining who is the spokesperson and who will be responsible for being the voice of the brand. This person needs to be well-trained and well-versed in the brand’s statements, products and services as a whole.

How brands are doing it

  • In Brazil, for instance, C&A offers its own catalog to shop directly from WhatsApp with automatic messages built through APIs and special AI configurations. A chatbot equipped with the knowledge of a well-trained sales associate, ready to sell the company, can now offer catalog navigation and an assortment of services that goes beyond traditional customer service.
  • Tramontina desired to support customers not only through an ecommerce chat, but also through direct communication with sales associates from physical stores. Inside the website, there’s a button where customers can choose its communication channel and obtain tailor-made support either from stores or from the ecommerce customer service team. Additionally, brick-and-mortar franchises started to use customized links to redirect customers to their own WhatsApp correspondents. 

For social, communication is key

Beware of keeping interaction only on private messages. Communicate with customers across all spaces, including comment sections. 

Answering questions of one of your brand’s followers can be a way of showcasing availability, closeness and intimacy with clients. Beyond that, reacting in any way to comments is positive because it sends out a feeling of being heard and seen – something that a lot of people crave in this ever-connected world.

A step-by-step overview

  1. Identify what tools you have to work with, from chatbots to real-life people.
  2. Define a clear and concise strategy for each communication channel that is connected to the brand’s main message.
  3. Build a help center or a FAQ page.
  4. Map out scenarios for AI chatbots, from websites to messaging apps.
  5. Train a team of workers as spokespeople for the brand and the main contact point of the customer.
  6. Deliver the correct message always, no matter where.
  7. If possible, offer real-time service.

Are you interested in implementing your own conversational commerce strategy? Talk to one of our digital commerce experts today to know more.

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