Conversational commerce, or the intersection of conversing with and purchasing from a business, is not in itself a new concept. However, similarly to most Customer Experiences, it has rapidly evolved thanks to people, process, and technology. Yet, most companies are somewhere in between the door to door salesman and having customers re-order through their Amazon Alexa. If the latter sounds like science fiction, you may be surprised by the benefits conversational commerce could have for your business.

The Basics of Conversational Commerce

 

Uber has been credited with many disruptive Customer Experience Trends, so it’s no surprise that in 2015, Chris Messina coined the term “Conversational commerce” in a brief Medium article. Since 2015, conversational commerce has seen many changes, but the basic components of conversational commerce remain the same:

 

  • Chatbot: Software that is programmed to interact with or ‘chat’ with a customer, no human intervention from the company side is required
  • Conversational Commerce: When a customer makes a purchase from a company through a conversation
  • Live Chat: A software platform that enables an employee to converse synchronously (in real-time) via written messaging (chat) with a customer
  • Messaging Platform: A channel in which a Chatbot or Live Chat conversation occurs, these channels can be third-party owned (e.g., Facebook Messenger, WeChat, etc.) or company-owned (e.g., Live Chat or Chatbot on a company website)
  • Proactive chat: A ‘pop up’ or unprompted Chatbot or Live Chat window that presents itself to the customer without customer-initiated contact
  • Reactive chat: A response to a customer-initiated contact (e.g., clicking a ‘Chat Now’ or ‘Learn More’ button)

     

Conversational Commerce Is Expanding

 

According to Forbes, “83% of consumers contact a business over messaging to learn about a product or service, 76% to get support, and 75% to make a purchase.” The use cases for conversational commerce are no longer limited to online shopping or even B2C interactions, for that matter. Increasingly, sales organizations in both B2B and B2C are deploying and conversational commerce and reaping a wide variety of benefits.

 

Does your sales organization have an opportunity to utilize conversational commerce? Download our Conversational Commerce Guide to determine if your company could benefit from deploying a conversational commerce solution.

 

 

Use this tool to develop a holistic view of the customer experience ecosystem, not just a siloed customer journey map.

 

Download the tool here.

 

The Many Applications of Conversational Commerce

 

Across industries, leaders of sales organizations face the same challenges, “How do we get people to use a consistent process?” and, most importantly for their bottom line, “How can we increase revenue?” Those challenges trickle down to those on the front lines who feel the pressure to do more with less, specifically sales reps who feel they “Never get qualified leads from marketing”  and when they do, they spend their time qualifying those leads and chasing down appointments, which leaves them with “Not enough time to sell.”

 

This is where conversational commerce comes in; here are just a few examples of where conversational commerce can alleviate some common challenges that sales organizations face today.

 

  • Lead Capture: A Chatbot can serve as a 24/7 lead capture machine, gathering not only contact information but product/service interest to better equip the sales rep responding to the inquiry.
  • Lead Qualification: Asking targeted interest questions via Chatbot or Live Chat can not only direct customers to the right sales rep, but it can ensure only the right customers make it through the funnel. Enabling your sales reps to have multiple conversations at once also frees up time for those simply ‘window shopping’ on your website.
  • Appointment Scheduling: Enabling inside sales reps to cut out the back and forth of scheduling introduction calls by having a value-add conversation from the first interaction is a huge time-saver.
  • Upsell: Utilizing a proactive Chatbot or Live Chat feature to suggestively sell add-ons or additional features to explore can increase average order value.
  • Cross sell: Connecting a customer with a product specialist in a moment of truth in their buyer journey can broaden the conversation and explore opportunities that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.

     

The Benefits of Conversational Commerce for Sales

 

In a time when many companies are still working to Capture the True Meaning of Customer Experience, they’re also working to define what internal departments are responsible for championing Customer Experience.  Conversational Commerce is a great example of a Customer Experience that requires a high level of coordination and collaboration to drive the maximum impact. When deployed effectively, Conversational Commerce can deliver benefits for customers and businesses alike:

 

Customer:

 

  1. Increased customer satisfaction
  2. Faster speed to resolution
  3. Consistent solution information
  4. Access to personalized pricing

     

Company:

 

  1. Generate more qualified leads
  2. Shorten the sales cycle
  3. Increase selling time for reps
  4. Increase average order value

     

As customers increasingly interact with companies and messaging and increase purchasing through conversational channels, the customer experience is changing for the better, and sales plays a key role in making it a success. Last year, SBI shared 5 Ways Sales Operations Can Champion Customer Experience, and it remains a key focus area for our customers. According to Frost & Sullivan, by 2020, customer experience will overtake product and price as the number one means by which companies will differentiate themselves. However, we often see clients rush towards implementation without first setting a clear strategy and assigning owners to execute.

 

Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Deploying Conversational Commerce

 

  1. Trying to solve for service and sales at the same time.
  2. Trusting a software provider to drive the people and process as well.
  3. Adding live chat as another ‘to-do’ for your sales team.
  4. Pretending a chatbot is live chat.
  5. Setting vague or broad program goals.

     

Across industries and business models, we tend to see the following:

 

Trying to Solve for Service and Sales at the Same Time

 

All too often, chat functions are deployed on home pages of websites, or every page of websites when they’re not programmed to handle questions related to the content on the page.

 

Trusting a Software Provider to Drive the People and Process as Well

 

Similarly to how my colleague Ben Redfield cautioned against relying on your expensive marketing tech stack to make you a digital innovator, investing heavily in the latest Chatbot provider won’t ensure your conversational commerce strategy will be successful.

 

Adding Live Chat as Another ‘To-Do’ for Your Sales Team

 

Live Chat does increase efficiency and enable your sales team to conduct multiple conversations at once. Still, if sales reps aren’t dedicated to chatting at a certain time, the learning curve can steepen, and value can be lost.

 

Pretending a Chatbot Is Live Chat

 

Luckily for sales organizations, the bots won’t be replacing sales teams in full force anytime soon, if ever. People can tell when they’re conversing with a bot, and as much as they love the convenience, they equally love the transparency.

 

Setting Vague or Broad Program Goals

 

Your chat feature shouldn’t try to solve every company’s problems, and the success of conversational commerce shouldn’t be measured as such. Setting very specific KPIs and goals are key to long term success.

 

Ready to Explore How Conversational Commerce Can Help Your Business?

 

If you think your organization could benefit from conversational commerce, be sure to download our Conversational Commerce Guide.

Download the tool here.

 


If you’re still not sure what application would be best for you, let our experts facilitate the discussion and kick start your customer experience transformation. Contact us to schedule time with one of our experts in the SBI Studio.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexis (Gompf) Neal

Driving Revenue Growth Through Customer Experience.

Alexis brings a broad range of customer engagement  experience earned in consulting and industry. She enjoys the challenge of working in cross-functional capacity, partnering with Marketing, Sales, IT, and Operations to enable customer success and grow revenue. Focused on data-driven insights, digital channel integration, operating model design, offshoring and outsourcing;  Alexis takes pride in helping clients cut through the hype and execute winning solutions.

 

Alexis is a results-oriented leader passionate about future-proofing  clients growth strategy. Operating under pay-for-performance agreements  with lasting success, Alexis deployed sales chat in B2B and B2C environments, and implemented virtual assistant solutions to increase average order value. She has experience in Financial Services, Industrial Products/Services , Telecommunications, Media, and Technology.

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