Conversational commerce uses technologies consumers enjoy using — such as chat, messaging or other natural-language interfaces — with artificial intelligence, so that people can interact with brands or services through bots. - Gartner
Artificial intelligence (AI) enabled virtual assistants or chatbots, as popularly known, are redefining how businesses are conducted on a day-to-day basis. For Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and other business leaders tasked with enterprise digitization, chatbots are top priority. AI-powered bots reduce friction and bring in substantial productivity gains across areas like IT Service Management (ITSM), Sales, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), HR, and customer service.
Chatbots bring 24/7, instant, conversational capabilities, replacing time-consuming navigation across screens and support portals. This can help businesses reimagine overall customer engagement, create a delightful customer journey and win greater market share.
According to Stephanie Baghdassarian, research director at Gartner, “Perhaps the key aspect of conversational commerce, however, is that it allows users to converse in their platform of choice, and therefore takes channel transparency to the next level.”
Why personalization is so important in today’s business
The essence of customer engagement is personalization - humanized interactions that make customers feel like they’re doing business with a real person instead of a company. Often times, you’ll hear customers refer to great customer service as “old-fashioned” or “the way things used to be.” What they really mean is the desire for the days before companies ditched conversational engagement for automation and self-service. Grasping the importance of connection gives businesses a major competitive advantage. Gartner predicts that brands offering personalization will outperform competitive brands by 15% more engagement.
Conversational commerce is basically a human-to-machine (H2M) engagement that utilizes chat, messaging, and other Natural Language Processing (NLP) interfaces. Typically, the conversation driver is a chatbot that can integrate with various application interfaces, facilitating a dialogue between customers and companies. A chatbot can be device, channel, and application agnostic, meaning it can be wherever the customer is, which in today’s business landscape is virtually everywhere.
How NLP powered bots play a key role in conversational commerce
Using a combination of NLP, machine learning, and AI, bots are poised to transform the digital customer experience. Customers no longer need to decide which medium best matches their requirements. Bots are contextually aware and connected to hundreds (which will quickly grow into the thousands) of different applications through open APIs. A bot can identify and solve a customer’s problem faster and easier than ever before.
Because bots track each user interaction, a conversation thread with each users exists, making it easier to offer heuristic resolutions and recommendations that anticipate the individual user needs—whether through text or voice. This two-way conversation humanizes the service and sales experience through localized discovery and past behaviors. Simply put, the bot starts to know you, just like it would if you frequented a brick-and-mortar store.
Where chatbots can make a big impact
There are a number of different market segments where the unleashing of bots will have a dramatic impact on how customer service is delivered. The following are a few use cases where immediate returns will be felt.
Cable, Internet, Telecommunications
These market segments achieve some of the lowest customer satisfaction surveys of any industry. Customers typically need to go through seven or eight steps of pre-determined questions to route a call to the appropriate customer service agent.
Conversational commerce offers an approach where customers text or speak their issue, and the bot determines the best channel, culls all of the relevant information on the topic, and routes the inquiry to answer the customer’s question or resolve the problem. If the bot doesn’t understand the customer, it asks for clarification through intelligent queries (as if the customer is speaking with a human customer service agent).
Applying for insurance and filing claims is a tedious and time-consuming process. Customers often find themselves on the phone for hours or awash in a sea of browser windows and a seemingly infinite list of questions.
Conversational commerce can revolutionize how insurance companies service their customers. With simple voice or text commands, customers can retrieve the information they seek such as pricing, available discounts, and current status, as well as initiate applications, file claims, submit payments, add and delete assets covered, and much more.
The average customer interacts with their bank 17-plus times a month. With all of these opportunities to engage, one would assume that customers are getting what they want from their banks.
The opportunity for banks to capitalize on customer engagement is huge. Customers indicate they would bring more business to their bank if it began offering more personalized, holistic advice. Banks waiting for customers to walk into their branches to engage will be waiting a very long time. 20% of customers are digital-only users today, and this number projects to grow.
Read our white paper to explore how you can transform automated and unintelligent customer service to personalized and intelligent one through modern, conversational, and more natural engagement.