Conversational eCommerce – How Can it Work for You?
It’s not uncommon for a consumer to download a brand app and off load it almost immediately if they are unhappy with the initial user experience. When this happens, the brand immediately loses the opportunity to interact with the consumer and to carry on a fruitful engagement. It is unfortunate that certain brands invest significant budgets on app development and marketing, only to have low levels of adoption. How great would it be if consumers could connect with all brands they engage with, through one single app?
This is now a possibility, thanks to the world of opportunities created by OTT messaging applications such as WhatsApp, Messenger and Viber. Over the past few years, these apps have been opening up their APIs so that they can be used by brands for business purposes. With a business account, a brand can get information from the customer or push information to the customer through automated chatbots or live chats.
How can messaging chatbots help overcome technology adoption issues in Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka has approximately 22 million mobile users of which 13 million use smartphones. In terms of messaging apps, the country has a captive WhatsApp user base of about 10 million, in addition to 8 million Viber users and 6 million Facebook Messenger users.
Is it possible for a consumer brand to ride on the goodwill of these messaging apps and start reaching out to customers? Yes, of course. Think about it, if you already have an audience of 10 million users who have adopted WhatsApp and are using it regularly, it only makes sense to use this platform to engage with them. The fact that WhatsApp Business now offers a host of interesting customizable features which allow the deployment of a rather advanced interactive automated chatbot, makes it all the more exciting.
What should you consider before deploying a chatbot for your brand?
We find that technology isn’t the biggest challenge in developing a chatbot. Technology is constantly improving and there is always something new to offer customers. However, it is more important to identify how and where in the process you can use bots to improve the customer experience. If the customer doesn’t see or feel how the technology is helping them have a richer experience, it is very unlikely that they will be convinced to use it. You need to explore your business needs and pain points and see how this technology can serve as a solution for your business before you consider deploying it.
Here are some of the questions you need to ask:
Is it going to increase operational efficiency and cut down operational cost?
Is it going to improve how you interact and engage with customers?
Is it going to increase revenue?
It is also important to understand your audience, before you make your decision.
Technology adoption – consider the level of technology adoption among your audience. As Sri Lanka has more WhatsApp users than Facebook users, it makes sense to add WhatsApp to your digital strategy, which may already include Facebook marketing.
Language – this is something you need to consider, when using both chat and voice bots. If your audience is mass market, you will need to have multi-language options. For voice, you will need to pay attention to multiple pronunciations, so that you don’t alienate a portion of your audience.
Connectivity and internet usage – if your audience (mass market) has limitations in going online and browsing your eCommerce website, WhatsApp might be a good channel to showcase your products and services, undeterred by major connectivity issues.
The next step would be to understand the different functions and tasks chatbots can perform for your brand.
Support Chatbot – communicating between the brand and the customer
Skills Chatbot – to teach a new skill or train a customer
Informational Chatbot – provide additional information about product or service
Assistance Chatbot – provide assistance with a customer query or concern
Transactional Chatbot – can provide quotes, help customers make a purchase
Can chatbots be used in any industry?
In Sri Lanka, there are multiple industries that can truly benefit from deploying a chatbot. Here are some examples:
Retail Industry – a messenger chatbot can be extremely helpful for a retail business to showcase available products and undertake orders, especially in our current reality of lockdowns and curfews.
Fashion Industry – a chatbot can help automate repetitive information, including product details, price, size, colour, etc.
Healthcare Industry – a chatbot can assist customers set up follow-up appointments, track the status of laboratory reports, channel appropriate doctors based on symptoms.
Finance Industry – a chatbot can dispense financial advice, provide customer support, cross-sell housing/car loans, accept credit card applications.
How can a WhatsApp chatbot work for you?
Let’s look at some scenarios where businesses from various industries have practically applied this technology to increase efficiency and enhance customer experience.
Businesses offering a service such as printing or packaging can answer queries using a messenger chatbot. Customers can inquire about an existing order, place a new order, re-order, request a quotation, find out about business hours of the store or get directions.
A business offering a customer service or after sales service such as maintenance or repair can use messenger bots to improve efficiency. For example, customers can request a customer service rep, report a fault, create a service request or get an update on the status of the service.
Ecommerce businesses can benefit from messenger bots, by offering customers another platform to engage with the brand and purchase products. Customers can enquire about product details, product availability, check on shipping options, and even purchase a product.
The healthcare sector can utilize messenger bots to take care of the initial interaction with a customer in terms of finding out a patient’s symptoms and directing them to the appropriate doctor. The bot can assist with setting up appointments, reminding patients of follow-up appointments, sending laboratory reports to patients, answering basic queries and providing information.
A messenger bot is a great way to showcase promotions and deals to customers, and convert bookings. It also means that customers can directly book with the hotel instead of through a third-party site. This benefits both the hotel and the customer, as the third-party booking commission is waived off.
Personal banking queries and support services can be conveniently handled by a messenger bot. Customers can receive transaction information, check account balance, or apply for credit cards and any other financial service.
Reporting and Analysis
The business can receive raw messaging data, including insights on sent, delivered, read, failed messages; details of when the customer bounced off the chat, etc. This type of business intelligence allows the brand to make changes to an existing campaign or set up a brand new campaign.
This technology can effectively become a value differentiator for your brand when deployed successfully. Our recommendation is that you look at this as another channel in your arsenal of digital tools to increase efficiency and significantly improve your customer engagement.
Watch our webinar on Conversational eCommerce here