Conversational technology is impacting nearly every business and business vertical and changing how people around the world interact with one another, find the information we need, and communicate and transact with the companies we love. Through conversational technology, consumers and businesses can communicate via talking and texting from practically any location.
Defining Conversational Technology
So what is conversational technology and why is it becoming so popular? Conversational technology includes any tool that helps companies develop relationships with customers. That could include customer relationship management (CRM) solutions that give sales reps information they can use to convert leads into buyers or Chat interfaces that allow for dialogue between businesses and consumers for service, support, and sales. The term also can refer specifically to automated tools that can allow organizations to have meaningful conversations with customers without help from a sales rep or other human.
Conversational technology is fundamentally changing the way your customers expect to interact with your business. And the fantastic news? It creates substantial efficiencies inside your business—as well as for your customers.
Popular Options for Conversational Commerce
The number of tools that conversational commerce professionals use keeps growing – because consumers like to communicate with businesses. A recent consumer survey found that 63% of U.S. consumers prefer messaging more than other forms of communication and would switch companies to access it. Even people who like to speak with a customer representative know that they may face delays, hold times and the possibility of a dropped call.
We conducted our own research to better understand consumer behavior around conversational technology and chat. We found that:
- 88 percent of consumers regularly use chat apps like Facebook Messenger and Apple iMessage on their mobile devices.
- 54 percent of consumers say that they have already chatted with companies using a chat app.
- Millennials lead the trend in chatting with companies.
- About 33 percent of consumers have purchased items through chat, and 77 percent say they're open to the idea.
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SMS or Short Messaging Service text message is a simple, cost-effective way for customers to send an instant message and get information from your business without the wait. When given the options to SMS, many people will use this channel to ask important questions that help increase engagement with your business. Some popular questions businesses use SMS communications for include:
- Information on when a customer can expect a delivery to arrive.
- Confirmation on an order.
- The ability to schedule an appointment or dinner reservation.
- When they need to pay an invoice.
- How they can pay a bill.
- When they need to updated personal information.
- Where they can find a nearby location or get directions.
- How they can safely create new passwords for their accounts.
Businesses can also use SMS to let customers know about topics like new products, special promotions, critical information about their business, and discount opportunities. As long as customers opt-in for the texts—and you give them an easy way to opt-out—you don’t risk spamming them with annoying messages.
At Clickatell, we help you integrate your current applications with our SMS service, so you can send more messages using an intuitive, no-code interface that does not require deep technical expertise.
The development and continual improvements of automated chatbots is helping drive the growth of conversational technology. Chatbots do a very good job at answering basic questions, particularly the repeat inquiries that make up a substantial portion of interactions with your customer service team.
With the right approach, you can make a conversation with your automated chatbot feel like a natural extension of your brand. The key is to make sure you frame both questions and answers in your brand voice. The bot on your website can ask visitors, “How can I help you today?” and provide a list of responses, such as:
- Pay a bill.
- Schedule a call.
- Leave a message.
- Change an appointment time.
- Get an estimate.
- Open an account.
The list of questions is limitless, as long as the answers are simple and repeatable responses to the questions that are being asked.
When a customer chooses a response, the chatbot sends them to the appropriate option. Done right, it feels very natural, very much like communicating with a live human via chat.
You also can create automated chatbots that know when to pass customers over to your customer services department. If the bot cannot fulfill the request, it sends the visitor to a human representative who can have a more complex conversation and make decisions in real-time.
Clickatell’s Chat Desk is one of the most advanced digital contact center solutions in the world, and it relies on conversational technology to help provide customer support through a mix of Chat and live agent interactions. Chat Desk works by giving your customers the ability to get immediate answers from a live agent through whatever channel they choose—online web Chat or mobile Chat apps like WhatsApp – reducing contact center costs, helping customers get information and resolve issues more quickly, and giving the contact center greater flexibility to manage teams, call volume, and increase satisfaction.
Communications using chat apps gives you a chance to form relationships with consumers via platforms they already use—and love—for exchanging messages with friends and family members.
WhatsApp is a great example. WhatsApp is extremely popular globally, exceeding 2 billion users in 2020. Roughly a quarter of the world’s population uses WhatsApp. We can help you take advantage of WhatsApp’s most useful features to:
- Protect customer data with end-to-end encryption.
- Send notifications about upcoming deliveries, payment alerts, and other time-sensitive tasks.
- Automate responses to messages that customers send you.
While WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app globally, Facebook Messenger, Apple iMessages, Google Business Messages, Instagram, WeChat, and other emerging Chat apps are all incredibly powerful conversational technologies. Each app may appeal to a different demographic or age group so the key for any business is to find which app your customers prefer and to develop a strategy to include those channels as part of your mix.
Voice assistants are some of the newest conversational technologies you leverage to improve services and increase sales. Here, too, there are numerous options, with one that’s clearly outpacing the rest when it comes to current adoption. Nearly 70 percent of people who own smart speakers choose the Amazon Echo, which comes with an Alexa voice assistant.
Alexa can do much more than play your favorite workout album or tell you tomorrow’s weather forecast. It can also take purchase orders from owners. Since Amazon owns Alexa, most Alexa purchases come from Amazon-owned businesses, including Whole Foods. Alexa is something of a gatekeeper in this way, but it still shows the promise of using voice assistants to develop conversations between customers and brands.
Google Assistant gives you more opportunities to reach customers without a gatekeeper standing in the way. Google Assistant has about half a billion users. Optimizing your online content makes it easier for Google Assistant to find, recommend, and tell people about your business. Currently, you can’t make personalized scripts for your brand, but we many believe that development is just around the corner.
Partner with Clickatell for SMS and Chat Optimization
The technologies, and strategies, for conversational commerce and chat commerce will continue to evolve. The best way to ensure that you are taking advantage of the right opportunities for your business is to find a partner with the experience and track record of success.
As a global messaging and Chat Commerce leader, Clickatell helps you maximize your outreach and track performance. We are experienced at integrating SMS into CRMs and other software. The Clickatell WhatsApp Business API enables you to take advantage of the channel’s chat capabilities—and tap into the 75% greater year-over-year (YoY) growth in annual revenue (10.7% vs. 6.1%) experienced by companies that do.
If you haven’t already started using conversational commerce, you can test the waters with a low-cost entry plan from Clickatell and scale up as your needs grow. What’s more, our focus on Chat Commerce enables your customers to not just engage with you for information and support, but actually buy your product or service via chat channels.
Learn more by reaching out to Clickatell today and talking to a representative about how we can help your business start benefitting from today’s conversational technologies.