Conversational customer experience: Everything you need to know
Many of us have experienced first-hand the major shifts in business-to-consumer communication that have happened over the years.
From one-time transactions to personalized, one-to-one experiences – the way customers interact with their favorite brands continues to evolve. Businesses that want to exceed customer expectations today need to adopt new technology, practices, and processes.
Although we’ve made strides in automation and quick response solutions, customers still want real, human-like experiences – from their first interaction to their repeat purchase.
So, how can you deliver the best customer experience possible with today’s advanced technology and an endless list of consumer demands? By being conversational.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about conversational customer experience and how it can improve your business:
What is conversational customer experience?
Conversational customer experience is a type of CX that doesn’t only focus on problem-solving. It aims to build long-term relationships with customers that result in greater customer loyalty, improved brand image, and ultimately, more revenue.
It uses context and conversations to allow both agents and customers to pick up wherever they left off – and enables marketers to engage customers in a trusted and familiar way.
Simply put, conversational customer experiences make it easy for:
- customers to interact with their favorite brands and receive help when needed
- marketers to engage customers across their journey – from onboarding to retention
- agents to provide personalized support, quickly and easily
Benefits of conversational customer experience
If you’re looking to improve both internal and external processes while boosting key metrics and performance – setting up a conversational customer experience might be your best bet.
Below we highlight the key business areas that are positively impacted by conversational CX and what you can expect if you decide to build one out for your own organization.
Simplified customer journey
Combining the power of conversational channels and AI can help you simplify your customer journey. Using chat channels to incorporate emojis, photos, videos, documents, and automation in your customer communication can speed up onboarding, account setup, verifications, wrong order resolutions, and other time-consuming, tedious processes.
Being present on the channels customers already use eliminates the need for them to download a new app, find an appropriate website, or create a new email thread. Instead, they can open the apps they already use to chat with their family and friends to start interacting with your brand, too.
And with new features including product catalogs, time pickers, quick reply buttons, and payments – any conversation has the potential to evolve from an informative query to a complete purchase, all within the same chat.
Giving customers what they want – and sometimes what they didn’t know they needed – will help you build trust and long-term relationships.
When customers sense you understand them well, whether through promotional messages based on their previous purchases or support that doesn’t require them to repeat themselves, they will continue to buy from you. Why? Because getting to know your customers well through conversations gives them a real, human-like experience with your business.
Gone are the days of sending one-off offers or transferring customers from one agent to another. Conversational customer experiences are built on in-depth insights based on behavior, purchase history, demographics, and more. Showing customers your brand is dedicated to building relationships can result in:
- repeat purchases
- increased satisfaction
- loyalty growth
If there’s one thing customers dislike most it’s having to repeat themselves. Followed by having a disconnected experience on each channel they use to interact with a brand.
Having more than one channel is important (more on this below). Different channels are used for different interactions. However, when businesses make these channels work together, they start to see positive changes.
Ensuring you have a conversational platform to help you carry conversations from one channel to another is key. In addition, implementing channels that enable customers to have different touchpoints with you in one place can help boost ROI.
Leveraging new feature developments on channels such as WhatsApp, Messenger, RCS, and Viber can help you scale communication – enabling marketing messages, support conversations, and time-sensitive alerts and notifications to be exchanged in one chat.
Unified internal operations
Delivering conversational experiences is beneficial not only for your customers but for your employees as well. Having one platform for all your touchpoints and channels helps marketers, agents, and chatbots work together to deliver one experience.
Since conversational experiences are built on insights, the customer data you gather over time can be used by:
- marketers to set up targeted, behavior-based campaigns
- AI chatbots to have automated, human-like conversations
- agents to provide fast, personalized support
5 pillars of a great conversational customer experience
To provide true conversational customer experience, you need omnichannel capabilities, a full overview of the customer, agent empowerment and support, flexible co-creation, as well as data analytics and reports.
1. Omnichannel availability and coverage
It appears every few months a new channel or social media network enters the market and disrupts what marketers thought they had figured out.
Staying connected with customers has become a job in itself. Deciding which channels your customers use and adding them to your tech stack can be confusing, time-consuming, and sometimes frustrating.
According to the latest Microsoft Global State of Customer Service, the majority of customers are still using 3-5 channels to get their issues resolved.
That’s why an omnichannel approach is what most businesses have turned to over the last few years.
The main goal of setting up an omnichannel communication strategy is to make all the channels you use to communicate with customers work together. This enables you to continue conversations from one channel to another – and with the right solution, your customers can interact with your brand from anywhere at any time, while your agents and marketeers hold access to conversation history and context.
To better understand the power of omnichannel communication, let’s take a closer look at a potential customer journey:
- Discovery/Consideration: A customer sees a sponsored ad on Facebook and wants to know more about a product. They click the “WhatsApp” button on the ad to open a conversation on WhatsApp with the brand. The customer asks the question and the brand’s chatbot answers it within a few seconds.
- Purchase: The chatbot prompts the customer to purchase the product if they’ve received the answers to their questions. So, the customer places their order directly in the app.
- Delivery: Later, the customer leaves the city and loses their internet connection. Luckily, the brand has SMS set up as a failover channel. Because of this, the customer receives an SMS with their package tracking information.
- Support: A few days later, the customer receives a package, but it contains the wrong item. They contact the brand’s customer support team over Live Chat on their website. An agent answers their query – and because they have the customer’s order information and conversation history, they’re able to resolve the issue within minutes.
- Retention: The brand later sends an automated message on WhatsApp asking the customer to rate their satisfaction with the product and the brand’s services. Now, they have feedback they can use to improve in the future – and the customer is happy they cared to listen.
It’s easy to see now that if it weren’t for the popular channels the brand was present on and the cloud solution that enabled its employees to engage and support customers in a timely manner, the customer’s experience would have been suboptimal – leading to the frustrations and brand abandonment we often hear of today.
Tip: Partnering with a global cloud communications provider can help you provide clients with coverage anywhere in the world. This gives them a competitive advantage over other businesses that are limited to a specific region.
2. Full overview of the customer
A complete overview of the customers is essential in providing an everyday conversational customer experience. 75% of customers want the agent to know who they are and their history. Unfortunately, the same study showed that customers had this information in only 31% of cases.
Using a customer data platform enables you to connect insights from all online and offline sources including your:
- contact center
- loyalty cards
- payment system
This data can help you create 360° customer profiles that make it easier for marketers to set up targeted, personalized campaigns and for agents to provide fast, personalized support.
Understanding your customers’ preferences, analyzing their purchase history, and making note of how they interact with your brand are all aspects that can help you keep them engaged.
Here are a few examples:
- providing product suggestions based on their previous purchases
- sharing special offers based on their loyalty status
- referencing previous conversations with a chatbot or agent to avoid repeat answers or questions
Tip: Use an omnichannel customer engagement solution that has a built-in customer data platform to make understanding and engaging your customers easy.
3. Agent empowerment and support
Customers aren’t the only ones that struggle with support. Agents experience a myriad of challenges daily.
One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways of supporting your clients’ agents is by introducing chatbots. Most customers want fast answers, and your clients can accommodate them with always-on support through chatbots.
In addition to helping customers avoid long wait times, this also opens up agents’ time to focus on more complicated requests.
Depending on the type of chatbot a business chooses to implement, it can help:
- Automate answers to frequently asked questions
- Recognize customer intent to provide detailed answers and support
- Direct customers to their next step using links and rich media (images, videos, documents, etc.)
4. Flexible co-creation
A key component of a conversational customer experience is inviting the customer to take part in building your brand. Listening to a customer’s input is equally, if not more, important than sending them offers or providing a solution to their problem.
According to Microsoft, 77% of consumers view brands more favorable if they proactively invite customer feedback.
A good way to invite customer feedback is to use unique, rich features on messaging apps.
Here are a few examples:
Tip: Using one solution for all types of customer communication will help you keep your entire customer journey connected – giving your employees the insights they need to produce better business outcomes.
5. Data analytics and reports
Numbers never lie – which is why most leaders rely on them to make informed decisions for their business.
In fact, 90% of business leaders have improved their customer experience since using data analytics reports.
Keeping track of how customers interact with your brand can help you understand where you need to improve. You can track metrics such as messages sent, delivered, and opened rates – as well as the engagement levels on a certain campaign or the number of participants in a survey.
You can also track metrics to improve internal processes such as agent workload, efficiency, and quality of work.
Tip: Use a solution that tracks data and generates reports automatically to minimize adding tedious tasks to an employee’s to-do list and to ensure you track metrics regularly.
Conversational customer experience use cases
Here are a few ways you can create conversational experiences across the entire customer journey.
- Onboarding: Make account setup and onboarding enjoyable. Send video tutorials or overview documents to new joiners. Then have a chatbot answer any frequently asked questions customers might have afterward.
- First Purchase: Send limited-time offers to new customers for your best products or services. Follow up using an engaging message type, such as a product catalog on WhatsApp or a carousel on RCS. Make completing their first purchase as easy as possible for customers to leave a positive first impression.
- Delivery: Set up failover options for time-sensitive alerts. If you chat with customers on WhatsApp or Viber, send tracking information or delivery status updates on both the chat app and SMS. This way customers receive the message if they lose data connection or the app experiences downtime.
- Retention: Use previous customer behavior, such as past purchases, channel preferences, and conversation history to set up proactive customer support and targeted marketing campaigns. Share content you think will be useful for the products or services they recently purchased – minimizing the customer’s need to contact your support team. Then, provide future product or service suggestions that complement their previous purchases to increase the likelihood of repeat purchases.
Examples of good conversational CX
Brands around the world are beginning to unlock the value of providing conversational customer experiences.
Here are some of the results:
Reduced donor churn by 33% after streamlining communication with a conversational omnichannel approach.
Secured a 40% boost in conversion rates after optimizing its driver registration journey with conversational channels and automation.