Am I talking to a bot? Conversational commerce tools in 4 charts
- Customer experience is dominating how consumers spend their money and time online.
- In banking as well as other industries, conversational commerce tools can improve the customer journey and overall efficiency if implemented the right way.
Due to consumers depending on digital channels like websites and call centers during the pandemic, conversational commerce technologies like chatbots and AI assistants finally had their moment in the sun. In 2020, $165 million was saved through chat bot automation, and 77% of this amount came from the banking sector, according to Juniper Research.
As the chart from Drift’s research shows below, the primary motivation behind adopting conversational commerce tools in 2020 was to improve customer experience. Moreover, chatbots also helped with turning the massive online traffic triggered by the pandemic into paying customers.
For fintechs and banks, companies like Clickatell offer a variety of chatbot products, and founder and CEO Pieter de Villiers thinks that a blend of chatbots and human agents is best. While chatbots handle the high-frequency and low-complexity queries, customer service agents can focus on queries that demand human intervention. Meanwhile, customers can benefit from answers to basic queries without having to wait in lines or even going to the trouble of downloading an app.
With the reliance on digital channels increasing, consumer expectations are rising as well. When lockdowns were still in full swing, bad CX could mean that consumers wouldn’t be able to access the products they needed. As a result, 80% of consumers think that experience is as important as the quality of products or services, and 91% say they are more likely to make a purchase if their experience is good, Salesforce reports.
This shift in expectations pushed businesses to improve consumer journeys, and technologies like chatbots and voice assistants allowed them access to real-time assistance. Due to this use case, chatbots saw a YOY growth of 35.5%, while static channels like email experienced a decline of 25%, according to Drift.
While some companies are rushing into the metaverse to explore new avenues of engagement, others like Attentive are looking back. Their recent research on the state of conversational commerce shows that most consumers continue to use the SMS channel to learn about products and begin purchases. Their “two-way SMS conversation” product allows brands to stay in touch with consumers throughout their purchasing journey. Moreover, the company is planning on launching a text-to-buy product soon, which will enable buying, conducting research, and repeat purchases through texts – similar to what competitors like Clickatell offer.
Although conversational commerce tools are becoming increasingly common, some of the problems that haunted traditional digital marketing channels like email continue to persist. For example, consumers continue to get hit with a storm of irrelevant advertisements and promotional messaging. The data above shows a decrease in this problem between 2020 and 2021, but at the same time, more consumers report that chatbot services feel less personal.
Since chatbots and AI assistants are still far from emulating human conversational patterns, organizations have found different methods to make cold computer-speak more palatable. For example, Pieter from Clickatell says that he advises organizations to implement a handover to human agents when handling a complex query. To achieve a more familiar humanized experience, an actual human is introduced in the consumer journey.
Other organizations – like Satisfi Labs, which builds AI assistant solutions – encourage a more marketing-based strategy, says data and insights coordinator Marco Medugno. “One thing we try to encourage our clients to do is brand their answers. Sometimes it can be difficult to get a human to speak in company lingo, but our conversational AI doesn't mind,” he said.
The important takeaway, however, seems to be to automate sensibly. Despite the gains shown by conversational commerce tools like chatbots, it is important to understand that people don’t want a faster resolution to their query at the cost of quality.
“One of the major mistakes made when deploying chat is the obsession with automating as much as possible. Companies looking to lower the costs of customer support are correct that technology can help; however, the solution should not be adding to the customer frustration," said Pieter. "People know when they are dealing with a bot."