Is Conversational Commerce the Future for Businesses?

“Would you rather wait 10 minutes on hold or wait 10 minutes for an answer on Facebook Messenger?” This simple question from Stan Chudnovsky, the former Head of Product for Facebook Messenger, easily showcased the huge business potential of Facebook Messenger.

By Cat Wellwood, 09 August 2019

Throughout 2019 we have seen Mark Zuckerberg and the team at Facebook focus more and more on the capabilities of messaging apps as the future of the social media platform.  With the social networking giant working to integrate Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp, it’s clear that conversational commerce is here to stay.

As the technology sector continues to grow and flourish, there are a number of key reasons why very soon it will be difficult to avoid this new form of conversation.

The name of the communication game is accessibility

If you’re a little unsure about the term ‘conversational commerce’ it refers to the communication between brands and customers via messaging apps. This form of communication requires continuous interaction at exactly the right time.  With consumers becoming increasingly accustomed to contacting companies in any way possible, not only via telephone, email, or social media, but also via messenger services including iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Nowadays, smartphones and their capabilities are no longer a luxury but a necessity.  This has led to consumers being able to talk to brands like ASOS and Nike just as easily as they do with family and friends. The abundance of messaging services now available to users along with the strong likelihood of individuals having one or more of these apps installed on their device easily showcases messaging apps as one of the best ways to communicate on a one-to-one basis.

With these technological advances and improvements to conversational commerce, it’s important to remember that businesses no longer have to ask customers to create an account, download an app or ask them to call a telephone number.  Customers now decide how to connect with brands and personalisation, convenience and support are all vital elements of successful customer communication.

We now pay with a fingerprint

In China, we’re now seeing WeChat enable prospective holidaymakers visit the KLM site, look for their desired ticket/holiday destination and then pay with just a fingerprint. All of this now takes place entirely within the WeChat app.  Even though WeChat is not available in Europe at present, there are a number of channels being developed that offer the same levels of functionality, such as RCS. With Apple Pay now available alongside Apple Business Chat, the capabilities offered in WeChat are nearly a reality.

With the continued adoption of RCS for telecom companies, improving the customer experience you offer via messaging channels is well and truly on the rise. This latest move helps open new doors for customers – particularly Android users. It also means businesses in the UK can also widen their communication nets and reach potential new audiences.

What does this mean for marketers?

Get ready to message creatively! If you’re keen to utilise new messaging channels, it’s important to play to people’s visual expectations. Make sure to utilise enticing imagery and express the personality of your brand through emojis and even augmented reality.

Messenger could help manage expectations! Typically, people expect responses – and prompt ones, too.  Marketers and brands can utilise auto-responses to make people aware if they won’t be available.  When it comes to a bot, many people won’t know what to expect. This is why it’s important to guide people to choosing their own communication adventure.

Message brands your own way! WhatsApp, Instagram Direct and Facebook Messenger all offer powerful ways to drive growth and cultivate meaningful connections.  This messaging opportunity is open to businesses of all shapes and sizes with some powered by bots and others by people.  It’s important to determine how to scale this based on the expectations of your customers and your own strategic needs.

Will you be considering conversational commerce in your communications strategy?

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