The Acceleration Of Chat Commerce
Chat commerce, a form of digital commerce that’s still emerging in the U.S., enables brands to interact and transact with customers through messaging from anywhere as well as securely and in real-time. Brands can "go where their customers are" and serve them on chat apps rather than needing to put customers on hold during a call, requiring customers to download another app, or asking customers to access the website to re-enter payment credentials.
Many consumers are choosing chat as their preferred channel, and that means brands will follow. The data indicates that consumers spend about 90% of their screen time on five mobile apps, according to a 2016 Forrester report, and within that, chat apps rank number one. People chat with friends and family so pervasively that it’s not unusual for people to use chat apps within the confines of their own home to say to someone, for example, "Have you started your homework yet?" or "Dinner’s ready."
Using chat to interact with businesses is already experiencing widespread adoption and interest. As the co-founder and CEO of a company that provides chat commerce, I've found that some early adopters are also realizing the benefit of transacting within the chat. A few years back, many brands launched chatbots in their customer service operations, but they learned that unleashing an automated chatbot on a customer does not equate to "customer service." In fact, you might call it a customer dis-service.
Chat commerce is much more than a chatbot or live chat experience. It entails the full commerce journey from product discovery, placing an order, making payments, tracking deliveries, chatting to a live agent, resolving issues, and providing feedback. Therefore, the technology stack needs to support the entire customer experience lifecycle to unlock the full potential of commerce in chat. Chat commerce is also not only about AI, business process automation, or payments; it is also about the ability to place a brand inside the address book of its customers, right next to their family and friends, and serve them in a way commerce was always intended — simply, naturally and anytime.
Part Of The Consumer Experience
Building meaningful customer relationships that last relies on providing successful engagements — every time. These should be convenient and result in trust-building moments of truth where your customers find what they expect and can get things done. From checking the status of an account, ordering a meal, tracking a package in the mail, asking about inventory, or paying a bill, this is all chat commerce. What’s more, once the customer has the information they need and if the customer journey and engagement allowed them to build trust, I've observed that they often convert to also making the transaction in the same channel. In short, the same experience we expect in a store can be orchestrated over their chat channel of choice.
While payments in chat often complete the chat commerce experience, it's also true that most of the initial engagements over chat might not result in a transaction. Therefore, you should start the digital transformation journey on chat by focusing on providing excellent self-help solutions and live-assisted chat customer support. It won’t be long before customers add the business contact to their address book and confidently reach out whenever they need assistance. These trusted brand relationships can result in valuable repeat business.
Best Practices For Commerce In Chat
To convince customers to transact with you in chat, be sure to support a wide range of payment methods and allow your customers to make payments instantly and in a way they are already familiar with, whether that’s a credit/debit card, instant EFT, or wallet payment. Another significant factor is safeguarding against fraud.
For each use case, determine the level to which your customer must be authenticated to provide the appropriate level of access. For example, with FAQs, there is no need for authentication, but when your customer asks for an insurance policy, I recommend two-factor authentication. This allows you to verify that your customers are in possession of their mobile device associated with their phone number by sending an OTP to the device.
Here’s To The Future
The rewards after getting customer engagement in chat right can be massive. In partnership with our company, Aberdeen Research recently published a report, "Maximize the ROI of Chat in Commerce Activities," which found that companies that include chat experience 75% year-over-year growth in annual revenue and 89% yearly growth in cross-selling and up-selling revenue.
Now that the pandemic has forced brands to interact and transact with customers where they are, there has never been a better time to embrace commerce in chat and get closer to your customers. As recent history has shown, what once seemed novel can soon seem like it’s always been here.