Here’s how to take advantage of chat commerce this festive season

Originally published on IT-Online on 16 November 2021

For retailers the 2021 festive season offers an opportunity to recoup some of the losses from a disruptive and uncertain year.

Rapid digital transformation in the past 18 months’ has seen consumers adapt to being able to connect with and transact with their service providers via the channel that is most convenient for them – whether it’s email, the web or via chat apps.

For local businesses, this brings opportunities to extend their customer engagement to truly reach their customers where they are, in the moment when they’re making a purchase decision, and fulfill on it through seamless integration with the business’ back end.

Ryan Falkenberg, CEO of CLEVVA Solutions, and Joe de Wet, product director at Clickatell, outline how businesses can take advantage of chat commerce this festive season.

  • Allow your customers to engage digitally – Businesses need to recognise that the pandemic has permanently altered how consumers expect to engage with them, says De Wet. Customers are looking for ways to engage directly with you, any time of the day. Many are looking for direct digital engagement, not via traditional websites, contact centres or retail branches.
  • Let them talk to an expert – Customers are tired of engaging with simple chatbots, says Falkenberg. They want to talk to an expert, someone capable of clarifying their request, analysing their situation, and then offering them the right solutions that match their specific needs. And while human agents engaging via live chat sometimes offer this, customers are looking for more. With the emergence of digital experts, this is now possible. Digital experts can have context-relevant conversations that result in meaningful outcomes, not frustrating links to ‘helpful’ information.
  • Close the deal – A recent Clickatell survey of US millennials showed that 89% want to do business via chat, comments De Wet. Which means local businesses need to offer the ability to make purchases in addition to existing applications like making payments, booking appointments, tracking parcels, receiving special offers and so on. This is rolling out here and elsewhere at pace, and local businesses need to ensure they can facilitate this if they want to keep up with customer expectations.

Going into 2022, companies no longer have the luxury of time, says Falkenberg. Customer expectations are such that, if you are not able to offer real-time and intelligent digital service, one that shapes to each customer’s situation and need, and gets things done first time, your customers will start to look elsewhere.

That said, rapid technological advances mean you can now offer your customers a digital expert via your chat channel of choice without spending a fortune or taking months to get there.

The barrier to entry for intelligent self-service has dramatically lowered, says De Wet. This is very good news for small businesses looking to expand their sales globally.

View original article here.