CM.com's Mark Appel shares some valuable Conversational Growth insights
The fact that conversations with customers are an essential part of a business’s operations is nothing new. However, nowadays, it is no longer about the fact that brands interact with their customers; it’s about how they do it, which has a critical impact on the success of the business. Conversational channels like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, which were originally meant for private use, have invaded the business realm and are here to stay.
This is where Conversational Growth comes in.
I sat down with Mark Appel, CMO at cloud software provider for conversational commerce CM.com, to chat about Conversational Channels and how businesses can implement them effectively.
“Today’s customers expect businesses to communicate with them through the channel of their choice, and the channel of choice tends to involve instant messaging,” notes Appel.
“The ability to communicate effectively with customers via conversational channels, be it WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat, Facebook Messenger or others, is becoming a must for businesses – it is no longer optional.”
According to Appel, there are two critical junctions in the customer journey where conversational channels play a key role.
“The first one is very close to the magic moment of the sale,” Appel says.
“When a customer comes close to purchasing something, they want to ask some final questions, requiring instant communication with the business. So that’s mostly about optimizing or increasing sales conversion rates.”
The second critical point comes right after the sale has been completed.
“At that point it has to do with customer support. So, someone started to use a product or a service and needs some help with it. Of course, they can always email the business or start a chat, but another option would be asking questions via WhatsApp, for example. This is where we see the use of conversational channels increasing dramatically.”
The ability to get instant service from a brand is directly related to customer happiness.
“If someone asks a question and it is responded instantly, this will naturally make them a happier, more loyal customer.”
The key word here seems to be “personalized.” Customers need to feel as if the business, as an entity comprised of numerous employees spread across various departments, actually knows them. The best way to create that intimate feel is to provide the customer with an integrated experienced across all channels.
“The omnichannel aspect is extremely important here, as customers interact with the brand through different points of contact and choose to reach out through a different channel each time. They could be interacting with customer service via WhatsApp and then with sales via SMS,” Appel explains.
“That’s why it’s crucial to provide them with that integrated experience, so that when they’re interacting with the brand, the representatives know who the customer is.”
Conversational Growth can be overwhelming at first glance. Business owners might accidentally believe they have to turn their business operations upside down in order to implement it, but that’s hardly the case.
“The ultimate purpose it to turn departments that used to be siloed into one when it comes to communicating with customers. But no one is expected to do that overnight – It’s a gradual process,” Appel reassures.
“I advise business to start with just one of those conversational channels, and gradually bring in new ones.”
Something else that might appear intimidating when adding conversational channels is the amount of messages. But according to Appel, there is no need to fret.
“It’s been proven that messaging takes a lot less time than replying to emails, so it’s actually really efficient on the business side, unlike what people might think.”
Another thing you can do is use AI chatbot technology to ease the workload of human agents.
“If you’re a big brand and you start offering those conversational channels, your customers are definitely going to use them, and you might find yourself with more messages than your agents can handle. In this case, instead of adding more agents, you can implement intelligent technologies to answer roughly seven out of 10 frequently asked questions. This both saves time and is more cost-effective”
Check out CM.com’s guide to conversational messaging for some more inspiring insights to help fuel your business’s Conversational Growth strategy.