Conversational commerce and the evolution of CX post-Covid

Adam Wilson, strategic partner director for EMEA and ANZ, Vonage, examines how to deliver outstanding customer experiences.

Delivering a superior customer experience is an increasingly multifaceted commercial challenge today, particularly in the context of proliferating communications channels and the exponential growth of ecommerce in the last two decades.

The post-Covid era in particular has seen shopping journeys increasingly bridge across social, messaging, and web e-commerce channels. For example, new research from Vonage out just this month has shown that over the past 12-18 months almost half (47 per cent) of consumers worldwide have increased their use of digital channels to engage with businesses and service providers with almost 90 per cent expecting to maintain or increase this level in the coming 6-12 months.

Furthermore, consumers’ preference for connecting with businesses using video has soared by 300 percent since January 2020, while preference for messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Viber, has doubled. The use cases are not limited either – consumers today are using video chat to connect with healthcare services 50 percent more today than before, whilst 37 percent of consumers prefer video chat when learning and studying remotely with a tutor.

All of this goes to show that in the years to come, omnichannel customer engagement will no longer merely be a customer want but a requirement for a customer experience that enables businesses to thrive and grow. Consistency of brand and communications across all customer touch-points will undoubtedly be the difference between securing and losing a sale – so getting this right is critical.

To effectively connect with consumers today, businesses must expand on their communications by employing technologies that enable them to flexibly embed programmable communications – voice, video, text and verification – directly into existing applications and workflows.

A major part of this growth for businesses should lie in effectively deploying conversational commerce, a term used to describe the growing amalgamation of shopping and conversations on platforms such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram, creating a seamless shopping experience. A 2021 market forecast by Juniper Research earlier this year anticipates that the total addressable market in this space will be worth $27 billion by 2025, which showcases the size of the opportunity.

To stay ahead of the curve, enterprising businesses and organisations are beginning to find it increasingly convenient to team artificial intelligence with CPaaS offerings to automate their conversational commerce offerings with startups such as Jumper.ai having generated significant traction for brands in this domain. Armed with insights from these channels, businesses can then increasingly incorporate communications APIs which will enable them to flexibly bolt-on programmable capabilities directly into existing applications and workflows.

For example, the use of voice assistants and chatbots is already growing and will continue to increase in popularity given such capabilities can be bolted on via communications API. Ultimately, the key is to meet customers on their preferred communications channels with what they need when they need it, however and wherever they might be.

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