Conversational customer engagement is quickly becoming a necessity for businesses. As customers continue to embrace shopping via messaging apps, conversational commerce is sparking a global movement that is only just beginning.
In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about conversational customer engagement and the tools you’ll need to make it happen.
What is conversational customer engagement?
The perfect environment for conversational customer engagement
Moving towards a conversational-first mindset
The technology that drives conversational customer engagement
APIs and integrations
Benefits of conversational customer engagement
It bridges a major communication gap
It improves the customer experience
It improves operational performance
Best conversational customer engagement platform: Hubtype
Conversational customer engagement is the process of maintaining a two-way dialogue with customers as they move through the customer journey. Customers can receive support, ask questions, get personal recommendations, and otherwise interact with a business–all through popular conversational channels.
Having a conversational CX strategy is particularly important today, as we continue to embrace conversational commerce. Today, customers can discover, shop, and buy products without ever leaving their messaging apps.
Modern conversational strategies take place on messaging apps, like WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. These messaging apps are ideal for conversational customer engagement because they are:
- Popular: Customers are already on messaging apps, and they prefer them to traditional channels.
- Intuitive: The interfaces of messaging apps are engaging and familiar.
- Scalable: Messaging APIs can be integrated with numerous backend systems, such as CRMs, marketing platforms, and automation tools.
- Effective: They reduce operational costs while improving customer experiences.
Messaging is a ‘goldilocks’ zone for modern conversational experiences. Between its pervasiveness, the technology it allows, and our current culture of instant communication, it is just the right environment for a new type of conversational economy.
The explosion of WeChat in China is a sign of what’s to come. What started out as a chat app quickly became the place where commerce happens. Now, there are 2.5 million companies across 50 different industries doing business on WeChat.
Companies can tap into WeChat’s ecosystem by building their own mini-programs inside of the platform. Because mini-programs run inside WeChat, businesses’ customers don’t have to sign up, log in, or add their credit card numbers.
Moreover, businesses can take advantage of WeChat’s secure network of connected users. They also benefit from a secure payment system and common currency. As a result, the barriers to trade are significantly lower.
All types of businesses are on WeChat, from global conglomerates like McDonald’s to local businesses like flower shops and hair salons. WeChat's payment features are even making cash obsolete.
In short, WeChat shows us what is possible when we take a conversational-first approach. Humans like conversations and social sharing–it’s in our nature. In a way, modern conversational technology helps us get back to how we’ve handled business for hundreds of years—through one-to-one conversation.
It’s hard to separate conversational customer engagement from the technology that powers it. A conversational-first mindset requires conversational-first technology.
As digital channels come and go, a flexible technology framework for managing conversations at scale is imperative.
Conversational platforms are customer engagement hubs that are built to handle business processes through natural language. They help businesses improve customer experiences while reducing costs.
Developers usually use a combination of the following technologies to build conversational platforms:
- Messaging apps
- Conversational user interfaces
- Virtual assistants
- NLP engines that support voice and text input modalities
- Dialogue management
- Multiple chatbots orchestration
- Training data maintenance
- Third-party integrations
APIs and integrations are worth talking about separately because they are a fundamental element of conversational customer engagement. What we’re seeing in modern software engineering is a shift towards an API-first mindset.
An API-first approach ensures that your technology will be flexible enough to work with other software and services. In a world where there are highly-specialized solutions for almost everything, you don’t want to be limited by a framework that doesn’t place nice with others.
Brian D. Ward, former Vice President of Marketing and Strategy at Experian, explains how important it is to make sure your conversational platform can work well with other technologies:
“During the past few years, the number of CX applications has exploded, but unfortunately many are difficult and costly to integrate into existing martech stacks. For that reason, you’re starting to see marketing leaders choosing platforms and applications that are proven to work well with one another,” he explains.
The image below illustrates how Hubtype connects consumer messaging apps + the Hubtype conversational customer engagement platform + your company’s tech stack.
Automation is critical when engaging with customers conversationally. As you probably already know, customers expect immediate acknowledgment and fast responses. Automation makes it possible to scale immediate, personal attention.
And, automation has improved greatly over the past few years. It’s evolved past simple chatbots to the point where it can dramatically improve customer satisfaction.
According to IBM, 80% of routine questions can be answered via automation. In-app features drive this number up, making it possible for customers to do more through conversational windows.
Automation is at the point where it is no longer just a way to cut costs. It’s improving response times, the possibilities for personalization, and ultimately the total user experience.
Our communication preferences are much different today than they were just five years ago. People barely want to call or email with friends and family anymore, let alone businesses.
Social media and messaging apps are the new normal. In an instant, we can send images, GIFs, documents, locations, and voice memos to anyone, anywhere in the world.
And, these communication preferences aren’t just for peer-to-peer interactions anymore. Customers expect businesses to meet them on their terms, too. However, brands still struggle to meet these expectations.
Conversational customer engagement is an answer to these shifting communication preferences. It will finally allow brands to catch up to their customers.
Conversational customer engagement improves customer experiences. Research shows that customers prefer real-time communication that is proactive and personalized.
Consider the following statistics:
- 71% of customers expect companies to communicate with them in real-time (Salesforce)
- 9 out of 10 consumers would like the option to use messaging to contact a business (Twilio).
- 83% of consumers said they would be more loyal to a brand that offers a chatbot for tasks like making an appointment or handling customer service inquiries (Mobile Marketer).
- 72% of people who have used chatbots find them to be helpful and informative (SUMO Heavy).
Lastly, conversational customer engagement has been shown to improve operational performance. Automation can handle most customer interactions, which frees up human resources for higher-value conversations.
This is a win-win for both business and customers, as customers get their issues resolved faster while companies bring down costs per contact.
And while most businesses start with automating frequently asked questions, the potential for cost savings extends well beyond that. Good conversational platforms (like Hubtype’s) make it possible for you to build a conversational experience in one language and deploy it in over 100 other languages. In this way, you can quickly bring new experiences to different markets with unmatched speed and efficiency.
Hubtype’s conversational customer engagement platform is built for enterprises. Our open-source framework, built on React.js, allows robust integrations. This includes CRMs, APIs, analytics, AI, and other business tools.
These integrations help businesses orchestrate the customer journey in a whole new way. They can connect their customer data, tech stack, and third-party tools to engage customers in real-time.
For example, Hubtype makes it easy to seamlessly transition customers from a bot to a human agent and back again. Our collaboration tools, workflows, and integrations finally make omnichannel goals realistic.
National and multinational brands trust Hubtype's framework to build conversational apps. Michael Kors, Zurich, Bankia, Allianz, Volkswagen, Guess, Decathlon all rely on us to realize their conversational strategies.
Our tools improve the lifetime value of their customers, all while reducing operational costs.
Is Hubtype right for you? Contact our sales team to find out.