Conversational customer experiences drive real business growth. Businesses that focus on conversational CX build customer loyalty, boost retention, and ultimately increase revenue.
In this article, we’ll review everything you need to know about conversational CX so that you can have more meaningful conversations with your customers.
Competing in the age of customer experience (CX)
What is conversational CX?
Key benefits of conversational CX
It simplifies the user experience
It helps you build relationships and loyalty
It brings scale to omnichannel experiences
Why do conversational customer experiences matter in 2022?
What makes a great conversational CX?
Good examples of conversational CX
Lemonade’s claims processing (Insurance)
Revolut’s onboarding process (Banking)
Sephora’s shopping assistant (Retail)
Choosing a conversational CX platform
The last decade has brought a fundamental change in consumer behavior and expectations. The explosion of smartphones, social media platforms, messaging apps, and big tech created a new era of connected commerce.
Now, with smartphones in our hands, on-demand streaming services at our fingertips, and same-day delivery at our doorsteps, our society has become one of immense convenience.
And the reality is, this digital convenience has become a commodity. People expect the same intuitive experiences from brands in industries like insurance and banking as they do from their music streaming platforms.
So with expectations and competition at an all-time high, brands must focus on more than just price and product. They need a more holistic view of the customer journey–and an understanding of what drives decisions and loyalty at each turn.
That’s where conversational CX comes in.
Conversational CX is the process of engaging with customers through natural conversation at each point in their buying journey. It aims to simplify each interaction–from marketing to customer service (and everywhere in between).
At its core, conversational CX is about bringing convenience to the customer journey. It’s about making the total customer experience easy, simple, and intuitive.
Conversational customer experiences require modern tech stacks. Below are the most common technological components of a good conversational strategy:
Modern conversational experiences happen across digital channels like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and Webchat.
A conversational application is a technical interface between your customers’ messaging channels and your CRM or tech stack.
Conversational apps are the hub where everything happens behind the scenes. They aggregate messaging channels and allow you to connect to other important conversational services, like:
- Analytics (Google Analytics, Segment, Dashbot)
- CMS (Contentful, Sanity)
- NLU (Dialogflow, Watson, Luis, Inbenta)
Your customer relationship management (CRM) system is an important piece of the conversational puzzle. You’ll need to integrate with your CRM so that your conversations are relevant and personalized.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
Automation and artificial intelligence are necessary to scale conversational customer experiences. When building your conversational app, there are plenty of third-party services that help you get started with AI–without having any specialized knowledge.
Lastly, your conversational CX should always be evolving. Analytics plugins like Segment and Dahbot will make sure you have the right information to keep making improvements.
People don’t want to wait on hold anymore. They don’t want to email you, either. They’d much prefer to get support on the channels that they use every day, like messaging apps.
Messaging apps remove friction in the user experience, and are therefore a fundamental element of most conversational strategies. Below are a few more reasons why messaging apps and conversational CX go hand in hand:
- Messaging is asynchronous. People don’t have to wait on hold for an answer or wait more than 24 hours to get a response via email. Messaging allows them to multi-task and go about their routines at the same time.
- People are already on messaging apps. In a world where there’s an app for everything, people are sick of being forced to download yet another app. They’d much prefer to use the channels they’re already on.
- The UI/UX of messaging apps is getting better every day. Facebook, Apple, Google are all in a race to build the most intuitive messenger app. They know that messaging apps are more than just a communication tool, they are the future of commerce, payments, and business in general.
A focus on conversational CX will help you build meaningful relationships at scale. Instead of treating each customer contact like a new and separate ticket, you can pick up where you left off.
This type of contextual and continuous support is crucial. According to Gene Alvarez, managing vice president at Gartner, “Customers will not tolerate companies that have amnesia when it comes to remembering them and their preferences for recognition.”
“This makes it imperative for companies to recognize their customers and to serve them pertinent content that demonstrates the proper recognition and treatment.”
Most industry leaders understand the need for omnichannel experiences, but with so many different touchpoints and channels, they can be difficult to manage.
It’s getting harder to predict how the customers will buy tomorrow: where they will buy, on what channels, and with what payment method. Conversational CX gives you the ability to adapt faster to market changes and customer changes.
With conversational CX platforms, you can add new channels, aggregate them, accept new payment methods, and much more. It gives you the architecture you need to build and adapt omnichannel experiences, which is necessary for innovation and survival.
People are doing more online, autonomously
Today, customers often make purchases completely online, without the help of any sales representatives. Even traditionally high-touch sales processes—like car buying—can happen autonomously, without ever leaving home.
Their preferences are shifting towards brands that offer self-service options. They also prefer asynchronous channels–like messaging–where they can multitask instead of waiting on hold for a representative.
Thus, putting your customers first means putting them behind the wheel. And, conversational CX helps you create a meaningful and memorable journey.
More people are interacting with friends, family, and businesses through messaging channels
More people are interacting with their friends, family, and colleagues through channels like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram. So, it’s no surprise that they want to interact with businesses on the same channels.
Now, the preference for shopping via messaging and social apps is growing, and it’s driving the need for conversational experience strategies.
More people are interacting with friends, family, and businesses through messaging channels
As more interactions happen online, the lines between marketing, sales, and customer support are beginning to blur. Just because your marketing team is advertising on Instagram doesn’t make it a “marketing” tool. You’ll need to be ready to field all types of inquiries related to sales and customer service, too.
The roles of marketing, sales, and customer service now overlap–so much so that many companies are combining them in an effort to make the customer experience more holistic.
For example, customer service teams, which have historically managed post-sales interactions are being tasked with more. They’re managing more of the customer journey, and are responsible for digital engagement both before and after the sale.
These digital touchpoints now play a major role in shaping the total customer experience and are therefore a key opportunity for differentiation. In fact, as markets become more saturated and customer acquisition becomes harder, customer experience is often the only point of differentiation.
Below are three elements of a great conversational customer experience.
Conversational CX depends on intuitive interfaces. This is a requirement for seamless conversation, especially in a business context.
The best conversational customer experiences use a combination of text, graphics, documents, and other rich media elements that make the conversation more intuitive.
Instead of writing out a paragraph about a defective sweater, customers can simply upload a photo. Instead of struggling to describe how their car engine sounds, they can upload a voice memo.
This is partly why messaging apps are an ideal home for conversational customer experiences. They give both parties the freedom to express themselves in a way that streamlines conversations.
A great conversational CX means communicating proactively throughout the customer journey. And, it requires more than just pushing notifications out.
When you send proactive communications, they should open up a two-way conversation with the customer. If you send a customer an update about a new credit card option, don’t just end it there. Give them the option to upgrade directly in the conversation.
Lastly, your conversational CX will require meaningful automation. That means using automation to speed up processes and resolve common inquiries–while leaning on human agents to help in more complex situations.
Conversational CX scales better than other omnichannel approaches because you can seamlessly route customers between self-service, automation, smart workflows, and human agents–all from one place.
The insurtech company, Lemonade, lets customers seamlessly file claims from their phones. Customers simply tap the 'claim' button in the Lemonade app, describe what happened, and the claim is reviewed by dozens of anti-fraud algorithms.
The company is disrupting the industry with its record-breaking claims handling process. It’s handled many cases in under a minute, which customers see as a major point of differentiation.
Neobank, Revolut, has built a $33 billion-dollar business around the belief that they offer the best overall banking experience. It takes only 24 interactions to open a Revolut account, all of which happen through natural conversation.
Karol Niewiadomski, a senior investor at SoftBank said in a statement, “Revolut’s rate of innovation has redefined the role of financial services, placing [Revolut] at the forefront of Europe’s nascent neobanking sector. The company’s rapidly growing user base reflects a sustained demand for Revolut’s expanding suite of services.”
Conversational technology plays a critical role in how Sephora delivers personalized digital experiences. When shopping with a brand feels like shopping with a friend (a friend that knows your tastes and preferences), brands unlock a whole new level of personalization.
The brand's omnichannel strategy is unmatched. Triggered notifications, like back in stock and abandoned cart messages assist customers at every stage of the customer journey. Again, all of this happens through natural conversational CX.
A conversational CX platform is necessary for managing customer communication at scale. Without the right technology, your conversational CX is dead in the water.
Hubtype is a conversational CX platform built for today’s challenges. With advanced workflows, automation, and integrations, our tools are adaptable for your unique business needs.
Our conversational CX platform is the technical interface between your customers’ messaging apps and your tech stack. With it, you can build solutions for all business units and manage the customer experience all from one place.