The conversation between businesses and customers is changing. People expect brand experiences to be low-effort, uncomplicated, and meaningful. As a result, eliminating friction is at the top of every company’s to-do list.
Thankfully, conversational apps have proven that they’re up to the challenge. Brands are increasingly using messaging to deliver seamless customer experiences at scale.
And, if you're one of the many businesses building out a conversational app, it's important to have a plan. In this article, we'll review 5 best practices for planning a successful conversational strategy.
What is a conversational strategy?
Why do brands need a conversational strategy?
Best practices for planning your conversational strategy
1. Define the scope and use case
2. Focus on the customer experience
3. Define the go-live strategy
4. Start fast, scale later
5. Evolve constantly
A conversational strategy is a game plan for turning conversations into opportunities. Your conversational strategy should include:
- Business goals and opportunities
- Current and future use cases
- Which conversational channels you’ll use (like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or Telegram)
- Your vision for the user experience
- Key performance indicators (how you’ll measure success)
A conversational strategy is necessary for long-term success. The use cases for conversational marketing, sales, and support are growing quickly.
Brands are finding that doing business through 1:1 conversations is better for their customers–and their bottom line. As such, chatbots and messaging are now critical tools for improving customer experiences.
As messaging takes on a more central role, it’s important to have a strategy in place. Without one, you’re likely to end up with information silos, disjointed experiences, and inefficiencies that are avoidable with proper planning.
Planning your conversational strategy starts with defining a specific business problem. Try to avoid beginning with a wish list of everything you'd like your conversational app to handle.
Instead, begin with a specific business problem, or use case, that could be solved or improved easily. This will help ensure your conversational strategy is adding long-term value to your business.
When defining your use case, start with processes that are repetitive and fairly predictable. At the end of the day, you already know which 20% of FAQs generate 80% of your traffic.
But remember, while efficiency and cost reduction are valid goals, the focus should always be on how you can improve the customer experience. If your conversational strategy does not also make your customers happier, you're setting yourself up to fail.
- Can your conversational strategy help you solve your customers' problems faster?
- Can you integrate data to make experiences more contextual?
- Could your customer experience be more personalized?
- Can you anticipate what the majority of your customers want to ask?
- Which conversational channel is better for each use case? Example: Webchat might be a better pre-sales tool for communicating with customers on your website while messaging channels like WhatsApp are usually better for post-sales support
These are the types of questions that should guide your conversational strategy.
The goal for any digital innovation leader is to reduce friction in the customer experience. Every new step or delay is a chance for customers to abandon their journey.
Customers want their transactions to be low-effort and uncomplicated. In short, they don’t have time for friction. Thankfully, conversational apps help create the zero-friction future that customers want, reducing the customer effort dramatically compared to traditional channels.
That might seem simple, but it's easy to get sidetracked during the planning process. Businesses tend to gravitate towards KPIs that serve themselves and directly impact their bottom line.
An easy way to keep the focus on the customer is to make customer lifetime value (CLTV) a priority. CLTV is the value a customer contributes to your business throughout their entire relationship with your company.
It's hard to improve CLTV without a customer-centric approach. As long as improving CLTV is at the top of your to-do list, it'll be hard to go wrong.
After you've developed your conversational app, how do you get your customers to use it? The good part is, conversational experiences, like the ones we build at Hubtype, are built on the messaging channels people use every day.
Bear in mind that conversational channels generate a lot of traffic (after all, it’s where we spend most of our time). So, make sure to have a well-controlled and well-managed roll-out.
A good example of a controlled rollout might start by promoting your new channels to certain traffic on your website, or only showing them in the Android app.
This makes it easier to guide people towards engaging with you. Another example is that if you're currently using phone IVR to greet customers, tell them how they can find you on WhatsApp, Facebook, or whichever messaging channel you're using. They'll probably be happy to hang up and find you there.
Keep in mind, before you start sending messages to customers, you'll want to get them to opt-in. An opt-in is when customers give explicit consent to receive messages from your business.
It's important to get opt-ins right. Businesses that don't could be in violation of GDPR regulations and local privacy laws. It's always good to partner with an expert, like Hubtype, to help you stay compliant.
Next, analyze how customers use your conversational app, then adjust accordingly. Learn from the limitations and expand based on where you're seeing the most opportunity.
For example, if 70% of people ask for tracking information, this is a good area to integrate with your shipping platform. Just don't lose sight of your original use case, and make sure that the potential actions your customer can take are clear.
Also, avoid overcomplicating the conversational design with AI in the beginning. This often leads to wasted time, money, and effort.
While AI can complement a conversational strategy, it is usually not needed as a core focus. More often than not, our clients find that rule-based bots are flexible enough to handle their use cases.
We recommend mapping out the user flow, or "rules" using a tool like draw.io. Our clients that properly map out the customer journey are able to build robust rule-based bots. This is far easier than developing AI.
Your job isn’t done after your conversational app has been deployed. Continuous improvement is important for a successful conversational strategy. So, measure, learn, and improve constantly.
Identifying limitations will give you important insights into both your conversational strategy and your business.
You might be surprised to see how people are interacting with your conversational app. Remember that limitations represent new opportunities to improve.
Need help planning your conversational strategy? The experts at Hubtype can help. Get in touch, today.