What are Conversational Apps?

September 30, 2019 (Updated)

Chatbots, Conversational Messaging

In 2016, the world exhaled a collective sigh of disappointment as chatbots failed to live up to anyone’s expectations. Developers and marketers began reimagining conversational solutions for enterprise businesses, beyond the AI-powered chatbots that failed so badly. This is how conversational apps were born: a seamless combination of graphical elements that we’re used to interacting with in the apps, websites and text-based messaging that we use every day.

Just as Apple redefined the mobile operating system in 2007, conversational apps redefine how enterprise businesses communicate with their customers by replacing clumsy text-based systems with useful apps built with the user experience at its core.

79% of people expect a brand to respond to them within 4 hours (SAP Hybris Consumer Insights Report)

What does this mean for businesses? Digital-savvy customers now demand more from brands than ever before. Customers are more likely to engage with a brand on multiple channels, using different devices before making a purchase. Businesses are expected to be available to provide instant answers across all of these channels to remain competitive.

What is a Conversational App?

Communicating with customers how, where and when they want is critical for businesses in the conversational messaging era of today. 

Conversational messaging is a term used to describe personal, one-on-one conversations that take place on any messaging channel between a customer and a business. 

Conversational apps are the interfaces that allow for these conversations to take place, beyond simple text-based exchanges.

Conversational experiences are designed to reduce friction in communication between brands and customers. Customers expect brands to be available 24/7, providing instant responses to any query on any messaging platform they wish.

Messaging channels are inherently informal and personal: we use them every day with friends and family. By using conversational apps on messaging channels, brands communicate in a warm and personal way with customers.

Conversational messaging is omnichannel at its core. More than just live chat, conversational experiences must be able to take place in any messaging channel that a customer is most comfortable using–whether that be WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Twitter or any other messaging channel.

Conversational apps take the immediate, personal and conversational style of text-based interfaces and combines elements of graphic interfaces like websites and apps. This means that conversations can include attachments, carousels, buttons and other embedded elements which enable transactions to be completed without needing to leave the messaging app. 

The overall result is that conversational apps provide railings to the conversation and create clear expectations and flow for the customer interacting with them.

Conversational apps reduce the time it takes for a customer to complete a goal by 40% and increase the number of goals completed by 25%. 

Buttons, carousels, calendars, time selectors and other rich elements can significantly speed up a massive number of processes for a customer, as well as increase the chances of a customer completing a goal. Conversational Apps are far more than just text-based chatbots, and they provide many exciting opportunities for businesses.

Booking an appointment with a text-based chatbot, for example, requires the user to type each phrase requesting the appointment, as well as the date and time they want. Apart from obvious potential issues such as conflicts between British and American date formats, the process is laborious. During the process, customers can become frustrated and leave before the process is completed.

A Conversational app will allow a customer to click a button to “Book an appointment”, and can easily and quickly choose an available date and time from an embedded calendar and time selector. This process, beyond saving time and increasing the number of appointments customers are likely to book, can immensely improve the customer experience. 

Guided flows, which are incorporated into the UX design of Conversational apps, make it as easy as possible for a customer to complete a desired transaction or action. Rich elements help to reduce the number of options which makes it even easier to arrive at a desired goal.

The key to scaling conversational channels is combining automation and humans in a thoughtful way. The power and efficiency of bots and AI perfectly complements the authenticity, quality, and service of real human beings. The result is simple: automate up to 80% of customer interactions while maintaining customer satisfaction scores and increasing lifetime value. Not only will this please your customers, but your human staff are much happier with less repetition and an increased focus on more interesting and complex cases.

Conversational apps are the future. Although customers depend on messaging, brands are still using email, SMS and phone as communication channels. This communication gap is only widening as more people move from the web to chat.

Companies are hesitant to open channels with low barrier to entry without automation and bots. However, consumers still reject the often unnatural experience bots provide. Conversational apps combine automation, graphic interfaces and human agents. The result is a customer experience that goes beyond chatbots in a customer-centric way.

How can Conversational Apps help your business?

A recent report by Facebook indicates that 56% of consumers prefer instant messaging to a phone call when communicating with a business. Consumers now expect businesses to be available on messaging channels as part of an omnichannel strategy, for a seamless customer experience.

56% of consumers prefer instant messaging to a phone call (Facebook)

Conversations with customers need to take place across the entire business, from customer service to sales and marketing. It’s imperative that businesses adopt a comprehensive conversational strategy to deliver a positive customer experience across the entire customer journey. Brands that create Conversational Apps for their customers enjoy increased brand loyalty and customer lifetime value, as well as a unique competitor differentiation.

More than 8 billion messages are exchanged between businesses and customers each month, which represents a 400% year on year growth. Just on WhatsApp, more than 100 million messages are exchanged between businesses and customers every day.

Conversational apps reduce friction in business, at every stage of the customer journey from discovery to post-purchase. Reducing customer wait time, cutting down the actions needed to complete a goal and allowing customers to find the information they need at any time are all key points of friction that Conversational Apps improve or eliminate.

80% of consumers say the experience a business provides is as crucial as its goods or services (The Global Messaging Market. WhatsApp and Messenger lead 1.5 and 1.3 billion monthly users respectively, and the numbers continue to grow)

We are less tolerant than ever when it comes to friction with businesses. Customers are more likely to take their business elsewhere if an experience with a brand doesn’t meet their ever-increasing expectations. Brands are using Conversational Apps to build relationships and create authentic experiences through the power of real-time conversations.

The key to scaling messaging channels in a financially viable way for large enterprise businesses is with chatbots and automation. Conversational apps can automate massive quantities of common queries and frequently asked questions. Rather than waiting to speak with a company’s representative, customers can find the information they need and even complete complex transactions from directly within their favourite messaging app without ever having to speak with a human.

Conversational apps can be linked to a CRM, analytics software or API as well as NLP, AI and NLU capabilities. This means your Conversational app can deliver a hyper personalized experience to customers, remembering customer details and purchase history to deliver comprehensive conversational experiences, that even the best customer services representatives would struggle to match.

52% of consumers have changed to a competitor because of poor customer service (The Global Messaging Market. WhatsApp and Messenger lead 1.5 and 1.3 billion monthly users respectively, and the numbers continue to grow)

Customers tend to respond positively in general to interactions with a bot. Bots respond even when your team is asleep. Most customers are happy to solve their query faster, or avoid searching an FAQ page, even if it means their interaction is with a bot. Ensuring a human agent can be reached for complex cases ensures your customer satisfaction ratings will continue to trend positively.

Why is Conversational Messaging so important?

Conversational messaging the single biggest paradigm shift that has taken place in communication between businesses and customers for many years.

It’s important to appreciate that messaging apps have risen to popularity as the answer to a very recent phenomenon of social media fatigue. The paradox of wanting to share publicly, yet desiring to share in a more private way has led an overwhelmed demographic to turn to messaging apps as the new place to engage with others.

The larger the audience, the more likely we are to moderate what we share on social media. As audiences grew on social networking sites like Facebook, users looked for ways of controlling the content they share and how they share it. This led social media giants to scramble for ways of providing extra control to users, creating disappearing photos and private groups to encourage us to share more, by reducing our audiences.

Messaging apps like WhatsApp, which allow you to communicate one-on-one, as well as create an unlimited number of private groups for every occasion, have become mini social networks where images and other private content can be shared. These proprietary groups allow us the control to set our own boundaries.

Multiple privacy scandals involving the big social networks have led to privacy anxiety from users, resulting in a further reduction in how much we share online. Messaging apps that realised and acted upon this anxiety have created encrypted security that promotes a feeling of comfort and protection. This has led to us sharing more than ever, all within the privacy of personal conversations.

Messaging apps also solve a fundamental problem of making content evanescent. Being aware of the fact that content is immortalised on a wall or profile adds additional friction to sharing without consequences. In fact, this temporary nature of content shared within messaging apps replicates natural conversation, as words and ideas are exchanged without being recorded prominently forever.

Messaging apps satisfy innate tribal desires that we have as a social species. While our hunger for social media networks is not likely to die out soon, messaging apps allow us to be more authentic and share whatever content we want amongst groups that we have created, without fear of repercussions.

How Hubtype helps

Hubtype helps enterprise businesses create personal relationships at scale using Conversational apps. Conversational apps built on Hubtype augment the customer experience and automate repetitive queries, allowing human agents to focus on the interactions that matter most. By prioritizing great customer experience and powering conversations with automation, global companies service customers on messaging platforms while maintaining operational efficiency.

Hubtype enables brands to build conversational apps to engage with customers through messaging channels including WhatsApp, Messenger, Twitter, web-chat, Telegram and others, all while reducing costs and increasing customer satisfaction. With Hubtype, enterprises can seamlessly transition customers from bot to human agent and back again, ensuring immediate responses and low friction.

Hubtype helps enterprise businesses to create conversational messaging experiences that can aggregate messaging channels and enterprise-scale software stacks to power meaningful conversations at scale. Hubtype’s opensource framework, built on React.js, allows robust integrations between messaging platforms and AI, NLP and NLU providers, CRMs, APIs, analytics, and other business tools. This enables developers to focus on building beautiful conversational apps that delight customers and drive business results.

The key to scaling conversational channels is combining automation and humans in a thoughtful way. Hubtype helps brands elevate the customer experience by automating repetitive queries and allowing human agents to focus on the interactions that matter the most. The result is simple: automate up to 80% of customer interactions while maintaining customer satisfaction scores and increasing lifetime value. Hubtype provides developers with the best tools to build conversational apps that can seamlessly transition customers from bot to human agent and back again, ensuring immediate responses and low friction.

Hubtype works with national and multinational brands around the world like HP, Bankia, Salomon, Massimo Dutti, Volkswagen to increase ROI, customer happiness and the lifetime value of customers while reducing operational costs.

Bridge the communication gap with your customers and meet them on the messaging apps they use most. Your KPIs will thank you.

Are you ready to create conversational apps for your enterprise business? Contact Hubtype today to talk about your conversational app strategy.

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