Conversational Apps: What They Are and Why They Matter

July 21, 2020 (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.

conversational-app-enterprise-strategy

Conversational apps are a seamless combination of graphical elements and text-based messaging. They rely on the messaging interfaces that we use every day — like apps and websites.

Conversational apps redefine how enterprise businesses communicate with their customers. They replace clumsy text-based systems with the apps that people love.

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

What does this mean for businesses? Conversational apps are the key to helping brands unlock a new level of customer service. This is critical as customer expectations continue to grow.

Digital-savvy customers now demand more from brands than ever before. They want to engage with a brand on many channels before they buy.

More than that, customers expect instant answers across all these channels. Conversational apps are the perfect place to make this happen. Brands find an ideal balance between automation and human customer service agents. The result is a win-win for business and customers.

What are Conversational Apps?

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. These conversations 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 combine elements of graphic interfaces like websites and apps. This means that conversations can include attachments, carousels, buttons and other embedded elements that enable transactions to be completed without needing to leave the messaging app.

Conversational apps guide the user flow

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 make things much easier. They speed up the time it takes for people to perform an action. This increases the chances of a customer completing a goal.

Conversational apps vs. Chatbot

Conversational Apps are far more than just text-based chatbots. They provide many exciting opportunities for businesses.

For example, let’s imagine you’re booking an appointment with a text-based chatbot. In the past, you’d have to type each phrase related requesting the appointment. Then, you’d have to enter the date and time you want.

There are some obvious potential issues with this. For example, the differences between British and American date formats can get confusing. Also, the process is generally laborious. This opens the door for frustration, or worse — customers giving up altogether.

Instead, conversational apps allow you to click a button to “book an appointment.” You can easily and quickly choose an available date and time from an embedded calendar and time selector.

This process saves time and makes the user experience so much better. Also, it improves the number of appointments customers are likely to book.

Guided flows in the UX design of Conversational apps make it easy for customers to complete desired actions. Rich elements help to reduce the number of options which makes it even easier to arrive at the desired goal.

Combining messaging and automation

The key to scaling conversational channels is combining automation and humans in a thoughtful way.

Most brands can automate up to 80% of customer interactions. They automate the routine and common questions that are easy to predict. Then, they rely on a human agent to handle the more complex topics.

This makes it financially attractive for brands to use conversational apps. Companies don’t have to go on a hiring spree to service their customers on these channels.

The reality is that when it comes to simple questions, customers want fast answers. The immediacy that messaging brings increases customer satisfaction scores and increases lifetime value.

Not only does this make customers happy, but the staff is also happier with less repetition. They’re able to focus on more interesting and complex cases.

Conversational apps are the future. In spite of this, brands are still using email, SMS, and phone as communication channels. This has created a communication gap, which is only widening as more people move from the web to chat.

Companies are hesitant to open channels with low barriers to entry without automation and bots. Conversational apps finally address these concerns. The result is a customer experience that goes beyond chatbots in a customer-centric way.


A Comprehensive Guide to Conversational Apps

How can Conversational Apps help your business?

A recent report by Facebook indicates that 56% of consumers prefer instant messaging to a phone call. Now, they expect businesses to be available on those messaging channels.

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

Businesses need to adopt a comprehensive conversational strategy. They need to deliver positive customer experiences across the entire customer journey. Conversational Apps increase brand loyalty and customer lifetime value.

8 billion messages are sent to businesses and customers each month. This represents a 400% year on year growth. On WhatsApp alone, more than 100 million messages are exchanged between businesses and customers every day.

They reduce friction in the customer journey

Conversational apps reduce friction in business, at every stage of the customer journey. From discovery to post-purchase, conversational apps reduce customer wait time. They also cut down the actions needed to complete a goal.

Allowing customers to find the information they need at any time is another big factor. These 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.

They allow businesses to scale

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 favorite messaging app without ever having to speak with a human.

They personalize experiences

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 service 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 chatbot. Bots respond even when your team is asleep. Most customers are happy to solve their issues faster, even if it means their interaction is with a bot.

Though, it’s still important to ensure a human agent is available for complex cases. Conversational apps make the handoff between a bot and a human agent seamless and easy to manage.

Why is Conversational Messaging so important?

Conversational messaging the single biggest paradigm shift taking place between businesses and customers.

Messaging apps have risen to popularity as an answer to a very recent phenomenon — social media fatigue. There’s a paradox of wanting to share publicly, yet desiring to share in a more private way. This 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 the user-base for sites like Facebook grow, people look for ways of controlling the content they share.

As a result, social media giants scrambled for ways of providing extra control to users. They created disappearing photos and private groups to encourage us to share more, by reducing our audiences.

Sharing more to fewer people

Messaging apps like WhatsApp allow you to communicate one-on-one, as well as create an unlimited number of private groups. They’ve become mini social networks where images and other private content are shared. These small groups allow us the control to set our own boundaries.

Many privacy scandals involving the big social networks have led to privacy anxiety from users. This further reduces how much we share online. Messaging apps encrypted security that promotes a feeling of comfort and protection. Now, we share more than ever, all within the privacy of personal conversations.

People are aware that content published on a wall or profile can stay there forever. This makes it impossible to share without consequences.
Instead, the temporary nature of content shared within messaging apps replicates natural conversation. People share words and ideas without worry about the staying power they have.

Messaging apps meet 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. We 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 improve the customer experience. We help brands automate repetitive questions, allowing humans to focus on the interactions that matter most.

Also, we help businesses create great customer experiences and power conversations with automation. In effect, global companies service customers on messaging platforms while maintaining operational efficiency.

Hubtype enables brands to build conversational apps to engage with customers through messaging. This includes WhatsApp, Messenger, Twitter, web-chat, Telegram and others. And, we do this while reducing costs and increasing customer satisfaction.

With Hubtype, enterprises seamlessly transition customers from a bot to a human agent and back again. This ensures immediate responses and low friction.

Hubtype helps enterprise businesses aggregate messaging channels and enterprise-scale software stacks. We power meaningful conversations at scale.

Our opensource framework, built on React.js, allows robust integrations. This includes CRMs, APIs, analytics, AI, and other business tools. Developers then focus on building beautiful conversational apps that drive business results.

Hubtype works with national and multinational brands around the world. HP, Bankia, Salomon, Massimo Dutti, and Volkswagen all rely on us to increase ROI. Our tools improve the lifetime value of their customers, all while reducing operational costs.

So, 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.

Whitepaper: A Comprehensive Guide to Conversational Apps

This 22-page whitepaper published in Q1 2020 explains how conversational apps are driving the single largest paradigm shift in business today. It discusses how we got here, what it means for businesses, and what you need to know to keep up.

Topics include:

  • How customer engagement for enterprise businesses has transformed
  • How conversational apps help empower, transform and elevate business
  • Industries ripe for conversational apps
  • A guide to building conversational apps and experiences
Download the Whitepaper: A Comprehensive Guide to Conversational Apps