In 2022, omnichannel, messaging-first customer engagement will no longer merely be a customer want but a requirement for an experience that enables businesses to thrive and grow. Today, shopping journeys already cross social, messaging, and web e-commerce channels, which means further consistency of brand and communications across all customer touchpoints will undoubtedly be the difference between securing and losing a sale.
The New Age Customer Journey
For example, a customer may pass by a shop display that catches their eye in the morning and check out the company’s mobile website on their phone over lunch, when they notice a jacket they like. The customer reaches out through the embedded messaging service to video chat with a sales ambassador, who can show them the piece in detail remotely. While they don’t go for the purchase at the time, they’re browsing through Instagram on their work laptop in the afternoon and spot a promotional code.
The customer journey continues with the user clicking on the advert, which transfers them to the desktop version of the website. Here they finally buy the item and confirm with a chatbot that they can collect it from a physical location close to their home address.
While this chain of events may seem complicated (comprising a total of seven touchpoints), it represents an increasingly common customer journey and is a standard example of how businesses employing an omnichannel strategy can maximise brand awareness and secure sales. According to an April 2021 Conversational Commerce forecast by Juniper Research, the total addressable market in this space will be worth $27 billion by 2025.
The key to this will lie in effectively deploying conversational commerce, a term used to describe the growing convergence of shopping and conversations on platforms such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram, creating a seamless shopping experience.
Consumer preference for emerging channels including video, social messaging and chatbots will continue to grow beyond commerce and retail, specifically in finance, education, healthcare, transportation, and logistics. Vonage’s 10th annual Global Customer Engagement Report revealed that the demand to connect with businesses via video has soared by 300 percent since January 2020 and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. Furthermore, to stay ahead of the curve, enterprising businesses and organisations will increasingly team artificial intelligence with CPaaS offerings to automate conversational commerce where possible to increase company reach.
In 2022 customers will expect to be able to contact a company or public sector organisation through their channel of choice and will punish companies that don’t adapt by withholding their custom. This was confirmed by Vonage’s study since almost half (46%) of consumers stated they are likely to stop engaging with a business if they cannot get in touch quickly enough. Therefore, businesses must provide seamless, frictionless communication options no matter which channel a customer has selected.
Whether it’s email, automated or video chat, agents need to have the correct information on hand to identify and handle queries effectively. Centralising multiple sources of contact data will also be of paramount importance to ensure that a seamless multi-channel customer experience is maintained. There will no longer be an excuse for agents not to have access to customers’ details and history in one place.
Beyond Instant Sales
The future of business-customer relations spans a multitude of channels and goes far beyond instant sales to deliver a more engaged brand experience with a plethora of interconnected touchpoints. Companies need to ensure their core messaging can reach consumers on their platform of choice with integrated human and AI sales assistants on-hand to gently guide shoppers on every step of the way.