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Opinion

Businesses must harness the power of conversational experiences to enhance customer engagement and personalisation

Siddharth Bawa
Siddharth Bawa

By Siddharth Bawa, Account Executive at Infobip

Delivering exceptional customer experiences has become crucial for businesses, with an increasing number of organisations recognising that omnipresence – offering continuous, personalised journeys on customers’ preferred channels – is key to attaining success. By embracing omnichannel communication strategies, businesses can bridge the gap between physical and digital interactions, while also reducing complexity and maintaining a personalised touch. Businesses are thus shifting their focus towards conversational experiences that enable bi-directional interactions.

Research by Accenture shows that nearly 80% of CEOs have changed or intend to change how they manage client engagement using conversational AI technologies, while a study by Deloitte found that brands that lead in personalisation improve customer loyalty 1.5 times more effectively than brands with poor personalisation.

Ultimately, conversational experiences can contribute to successful customer engagement and personalisation because humans crave connection above all else. The need to be acknowledged and understood is driven by our inherent psychological makeup. A case in point was a recent initiative by a local chocolate manufacturer to help address South Africa’s low child literacy rate by deploying a conversational chatbot that enabled learners to access stories in their home language via a mobile device. In turn, children could also submit their own stories to the chatbot, which would be added to the collection. A high engagement rate and the ultimate success of the project saw this being rolled out as a fully-fledged corporate social responsibility project by the company.

Tangible benefits

When conversational experiences are incorporated with hyper personalisation – the process of tailoring a product, service, or experience to meet the needs and preferences of individual customers – businesses can reap various tangible benefits. These include customer acquisition, cost efficiency, revenue increase and marketing return on investment. However, the biggest benefit is customer loyalty, which leads to a long term mutually beneficial relationship between client and organisation.

Yet, despite these benefits, there are still some key challenges that South African businesses face in delivering personalised messages through conversational channels.

For example, in the banking sector, many organisations still have legacy systems. Adapting these systems to current customer experience requirements is proving to be quite a challenge in many cases. Many of the challenges arise from a legacy silo structure which is still present in several banks.

In the realm of customer support, Infobip’s analysis reveals a shift towards seeking assistance on familiar conversational platforms used with friends and family. This shift underscores the preference for instant and immersive messaging experiences, evident in the remarkable 91% increase in WhatsApp Business Platform interactions for customer support. This is where we as Infobip are seeing composable platforms becoming increasingly relevant, as they can orchestrate content from multiple sources and publish it to any digital channel.

It is important that companies adopt an approach that will reduce the complexity of communication while maintaining personalised experiences in a conversational strategy. To do this, businesses should avoid the inherent difficulty of trying to manage multiple different communication channels and instead seek to unify them on a single conversational communication platform.

Key functionality

When selecting a platform for this purpose, businesses should look for key functionality, such as access to a customer data platform where they can orchestrate customer information and craft personalised journeys. They should also seek a drag and drop chatbot building tool that will enable them to generate intelligent, intuitive chatbots that can be used for support, lead generation and cross-selling. Lastly, organisations should also look for a cloud contact centre solution where their clients can transition from automated responses to a live human agent to address more complex queries.

By successfully harnessing these technologies and functionalities, a company should be able to leverage their communication platform to deliver real-time, personalised two-way conversations to their clients.

Seamless agent takeover

While the right technology, such as intelligent chatbots, is key to driving conversational experiences, organisations must also put in place strategies or techniques to ensure seamless agent takeover for a more personalised support experience in conversational interactions. This is essential because people do not want to become stuck in an endless loop and they want to have the ability to speak to a human if they start experiencing challenges in terms of what they want to achieve.

As such, organisations should adopt a strategy where agents can see the dialogue that the customer has had with the chatbot, giving them an understanding of what the customer requirement is. Many organisations now have specialised agents that sit behind the chatbot, so that a specific query can be diverted to someone who is capable of resolving it quickly when the need arises.

Even though technology is thriving and continues to evolve in all directions, we still need to maintain the human touch. Technology and automation are there to assist us as employees and customers, not to take over. Therefore, merging chatbots with the human experience is a balance that organisations need to carefully maintain.

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