Conversational commerce will mainly create added value through the personal character, the one-on-one conversation with the appropriate personalized product and service offer. A number of positive aspects of a physical shop visit can hereby also be realized in a digital channel.
Figure 5 shows the added value given by offering the personal conversation that is traditionally held in the store via the digital channel. In collaboration with the Hogeschool Utrecht, 225 consumers were asked why they would prefer buying in a physical store. Two of the three main reasons (personal experience and the ability to ask questions) are typical advantages that conversational commerce can offer digitally.
With this in mind, it makes sense to look carefully at these positive aspects. Our expert group looked into this by reviewing the purchasing process in the Amac stores, the largest Apple reseller in the Netherlands. The use of this example increases the specificity. Of course, these results are not necessarily fully applicable to all situations.
- Customer journey physical store
The process in the store starts with greeting customers when they enter the store. Research within Amac has shown that an explicit greeting from people who enter the store significantly increases the conversion.
When employees and customers start a conversation, the first important goal is to build a 'mini-friendship'. This can be done by showing genuine interest, while also providing valuable information. Think of questions like "What kind of work do you do?" Or "What type of education do you follow?".
Then follow the well-known W-questions (who, what, where, why) to find out the exact need (a laptop for
school) but also values ("I think design and a big screen is important").
as possible. Figure 6 shows the complete customer journey.
- Customer journey conversational commerce
Subsequently, the figure shows per step in which way these steps can be implemented within a conversational commerce customer journey. Of course, chat or voice will also be part of an omnichannel customer journey, often through many different channels.
- Pilot for Amac
To put the above into practice, Magnus, together with Amac, developed a pilot chat bot solution in which consumers can conduct a purchase dialogue. For the experts: the pilot was realized using the KIK platform for the chat in combination with artificial intelligence technology from IBM Watson. The result is a simple purchase dialogue that mainly supports the 'happy flow'. This was astonishingly fast to realize. However, it became clear that much more work would be necessary to enable a meaningful integration with underlying data sources. Nevertheless, the realization of this pilot has already provided many insights. The practical lessons are included in the section "Practical tips". The pilot was also used for research into the customer experience during a conversational commerce purchase.
- Neuro Usability study into customer experience based on the pilot
Based on the Amac pilot, a neuro usability study into the customer experience was carried out by Braingineers, a participant in the expert group. They let two groups of eight respondents each use Amac's pilot chat bot. During this user session, brain activities were measured, which, based on a lot of available data and artificial intelligence technology (neuro usability research) is then categorized into three types of emotions: attention / focus, joy and irritation. The same measurement was made during the purchase process on the Apple website. Results of at least 6 participants are already proven to be representative for these measurements.
A number of interesting issues emerge from the measurements:
- Generally, the chat bot scores almost two points higher in rating (on a 10-point scale) than the Apple-web shop; this rating is based on emotion (in contrast to normal customer surveys, which lead to rational feedback);
- The frustration increases strongly with a wait-to-answer time of more than 2 to 3 seconds; responding very quickly on the other hand (in human conversations unbelievably fast), unlike our expectation, does not lead to negative emotions; this may be different if it is not clear that it’s a chat bot;
- Unexpected / unsatisfactory answers immediately show a frustration peak in emotions, which underlines the importance of the quality of conversation;
- When showing (product) images during the purchase conversations, the joy increases significantly. This may be a reflection to the purchasing process in the store, where Amac also consciously hands the consumer the product in their hands, so that returning (and therefore not buying) becomes more difficult. The display of images stimulates the bond with the product;
- Long or many messages (which fall outside the screen) and the use of technical terms cause frustration;
- Appropriate 'personal touch' (thank you, humor, compliment) leads to significant joy.