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Why enterprises need a conversational strategy in 2019

Chat Mode Team
Chat Mode Team

It’s no secret.

It’s the 4th Industrial Revolution. Previous revolutions caused mechanization, mass production, and digitization. This one is joining the physical, digital, and biological worlds, embedded technology in all parts of our lives.

Digital disruption is everywhere, and the rate of change has never been this fast. Crazier yet, it’ll never be this slow again.

Think… it took 75 years for phones to reach 100 million users. Instagram took 2 years. Pokemon Go? Just 1 month.

“In the new world, it is not the big fish which eats the small fish, it’s the fast fish which eats the slow fish.”

Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder of the World Economic Forum

With all the buzz around the digital business model and emerging tech, enterprise leaders need to constantly evolve themselves and their teams.

But with so much hype, it’s hard to stay focused on customer needs and actual business cases.

So, what do consumers really want in 2019? One behavior trend is impossible to ignore…

Conversations are taking over

💬 15 million texts every minute

💬 60 billion Messenger & WhatsApp messages every day

💬 120+ million smart speakers sold in the US

💬 450 million new messaging users in the next 2 years

If you’re interested in being where your customers are, you should get serious about a conversational strategy. Right now, customers are spending more and more time on channels like Messenger, WhatsApp, Alexa, and Google Home. Conversations are simply your customers’ preferred way to interact.

What does this mean for you?

If your customers already prefer these channels, how do you get involved? How can you capture value, today and tomorrow?

Conversational interfaces, or “chatbots” and “voice interfaces”, let your customers interact with you in written or spoken language. Automatically, at scale. This creates huge personalization, monetization, and cost reduction opportunities for enterprises and SMBs alike.

But a conversational strategy calls for more than just technology and user experience. A conversational strategy requires a culture shift and understanding of the positive and negative impacts on your employees.

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What does this mean for your customers?

A successful conversational strategy means they get to talk with you on their terms, on familiar channels they use every day. They can easily interact with your brand, no matter their age or computer expertise. This also creates huge opportunities for accessibility.

escalator and stairs

Now, customers can naturally express purchase intent and get personalized help 24/7 with little to no added friction or behavior change. And as an added bonus, attention on these mediums is untapped and underpriced.

History shows clear skies ahead

Let’s travel back in time for a bit, to when mobile apps were the next big thing. As dreams of ideal use cases spread like wildfire, interest in mobile app development skyrocketed. But like all hype cycles, “dreams” became inflated “expectations”. Which is how we ended up with so many ridiculous apps (even one claiming to cure balding).

array of mobile apps

Of course, mobile apps didn’t deliver on these expectations. Soon after, industry perception turned negative and app development agencies and platforms started to disappear. But with time, the fire died out and the smoke cleared.

In the end, it was persistence, innovation, and a focus on finding real user value that created the mobile apps we know today. And now, could you imagine life without them?

As for conversational interfaces, the fire is finally fading and we’re beginning to see through the haze. The hype and unrealistic expectations for conversational interfaces are turning into real business results.

Practical uses are emerging, and brands are not only noticing, they’re making significant investments. Former Head of Alexa OS at Amazon and current CTO of LivePerson, Alex Spinelli, recently shared with us that top brands aren’t making “million dollar investments or 2 million dollar investments [in an enterprise conversational strategy, but] 10, 20, 30, 50 million dollar investments.”

So what does this mean? It means conversational interfaces didn’t fail us. Our expectations for them did. We need to think about conversational interfaces like a washer machine. It’s the best way to wash your clothes. but you wouldn’t have it do your taxes.

What experts are saying

chatbot conference panel

At a leading enterprise chatbot conference, our Head of Consulting, Chad Oda discussed conversational strategy and voice on a panel with Wells Fargo, BBC, and Robocopy. When asked why enterprise companies should start exploring a conversational strategy, here’s what they said:

BBC: Conversational interfaces like smart speakers have seen rapid consumer adoption and scale in a short amount of time. You need to be customer-centric and meet your users’ on the platforms they’re on today. This means adopting new strategies for these touchpoints (e.g. chatbots, voice) along their customer journey.

You should invest in a conversational strategy now before we reach the inflection point of mass adoption.

Wells Fargo: In the context of the hype cycle, from 2018 on, we’re tracking out of the Trough of Disillusionment and are starting to climb the slope of enlightenment with conversational technologies – real value being driven. Consumers have an expectation that they can get their needs addressed on the channels they’re adopting today.

Large brands that don’t have a conversational AI strategy in place need to begin that journey as soon as possible.

Robocopy: Earlier in the hype cycle, company adoption exceeded that of their users. But consumers are catching up. Companies were focused on technological aspects of cost reduction of automation, and are now aligning them with their customers and seeing success.

Why start now?

Customer behavior and tech improvements aside, you need to consider the future implications of deprioritizing a conversational strategy.

Enterprise AI implementation has grown 270% in the last 4 years, and it isn’t slowing down. If the future of consumer to brand interaction is as conversational as it seems, artificial intelligence is a cornerstone of this conversational data.

Starting to gather helpful data about conversations users want to have with your business is a crucial step towards a successful conversational strategy in the ever-competitive digital landscape.

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