Building an Omnichannel Strategy for the New Frontier of Conversational Commerce

Jennifer Kline Shernoff, Vice President, Product Management at LivePerson

Customer preferences are always evolving, and where and how customers go to interact with your brand is no exception.

While we’re far from the days of the Pony Express, some brands actually still interact with their customers over snail mail. Others primarily use the dreaded 1-800 number, even though 39% of people say they would rather clean a toilet.

The fact is that customers prefer to be met on their own terms, not those of your business. The rise of messaging volume and transactions conducted through social and messaging channels bears this out. According to Deutsche Bank, shopping through Instagram could be a $10 billion market by 2021. What this means for your business is that customers expect the same ease and simplicity of interacting with you as they do with connecting with family and friends. Building continuous personalized conversations with your customers is the new frontier, a huge paradigm shift like the early days of digital websites and search, and it’s called conversational commerce.

  Truly forward-thinking brands have taken even bolder steps, like completely turning off certain channels traditionally used for the customer interactions of yesteryear​  

Keeping pace with these changing preferences — which span diverse channels like web, phone, app, email, social, and messaging — is a massive challenge for any business, from SMBs to the largest multinationals. So how can your brand develop a flexible omnichannel strategy that will set you up for success in the era of conversational commerce?

Let’s start with a simple truth: No one brand is going to hold the gold standard for operational excellence across every channel. But what brands can do is map their channel strategy to their customers’ journeys in a thoughtful way.

Identifying where your brand has a unique strategic advantage should be your first step. Does your brand have a killer social team, meaning you’ll be set up for success in responding to customer inquiries, care, and potential commerce? Does your brand’s mobile app outpace the competition’s, meaning it can be transformed into a central part of your customer care strategy? Or does your brand’s unique market position in retail mean you can drive volume through Apple Business Chat?

Think critically about where your brand has invested and where its current best expertise exists. These are the channels where you have a strategic advantage, and if they match where your customers want to interact with you, that means they’re the best channels for you to develop further. Truly forward-thinking brands have taken even bolder steps, like completely turning off certain channels traditionally used for the customer interactions of yesteryear. For example, as customers increasingly turn away from email, some brands have actually stopped using it for customer care altogether, pivoting to messaging instead. The advantages of doing so can include redeployment of technology resources, better alignment of care agents, and meeting customer’s needs.

Once you’ve identified your own audience’s unique needs and evaluated your current strengths, you can take similarly bold steps to turn off legacy channels and turn on new ones. Remember, even if your legacy channels operate at a high standard, it doesn’t mean they’re still relevant for your customers. After all, the Pony Express was an incredible system for delivering messages until the telegraph took away all of its business. It’s time to start thinking about which channels represent your bold new frontiers where you’ll meet and delight your customers.

Jennifer Kline Shernoff is Vice President, Product Management at LivePerson, a leading provider of conversational commerce solutions.

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