Artificial Intelligence

Personalized CX: The power of conversational commerce

Dawn Harpster

By Dawn Harpster

0 min read

Woman with a ponytail looking at a computer and chat messages on the side for conversational commerce.

How does conversational AI streamline customer interactions? Learn about how conversational commerce fosters better experiences and fuels sales.

  • Through the power and potential of AI, conversational commerce allows contact centers to transform the customer journey. By answering questions more quickly and guiding the purchase process, conversational AI drives revenue both directly and indirectly.
  • While AI is commonly used for purposes like answering FAQs or assisting with high-level troubleshooting, the potential for these tools is so much greater. From checking an order status to providing context to agents before they connect to customers, AI powers more personalized experiences.
  • Like any evolving solution, AI isn’t without its challenges; however, as conversational AI continues to advance, ao will its use in applications like security and authentication. The possibilities of AI are as boundless as the imaginations of the companies using it.

For customers, feeling heard, understood, and supported is the difference between a below-average experience with a contact center and a great one.

Hiring and training the best agents is an important aspect of providing an excellent customer experience (CX), but it’s not the only facet. In fact, conversational commerce through AI-backed support leads to more highly personalized interactions.

Best of all, conversational AI holds the key to more revenue and better CX in every part of the customer journey. Talkdesk joined VUX World for a webinar about conversational commerce. Read on to learn about the benefits, use cases, and even the future of conversational AI:

What does conversational commerce mean?

Conversational commerce is any way that artificial intelligence (AI) can generate revenue for a company.

Examples of conversational commerce include a live chat, voice bot, or virtual assistant that connects to customers through SMS or other messaging platforms.

Consider a customer who calls a contact center to place an order. An interactive voice response (IVR) leads them through a series of prompts to collect information and direct their query through the right channels. The IVR can take orders and even upsell the customer.

This is conversational commerce in action. The customer and AI interact with each other to accomplish the customer’s goal, without the aid of a live agent.

But conversational commerce doesn’t just concern activities resulting in an immediate sale—which some might call a “non-value interaction.” While the value of an interaction might not be instant, it can still generate revenue. For example, someone who calls a restaurant to book a table doesn’t purchase on the call, but their intention to eat at the restaurant will directly generate revenue.

Conversational AI can ease these interactions as well—by answering questions and taking care of simple tasks, AI-backed support frees agents to take orders and help customers with more complex tasks. Even if those questions don’t directly result in a sale, the interaction still holds value and drives business revenue.

In which parts of the customer journey can conversational AI play a role?

Many companies use conversational AI to support customers using a product they have already purchased. For instance, a chatbot might answer a selection of customer FAQs, since conversational AI is well-suited to assist with these kinds of troubleshooting queries.

However, AI can also be useful to customers as they search for and buy products. 

During the consideration phase, people can use AI to answer in-depth questions that aren’t readily available on static web pages, especially as natural language processes advances. AI can also assist customers in finding a product by sending details comparing multiple products—or even multiple brands. This means AI is a valuable tool for the selling (and even the upselling) process.

Any time someone calls a contact center to buy a product, AI can help prior to connecting them to an agent. Conversational AI can collect key information so that, by the time they speak to an agent, the agent has the details needed to instantly begin assisting—and encouraging them to place a new order.

In the future, AI could streamline the purchasing process even further. After collecting customer details, a virtual assistant (VA) could use the information to help complete their order via chat or SMS without even speaking with an agent.

What are the benefits of conversational commerce?

Through streamlining customer interactions and assisting contact center agents, conversational commerce drives additional revenue and improves overall CX. AI helps to solve some of the most pressing contact center challenges, like hiring shortages and rising customer expectations.

Here are a few of the major benefits conversational AI offers:

1. Finding information.

For both interested and current customers, conversational AI indexes information that can inform and drive purchase decisions by using the same information contact center agents have at their fingertips.

Many websites offer static information that can be difficult for users to navigate or search. Gathering and organizing information is one of the major strengths of conversational AI, so AI is useful for bringing customers one step closer to buying.

2. Allowing better usage of existing data.

One of the most untapped methods for contact centers to better serve customers is by using available data to create a more customized experience. Conversational AI enables exactly that.

AI allows a more thoroughly integrated web experience using data that many industries, such as retail, already track. Picture a customer who places an item in their digital shopping cart, then calls to speak with an agent.

By the time the agent connects with them, AI offers access to data about the customer’s behavior and the item they’re interested in. Already armed with relevant context, the agent can jump into greeting them, answering questions, or solving any issues. By leveraging the power of a natural language interaction, this customer data brings the agent one step closer to closing the sale.

3. Freeing agents’ capacity.

Contact center agents complete a wide range of repetitive tasks all day, such as answering simple, straightforward customer questions. By offloading these tasks to AI assistants instead, agents gain back time in their days to complete important tasks that AI can’t.

When a VA or voicebot takes care of customers who want to check on their order status or ask a frequently asked question, agents can spend their time making sales or speaking with higher-dollar clients. This means a smoother experience for callers who aren’t directly revenue-generating and premium customers alike.

Plus, AI helps reduce each call by a few seconds by providing agents with relevant context before connecting to the customer—and those seconds add up quickly over the course of thousands of calls each day. Agents can use that time, instead, to close sales and drive revenue.

4. Elevating customer experience.

As a result of each of the above benefits, customers will experience shorter wait times—through instant AI support and more readily available agents. Conversational commerce is the future of CX by giving customers what they need faster and easier than ever.

What are some limitations of conversational commerce?

Conversational AI is ideal for guiding customers and driving revenue in many cases but not all. For example, AI can assist when a potential customer has a strong sense of what they’re looking for,  but voice channels may struggle to sift through too much available information if someone isn’t sure what they want.

Security is a key area of concern for conversational AI interactions with customers. If a customer’s need involves sensitive health information, the AI solution needs to have the correct encryption levels to remain compliant with HIPAA laws. Otherwise, privacy and data safety can be compromised.

In addition to keeping data safe, verifying and authenticating users can be a challenge for AI tools. If a customer is connecting with an AI voice channel, entering a 14-digit code is inconvenient and getting a voicebot to understand their email address is currently impractical.

It’s important to make this process as intuitive for the user as possible. One way to do so is through sending an auto-generated text message to authenticate the user. Voice biometrics is yet another important solution during the authentication process as this technology continues to advance.

As AI continues to evolve rapidly, however, these limitations are less and less likely to hinder the power of conversational AI, allowing it to be more and more useful to contact centers.

Conversational commerce, limitless potential.

The applications (and implications) of conversational AI for contact centers are far-reaching. As AI capabilities advance in the coming years with solutions like Talkdesk, customers and agents alike will see the impacts of AI-backed support throughout the purchase process.

The only limit to the potential of conversational commerce is the imagination of the companies using these tools. Contact centers that embrace AI will reap the benefits of deeper customer loyalty and a more direct path to sales.

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Dawn Harpster

Dawn Harpster

Dawn Harpster is a senior conversation architect at Talkdesk. She’s obsessed with crafting frictionless user experiences and loves to simplify customer problems with intelligently designed conversation flows on virtual agents. In her personal time, Dawn likes to read popular science and she is a professionally trained jouster.