“The true purpose of a business is to create and keep customers."
The world's best human salespeople
According to this HBR article the world’s best salespeople are described as Challengers: “Challengers use their deep understanding of their customers’ business to push their thinking and take control of the sales conversation. They’re not afraid to share even potentially controversial views and are assertive — with both their customers and bosses.”
These sales people typically have three key characteristics:
- Challengers teach their customers.
- Challengers tailor their sales message to the customer.
- Challengers take control of the sale.
So on our journey to creating the perfect Commerce AI we will take these three factors into consideration (teach, tailor and control).
The value of keeping customers
One key thing that a pure sales focus misses is the current trend towards recurring business models. Whether you are a B2C or B2B business, the focus is to create a subscription based / recurring and lasting revenue stream from the customer. The sale is the first step, the next is to engage the customer to make them happy and loyal. The final push is to drive the loyal customer to the holy grail of customer relationships - to become an ambassador.
According to this Inc. article the three most actionable methods to keep customers loyal are:
- Be hyper personal
- Give your customers extra perks. Reward based upon levels of engagement.
- Appoint true ambassadors.
Hence, the perfect Commerce AI must also focus on three more things to be loyalty proof (personalize, reward, trust).
Creating a winning Conversational Commerce AI
With conversational commerce you bring best of the point of sale to your customer through engaging web chatbots, messaging apps etc. It is an exploding area and leading us on the right path to a commerce AI, but let’s be honest: It is usually a lame and boring experience with reactive chatbots focusing on transactional sales.
To create a Commerce AI that is much more successful and effective let’s combine the insights above from the perfect sales people and loyalty program. Then we end up with the following 6 factors:
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
A core quality of a sales bot is that it should take control of the conversation from the get go and guide the customer along the way - proactively. A proactive bot will do exactly that, in contrast to reactive customer service bots answering FAQs that most companies employ today. Your bot/agent will take the initiative instead of simply responding to the customer’s request.
“If you are not taking care of your customer, your competitor will.”
As you become proactive, you take the initiative and ask for your customer’s attention and action. People’s time and attention can be argued are among their most valuable resources - and deserve to be valued, for example in terms of rewards. Rewards can be your own (like your reward program or a unit of your service), a voucher for something or a small donation to an important cause for your company. Think of it as small gifts that you give for every small action, and you as a company will be rewarded back. The principles of reciprocation really works.
Teach and learn
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
Challenge, teach or surprise your customers in the dialogue and they will respect you. Give them a reward if they watch through an educational video, if they answer a question or if they discover a new psychical location or site. Questions, content and videos should sometimes be provocative (while given in a respectful way) so that you challenge them. As you interact in this discovering manner your acclaim with your customer will increase. A benefit that cannot be undervalued is that you learn something in every interaction about their choices and preferences. Think of the human sales agent that asks questions and listens before he or she tries to tailor an offering to their customer. This learning goes into the next point.
“If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor.”
When doing conversational commerce you should strive to personalize to the highest level possible. As this is hard and requires many iterations, AI in combination with your customer insights must be employed to perfect these. Areas to use in personalizations are factors such as preferences, demographics, location, context, channel, conversation flows and digital twin recommendations. These should act together in unison to create a engaging conversation experience for your customer.
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
In our 21st century world your customer’s lifecycle cannot be viewed from a simple transactional funnel approach. Rather, their lifecycle is like a flywheel where their state should go from lead to ambassador. For every state your customers move through, they should experience tailored conversational journeys that guide them along the way. Importantly, as they become ambassadors, your commerce AI must have strong referral capabilities so that it is easy for them to act as your sales agents for new leads to your company.
“Establishing trust is better than any sales technique.”
Keeping promises, being transparent and protecting your customers data goes without saying. However, trust is very hard to achieve. Once you give gifts and rewards it needs to be ultra-transparent that the gifts, rewards and donations are actually delivered. This is a hard problem. When it comes to trustful privacy the current paradigm that still exists within digital sales and marketing, is based on browser cookies and companies selling their customers data to each other. Many customers experience this as creepy and intrusive. Hence, your commerce AI must be privacy by design - your customer should be in control of their own data.
The world's best Commerce AI?
At SMOC we have used these factors to design our commerce AI. Our vision is to create a Commerce AI for you that learns and engages like the world's best sales agent. As our client, we aim to give you a strong competitive advantage as conversational commerce becomes the basis for 21st century e-commerce.
So what are you waiting for? You should choose SMOC now if you plan to make your sales and engagement processes digital. Book a free demo today and we can show you how everything works, or digg further in to the subject by checking out our other resources below.
Read our article "Artificial Intelligence – the brainchild behind effective conversational marketing", by clicking here.
Read our article "Triple your Sales with Rewarded Conversational Marketing", by clicking here.