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Insights and News /

10 July 2019 5 min read

Don’t think chatbots, messaging or voicebots – think Digital conversations

Elliot Johnstone

Elliot Johnstone
Manager | Customer and digital | London

We see many companies making isolated investments in new digital channels, for example, implementing a chatbot, or engaging customers with Whatsapp, without considering how these fit into the overall experience, the impact it will have on their customers (business partners and employees) or the underlying capabilities required.

Companies should stop thinking in isolation and instead take a step back to consider their overall approach to conversational channels – their digital conversation strategy, where these new channels sit in relation to other channels and what capabilities are required to succeed. 

Why you need to be thinking digital conversations now:

  • You want to be where your customers are and this is increasingly in digital conversational channels. A majority of UK adults regularly use messaging platforms (e.g. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp), and use of voice (e.g. Alexa) is expected to increase by 100% in the next two years, with an Alexa device present in one in five UK households. The rise of digital conversational channels has led to a decrease in app usage, as customers prefer to engage in these channels. Not being present in these newly emerging channels means losing access to large (and profitable) groups of customers.
  • Digital conversations reduce cost and increase sales. Human-enabled digital conversations (e.g. Apple Business Chat, Google RCS) can be up to twice as efficient as voice conversations, and automation of tasks through chatbots and voicebots can substantially reduce cost-to-serve. They also have the potential to increase sales revenue by opening up new channels, and using AI to provide targeted nudges at key touchpoints in sales journeys.
  • If you don’t invest now you’ll be left behind. There’s a steep learning curve to build the required capabilities for digital conversations. You need to invest in your people, build or buy the right technology and develop the right supporting capabilities (e.g. data). In addition, like any application of AI, the more data the better the application, so the earlier you start the ‘smarter’ the intelligence will be.

How to get started

Whether you’re new to digital conversations, or have established capability in some elements (e.g. messaging or chatbots), you should start by understanding your customer (or business partner or employee) needs and behaviours, then identifying how digital conversations can help meet that need (and where this sits in your channel hierarchy). We’ve developed a series of blogs in which we will share use cases, lessons we’ve learned supporting clients, and to give our personal view on our most admired examples.

We are keen to hear your thoughts. Contact us and let’s have a conversation about digital.

About the author: Elliot sits in Baringa’s Customer and Digital team and leads our work on Digital Conversations. He is passionate about helping organisations move to the digital era, and using new technologies to better meet the needs of customers.