Think about the way you buy products and services today compared to just 20 years ago. Whether you are buying a book, or returning a movie, or finding a ride to the airport, the buying experience has undergone a total transformation.
Today, instead of being forced to buy at a place and time that is convenient for the company, you can now buy just about anything from the comfort and convenience of your choice of place & time. And best of all, you can buy in real-time or whenever it is most convenient for you as a customer.
Customers Have All The Power
Want to rewatch your favorite movie? Just a few years ago, that meant trudging to a video rental store and waiting in line so you could rent a DVD or VHS tape. Today, you can watch any of your favorite movies and TV shows on– standing in line with only a few clicks away.
In this real-time on-demand world we now live in, where access to an endless supply of products and services is always just a few clicks away, the marketers and salespeople vying for our business need to come to terms with a new, fundamental truth: which is the balance of power has shifted.
It is true that today, customers have all the power. And the companies that end up winning in this new world will no longer be the ones that own the supply but the ones that own the demand. Wondering what factors led to this paradigm shift?
Given below are a few key factors that lead to this shift:
Product Information Became Free
Gone are the days when companies could keep information about their products and services locked up and hidden away from their potential customers. Today, thanks to search engines, review websites, and social media recommendations, customers no longer need to rely on marketers or salespeople to educate themselves, which helps them make informed purchase decisions.
Instead of simply taking a company’s word for it that their product or service is worth the price or can solve a particular problem, today’s buyers can consult a wide range of resources and opinions to paint a fuller picture of what to expect from their purchase. And, of course, today’s buyers are not just researching and evaluating the potential benefits of the actual products; they are also evaluating the companies themselves and the level of service they provide, which leads to factor number two:
Real-Time Interactions Becomes Expectations
The second reason why customers have all the power today: because real-time interactions have become the default. Today, billions of people around the world use real-time messaging for their day-to-day communication. More and more of us are chatting with our friends and family on messaging apps like WhatsApp, and at work, we chat with our coworkers via messaging-powered collaboration tools like skype or slack.
As a result of this shift in how we communicate, coupled with the fact that we can now order so many products and services on-demand with just a few clicks, your customer expectations have evolved. We have become conditioned to expect a real-time response when we have questions and to expect instant solutions when we have problems.
Supply Becomes Infinite
Regardless of the product or service you are in the market for, today, there are usually at least a handful of options you can choose from as a buyer. And in many cases, there are dozens of competitors all fighting for your dollars.
Why Companies Need to Adapt
For years, companies have been able to find success by creating amazing products and building lovable brands. But in a world of infinite supply, an amazing product and loveable brand are no longer enough. To gain an advantage over the competition, you also need to provide incredible service.
Customers care not only about what they’re buying and who they’re buying it from but also how they’re able to buy it. They care about the buying process itself. And if that process takes too long, or feels too complicated, or doesn’t meet their expectations, those potential customers will likely spend their money with a competitor.
The Way Marketing & Sales Operated in the Past. That World No Longer Exists.
A visit to just about any business-to-business (B2B) or software as a service website will reveal the truth: companies the world over are blatantly ignoring their potential customers. Instead of providing a real-time, on-demand buying experience for people who come to our websites and show interest in your product and services, this shift has forced people to fill out and lead capture forms and wait for follow-up emails or phone calls.
Instead of letting our customers buy when it is convenient for them, we, as in the companies, have made it all about us. And we have become so obsessed with data and analytics and filling out spreadsheets and tracking every little detail that we have forgotten about the people we are serving.
The solution here is simple. It’s been staring us in the face for centuries. As marketers and salespeople, we need to get back to basics. We need to return to the core of what the buying process has always been: a conversation between buyer and seller.
Why do we need to integrate chatbots?
If you don’t know the chatbots, the basic idea is pretty plain. Using a chat interface, these software bots connect with customers and have an interaction that is similar to interacting through the live chat with a customer service agent.
IBM predicts that by 2020, 85 percent of consumer transactions will take place without a human agent. Chatbots are not yet ubiquitous, but they are expected to develop an ever-growing presence in the customer service field in the next few years.
Improving Customer Service Productivity
One of the key benefits of adding chatbots to your customer service campaign is that they improve the productivity of the whole staff. This is a top priority for most businesses to provide fast, friendly service to their customers. But if you’ve ever served in a client-facing position, you know how difficult it can be to waste time answering the same basic questions over and over.
And this is one place where chatbots can be of immense support. That is because a bot will effectively act as a self-service support device when it is designed correctly. When consumers ask simple questions (such as whether you are delivering to their country or returning a product in stock), the chatbot will have a clear response they are searching for immediately.
They Play the Role of a Customer Service Representative
Aside from answering consumer issues, chatbots may also play the role of a virtual sales agent by helping shoppers make purchasing decisions. Beauty retailer Sephora, for example, uses chatbots to help clients locate items that suit their needs and expectations.
So if you are looking for a way to step up your eCommerce service and stand out from your rivals, chatbots could be the ideal addition to your stratum.
Richa Mehta: An upcoming Digital Commerce enthusiast and a bookworm from IIMU who graduated in 2018. This is where she nurtured a deep understanding of consumer behavior and branding. She currently gives her insights for Krish TechnoLabs, and infuses her third culture exposure on the common tangles of your day-to-day eCommerce platforms-related stuff!