What Is CX and How Do E-Commerce Chatbots Elevate It?

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Inci Vardar
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Just a few days ago, I found myself entranced by an Instagram ad and made an impulsive purchase from an unknown online store. The transaction was seamless, but a nagging thought lingered – I had no idea when my order would arrive. This wasn’t just any purchase; it was a birthday gift, and time was ticking. In a blend of hope and anxiety, I reached out to the store via a WhatsApp button I stumbled upon on their website. To my relief, the response was prompt and reassuring. This simple yet effective interaction didn’t just soothe my immediate worries; it opened my eyes to the profound impact of customer experience (CX) in e-commerce. It’s a world where every digital interaction can turn a one-time buyer into a loyal customer or a lost opportunity.

Introduction to Customer Experience (CX)

In a previous blog post, I described customer experience as a feeling. That feeling tends to grow more and more positive with each friction-free step taken through the sales funnel. Companies should pay special attention to this smooth journey because feelings become actions and opinions. It determines whether customers will complete their purchases, return for more, and recommend your business to others. Rising customer expectations and fierce competition require solid CX strategies, especially in e-commerce.

2023 CX trends move toward immersive experiences, according to Zendesk.
2023 CX trends move toward immersive experiences, according to Zendesk.

Defining CX in E-Commerce

CX encompasses all touchpoints and interactions a customer has with a business. It is usually considered that the experience starts the moment a prospect lands on the website, but more often than not, the journey begins a little earlier. For instance, in my case, it started when I tapped an Instagram ad months before clicking on the website to check prices and make a purchase. Similarly, it doesn’t end when the transaction is complete, as after-sales support and customer feedback are also crucial elements of CX.

For a comprehensive definition, we can say that a satisfactory customer experience should include:

  • A customer-focused, easy-to-navigate, and visually appealing e-commerce website that performs perfectly both on desktop and mobile,
  • Detailed and accurate product descriptions, supported by high-quality images and videos, along with user ratings and comments, if available,
  • Trust signals that can ease the customer’s mind, indicating that all the necessary security measures are taken for a safe transaction,
  • Fast and reliable shipping, clear tracking information, and a painless return process,
  • A competent customer support team who can provide personal assistance throughout the shopping experience, including post-purchase,
  • A reliable system that can streamline the sales process and help you gather feedback for continuous improvement.

These are the basics, but you should also check out the top 6 ways to improve customer experience for further competitive advantage.

Importance of CX for Online Businesses

According to Emplifi, 86 percent of consumers claimed that they would leave a brand after as few as two poor experiences and 49 percent have already done it in the past year due to poor customer experience. These are huge numbers that can give business owners nightmares, and the importance of CX for online businesses cannot be overstated. 

Remember, customers don’t need a devastatingly unsuccessful shopping experience to permanently leave a brand’s website. A customer can lose interest because of anything throughout the experience, especially long waiting times, whether it is page load time or customer support at the checkout stage. That’s why, day by day, chatbots are gaining popularity for their speed, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.

Emergence of Chatbots in E-commerce

AI-powered CX automation revolutionized e-commerce and made chatbots a rising star in all kinds of processes, from support and complaint resolution to personalized experiences. Although a relatively new concept, it already has a significant impact on customer expectations and the way companies conduct business. Today, chatbots are a differentiating factor, enhancing customer service, streamlining online shopping experiences, and boosting sales. As customer expectations increase with better experiences, chatbots will continue to evolve and play an even more significant role in the future of e-commerce. 

73% Expect more interactions with AI in their daily life/AI will improve customer service quality, 74% AI will improve customer service efficiency, 74% AI will be able to access and use data about consumers quickly, 75% AI should be able to provide the same level of service as human agents, 75% AI interactions will become more natural and human-like over time.
Consumers are increasingly getting used to AI-powered chatbots and expect more from companies.

Evolution from Simple Scripts to AI-Powered Conversations

Initially, chatbots weren’t as effective as they are today. They were limited to basic, rule-based interactions, offering pre-programmed responses to specific queries, like greeting customers and putting them on hold until a human agent could continue the conversation. They sure improved the first response time but also pointed out a whole new world of possibilities. Today, there are several types of chatbots that are utilized for different purposes, thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence and natural language processing. For analyzing vast amounts of data in a flash, AI-powered chatbots can now engage in dynamic, context-aware conversations, adapting to the unique needs and preferences of each user.

Although a little reluctant at first, the customers are now warming up to the idea of completing the whole process with chatbots, as long as the human agents are ready to intervene if needed. In fact, 62 percent of consumers would prefer to use a customer service bot rather than wait for human agents to answer their requests.

According to Zendesk, AI’s impact on e-commerce, especially in customer service, will continue to grow.

Meeting Consumer Expectations for 24/7 Support

The most accurate generalization about customers is that they dislike waiting. Whether it is high season or the middle of the night, some shoppers will experience problems and require support. In order not to lose them to a competitor, you need to be there to help them 24/7. Having humans perform at their best all the time is neither possible nor cost-effective. But AI-powered chatbots never get tired of providing round-the-clock assistance. This constant availability not only caters to diverse time zones and schedules but also ensures that customers receive assistance precisely when they need it.

Advantages of E-Commerce Chatbots for CX

E-commerce chatbots offer a variety of competitive advantages to businesses, but more importantly, they set new standards in CX. Handling numerous inquiries simultaneously and providing personalized services instantly, modern chatbots play a pivotal role in delivering exceptional experiences to customers.

Among their various benefits, three primary advantages become prominent:

1. Providing Instantaneous Customer Support

Back in 2016, Kate Leggett from Forrester declared that “53% of US online adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question; 73% say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service.” Keeping in mind that e-commerce chatbots were practically non-existent seven years ago, you can imagine how far customer expectations have evolved since then. Today, customers don’t merely want quick answers. They expect an accurate, relevant, and complete answer to their question instantly. This is not a strict requirement yet, but many customers tend to steer their shopping budgets to companies that proactively meet their needs. Providing instantaneous customer support with an e-commerce chatbot can significantly improve your chances of satisfying your customers.

Screenshots from KLM’s chatbot dialogue.
KLM knows the importance of instant support. (Image from: Chatbots Life)

2. Streamlining the Shopping Experience

Imagine having an AI-powered chatbot available on your website, assisting your customers and leading them through the sales funnel step by step. It can help customers find products, offer recommendations, and answer questions at any stage of their shopping experience, turning it into a smooth journey and eliminating the need for further searches or navigation. For example, a customer may look for a complementary product while examining the products in the cart at the checkout stage. Instead of going back and forth on the website and abandoning the shopping cart in a moment of boredom, the customer can simply ask the chatbot for a product recommendation, add a recommended item to the cart with a single click, and proceed with the payment. This not only streamlines the shopping experience but also reduces friction, making the entire process more convenient and efficient.

Screenshots from Tommy Hilfiger’s chatbot dialogue.
Tommy Hilfiger not only engages but also entertains.

3. Collecting and Analyzing Customer Feedback

Thanks to their machine learning capabilities, AI-powered e-commerce chatbots are getting smarter day by day. They instantly access immense amounts of data and add to it by engaging with customers in real time, which enables them to continuously learn and adapt, offering increasingly relevant and effective interactions. Besides providing more personalized services to customers, chatbots can identify patterns and trends in customer feedback, allowing e-commerce companies to make data-driven improvements to products, offerings, and incentives. 

Screenshots from MasterCard’s chatbot dialogue.
MasterCard uses personal data in a loyalty-building manner.

Practical Applications of Chatbots in E-Commerce

The use of modern chatbots remains an effective way to differentiate your brand from competitors, but some practical applications already in use suggest they will soon become indispensable tools for online businesses. Two of the most widely accepted areas of application are freeing up your customer support team of repetitive tasks and helping customers to make the most of their purchases.

Automating Routine Customer Queries

Customer service is clearly about building sincere, personal relationships with consumers, but do companies actually need a human agent to provide prepared answers to routine questions like, “Do you have an express delivery option?” A chatbot can simultaneously answer hundreds of routine customer queries, freeing up your customer support team to address more complex issues.

Screenshots from Call of Duty’s chatbot dialogue.
Call of Duty gamified their most recent launch, which feels quite like an onboarding process.

Assisting in Product Selection and Recommendations

Modern AI-powered chatbots provide personalized shopping experiences for customers by analyzing their preferences, browsing patterns, and purchase histories. They can offer alternative items and complementary products, creating cross-sell and upsell opportunities. As well as product recommendations, chatbots can generate tailored promotions and customized content, and they can offer personalized discounts and incentives to loyal customers.

H&M’s chatbot not only recommends single items but also presents them in trendy outfit combinations.
H&M’s chatbot not only recommends single items but also presents them in trendy outfit combinations.

Last Words

Given the constantly rising customer expectations, we can confidently state that chatbots are more than just a trend; they are a transformative force reshaping the e-commerce industry. While chatbots provide fast, effective, and sustainable solutions for providing support and driving sales, they also have the potential to streamline the entire shopping experience, from product discovery to after-sales assistance. With Juphy as your trusted ally in AI-powered CX automation, you can expand the limits of what you can achieve in this dynamic and ever-evolving arena.

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