@thebuddygroup is working to help product managers and marketers harness the connected consumer’s varied and evolving onramps to brand engagement.
According to a new report by Narvar, “Bots, Texts and Voice: What Cuts Through the Clutter,” describing how shoppers’ communications preferences are changing with the rise of smartphones, chatbots and voice devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Over two-thirds of shoppers have interacted with retailers using text, messenger apps, or voice devices, and 65% of shoppers who’ve knowingly used a chatbot, enjoy the experience.
Amit Sharma, CEO of Narvar, says “…technology innovation complicates what we already know… that customer communications are never one-size-fit-all… with this research, our mission is to equip retailers with the insights they need to navigate nuanced communications and ultimately create the best experiences possible…”
77% of American adults own a smartphone; every month, people exchange 2 billion messages with Facebook Messenger’s 100,000 active bots; and 30 million households will have a voice-first, in-home device such as Amazon Echo and Google Home by the end of 2017. These technology-driven communication channels are starting to change the way people want to interact with retailers. While more than 80% prefer to get messages from retailers via email, 38% now want to hear from retailers on multiple channels. According to the survey, 79% of shoppers have also used text messages, messenger apps or voice devices to connect with retailers.
Sucharita Mulpuru, a retail industry analyst who collaborated with Narvar on this study, says “… retail brands should seize the opportunity to learn from, and optimize consumer communications, through both existing and emerging channels. The first step is to understand how their customers want to communicate based on elements like urgency, type of message and specific channel… ”
While shoppers typically prefer to receive messages from retailers via email, they’re warming up to text messages and push notifications, says the report. This is especially true if a message is important and contains order confirmation or tracking information. They also want companies to communicate package delays or postponed delivery dates, quickly, and want more communication for high-value items.
- 73% of shoppers consider messages containing order tracking information to be “very important,” while 46% say customer service messages are “very important”
- 84% say more communication is critical if the purchase is an expensive one
- 98% of shoppers say they feel better about a company if they are notified immediately when something goes wrong.
While email still reigns overall, communication preferences vary by age group, says the report. Millennials aged 21-29 prefer text messages and mobile push notifications from retailers more than any other generation, because they’re more likely to see these kinds of messages quickly.
- 43% of millennials aged 21-29 prefer to receive order updates as text messages, compared with 39% of shoppers aged 30-44, 32% of shoppers aged 45-59, and 28% of those shoppers 60 or older
- 33% of millennials aged 21-29 prefer to receive order updates as push notifications, compared with 22% of those aged 30-44, 12% of those aged 45-59, and just 4% of those 60 or older
Retailers are starting to integrate artificial intelligence and voice technology into communications with shoppers. While these channels are still new, the majority of shoppers have at least tried messenger apps, voice devices or live chat. The data underscores that shoppers anticipate using voice-powered devices more.
- 79% of shoppers have used text, messenger apps, or voice devices, and 74% indicated they have used live chat when shopping. Of those who have used these new technologies, 38% could not identify if they were using artificial intelligence, and only 10% knew it was not human
- 65% of shoppers who knew a non-human bot was responding generally liked it
- 29% of voice device owners use it to shop, while 41% of voice device owners plan to shop with it in the future.
The majority of shoppers will try to resolve problems on their own, says the report. Those under 30 are most likely to prefer to fix problems themselves, using the retailer’s website or chat technology. In the future, retailers will need to adopt a hybrid model which applies technology to offer better self-service options, but escalates higher-level issues to humans.
- 55% of millennials aged 21-29 prefer to talk to a person to resolve a problem, compared with 72% of shoppers aged 60 or older
- 88% of under-30 millennials and 73% of shoppers aged 60 or older will try to find an answer to the problem themselves when they encounter an issue with a retailer
The complete report detailing the findings of the study is available online at Narvar.com