Most customer’s experience with the brands they buy from is a largely unilateral affair. Merchants will typically speak at their customers, who have limited means of reply. This largely happens in the form of online advertising where the concept of one-to-one conversation on an individual level is somewhat lacking.
Online ads now fill the websites we visit, the social media platforms we frequent, the email inboxes we log into and the apps we download. At some point during this vast shift towards online advertising, marketers forgot that business, for all the technological capabilities now at its fingertips, is still fundamentally about people speaking to other people. Somewhere along the line, we forgot how to have a human conversation.
How do you currently communicate with your customers? You would probably imagine it varies across industries and territories - in fact, largely the same processes are in place regardless of geography. Almost across the board, communication between brands and their customers is happening through websites, emails and social media, maybe with a side offering of live website chat functionality.
The asynchronous nature of these channels makes it hard to develop real one-to-one relationships with your customers. This is true even in the case of social platforms which do offer buyers some voice in a public forum, but still can't provide the level of direct interpersonal customer service many are now demanding.
During the buying process a consumer will encounter a number of touch points across a whole host of different brand-owned channels. All customer journey’s are, of course, different - but a typical one might look something like this:
Each of these forms of communication are at odds with each other. In this example, they happen across four different channels, at different times, with no joined up approach in terms of how an individual customer is being spoken to through each touchpoint.
The ability to connect all of these diffuse conversations, all of these multi-channel interactions, into one single channel would be hugely powerful for brands. The brand-customer dialogue shouldn’t have to stop and restart multiple times as a consumer moves through the buying process.
If one-to-one conversations were able to flow seamlessly from the moment a person encounters a brand, through to product choice, purchase and then delivery, it would be a game changer. Merchants could begin to build long term, individual relationships with customers that aren’t purely transactional, but based on storytelling, authenticity and personalisation. Such a model would drastically enhance brand engagement and loyalty, increasing your chances of winning repeat business and long term revenue.
Above all else, the modern consumer values speed and ease-of-use when they buy from an online brand. Removing the disconnected, slow and impersonal communication models that are currently in place can go a long way to achieving this “on-demand” experience. However, if you break it down, this goes far beyond just communication.
Once you have a direct one-to-one means of communication with your customer, you can start to challenge other structures that are in place. Why do you need to redirect customer's to a website to leave a review? Why do you need to ask them to log back in online to edit a subscription? And why do they require another checkout to make a repeat purchase - when all could happen seamlessly in that same communication channel?
At Blueprint we think the answer is SMS. It is a technology customers are all highly familiar with, delivered on a device almost all of them own. Using SMS, purchasing your favourite product becomes as easy as messaging a friend.
By removing the omni channel friction that has dominated eCommerce platforms for 20 years, you can build an experience that is aligned with what your modern customers are demanding. Like any seamless customer experience, an invisible firewall is constructed around your brand as the experience deepens. Why would a customer ever churn if the cost of friction is just too great? Going back to slow email support, clunky checkout pages and restrictive bi-monthly subscriptions will feel a little tired.
As conversational channels open, and the line blurs between commerce and conversation, a whole new experience for brands and customers presents itself. Ease of experience paired with extreme speed will propel whole industries forward.
If this is an experience you can imagine for your customers, check out what we've been building: