An online concierge solution is a great way to manage successful customer interactions from anywhere in the world. With an online concierge, customers can access live help and get their questions answered quickly and easily. This is why online concierge tools have become all the rage in eCommerce, Travel, Hospitality, Banking, and more.
However, with a meteoric rise in technology, there are many companies using chatbots and other Ai (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) tools that they're calling a "concierge." This is where we need to make a distinction.
There are huge differences between a digital chatbot and a live human interaction. But many companies in an attempt to get traffic and demos are using broad terms to try and collect as much attention as they possibly can - and they're great marketers, we get it - that's their job.
But that means that it's up to us to make distinctions so that there's no confusion.
When you see terms like Virtual Concierge, Online Concierge, Digital Concierge, and Conversational Commerce - they're not all the same thing. In fact, there's a huge difference.
"Virtual" and "Online" concierge services simply tell you where you'll have access to those services. A virtual concierge service is a solution that allows customers, visitors, or shoppers to find answers to their questions without a real person being present (which is why it's called, virtual). Similarly, online concierge services are when you have a live person who can help customers with their needs through a network connection, but don't need to be face-to-face with a customer.
And this is where the similarities end.
"Digital Concierge" tools are automated chatbot-like services that use AI and ML to provide answers to customer inquiries. Examples of digital concierge services are Drift, Watson Assistant, Intercom, InfoBip, and Zendesk. These tools use NLP (natural language processing) and "IF/Then" algorithms to understand customer inquiries and provide answers.
The advantage of digital concierge services is that they don't require a real person to be present and can provide answers to common questions from a database or list. They are especially useful for companies that have high customer inquiry volumes or those looking to save on costs.
These tools can provide "human-like" conversations but they're far from "human." Digital and NLP solutions are often best used for customer service tickets and support (shipping, damaged goods, sizing issues, etc.).
Finally, Conversational Commerce is a 1:1 human interaction where a product expert can connect directly with a shopper and guide them through their purchase journey virtually. Conversational commerce software like Humankind provides a platform for a real person (the concierge) with product knowledge and expertise to provide an exceptional customer experience throughout the buying journey. This allows online stores to assist customers at each step by answering questions, providing feedback on products, making recommendations based upon a customer's individual needs and feedback, and even adding recommended items directly to their cart.
A concierge using Humankind can connect with 20+ shoppers at a time and respond quickly to any inquiries they receive - which is a huge advantage for any company looking to provide an exceptional customer experience while generating revenue for your brand.
The bottom line is that there are huge differences between virtual, online, digital, and conversational commerce concierge services. It's important to understand the distinction so you can choose the best service for your business needs.
To illustrate the power of conversational commerce in action let's look at an example conversation between a customer looking to buy new running shoes on one of our customer's websites - Saucony.com:
Customer: "I'm looking for some nice shoes for the Boston Marathon - can you help me with that?"
Concierge: "Absolutely! BTW, Congratulations on qualifying for the Boston Marathon - that's a big achievement! What's your goal for the race?"
Customer: "Thank you! My goal is to run it in under 4 hours - shooting for a time of 3:45 - and that's why I need good shoes for the event."
Concierge: "Great, I can help you with that!"
Customer: "I saw that James Lamers (a Saucony-sponsored athlete) uses the Endorphin Elite - I follow him on Instagram and he made a video about them the other day... can you tell me more about that shoe?"
Concierge: "Yes, I saw that post too, James seems to really enjoy his new running shoes!
The Endorphin Elite is our newest long-distance running shoe - perfect for marathons. It has a carbon plate in it so the shoe returns more energy than any other shoe that we make, helping you run longer with less fatigue. It's also a neutral running shoe and gives just a bit more support than the Endorphin Pro.
Here's a link so you can see all the details for the shoe.
Customer: "Thank you! I have another pair of Saucony's - do these run true to size?"
Concierge: "Yes they do- which shoe do you run in currently?
Customer: "I run in the Endorphin Speed 2."
Concierge: "That's a great shoe, I run in those as well! The Endorphin Elite should fit your foot similarly to the Speed 2, but it will be lighter and have the energy return of a carbon-plated shoe so you should be able to run longer with less energy.
"I can add a pair of those to your cart if you'd like me to?"
Customer: "Great, that's exactly what I need for the Boston Marathon - would you do that?"
Concierge: "Sure, what size are your Speed 2s?
Customer: "Size 10.5."
Concierge: "Okay, I just added the Endorphin Elite to your cart in a size 10.5... can you see them in your cart?"
Customer: "Yes, they're there - thank you!"
Concierge: "It's my pleasure! It looks like the weather on April 17th is going to be a bit chilly, would you like any recommendations for matching thermals, quarter-zips, or windbreakers to wear during the race?
Customer: "Nope, I'm good on that front."
Concierge: "Okay, good luck! Hope you have a great race, and let me know if you need any other help with anything else!"
Customer: "Thank you!"
As you can see, product experts for Saucony, powered by Humankind can provide a level of personalization and human connection that no chatbot ever could. With conversational commerce, a concierge can guide customers through their buying journey, upselling them with relevant product recommendations, and helping to build a more meaningful relationship between the customer and the brand.
In the end, customers get a personalized experience that they can't find anywhere else - which leads to happier customers and higher sales. That's why conversational commerce is quickly becoming an essential tool for online stores.
The buyer journey has always been a bit convoluted. Usually, it starts with their interest being piqued by seeing a product or service that they're interested in and hopefully ends with them on our site making a purchase. But there are many steps between these two events.
Customers don’t often know what they want until they find it, and even then it can be hard to get the exact product or service you need based on supply chain shortages, availability, seasonality of designs, and many other factors.
That’s why an online concierge is so helpful for creating a great eCommerce CX. Through one-on-one conversations with a knowledgeable human agent, customers can easily navigate their way through an online shopping experience and you can make this experience even better by:
1. Listening to customers and understanding their needs: Everyone shops differently! The more you listen to your customers and tune into their specific needs, the better you can match them with the right product or service quickly - which generates customer satisfaction and ultimately, loyalty.
2. Find internal or external product experts: Humankind identifies product experts who are passionate about our customer's products and services - so they're genuinely interested in helping customers find the right solution and not just rushing them to buy a product.
3. Guiding customers through a personalized journey: A concierge can help customers navigate the online store more easily, giving them helpful product insights and recommending different options that fit their needs. Making product and sizing recommendations on high-consideration products, dropping links to recommended items, and even adding them to the customer's cart make the shopping experience seamless and personalized to the customer's needs.
4. Addressing customer complaints: With a personal concierge who provides a 1:1 human connection, customers can easily voice any complaints or questions they have through a concierge - no matter where they are in the buyer journey. That way, you can keep them engaged and build loyalty by resolving their issue quickly and thoroughly.
5. Cross-selling and up-selling: Your concierge can help customers find the perfect product, but they can also use the conversation to cross-sell or upsell other products that would complement the one they initially chose. For example, a shoe purchase could lead to a recommendation for accessories like laces, matching shirts, warm-ups, or running shorts. This single factor can increase AOVs (average order values), and LTV (lifetime value) for customers, making it a great way to increase sales.
6. Follow through - after the race, the concierge can text the runner again to see how everything went. This creates long-term relationships and increases brand loyalty through personal connections. It’s also a great way to create more sales opportunities as the customer can now text the concierge to order another pair, etc.
By leveraging online concierge services, you can make sure that your customers have the best eCommerce CX possible - and become loyal members of your brand.
If your online store isn't generating the metrics you'd like it to, book your demo of Humankind to chat with someone on our team. We'd love to show you how customers like REN Skincare see 27% higher CVRs through personalized shopping experiences with our product experts.