How important is it to WOW your customers, today? Let's look at a simple shopping comparison:
Think back to the last time you purchased a product for your face or skin - something that you use on a daily basis. Maybe you stopped by a Big-box retailer or added it to your auto-ship on Amazon. You'll probably have a hard time even identifying this activity despite the fact that you do it on a regular basis.
Now, think about the last time you had a negative experience while shopping and thought, "You know, I don't ever want to go back there..." Every single time you think about that company or brand, you get a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach. Maybe you drive by that store now in favor of another option that's just a bit further from your house.
This is what's known as the Negativity Bias in User Experience. We focus more on a negative experience than a positive one and completely forget or ignore mundane experiences that are so common to us. This is also why mundane user experiences are a death sentence to unengaging brands. Especially eCommerce brands since we don't "drive by them."
According to Etail Insights, there are currently 2.5 million online stores in the US alone and more than 9 million worldwide. This means that the competition is fierce and no longer just limited to the Big Box Retailers. In order to stand out, you have to do something different in order to WOW your customers.
If you don't stand out, you are forgotten (or you spend a massive amount in CAC... but that's a topic for another time).
So how do you stand out in a world where customers have so many options? 1:1 human connection through conversational commerce software.
Conversational commerce software that enables businesses to engage with customers through conversational interfaces such as chatbots, messaging apps, and social media platforms.
As e-commerce started to dominate the retail market, brands began looking for new ways to connect with their customers and optimize their shopping experience. Conversational commerce has emerged as the answer to this need. In this article, we'll be comparing three of the top conversational commerce solutions: Humankind, Zendesk, and Gorgias.
But first, let's look at the industry as a whole.
Many "conversational commerce" platforms are actually just re-purposed chatbots. They use simple workflow logic which is frustrating because it doesn’t often follow the same thought processes as humans. More advanced platforms use artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and natural language processing (NLP) to provide personalized recommendations to customers but the conversation ends once a purchase is made.
Only the most sophisticated conversational commerce software can gather customer data when a person enters a site, connect them to a product expert who can guide them through the entire buying journey, and stay connected to them through the entire customer lifecycle.
And that's what we're going to talk about today -
According to PWC, 82% of online shoppers who they surveyed said they wanted more human connection in the shopping experience. In fact, they all said they'd even pay more for this experience.
Recently, as whispers of a recession have swept across the US, the giant in high-tech, no-touch eCommerce (Amazon), has taken the biggest hit - closing locations and laying off almost 30,000 people.
But when we look at the companies that are thriving no matter the economic climate, it's no coincidence that a majority of them have investments in human connection and conversational commerce. They've taken a page from Amazon’s tech playbook but filled it with real people to engage with customers.
The truth is, customers today don’t just want convenience - they want experiences that are meaningful. They want to feel valued and heard, not just another face in the crowd - let's face it, we all want that.
To begin, I'm not here to bash anyone. This is a comparison of strengths and weaknesses.
All three solutions have their unique strengths and features. For instance: Humankind excels in its ability to provide a personalized shopping experience and 1:1 human connection, Zendesk offers extensive reporting and analytics, and Gorgias specializes in customer support automation.
However, when choosing which platform is right for your brand, we're going to make the assumption (this article is titled "Best Shopping Experience" after all) that you want to deliver excellent shopping experiences for your customers. So that's the lens we'll be using to assess each option.
Which option provides a shopping experience that keeps your customers coming back for more?
Humankind is a conversational commerce platform that offers businesses, primarily eCommerce brands, the ability to create 1:1 human connections between you and your shoppers. Using our platform, a trained remote concierge connects directly with a shopper to provide expert advice, product recommendations, reviews, order follow-up, and more.
Think of this like texting a friend.
Why did we take this customer-first approach? As we mentioned earlier - PwC, surveyed online shoppers, and more than 82% of them want more human connection in the buying experience, so we made that a pillar of our brand.
Zendesk is a customer service software that has recently ventured into conversational commerce. Its chatbot feature, Answer Bot, can be integrated with various e-commerce platforms to provide a personalized shopping experience for customers. The chatbot can answer customer queries, suggest products, and even process payments.
One of the advantages of Zendesk is its extensive reporting and analytics feature. It provides businesses with insights into customer engagement, customer satisfaction, and even employee productivity.
Gorgias is a conversational commerce software that specializes in providing customer support for e-commerce businesses. Its chatbot feature can answer customer queries, process refunds, and returns, and even provide shipping information. The software also offers various automation features such as auto-tagging, auto-responding, and auto-assigning.
Gorgias also offers a unique feature called Macros, which allows businesses to automate frequently asked questions and responses.
Humankind created a platform to provide personalized, 1:1 concierge commerce and relationships at scale. But what does that mean?
In short, it means that a shopper can connect 1:1 with a real human who's been trained on your products and services and can provide not only an excellent shopping experience but also expert-level advice.
This is one of the biggest differentiating factors between Humankind and all of the platforms mentioned in the first section, Humankind's goal is human connections that lead to high-value transactions - and to accomplish this, we built a platform that empowers personal shoppers and remote concierges to connect with customers before, during, and after their purchase. This allows us to collect high-quality data (zero-party data) and match the elongated consumer buying journey.
Zendesk is primarily a customer service software. I stress this point because it was designed to help businesses manage customer queries and improve their customer support. The software is known for its chatbot feature, Zendesk Chat, which provides a personalized support experience for customers.
One of the key features of Zendesk is its automation capabilities. This can help businesses save time and improve their efficiency in managing customer queries. The software also offers extensive reporting and analytics features that provide businesses with insights into customer engagement, customer satisfaction, and even employee productivity.
Overall, the user experience of Zendesk is designed to be simple and intuitive. With its user-friendly interface and range of features, Zendesk is an ideal software for businesses looking to improve their customer support and provide a seamless user experience.
Gorgias is a customer support software that provides businesses with an efficient and personalized user experience. The software is designed to help businesses automate their customer support tasks and provide personalized support to their customers. Known for its AI-powered chatbot feature, which provides personalized responses to customer queries.
One of the key features of Gorgias is its ability to integrate with various e-commerce platforms, such as Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce. This integration allows businesses to manage customer support queries directly from their e-commerce platform, without the need for additional software or tools.
Overall, the user experience of Gorgias is designed to be efficient and personalized. Its AI-powered chatbot feature provides personalized responses to customer queries, while its integration with e-commerce platforms allows businesses to manage customer support directly from their platform and provide a seamless user experience for their customers.
Now, you may have noticed that I pointed out "customer support" several times in these previous sections. I didn't do this to be mean to competitors but to showcase that these platforms are (in reality) repurposed chatbots, not dedicated conversational commerce solutions.
Humankind was built after studying more than 1 million customer interactions and that study led us to believe that customers wanted a different type of shopping experience. One that was personal and connected.
When a customer first triggers a personal shopper, they're given a rich data survey that generates a customer profile. Once this is completed, the remote concierge will take over and walk the customer through personalized consultation and guide them through the rest of their shopping experience. This makes it more efficient for the customer and collects rich data for the brand.
When the products that fit the customer's needs are identified, the remote concierge delivers them via beautiful, custom-designed landing pages with recommendations, the context for those recommendations, and a single "add to cart" button - accessible anytime.
Once the purchase is made, the concierge can add follow-ups... but we'll get to that in a sec.
I wanted an accurate perspective of each platform before beginning this comparison, so I went to a handful of Zendesk's customer's websites and tried to activate different features to see how they interacted with me.
In one of their customer's eCommerce stores, I triggered the live chat and found it to be very helpful although it was obviously automated, and the top suggestions weren't relevant to my questions - if I needed to return an item, it was pre-set to help, but if I wanted anything else it was a bit counterintuitive.
On another customer site, I tried to activate the virtual shopper, and as I would hover my pointer over the tile, it showed that there was no link for that option.
Overall, if I was a shopper with an urgent need, I would find this integration to be frustrating and counterintuitive.
Frankly, I found Gorgias' integration with one of their biggest customer's eCommerce store to be similar to Zendesk. I triggered the chat window and was met with a handful of questions but they seemed a bit more intuitive than Zendesk's - but overall a similar experience.
In the first chat window, it asked four questions that I would find very helpful if I was a potential customer:
If you take a second look at these questions, you’ll see the “support” nature rather than a focus on sales. Put simply, Gorgias and Zendesk have a user-friendly customer onboarding process that is designed to help customers find what they need quickly and easily - but in a support capacity.
They both seem to offer AI-powered algorithms to analyze user behavior and suggest relevant features and resources based on their needs and usage patterns. For example, if a user frequently receives customer support queries related to a specific product, Gorgias may recommend additional resources for managing those queries or suggest new features that could improve their overall customer support operations.
Overall, both solutions seem to offer user onboarding and product recommendations designed to provide users with a seamless and personalized experience... but there was no human connection. No real conversation - even with "virtual shoppers."
Now, if you've been in marketing circles for a while, you've heard it said, "The fortune is in the follow-up..."
What's the follow-up sequence for each platform look like?
When looking at the follow-up sequences Zendesk and Gorgias offer, I was impressed with their attention to detail, collection of data, and processes for opening and closing tickets. Some Conversational Commerce platforms like Live Person have no post-purchase follow-up... and both competitors really shine in this area.
However, back to our lens of the "Best Shopping Experience" for the customer, their follow-up sequences seemed more like checking a box than a personalized connection.
Imagine getting an email that says, "Were you happy with your experience today?" with 2 checkboxes... YES? or NO? You'd probably ignore it and move on unless you had a bad experience and wanted to let the brand know that you weren't happy.
Now compare that to a remote concierge using Humankind...
When you make a purchase with a brand that's powered by Humankind, you're building a 2-way relationship that continues post-purchase. Remember when I said that the whole experience felt like texting a friend?
After the purchase, a remote concierge can text the customer and find out how they liked the product.
For instance, one of our customers is Cascadia Tents, they make all types of products for Overlanding enthusiasts - and for the purposes of this example, let’s say that you're a Jeep Wrangler owner who wants to purchase a rooftop tent for an Overlanding Trip that you have booked in a month.
When you get back from your trip, you receive a text from your remote concierge asking how the trip went, how you liked your tent, if there's anything they could have done better and even offering recommendations for upcoming trips.
But it gets better, when you add marketing automation to the mix, you can extend the brand CX (customer experience) and the relationships that form to increase AOV & LTV because they build trust and rapport with customers…
This is just one example of how powerful these post-purchase follow-ups can be. They're an invaluable touchpoint for brands to build trust with their customers and create repeat purchase opportunities.
How does each platform measure customer success?
Well since I can't see Zendesk and Gorgias' backend, I don't know exactly how they measure success, but their websites mention measuring things like open ticket time, ticket close %, etc. all customer support metrics - which are great for solving problems, but aren’t focused on the sales aspect of marketing, or the relationship aspect of keeping customers happy.
On the other hand, Humankind operates as a sales tool, which measures success by LTV, LTR, AOV, and CVRs. These are all metrics that drive bottom-line revenue and show that your brand, customer experience, and product are all engaging customers and building relationships with them.
A remote concierge powered by Humankind can support more than 20 conversations at once and can guide 5- 6 shoppers through an excellent CX concurrently. When you include other factors like automated messaging, you have a shared conversational effort that scales.
Here's where chatbots and workflow logic/ automation shine. Automation and Ai guides can handle nearly unlimited requests because they don't require human interaction and both platforms use these types of features.
Zendesk offers workflow automation, a wide range of integrations, and purpose-built Ai bots. Gorgias has its own AI chatbot that can be used to automate customer support & marketing tasks.
Overall, both Zendesk and Gorgias provide powerful tools for managing customer queries and offer automated features so you can scale up quickly.
At the end of the day, all three platforms are great for customer service and support, but when it comes to creating a truly amazing shopping experience for customers, Humankind stands out from the pack with its human-centric approach to Conversational Commerce.
Humankind is a bespoke platform for conversational commerce, enabling sales experts, remote concierges, and personal shoppers to do their jobs consistently, delightfully, and scalably- that's why customers like REN skincare, Murad, and OLAPLEX swear by our platform... it's distinctly human- built for humans, by humans, to support an excellent human experience!
Ultimately, it's up to you which platform fits your needs, as I said before, at Humankind we're a little biased and proud of what we've built- if you'd like to see how we help eCommerce brands build real long-term relationships with their customers that increase vital metrics that drive your bottom-line, book your demo of Humankind today!