E-commerce companies (and Amazon in particular) have revolutionized the landscape of traditional retail with the promise of one-touch convenience. The discovery, ordering, and checkout processes have never been simpler or more streamlined, and retailers that are struggling to adapt to the new reality are being left behind.
But there remain many sectors – including some areas within retail – where commerce is not quite so frictionless. Chalk it up to the complexity of the buying process, the desire for expert consultation, or the need for trial and experiential verification before making a purchase. But the fact is that many providers may never have a buying process as simple as one-click ordering.
Consider, for example, providers in the following areas.
- Big ticket/high consideration goods: furniture, home appliances, durable goods
- Service and repair: automotive, home, contracting
- Free-to-paid conversion: personal and business software, goods with a demo period (e.g., premium sporting equipment)
What does the buying process look like? In each of these domains, there’s likely some logistical coordination (scheduling an appointment or consultation) and direct engagement between a buyer and seller prior to purchase. And the complexity of the purchase process means that there’s a lot of opportunity for customers to drop off along the way. This represents a huge opportunity for providers that are able to identify and intercept lost conversions.
Consider, for example, a provider of cleaning services for carpets, upholstery, tiling, and other home surfaces. Here’s what the path to purchase might look like for a typical customer:
- Customer must become aware of a need for carpet cleaning, and identify dimensions and materials of the carpet
- Customer must articulate needs to the provider (just cleaning? deodorizing? protection against future damage)?
- Customer must receive a quote and schedule, confirm, and be available during appointment window
Despite offering phone assistance to guide customers through the checkout process, a provider like this one might see very significant drop-off throughout the process, in some cases totaling millions of dollars in lost revenue a year. The ability to identify which customers are at risk of turning into lost conversions, and to salvage those purchases, could be transformational.
Here’s the challenge: when a customer calls to make an appointment, the service provider is typically dealing with unstructured data. Customers communicate their needs and objections in complex and idiosyncratic human language. And they don’t always come right out and say things like “That’s too expensive” or “I’m at risk of going with another provider unless I can get an appointment by Tuesday.”
They don’t always come right out and say things like “That’s too expensive” or “I’m at risk of going with another provider unless I can get an appointment by Tuesday.
This is where voice analytics shine. Conversational intelligence platforms powered by artificial intelligence (AI) are able to mine through massive amounts of unstructured data to identify patterns and trends, understand a customer’s needs, and infer intent – for example, proactively identifying which customers are actually at risk of dropping out of the purchase process. And AI-powered conversational intelligence platforms can provide guidance on the best language and tactics to use to salvage the conversion. For example, depending on the customer’s needs, the carpet cleaner might empower call center employees to give scheduling priority, offer promotional pricing, or even dispatch a consultant to do an onsite assessment for customers who are at risk of abandoning.
In a recent implementation with an auto glass retailer, Bonobo helped drive an overall company revenue increase of 1% by identifying which customers were at risk of conversion abandonment after submitting initial inquiries – and by helping train call center employees on how to respond to these customers more effectively.
So while not every sector will have the one-click convenience of Amazon, voice analytics powered by AI can offer a more frictionless path to purchase: a surefire recipe for happier customers and higher revenues.