What Are Two-Way Conversations, and How Do They Work?
Advancing beyond the old model in which businesses tended to talk at their customers rather than communicate with them, a two-way conversation proactively initiates a customer interaction on the digital channels where they are already most active and engaged — for example, by sending an SMS notification about an upcoming appointment or delivery that asks them to confirm the time or reschedule if desired.
Businesses can use these kinds of two-way conversations to deliver personalized, frictionless experiences and earn valuable customer trust. Two-way communication is sometimes also mentioned alongside related topics like conversational commerce.
Why Two-Way Communication Matters to Businesses
Businesses have two key reasons to initiate two-way conversations with their customers. First and foremost, they satisfy customer demand for a convenient and comfortable experience, while showing that the business cares about their concerns. Secondly, they significantly amplify the results that companies would otherwise gain from their existing marketing and commerce activities, including the potential for an increase in online sales.
Benefits for Customers
More than 80% of mobile device time is spent on chat apps, and this trend is already having a pronounced ripple effect on customer preferences for engagement. In fact, the Vonage Global Customer Engagement Report 2022 shows growing customer interest in messaging, social, and video chat apps. A key to the chat experience, as any avid chat user will tell you, is a snappy back-and-forth conversational dynamic. Not only is it convenient, but it also builds intimacy and trust over time.
Customers increasingly expect the same level of ease and familiarity when communicating with businesses, and two-way conversations can make it possible. When businesses send their customers push notifications about upcoming appointments or deliveries, they can kick off interactions that keep their customers engaged and inspire trust. These seemingly small, bite-sized exchanges serve to strengthen customer relationships in the long run.
Benefits for Businesses
Businesses have discovered that two-way communication can provide opportunities for revenue growth, increased customer loyalty, and returning customer engagement. Two-way conversations accomplish these results by engaging customers on the channels they find most familiar and convenient. And the more comfortable customers are when communicating with a brand, the more likely they are to make a purchase. By offering customers timely and personalized engagement — for example via helpful chat sessions with AI conversational bots — businesses can reduce cart abandonment and improve conversions.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Two-Way Conversations?
As with any customer engagement strategy, there are pros and cons to keep in mind when it comes to conversational commerce. Here are a few worth considering:
- Meet customer demand for instant, convenient, satisfying service on their favorite digital channels
- Engage customers at exactly the right moment, when a purchase is top of mind
- Amplify the impact of existing marketing activities and campaigns, particularly in an omnichannel context
- Deepen customer relationships over time
- Require strategic planning and staff resources to achieve maximum results
- Need the right technology tools and partnerships to be successful
Tools Needed for Two-Way Conversations
There are many tools and solutions to help you create two-way conversations. For those seeking to capture the conversation and opportunity, a conversational commerce platform is a great choice.
By creating AI-powered experiences, you can engage customers on their favorite channels — website, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, SMS, and more — to help boost sales and secure customer insights. Just as important, conversational commerce operates 24/7 and adds information, automation, and self-service to conversations. So even if you’re not selling, you are continually servicing your customers — such as providing front-end FAQs, authenticating users, authorizing payments, and more.
Companies can quickly integrate conversational commerce through an end-to-end solution like Vonage Conversational Commerce, powered by Jumper.ai. For more complex requirements, Vonage Communications APIs can help shape a customized solution.
Messaging APIs have a strong role to play in conversational commerce, as messages are a key first step in starting a conversation with customers. By incorporating popular channels like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger into your strategy, you can reach customers where they are already most active and engaged. Thus, the messages channel is a great first point-of-contact to engage potential customers.
Examples of Two-Way Communication
Conversational commerce can sound like an abstract concept at first. Real-life examples can be helpful for understanding how this approach delivers results. Here's how three companies are using two-way conversations with impressive outcomes:
Beauty brand L'Oréal hosted a 12-hour beauty festival over Facebook Live using conversational commerce solutions — and generated a month's worth of online sales in 24 hours.
Ice cream company Ben & Jerry's ran a campaign bridging Facebook Messenger that secured a 220% increase in customer traction compared to other campaigns, as well as a 68% conversion rate.
Disney used conversational commerce to create the first-ever conversational purchase bot to help drive box office ticket sales via Facebook comments. The bot generated 18 times more engagement, a 58% conversion rate, and an 80% reengagement rate for Ant-Man and the Wasp.
The Role of Two-Way Communication in Conversational Commerce
When a business initiates a two-way conversation — for example, by sending out a notification about a retail sale — it can better engage customers and build a positive customer relationship early, when it's vital to earn customer trust. Simply inviting customers to confirm their appointments or reschedule for times that are more convenient for them puts customers in charge, making it clear that the business values their time and wants to provide them with high-quality service.
Notifications also set the tone about what the customer can expect from brand relationships going forward. They signal that a two-way conversation is not only welcome but encouraged, increasing the likelihood the customer will provide valuable feedback that the company can use to improve the customer experience.
How Can Your Business Get Started With Two-Way Conversations?
Customers find chat apps, social media platforms, and SMS convenient for keeping in touch with friends and family, and they don't see why they should have to resort to less-responsive forms of communication when engaging with businesses. Now more than ever, they want to have two-way conversations with the brands they trust. Indeed, these conversations are becoming a prerequisite for developing that trust, which is why businesses are exploring the potential of conversational commerce through customer notifications, chatbot conversations, and other modern techniques.
If your company hasn't yet discovered how two-way conversations can satisfy your customers and boost business impact, now is the time to begin looking into this highly effective approach to customer engagement, starting with the Vonage Messages API. If your retail business is looking for an end-to-end ecommerce solution, consider Vonage Conversational Commerce.