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Picture: 123RF/NENETUS
Picture: 123RF/NENETUS

Chat commerce is taking the lead in helping brands convince users to complete customer journeys. In fact, a simple, safe payment link within a WhatsApp message could hold the key for many companies, especially those in financial services, that are struggling with customer conversion and acquisition, and even cart abandonment.

As user behaviour shifts, organisations are relying more and more on their digital channels for top-line revenue generation. However, the teams responsible for designing and managing those digital channels are feeling the pressure – data from Clickatell’s latest Chat Commerce Trends Report reveals that 81% of customer service leaders say they are compensated based on performance and sales within their teams. 

“When we surveyed more than 340 senior customer service leaders it was clear that while the revenue-generating responsibilities of customer service departments have significantly increased, many of their technical capabilities have remained the same,” says Werner Lindemann, Clickatell’s commercial senior vice-president for growth markets. “We believe in-chat payments will give brands the tools they need to address breaks in the customer journey, boosting digital performance as well as top-line revenue.” 

Not all digital channels are created equal

Breaks in the customer journey pose a real challenge for CMOs across all their channels. According to the Baymard Institute, nearly 70% of online digital shopping carts are abandoned, adding considerable pressure to organisations relying on their digital platforms to convert leads to sales.

When it comes to other marketing efforts across the customer journey, just 21.5% of e-mail messages sent from brands are opened. Customers are showing a clear preference to communicate via chat platforms, with research showing that the open rate for SMS messages sits at a significant 98%. Similarly, while just 3.3% of marketing e-mails are responded to, 45% of SMS messages receive a response. 

“Most consumers quickly lose patience when it comes to call centres and even traditional web interactions, and will either hang up or click away when they get frustrated with the process. However, we are all very comfortable with chat as a medium, since we use it many times a day to communicate with family and friends. Including chat in your customer journey makes great sense – especially when it comes to channels like WhatsApp, used by 95% of local social media users,” says Lindemann. 

Offering chat payments is the next logical step 

Many companies have been using chat as part of their omnichannel offering, and by adding the ability for customers to make payments via chat they are enabling the last and logical part of a complete customer journey in chat. 

“User behaviour has evolved over the past two years, with even inexperienced online shoppers now familiar with new digital payment methods. Taking the next step and allowing customers to make a payment in a channel they already know and trust makes a huge amount of sense,” Lindemann says.

“Previously, call centre agents would have to hang up and send an e-mail with billing details, leaving it up to the customer to initiate a payment. This clumsy method often results in customers losing interest, destroying all the marketing efforts that had gone before.” 

Lindemann says the solution lies in designing and maintaining strong customer journey momentum, with a pay-by-link option proving to be a big success. India’s Mswipe, for example, reported a sixfold growth in pay-by-link transactions between 2020 and 2021. 

“The use cases for in-chat payments for businesses are endless,” says Lindemann. “Utilities could send a WhatsApp message with the details as well as a payment link, and customers could safely and quickly make the payment there and then. Professionals requiring a deposit before work commences can now send a WhatsApp with appointment details along with a payment link. As soon as payment is received the appointment is confirmed.” 

Lindemann believes any retail B2C industry, including financial services, has much to gain by making use of chat commerce. “Customer acquisition is particularly tough in financial services, with many steps in the journey where customers can drop off. However, with chat commerce, brands can send a WhatsApp allowing customers to schedule a call-back at their convenience, or they can even complete personal details in the security of the encrypted chat conversation.”

And the immediacy of pay-by-link within chat means brands can capture sales in the moment. “Brands can send a text to customers offering a discount on products that may have been left in their carts. By including a payment link in the text, customers can immediately take advantage of the deal, thereby making a significant dent in their cart abandonment rate.”

The big take-out: Chat commerce, and now payment in chat, is the missing link brands have been waiting for when it comes to addressing costly breaks in the customer journey.

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