As a chat commerce pioneer, mobile communications provider Clickatell envisions a future in which consumers don’t just interact with brands via chat but buy stuff, too — and a lot of it. After all, the company rationalizes, people spend so much of their time now in chat — Facebook Messenger, Google Messages, WhatsApp, and so on — surely, they should be able to conduct commerce in those channels, as well.
“Chat is so beautifully manufactured to facilitate the whole lifecycle for our customer journey,” from product discovery through purchase, service, and beyond — “everything can happen there,” Jeppe Dorff, chief product and technology officer, shared in a recent briefing. “We believe the next big — biggest — commerce platform is going to be chat,” he added.
Toward that end, Clickatell last year began expanding beyond its SMS/messaging origins into chat. For example, in July 2020 it introduced Chat Desk
, a live agent chat-centric contact center product, and then in April it launched Chat Flow
, a drag-and-drop workflow builder for unassisted chat. And, as announced
last week, if now offers a combo of the two. By integrating Chat Flow and Chat Desk, Clickatell has a way to allow brands to give consumers the option of shifting from unassisted to live-agent chat as needed.
This integration delivers on the mission Dorff had described for me as “eliminating that friction point between brands and the way they service their customers.”
While Clickatell recognizes that the move to chat commerce will be gradual, the company had seen an uptick in adoption just prior to COVID-19 hitting, and then acceleration during the pandemic, Dorff said. “The brands we work with are starting to lean in because it’s not about being ready when [chat commerce has arrived], it’s about learning along the way, and it’s about understanding what customers want.”
As Clickatell awaits the day when chat commerce takes over the world, it continues beefing up its products. This approach includes the integration of Chat Desk and Chat Flow, of course, but also enhancements for each of those products on their own. In last week’s announcement, for example, Clickatell gave notice of three new features for Chat Desk and a Chat Flow redesign.
In Chat Desk, agents now have two additional capabilities. The first is for chat queue management, allowing them to mark chats as pending — essentially putting them on hold — if they’ve been waiting a long time for a customer’s reply. The second lets them present a feedback survey, potentially to gather Net Promoter Score or Customer Satisfaction Score metrics, to a customer when the chat ends. Lastly, for Chat Desk, Clickatell now offers auto-responders for delivery of custom messages to users when all agents are busy, after support hours, or other such scenarios.
As for the Chat Flow redesign, Clickatell said updates aim at providing a cleaner and more user-friendly user interface. These include a new settings and shortcuts menu; the ability to sort workflow nodes by type, most used, or alphabetical order; the ability to approve and deploy workflows without Clickatell’s help; and a bidirectional location sharing capability for Chat Desk customers via Chat Flow and One API
, a REST-based API for sending and receiving messages on multiple channels — SMS and WhatsUp, to start — with a single integration.
As companies think about moving beyond one-way and two-way messaging with chat commerce, they’ll have to experiment to figure out what’s best for their brands, just like they needed to do in the early days of the Internet and e-commerce, Dorff said. One big question regards the entry point to, or as he calls it, “the moment of truth for” chat commerce. Should a consumer be able to initiate chat commerce from within search results, for example, or by scanning a QR code in a magazine, “where all you have to do is say is whether you want it in red or blue or size seven or eight,” he said.
With Clickatell, he said, companies can bridge between offline and online to complete that consumer transaction.