The following post is a guest blog from Inbenta.
Two seconds is a long time in the online world. In that time, Google will process around 100,000 search queries, global users will send more than 4.5 million emails, and nearly 60 million Whatsapp users will receive a message.
However, it is not a long time if you are an online retailer. According to a recent study, two seconds is all a customer needs before they give up on your website. The picky customer just got pickier.
The customer is still king
It won’t surprise you that the online market is leaving its high street competitors in the dust when it comes to being the preferred shopping method for customers. What is interesting is that the ‘tech savvy’ Millennials are not the only ones choosing to shop with their feet up.
In fact, according to research from KPMG, Generation X consumers (those born between 1966 and 1981) made more online purchases than any other age group while Baby Boomers (1946-1964) spent more on average per transaction. Putting all your eggs in the Millennial basket might not be such a good idea after all.
This is especially the case when you consider what the different generations of customers value within a company. While 59% of consumers would try a new brand for a better service experience, younger consumers are keen to be treated as unique individuals and so prefer companies which offer personalized promotions and an ability to anticipate what they want. When you have two mouths with different tastes to feed, how do you keep them both satisfied with the same meal?
The obvious solution is to ramp up your customer service team to kill two birds with one stone. The problem is that to maintain your profit margins and pay the extra salaries on your books, you will have to push prices up. Obviously, that is not a wise move in an increasingly crowded market.
Of course, you could decide to accept that you will lose some customers and choose instead to target new ones who are willing to pay a premium for a better experience. But according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, it is 6-7 times more costly to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing one.
Natural language processing: the solution to online retailer woes
Fortunately, there is an answer, and it comes in the form of a new technology which utilizes an invention almost as old as the human race itself.
Natural language processing (NLP) ensures your online search engines can understand natural language, therefore, allowing customers to ask questions online exactly like they would to a shop assistant in person.
Instead of relying on keyword search which will only match you with what you want when you type it exactly, NLP is based on semantics and is able to understand the exact meaning behind a question regardless of phrasing, slang or jargon used.
For example, a customer might ask the following questions:
– Can I order by check?
– Can I check my order?
Given that both questions use the same words, keyword matching might present the same answer. NLP however, is able to detect that both have different meanings semantically. The result is a seamless experience for the customer whose questions are answered immediately without having to be diverted to an agent.
NLP: a more personal experience
Companies can also provide the personal experience craved by Millennials through NLP by ensuring customers can communicate online how they might in store.
For example, a customer might approach a shop assistant and say “I’m looking for a medium black coat which is waterproof and has a hood.” An NLP powered search will be able to digest this question and provide the options available that fit this description. Instead of having to click one by one to narrow down their search options, users will have the product they want in next to no time.
In addition, NLP can be used to analyze the big data accrued from customer searches to match customers with products that they might want. For example, someone buying a new laptop might then be shown a laptop case, mouse and portable charger. Each user will be offered a unique, individual experience thanks to NLP.
There may not be a friendly shop assistant waving you into your store, but NLP can provide an online product more personal and enriching than ever before.
Inbenta is a leader in natural language processing and artificial intelligence for customer support, e-commerce and conversational chatbots, providing an easy-to-deploy solution that improves customer satisfaction, reduces support costs, and increases revenue.
Interested in finding out more about this topic or Inbenta? Inbenta is one of the subject matter experts that will be sharing their insights and expertise at Customer Response Summit Chicago, September 19-21, 2017. CR Summit Chicago will feature keynotes from Amazon, Lyft, Square, and Microsoft. For more information about our leading event for CX professionals, visit our event website.