British heritage brand Burberry, a long standing staple of the upper classes, is immediately recognised around the world for its iconic trench coat and check patterns. And they have proven their ability to continually reinvent themselves over the years.
Recently they have continued to reinvent themselves and get ahead of the market, by innovating their online platform to embrace conversational commerce.
Conversational commerce means using messaging apps like Facebook messenger to allow customers to interact with the brand on a one to one, intimate level. One way to think of it is like email marketing 2.0. It’s a way to build trust, intimacy, and give value. But it means meeting customers growing expectations of instant answers to their questions about products, shipping, etc.
This is becoming especially important as email marketing continues to decline, with people getting overwhelmed with the amount of email they’re getting. Open rates are dropping, and it’s getting harder to get people signed up to your list. Don’t get me wrong, email is not dead (yet) – you can still get a good ROI from email marketing. But imagine, instead of getting the average 16.75% open rate in ecommerce (source), getting 80-90% with Messenger. What would that do to your sales?
That’s the 10,000ft view, but what does this actually look like as a customer. Let’s take a look at Burberry’s Messenger chatbot.
There’s a lot of different ways you can get people interacting with your chatbot, for example with a Facebook ad, or opt in box on your site. One entry point that every brand getting started with conversational commerce will want to set up is the ‘send message’ call to action on their Facebook fanpage.
If your ecommerce store already has a big audience (even if it’s not quite Burberry’s 17 million fans) then it’s likely that you’re getting a lot of customer service questions through your page inbox already, via people clicking that ‘send message’ button (circled).
Notice the ‘very responsive to messages’ green badge below? That’s because Burberry’s chatbot responds instantly to customer enquiries. As Facebook continues to encourage brands to set up great messaging experiences, they will likely rank pages more highly when they have this green badge.
When we click that ‘send message’ button, and hit ‘get started’ Burberry will message us right away. If, like most people, we have Messenger installed on our phone, we’ll also get a notification there too.
They first start by setting expectations about what we can ask and do inside Messenger. We’ve got a few options – ‘Inside Burberry’ which is designed to build trust and intimacy, whilst giving us a chance to look at specific products.
Notice how they use a good amount of emoji, as well as images and gifs. Remember that the context is king for copy. With email, people expect slightly less casual language, and more polished branding. But on Messenger, people are used to chatting with their friends, and sharing fun images and gifs. So it makes sense for the conversation to be like that when they’re talking to your chatbot.
Over Christmas, Burberry set up a ‘gift finder’ in their chatbot to help customers quickly and easily find a gift for a loved one. This use of the chatbot is more similar to how a real salesperson in store or over chat might guide a customer into a relevant offer.
The final use that Burberry is currently getting their chatbot to help with is customer service. This is a big one. Customer expectations are fast changing, and it’s becoming more and more common to expect a near instant response. It’s no longer about the human touch, but about speed and convenience. If you want proof of that, just take a look at the example of John Lewis being beaten in customer service scores recently. They are a well respected British retailer with over a century of good reputation built up in customer service. But recently Amazon beat them in the UKCSI ranking of top customer service experience (source). John Lewis had been consistently topping the rankings with friendly human store workers, but Amazon beat them by pure efficiency and speed.
Burberry has put their chatbot to work answering common queries about product, shipping and more.
They also offer the option to live chat with a (human) member of their customer support team. This means that they are saving a huge amount of their reps’ time by serving most people with the chatbot, but still offering the human touch when a more unusual request comes in.
In the future, natural language processing artificial intelligence will have progressed to the point where the chatbot can answer any customer service enquiry. That’s cool, but we’re interested in the amazing gains that brands can get with conversational commerce today.
Burberry is one of the first major ecommerce brands to be using chatbots, but this is just the beginning of what’s possible. One huge thing they’re missing out on at the moment is actually sending marketing messages to subscribers through Messenger. There’s a massive opportunity for brands to start building their Messenger lists right now (a bit like an email list, but with 80%+ open rates). They could be broadcasting engaging content through their chatbot, and growing their sales. And they could also be using it to recover abandoned carts. All of that’s possible today.