Evolving technology has consistently made our lives more convenient, prompting us to seek the same level of convenience with our favorite brands. Customers across all generations are digitally adept and expect businesses to take advantage of the technology and deliver a frictionless customer experience from the first flicker of awareness through seamless navigation and checkout.
The statistics are telling the same story. 84% of consumers claim the experience a business provides is equally important to their product or service. An even more brutal truth, 76% of buyers will switch to a competing brand without a second thought after just one bad experience.
Not keeping up with the tech is out of the question as an overwhelming 94% of consumers expect your customer support to become more technologically advanced. Another 64% expect personalized engagement based on past interactions, and three out of four shoppers say they carry out purchases on their mobiles because it saves time.
The customer experience shift goes hand in hand with the rising popularity of messaging apps and the growing importance of conversational commerce. While the world has been moving in this direction for decades, the COVID-19 pandemic sped up the process by inspiring a whirlwind of rapid adoption and simultaneously creating a boom in demand for real-time, unobstructed communication.
This brings us to messaging and, specifically, WhatsApp.
What is Customer Friction?
The best way to think about customer friction is to consider anything that causes your customer to hesitate or completely abandon your conversion funnel or your brand.
Hence, regardless of whether you are a B2C or a B2B business, whether you sell a product or a service, designing a frictionless experience for your customers is essential to building brand loyalty and increasing conversion long-term.
Why Leverage WhatsApp to Smooth out Customer Friction?
Messaging has been winning people over for quite some time. Therefore, it’s not that surprising that its convenience broke the invisible barriers of “strictly personal” to let businesses in.
More and more consumers take advantage of messaging. When asked why, more than 64% of consumers surveyed across four markets (Brasil, India, US, UK) said it is simply because they are “always messaging anyway." Over 61% of consumers claimed that messaging is the easiest, most convenient way to contact a brand or business.
These two stats above show how messaging addresses major friction points by making talking to businesses easy and within people’s comfort zone.
Another reason to consider is that messaging is becoming customers’ preferred communication method. A survey showed that:
- Over 58% feel more confident messaging than calling a business;
- Over 58% feel more confident messaging than filling in an online form;
- Over 55% feel more confident messaging than emailing a business.
Besides that, consumers also believe messaging has the edge over other forms of communication. More than 59% of respondents believe it offers faster responses, over 59% are convinced messaging a business gives them better advice and care than other channels, and 49% said it provides them with more truthful information.
Now that we have established that messaging is a strategy, why focus on WhatsApp?
The obvious argument is that it is by far the most popular messaging app in the world and has over 2 billion active users to prove it. Secondly, WhatsApp is also present in 180 countries and 60 languages, being especially popular in regions with problematic connectivity. It is also a market leader in all but 25 of those countries.
Now, it is true that up until a few years back, WhatsApp was holding down the fort against business invasion. However, if you are worried that your customers will not appreciate you invading their space, be aware that 76% of WhatsApp users surveyed want to be able to communicate with businesses through messaging (Motivations, Mindsets and Emotional Experiences in Messaging (vs. Feed)” by Sentient Decision Science).
Well, in the end, convenience always wins.
How to Use WhatsApp to Provide Frictionless Customer Experience
On top of all of the above, the following most convincing argument for messaging is that it can help you remove customer friction across the whole journey, from discovery through consideration to purchase and post-purchase.
At this stage, potential buyers are only learning about your brand and products, doing their research before committing to the purchase.
The most common points of friction here are awareness and accessibility. Firstly, people can’t discover a product they don’t know exists. Secondly, they can’t buy what they can’t find.
The usual remedy to these pain points is targeted paid ads which probably are part of your strategy already. However, you are missing out if you are directing your leads to a static landing page. Sure, many leads will come, check it out, and look around, but it’s very likely that the interaction will leave you with very little data.
However, what if a click on one of your ads sent them straight into a conversation with your business where they can curate their own experience from the very first moment?
Better yet, if you prompt potential customers to opt into WhatsApp communication with your brand, you are getting the holy grail of marketing—a phone number that makes it easy to collect, store and use data for the ultimate personalized experience. All in all, it gives you the access to communicate product updates or new product launches based on the preferences of each individual customer.
Having discovered your brand and products, consumers enter the consideration stage of their journey. This is the scary time when your product or service gets analyzed and compared to others, BUT it is also a great opportunity to draw them deeper into the funnel.
If you have a conversational “in,” drawing people deeper isn’t much of a problem.
For example, you can use WhatsApp automation to avoid abandonment.
In his Ungated Marketing Podcast interview, Antony Chacko, the founder of Alpha Marketer, an agency focused on WhatsApp marketing, explains: “[In] any e-commerce company, there is typically an 85% [cart abandonment rate.] People add [items] to the cart, fill in the form, but in the last two minutes, 85% of people will not buy.” They have doubts, but, unlike in a physical store, normally, there is no one to ask for help. Many businesses already have an online chat option, but that solution is not scalable. It is highly probable that if a customer abandoned their cart, they have also closed that tab on that website. However, if you have a WhatsApp solution in place, there is an ongoing conversation. For one, you can manage to resolve the doubts on the spot, but even if you don’t, you can use that connection to offer suggestions based on that initial activity as well as curated promotions without too much trouble.
This doesn’t just apply to eCommerce, though. WhatsApp can help you settle doubts and “close the deal” in pretty much any business.
For instance, HashAds, a Landbot client, created an automated WhatsApp solution for their customer, Stars of Africa, a football academy with the mission to develop young talent by providing players quality coaching. They were struggling to convert all the interested leads into actual trials and subsequently revenue. The process was chaotic and challenging for aspiring players and their parents as well as the academy.
HashAds created a WhatsApp chatbot that automated trial registration by collecting data, resolving questions, and relaying the necessary information quickly and efficiently, leaving little space for doubt. The strategy helped them get 70% more players to attend the trials and increase trial revenue by 60%!
When customers get to the purchase stage, they have already made the decision on what they want, and now they need to checkout. Here, the biggest pain points revolve around inefficient or downright faulty payment systems, form-fill errors, and transaction failures.
First and foremost, you need to review your checkout process and make it as simple as possible.
How can WhatsApp help?
Well, once again, through conversation. To give you the most straightforward example, with WhatsApp, you can send buyers a link to their external payment page, which you can pre-populate with their cart and info, making it quick and effortless. You can also speed up the process by enabling the buyers to save their preferred payment form. So, a purchase that was originally a long and arduous information-filling process can now be a simple matter of a few exchanged messages.
So, how do you get people from your website to WhatsApp if they are not there yet?
Antony Chacko has a trick: “We remove the ‘buy now’ button, and we replace that with a ‘buy now on WhatsApp’ [button].” This small change now adds a second layer to the shopping experience because it leaves you with shoppers' contact information—and, yes—a direct contact channel is the other piece of the puzzle for a frictionless purchase experience! Even if the shopping journey is interrupted, you are not left helpless. You have an opportunity to pick up the conversation and ask what happened, and what stopped them from buying? Even if you lose one sail, you can obtain valuable insight into whatever friction there might still be left and work on eliminating it.
We all know the customer journey is far from over after the magical “chi-ching” of their completed purchase. They are now either waiting for the product to be delivered or, if you offer a subscription-based service, they are actively using your product.
The post-purchase stage is, therefore, rather busy. Customers expect status updates, quick order fulfillment, and even quicker answers and doubt resolutions than they expected BEFORE they bought anything from you.
Any mistakes at this stage can result in order cancelation and customer churn and become that ONE reason they turn to your competition.
So, what can WhatsApp do to ensure post-purchase happiness?
Well, there is quite a list. You can use WhatsApp automation to send shipping updates, tracking numbers, and other delivery information or—if you offer a service—send how-to tutorials, learning materials, and reminders of all the options and possibilities so the customers can make the most of their subscription.
It also gives you the power to offer a great experience even if the person is not happy with the purchase. You can make processing a return or filing a complaint so easy that despite losing a sale, you end up earning loyalty because now the customer knows they will be treated well even when things go wrong.
A great example of using WhatsApp to keep your existing customers happy is Landbots client Plum, an employee benefits platform that provides group medical cover for businesses. However, they discovered that most people struggled to get the right information and process their claims correctly.
They decided to launch a WhatsApp chatbot to serve as a “personal agent” for their clients. It not only answers all the questions regarding coverage and processes, it also enables them to upload all the documents and get their claims processed without ever leaving the app.
After the launch of the messaging automation process, over 15,000 customers contact Plum via WhatsApp, and the solution helps process 400 claims per month.
All in all, the implementation resulted in a 60% decrease in claim processing time and a much happier customer experience.
To Wrap Things Up…
WhatsApp has become, without a doubt, a powerful business tool. Opening a private conversation channel with your customers allows you to remove friction across the entire expanse of the customer journey.
The great thing is, despite such potency, not many brands use WhatsApp yet. Hence there is no oversaturation or user-tiredness to be seen.
So, if there is a time to get your foot in the door of WhatsApp business communication, it is now!