conversational-commerce

Conversation, and not communication,is the essence of all human interactions. If you are wondering what is the difference between these two terms, the following explanation might help:

  • While conversation is the actual exchange of ideas between two or more people, communication is more about the means through which a conversation gets facilitated.

For many decades conversations in context of commerce was limited to in-store assistance, sales, and customer service. Late 1990s saw the emergence of the internet, and soon email became a popular channel of communication. A few years from then, social media was introduced, and marketers were quick enough to realize the potential of social platforms as a channel of engagement and sales. This was just the start of conversational commerce.

Marketers caught the pulse of human behavior - convenience of conversing - and conversational commerce became the new way of engaging with users. Technology and machine learning further gave a positive push to conversational commerce, giving birth to concepts like chatbots, voice messages, chat platforms etc. Today, marketers can reach out to potential customers and existing one, on a platform of choice and strike meaningful conversations with them.

Modern conversational commerce has been facilitated by restaurants as well, and in extremely creative ways. Let’s take a look at five such ways the restaurant industry can utilize this form of commerce:

Bots For User Research

Putting together your festive menu for Christmas? You don’t need to outsource a research team to help you come up with food and beverage options. Simply hire a chatbot and you can involve your users in conversations where you get to know which dishes they really like. Similarly, if you are just setting up a cafe, use the bot for a surveying users in deciding a name for your cafe, or to finalize the theme your interiors should be done in.

Chat Inside App For Better Customer Service

A number of restaurants and cafes get themselves registered on food delivery platforms such as Swiggy and Zomato. These platforms offer in app chat services for order placements, checking delivery status, or communicating their complaints on chat. Zomato has tied up with Konotor and with this chat in app feature that caters to its users’ feedback regarding orders placed. A number of restaurants or cafes also have individual apps that offer chat solutions for better customer services.

Let’s consider that you have an app through which customers can place orders. A user who is hosting an in-house party might not want to select different items from menu and he simply asks a query on chat - ‘Hey, do you have a pre-decided menu for drinks and snacks for an in-house party?’ From there the customer service providers can respond and set up a nice menu as per the user’s requirements.

App Inside Chat For Enhanced Customer Experience

Everyone has heard about Wechat. On Wechat, other than chatting, you can do so much more - book a taxi, order food, gauge your diet, and even order your favorite pair of sneakers. Imagine being on Wechat as a restaurant owner. Wouldn’t it significantly increase your chances of winning more business from this chat platform? The idea of app inside chat is that you combine a chat-based interface or platform with app functionalities such as interactive widgets, mobile payment wallets etc. This is a very cost-effective solution for small and medium scale restaurant owners as you do not have spend on building your website or app, and still get all the benefits.

You could significantly improve your customer experience by letting users book a taxi for your restaurant and back home. You could also help your users make healthier, smarter food choices with this app inside chat user. For example, if a user is ordering dinner from your restaurant, your app inside chat feature can gauge and inform him of his calorie consumption till that time of the day and show an alert if his order is exceeding the calorie intake by a certain limit.

Social Media/user Generated Content To Build Trust

The first rule of any successful business is to work on gaining users’ trust. While during days long gone by, winning trust was a matter of seals, stamps, and warranties, today it is more about keeping users well informed, posting social media reviews, asking for feedback/reviews, and making users participate in business processes. The age of social media has given a new direction to commerce.Word of mouth has now been replaced to user reviews on social media. Moreover, people flaunt the products that they like by sharing pictures on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc.

No doubt if you have a restaurant or cafe, you would have a social media page for promotion. Having an instagram and Pinterest page is a must. Share pictures of dishes, people enjoying meals in your cafe etc., on your page and see other people pour in to drop their comments, shares, and likes.

Keep the conversation going using hashtags. You could in fact ask users to share their pics and review their visit on Instagram, and run a campaign. For example, your Thanksgiving campaign could involve the use of #Thanksgivingwithfamily and you ask people to come enjoy a meal at your cafe at 25% discount on registration. This is just one example of how to social media and user generated content can boost commerce through conversations. Apart from this, there are many more interesting ways in which restaurants can use social media to grow business.

Voice Command For Improving Order Efficiency

Starbucks is the name that strikes when one talks about voice command enabled ordering. My Starbucks Barista is allows iPhone users to place their orders either by messaging or by voice command. They are also planning to add personalization capabilities to this AI enabled mobile ordering solution. Now, if you too have a cafe or a restaurant you can use voice command functionality to receive orders. The advantage of voice command is that users can customize their orders easily, without having to tick on every item that they want to order, manually.

Over To You

Do You Own A Restaurant or cafe, or are planning to open one? In case you do, let us know what do you think about the role of conversational commerce in your business. Just send in your message as a comment and we will respond for sure.

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* Adapted lead image: Public Domain Dedication (CC0) Public Domain, pixabay.com via getstencil.com