Clickatell, a CPaaS innovator and Chat Commerce leader, spoke to attendees at its annual Connect Interact and Transact (CIT) event in Joburg on Tuesday about the new era of Chat Commerce and how businesses can lay the groundwork for a new way of serving customers.
Big-name local brands also provided real-world insights on how they’re turning their chat channels into strong, personal customer experiences at scale and generating new revenue streams.
Entitled “Turning Conversations into Commerce,” the event was attended by an impressive roster of business and technology leaders from across the continent and moderated by Werner Lindemann, Senior Vice President of Enterprise Sales – Growth Markets at Clickatell.
Guest speaker, Bronwyn Williams, futurist, economist, and business trends analyst, shared a fascinating look at the future of technology and the many exciting opportunities that lie ahead.
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Williams noted that through the use of AI and other rapidly evolving technologies, chat is becoming more and more intuitive.
However, he noted that while the goal of the new technology was to make chatbots almost indistinguishable from humans, “any effective advance communication with customers needs to happen in real time and, more importantly, where they are and from where they are.”
a way that feels natural and safe.” non-disruptive.” He summed up his presentation by urging business leaders to carefully consider how they automate to optimize cost savings, while maintaining a sustainable human connection with their customers.
Building on these insights, Pieter de Villiers, co-founder and CEO of Clickatell, took a closer look at what happens when brands engage with their customers where they are, building on “the convenience revolution” first proposed by ShepHyken.
De Villiers opened by challenging the audience to question the real value of time and how his clients weighed the value of convenience.
“As anyone in retail will tell you, location, location, location is everything.
And with chat now having almost twice as many active users as the Internet, there can be no better place than your customers’ address book, the most valuable location of all,” said de Villiers.
De Villiers noted that the features of the mega-platforms, Meta and WhatsApp, would take Chat Commerce to a whole new level and said that soon there would be nothing that could be done on the Internet that couldn’t be done in chat.
“Convenience is not difficult to achieve.
If you meet your customers where they are, you can not only create a closer and more authentic engagement with them, but you’re also giving them back what we all crave, time,” he shared.
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A robust panel discussion followed, allowing Clickatell customers and partners to share their experiences and learnings with the audience.
As for the value of chat, Daniela Birnbaum, channel partner manager at WhatsApp EMEA, praised local brands that she said are leading the charge when it comes to building a strong WhatsApp channel.
She also noted that South Africa is ahead of many other EMEA regions when it comes to chat adoption.
Gareth Bray, BD & Partnerships Lead EMEA – Business Messaging Group for Meta, shared that the rapid advancement in features has catapulted WhatsApp from a simple text channel to a customer engagement platform where brands can create personal relationships with their customers from very effective way.
It is this ability to personalize communication that has enabled local airline, FlySafair, to take its digital offering to the next level.
“No matter where I made my reservation, when you type ‘Hello’ in the WhatsApp channel, you can immediately access my reservation.
We are particularly excited about how quickly we can roll out new features to the channel and being able to reduce call center involvement has greatly benefited customers and our business,” said Eswee Vorster, CEO and CIO of FlySafair.
As for how local retail brands had embraced chat, Lynne Blignaut, head of customer loyalty and rewards at Dis-Chem, shared that allowing customers to order chronic prescription drugs via WhatsApp has been a game changer.
“Typically, we only see 50% of people actually sticking to their chronic medication for up to six months out of the year.
Being able to reach more people and ensure they stick to their chronic medication and stay healthy, by expanding the platforms they can use to order their medication without queuing, is a huge step forward.
Of course, adding a payment option to this will have a huge impact on the overall customer journey, and we can’t wait to see this happen,” she shared.
De Villiers summed up the conversation by saying, “WhatsApp is ubiquitous and secure.
We see adding integrated payments as the next logical step and we have no doubt that it will be the only transformational thing that will keep customers engaged and a bold step towards the convenience revolution.” The night culminated with the presentation of three Chat Commerce Awards.
The first was for FlySafair, which is now running all its deal-day messages on WhatsApp. The second went to aYo Holdings, which uses WhatsApp to onboard its more than 12 million microinsurance clients.
Finally, the Chat Commerce Innovator of the Year was awarded to Imperial Logistics, for its use of chat platforms in a B2B environment.
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