Traditionally, brands have considered phone and email as the cornerstones of their customer engagement strategy.
However, calling a business when you have a question is rarely a smooth experience. Between wait-times and cheesy elevator music, you’re tempted to hang up the phone and just forget it. Same goes for email. “I’ll be happy to wait for 24 hours before your agent responds!”, said nobody ever.
Shoppers today are hardwired to want things instantly, leading to a significant demand for real-time messaging services amongst millennials and generation Z customers.
With the launch of Google’s Business Messages, the messaging game just got extra fuel. Now, customers can interact with a brand via Google Search and Maps. This presents a huge opportunity for brands to attract these last mile shoppers (hello purchase-intent!) to their stores. If your business has a Google My Business listing, customers can message you. It’s as simple as that.
In this article, we unpack how you can use this new channel to unlock sales opportunities, shine against your competitors, and connect with your customers at a deeper level. Let’s dive right in.
How retailers can sell via Google’s Business Messages
1. Share products inside the chat
When customers message your business via Google Search or Maps, they are already looking for the products or services you offer. They are what you call “hot leads”, and, more often than not, their purchasing intent is high.
This is a golden opportunity for you to turn the messaging window into a product display window.
Got a message? Your AI assistant or customer support agent can jump in to quickly respond and help the customer narrow down their product search from your catalogue based on unique preferences.
Here’s the Decathlon Singapore’s bot in action, responding to my message via Google’s Business Message.
As a customer looking for black tennis shoes, I now have a narrowed down list of options to consider. All I have to do is decide which one I like best, choose my size, and place the order!
You can make it this easy for every customer to find a product through your catalogue when they message your brand.
In the event that customers need more assistance, the chatbot can gather all the information before offloading the conversation to your support team. That way, your agents always have all the context that they need to respond quickly and effectively.
2. Automate FAQs to focus on high-value conversations
Repetitive and time-consuming customer queries related to order status, shipping delays etc. can clog the bandwidth of your support team.
So, if you’re tempted to integrate Google’s Business Messages with your helpdesk or CRM, think about it. Do you want your agents to be flooded with all sorts of queries?
All incoming queries are great because that’s your opportunity to talk to your customer.
But not all queries are created equal.
Queries are split into high-value and low-value conversations. Here are some examples:
- Do you offer free shipping?
- Can I get a refund?
- Where is my order?
- I’m unable to checkout due to a system error!
- My mastercard is not working. Do you accept PayPal?
- The promo code on your website is not working at checkout!
AI-powered chatbots on Google’s Business Messages act as the first line of defence—fielding mundane support queries and only transferring complex conversations to your human team.
I recently had a conversation with DAVI—DAVIDsTEA chatbot. When I tap on FAQs, I can quickly browse for the information I’m looking for, right from tea ingredients to product questions and more. This is an effective “self-serve” model that empowers customers to find the information they need, when they need it.
In this instance, I wanted to know the calorie count in the teas. So, after finding the calorie intake for Buddha’s blend, I made a trip to the DAVIDsTEA store near me and bought it off the shelf. In today’s shopping climate, this level of certainty and convenience is key.
3. Auto-route the right conversation to the right department
When you receive incoming queries from Google’s Business Messages, you can route them to the most qualified agent to turn every conversation into a sales opportunity. When you have specialists on your team, let them tackle customer queries most suited to their expertise.
In the above example for Decathlon Singapore, the AI assistant connects the customer with a sports advisor who is most qualified to respond to the question. For example, if I am looking for a cycle that is suitable for my height at 157 cms—yes, I AM that short—the chatbot routes my query to department A, where a product expert can recommend a few cycles for my height.
4. Communicate business hours and store holidays
Given the complex retail environment right now, most stores are operating on reduced business hours. Some are even offering exclusive shopping hours for senior citizens. However, this communication is not always crystal clear to the shopper when they are searching for your business on Maps or Search. This can lead to confusion and loss of business. The same holds true for special operational hours during the holidays.
Picture this: You search for your neighbourhood grocery store and Google says it is open. You drive up to the store, resolute to buy groceries for the next couple of weeks, only to find the store closed. Oh, the frustration!
By optimizing your Google Business listing, you can minimize this confusion. Additionally, if customers send you a message outside business hours, you can redirect them to your online store, answer questions via chatbot, or offer a click-and-collect option. Under click-and-collect or Buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS), customers will have the option to place their order online and pick up their store at their convenience without having to worry about shipping fees or delays.
In this example, the AI assistant informs me that it will be a few hours before I can get in touch with their human team.
5. Share promotional codes or special offers
When customers message you via Google Business Messages, you can incentivize shoppers to visit your store—online or offline—by sharing attractive and exclusive promo codes or offers inside the conversation. This interaction is a low-hanging fruit that you can potentially turn into a sale with a promotional offer or limited editions launches.
Today, retailers are spending several hours figuring out new strategies to entice shoppers to visit their stores. However, one of the most fundamental ways to do this to over communicate with your buyer. Google’s Business Message fits nicely into this scheme of things. You can use this new technology to alert shoppers of exciting events at your local store and to get the footfall going.
Google’s Business Messages—The new way to engage shoppers
A Google study found that 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day. Meaning, if you have a product or service to offer, you must look at new ways to connect with last-mile shoppers to drive them to your store.
By using Google’s Business Messages for your brand, you empower your customers to interact with your business in real-time. These shoppers are already looking for your business or a business similar to yours. All you have to do is stay on stand-by and make the interaction count!
Ready to enable Google’s Business Messages on your business listing? Let’s talk.