If there’s one piece of news that doesn’t shock regarding the global pandemic, it is the sharp increase in online retail and e-commerce sales. With coronavirus keeping us indoors for the best part of two years, 60% of our interactions with companies are online. In the first ten days of November 2020, US consumers spent $21.7 billion online, a 21% increase year-over-year. Growing even faster than in “COVID year one,” retail e-commerce sales worldwide rose to almost $5 trillion in 2021.
With that comes great opportunity but also significantly higher levels of customer support, and other knock-on effects such as delivery and supply chain issues. And while support for bricks and mortar is expected but often not taken up due to the effort of returning to the store, online sales come with an expectation of instant online issue resolution and assistance.
And while website chat solutions are prevalent, that isn’t always the case for apps. In Q1 2020, mobile e-commerce traffic grew by 25% across all industries, with mobile phones representing 56% of the total order share and 71% of total traffic. Cart abandonment is higher on mobile, and the conversion rate is lower, partly attributed to the lack of pre-sales support options versus using a retail website.
Enter Voximplant. Widely used as an omnichannel cloud contact center for customer service automation, it helps conduct sales and customer services through customized outbound campaigns. Voximplant handles incoming calls and messages with smart Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and routes them to suitable operators.
It provides in-app voice, video, and messaging communications. That includes video conferencing, integrating telephony with natural speech recognition and generation, call tracking, phone number masking, and more. Voximplant also allows businesses to incorporate two-factor authentication and push notifications into their apps.
It would be incorrect to call it a true startup. The core team has been developing communication technology solutions since 2005. In 2007, it created the first web-based phone call service – Flashphone – and under a new name, Flashphoner, it continued providing web browser audio and video communications. Voximplant itself was founded in 2013 and is based in San Francisco.
“We’ve seen a lot of changes.” Alexey Aylarov, CEO and cofounder at Voximplant, told me. “New channels appeared, mobile devices became the dominant force in the consumer economy, ecommerce development accelerated, new faster networks appeared, AI/ML became popular and being used everywhere, and I can continue the list. All these factors affect how the industry changed to accommodate new client and consumer expectations. Communications companies and industry use most of them to keep up.”
That list isn’t exhaustive either. Since the late 2000s, we’ve seen significant changes in how retailers implement and integrate new systems in the race to digitize and stay competitive. The rise of no-code/low-code platforms is evident, so why is it essential to design customer experience (CX) strategies in a no-code editor?
“No-code/low-code approach enables non-developers to build communication flows and helps businesses create and maintain more options for their customers, which affects CX in a good way,” Aylarov said. “Since there is a limited number of developers in the world, they are pretty expensive and busy. This helps mitigate that and the associated costs.”
The company claims that its customers can build an omnichannel contact center in 30 minutes through a combination of its no-code editor and conversational AI.
It isn’t just the global pandemic that has exacerbated this issue. It’s true to say that consumers expect everything to be available at all times and within minutes of a click or a tap. We truly live in “the age of the never-satisfied customer.”
“Sales and customer service require an omnichannel approach,” Aylarov said. “Customers expect to be served in a way that is convenient for them. Everybody uses various communication channels and capabilities, so offering as many options as possible is a good thing these days since the probability is higher that you’ll be able to meet customer expectations.”
The competition in this space is large and entrenched, especially for web retailers, if not in apps. What’s next for Voximplant, and how will its approach be different enough for e-commerce players to consider it a viable option?
“Voximplant has a voice-first approach at the moment while offering omnichannel capabilities at the same time,” Aylarov said. “We have more platform capabilities for building communications than most other players. But it’s the voice where we are superior to the competition at the moment. The next step? To be better at every aspect of this solution, despite how ambitious that may sound.”
Ambitious or not, Voximplant already processes more than one billion calls each year. With 140 staff working on subsequent iterations of the platform, it is one to watch as the pandemic shows few signs of slowing the hockey stick growth we’ve seen in e-commerce since it started.