Companies are quickly catching on to the importance of chat commerce in their channel strategies, but far too many are not paying attention to user experience (UX).

We've lived through the dotcom revolution and experienced the mobile and social media revolutions. Now, we are in the chat era — and companies need to acknowledge that chat may have more impact than any of the previous tech revolutions because it's a combination of each one.

Helping customers achieve what they need through self-service options is a dream come true for organisations looking to drive efficiencies; but to provide chat self-service effectively, businesses must spend time designing an exceptional user experience.

Simple mistakes that could cost a lot

When it comes to chat, people want instant gratification, saying that users are more forgiving when things don't go right online.

However, with chat, users are used to instant responses, just as if we were having a conversation with a friend. The goal with chat is to give users what they need as quickly as possible with as little disruption as possible.

One of the big failures when it comes to chat implementations is many companies simply throw another channel into their omnichannel bouquet without thinking of how it adds to the overall customer experience.

Another problem is while each channel needs its own consideration, companies are often guilty of creating siloed channels. These missteps don't enable one view of a customer and can create multiple profiles for a single user within an organisation.

This defeats the purpose of omnichannel and can critically damage the customer experience.

Companies can conflate social media with chat, which is an engagement channel rather than a reactive social media platform.

Another major mistake when deploying chat is the obsession with automating too many services. What's more is that some organisations cling to the belief that a bot will solve all of their problems.

When it comes to high frequency, low complex issues, customers will tolerate dealing with a machine or bot. But when it comes to resolving complex issues, your chat solution must be able to support human involvement or a hand-off to a customer service agent.

Six steps to getting chat right

Here are six best-practice tips that will help companies get off to the right start:

1. Know where your users are
This means understanding which messaging or chat app they prefer to use — be it WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Apple Business Chat, or other chat apps. Not all customers are on the same chat channels.

2. Identify what you want clients to do via a chat channel
Do you only want clients to authenticate in the chat channel, or do you want to provide chat commerce offerings? Understanding what customers want is key, but businesses also need to determine what they hope to achieve through the channel.

3. Understand your technical constraints and backend integration capabilities
This is a must, even before you begin the process of integrating a chat ecosystem.

4. Have a thought through an aligned, proven conversation user experience
One of the first principles of creating a great chat experience is to break down the user journey into bitesize steps with the aim of gently guiding users.

5. Always ensure a customer outcome
If customers get stuck, they must have the option to be passed on to a human agent who can meet them in the chat channel.

6. Don't settle for a 'dumb' bot
There are excellent technologies out there like Natural Language Understanding (NLU) and AI that can be used to build a digital assistant rather than a bot.

For more information, visit You can also follow Clickatell on Facebook, Twitter or on Instagram