Missed an episode of Chatfuel School—the podcast where we cover hot topics in the world of bot-building and marketing? Don't worry; we took notes for you. 🤓 The topic for May 20, 2020 was how to use chatbots to dazzle customers with great pre- and post-purchase experiences. They can help make the customer experience better, and the pool of your potential customers bigger. We sat down with Rutger Thole, founder of Bluebrand & Co agency in Amsterdam, to get his expert tips on the topic. Here's the full episode. 👇 Keep scrolling for a recap of what you missed.

Getting the customer to hit that Buy button on your site is the goal for any ecommerce retailer. But that's not where the customer journey starts, nor where it ends. It starts the moment a prospect lands on your website, and it doesn't end until after they've received their product and are satisfied.

Think of the customer experience like a peanut butter sandwich. 🥪 The peanut butter, or the purchase, is everyone's favorite part. But it wouldn't be a sandwich—a complete, high-quality shopping experience—without the bread (or the pre- and post-purchase customer experiences) on either side.

These bookends on the customer experience are overlooked by many ecommerce sellers. It's unfortunate because they play a major role in retention—and retaining a customer is 5x cheaper than acquiring a new one. And it's not only repeat business your brand can gain from nailing these experiences—it's also greater lifetime value (LTV), increased loyalty, and an improved brand reputation.

Here's the good news: You can create these excellent experiences, and then automate them. A Messenger chatbot is the key! You can build a chatbot with Chatfuel (no code required!), then use the Customer Chat Entry Point to add it to your website to reach prospects and customers. To guide you in designing these bot experiences, here's what Rutger, founder of BlueBrand&Co, recommends.

A pre-purchase experience that focuses on the customer's needs

The most important thing to keep in mind when designing pre-purchase experiences, according to Rutger, is this:

  • "We need to start thinking more as consumers when we build solutions for consumers. Not necessarily as marketers that want to sell as much as possible. Because when we start thinking about the problems we want to solve for us as consumers, we will build better experiences."

Aim to be helpful in a way that's relevant to your specific target customers. Rutger suggests starting with a basic bot flow that answers the FAQs you already know visitors have when they visit your ecommerce brand's site. Add it to your website with the Customer Chat Entry Point. Then, use it as a way to start gathering information on what else website visitors need from you. That way, you can base future decisions and additions to your bot on data, not assumptions. Data is what will help you refine your pre-purchase experiences even further.

💡Tip: Integrate artificial intelligence into your bot so it can answer a wider range of prospect questions. You can build an AI chatbot with the help of our free Janis template. Find it under All Templates in your Chatfuel dashboard. An AI-powered chatbot will make the pre-purchase experience for your store even more seamless!

Add Gallery plugin to your bot
Rutger recommends adding the Gallery plugin to your bot, and have each card represent a different FAQ or category of questions.

💥 Rutger’s tip: There are plenty of other ways to learn about what your customers need from you in order to make a purchase. Use Google Analytics. Ask your customer service team about the kinds of questions they get most often. If your website has a search bar, extract that data to see what people are looking for. Then incorporate your findings into your chatbot, so it can help you win more conversions.

Pre-purchase dos and don'ts

To build a chatbot that provides a great pre-purchase experience, Rutger recommends:

  • DO answer the question first ❓ A bot designed to answer FAQs should answer FAQs first and foremost. Don't mix in sales pitches or upsells at that time. Focus on resolving the user's query or issue right away. After that, you can offer them options for continuing the conversation if they want to.
  • DO give users options  🔡 After answering their question(s), give the user choices for how to move forward. Include buttons or quick replies that lead to other helpful parts of your bot, like to your product-recommendation flow, testimonials, coupon codes, etc.
  • DON’T be pushy 🙅🏽‍♀️ The pre-purchase experience is about serving prospective customers of your ecommerce store. Focus on their needs first, not your goals. It's how you'll build trust and rapport, and it'll move them towards a purchase if your product meets their needs.

A post-purchase experience to pave the way for future sales

As Rutger says, a great post-purchase experience can "earn you the right to sell a second time, a third time, a fourth time." Neglecting these experiences means ignoring the chance to build customer loyalty and get repeat business.

The customer's post-purchase experience he says is a must: dynamic order updates. Rutger explains that you don't have to get fancy with how you send them. Using the simple, out-of-the-box tools that come with your ecommerce platform will get the job done. However, sending order/shipping updates via Messenger chatbot instead has several advantages:

  • It's unique ❄️ People are used to getting shipping updates via email. Sending them via Messenger (or using a combination of Messenger and SMS texts, as Rutger recommends) will set you apart from the competition.
  • It's accessible 📱 Emails can get lost in overloaded inboxes. But notifications from a messaging app where consumers are used to chatting with family and friends? Those will typically be noticed and read right away, and from any device.
  • It presents an opportunity💡Now, Rutger warns that you shouldn't include promotional content in your post-purchase updates. (In fact, if you're using the POST_PURCHASE_UPDATE message tag on Facebook Messenger, promotional content isn't allowed.) When sharing shipping information, he recommends including a link to the dynamic tracking page, a link to the lost orders page, and a button to contact support—that's it. However, he's noticed that lots of users respond to order updates with things like Thanks!, Awesome, or 👍. While getting a response shouldn't be your goal, it does reopen the 24-hour standard messaging window. That means a new opportunity for you to get a review, send a coupon code for a future purchase, or reengage the customer in some other way.
 link your Chatfuel bot to your store on Shopify
You can link your Chatfuel bot to your store on Shopify or another ecommerce platform. That way, you'll be able to send automatic shipping updates to users who opt in.

💥Rutger's tip: As long as you put the customer's needs first and aren't pushy, use your chatbot to get contact information for users on other channels, too. If they do reopen that 24-hour contact window by responding, take the opportunity to ask for their mobile number and/or email address. You can collect the info easily with the Save User Email and Save User Phone Number plugins in Chatfuel. (Make sure to get the proper consent to market to them on those channels, too.) With this information, you'll be able to build or expand your multichannel marketing strategy to promote future sales. "Give users the option to engage with you on the channel they prefer," Rutger advises.

gather a customer's phone number or email address
If the opportunity arises, gather a customer's phone number or email address. Users can share this info in one tap via Messenger.

Creating a dazzling customer journey from start to finish

When we asked Rutger if the pre-purchase or post-purchase marketing strategy is more important, he explained that they're equal and interdependent. Without the pre-purchase experience, there's no conversion, and no post-purchase. But without great post-purchase experiences, you'll be missing out on future sales—not to mention brand trust, loyalty, and customer retention.

He explains how the two work together, and how a Messenger bot is a key component of both:

  • "Take the customer by the hand and lead them from pre-purchase, to a purchase, all the way to the moment that the product is delivered. In that cycle, you have an open connection between your brand and the customer, and you'll be able to catch problems, if any. They can just send [your chatbot] a message, and that makes for an amazing customer experience."

A chatbot is your ticket to automating excellent pre- and post-purchase experiences. Sign up with Chatfuel today to start building one for free—no code or previous experience required. (And when you're ready to scale, upgrade to Pro for unlimited users, priority support, and other exclusive perks. 😎)