The Customer Is The Channel

The customer-centric blog of Linc Global

Maren Kelly

Maren Kelly

Recent Posts:

Turning Touchpoints into a Journey

Every interaction with your customer is important, and maximizing the effectiveness of touchpoints has been a valid business concern for some time. Research from McKinsey, however, highlights the blind spot in this kind of thinking -- true leading brands have moved from a touchpoints-focus to a focus on the holistic customer journey.

Designing a Customer Experience Strategy for Conversational Commerce

When you master conversational commerce, you’ll deliver experiences that make your customers feel as if you hired a personal assistant to help each of them.  There are several key strategies, smart brands need to think about as they go about creating their conversational commerce strategy. Don’t Forget The Data If conversational commerce is the new paradigm of customer experience, data is the engine that drives all those delightful interactions across touchpoints. Your customers are creating data every time they click, swipe, and like --it’s up to you to find it, analyze it and use it to inform customer engagement. Nordstrom, for example, uses sensors and Wi-Fi to track who comes to the store, wherein the store they shop, and how long they stay. They also incentivize their Nordstrom’s credit card and rewards program to gather data about their clients. Target is also known for its data-collecting. The mega-retailer assigns every customer a Guest ID number, which is linked to their credit card, name, or email address. This Guest ID number becomes a repository of info on a shopper’s past Target purchases and any demographic information the company has collected about them and/or bought from a third-party source. Target’s data is so accurate and fine-grained that they were even able to determine a teenage shopper was pregnant (and send her the appropriate mailer filled with baby items) long before her father ever knew. Collecting relevant data, analyzing it and using your learnings to inform which conversational channels make sense for your brand and what types of experiences your particular customers seek to have on them is the foundation of your conversational commerce efforts. Focus On The Highest-Value Activities Put your energy toward meaningful services that customers already care about. Look at service-oriented features, such as notification capability and on-demand service and support capabilities, to guide the customer journey. Don’t just focus on the “Checkout.” The main benefit of service-oriented conversational channel offerings is the ability to organically drive usage into new channels. For example, a customer might place an order on your website and learn that she can subscribe to order status updates through Facebook Messenger. What she sees as taking advantage of a perk will benefit you by encouraging her toward a channel where your chatbot can take over. ChatBots are best for organic conversations with common use cases, but also provide a sense of personalization and convenience for the shopper. Customer service should be your core use for this technology to start. Be Prepared For Bot-to-Human Handoffs The great thing about a conversation handled over text or Messenger is that the customer doesn’t have to know when they might be switching from a bot to a human. Bot design in the future will focus on what they can do, knowing what they can’t do, and designing a bridge to employee assistance that feels seamless to the customer. It’s not just the customer that will be helped by the bot, but the employee. It will provide faster information and better analytics in real time, perhaps then parsing information to pass on to the consumer. The most important aspect of innovation is convenience for the shopper. They should never have to explain their request twice. Start Simple and Grow to Brand Management You can start with bots as a single voice in the chorus of messages from your brand. The long term will have bots as representatives of your entire brand, managing relationships with your customers. You can start conversational commerce, however, with just a single entry point. You can get your customers used to interacting with you on the same channels they use to chat with their friends. You can piggyback on the culture of quick and informal communication, but be ready to meet their expectations for highly personal and meaningful results. If your bot can’t meet that expectation, your customer could walk away disappointed or annoyed. As the technology improves, and it is, even as we write this, you’ll be able to put more and more of your brand management in the hands of the bots. Authentication Giving your bot a way to confirm the customer’s identity is key to a truly intelligent communication that can leverage data from across your other channels. If this isn’t done right, your bot will see each customer as a stranger, negating the opportunity to provide personalized service. Focus On Concepts Rather Than Solutions Your customers might be on Kik today but head over to Facebook Messenger tomorrow. Focusing on the concepts of conversational commerce rather than today’s hottest medium will help you keep your sanity and provide an agile approach that can be applied to meet your customers wherever they migrate. Try not to get bogged down with the details of how to build for one particular channel, and look instead to use-cases. You can learn more about conversational commerce and engaging your customers at every touchpoint by exploring Linc’s platform and solutions pages. Or take a look at how leading brands like Lamps Plus, JustFab.com and others are using automated conversational commerce strategies in their businesses today, in our resources page.

Best Practices for Customer Engagement at Every Touchpoint

Crafting an experience that will keep customers coming back makes business sense. The cost of replacing a lost customer can range from five to 25 times the investment of keeping them. Studies by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company, the people who brought you the net promoter score, found that upping your customer retention by just 5% can lead to increases in revenue from 25% to 95%.

New Feature Alert: Content Inspiration Botlet

We have all heard the mantra “content is king,” but are brands truly utilizing this and taking advantage of all the different ways they can promote their content?  We’ve all been helped by the customer service chatbot or assistant dedicated to a specific task. But businesses who really want to make a splash in the chatbot space are turning their attention to chatbots as content delivery systems.

New Feature Alert: Automated Assistance for BOPIS

As today’s savvy consumer becomes more demanding for the personalized customer experience, one thing is clear-  buy online, pick-up in store (BOPIS) is here to stay. For many retailers, BOPIS can be a struggle as it means mastering how to provide the customer with what they order online when they need it in store.  Many times, this process comes down to automated assistance and how well your tools work for you.

6 Costly Misunderstandings about Chatbots and Amazon Alexa

Retailers are facing a raft of challenges this quarter. Amazon capturing more than half of total online retail growth, customers spending 88% of their time in only 5 apps, and customer acquisition costs skyrocketing. It’s understandable some are considering selling the farm, and others are quietly fading away. For those still in the fight, ChatBots and conversational commerce channels are a hot topic of debate — it’s difficult to go a single day without stumbling on some kind of new report — and for good reason. But many are feeling concerned about some fundamentals of the platforms, and how they operate.

2019 Omni-Channel Tech Journey

“Hey Google, how do I perfect an omnichannel journey?”

The Ridge Creates a Cohesive Buying Experience with Automated Customer Care

SUNNYVALE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Linc Global, the leading customer care automation solution powering digital experiences that strengthen brand-to-shopper relationships, today announced that The Ridge, the creator of the expanding minimalist wallet that protects your cards and cash, has chosen Linc’s AI-powered platform to provide shoppers with a cohesive experience across the whole buying experience.

Customer Experience as the New Competitive Battleground

Buying and selling online began in earnest in the ‘90s. In 1995, the year Amazon and eBay both started, the internet existed as 120,000 registered domain names. Over the next three years it grew to more than two million. Now, more than a billion websites are online. Ecommerce has also expanded by leaps and bounds. In 2006, ecommerce accounted for approximately 3% of total US retail sales. So far this year, it’s approaching 10% and represents an almost 15% year-over-year increase compared to 2016.

Conversational Commerce is the Future and the Present

Chris Messina, who helped to popularize the term and is the Developer Experience Lead at Uber, declared “2016 will be the year of conversational commerce.” What he predicted back in early 2015 has now become a reality -- leading brands are already capitalizing on these channels and leaving their competitors behind. What does that mean for your brand? When you master conversational commerce, you’ll deliver experiences that make your customers feel as if you hired a personal assistant to help each of them. “Not only do companies today need to exceed customer expectations, but they need to make it easy for the customer to do business with the company,” writes Forbes’ Blake Morgan. “Want a powerful customer experience? Simply ask yourself how easy you can make life for your customers.”

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