The Customer Is The Channel

The customer-centric blog of Linc Global

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New Feature: Automated Web Chat and How It Will Change Customer Engagement Benchmarks

Your brand image depends on the customer service you provide. A once-unsatisfied customer is unlikely to visit your site again. While common options include providing live chat service to customers, along with service on social channels, there is a new opportunity available. The first of its kind, automated web chat delivers a real-time, personalized experience – in this post, we’ll talk about the best way to utilize automated web chat and what long-term benefits it will bring to your company.

With the launch of our new automated web chat feature we reflect on what this means for brands looking to engage and innovate the customer experience.

There is no doubt that responding more quickly to customers, and giving them the information they need can help you improve satisfaction, lead to more conversions and cement customer loyalty for the long-term.  

When considering how you could automate this service in order to scale and alleviate cost challenges, there’s a big difference that needs to be considered. Though it may not be obvious at first glance, there is a wide gap between the automated generic FAQs offered by help chat platforms, and the personalized contextual assistance that AI can deliver.

 

Automated Webchat

 

How to best utilize automated web chat

With automated web chat, brands have the opportunity to engage with customers both pre-purchase and post purchase, to instantly get information on orders, get immediate assistance with returns, find a product that best suits them, or the nearest store, to name a few skills an automated assistant can have.

The big difference between FAQ automation, and automated web chat is personalization and context. Where FAQs offer generic information, but no direct-path to resolving an inquiry, automated chat leverages the intelligence of an automated assistant, equipped with a range of capabilities, to not only provide information, but to take actions that resolve the customer's question. The automated assistant is also able to upsell based on customer history, and find just the right moment to provide a recommended new product.

 

There are compelling reasons retailers need to consider automating web chat:

  1. Increase Customer Engagement- Customers want to be engaged with a brand and automating the web chat can provide customers with the instant answers and help they need .

  2. Product Finder- Asking product questions via live chat is convenient, by automating this experience, retailers can quickly allow customers to find what they need along with serving them upsell and cross-sell product recommendations in an organic way.

  3. Proactive Customer Interactions- generally conversations only start when initiated by the the customer, by automating web chat, retailers can begin the conversation informing customers about sales and promotions, or product recommendations if the customers is known.

  4. Post Purchase Order Assistance and Returns- automated assistants in web chat can easily answer questions regarding orders and help with initiating a return, thus allowing customers to get the help they need when they want it.

What automated web chat means for the future

With customers that are time challenge the norm today, people are eager to talk to businesses through live chat whenever they want, and expect immediate assistance. Today’s customer wants to get what they need without unnecessary hassle or delays, so they can move on with their day and get something off their mind.  Automating web chat makes it easy and convenient for customers to interact with a brand when it is most important for them, not only at the hours the brand has established or through a communication medium that involves delays.

At Linc, we’re very excited to have launched automated web chat as part of our platform, as it means even more shoppers can get immediate answers and resolution to their inquiries with the convenience they want. Please let us know if you’d like to discuss in detail - and learn why leading brands are implementing this feature.

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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.