The Customer Is The Channel

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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%.

“In our research and consulting on customer journeys, we’ve found that organizations able to skillfully manage the entire experience reap enormous rewards: enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced churn, increased revenue, and greater employee satisfaction,” says the Harvard Business Review. “They also discover more-effective ways to collaborate across functions and levels, a process that delivers gains throughout the company.”

Some outstanding industry examples that rely on conversational commerce to do this include:

  • Texting for towels: Radisson Blu’s virtual assistant, Edward, is at your service, from before you check in to 24/7 during your stay. If you need to ask the time for breakfast or request more towels be sent, Edward is there to serve, from the screen of your smart phone.
  • Flight info on the go: KLM now offers all your flight information right there in Facebook Messenger. Flight updates, booking info, and even your boarding pass are available within the chat thread.
  • Everything in one app: WeChat, China’s dominant chatting app, lets its users run their lives by texting to hail a taxi, order food, and track fitness progress.

According to [24]7, a whopping 86% of customers describe outstanding customer service as having these three elements:

  1. The company anticipates their needs.
  2. The self-service is optimal.
  3. They’re able to contact the company any way they want.

Sounds like conversational commerce to us!

How can you reach customer nirvana at each touchpoint? Start with the basics:

  • Offer helpful self-service content at every touchpoint. Anticipate the questions your customers will have, and have help at the ready, for example in the form of a chatbot on Facebook Messenger or links to FAQs. 90% of your customers are likely to go to the website before calling or emailing, so FAQs and a knowledge base are important. FAQs should be detailed and clear, and written in your brand’s voice. Any chatbot should be able to resolve common inquiries in real-time, to help ensure customers feel satisfied with their interaction.
  • Use proactive help in areas where customers get stuck. Be clear about what just happened, (“Item has been added to your cart!”), or what will happen now (“Your boots will arrive in two days.”).
  • Have a consistent personality to your brand. In today’s conversational commerce world, you want to be casual and personable, but also reflect your brand’s unique personality. Getting an email joking about a high-five for placing your order feels a lot more human than the robotic ORDER #53759384 HAS BEEN CONFIRMED message. Make sure you have a brand voice document so you avoid sounding like every other company.
  • Go for personalized, consistent interactions. Across all channels, your customer expects you to know who she is and how she’s spoken with you before. This is a huge challenge, but one that bot-assisted conversational commerce is quickly turning into a reality. While no platform is perfect (yet), yours should be able to track previous engagements a customer has had with your brand across channels and personalize your communications with that customer with at least the basic details you have collected about them (name, birthdate).
  • Gather and use feedback: According to Esteban Kolsky, founder of thinkJar, a customer strategy consulting firm, 70% of companies that deliver best-in-class customer experience base it on customer feedback. The industry average is 50%, he says, and of the laggards, only 29% reflect feedback in their processes. Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon.com, said, “To ensure that a service meets the needs of the customer (and not more than that) we use a process called ‘Working Backwards’ in which you start with your customer and work your way backwards until you get to the minimum set of technology requirements to satisfy what you try to achieve. The goal is to drive simplicity through a continuous, explicit customer focus.”

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.




 

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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.