The Customer Is The Channel

The customer-centric blog of Linc Global

Best Practices for Setting up a Referral Marketing Program

Guest Post from our Partners at Talkable People naturally trust other people. For example, imagine your friend sends you a link to a track on Spotify, telling you, “check out Nicolas Jaar’s new track, it’s awesome!” Chances are, you click on the link and listen to those mysteriously hypnotizing sounds. That’s how I became a fan!

How to Evaluate an Automated Shopper Assistance Platform

Cultivating potential loyal customers over one-time purchasers is the key driver for reimagining the retail CX relationship between buyer and brand. Increasing the number of customers and retaining them requires rethinking the customer journey from something linear and conversion-focused to a more holistic model of engagement and two-way conversation with the customer and having that customer’s expectations and channel preferences drive your interactions with them. Customer care AI isn’t a magic bullet that solves all of your CX challenges, but the right AI deployed strategically is a powerful tool for creating and sustaining profitable customer relationships.

Automated Shopper Assistance: What It Is and What It Means for Retailers

Simply put, automated shopper assistance bridges traditionally siloed systems like customer service, social media management, logistics systems, ecommerce platforms, and email marketing by using AI to engage with customers across channels. Given that well over half of customers’ questions are standard queries, they’re well-suited to be handled by a chatbot or automated assistant instead of an employee paid to triage customer care interactions. This means that retailers can dramatically reduce customer care costs while increasing customer satisfaction by leveraging automation to handle routine inquiries and questions.

Multi-Channel Customer Journeys Are The New Reality

The linear customer journey–a straight line from research to engagement to purchase where everything hinges on conversion and where the brand shepherds the customer along a particular path–is dead. Today’s customer journey looks more like creating a landscape of physical and digital touchpoints across which your customers will roam, choosing when and where they’ll interact with your brand. Your job is to provide the GPS for this journey and ensure that each interaction they have with you as they traverse this landscape of touchpoints is both seamless and consistent.

Best Practices for Increasing Shopper Opt-In Rates

Shopper opt-ins are the secret sauce to marketing your products and services to your future and current customers.  With the heavy reliance on privacy laws and legal ramifications abound, increasing shopper opt-ins is the key to business success.  The bigger the opt-in audience, the more opportunities to engage with customers.

The Role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Reshaping the Customer Experience

AI has marked its importance across various sectors. With cheaper programming and enhanced algorithms, AI has successfully been able to automate many processes while reducing costs associated with manual labor.

Building Your Conversational Commerce Technology Stack

Do you go it alone or outsource? This is a big decision, and a lot of money stands to be spent or saved, earned or lost. Do you go it alone, or do you hire help?

New Feature Alert: Intelligent Promotion Botlet

How do you promote products without large advertising budgets and over-saturating email inboxes?  This is a common problem many marketers face when looking for new and innovative ways to promote products and services.

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.

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