The Customer Is The Channel

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Salesforce DreamForce 2017: What’s Ahead For Customer Engagement

The Linc team is looking forward to Salesforce Dreamforce in San Francisco (Nov 6-9) to listen, learn and meet with the industry’s most innovative and envelope-pushing. As we approach the holiday season and New Year, delivering and building an exceptional customer success strategy is a top priority for retailers and brands (and a major theme of this conference).

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In today’s retail world, we see, hear and read two main storylines: “we are in the midst of a retail apocalypse,” and, “the world of shopping is undergoing a huge transformation.” These narratives, coupled with the continuous introduction of new chat technologies including artificial intelligence, voice assistants and chatbots, are pushing brands and retailers to continuously perfect their customer success strategy, especially as it pertains to customer care.

During Salesforce Dreamforce, we not only look forward to hearing from former FLOTUS Michelle Obama, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, and the very talented Alicia Keys and Lenny Kravitz, but also to exploring the Salesforce Commerce Cloud’s key track for the conference: how retailers are transforming shopping in the age of AI and mobility.

Linc’s mission is to help retailers and brands do just that! In partnering with Salesforce’s Commerce Cloud platform, we help retailers like Carter’s | OshKosh deliver real-time and automated customer care by providing an AI-based solution that answers a critical piece of the puzzle: “how do retail brands offer the most responsive and intelligent customer care without succumbing to the rising costs.”

Through our partnership with Salesforce Commerce Cloud, retailers can not only create intelligence-driven experiences for their customers throughout the shopping journey, but also ensure their customer care strategy strengthens the shopping experience and transforms one-time purchasers into lifetime customers.

Linc’s platform ties together the emerging channels of Voice (Amazon Alexa, Google Home) and ChatBots (Facebook Messenger) with email, SMS and a web portal, using a single customer profile to strengthen the customer care experience. Our customers rely on Linc to increase engagement, customer satisfaction and retention, reduce service and reverse logistics costs, and drive additional revenue.

Heading to Salesforce Dreamforce? Let’s chat! Please reach out through our contact page and we’ll tailor our discussion to your interests.

 

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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.