The customer-centric blog of Linc Global
Article Originally Posted on smartinsights.com
I remember sitting in class one day at University, and the plucky, outspoken prof announced to our lecture that most of us would be doing jobs that don’t have names yet. As a concept, this seemed to make sense, but as a reality, I couldn’t imagine how jobs could materialize from thin air, at least with such a lack of predictability that we didn’t even know they’d be needed. Fast forward to today, and I’m fairly certain my prof would be ready with a warm-hearted ‘I told you so’, if I explained what I’ve seen develop this year.
With their breadth of available inventory and shipping infrastructure, it seems that Amazon has everyone cornered. But, there are incredible opportunities for brands and retailers to compete with Amazon – and thrive. In today’s post, we’ll focus on how to outperform the big, smiling behemoth when it comes to customer experience and engagement.
Email is the new filing cabinet. When’s the last time you checked email? How about when you last checked your phone for new messages? If you’re like 4 out of every 5 consumers, you went first for messages and left email alone. Most people leave it alone for a day, or 2, before checking it, and it is earning a reputation for being a place where official records are sent and can be searched for later. Click video to learn more: It’s definitely not where most people chat about the weekend’s plans, or check out the latest styles from favorite brands. Now, this shouldn’t surprise anyone, but based on the ecommerce’s love affair with email, it would seem that there’s a misalignment between marketing and its intended audience. While many consumers are using instant messaging, text and social apps multiple times per hour, brands are working hard on their email creative for the week, and setting up their campaigns to go out at just the right time, though it has far less impact that it did 10 years ago. This is troubling for a number of reasons, but let’s keep this brief. Primarily, the problem here is that many teams are structured around channels. And at a higher level, many companies are structured with marketing, ecommerce and customer service teams sitting apart from each other, and doing their level best to “enhance communication channels” and ‘share data’. So while consumers are putting little voice assistants in the kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms, email marketers are working hard to get their graphics approved and their segments locked down. Seems like something’s a little off, right? It is. Though email is still an incredibly effective channel for ecommerce marketers, not many brands are investing in newer ways to connect with their customers. And though we used to talk about preparing for new channels, the new apps and devices consumers are using today represent the need to do more than just develop a strategy for a new channel. The real showstopper here is that marketing, sales and service all collide on these channels when its done right. And that doesn’t jive well when you have separate teams. So while 20-somethings are scribbling on photos and sending them to their friends, brands are trying to figure out whether Messenger is going to work well for customer service. Or if they should have a branded skill on Alexa that offers some content to the customer. If you’re having these conversations at the moment, please stop. With most of your customers going to instant messaging as their first communication channel, and the majority of consumers who have bought voice assistants saying there’s no way they would want to go back to their life before voice, its time to start learning about what these channels can be used for, when the customer is put in center-focus. The opportunity is real, but only for brands willing to step outside their traditional mindset. Customers are ready and willing to build new habits, and will be delighted by the services that can be offered through these channels. The same channels they use dozens of times each day. The biggest brands recognize this, and that’s why they are investing in voice, and chat, with a focus on the customer’s interests. They see the opportunity and know the time to start is now. For many others, there’s a hint that this could be mobile all over again - too slow, too little, too late, and too many lost opportunities.
This is a summary of an article published by PYMNTS. You can read the full article here. No one likes the friction-filled process of returning unwanted goods. Say hello, literally, to Alexa, and a streamlined process of getting what consumers want through a turbocharged customer care experience, via Linc. Giving voice to returns can save sales. In an interview with PYMNTS’ Karen Webster, Linc CEO Fang Cheng said that the skill lives at the intersection of AI and customer care, enabling brands and retailers “to have a much more intimate way of serving their shoppers across any channels those shoppers prefer.” The platform also works with retailers who are not plying their wares over Amazon, through both Alexa and Google Assistant. In an example of the customer care continuum, Cheng said that a consumer can ask Alexa “where is my order?” and the assistant will respond with tracking information and a projected delivery date. It’s an example of quick answer and quick response. One notable absence, and perhaps a refreshing one: There’s no need to know the order number or the specifics of a product, and thus no need for a paper chase. Linc’s platform, the company has said, does all that housekeeping, so to speak, in the background. As Cheng stated, the platform and the merchant are integrated to the point where brands can come to market with their Alexa skill in a matter of weeks. “The beauty [of the skill] is that the assistant already has access to all the past purchases that have been made with the brand,” Cheng noted. Linc’s platform knows what orders are eligible for return, and there is no need for obsessive paperwork, she told Webster. “What makes the assistant smart is that the assistant needs to have a fairly deep level of data,” she said. Linc does not store anything related to that data or the emails that customarily alert consumers to their commerce activity. You can read the full article here on PYMNTS.com
Linc delivers chat and voice capabilities to Shopify Plus customers via Messenger, WhatsApp, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and other digital channels.
While many brands are considering chatbots, and some are experimenting, leaders are already making plans for how to improve the chatbots that have been providing their shoppers with automated solutions and service. One piece of the puzzle is how to analyze conversations - it is impractical to read every single chat log, but the real-world interactions are where the insights come from. Enter Chatbase, Google’s new analytics tool, which is in early access right now for some developers. We’ve gotten a chance to test it and we’re very excited about it.
Ecommerce consumers benefit with an improved returns process while retailers deliver a consumer-friendly, cost-efficient process.
Retailers use Linc to respond to customer needs via Messenger, WhatsApp, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and other consumer-preferred communication channels.
ChatBots and AI in retail isn’t a flash in the pan that we’ll all be cringing about in 18 months. Instead, it represents a lasting shift in the retail landscape and the nature of the brand-customer relationship.