The Customer Is The Channel

The customer-centric blog of Linc Global

Customer Highlight: How JustFab.com Delivers Exceptional Service to Members, While Cutting Costs With Automation

TechStyle Fashion Group, the parent company of JustFab.com and ShoeDazzle.com, has seen explosive growth since its founding in 2010; gaining over 5M members with over 85M products shipped, operating in 12 countries with over 23M Facebook fans. With this expansion came challenges in giving customers the service they expect without running customer service costs sky-high. Parallel to this growth, TechStyle recognized that their customers were changing their habits, and email was no longer being used as much as social chat channels like Facebook Messenger.

Apparel Magazine's 2018 Top Innovators Announced

This is a summary of a report published by Apparel Magazine. You can read the full report here.   Photo Source: www.cartersoshkosh.ca The 2018 Apparel Magazine "Top Innovators" has been released, and amongst the 25 retailers sits Linc'd brand, Carter's Inc. (OshKosh B'gosh, Skip Hop, Carter's), based out of Atlanta, Georgia.   “Our shoppers love the new delivery experience and our WISMO calls are down. Linc has positioned us on the leading edge of customer experience.” – Jadene Burgess Sr. Director, eCommerce Operations Carter’s Inc Carter's primary focus is to put convenience at the center of their customer-engagement efforts, making it easier than ever for their customers to communicate with them. Given that today’s generation of new parents increasingly favor communication via social media channels such as Facebook (and even via voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant), it made sense to go where its customers were, and to make the communication easy. "With a combined following of more than five million consumers on its Facebook pages alone, we understood that Facebook was a crucial component of day-to-day communications with shoppers", said Burgess.  Carter's was already using our Customer Care Automation Platform for digital experiences such as email updates and SMS text messages, and extended their services to implement AI-powered Facebook Messenger chatbot technology. With chatbots, Carter's customers can now track packages and receive instant answers, 24/7, to WISMO (where is my order) questions, instead of needing to interact with human representatives, which is not as convenient, and also sometimes requires a wait. You can read the full report here, and see how top Retail Brands are innovating in 2018. .   About Apparel Magazine: For over 58 years, Apparel has focused on how leading apparel retailers are utilizing technology to improve their organization, as such, they speak with C-level executives year round in the apparel industry.

Consumer behavior is changing faster than anyone is noticing

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.

Retailers Say AI Is The Future, But Most Are Slow To Adopt

Retailers have their eye on AI as a force that will reshape their customer care over the next 24 months, but most aren’t leveraging it today or are merely experimenting with it. Research we conducted with Brand Garage found that while almost 87% of retail executives planned to increase their usage of customer care AI in 24 months, less than 42% were currently using it, with most of them reporting they were only doing so on a trial or pilot basis. This future intention vs. current action gap is troubling for a number of reasons.

Chatbot Success 101: Why a Single Customer View is a Must

It’s not easy to give customers what they want in places and mediums that are most familiar to the retail industry, let alone on emerging channels like chat and voice. When 1–800-Flowers.com launched its chatbot, it was hailed as an example of capturing commerce interactions on a new channel and giving customers the convenience they crave. As Forrester has since identified, however, the chatbot “forgets users’ information if they try to return to their task the next day — despite displaying the previously entered data earlier in the Messenger conversation.”

How To Avoid A #ChatbotFail

While brands have scrambled to launch Facebook Messenger chatbots since the social media behemoth opened up the channel for development last year, the early results haven’t been particularly promising. Facebook is seeing a 70% failure rate among those 35,000 or so bots when it comes to understanding user requests. To combat this poor performance, Facebook is making some changes to Messenger, including adding a persistent menu that will allow users to choose from a number of requests or statements instead of using natural language and risking stumping the bot entirely.

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