Latest 22 Sep 2021 | Customer Service | 20 min read

Building Customer Relationships With Dan Gingiss and Jason Valdina

A few weeks ago I appeared on CX legend and friend of Conversocial Dan Gingiss' podcast 'The Experience Maker'. We focused on the needs and expectations of a modern consumer and how to best use messaging channels to meet and exceed those expectations. 

The podcast covers: 

  • The evolution from complaints on public social to providing conversational experiences on messaging channels 
  • How to change your brand's outlook from an old-fashioned contact center mentality for modern CX
  • What Conversational CX will look like in 2022 - eliminating silos and orchestrating how your brand engages across the customer journey on messaging channels. 



You can find all of Dan's 'The Experience Maker' podcasts on his Youtube channel or more of his content at his website


Video Transcript

Dan Gingiss: Hey everyone. And welcome again to another episode of the Experience This show, I'm your host, Dan Gingiss customer experience, speaker, author, podcaster, and coach. And I'm very happy to have you here this week as I am every week. What reminds you that we are getting really close? I am getting so excited to unleash this into the world.

It is the experience maker, how to create remarkable experiences that your customers can't wait to share. It is available for pre-order now at all of your favorite bookstores and we'll be live September 14th. If you go to my website at and click on the book. You will see that we're offering some very special bonuses for people to pre-order the book that you will only get while it is a pre-order.

So definitely check it out and very excited for people to see this book. Hey, I'm also excited to invite somebody onto the show today. He's a new friend of mine at an old company. So a company that I worked with before that was all over my first book, winning at social customer care, the company's called Conversocial and their senior director of product marketing and partnerships with Jason Valdina.

Welcome Jason. 

Jason Valdina: Hello sir. Thanks for having me, Dan. 

Dan Gingiss: Hey, my pleasure. Very excited for you to be here. Tell me a little bit about you and Conversocial 

Jason Valdina: yeah. Yeah. Yeah, as you said, Jason Valdina Conversocial. So if you're not familiar with Conversocial, we've been around for nearly a decade and we are solely focused on messaging.

And really our focus is on enabling brands to deliver exceptional, conversational experiences across messaging channels. So these are things like WhatsApp, Wechat, Twitter DM, Apple Business Chat, Google's Business Messages and the likes and we've really focused on that as well as public social media.

And yeah, Dan and I crossed paths a number of times on the public social media stages around the world, especially in north America and happy to join today. 

Dan Gingiss: So Jason, when I first got involved with Conversocial, after all, it's in the name, it was really focused on social media and customer service and social media.

But over time, consumers have expanded their preferences for how they want to talk with companies and you guys have expanded your services accordingly. Can you talk a little bit about that journey in that expansion and where are we right now? 

Jason Valdina: Yeah I think there's always these galvanizing moments and you've seen them too, and you've been talking about them a lot.

I expect this new book of yours to be a chock full of these kinds of anecdotes. I think there's three milestones. There's three major things that have happened in my journey to messaging, and I think they very much aligned with that. the way Conversocial approach messaging. I started really my first foray into the messaging world was

2006 with a company called Send Word Now, which is now OnSolve and it was a fairly nerdy way to get exposed to messaging was around emergency broadcast messaging. So this was push only in an emergency and Send Word Now or OnSolve, we were doing okay. There were security experts around the world that were buying our software, but it was like the tsunami in Southeast Asia happened and all these businesses that were multinationals and had employees there suddenly were like, oh my God, we need a way to let customers, let employees know that they're okay.

Find out who's where, who needs to help. So that was a galvanizing moment, I think, in the early two thousands, 2011, 2012, we as a company came into existence because it was this, I think this groundswell of of an audience that hadfinally arrived at social media, it was no longer a fad and customers started to water seeks its own level and customers that were usually pretty disgruntled found their way on social media.

And it became this big echo chamber to say, this company sucks, and they're not treating me. And trying to publicly shame companies into doing the right thing. And Dan, I know you've been at the forefront of that battle. And so we're ready. So our platform really started as a social media not, monitoring and listening, but around action.

So allowing brands to see the hotspots and where customers are really struggling and honestly, tarnishing their name and allowing agents and bots to engage there. And, some point around 2017, I think the second or third big inflection point that we saw was on our platform,

and I think it was pretty indicative of the rest of the world. We had a pretty good global sample set of businesses were around somewhere halfway through the 2017 we saw this point where public social media sort on flat line and suddenly private messaging, one-to-one messaging, eclipsed that volume of social media.

And that's continued to have. But I think the fourth inflection point, and I try not to talk about pandemia today, but the pandemic last year was I'm sure, yeah, I know I've read some of your stuff about this already. Like I don't think anybody could have forecasted how that would have pushed customers to be fiercely digital and only digital out of necessity.

And so messaging has we've seen it just absolutely explode in a good way. But by necessity, I think brands have really. Had to pay attention there because that's where our customers went. They were home, their mobile phone was their lifeline. Desktop was great, but they couldn't sit in front of it all the time, the kids at home and trying to homeschool and all this crazy stuff.

So I think we've seen that we've been trying to help brands forecast and get ready for that. We never imagined that would be the galvanizing moment, but I think. Where we're at now this year going into 2022, I think brands are now trying to figure out how do I get my whole brand?

How do I get the whole brand to represent itself on messaging properly? 

Dan Gingiss: Yeah, it's so interesting. I see this happening for a couple of reasons. I think first of all, as you pointed out, When customers got a voice in social media for the first time they used it and they used it to demand better experiences and frankly, to complain a lot, I think over time thanks to companies like yours and businesses being equipped to respond really well and really quickly on social media,

I do think that one of the shifts was that people said, man, this is actually a pretty good channel for me to customer service engagement because it's fast, it's easy, I can do it on my own time, I don't have to wait on hold. I don't have to sit and stare at a, chat agent, typing chat, agent typing.

You sit there with that, that, that dot and so I think social really moved from that channel of last resort to the channel of first resort. And then as social continued to evolve, messaging became an obvious follow on because Facebook Messenger, Instagram Messenger, Twitter DMs and LinkedIn, .

It became a way of communicating with people. And your founder Joshua March was ahead of this, with his book 'Message Me', which is now gotta be quite a few years old, 

Jason Valdina: almost three years old now. Yeah. 

Dan Gingiss: Yeah. But I think that he saw this coming and and was absolutely correct in that.

And then you take it one more step further to say, as you mentioned, The phones, the way that we communicate with friends and family is through texting and through our phone. So why not communicate with companies in the same way? It's convenient. We all know how to use it. You don't have to teach grandma and grandpa how to do it cause they already know how to text, and so I think there's some ease there. What happens though, as you start to expand channels in variably, in larger companies, now you're going across different parts of the organization. Different teams maybe led by different VPs. And what have you, you get into the old silo problem. How are you guys seeing that and dealing 

with it?

Jason Valdina: You really do. Yeah. I think there's two things there. One is that there's erm, I think the channels have, the bigger the organization gets and the older the organization gets like those two things are important, the more fiefdoms get involved with how the brand represent represents itself, how it communicates with customers.

And with that, the baggage of an old, I think an older mentality of a non customer centricity sort of approach where, some brands force customers to use their channel. So customers have to come to the brand and they have to communicate on their terms. You have to email this address.

You have to go on our website and you use this chat widget. You have to call this one on this hotline, not that one. And none of those things the customer owns. So the difference is with social media and I think you're totally spot on it. I think one of the most interesting phenomenons about messaging is that it is born out the first companies to really do not take SMS on the side and Blackberry pan. If I remember what that is, but take those things, the telecom stuff out of the picture, the social media companies, Twitter DM, Facebook M essenger, WhatsApp, these things really with a first consumer first messaging platforms, they weren't no, no brand owned it as their only way to communicate.

And it's not H and M had their own messenger and everybody had to go download that and use it. And they would use it with their friends, like that's absurd. But it was born out of this idea there's public chatter. And if one has private conversations, how do we build that?

So they built these apps and their messaging apps, and that's a very personal space. I think the growth of that, just being that it's already a way people are communicating with friends and family. And then there, I think this year, the biggest change we saw is that there's now an expectation. That brands are there.

In our, we do. And Dan, I know you're a big fan of this stuff. We love the fact you always help us promote it as well. As, we have two kinds of franchises that we do every year and some of you live today and probably seeing this stuff. So one's called the definitive guide to customer experience and the other one's called this, the state of CX.

And so both those both those reports or research that we run across north America and Western EU and UK, and the Conversocial marketing team does an amazing job at this every year. And we just published one about two months ago. The stat was I'm going to pull it up right now. It was that the question we asked, this is our senior director of marketing Harry Rollason put this one as the first one.

It was like, do you feel your customers have a higher expectations of digital engagement than they did a year ago? And 94% people said yes. And that shouldn't shock anyone, but the difference there is I think that the tables have turned that people, especially in a time when everybody was forced to be home and it was hard to get access to anything and everything had to be remote for a period of time.

The brands that didn't acquiesce, the brands that didn't start speaking with customers on their terms, in the channels they prefer have lost. And I don't know if you're seeing the same thing, but I feel like the difference between live chat and telephony versus messaging is that it's the brands forcing you to communicate with them on their terms versus the brands trying to acquiesce and communicate and way customers already are.

Dan Gingiss: Yeah. 

First of all, I love that report. We'll put the we'll put that QR code up one more time here. If people want to check it out. This is truly one of my favorite reports of the year. I'm not just saying that because you're here. I probably cited this report 15 times in my first book.

And I've been definitely reading through the 2021 version. In my new book, I make this point because it's absurd. No time in the history of customer service has anybody called up a toll free number and the person answers and says, hi, would you mind tweeting us instead?

And yet. People tweet or people go to message or people go to email, they say we'd like to serve you on a different channel. Could you call us instead? Or could you email us and said, no, I can't. I want you to be here in the channel that I'm in. And right now I'm in Twitter and that's how I want to communicate with you.

And so the absurdity of it in reverse, I never quite understood why it didn't feel as absurd. The way that we see it a lot, which is, no, thank you. We don't want you to tweet where you please call us. It's absurd, isn't it?

Jason Valdina: It is totally absurd. And I think a lot of that, again, this goes back to something you mentioned earlier, which is that channels currently, and this is one of the biggest struggles, I think, no matter what channel you're focused on channels right now are thought of as owned by a specific discipline or a specific department in a company. And I think as someone who, like yourself has been really championing the idea of a consistent uniform customer experience for a brand consistency in tone of voice consistency in what you will and won't do for customers channels right now, and too many companies, our own customers is too.

If you're on here, I'm pointing, I'm looking at you. I think that there's too many times where a, the marketing team. I mean in our universe, the marketing team owns Twitter, but customer service owns apple business chat and Google's business messaging for some reason it's arbitrary. I think some of this comes out of like old world contact center stuff, where you had the phone people and the live chat people, and they didn't want to share budget and they didn't want to share information with each other.

We've seen that for years. But I think now it's really about as you said, Where a customer contacts you first is clearly what they preferred. That's what they went there and if they reached out it's, even if it's not the most preferred way, it was at the time, most convenient.

And it's probably going to maintain consistency in terms of being convenient for them. And one of the things we preach is that if someone comes in through telephony, okay, keep them there. But if you have a long wait time, if the option they've selected in their IVR is not something that you're really prepared to address,

maybe now is the time to say, Hey, if you don't want to hold down, we can probably better serve you on Facebook messenger or the messenger, of your choice and we'll get back to you when we have a chance, but we're seeing 26, 28, 29% deflection rates. When brands offer that, that's pretty big.

That's nearly 30% of. People are proactively saying, yeah, I don't want to wait on hold. I don't want to do this. And they're willing to bet that, that the messaging experience will be asynchronous. It'll be more convenient for them. And so those are exceptions, as what I'm saying is that the idea of keeping some money in a channel is important, unless you're inconveniencing them by keeping them in that channel..


Dan Gingiss: What I love about that is you're giving the customer choice. You're not saying we're going to hang up on you. If you choose to hold we're saying you can hold or you can go here. I wonder over time, if you start to see a permanent deflection rate, so do they go over to messenger? And then they say, Hey, this is so much better.

I'm never calling again. I'm always going to use messenger. I would think it may be hard to track, but I would think over time, you might start to see that, which of course is a great money saver for the company, plus a better experience for the customer. 

Jason Valdina: Yeah. 

Dan Gingiss: We have a comment from a friend of ours and former guests to the show, Sarah grace, Jason messaging, one of my favorite topics and digital touchpoints slash options, critical to CX strategy for every industry.

Absolutely. And Sarah was on the show back in April of this year. And that it reminds me that I don't ever talk about this, but you can go to my website and either on the top navigation or just go directly to the experience maker show, and you can find all of the previous episodes and we are north of where.

73 74 episodes at this point, all interviewing amazing people like you, Jason and Sarah Grace. And if you do want to go back and look at old episodes definitely check it out. 

Jason Valdina: I'm gonna go check out Sarah's for sure. 

Dan Gingiss: She dropped a lot of knowledge bombs and as usual. So Jason, what are you

you, we briefly touched on the pandemic and obviously, everything changed from, yeah. Everything changed with the pandemic, but as we're now getting to the point where we're starting to feel past it variants not withstanding, what are you looking at as we start to look towards the end of 21, beginning of 22, w what, w what sort if you had your crystal ball,

what do you think is happening next? 

Jason Valdina: Yeah. I think, couple of trends that we're seeing, are one that up until now up until let's say now being past 12 to 15 months, cause I, I think it's made us all lose track of time, so it's almost like it didn't happen. But I think that the past year and a half, what we're seeing is that previously brands, if they were invested in messaging as a team and they were really serious about it, they were serious about it in so far as being somewhat reactive and being more focused on customer service.

And why is that? And this goes back to like fiefdoms and ownership. So a lot of the social media teams that worked with commerce social a couple of years ago started to move into messaging on their own, or, buy some prompting from us. They've seen huge value in terms of higher C-SAT, better customer experience, lower cost to serve and all that stuff.

But I think what's happened is that. Service has reached this plateau that there's, that the brands that have invested have leaned into service, and then in the past 12 to 15 months, they've were forced to think, what else can we do here on this surface, in this real estate? How do I reach out to, my my partners across service across sales, across marketing the lion's share of our customer audiences here.

What do we do about that? Not like it's a crisis, but they realize that we're only doing service here. And to your point earlier where we're telling people, oh, if you want to contact them about a product information, you can call the hotline or whatever it might be. So they're trying to avoid channel switching.

So I think we're starting to see brands, but to take that channel, switching the, the say no to channel switching mantra, I think a little more seriously. And we're seeing more brands branch out from support. At the same time, there's this weird sort of tracks crossing where we have other customers.

And I think, even if they're not a customer, you've seen brands that went into the messaging world solely focused on revenue generation. So they were only looking to boost sales. They were only looking for new customer acquisition. And if you needed help again, you were told to email here, call there, do whatever.

They only had a bot, they had no agents behind it. And so I think what we're, I think the way that. The way we've approached the market by really teaching some of the biggest brands in the world to say, it's not just about bots. It's not just about an agent experience in messaging, but it's the magic of bringing the two together that alone has brought, it's interesting that alone has brought different disciplines in the organization together.

It's brought different teams together. So if you building a bot, you might get your CIO involved and maybe you have an internal development team. Maybe you have an outsourced sort of agency that you work with. Know we'll have them build it with Conversocial. So we see that. I think what that's done is now forced people to say, we want to own the KPI.

We want to own the goal. We want to own the strategy, the channel, we should all be there. We should all figure out how to orchestrate and how to not stumble over each other, because this is where the customer prefers to be. We already proved that. And I'm not saying that we proved that.

Although I feel like Conversocial is proved that, but a lot of our customers have found that it's been a 2, 3, 4 five-year battle internally to say, Hey everyone, wherever. Look at what we're able to achieve on public social, on private messaging. And how does this compare to chat? We have brands like Volaris Airlines who the second half of this year, they are killing voice entirely.

That's fierce. That is a fierce move and that's not a rash move that's for three and a half years. By the time they do it, it'll be four years of continual AB testing. First, they went after email. They went after chat. They did a split AB test for six months between chat and messenger and WhatsApp.

And they found that chat was 83% more expensive for them, just that session-based single threaded, I can't work on anything else except for this conversation kind of a paradigm was not working for them. So I think that we're seeing more and more brands say - okay how do we really double down here?

I think the other bit is that there's. There are, there's more opportunity. There's a lot of untapped opportunity to drive customer acquisition through messaging. I think moving away from that service use case it's happening mostly in places where people have proved, they found proof in the pudding for customer service, and now they've gotten like the groundswell of the organization say, okay.

Yeah, let's try some sales experiments. I see I, my crystal ball just says, that's going into 2022. We're going to see a lot more brands do that. I think there's too many brands, even within our own customer portfolio that watch some of their competitors do that over the past 12 to 15 months.

And there's been big dividends there. It's a big game. And I think, the other thing I would say the last thing I would say about just the crystal ball thing is have you heard about Google's Business Messages?They're doing they're gonna actually have Google ads that linked directly to messaging experiences.

Have you seen that at all? 

Dan Gingiss: Yeah, I've heard of it. Yeah. I haven't seen it yet.

Jason Valdina: Yeah, it's pretty, it's relatively new. It's being piloted now. We're partnered with Google on it. So we have a one or two brands that are piloting that experience, but this, that whole paradigm LivePerson tried to do this 5, 6, 7 years ago.

This has been A long awaited move and I think being able as a brand to actually have your most brands are actually doing some sort of ad words advertising, right? It's Google. So the idea that brands can now say, Hey, let me drive somebody into the bot I already built. So I can drive more ROI from that bot build.

But I have agents sitting there. I can have that bot hand over to an agent and we can have a conversation with somebody directly from a Google search result. It's amazing. Facebook, one of the, one of the things we've seen is that there's a lot more spending around a click to messenger ads. And so brands are now starting to spend ad spend on trying to get people to, I don't think they're thinking about as deflection, but they're trying to promote specific conversational experiences and they're putting money behind it.

So I think there's going to be more, I think Twitter is going to do more there. I expect some of these companies to start coming up with their own ways for brands to pay to drive that surface in front of customers. 

Dan Gingiss: Yeah, it's a fascinating use case. And I think it makes sense because if you look at the common thread, there it is engagement and establish the relationships.

It's not just sending someone to a landing page and hope they're going to buy it. Meaning there to answer the question for them to prod them along, et cetera. And to establish that relationship. I tell B2B clients all the time, people buy from who they like. And you're not selling to a building or an ivory tower.

You're selling to a person in that persons that consumer, and they're used to dealing with consumer brands. And so like it or not, that's what you're being compared to. And 

Jason Valdina: that's an interesting thought actually. 

Dan Gingiss: Yeah. I Hey, I went out to dinner last night and had amazing service. The waiter was so it paid such good attention to us and refilled our water all these times and, really made us feel like we were special.

Now I come to work today. That's my last experience. So I expect that out of my next experience. And that next experience might be B2B, but I still expect the person to treat me well and to value me like that waiter did last night. 

Jason Valdina: I love that though, because the notion of being, of comparing your experience on one channel to how you would converse with somebody that you like, that's a friend of yours, right?

That's I love that because I think a lot of what we tend to talk about when we talk about the values of messaging, one of them is this idea that there's this persistent thread. There's conversational history. And for the consumer, what that means is my colleagues know I'm a big snowboarder, snowboard fanatic, and a burden snowboards up in Vermont

they still have their headquarters up there. I had this amazing thread with them like two years ago, or I was complaining. I was like, I had a problem with a product. I had just bought something wrong with it. And I had this multi day long thread intra daily. Sending pictures back and forth, and here's how you fix it

Jason, we have this other part, here's the SKU. And I still look back at that thread because it's in my phone in messenger and I could still see it. And when I messaged that brand, no, not a year, but about eight months later, the following winter they were, the brand was able to see that thread.

So the notion of being able to go back to an image that your friends. And then having that same dynamic with the business is pretty compelling. And can't really happen on any other channel. I can't think of where else that happens. Maybe you go back to an email from somebody. Sure. But 

Dan Gingiss: we expected it to happen in phone.

We expect to call up, get an agent and say what? I just talked to another agent. Yeah. It just doesn't happen that way. And I think it is really cool. Another, other examples real quick, cause we're out of time is the hotel asks for your loyalty number. The next time they've already got it in the thread there.

They don't have to ask for it again. And. I think that stuff really helps the service conversation become a simple or more seamless transaction. Jason, we could talk all day here and I love what you guys are doing and really appreciate your insights. I think this is a very interesting space.

And you guys, if you're not doing messaging yet with your customers, you got to start thinking about. You got to start working with a company like a Conversocial to explore the different options because this is not going away. This is definitely how people are communicating it. What I love specifically about it is it's not about one channel.

It's not anybody saying, oh, you really gotta be on Snapchat or you really gotta be on TikTok. It's about a broader sense for how we communicate. In many channels. And that's why all of these social networks now have private chatting because they all realized the same thing. And I think what's nice is certainly from what I remember working with Conversocial is, you set it up once and it works across all these channels.

So you don't really feel like you have to set it up. 17 different use cases for 17 different channels as we continue to get more and more social channels. Anyway, Jason, thank you so much for being here. Really appreciate your insights. 

 Great to talk to you. 

Jason Valdina: We always consider you a bird of a feather when it comes to to messaging and customer experience.

So thanks for having me.


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