I was asked to speak at the Reuters Customers Service and Experience Conference last week. Like much of 2020, it all took place virtually in front of laptop screens- but it was a great experience to share Conversocial's belief that breaking out from traditional customer service methods by utilizing messaging and conversational CX is the only way to provide first class customer experiences.
In the presentation I cover the 3 steps brands need to take to make the switch:
- Leaning into the power of messaging for more effective customer/brand interactions
- Going deep on messaging with integration, automation and proactive notifications
- Leveraging AI to support customers and increase agent productivity
You can watch my presentation in full below or read the transcript.
Full Transcript below:
Hi, everybody and greetings from New York City. I'm Ido Bornstein-HaCohen, and I'm the CEO of Conversocial. We are a conversational customer experience platform, and we focus on messaging and the interaction between a chatbot and a human agent.
COVID didn't only impact New York City. We've seen the impact of COVID throughout the world, specifically when it comes to brick and mortar stores. We saw these stores closing and we saw people shifting their shopping behaviors to online. Specifically when it comes to retail; it was shifting into e-commerce. But this is just one example.
We've seen this across the board in many industries where customers went more digital. And with e-commerce specifically, we saw an accelerated growth of 10 years in about three months. That also of course impacted contact center volume, and the contact center volume just exploded.
How did we all experience it? We all found ourselves waiting on hold for a long, long time. One of the things that we've known for a year is that high customer effort leads to high disloyalty. This is a study that was done quite a few years ago, but it's still relevant and true today, even more so; the more you get customers to work to get customer service, the more it leads to disloyalty.
It's so easy to move from one brand to the other today, but this is really something that you have to take into consideration. One of the main drivers for disloyalty is really repeat contact- waiting on hold, channel switching, transfers. This is what we know from traditional contact center tools.
As a result of it, the customer service model must change. It must move from a large number of agents, mainly on phone, to a smaller number of agents, mainly on messaging channels supported by AI and automation.
One of the main things customer service leaders and digital customer experience leaders are facing today is how to break the CX/cost equation. How to provide great customer service without breaking the bank. Messaging helps in doing that, but it's not only messaging.
It's a combination of bots and humans working together on a channel, which is widespread and adopted by our consumers- such as messaging. So, how do you make that shift? How do you transition from traditional customer service- from phone live chat, email- into messaging? There's actually three steps that you should consider and go through.
The first one is really about leaning into the power of messaging. The second one is going deep, integrating, automating, and being proactive. And the last piece is really leveraging AI and automation to support customers and increase agent productivity.
So let's start with the first one: leaning into the power of messaging.
The first thing that you have to consider and understand is that your customers are already using messaging. Think about yourself, when was the last time that you spoke with your parents? When was the last time you spoke with your kids? You probably chatted with them and you probably used one of the apps that we're presenting here.
WhatsApp as an example, has more than 65 billion messages sent on a daily basis. That's 3x over what SMS has ever been. Apple Business Chat has 1.4 billion users. Messenger has 1.3 billion users. Instagram has 1 billion users. So your customers are already there. Make sure that you start by being where your customers are.
We also saw a huge uptick in messaging adoption over the course of COVID. In a matter of months, between the beginning of March to the end of March, we saw more than a 100% increase in messaging volume. The funny thing about it was, one of the top intents we saw for those messaging interactions was 'long hold times.' This is what customers were saying, this is how they got the conversation over messaging started.
So why do messaging? One of the biggest differences between messaging, live chat, and SMS is that it's a transformational customer engagement channel. Like we saw already, your customers are already there.
The second piece is that it's asynchronous, so you don't have to be tied down to a computer. You can send a message and then get back to it when you have more time. And the last piece is that it's persistent. It's persistent for both the agent in the contact center so it almost acts as an independent CRM, and it's also persistent for the user, which makes it so much easier for them to understand and remember, which conversations they've had with you in the past. There's no more live chat transcripts being sent over email. It's all persistent, and every time they go back into the app (back into Apple Business Chat, which is basically the business version of iMessage), they'll see the whole interaction.
The last piece is really the rich functionality; those messaging apps- they act almost like websites which means that they have rich functionality that supports the customer lifecycle from engagement, to acquisition, to care. Things like payments are supported. You don't have to switch into a webpage to see where your package is if there's a web interface. You stay contained in the channel, and that's very, very important as we saw for customer satisfaction. The result of it- customer loyalty.
You want to increase your sales? You want to keep your customers? This is the way to do it.
We did a survey (we actually do a lot of surveys about what customers are thinking) about where they want to interact, and we saw that 54% of customers prefer messaging channels over phone or email. And we saw that 35% already use social messaging on a regular basis. So that's one thing that you really have to remember and keep in mind; you really have to be there.
So these are the reasons why you have to go deep and commit into messaging. But how do you go deep? What does it mean exactly?
The main thing is really to start by analyzing your top intents; what are people actually talking about? And when you do that, make sure that you do it across the traditional channels as well, because what you want to have happen is you want people who are reaching out to you over messaging to get everything they need to resolve their issue on the channel. You want to avoid them going back and forth between email, messaging, phone, live chat, back to messaging, and so on.
What we've done is we've opened up our platform. We allow for integrations, both backend integrations of first party API systems, payment systems, CRM systems, natural language understanding systems and analytics into our platform. Those will enable you to complete the customer lifecycle, to provide the customer with everything they need in order to resolve their issues in-channel.
Let me give you an example. To the left (below) you actually see our interface. At the bottom you see the API properties that are being fetched from the actual service. This is an example of where you're integrating into a booking system- an airline booking system- and you're allowing your customer to actually change their flight or get flight notifications without ever having to have any agents involved. As you can see, the templates for the airline update actually have dynamic parameters that are coming directly from the backend system.
To the right, you'll see that there's two ways by which you can use those integrations. One is to notify on flight changes, i.e., "there's a situation here where the flight was changed" and the user automatically gets notified over Facebook Messenger (the app that they like, the app that they are on already). The second side of this integration, shows how to actually enable the customer to self serve themselves and change their flight within the app itself. You bring those two together, you can pay people within the messaging app, and that makes their customer experience much better, and much improved.
But it's not only about flights and flight notifications. There's a bunch of ways by which you can be proactive and you can automate. You can show product availability for example. There's so many cases right now where people are looking to buy something, but it's not available. If you're asking them to sign up a for notification over email, bear in mind that the email click-through rate is about 1.9%.
So there's a good chance that they're not going to actually see that notification. You send it over messenger instead where we're talking about 70, 80, 90% click through rates. Very, very different. And this is if you're trying to get somebody to know when the product is available so they can complete the purchase.
This is also relevant for order tracking , other notifications ,event reminders and so on. There's multiple cases that you could actually use messaging and notify your customers about what's happening with your service or what's happening with your product to make it so much easier and simpler for them to interact with you.
Once you've integrated and you have connected to your backend systems and you are allowing your customers to actually complete their processes within the messaging app, make sure that you leverage AI and automation to support customers and increase agent productivity. Remember that using automation is not only about supporting the end customer, it's also about making your agents more proactive. And if you have a system that combines those two together, like Conversocial does, you actually can use the same automated process to support both the users and support the agents.
Let me give you a few examples. This is an example of an integration into a backend system, both the CRM system to bring in the agent profile information, and an order management system to actually see the full order history of the user. What you see to the left is our agent workspace, loved by all of our customers and agents. To the right, you see some extensions that we've built. You can actually integrate any backend system that you have into this side panel and present the agent with everything that they need to resolve the case without having to move to a different window or without having to switch the consumer to a different channel. That's one example of how you can leverage integration, not only for customer service, but also for agent productivity.
The second piece is really leveraging specific automated flows. Let's say you have repetitive tasks that agents hate. It could be fetching a credit card number for example. What that does is it allows the agent, even if they're talking to a user, to send them an automated flow and allow them to complete all of the information. Once they completed all of the information, that goes back into the agent who can see exactly everything the consumer filled out. That's just one of the benefits of using a system which is asynchronous. This is not something that you could do in live chat, or in any live system where you can only have one entity holding the baton.
This is something that is proprietary for Conversocial. We've seen that Agent Assist enables improving agent productivity, reducing costs and increasing customer satisfaction. The last piece that I want to mention today is leveraging AI for increased agent productivity from an auto-complete perspective.
You probably all know auto-complete from your Google email. We've leveraged auto-complete within the confines of a specific brand, and within the confines of a specific agent group, to allow us to present to the user and suggest to them the next sentences and/or next words that they can use. This makes it so much easier and faster on agents.
And not only that, you can actually leverage the knowledge that is being shared within your organization to make it so much easier for the agents to converse with the customers. So when we combine it all together, it's all about leaning into the power of messaging. It's all about going deep. Don't just open up a messaging channel and hope for the best, make sure that you're integrating into backend system, that you are enabling customers to self-serve and when need be, you can switch them to an agent who would have the ability. Remember to make it simple for the consumer.
The last piece is really leveraging AI and automation to support customer and increase agent productivity. We've seen a few examples of how to do that. Once you do these things, make sure that you start promoting. Promote messaging not only on your "contact us" page, but actually promote it within the flow.
If you're looking for people to buy furniture and you want to help them with design ideas, put it in the flow of where the furniture is. Make sure that you embed it into your ads. Make sure you put buttons on your website - replace your live chat with the ability to do Facebook Messenger chat on the website so that it's persistent- so that consumers can go back to it.
And don't be afraid to shut down the phone completely. Right. And focus on those channels because they will bring you the return that you're looking for, both from a productivity standpoint, but also from a customer satisfaction standpoint.
So just a few tips to conclude how to move to messaging. Start by identifying the legacy business processes that forced customers into traditional channels. Drive these processes to be conducted purely via messaging. Make sure that you're integrating, find the integration points that remove the need for channel switching. Seamlessly thread those intents along the customer journey to make it simple for the customer. Enable them to feel like they're at home and comfortable when they're engaging with you.
The last piece- think in terms of customers and conversations, not cases. Staff the agent the right way and make sure that they have everything that they need, all the tools that they need, to actually support your customers. When you do that, you'll see very high returns.
Volaris, one of Conversocial's customers, saw an 83% lower cost to serve per intention compared to one of their best channels which was live chat. Not only that, but they also saw a 19% increase in NPS, which is 10% higher than phone, and higher than the industry standard.
So don't wait - move to messaging.