You probably don’t need me to tell you that the pandemic has caused a dramatic shift in how we do business. But do you know just how dramatic a shift we’re talking about?
At the height of COVID-19, e-commerce saw 10 years of growth in just 90 days, with a whopping 84% of consumers moving their shopping online.
Brands are now actively expanding their global footprint, knowing that they can no longer rely on traditional marketing methods like advertising to grow. They need to deal with unprecedented challenges head-on if they’re going to continue to effectively attract, interact with, and retain loyal customers.
And today, that means focusing on the interactions between brands and customers. We know that CX has become a top differentiator online, and brands that invest in a better customer experience are seeing the greatest returns.
Success of CX Interactions and Behaviors
We can see the truth in this when we examine the automation success of Wave Financial. In just a year, Wave saw a 5X return on investment using a brand interactions platform to handle customer inquiry spikes and leverage conversational AI to strategically improve their CX.
I can say with confidence, a killer CX strategy is one that harmonizes brand interactions across the entire customer journey. To win customers, you need to create the kind of meaningful connection people are craving in the post-COVID world by infusing every conversation with empathy and emotion. And you need to do it at scale.
As customer behaviors change, CX leaders would be wise to grow as well, with new standards of excellence and a modern approach to CX.
How? With a powerful and intelligent AI platform that prioritizes better brand interactions. Now is the time to make the changes you need, in both technology and strategy, to meet and exceed customer expectations. Let’s explore how industry-leading brands are doing this.
1. Embracing the hybrid model: Humans and robots are friends, not foes
There’s often a misconception that CX automation replaces human jobs, and this has caused apprehension for CX leaders. Truth is, the more you integrate conversational AI into everyday business, the more comfortable your customers will become using this technology.
That is to say, automation is meant to complement your CX effort — not replace it — by offering consumers a first line of support that allows them to swiftly solve problems, find products, and update their accounts. And when their inquiries require a human touch, conversational AI can provide a direct hand-off to an agent, who is equipped with the context they need to deliver a standout customer experience.
The result is more fulfilled, less stressed agents and reps, more valuable conversations with customers, and data-backed improvements and optimization. Essentially, better brand interactions, which result in a much improved CX.
The proof is in the pudding. Shapermint’s automation-first strategy has resulted in a 50% increase of sales facilitated by live agents, making their engagement with customers that much more valuable.
And this is exactly what fast-growing companies need to scale, especially as more customers flock to their websites to make their most important purchases. This was certainly the case for the product design platform, InVision.
When InVision’s growth outpaced their support efforts, their agents were inundated with tickets that required immediate attention. They needed a solution that would free up agents’ time by diverting and containing tickets without having to scale the support team. Adding an automated brand interaction layer to the frontline of their CX was crucial to meeting and exceeding customer expectations. InVision’s conversational AI now empowers web visitors and customers to access their knowledge base in an intuitive chat window, answering common, repetitive queries and allowing agents to support more complex tickets. As a result, they are automating and containing 83% of brand interactions, deflecting anywhere between 600-700 tickets a week.
2. Leveraging automation = accurate and predictable results
To get the most out of your brand interactions, you need AI that goes beyond human-to-system conversations. This is referred to as Natural Language Processing (NLP)—the ability to program computers to process and analyze natural language data.
You want to look for a platform that uses Natural Language Understanding (NLU), a dimension of NLP that focuses on actually understanding human language by matching input text to a knowledge model. Together, NLP and NLU are foundational to creating exceptional conversational user experiences. So when a customer asks the conversational AI a question, it can accurately interpret the question and populate the chat with an answer drawn from the knowledge base.
Platforms that do this best integrate content from existing CMS systems right into the platform, and then, into the chat, giving customers immediate access to answers and recommendations. The ability for AI to accurately predict and respond to customer intent — and enable inquiry containment and customer self-service — empowers your agents to develop deeper, revenue-driving relationships with customers. So was the case for Balsam Hill.
Balsam Hill’s automated brand interactions strategy allows customers to easily access the information they’re looking for—be it videos, FAQ articles, tutorial guides, and more—which decreased live chat volumes by 30%, and helped their agents provide a more careful and empathetic service.
And what do I mean by “empathetic” service?
3. Applying hyper-personalization by way of empathy
Everyone wants to feel seen and cared about. And that’s never been truer than today. Customers now expect customized, tailored brand interactions, and hyper personalization is what will set you apart. Every interaction has to be consistent, true to your brand’s promise, and customer data-driven.
To create lasting emotional connections, brands need to focus on unifying sales, marketing, product, and support teams by centralizing customer data and brand interactions in one place. If you’ve been wondering how to get a 360° view of each customer, this is the way to do it. Using customers’ unique history interacting with your brand, you can leverage data to personalize the entire customer journey, not just one section of it.
Take Indigo for example. In 2019, Indigo diversified its delivery network from a single nationwide carrier to eight carriers of both national and regional options. The expansion made it understandably difficult for them to get a timely, centralized view of delivery performance, and this required them to focus their efforts on improving the customer experience around order delivery.
Integrating their choice brand interactions platform with Convey, Indigo now provides ongoing notifications to customers as packages reach key points in their delivery journey, and customers can track packages in real-time, giving them to-the-minute visibility and reassurance and reducing the number of costly WISMO (“where is my order?”) inquiries to live customer service representatives.
For those of us who are laser-focused on CX, designing your brand interactions around what your customers are going through in the moment, is the shift customers are demanding. It’s the difference between considering what you want them to do versus what you can do for them — and the key is showing empathy.
If you want your customers to stick with you until the end, use all the data that’s available to you to personalize digital conversations in a way that’s actually meaningful. The goal is to make it all about the customer — not the company. And that requires an intelligent AI solution that makes it easy to show individual empathy on a grand scale.
By making more confident, data-backed decisions, you can improve conversion and exponentially impact the metrics that matter most. Kustomer’s VP of Growth says it best:
4. Anticipating customer needs and providing proactive CX
When thinking about the shift to proactive brand interactions, I’m compelled to share one of my favourite quotes by Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one most adaptable to change.” Shifting your focus to how you can enhance each and every interaction your brand has with your customers is the essence of the opportunity in automation and conversational AI.
With a human-first approach, it’s logistically impossible to expect agents to have contextual data and customer information at their fingertips all at once and wait for the right trigger to manually send out a proactive message — especially at scale. With a digital-first, automation-first approach, you can. And this is an incredibly important point of differentiation.
With proactive CX, customers feel valued and that the brand has their best interests at heart — and that builds trust and loyalty, allowing you to hold on to customers for longer. Loyalty and retention are the keywords here, because that’s what will drive revenue.
And what’s a proactive brand interactions model’s best friend? Using customer data to take insightful action and anticipate your customer’s next move.
5. Aligning ACX with business goals using a data-driven approach
As you think about your own brand’s automated customer experience (ACX®) strategy, it’s important to understand exactly how automation is working to ladder up to bigger business goals, or as I like to call it, your North Star. Arming your brand with a platform that can easily define success metrics, track them within a dashboard, and optimize according to the insights revealed is what will set your CX apart, and keep your company following its shining brand promise.
You not only need to define, track, and measure success, you need the freedom to experiment easily, iterate quickly, and optimize with agility. With this, you can confidently build and create more meaningful brand interactions at scale.
This means measuring custom goals like demos booked, leads captured, forms completed, and sales escalations, just to name a few.
One thing I’ve learned is that you should never assume what people want, be that your closest friends, family members, and in this case, your customers. It is imperative that you take a step back to analyze what works and what doesn’t, your big wins and momentary setbacks, to enhance and optimize your next steps.
To set your brand apart from the competition, choose a platform that allows you to bid farewell to the guesswork. Your best bet to use the results of A/B testing to create multiple versions of an answer, flow or proactive campaign, show the variants to different segments of customers at the same time, and then measure and compare the performance of each variant.
Your brand has a choice, meet your customers where they are or run the risk of falling behind. It’s my hope that you seize the day and transform the way you engage by investing in better brand interactions. Your customers will thank you for it.