7 Ways To Have An Impactful Conversation With Your Consumers

These days, consumers arrive from an array of digital channels during the path-to-purchase journey, but more often than not there is a moment when human interaction is necessary, especially when something goes toes up or for larger purchases such as real estate or a car.

According to Google, “47% of those they surveyed described feeling “frustrated or annoyed” or “more likely to explore other brands” when a call wasn’t picked up. The advent of click-to-call is causing an influx of call volumes, a whopping 70% of prospects hit the call CTA.

Once the button is pressed and an offline interaction begins, the quality of conversation or rate of pick up can make or break a conversion, which is why we have a few suggestions for transforming your communication strategy that will guide your callers to the final stage of their journey and beyond.

1. Follow up

Following up is not chasing or harassment, its courtesy and can improve upsell potential. A post-conversation chat should be filled with a knowledge of the customer (based on their history) and also questions that can help gauge a greater understanding of what they want in their own words.

2. Speed up decision making

Automated workflows can speed up how a caller lands on the right agent based on their context. If a specific answer is required, understanding a prospects movements on a brand website can give the agent a headstart to finding a solution before they even answer the call.

3. Remove friction

Take away the multiple delays associated with IVR systems, no one likes friction in CX especially when the purchase is of high value. Remove pain points for callers by cascading or sending them through a quicker route to the conversation they really need to have.

4. Know the trends

Analyse, analyse, analyse. Conversations with consumers these days come with a ton of context behind them as the research phase almost always starts with a browsing history. Tracking every key measure from these touchpoints can be a useful way to understand the bigger consumer picture and make conversations less about interrogation and more about connection.

5. Understand their data

Knowing every granular detail of where/how/why a consumer has arrived at your doorstep is vital. In some cases, a PPC (pay-per-click) caller is more of a priority than someone who didn’t visit a higher value page or is just casually browsing.

6. Bring them back

B2C industries like automotive and travel know that a missed call is a missed opportunity, especially when considering their high-profit margins. If a consumer’s call isn’t acknowledged it can be detrimental to both company reputation and the bottom line. For mobile workforces, a simple solution is using just that, their mobile.

Missed call notifications in email or SMS form have a knack for dropping call abandonment rates by nearly 80% while ensuring sales teams value callers and proactively pursue them. Sending a callback request SMS to a missed consumer is always favourable on their end if a call isn’t picked up, data from Software Advice shows that 63 per cent” of consumers surveyed preferred callback.

7. Be a human!

This brings us to the last and final point of any consumer-facing conversation, be a human being! Personalisation is the bread and butter of CX lately, we may think we want to speak to robots but the need for just the right amount of empathy is currently outweighing the convenience of chatbots.

A happy medium is the best bet in this scenario, use technology to make the process of getting to the human help easier, now that’s impactful.

Via: Google, Software Advice

Do We Really Want To Talk To Robots: Event Round Up

Freespee’s event; “Do we really want to talk to robots?” was a resounding success. An array of topics were covered by industry experts and GDPR fears were quelled. All in all, an evening of progress.

We started off with office preparations and photographs of the staff amongst the din. Prosecco was poured, and canapes were munched. Guests streamed in and socialised with Freespee team members in our open-plan space.
Eventually, we took our seats to begin the enlightening panel discussion featuring our CEO Anne de Kerchhove, Gumtree/eBay’s Head of Motors Vik Barodia and Freespee co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer Carl Holmquist. The chat focused on AI, trust and the future impact of technology on brand and consumer relationships. Vik also brought up the future of MaaS (mechanics as a service), the gig economy and more.

The first quarter of the conversation covered AI. “It will become less an ‘I need something; therefore, I need to transact,” to a fully immersive experience that says, ‘hey have you thought about this?” and ‘we know what you want,’” said Vik.

He visualised a scenario where artificial intelligence is fully integrated into everyday goings-on.

“I’m amazed by what could one day be real life,” said Vik.

Presently, Barodia defines success in his industry not as predicting what a consumer wants before they want it, but by the building of trust.

“The reason that eBay is so successful is that it enhances the level of trust. eBay was one of the first businesses to introduce ratings. Ratings drive trust and probably the single biggest element of any transaction is trust. We see it on eBay and Gumtree all the time. Buyers are willing to pay more from a trusted seller. Influence comes from trust,” Vik stated.

Speaking of trust, during the Q&A portion, audience members brought up the word on everyone’s lips; GDPR.

One question explored how a post-GDPR world could stifle creativity when justification is now needed for every piece of data captured by marketers.
“I do think we’ll have a period of cleansing, but much of that pre-GDPR data wasn’t based on real relationships, replied Anne de Kerckhove. “We’re going to rebuild on true and trustworthy data and relationships. It’s a painful period, but once the data is clean, we’ll be able to renew our creativity.”

Renewal of creativity in this ever-changing world is something everyone can get onboard with.

“We are not that far away from big names in the digital space disappearing because they have failed to recognise what is happening in the online space, it’s completely cyclical,” Vik added.

Photographs: Howard Sayer 

An Interview With The Brains Behind Our Product And Operations

Product, engineering and operations are our backbone; these teams have helped propel Freespee into a front-running position within the conversational commerce arena. The last few weeks has seen the introduction of new faces and features to our community and platform.
With these launches in mind, we wanted to delve deeper into the production side of what makes Freespee tick. I caught up with our product managers, product marketing manager and head of tech operations to better understand the goings-on behind the scenes.


Product Managers and Product Marketing Manager: Jussi Pekka-Kekki, Carolin Wellering, and Heather Baden.

Product managers and product marketing managers probably have the best idea of what the client wants and know how to execute these requests. They’re creators at the end of the day, bringing together multiple variables to establish a unified product, all under the umbrella of the company vision. No easy task.
Freespee product managers Jussi Pekka Kekki and Carolin Wellering are based in Uppsala and run the operation from Freespee’s Swedish Hub, alongside London HQ-based Product Marketing Manager Heather Baden.

What is the role of product marketing in Freespee?

Heather: Traditionally, our role is to be the translator between product & engineering and sales/marketing. As with sides of the brain, every product marketer will “favour” a side. I lean more towards spending more time and energy with product and engineering – understanding how they operate and their pain points. This helps me in creating a more well-rounded translation to sales.
On a day to day, I work very closely with the product team to understand what is going to be released and when. We meet regularly to understand the detail of the features. I follow what they’re doing in Jira and try to have a general view of where things are before they get close to launch. As a translator, I then take my knowledge from both sides and create content that is technically rich but high level.

How are you involved in releasing a product?

Heather: That’s a pretty broad question. There really is no start or end to launching a new product/feature. There are a couple of key parts to a launch, but the foundation of it is always the technology. I work closely with engineering and product to understand the tech regardless of the size of the product and take that to create content.
The way I do this is through translating the tech into competitive solutions for sales to have an edge. For each release, I communicate the content internally in various ways (from newsletters to full-on training sessions). I’ll also produce externally facing guides and value propositions. One of the initiatives we’re kicking off now is improving our tech documentation, and full Getting Started for developers. It’s really exciting to have various facets of enablement and different audiences to translate to.

How do you approach building a new feature?

Carolin: Usually, it depends a bit where the new request is coming from, it starts with a problem that a client has, and then we think of ways the client can solve it. There is always a lot of useful feedback from clients and success managers. We then define particular and very technical requirements. These instructions are given to the engineers, and they execute. We work in agile, so we get a lot of feedback, a lot of learning by doing. It’s an on-the-go process.
One of the best parts of building a new feature is how everyone contributes to the functionality; everyone is trying to solve the problem.
Probably one of the most challenging aspects is the stakeholder management; it can be a bit of a challenge to evaluate how long a solution will take, sometimes we don’t know where we will end up. We don’t know the direct path, for sales and the success managers.

What has been your greatest achievement so far as a Freespee Product Manager?

Carolin: How we kicked off as a team was quite smooth. I tried to provide a vision for the team that we felt responsible for, making sure that everyone stays symbiotic. For me, the team always comes first. I at least always try to make sure everyone can contribute to where we want to go. I don’t like to dictate where we want to go. If its contradicting my opinion it’s even better. Freedom of communication in every aspect is vital.
With regards to product, I’d say a significant achievement has been building the roadmap. Overall, I hope that with Freespee, we help customers/clients better evaluate the calls coming in and the conversations they have with their customers. Freespee can show them the value in these conversations.

What is the role of product manager in a cloud communications platform like ours?

Jussi: Well, the first part is to be the advocate for both the customer and the consumer. The consumers are the broader audience; they’re on a website looking for a car, for us that person is important, but it’s the customer or client who pays our bills. They serve the consumer, but since there are millions of consumers its difficult to talk to them directly. So we talk to our customers to understand how they can better provide for their consumer base.
Our role is to interpret the signals and messages we get from both parties, all over the world. We sort of create answers to problems.

What has it been like developing the product?

Jussi: Challenge-wise, at some point you realise how little you know. We’re going full speed ahead testing solutions, but sometimes you forget how fast you’re going. We are constantly building it; it feels like it’s never going to be finished. It’s the toughest part, you want to get something done, but before that’s done you’re already working on the next thing, you don’t have the time to enjoy your accomplishments.
On the positive side, we have endless amount of innovative energy where the team is constantly looking to solve a problem. We’re in a nice place where we have the potential to grow the company and product. We have so many more ideas that we can’t wait to implement.


Head of Tech Operations: Peter Hedman

Peter was recently promoted to head of tech operations at Freespee, fronting the Tech operations squad which includes Alaa Rahimi and Håkan Lund. Tech operations is the foundation of our functionality – without operations our infrastructure would cease to exist! Peter gave me a bit more insight.

How do you plan to approach your new position? What does it involve?

Peter: It involves offloading Niklas [Malmgren] with all the operations work he did before becoming CTO. I will have a closer look into the operations team. Hopefully, I can develop a better understanding of what the team is able to do and chat about how I want to work towards each sprint.
The most enjoyable part about taking this role will be the opportunities to change and shape tech operations to my vision. Since I started here, I’ve had a vision of how to make things run as automatic as possible.

We recently moved to AWS (Amazon Web Services), what will this transition offer Freespee?

Peter: It means that we don’t have to worry about potential hardware failures and we have more space to keep expanding. With AWS we haven’t had a single hardware failure, which means everything is covered in the infrastructure. AWS probably has millions of hard drives up for grabs, they likely have hard drive failures every second, but you’d never know, its resolved so quickly and allows us to keep growing.

How does that benefit us?

Peter: It improves our ability to stay online as much as possible. Not even Amazon claims to be able to provide 100% online services, but I haven’t seen any hardware related downtime since I started here a year ago.

What would you say is the most useful tool you work with?

Peter: Jira is probably our most important tool. Before that, I could not live without the text editor Vim.

Greatest achievement so far?

Peter: Implanting the Saltstack software. We’ve gone from installing three servers (for example MySQL), over many hours to getting the job done in minutes.

A Few Integrations Aimed At Improving Customer Relationships

Meeting customer expectations during a purchase journey now require segmenting and analysing a large pool of data to create a workflow that will hopefully nurture leads and make ideal use of a consumer’s time. Luckily the technology is there to manage these intricacies for digital enterprises. We’ve touched on integrations before and this round we’re looking at a few that can step up your CRM game.

Maximise your advertising lifecycle with cross-platform measurement

Making an impact is the basis of every campaign but managing the multiple platforms used by consumers can confuse the metrics a bit, leading to a short-sighted campaign. Cross-platform measurement systems have revolutionised how businesses understand their various datasets. Before this introduction, it was difficult to keep up with consumer behaviour as it nimbly adapted to the changing technologies. However, platforms like comScore have altered the campaign process starting with data scale first and going from there. “We believe that scale drives quality,” comScore CEO Fulgoni told MediaPost. “You can’t start with a panel and build up on it.” Scale is vital especially in a world where multiple screens are utilised at one time, by measuring the overall impact of a fragmented digital media environment, it’s easier to build an ironclad campaign.
Learn more about Freespee’s comScore integration here.

Become a conversion hero

Optimising a website for higher conversion rates is a very complicated way of describing how to make a site desirable to droves of click-happy people — whether it be buying something or spending a length of time researching a car. Conversions are when customers follow through, creating a desirable space for this to happen is a priority for most online-centric businesses. WPO stats found that 53% of visits to mobile sites are abandoned after 3 seconds according to research from Google’s DoubleClick. Technology offered by a platform such as Webtrends Optimize uses both A/B testing and more in-depth multivariate testing to boost the customer’s experience across multiple screens and units. The testing is whittled down to even the colour button an audience prefers clicking. In this digital age, figuring out what your customers want is based on more than just a gut feeling, delving into the incidentals of their online interactions is essential to upping that conversion rate.
Learn more about Freespee’s WebTrends integration here.

Figure out where your digital spend is most effective

Knowing whether programmatic advertising has any punch is down to the numbers, but often with a highly competitive digital environment plus separation of online and offline data pools, it can be difficult to achieve an accurate bottom line.
Additionally, “You’re fighting for customers on a digital battlefield where Google and Facebook command nearly 80% of internet time and over 60% of online ad dollars,” says Marin Software. With this in mind elevating advertisement performance is the first step towards victory, delivering dynamic campaigns targeted at specific customers can make it easier to understand where the revenue derived from those ads is coming from. Custom-made algorithms can automatically adjust set budgets per top performing audiences, helping brands save money and refocus on lucrative client pools.
Learn more about Freespee’s Marin Software integration here.


These are only a few of our integrations up for grabs. Check more of Freespee’s multiple integrations on our website.
Via: MediaPost, The Drum, WPO Stats.

Exploring The Diverse World Of System Integrations

The concept of integrations in software or iPaaS (integration platform as a service), can be confusing to anyone outside of a technological background, after scouring the internet it is pretty tricky to find what one needs on the topic explained in layman’s terms. 
Most cloud-based businesses work with a wide range of applications and platforms to form a suite which keeps their day-to-day activities running at peak optimisation. The way an enterprise bunches their existing digital arrangement together is essential, that’s where integration friendly platforms are very useful.
“For example, a human resources applicant tracking system is a standalone product, but most are integrated with payroll providers, background assessment tools and interviewing platforms. This [system] creates a full suite by combining the best provider in these three industries,” explains Forbes.
Recently, most digital enterprises favour a platform that can adapt to multiple integrations; it’s simply easier to keep all data in one place while following similar procedures – plus its becoming the norm.
“The iPaaS market is growing because more [enterprise architect] professionals see dynamic integration as the best solution to integrate cloud-based systems of engagement — like Marketo or Salesforce — with their cloud or on-premises system of records,” wrote Henry Peyret, a principal analyst at Forrester who penned “The Forrester Wave: iPaaS for Dynamic Integration, Q3 2016 as reported by Jessie Scardina of Tech Target.
There are multiple terms cropping up as the market continues to dominate within the industry, we’ve laid out a few definitions below to help flesh out this somewhat complicated topic.

Native Integrations

Simply put, a native integration is a program that has been developed for use on a particular platform or device. It’s usually an API (Application Programming Interface) that can adapt to another system and work within it, immersing itself into the process. Without this handy creation, an enterprise would have to switch between multiple modes – such as their marketing automation or call centre, losing the cross-channel perspective of a customer’s journey.

Cloud Integrations

Cloud integrations encourage multiple programs to share the information they collect in the ever mysterious cloud. It works because, in the fast-paced world of commerce, it’s much easier to stay one step ahead with real-time data. Cloud integrations aid in this by maintaining data integrity and avoiding data silos — which are never good.

Data Silos

This brings us to data silos, which can be problematic. A data silo is a repository of stagnant information that is controlled by one department and often kept apart from the rest of a company’s data cache. They are elusive and usually erupt from legacy technology. One solution for this problem is implementing a platform that can integrate it all into one system.
 

 


As we move further into relying on technology to manage and solve both professional and personal management issues, its good to know that there is a digital progression happening along with our needs. Who knew integrating could be so simple?
Via: Forbes, Tech Target, Bedrock Data.

Here's How To Strengthen A Brand's Verbal Identity

On average businesses in the UK spend around £116,000 on “tone of voice” development, meaning that brands are just as interested in defining the way they sound as refining how they look.
One company that has aced verbal branding is Apple. A substantial portion of people on earth can identify the voice of Apple’s intelligent personal assistant Siri, whose original American female voice is borrowed from flesh and blood human and not whipped up in a computer. Apple recognised our need for human interaction, even if we’re only talking to our smartphone.
That reliance on smartphones is increasing; upcoming generations are leaning more into self-service than ever before. But, for more demanding queries or more expensive purchases, callers want to hear another person.
So what does this mean for the future of verbal customer service? “There’s so much noise in the world, and you’ve got a very small window to initiate a conversation with people. If people aren’t interested in what you have to say, they’ll go elsewhere,” Fred Perry’s brand director Rob Gaitt told Marketing Week.
Fully utilising the time a company interacts with customers after initiating a conversation is a hurdle for any enterprise, because no two callers are alike. Here are some ways to make a brand’s voice heard.

Making the call-centre standout

A caller emotionally connects with a brand the moment they pick up the phone to interact with an agent. No pressure. Robotic legacy tech just isn’t going to cut it anymore; callers want to know that if they’re making the jump to put receiver to ear — it’s going to be worth the time. Every word should be on point. “[It’s] 80% good writing principles and 20% [what] we can own in our writing style that makes us distinctive,” explained Jon Hawkins, former head of brand language at BT and founder of Honk to Marketing Week.

Get a head of brand language

Having someone’s single vision guide a brand’s voice isn’t a bad idea. Brand identity must stay consistent to maintain caller loyalty. Humans, man; we’re all far more comfortable with the familiar, and the best organisations know that.
“Sixty percent of global consumers with Internet access prefer to buy new products from a familiar brand rather than switch to a new brand,” says Nielsen.

Sophisticated analytics

After engagement, understanding the metrics behind what worked or didn’t between caller and agent is essential data in this algorithmic age. The future of CX means that content finds consumer and not the other way around, integrating the right technology into a verbal communication system is a great way to ensure that no discourse data is wasted.
 


 
The whole concept of “verbal identity” is still relatively new, it was only introduced into the marketing sphere some fifteen years ago by marketing consultant and author John Simmons, yet its become mighty useful for brand growth since. Its success could be attributed to the simple idea behind it; what do you want to say?
Via: Forbes, Marketing Week, Nielsen

The Underestimated Value Of Conversational Data

Taking a buyer from browsing to highly engaged is the goal of most marketers out there. Increased customer engagement represents a revenue increase of 23% for a brand, but in the age of tech-savvy prospects utilising multiple channels, how do you keep them coming back?

Of course staying ahead of the technological curve is a priority, according to Marketing Tech, “a survey of Fortune 500 marketing professionals carried out by LiveWorld, 52% of respondents thought that advances in technology would allow them to engage in meaningful two-way conversations with their customers.”

However piquing the interest of a buyer is something that requires a strategy of both personalisation and modern tech, which is where the often undervalued power of conversational data comes in. Conversational data is an indicator of how a brand’s customers are engaging with a conversational interface, be it chat, text or call.

Its value lies in the fact that it analyses real-time interactions – “with conversational analytics, for example, you can single out a target demographic or user to see whether they’re talking to a bot or application, then view every step of the conversation as it’s happening,” says Chatbots Magazine. It’s a key segmentation tool, enabling a brand or marketer to understand their buyer base on an intimate level. Thanks to data pioneers like Google, any business from large enterprises to small startups can access this bounty of information, evening the commerce playing field.

The Google Analytics Shift 

By far, a leader in the data game. The platform is now integrated into more than half of the websites on earth. It’s also altered how many marketers perceive their purpose — taking them from brand developers to keen data analysts and innovators. Google has done more for the planet than just bring us the Google Doodle. It has also brought the buyer to the forefront.
Where Google Analytics particularly stands out is in its endeavours to create an omniscient view of the customer journey, providing concrete evidence of their digital path, using Analytics 360 which includes features like enterprise analytics, tagging, site optimisation, data visualisation, market research, attribution, and audience management. Google claims to consider the current multi-screen environment that both marketers and their pool face.

Check out more about Freespee’s Google Analytics integration here. 
Despite this reputation, It has been accused in the past of disregarding offline channels and providing inaccurate information that, none-the-less, marketers have come to rely upon.

“Rightly or wrongly, the startup world cares mainly about direct-response metrics — and that is reflected in the “Goals,” and “Events” triggers in Google Analytics,” wrote TechCrunch contributor Samuel Scott.

Thanks to its recent collaboration with CRM platform Salesforce, that critique is now somewhat silenced. Whether naysayers like it or not, by the end of last year, “tablets and smartphones comprised 87 percent of the globally connected device market,” meaning that to keep ahead of the pace requires an understanding of the online sphere and a greater focus on the customer’s say so, especially concerning their interactions with the brand both online and offline. Google seems to be onboard with this by coveting the data gleaned from those buyer encounters and with this partnership, there is no doubt that ‘offline’ conversational data, namely call data, is aimed to become a hot commodity.


The advent of web analytics tools like GA has arguably done more to help than hinder the ecosystem, though some would disagree with its intention. Still, the way in which we communicate continues to elevate and technology seeps into our every day. Hopefully with Google’s help, the monetary power of conversation will continue to rise in value.
Via: TechCrunch, Chatbots Magazine, Marketing Tech, City Segment

What Do Real Estate Customers Want From Their Call Experience?

Cold calling potential customers in real estate is quickly becoming an old and wasteful practice, InsideSales.com discovered that only 5 – 10% of those contacted pick up the phone. To combat this trend, connecting to a fruitful market these days may require an intimate understanding of their needs.

The real estate market in Europe will see a difference in priority this year, “from real estate as a financial asset, to real estate as a product and more significantly, to real estate as a service,” according to Price Waterhouse.

With that in mind, considering the ‘industry as a service’ could mean disrupting the traditional model and aligning with customer service more than ever before, many firms are moving forward into the future by adapting this focus into emerging technologies. In some instances, even removing the need for a human agent entirely and creating a custom and seamless experience specific to a user.

Purple Bricks

London-based online platform Purple Bricks offers the full services of a regular brokerage for a flat fee of around £2300, allowing a lead to either sell, rent or buy a property from beginning to end, all online. To do this, Purplebricks offers features such as professional photography, a 3-D virtual tour, plus listing the property on all real estate websites.

This strategy goes hand in hand with the results of a recent survey conducted by CEB (Gartner) Global which discovered that 57.7% of customers want to do things themselves. Additionally, If they run into an issue that they are unable to solve and reach out to a company, 59% hate being transferred more than once by a customer service line.

A Change In Tactic

Cumulatively, it seems that what a real estate customer wants from their contact experience is a personal, yet fast process. The statistics support this, when real estate firms text their clients instead of calling them, they see 90% of those contacted both opening and responding to texts within 5 minutes.
The right software can also be a game changer, finding the right tech that can segment a database by customer demands and allow the agent (whether virtual or flesh and bone) to know precisely who they are talking to could put a dent in high call abandonment figures.

“In general, the real estate market is being disrupted by many people, and I think that many of us, as a company, we expect a lot. We are going after the same war,” PurpleBricks US competitor Reali CEO Amit Haller said to CNBC. “We want to change things for the consumer.”

Changing consumer experiences doesn’t necessarily mean throwing out the old model. It’s more about integrating new technology that can adapt to the needs of your buyer base. In this climate, what customers need more than anything is an easier route to attaining a property, with clear communication through the whole process.
Via: PWC Global, BoomTown!, CNBC, CEB(Gartner).

This Is An Online Marketplace’s Biggest Challenge

Digital marketplaces, both big and small, face a common problem – the chicken and egg quandary that comes with high demand from both buyers and sellers. Behemoths like eBay, Facebook and Fiverr each tackle their own challenges when it came to both inciting and maintaining activity on their forums. In fact, a few well-known brands even faked it till they made it.

“Services marketplaces put up fake projects to show activity. Steve Sammartino talks of how he seeded Rentoid.com by essentially buying the initial items himself and renting them out (though he refers to it as “Inventing Demand”, when actually he was seeding supply,” writes Pipes to Platforms.

However, once the deception springs a significant audience of both buyers and sellers, segmenting and maintaining a smooth purchase process to meet revenue targets takes a certain level of finesse.

The problem with having too much of a good thing is that it is very easy to tip the scales, especially on the buyer side of the agreement. “Buyers who are unhappy with the product or service one of the sellers provides will typically direct their ire toward the marketplace, instead of the respective seller,” claims Entrepreneur.

Sometimes its the seller who causes the ripple, if a once-faithful seller leaves a marketplace, the vast buyer base they accumulated is then left aimless without a place to land.

No marketplace wants to leave their brand at the mercy of their seller’s reputation.

A Few Solutions

The common denominator in every instance usually involves balancing the ecosystem by taking a closer look at CX for both buyers and sellers. Automotive marketplace TrueCar saw a share price “nosedive from $24 in August 2014 to $4 in 2015,” due to an alienation of their sellers according to Yapstone. “Losing dealerships meant fewer choices for the consumer and higher prices for car buyers in the TrueCar network. Ultimately everyone in TrueCar’s marketplace ecosystem – buyer and seller – felt the burn.”

Fortunately, TrueCar learned from this slip-up and introduced changes to their seller relationships, including dealerships in their advertising. Their share price rose back to $21USD in 2017. 

Buyer-wise, CX is more multifaceted and involves building both trust and expectation. Both of these facets can be improved through reliable communication. If a buyer knows that their queries will be received and dealt with in a personal manner, it reflects their overall ethos which can lead to iron-clad loyalty.

Giant marketplace eBay found a way to fix this issue by igniting a 7-day call service for top buyers and sellers in 2009. According to AdAge, the brand saw an increased net promoter score and more activity from top buyers than ever.

Today, eBay has found a way to maintain expectations. “Companies like Alibaba and eBay are successful because they have been able to communicate to buyers that when a product or service defect exists, it is the factory or seller, not the platform, that is responsible,” writes Entrepreneur.

Overall, the chicken and egg problem will always be a bee in the bonnet of marketplace growth, but the evidence suggests there are innovative ways around it, sometimes all it requires is a bit of synergy.

Via: Yapstone, Pipes to PlatformsVentureBeat, AdAge, Entrepreneur.

IVR To AI: What CX Could Look Like In The Future

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates

Frankly, IVR or Interactive Voice Response has become inefficient, mostly due to a changing of the technological tides. “If a caller has a bad IVR experience, more than 80% won’t ever use that company again,” writes Conversational Receptionists. 

As customer’s standards evolve alongside technology, so does their impatience and lack of interest in waiting in call queues. Since companies are unable to sufficiently engage their callers while they wait, alternative technologies like cloud contact centre solutions are quickly replacing them. While IVR has been in the social consciousness since the seventies, can it provide what the modern customer now requires?

The answer here may entail a handover from legacy tech like IVRs to more adaptive AI and cloud systems, where there’s more potential for personalised experiences.

“Companies are finding that systems meant to last decades can’t sufficiently handle the pressures of a next-gen, digital business ecosystem. AI has opened the door to vast new CX capabilities, yet most companies struggle to realize the technology’s full potential because of a dependency on legacy hardware and hierarchical architecture,” says Avaya.

CX before Siri

Computer telephony integration hasn’t been in existence that long as it was only in the eighties that IVR hardware became affordable for most companies. In the early 1990s, CTI quickly replaced DTMF signaling. By the 2000s, it was common to expect a robotic direct, open-end or mixed response prompt at the other end of a customer service call.

Historically, one of the most prolific users of IVR has been banks, as they rely on the system for customer engagement within a 24/7 cycle. However, the wait on the phone while being blasted with music has become the bane of many banking customer’s experiences. This has led to banks enacting a move into bot-based interaction.

“For customers, chatbots are a faster, more hassle-free way to accomplish necessary banking tasks like getting account updates. For banks, chatbots reduce the number and length of customer service calls, leading to reduced customer care costs,” writes Keith Armstrong from Abe AI.

 

The future of CX

These days a successful customer experience is inextricably linked to increasing revenue for brands in the race for customer loyalty.

As IVRs lose their competitive edge, largely driven by their contribution to higher abandonment (more than 40%), alternatives have risen.

In a world where we speak to virtual assistants named Alex and Siri, customers and now brands expect the same level of dynamic tech elsewhere.

So what does the future look like for CX? Firstly, IVR is probably not going to make it. While it served its purpose and segmented the masses, it is unable to deliver the kind of personal touch that cloud platforms, with a bit of help from AI, can produce. These days customer data is as good as gold and brands need concise analytics to reach that quarterly goal. Features like multi-database analytics, trigger messaging and predictive routing all fall under the umbrella of cloud communication, but are far beyond the capabilities of the IVR.

 

As the artificial integrates into every moment of our lives, keeping up with the pack is necessary for brands to grow exponentially — no-one likes being the last one in the queue.

Via: Conversational Receptionists, Abe AI, Avaya, Forrester.