Sitel’s The Social Client was featured among the guest speakers invited at Facebook’s exclusive London event devoted to Changing Customer Experience. Alongside Facebook, Everest Group, Axa Insurance, etc., the digital consulting agency spoke to today’s transformative dynamics within customer experience.
Roles and rules are changing fast between brands and consumers, and the ability to keep up will determine whether brands will be part of future conversations.
“It’s time for us to play our customers’ game rather than for them to play ours,” as was underlined by the MC, introducing the day’s schedule: keynotes, hands-on workshops, panel discussions and Q&A – basically an all-in-one immersion into Messenger’s customer experience.
“Being part of the conversation is just half the journey,” highlighted Josselin Moreau, The Social Client’s strategic planner. “The decisive lever will be whether the conversation you create can change the impression you make on today’s consumers,” he said echoing Julien Decot’s, Head of Platform Partnerships, EMEA at Facebook, opening keynote: “the magic of customer experience happens when you manage to change a customer’s mindset from being dissatisfied to absolutely loving your brand.”
Designing the right conversational experience is the next step in digitalizing your customer care, explained Moreau.
“It is no longer enough for brands to shift the customer care relationship from a traditional contact point to an ongoing conversation with their customers, this conversation needs to generate value,” said Moreau. “That’s the ultimate game-changer.”
And this value will depend on a single conversation, over one convergent interface and a perfect alliance of human know-how and technological efficiency.
The eruption of a new economy based on trust, social influence and e-reputation is forcing brands to change their mindset and rethink their business model. If real-time response, effortlessness and reliability are what customers want and expect over all available channels, messaging apps give brands the opportunity to deliver just that.
But beyond mere omnichannel availability, messaging lets brands pursue asynchronous conversations: allowing users to drop and pick up a conversation – without ever losing the relevant context. On top of which its broad range of content – stickers, photos, GIFs, 360° live videos, etc. – reproduce the rich and expressive environment of a personal conversation.
Lightweight, intuitive and uninterrupted, messaging has the added valued of being familiar to customers. Messaging is the preferred cross-generational format, with 65 percent of millennials, Generation Xers and 63 percent of baby boomers using it. It’s the first technology growing to scale that’s touching everybody, as Nielsen’s 2016 Facebook Messaging Survey reports.
In fact, today’s consumers probably can’t remember a time when they interacted differently with their friends. And so this interaction with brands will feel like a natural adoption.
“For consumers, it’s the obvious next step, and for brands messaging converges all points of contact onto one single interface,” revealed Moreau. “No app provides a better cross-device, convergent experience than Messenger: whether you’re navigating on your desktop, smartphone or tablet – and soon whether you’re interacting vocally.”
And no app has the same reach: By 2018, Messenger will have reached and likely exceeded 2 billion users, 56 percent of whom say they expect their use of Messenger to increase, and 53 percent claim they are more likely to shop at a business they can message directly (Source: Nielsen 2016).
Not only is Messenger a favored format among consumers, but through its built-in features (such as geolocation, payment, video and augmented reality) brands can easily and inventively enhance the conversation they have with their customers. The new discovery and extensions tabs, respectively facilitate and accelerate a user’s search for a brand, and let brands join group discussions when solicited.
Powered by ever-more reliable artificial intelligence, automation will, yes, complement human expertise, but will never be able to replace it.
“It will free up space and time to give human expertise, empathy and emotion the place they deserve in customer service, which customers seek out on top of efficiency and immediacy,” noted Moreau. “Ultimately, this will be the added value that will determine the affection your customers develop for your brand. Technology has to be meaningful.
Brands must always relate a technology to a specific objective set within the larger customer journey. Without carefully outlining what it hopes to achieve, who it’s aimed at, when to introduce it and subsequently designing a relevant architecture for the conversation, rolling-out any form of automation, chatbot or AI will run the risk of gadgetry devoid of meaning, or worse, contribute to a user’s dissatisfaction.
“We advocate and implement a 4-phase methodology,” explained Moreau. “Scoping, development, testing and promotional planning. This final phase is what we call ‘Saying hello to the world, ‘in other words: integrating automation into the wider customer ecosystem through the right social ads, activating send-to-messenger when necessary, generating traffic. Once it’s live, we closely follow KPIs in order to constantly revaluate, adjust and enrich the experience. This thorough process is integral to the successful use of automation.”
Hence the crucial importance, not only of keeping customer advisors in the more expert and sensitive responsibilities but of developing a team of bot managers, trainers and AI educators to build and enhance the development and deployment of these technologies, as well as keep enriching them.
Innovative technologies will indeed optimize the experience of the customer. Messenger will make it feel personal. Human beings who are behind the technology, working alongside and giving it a human face, are the ones who will “change” that efficient service into a valuable conversational experience.
“It’s all about timing,” stressed Moreau. “Knowing when to improve the journey through technology and knowing when a human being makes a difference.”
Amazon, for all its 100 percent automation advocacy, has introduced live chat with a human advisor at the end of the purchasing journey. And this combination of humans and technology, with just the right timing, is what raises customer experience from good to great.