“We did not choose this date by chance,” explained Geoffrey Boulakia, TSC’s General Manager, EMEA. “We wanted to use this moment [synonymous with re-birth and renaissance] to underline our renewed values and convictions of the agency and to emphasize the importance of the era of conversational business we’re entering. This is why we invited clients to share concrete examples of how we’re building stronger emotions and stronger connections with customers.”
The event was alongside a number of the agency’s closest partners and clients including Facebook and iconic French car brand Citroën.
“All existing ideas of marketing and communication have been turned on their heads,” said Josselin Moreau, TSC’s head of strategic planning during a deep dive into the agency’s values.
They’re a set of convictions that can be read as the playbook for any brand wanting to get closer to its customers in an age where social media is the norm, chatbots are mainstream, messaging is part of nearly everyone’s routine and smart speakers equipped with smart voice assistants are already a fixture in one in three U.S. homes.
As such, brands have to move from a monologue to a dialog but they also must know where their customers are going to be before the first word is spoken.
“The customer is moving faster than you because you can’t change your tools and methods as quickly as he or she can,” continued Moreau. “The notion of digital transformation is already passé. It’s not the future, it’s now. Customers are digital, your competition is digital. It isn’t the future, digital is now.”
Engaging the digital consumer requires openness.
“Transparency is the key,” begins Moreau, pointing to the fact that honesty is now a prerequisite of beginning a customer interaction. “This is how to build relationships and add value.”
Without an open relationship there will be no data; without data, there can be no customer insights.
“Our ability to understand the customer is because we have data and because we have analysis as part of Sitel Group,” said Moreau.
Clarity and transparency were also key to Alexandre Croiseaux’s address. The head of strategic partnerships for Facebook in France used his time at the event to help those present understand the impact of messaging on CX and the things that are crucial to remember if an organization wants to take advantage of this always-on, always-connected channel.
“Today 80 percent of adults use messaging every day,” said Croiseaux. “It’s becoming the best channel for having a conversation. Messaging is instantaneous, direct and personal. Businesses need to ask themselves what they need to do to use this channel.”
The first thing to get absolutely right is what sort of experience you are trying to deliver.
“Keep in mind that messaging can be used at every step of the customer journey,” Croiseaux highlighted. “From discovery to aftersales services. What’s more, it’s a way of connecting other digital channels and devices.”
That’s why it’s crucial to be absolutely clear with users about what a Messenger implementation can do. Customers need to know if it’s a chatbot and if so, how limited the conversations are going to be.
“You must set expectations,” warned Croiseaux. “Otherwise any user frustrations will be amplified.”
So, to avoid losing a customer’s trust, Facebook recommends working with an integration partner so that an experience is sold and scalable and an organization can get the help it needs in promoting the channel and helping customers discover it.
When Citroën began its partnership with TSC to enhance its existing social media activities, greater clarity was also its goal. The French car brand was an early adopter, launching on Facebook in 2010 and building up over 10 million fans in the process.
“We wanted to make sure our presence never became a top-down platform,” Olivier Rubellin, Citroën’s head of social media states. “It needs to be a space for exchanges and transparent conversation.”
Citroën has turned its Facebook presence into a hub for education, information, and entertainment. Visitors have access to an in-depth experience of the technological aspects of each model or they can simply get a flavor of the company’s history and place in the automotive world.
The two companies are now working together to bring a sense of clarity to the Citroën community, using features like interactive videos and content to create a funnel that filters anonymous visitors from those with a higher interest in the brand. The tool helps identify and nurture genuine prospects, letting them spec a car or arrange test drives.
Within the banking sector, the challenge has been to transform the traditional trust-built face-to-face relationship for the digital age. First with online banking, then mobile and now via conversational channels, the process has greatly evolved.
“France is ahead of the curve in that 80 percent of consumers already use online banking, compared with the U.S. where the figure is still less than 70 percent,” explains Stéphane Muscat, Online Banking Head of Delivery for leading French bank LCL. “Now the priority is to look at all channels and to make sure the customer can benefit, rather than experience a new pain point.”
LCL found that using Messenger and a chatbot answered modern consumers’ demand for immediacy of response but, more importantly, provides a way to capitalize on micro-moments.
“Where’s the nearest ATM? Checking your balance immediately before completing a purchase, lending a friend money,” Muscat says of these critical banking moments. “Micro-moments in banking are these little moments of truth where we must respond. Being present in these moments allows the customer to feel accompanied in the fundamentals of the bank customer relationship. This is the key to satisfaction, and the loyalty of our customers.”
But even with the best chatbots or the best omnichannel integration, there is still friction and that will persist until there is an interface “built for the human,” says Muscat.
“Conversation is the most natural and refined way of interacting with a machine,” he continues. “It eliminates the friction between the steps a person needs to take between interactions.”
Muscat, like many others, is excited about the potential benefits that voice applications will deliver. However, the use case must come first: “We are still in the early stages – Amazon Alexa only launched in France in June,” Muscat said. “A voice application would have to deliver the right experience and be genuinely useful for the customer – responding to his needs and simplifying his life.”