Hack: Lazy Customer Service Tips To Get The Most Loyal Customers

One of the keys to maintaining a thriving business is a steady customer base. The Pareto principle states that 80% of business comes from only 20% of customers. This exemplifies the importance of your customer loyalty. Add to this the fact that the cost of attracting new customers is almost 6x’s more expensive and you have a powerful incentive to keep that core group of customers happy.

If your business’s goal is to live long and prosper, then any efforts toward building customer loyalty will certainly pay off. Following are 7 tips to increase and maintain greater customer loyalty.

Importance Of Customer Service in Customer Retention

1. Stand For Something

Customers are more likely to ignore you if your company doesn’t stand for anything. Research from the Corporate Executive Board that included 7,000 consumers from across the U.S. found that of those consumers who said they had a strong relationship with a brand, 64 percent cited shared values as the primary reason. If you want loyal customers, you need create real connections with them. What do you stand for?

2. Communicate with Customers

Whether it’s an email newsletter, a monthly flier, a reminder card for a tuneup, or a holiday greeting card, set up a system for reaching out to the customers you already have. Dedicate time to creating and maintaining a database of contact information, including phone, email, and snail mail addresses. If there’s a social media element to your business, invite people to your page or website and keep that online element fresh.

3. Commit to Quality Service

Go above and beyond your customer’s’ expectations. Your product knowledge will engender confidence and trust and enable you to anticipate their questions, focus on their needs and guide you both to an appropriate solution to their situation. It’s almost impossible to ask too many questions of your customers. Once you know what they want, you will be able to deliver the right product at the right time. In simplest terms: Listen to your customers and go that extra mile. Listening to customers also often enables you to make suggestions about your services and products the customer hasn’t thought about and they will appreciate your knowledge and your expertise to help them resolve their needs.

4. Courtesy and Respect

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You know how you like to be treated when you’re the customer. We all like to be accorded courtesy and treated as a sensible adult. You NEVER argue with a customer. Even if you know your customer is wrong, resolve the sales question or service issue quickly and in their favor and you’ve made a friend. Research shows that helping a customer resolve his or her issue results in continued business and likely makes a customer for life. Repeat business, not to mention word-of-mouth referrals, is the lifeblood of bottom lines

5. Be helpful even if your business can’t help them

If you can’t get your customer what they want, offer to help them find it elsewhere. It lets them know that you are willing to help without expecting anything in return. That unselfish gesture will make you stand tall in your customer’s’ eyes and will have them return next time.

6. Train Your Employees Thoroughly

Your employees are the face of your company, and training can empower them to make your company prosper. Training sessions should be a positive experience; boring training sessions are a waste of time and money and foster a negative attitude toward the company.

Encourage your employees to engage in training and explain how it will help them on the job and why it’s good for business. An excellent way to teach is on-the-job training, which facilitates on-the-spot demonstration of best practices.

7. Follow Up With Your Customers

No matter what the product or service you have sold a customer, you can be assured that they will appreciate it if you follow up in a couple of days to see how it’s working out. And it may lead to further business and more customers when your attention to detail and customer service is passed on by a happy customer.

The Art of Customer Retention

Customer service is a never ending task that will continue to build your brand loyalty. Customer Service is a long term commitment to customer satisfaction. It’s time to re-think how you engage and interact with your customers. There are many tactics, but no shortcuts. The tactics above should hopefully give you some fresh ideas for approaching retention, but they’re not a cure-all. Your product and service will do most of the heavy lifting in keeping customers loyal, and there are no shortcuts for that.

While pleasing customers with superior customer service is important, don’t forget to align your customer service goals to your business goals! There’s no point if you’ve got good brand image, if you don’t use it to your advantage! Realign with the Customer Service Goals template.

5 Proofs That Good Customer Service is the Reason Your Business Flourishes

These days, offering a great product or service, even if it’s at the best price, may not be enough to win and retain customers. The modern customer has come to expect excellence in customer service and it seriously impacts their purchasing decisions. For instance, research shows 55% of consumers are willing to pay more for a guaranteed good experience. And companies are on the hook for providing that good experience, given that it’s six to seven times more expensive for companies to win new customers than keeping existing ones. Good customer service pays.”

Request a FREE Conversational Software demo and learn effective customer service.

Woveon, a software customer service startup, realizes the value that your customer service provides and how important it is to keep a flourishing business. Woveon is an easy-to-use online application providing businesses a centralized location to manage their customer channels, such as social media, emails and phone calls. Using machine learning, social listening, a wide breadth of data, and a clean user interface, Woveon helps prioritize inquiries, identify valuable customers, and suggest personalized content. It simplifies online customer relations and makes businesses more efficient in managing the touchpoints they have with customers. We strive to ensure businesses can scale and respond back to all their customer enquiries.

These 5 Aspects of Customer Service Prove the Importance of Good Customer Service

1. Customer Loyalty

stick with me sayings led lights on the wall

Customer loyalty is one of the key features to successful business. When a customer is loyal, they will keep buying products, turning into more and more revenue. But how does a company identify and keep these customers happy? With Woveon, identifying important customers and helping with their every need is easy! Woveon has created AI (Artificial Intelligence) programs that identify businesses-valued customers in multiple ways. Say someone has shopped at an e-commerce website multiple times and has a great buying history but has now run into some trouble. If they contact the store via multiple channels such as social media or email, a representative from the business can pull up their information and understand they are a valued customer. They can focus on their problems more quickly, and this keeps up customer satisfaction.

2. Knowledgeable Staff

happy male and a female bartender

Nothing is more frustrating than calling customer service and feeling more apt than the “resourceful” representative. This is why it is so important to have knowledgeable staff who don’t just stick to a script and set of instructions. Your employees should be able to problem solve on their own. In order to do this, one should hire people who show interest in their business and understand its products. However, having knowledge on more than just the product is important. For smaller businesses, getting to know your customers and being able to talk with them more on a personal level can be very important. With Woveon’s technology, this is a walk in the park. Woveon’s recorded conversations not only help with consistency, but it can also help a customer service rep get to know the client more by reviewing past conversations. Although this may not apply to all businesses, small to mid-sized companies can really benefit from having personable customer service reps who are extremely knowledgeable about their product and clients. So before hiring any applicant, make sure he/she is enthusiastic about the product or service the company provides. 

3. Online Marketing and Social Media

social media online marketing customer service

Most people don’t associate online marketing with customer service, but with so many online interactions going on between customers today marketing teams and customer service work hand in hand. Woveon has the ability to simplify and better market your customer service. With so many different social media platforms, it can be hard for companies; however, integrating all channels onto a single page makes it extremely easy to keep track of all customers conversations.

Try these 5 Creative Ways You Can Use Customer Service to Amp Up Your Online Marketing!

Companies should see social media as a huge opportunity when it comes to advertising and customer service. People contact companies over Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram all the time. Just the other week, I was on a United Airlines flight, and I had tweeted at them. They responded asking me how my flight was going within minutes. This is a great example of how customer service over marketing channels is so important. It shows to their followers how much they are invested in their customers and that they truly care. This also shows that the companies are up to date when it comes to interacting with customers. They are open to change and customers want to see companies that embrace change like they do.a

4. Customer Apologies

adorable dog

Everyone makes mistakes, some you can control, others just happen. It is always better to apologize first and then move forward. When it comes to customer service, the representative is almost never to blame; however, the customer may think differently. A customer service rep should apologize not only for the inconvenience the customer is going through, but also so the customer can sense that the rep personally cares about the problem.

Click here for 5 email templates to get you out of angry customer situations.

If you are nice to your customers, they, in turn, would be more likely to reciprocate. Of course, there will be good and bad customers, but as long as you are willing to be upfront, apologize for any mistakes you could have made, and are ready to solve the problem, most customer interactions will go smoothly. Remember, solving the problem is only half of the interaction; being fast, knowledgeable, and polite completes the customer service process.

5. Happy Staff = Happy Customershappy staff service

Forbes’ Rodd Wagner writes, “The formula is simple: Happy employees equal happy customers, asserted an article last fall in CEO Magazine. Similarly, an unhappy employee can ruin the brand experience for not just one, but numerous customers.” Happy employees = happy customers works. It’s a fantastic sentiment. It’s the right strategy. It is miles ahead of and far more on course than the assertions of the anti-happiness crowd. And if you need to boil down to a few words the connections between employee experience and customer experience, run with it.”

Staff retention is crucial to your company for improving customer service excellence. Research shows clearly that staff stay when they are happy and respect the company in which they work. Their happiness translates into excellent work when dealing with important customers.

Customer Service

Susane Friedmann, a writer on customer service says, “Customer service is an integral part of our job and should not be seen as an external extension of it. A company’s most vital asset is its customers. Without them, we would not and could not exist in business. When you satisfy your customers, they not only help you grow by continuing to do business with you but they will also recommend you to friends and associates.

The practice of customer service should be as present on the showroom floor as it is in any other sales functions and pertinent in the overall company environment.

Get started with a Customer Service Charter! Set the standards of customer service you expect your employees to deliver and your customers can expect to receive.

5 Online Companies With World Class Customer Management

Giving world class customer service is at the core of keeping your business afloat. After all it is a satisfied customer that forms the building block of your company. Failing to retain your customers will inevitably result in a systematic slow demise of your business, something that any successful business would all like to avoid. Technology has changed the landscape of customer relationship services by bringing about a unique set of tools, also known as customer relationship management (CRM) software, to streamline the cumbersome process of communicating with numerous clienteles.

Learn how to identify valuable customers in one viewRequest a FREE Conversation Software demo today!

By successfully implementing these tools, companies have been able to gain a more thorough understanding of their customer’s needs and if their products are able to match their expectations. Australian companies that are adamant to spearhead their businesses efforts to succeed will have to do more than just understand key internet metrics and viral campaigns. They will have to build a successful CRM strategy. They will need to successfully segment their customer base and schedule bulk emails without spending too much time on them.

What is CRM and Customer Management?

1. By effectively using business analytics to pinpoint a problem with your product which a customer is experiencing, you can easily fine tune them before they spiral out of control and affect all of your customers.

2. A CRM can help you track your customer’s online activities such as the number of times they press the like button on your Facebook posts and their responses to your emails. This will help you gauge their interest, which would allow you to build products that can engage them better.

3. You can also generate an automated response each time your customer submits a complaint. We understand that your customer representative team is not always available to answer any queries, but a CRM can do exactly that! As soon a complaint is submitted to your online forums (or Facebook page), the CRM software will promptly generate a helpful message which will keep the customer engaged to your website and allow more time for the sales team to address their grievances.

4. For most businesses, their emails just stack up on top of each other and are ignored. A CRM ensures that the right emails land in the right category depending on the contact and content. This way your business can ensure that key information about the customer is retained.

Related:
Customer Experience Strategy

Below are 5 Companies that are Killing it with their World Class Customer Management

The following companies have done exactly that and much more – to not only retain older clientele but also increasing the scale of their business to achieve a larger outreach.

1. Dollar Shave Club: Know Your Customer:

crm-know-your-customer-dollar-shave-club


By using an in-house CRM solution, Dollar Shave Club has been able to provide some of the best customer services, which most companies can only look at with envy. Their policy of “We don’t respond to situations, we respond to people,” has helped them grow into having millions of subscribers and satisfied, returning customers. This strategy was so successful that Unilever has acquired them for over $1 billion!

2. YouTube: Suggesting Similar Content to Users

crm-suggest-similar-content-youtube

When you watch a particular genre of video on YouTube, say a gaming video, YouTube quickly picks that up and feeds that into their algorithm. So the next time you log on to their channel, you only see content related to video games. This way you won’t be spammed by boring content that might serve to push you away from their website. Because of this strategy, users who might waste 15 minutes on YouTube searching for their favourite content, can now find all relevant content on the front page.

3. Uber: Sharing Assets

crm-sharing-assets-uber

Customer relationships are at the very heart for companies such as Uber, Airbnb and Lyft. Their entire business is built around satisfying their customers. Uber specifically makes use of Salesforce CRM software to gain insights about their customers and keep track of every single transaction, interaction, ride rating and customer complaint. Uber is a massive corporation with a stupendously large customer base, so how does Uber immaculately address the grievances of their giant clientele? By implementation of a reliable and scalable CRM solution. https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2016/10/how-to-uberize-your-business.html

4. Amazon

crm-amazon

Amazon has hit the nail on the head when it comes to CRM implementation. Amazon makes it a point of strategy to ask their customers to create accounts. This is done so they’re able to collect as much data about their customer as possible. They use this data to segment their customer base, store account information, address details and suggest relevant products for them to buy. Their recommended products are able to keep users browsing through their website for hours on end; which drives up sales.

5. Target in Australia

crm-target-australia

Large scale retailers like Target can never even fathom collecting their customer’s data without a proper CRM strategy in place. They can now collect this treasure trove of data from websites and call centres to help accelerate the flow of customer information and keep them abreast of offers that suit their particular shopping habits.

customer service charter template download cta woveon

4 ways of Delighting Your Customer Using Technology

Today’s customer service landscape is changing faster than the blink of an eye and businesses which continue to stay out of the loop – perhaps out of ignorance, arrogance or a combination of them both – are doomed to get phased out of existence by other competitors that manage to keep up with the pace. A study carried out by SalesForce in 2016 showed that 57% of consumers expect the companies, which they purchase their products from, to innovate. This is an obvious consequence of the rapid adoption of technology and as the average Australian becomes increasingly tech savvy, so do their demands. A 2014 PwC study reported that 91% of Australian CEOs believe that technology will significantly change business trends. Here are just some means of winning over your customer with the use of technology

How to Use Technology to Satisfy Customers

1. Provide a mobile platform to users

delight-your-customers-mobile-platform

Mobile phones are now the preferred means of communication by customers. You could argue that mobile phones have somehow replaced plastic money; the use of credit cards is now seen as a cumbersome process compared to mobile phones! In fact, Australians have spent $755 million in the past five years alone to replace their smartphones, which were broken or lost. Companies which still require their customers to access their services by sitting in front of a computer will more than likely die out in the near future. It will be slow – and painful.

2. Effective use of social media

While no one is asking you to rack up hundreds of thousands of likes on Facebook and followers on Twitter, customers expect you to provide them with a responsive customer representative team, which could help solve out their grievances. As of January 2017, Australia has around 16 million users on Facebook and there are numerous choices and places for these young millennials to get their products from. If your customer representative team shuns them, the customer will ignore you back! Businesses which interact with their customers over social media, quickly climb up the leader board and can easily oust their immediate competition. Another smart idea is to use fancy Twitter hashtags. A perfect example of creative hashtags is by Lorna Jane, a popular retailer for women’s active wear; their marketing campaigns have gone viral because every time they post on Instagram, they make sure to attach a catchy punch line such as #thisisactiveliving.

3. Use of Virtual Reality

While Virtual Reality still has ways to go before the rest of the world could adopt it in large droves, Australia is already seen leading the pack, when it comes to proper implementation of this cutting edge technology. VR is more than just a toy that kids use to play horror games; it has tremendous potential in the tourism industry. If you owned a business providing recreational air based activities, such as hand gliding and paragliding? What are your traditional means of advertising the business? Using high definition pictures and high quality videos? That’s a thing of the past now; customers want to experience your services before actually paying for them. Get it? By using virtual reality footages, you can easily showcase the thrills of all adrenaline filled activities to your customer. They only have to use their VR headsets and compatible smartphones to gain an insightful experience. Competitors that fail to offer a similar service will often see their customers switching elsewhere and might lose out on their business. Tourism Australia uses virtual reality as part of their viral marketing campaigns – and it is working!

4. Using big data to gain some insights into your customer

It is more important than ever today to learn the customer’s behaviour, experience and response to your products and services. The key thing is to collect useful key metrics and discard those your company doesn’t benefit from. You will be able to design your business more creatively around your customer once you know what they like and dislike. An example of a company doing precisely that is Netflix, an entertainment company, which steams episodes of all popular TV shows to your handheld device based purely on demand.Their most popular TV show, House of Cards was designed based on the insight gathered by studying helpful customer data. Big data helped Netflix so much that their executives knew beforehand, that House of Cards would be one big hit. They generated Venn diagrams to pin point how Kevin Spacey was the perfect actor to star in the show. And he was!Similarly, another large company that relies on big data is Uber. Matching you with the driver closest to you relies on complex algorithms which feed on the analytics generated by data. The key to your success probably lies here.

3 Essential Tools To Help Predict Customer Needs

Among the many things that a business needs to keep an eye on, predicting customer needs is one of the most important. Smarter customers have higher expectations and a business that wants to grow has to be able to not only meet these expectations but also predict them. Having predictive customer services might appear tricky but with the help of data analysing tools, you can monitor your customer’s buying patterns, demographics and other behaviours.

Predict Customer Needs. Request a FREE Conversation Technology demo today.

Through enhancing your customer services, you can also offer your clients a better shopping or buying experience as compared to your competitors. In this day and age where even a single bad review can make a difference, providing good quality, predictive customer services can make a major impact particularly in your marketing strategy.

Customer Prediction Tools You Need

Data Gathering

When you’re growing your marketing campaigns, you need to gather proper data on your customers and the following are some of the best resources that let you do so.

Google Analytics

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An old one but a gold one, Google Analytics has helped many businesses monitor the different facets of their customers behaviour. From monitoring the visibility of your website to keeping an eye on how much time the visitors are spending on the site, you can get a lot of data regarding your sites usage. The best part is that you can easily isolate the areas which are underperforming and figure out how to optimise them. Moreover, the data sheds more light on showing you visitor ‘habits’ on the site and how you can incorporate those to offer predictive customer services to them. Another good thing about Google Analytics is that it also allows you to test out any new feature and see how well the changes are being received. UpWork created a great article how to understand the customers coming to your website https://www.upwork.com/hiring/for-clients/google-analytics-to-better-understand-your-visitors/

Kissmetrics

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Another tool that lets you observe the habits of your visitors, Kissmetrics provides invaluable data that can be used to optimise your website and services. Individual monitoring ensures that you find in-depth information that tracks key growth in various segments as well as shows which features are wanted and not-wanted by the average visitor or customer. If you’re tapping into a new target market, Kissmetrics is the perfect tool for you as it allows you to monitor the response and provide more tailored predictive customer services that hit the mark properly. With a multitude of other features as well that are meant to help optimise your business with ease, Kissmetrics makes it easier to analyse and view all the changes being made. Kissmetrics wrote up a great article here about understanding customer data.

Inspectlet

If you find it hard to review the data you have received, you’re going to love using Inspectlet. With the aim of helping everyone, Inspectlet focuses on monitoring customer behaviour to provide credible data regarding site visitation time, areas of interest and more regarding the consumer. Inspectlet also takes monitoring to a whole other level by providing video recordings or playbacks of every visitor to the site. This in turn ensures a deeper level to monitoring. The best part is that Inspectlet is frequently used by sites such as eBay, Cisco and WordPress who are prime examples of great predictive customer services. Have a look at how to apply the Pareto principle to some of your customer analytics.

Applying learnings to use

Once you’ve got all your data in hand, you have to start using it. Anticipation of customer expectations begins here. For this reason, you need to use tools that help you create an engagement plan for future customers. The following are some of the best ones.

Rapid Miner

Rapid Miner offers an open source platform for data scientists to use with ease. With its comprehensive products that are specifically developed according to a particular industry and its requirements, Rapid Miner makes data application into credible models and their deployment easier.The best part is that it’s all open source; the team can collaborate and access the data with ease, regardless of their locality. Big businesses such as Siemens, Cisco, Samsung, Hitachiand more also rely on Rapid Miner for their predictive customer services plans. For an introduction to advanced analytics.

Angoss

Based solely on providing predictive analytics that aid in improving customer services, Angoss has services that are based not only on the industry but also on the nature of the analytics you want. From improving marketing performance to minimising any risks faced, Angoss is the complete solution for any business.Angoss is utilised by PayPal, Walmart, and eBay, TMobile, Cisco, Microsoft and MasterCard. The success of these businesses stands to testament to Angoss’s services. Moreover, with services available on a global level, Angoss is accessible for all, regardless of where they function in.

3 Creative Ways You Can Ensure Your Clients Always Succeed!

The one key area that you need to look at when you want to run a successful business is ensuring that you can keep your clients happy. How can you manage such a thing? Well, by making sure that your clients are successful, and that isn’t always possible. There are many businesses that struggle to provide their clients with meaningful services that result in them being successful.

Learn how to manage your customer conversations easily. Request a FREE Conversation Software demo today!

If your clients aren’t successful, then you will not have many repeat customers, because people like working with successful businesses. This concern is bigger for small businesses, because they aren’t always able to deliver top-notch services to their customers. 

Here are 3 Creative Ways you Can Ensure your Clients Always
Succeed:

The quality of services delivered to customers is always important for a business, but along with that, the business must also ensure that they are helping achieve customer success in the long run.

1. The Customer Success Factor

successful client business

So, why is success for clients so important? It is because every major business needs to realize the value of helping their partners achieve success as well. The fundamentals of business haven’t changed over time, but the only thing that has changed is that now businesses must ensure that their clients are successful as well. This can be tricky sometimes because you must do business with a company that wants to work with yours to ensure complete success in their industry.

Related:
10 Customer Service Strategies that Create Loyal Customers

This means that every business strategy that you come up with, must also include how it affects the success of the client. This is done to ensure that all aspects are covered, and there are no disappointments after business is concluded. There are multiple strategies that you can employ with the right vision and commitment at the forefront to ensure that your business partners and clients are happy and satisfied. It is important to take the success factor into account, because you need to create love between your business and your customers.

2. The Customer is Always King

Any business that places the interests of its customers above their own is going to be a successful business, because they are going to go out of their way to make sure that the customer is content. Most businesses that fail, do so because they stop caring about their customers. It is important that you always treat the customer properly, and remember that they are always the king.

If your business is failing to win over more customers, you should probably look at what kind of customer experience you are offering to your clients. There is enough data around that points to the importance of great customer experience in helping businesses retain and attract new clients.

  • There are numerous studies that have shown 40% of brands that didn’t receive good services, refused to work with that business again.
  • It also states that 90% of businesses will go to a direct competitor if they are given poor customer experience.
  • Nearly 60% of clients are willing to pay more to receive better customer experience.

Businesses that fail to value their clients, and don’t care about their success are likely to lose out, and not get ahead in their industry. Therefore, it is imperative that you find out creative ways to ensure that you give priority to customer success.

We also want our clients to succeed, which is why we are going to provide you with 3 creative ways you can ensure that your clients always succeed.

3. Genuine Interaction – Treat them right

Make sure that you have genuine interactions with your customers, because it is the only way that you are going to help them feel at home. There is no secret about the fact that happy clients are much more willing to work with you and provide you with better word of mouth regarding your business. By treating your customers properly, you will ensure that you build a genuine interaction with them, and they will feel better in doing business with you.

4. Don’t come across as too strong

You need to always respect your clients if you want to keep them happy and satisfied with your services. There are lots of customers who don’t want to scare off your clients or disappoint them. That is the main reason why you should always treat your clients with respect, because if they are upset with you, then your business is the one that is going to suffer. Disgruntled customers are not good for business, and that is where you need to be patient.

You should do everything in your power to get your client in a better mood and try to resolve their issues. There aren’t going to be many clients lining up to work for your business if you don’t work with your clients in a respectful manner.

5. Hear their problems

You should always be listening to your customer’s problems so that you can help them in times of trouble. There are not many businesses that would work with a company that doesn’t take their feedback on board. You should have good communication with your client and always take everything they say into account, because that is the only way you are going to improve your situation and guarantee customer success.

Making Returns on the Conversational Economy

Article by Adam Rawot, CEO Woveon

I remember reading an article almost ten years ago talking about how teens were sending over 40 texts a day on average. The tone of the article was incredulous, but the statistic pales in comparison to how we exist online now. Speaking personally, it’s not implausible I send off 40 messages before 10 AM in my morning inbox check in. Sarah Guo, a partner of Greylock, expressed it succinctly when she took to Medium: “More than a decade ago, academics such as Thurlow described a “communication imperative”—human beings are driven to maximize their communication volume and satisfaction. More recently, researchers have described it as compulsion.”

While constant connectedness is old news, technology has finally achieved a point it can leverage this behavior. As with all big shifts, there will be survivors and those who don’t adapt fast enough. Companies will need to change to a conversational mode of thought to maintain the experiences users expect and deliver the individuality anticipated.

People Always Talk

multichannel communication

Nearly 25 years ago, Harvard Business Review wrote “today if you’re not on the phone or talking with colleagues and customers, chances are you’ll hear, “Start talking and get to work!” In the new economy, conversations are the most important form of work.” Conversations are how we track knowledge flows. Conversation flows are how people create value, share information, and illustrate how companies operate.

A cited example is McKinsey. McKinsey prides itself heavily on the intelligence of its members, and by an extension the true value of McKinsey over other firms is its extensive knowledge base. That knowledge is curated and developed through internal conversation and shared through internal conversation. In short, McKinsey is conversation.  

We are entering a new age for product development – one dictated by the conversational economy. Broadly, the conversational economy is the catchall phrase for companies, products, and ideas built on, alongside, or relying heavily on a conversational interface. More simply, they are services that leverage conversation.

This definition is board, and intentionally so. While some apps like iMessage, Snapchat and email obviously fit into this definition, conversation works as a backbone in services like Facebook, customer service complaints, and online advertising as well. Finding a common backbone helps derive a working model for these services.

Between the myriad of mobile apps used every day, access to the internet, and the seemingly innate human need to feel connected, conversation based platforms are dominating our lives. We have effectively destroyed the asynchronous quality of day to day life. We persist online, and, consequently, our conversations with one another never really begin or end. This data stream is a jackpot for product creation.

Smarter Everyday

Artificial intelligence, in the eyes of the public, has snuck past an important threshold. Presentations by titans like Facebook and Google have assured that we are moving away from the robotic idea of natural language processing in a rigid sense to natural language understanding. In other words, instead of responding to a keyword or a phrase, computers are beginning to be able to understand sentence, paragraphs, and intent.

There are a variety of causes for this – improvement of machine learning and deep learning, Moore’s Law, and rate of mobile and app data collection, to name a few. Algorithms and software are taking on their own intelligence. Just the idea that failed outcomes can make systems better is an astounding twist compared to five years prior.

Additionally, we’re in the middle of the boom of ambient computing, the idea that our environments and surroundings are responsive. We don’t have to open our phone or flip open a laptop to be connected. On the way to work I may pass a few smart cameras, a plethora of listening iPhones and Galaxy phones, an Alexa, Chromecasts, and more. Despite this, I would characterize myself as one of the less connected people in my demographic. At every step of my day my voice can be heard, position tracked, and activity monitored. Being connected no longer has much to do with if our phone is on our person or if we’re behind a keyboard.

Although passive collection has subtly pushed past our natural aversion to share information with technologies we don’t understand and people we don’t know, this one-sided trade has come with the expectation of usability. When software doesn’t work or apps crash, we no longer blame ourselves, we blame companies. We are inundated with choices, but that means that we have little tolerance of poor experiences. Users are more empowered than ever in that they don’t have to subject themselves to experiences they don’t want or content they’d rather avoid. We so demand these freedoms that events like net neutrality rapidly cause public outcry and social faux pas by companies like EA tank sales.

Computing, connectedness, and data almost completely undermine how product managers need to think about designing products. The need to leverage conversation to deliver value has emerged as one of the most critical company problems. IDEO acquiring a data analytics company, giants like Apple acqui-hiring boutique companies with human-centric software, and Salesforce pushing Einstein all serve as mine canaries that even the most established companies are racing and struggling to adapt.

Buying In and Cashing Out

As George Box famously cited – all models are wrong, but some are useful. Where is the utility of viewing products as ongoing conversations?

A helpful place to start is in how companies have historically fended off competition. These ‘moats’ include things like brand loyalty, unique data sources, and intellectual property. However, as technologies like AI are more readily available via open source projects, cloud hosting and computing are only a few clicks away, and systems of engagement continually emerge, the traditional ideas of tech defensibility are evaporating. In a Greylock article on Medium, they wrote “In all of these markets, the battle is moving from the old moats, the sources of the data, to the new moats, what you do with the data.”

In another words, companies are now finding defensibility through the experiences they create. To create these experiences for customers in the conversational era, companies will have to harness existing behavior, respond personally, and work faster.

Harnessing existing behavior is an exercise in invisibility. The real frontier for conversational companies to generate solutions for problems before the consumer is even aware. For example, Facebook realized that people asked for recommendations on their newsfeeds. Instead of creating a new service, they had posts automatically update with reviews and locations. They created a new card that changed automatically depending on what a user wrote. As expressed by a product designer at Facebook: “We didn’t try to invent a completely new behavior; rather, we found an existing one and made it way better.”

To cite an example within my own career, food industry companies often lose hours if not days within food recall investigations. Tracking a faulty shipment through several distributors can be tricky. We worked to create a product that reads the complaint before the owner may even be aware it exists and start and investigation. By the time an owner is even aware there is a problem, a report is ready. By approaching complaints, invoices, and shipments and messages between companies, value can be created seamlessly in a second layer.

As I’ve written about before, personalization is an increasingly critical element of producing customer lifetime value. Harvard Business Review started to notice this trend in their research on customer service: “Even as artificial intelligence becomes embedded in everyday interactions; human conversation remains the primary way people make complex purchases or emotional decisions.” The fatal error in a lot of software products is focusing on company efficiency over consumer experience. While these changes may boost bottom line in the short term, they encourage competitor entry and consumer drop off.

Conversational apps have an obvious outlet for personalization, and the power behind them allow easy switching between automation and human elements. More simply: “these intelligent agents will facilitate one-on-one conversations between consumers and sales or customer service representatives rather than simply replacing human interaction.” Imagine a case where someone sits on a delayed flight and sends out an angry tweet. A conversational built system could find the message, tag it, and route it to an agent. While the agent delivers a personal response with an update, the system has already sent an alleviating reward of extra miles to the customer. The captain may be alerted of sentiment on the plane and deliver an announcement. While an autoresponder may have been cheaper, the customer will now remember the exceptional level of immediate service and is more likely to return. As information and computing become free, the real commodity becomes the personality of the person on the other end of the line.

In the shorter term, there’s a simpler way to think about AI adoption – people don’t trust what they don’t understand. In the classic product management advice, it’s best to start with a problem and move to solution. Leveraging conversation is a means to building a better product, but that doesn’t change what the bottom lines should be. In other words, “Bots do not need to be human to be human centered.”

Outside of the shift in new product priorities, another major implication is how we use the technologies we use currently. In a blog post, Dan Rover (sp?) declared that bot won’t replace apps, but inboxes were the new home screen. Our email, text messages, and more were queues demanding our intention and driving our usage.

Companies leveraging platforms like WeChat have been able to effectively create micro services and apps for things like ordering that have integrated seamlessly with how we act now. Bot companies that are able to daisy-chain onto conversations to do scheduling and commuter planning have shone in venture capital funding. It’s not inconceivable the next unicorn will have nothing to do with creating a new platform but layering effortlessly onto the ways we talk with those platforms now.

Speak Now

We talk online all the time, but computing has finally let us create value from that. Companies need to invest in ways to leverage these conversations to deliver seamless and personal content. This means focusing on personnel and focusing on alleviating frictions than automation. Companies that don’t value the communication imperative and connectedness of customers will soon find themselves lagging in experience, and, later, sales.

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A prime example of this is Amazon Web Services’ fast climb to dominance. Legacy systems like Oracle required costly deployments and developers, and setting up cloud instances on AWS is only a few clicks away. IaaS records have shown Amazon’s sheer dominance. Oracle, trying to defend by housing data and curating an elite brand, couldn’t compete with Amazon’s engagement accessibility.

Perhaps the most obvious implication of smart conversational apps is efficiency. However, despite all the news and hype around an artificial intelligence singularity, businesses – and their customers – still revolve around the interactions person to person. This means that products needs to be resolved around facilitating conversation, collecting information, and iterating form that information. The AI boom has made it easier than ever to facilitate personal conversations no matter where customers are online.

How to Turn Your Company into a Multi-Channel Success

Multi-channel is the future. Recently, a survey involving a thousand consumers was conducted to study into consumer shopping habits. Of the thousand surveyed consumers, 80% preferred having a choice of shopping in store, by telephone or online. There was a time when all the power in a customer-seller relationship was with local shops. A customer would drive for hours to get a chance to buy something but often, he/she would end up being turned away because the shop had already sold out. Since they got results without making any extra effort, multi-channel marketing or sales did not make sense to the sellers at the time.

Today, the entire relationship has been turned upside down. Now, all the power is with the customer and sellers have to constantly adopt new technology just so that a customer considers them when buying. Today, businesses need to make it as easy as possible for customers to buy something from them. In such times, a good way to increase your chances of netting a sale is appearing on different channels familiar to potential customers. In short, you need to whole-heartedly embrace multi-channel sales and marketing.An opportunity to engage with consumers across a variety of channels, multi-channel marketing allows you to maintain a consistent message and brand. On the other hand, multi-channel selling can help you to profitably sell to more people. With a multi-channel strategy, you can reach the right customers, at the right time, using the right channels and the right messages. This allows you to focus towards marketing efforts, improve customer engagement and achieve better Return On Investment.

See also: Learn how to manage multiple channels with Woveon

To collect customer contact information, companies today use at least three channels. Considering this, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that more and more businesses today are focusing most on their efforts on multiple channel initiatives. Moreover, businesses are doing everything they possible can to make these initiatives successful. So, what are the efforts you need to make your multiple-channel initiatives successful? Following is how to turn your company into a multi-channel success.

Successfully Managing Multiple Channels within Your Business

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Plan Carefully

The most important aspect of your multiple channel strategy is planning. Even if your idea is great, it can turn out to be disastrous if you execute it without much thought. Instead of helping you grow, this will end up costing you. For this reason, you must plan carefully what channels you’ll sell on, what systems you will use and how you will integrate those systems together.

Turn Multiple Channels into A Single View

Using a carefully planned strategy, you can accurately capture and link multiple engagement points into a single identity. When this happens, you will be able to get a single customer view into your multiple-channel activity. With this single customer view, you will know exactly when a customer wants you to reach out to him/her. This in turn will help your business to generate a positive response.

Eliminate the Need for Manual Data Entry

A multi-channel strategy creates repetition of finding customer information, sharing information and customer profiles across different systems and importantly, repeating the same conversation again so the customer service rep can understand the situation. The information stored in these systems includes information related to customers, inventory, items etc. Sharing this information across your systems is mandatory. Whether a customer buys in-store or online, you would want to track his/her order history.

If an item is purchased from your webstore, then the decrease in inventory should reflect in your amazon account and vice versa. Moreover, you must share product information from your point of sale (POS) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) to your online sales channels. Often, businesses using a multiple channel strategy for the first time rely on manual data entry to transfer data from one system to another. Unfortunately, the time and cost incurred in this process is something the business underestimates. It may take hours to manually enter data such as entering online orders into your ERP or POS. Moreover, manual data entry makes you prone to typing mistakes that result in out of stock, lost orders and worst of all, ticked off customers.

For the reasons mentioned-above, you need to eliminate manual data entry when using a multi-channel strategy. Today, there are numerous software-based solutions that automate data processing, speed up processing of orders and eliminate those costly human-errors.

Know Who You’re Selling To

As important as knowing where to pitch, knowing who to pitch to can increase your chances of making a sale. You need to create various ‘buyer personas’ i.e. the customers you’re likely to run into when selling on various channels. These personas represent the different customer groups interested in your product. By customizing your message appropriately to those groups, you can increase chances of making a sale. Ultimately, this will help you to turn your company into a multi-channel success.

AI Technology and Customer Service

Recently I wrote an article for LinkedIn titled “Can we maintain the human touch with customer service?” I couldn’t help think about how fast we are moving with Artificial Intelligence that the question still remains, I am not worried about 5 years from now or what new customer interactions will be digital, but how will businesses maintain the reality check with their customers? Surely digital chat bots and automated ticketing systems will ask random customers surveys about what they thought about their service response and the level of happiness to refer another customer. To implement is very easy but to keep the human connection with your customers will be the challenge.

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Deliver Smarter Customer Service Solutions

At Woveon, we watch and analyse through thousands of conversations all uniquely handled by diligent customer service agents who, assisted with technology, work tirelessly around the clock to acknowledge, understand, listen to and resolve the incoming customer conversation. Clearly customer service has the human touch here! Even with today’s AI technology surpassing standards in reliability, accuracy and now business intelligence the human touch in AI must not be far away? This is an important consideration looking at the technology landscape today, companies are working on delivering smarter customer service solutions, from chat bots that understand your sentiment and can adapt to your tone and writing style to automated enquiry systems that can help recommend products while you shop online. Yet still, customer service and particularly conversation management is still a human “touch”, something that is defined intrinsically in the term “customer experience”.

See also: Customer Service: Its Importance and Value

Create an Outstanding Customer Service Experience

Let’s take the example of creating an outstanding customer service experience. Data tells us that outstanding customer service increases brand loyalty. Examples include begin a conversation with a podcast, send personal messages, create a lifestyle and get back to your customers. We’re not talking about getting back to your customers via a bot or automated reply email, but rather using an actual person who understands your customers and can understand the fine details and semantics of human feelings. Remember, customer service is all about listening to your customers and putting yourself in their shoes. Great customer service professionals can quickly adapt and understand the customer’s frustrations and calm their emotions. Being present and responding quickly in human is very different to doing this via a scripted automated response. However, in the enterprise world, a study by Oracle put it at 8 out of every 10 businesses who are already implementing or about to implement AI as a customer service solution by 2020. Nearly 40% of all enterprises are already using some form of AI technology with Forrester predicting a 300% increase in AI investments, the disruptive power of AI will impact every part of the business from customer service to sales and support. So are businesses going ahead at this the wrong way?

Having interviewed several CTOs and CMOs working with the technology, there is no rushing into the game looking for the holy grail. For most, the best step moving forward is in assistive and adaptive technology or to assist with data collection and analysis. AI technology is encapsulating more and more human qualities as technology advances. Bots are often deployed to collect data based off human input and use it to optimise the customer’s experience. This is particularly applicable to personalisation. Human teams then need to help filter, sift through and make sense of all the personalisations so the system can make better judgements in the future. Artificial intelligence predicts and prioritises the user’s interests according to their searches and similar inputs given by other users. This, when compared to the pros of human service, has similar benefits to empathy and experience. For example the human touch can continue on more serious, complicated customer challenges whereas standard, mundane everyday enquiries can be handled by AI bots. An example is AI assistance to lessen waiting periods for customer inquiries. KLM, the flag carrier airline of the Netherlands, used DigitalGenius’ AI system to answer customer’s questions faster. The AI units interpreted the questions and answered them with a quick edit of the preformed answer to relate directly to the language used by the customer. It was also able to adapt to the platform for the inquiries, pumping out longer responses to emails but limiting Twitter responses to 140 characters. Digital customer service seems to be directed towards matching human interaction but with the removal of prominent flaws.

So can we maintain the human touch in customer service? Having been a product manager and worked in technology since the first dot com (no I am not that old, I was just young when I first got into technology), we can expect to see customer service significantly enhanced with AI bringing the human touch to a new level. The amount of data that AI and ML will help sift through to help “advise” and “suggest” to a customer service team will break new boundaries. Customer service teams can then be deployed to work on escalated or prioritised items that result in a big sale or help close the deal. Customer service, intuitively is tied closely with the human touch, a computer cannot learn years of successful customer interactions without first being taught and guided by humans. This is a realistic fact.