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Keep AI From Feeling Like Sci-Fi With Our Terminology Guide

When the conversation turns to AI, there’s often a Sci-Fi novel’s worth of terminology and jargon that the uninitiated reader has to decode. If you’re looking at using automation for service, then here’s a quick guide to the difference between AI, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning.

Watch Our Webinar with Solvvy here – The Truth About Bots and Intelligent Automation

Artificial Intelligence as a concept has been around since at least the ancient Greeks, who designed some mechanical devices that could be loosely-termed as intelligent. However the term itself is around 60 years old, and the first applicable AI technologies have only just started coming to market in the last few years.

Machine Learning is a more specific subset of AI. It describes machines’ ability to learn from their mistakes and improve over time. A good example of Machine Learning in practice example is the recent Google AI that beat a world champion at Go. The more the AI plays, the better it becomes at spotting patterns and predicting its opponents’ moves.

Deep Learning is a further iteration of machine learning. It describes machine learning algorithms that run on multiple layers, mirroring how our own neurons function. A now common example of deep learning is the way that smart assistants like Alexa or Siri process speech.

Also important is Natural Language Processing. NLP is the ability for a computer program to understand human speech, regardless of slang or dialect. By being able to make sense of written or spoken language in the messy and error-filled ways humans normally express it, AI capabilities become much more applicable to everyday life.

What does this mean for service? Artificial intelligence and intelligent automation can take over existing tasks and create new efficiencies that your organization couldn’t dream of previously. Machine Learning is just one example. By suggesting responses agents can use to common customer queries, a partially-automated system could learn the most effective replies and language for your customer base. Deep learning capabilities should extend to IVR trees, and put an end to the common “Sorry, I didn’t get” response from many systems that currently rely on processing speech. And NLP is crucial for chatbots, and for analytics that look at all of the conversations your agents have across chat, social, and any other text-driven medium.

It’s important to build a solid understanding of these exciting technologies as they become more prevalent and relevant to the service and customer experience sphere. To learn more, listen to our webinar with Solvvy: The Truth About Bots and Intelligent Automation.

To Bot or Not to Bot? Neither, Start with a Strategy

By Mark Kersteen from Kustomer and Maggie Lin from Solvvy.

Customer service automation is the hot topic of conversation these days, and more specifically, how bots fit into the mix. While intelligent automation is core to both Solvvy and Kustomer, we encourage our customers to not simply take an automation-centric or bot-centric approach, but to first take a step back and identify what your key goals are.

We’ve seen companies jump the gun and add a bot because they felt like everyone else was doing it, only to find it delivered sub-optimal/disappointing results.

In reality, not everyone is using a bot—but many are experiencing mixed results. In our recent webinar, 67% of participants shared that they aren’t using any bot technology today and 72% of participants who have tried a bot have experienced issues.

So, what can we take away from this? It’s important to see the big picture and identify where automation can add value, rather than implementing point solutions like bots and hoping they make an impact. We’ve all been there–it’s easy to get swept up into adding a piece of technology just because it’s what everyone else is doing.

In this post, we’ll tackle a key goal we’ve frequently seen from our customers: how do we increase agent productivity to improve our overall customer experience? We’ll share how intelligent automation can effectively support this goal in two ways by 1. increasing efficiency for customers and 2. increasing efficiency for agents.

Increasing Efficiency for Customers

Empowering customers to resolve questions on their own means agents handle less repetitive questions (and less tickets). This translates into getting back to customers faster and focusing on high-value questions that require the human touch. Increasing efficiency doesn’t have to be complicated. Depending on where you are in your support team maturity, ways to improve include investing in content, intelligent self-service, and end-to-end automation.

Content
While it seems obvious, when companies are scaling quickly, a lot of focus is given on agent enablement versus customer enablement. But, at the end of the day, customer enablement helps agents at scale. In an organization where customer interactions are often 1:1, investing in content is 1:many and scales with the business. Taking the time to create help center articles can save your support team hours of copy-pasting a macro that should be public to customers. Publishing content that helps customers find answers on their own frees up your agents to deal with more complex questions.

Intelligent Self-Service
Investing in content is step one. Intelligent self-service is the next step to making it easy for customers to discover this information. With intelligent self-service, it’s important to understand the underlying technology used to determine user intent. A lot of bots fall short here because they are keyword-reliant or rules-based and ultimately aren’t able to understand the context of a question and the relationship of words unique to a specific business. Self-service eases the workload for agents, but if a bot is falling short of expectations, it can create friction when a customer reaches an agent and has to repeat their question.

End-to-End Automation
The ability to fully automate repetitive transactions is a huge opportunity in customer service. These could be questions around order lookups, returns, refunds, and subscription changes. By handling these types of questions without an agent, support teams can direct attention to complex questions and take on proactive initiatives that scale. The interface for end-to-end automation can be guided steps, or it could be a bot in a chat window. Whichever way you deem the best customer experience, it should be clear that it’s not a human and that it is an automated experience.

Increasing Efficiency for Agents

We’ve spoken with agents who have expressed anxiety about chatbots or other technologies taking over their roles. It’s totally natural to be wary of new technology, but our answer has always been clear: We don’t think there’s anything to worry about. In fact, there’s a whole list of ways that bots and automation can assist agents and make their lives easier. Bots can take over the boring, repetitive, and mechanical tasks that drive agents up the wall, freeing up their time to focus on the interpersonal connections and more emotionally complex tasks that likely attracted them to the profession in the first place.

Conversational Forms
Just because it looks like a bot and acts like a bot, doesn’t always mean it’s a bot. Conversational forms are robots in disguise. When a customer opens the chat window, they’ll feel like they’re chatting to an immediately available agent. The conversational form will start asking the customer questions. These include important queries for identification—name, email address, phone number, shipping info, and whatever else is necessary—as well as more quantitative questions, like asking them to describe the issue they’re having. This way the customer gets the instant feedback they expect on chat, and the agent can jump into the conversation with all the info they need.

Suggested Responses
The scariest thing about pursuing a chatbot strategy is the lack of control. Once you switch on that feature, there’s nothing standing in between your customers and an algorithm that may not always provide the best experience. Enter suggested responses. This system works like the suggested text feature on your phone, but just for service. A computer processes the conversation and generates answers, but instead of sending them straight to a customer, the agent gets them first. This speeds up their reply time, and the system can also learn from the agent’s choices to become smarter. The more agents use the system, the better it gets at helping them, so you can be certain that automation is helping your experience, not holding it back.

Further Uses for Automation
There is a whole world of automation-enhanced solutions to everyday problems for your organization—and the majority of them work behind the scenes. Using an automated system to suggest tags, categorization, macros, and helpbase articles for your agents can save tons of time, and can be much simpler to set up and operate than a customer-facing chatbot. Assisting your agents’ everyday workflows and reporting may not be glamorous, but it can have a massive knock-on effect towards streamlining your experience and increasing efficiency. As Peter Johnson, Kustomer’s VP of Product, summarized in our recent webinar: “Automation is not just about helping the customer, it’s about helping your support organization scale, and identifying areas the product team can improve.”

Final Thoughts

If we can leave you with one bit of advice to take away, it’s this: before pursuing a bot or automation strategy, do your homework and consider your options. It’s crucial to have a strategy, and that you don’t just jump right in. As Kaan Ersun, Solvvy’s SVP of Marketing, advised on our webinar: “Number one, define a strategy, and figure out where the bot can be useful to you, where it won’t work, then pursue new opportunities. Start with the big picture, then move towards implementation.”

Look at the data available to you, and use that to define your strategy going forward. Take some time with your reporting, and see what the most common issues are and where customers are asking for support. Once you start spotting patterns, those can dictate where you’ll go next. Maybe something as simple as an updated help page or self-service tool can cut your service volume in half? If your agents are constantly doing the same things over and over again, solve for those issues first. If your goal is to increase efficiency, then you should be focusing on finding the best method, not using chatbots for their own sake. By looking at the patterns within your support organization, you can start identifying issues that are holding back your experience to dictate your strategy, which is great practice as a whole. That’s the best way to figure out how automation will fit in.

With the right groundwork, you can be certain that when you do start to explore and use new technologies, your efforts will be a success—and will make a meaningful difference for your customers.

The Truth About Bots and Intelligent Automation

84% of the attendees of our recent webinar, The Truth About Bots and Intelligent Automation, consider Customer Experience Automation a priority for their strategy going forward. What options are available for the automation-minded company, and will a bot deliver amazing service AND make you breakfast? Well, not quite. We got to the bottom of these questions on air, and you can too from the recap below.

Watch the recording here.

Peter Johnson, Kustomer’s VP of Product, and Kaan Ersun, Solvvy’s SVP of Marketing, are both authorities on bots, automation, and using intelligent technologies for better service and support. They discussed the pros and cons of the solutions out there, and made some suggestions for picking and enabling more intelligent service.

Is Automation a Priority?

To kick things off, we started with a poll to take the temperature of the audience. We asked, “Is adopting a customer experience automation solution, such as bots, a priority for you https://s29093.pcdn.co/ your organization?” The results were surprising—the majority of respondents were actively pursuing an automation strategy. Here’s the breakdown:

Yes, this year: 40%

Yes, next year: 32%

Yes, within 2 years: 12%

Not a priority: 16%

Terms You Need to Know

To level-set, PJ and Kaan laid out an overview of the terminology they’ll be using when discussing this complicated technology.

While “intelligent” technologies have existed since Roman times, the term “Artificial Intelligence” came into use in the 1950s—though truly intelligent products just started becoming widely available over the last handful of years. Machine Learning is a more specific application, referring to the ability of machines to advance their program and “learn” from their mistakes without additional programming. A good example is the recent Google AI that beat a world champion at Go. Deep Learning is an even more advanced subset, describing computers that use algorithms that mimic the neural networks of the human brain—meaning they can learn on multiple levels without human supervision.

Bots—Are They All They’re Cracked Up to Be?

But how are these advancements being used on a practical level today? Bots are already taking on a variety of service and service-adjacent tasks within the enterprise, from Digital Marketing and DIY Service, to use cases involving virtual assistants. However, these experiments are still in their early stages. While they may help scale your service, they require a lot of effort to build, and lack customer understanding and the ability to deliver a quality, memorable experience. When you look at the cost and effort to build one versus the level of experience they provide, the math is a bit off.

As PJ put it:

“You’ve probably contacted or been contacted by a support system that tried to act like a human being, but clearly is not. One of our best practices is not to try to seem human, because it can really hurt your brand image and experience.”

On top of that, they aren’t exactly plug-and-play. Service teams have to create replies for every possible input, and they need to be customized for the relevant terminology and details of your business. Actually integrating them with your existing data systems can be a headache, plus they need ongoing maintenance every time you add a new feature or product.

Who’s Using Bots?

Bots may not be the tech overlords they’ve been billed as (yet), but other applications of automation and intelligent systems can supe up your support. And, it’s probably not too late. In our second poll, we learned that most attendees haven’t started using bots yet:

We asked, “What has been your experience with traditional bot technology in your CX operations?” and these were the results:

We use a bot today and love it: 9%

We use a bot today and have encountered some issues: 12%

We use a bot today and have encountered many issues: 12%

I don’t use any bot technology today: 67%

From Bots to Conversational Experience

Before you start experimenting with bots, it’s good to know your options. As Kaan recommended:

“It’s key to have an overarching, holistic automation strategy first—then you can deploy bots as point solutions.”

Bots are a part of this strategy, but not the only focus. Instead, you can also use automation in conjunction with other integrations and platforms to create a stronger experience. Conversational forms look like a chat, but can be used to gather customer info and issues before handing off to a more capable agent to handle the issue. A system that automatically suggests responses to agents works the same as a bot, but uses the added layer of human oversight to learn the right way to respond by tracking your agents’ decisions. And automation is useful for suggesting tags, categorization, macros, helpbase articles, and assisting workflow and reporting—all things that can speed up your experience and make it more efficient, without directly interacting with customers.

As PJ summarized: “Automation is not just about helping the customer, it’s about helping your support organization scale, and identifying areas the product team can improve.”

Kutomer and Solvvy work together to make conversational experience a reality. If you submit a question to Solvvy and can’t find the answer, you can choose to instantly open up a chat in Kustomer and get the answer. Kustomer’s conversational form then collects your personal information, then connects you with an agent who knows your whole customer history.

Where to Begin?

Where do you start the process of using automation or bots strategy if you haven’t already? Kaan had some advice: “Number one, define a strategy, and figure out where the bot can be useful to you, where it won’t work, then pursue new opportunities. Start with the big picture, then move towards implementation.”

Adding to Kaan’s advice, PJ suggested going straight to the data: “First thing: Look at your reporting, and see where you have the highest level of support volume. Look for patterns, see which questions your customers are asking, and what the most repetitive tasks are for your agents?”

If you’re taking a wide-angle approach and carefully planning your strategy, instead of leaping head first into messing around with a bot, your initiatives are much more likely to be a success.

You can always watch the recording HERE, and for more great insights into service, experience, and technology, follow Solvvy and Kustomer.

Why Companies Are Switching from Ticketing Systems to Kustomer

Ticketing systems have been around for decades. Ticket numbers, formal emails (“don’t reply below this line”), isolated data (“what is your order number?”), have been a part of our lives as customers and customer support professionals. It’s hard to believe a better world is possible. Kustomer, built by industry veterans, was created with a different vision in mind—a customer-centric platform that ties together all the conversations and business information about a customer into a single timeline, together with powerful workflows that enable customer-first companies to execute their customer experience vision. In the past year, a number of customers have successfully migrated from ticket-based solutions to Kustomer. Here are a few items that CX agents and executives who made the switch have highlighted about making the move:

1) From Isolated Tickets to a Single Timeline View of the Customer

How many platforms does your team use to communicate with customers? Is your team in constant need to merge tickets? Because tickets from different channels are often disconnected, it’s easy to run into a customer who is chatting with another agent while you’re in the middle of replying to their email. Or worse, you might reply without knowing that they’re already being helped.

In Kustomer, you can see all the communications with your customer in one place. That means that real omnichannel communication is possible. You can go from emailing with a customer to chatting with them, to calling them on the phone, and see all those records in one conversation. That’s because the customer is the atomic unit of our platform—everything revolves around them.

2) From Disconnected Solutions to Actionable Integrations

How many tabs does your team need to keep open at the same time? When your customer support platform is disconnected from the rest of your platforms, agents need to keep copying and pasting customers’ email addresses into your admin systems to get even basic information about the history of their interactions with your company—past orders, delivery status, etc. Kustomer pulls data from all your platforms and tools and arranges it in a way that makes sense for your business.

With Kustomer’s single timeline view, the customer is the focal point, not individual conversations. Not only does Kustomer merge every interaction into the same conversation automatically, it also integrates with your other systems—like Shopify or JIRA, just to name a few. That means you can see when orders are dispatched and delivered, or previous items that customers have added to their carts or subscribed to on your site. All of this is displayed in that same timeline, so you have a deeper context whenever they reach out. Everything is completely customizable, so it’s easy to create a view that empowers your team to tackle your specific business challenges.

With this level of integration, tasks like returns or reimbursements can be completely automated (as we’ll discuss in the next section). No matter if your business is pizza, shoes, or software, Kustomer can be customized to show your agents everything they need to know in a single window. Orders, shipping info, product or version number, buyer and seller information, and social interactions can all appear beside each customer in bespoke “K Objects”. This makes it easy for agents to get the whole picture and take the next best action, or communicate with the right parties while staying on one platform.

3) From Repetitive Tasks to Intuitive Automation

Kustomer makes it easy to automate commonly-used workflows so that your agents can focus on connecting with customers rather than rote tasks. Don’t be limited by basic workflow functionality that won’t simplify your agents’ day-to-day work. Now you can define intelligent, branched workflows and reports encompassing all customer-related systems in your business.

Because Kustomer integrates with your other platforms, it’s way more powerful than just showing your customer history—it allows you to act on it. These branched, multi-step workflows make it easy to efficiently scale your team and automate simple tasks. Sending instant follow-up emails or processing a return is now only a click away and no longer has to take your agents’ attention away from the customer.

4) From Reactive Support to a Proactive Experience

Proactive service solves for what your customers need. That means it may be something they haven’t even asked for, like a faster delivery to avoid an incoming storm that might cause delays. It’s one of the best ways to build stronger relationships and deliver meaningful experiences. Ticketing systems are inherently reactive, as agents only respond when customers have a problem or a question. Because Kustomer keeps all of your customer information in one place, you can create granular searches for customers around specific behaviors or qualities, all on the same platform. That means your service isn’t just efficient—it’s smart.

If you want to build customer loyalty, you can search for customers that may have bought a product that could give them an issue, then send them all a message proactively. Let’s say your new mascara is mislabeled as “Vegan”—you can look up all the customers who have preordered it, then send them an email letting them know the mistake and offering a free refund or exchange if they don’t want it—all before their orders have arrived. Or if there’s going to be a storm that affects customers in a certain geographic area, you can notify all the customers with orders going to that region with a list of options before their shipment is delayed. With all your customers’ information in one place, it’s easier to surprise and delight them than ever.

When you combine this robust search capability with automated workflows, intelligent and proactive outreach can become a reality.

By putting all the information about your customers in a single view and making it easier than ever to act on it, Kustomer is winning over companies across industries. To try our powerful platform for yourself, schedule your demo today.

3 Examples of Conversational Experience

It’s good to have a conversation with your customers, but talking alone isn’t enough. Encouraging customers to contact you over their preferred channels means you need to be ready to respond just as fast as their closest friends. Often, conversations can go in different directions. Sometimes customers may be trying to make a return when what they really need is an exchange. Or they may decide to buy a new product in the middle of asking about a different one. That means that conversational commerce and conversational service are two sides of the same coin. If you want to engage your customers on a 1-1 basis and in real time, then your entire customer experience needs to be part of the conversation. A truly conversational experience is hard to find, but we’ve shared some examples from Brad Birnbaum’s latest piece in Forbes to give you a better idea:

Example 1: IoT

Problem: Your customer’s smart speakers aren’t connecting to WiFi.

Conversational Solution:

  • Your proprietary app brings up an FAQ article when it detects that your customer is not connecting to WiFi.
  • Your automated customer service platform sends an email with an instructional video and support desk information if it detects that your customer has reset their device three times or more.
  • You assign customers who have had multiple problems with high-priority when they call your customer service number so they connect to an agent quickly.
  • Your agent knows that they’ve already received the FAQ and video because your platform gives them a single view of the customer. With that, they can skip ahead to advanced troubleshooting so the customer doesn’t have to repeat the same steps.

Example 2: Meal Delivery Subscription

Problem: Your customer needs to change their subscription and delivery dates.

Conversational Solution:

  • If the customer has to change their delivery location or date, a chatbot or automated solution should instantly handle these simple tasks.
  • If the request is more logistically complicated, like pausing for a week then delivering to a different location, the request should be elevated to an agent.
  • If the request is more complex than that, like changing dietary requirements, agents should get on the phone and consult with them 1-1 to deliver the best possible experience.

Example 3: Clothing Subscription

Problem: Your customer needs a more consultative experience.

Conversational Solution:

  • If customers are asking for a simple request like changing the date of the delivery, agents should ask questions and get more information.
  • If there is a bigger reason, like they’re getting a new job, then an agent should be empowered to step up and act like a stylist to pick more formal options.
  • This more hands-on experience encourages customers to upgrade to a higher subscription tier in the future.

Read the full Forbes article here.

To see how can deliver a truly conversational experience with Kustomer, request a demo today!

Kustomer Localization is made for Global Teams

Many customer service teams today have to support a global customer base. Kustomer has launched Localization, a suite of features that allow you to easily detect, respond, and provide help to a multilingual customer base. Customers and support teams deserve an seamless experience in their respective language, across any channel.

Whether you service customers around the world, or have a team that communicates in multiple languages, our localization features will help you provide personalized customer support. We focused on developing features that make teams more efficient as well as automating tedious tasks associated with providing multilingual support.

Automating Language Detection

 

When your customers contact you, Kustomer is now able to automatically detect the language of the message using Amazon Comprehend dominant language detection. Oftentimes a new message will require your team to have to identify the language, and then assign it to another team or agent. This manual triaging by language is time consuming and ineffective. Automating the language detection for inbound messages allows you to route conversations to the correct team or agent, providing quick reply times. When language detection is enabled, you’ll also be able to get sentiment analysis in multiple languages, helping you to better understand your customer. Language detection will allow agents to work more efficiently by automatically sending messages and displaying Knowledge Base articles in the customer’s’ own language.

Making Translation Easy

We focused on making processes as time-efficient as possible. One of the Localization features that enables this is Snippets. Teams can easily insert translated content into messages, email templates, and Knowledge Base articles. Let’s say you want to provide your agents with an automatic response to questions about returns. You can quickly create a snippet for “return policy” with corresponding translations for languages you want to support. Then, when your agent uses a shortcut with the “return policy” Snippet, it’s automatically translated based on the customer’s language. Adding in personalization is easy too, just combine Snippets, Shortcuts, and Dynamic text and your agent is fully empowered to provide quick personalized support in the correct language.

Enabling Agent Adoption

It’s not just your customers that are global. Many support teams are based all over the world, and it’s important that users can access and use Kustomer in their native language. Unlike other tools where translations are limited to certain features and interfaces, in Kustomer you’ll have full access to language translations across all our features and the user interface. The user interface can be used in over 51 languages (both Right to Left and Left to Right). See a list of all available languages in Kustomer.

For more information about Localization and its included features, check out this article.

Rie Yano and Randi Zuckerberg on What’s Really Next for Retail

Material World is exactly the kind of brand that’s shaping the future of retail. As millennials move towards acquiring more pre-owned, high quality goods and away from Fast Fashion, smart resellers and digital-first marketplaces are snapping up market share. This shifting landscape was a big topic at our Future of Retail Summit, but we got to continue the conversation with one of our panelists—Material World’s co-founder Rie Yano—on Randi Zuckerberg’s Dot Complicated radio show on Sirius XM’s Wharton Business channel.

Randi opened the conversation with some stats, “Despite the press on store closings, data shows a net increase in store openings of over 4,000 in 2017 and sales have increased more than 3% per year since 2008. More and more hyper-customized concierge and on-demand services like ultra-fast delivery, digital dressing rooms, and robot customer service are becoming part of the CRM norm.”

There’s no doubt that customer behavior is driving the future of retail and relationships. Rie and Alon discussed the implications of these big picture changes. Find some of the highlights from Alon and Rie’s conversation with Randi below.

The Future of Brick and Mortar

While there’s so much focus on etail, traditional store-centric retail still has a huge place in the market. However, brick and mortar is changing, and needs to account for the digital experience. To make sure that the buyer journey continues and that the experience is relevant and consistent, you need the total customer view:

The Future of Subscriptions

Subscription business models are supplementing or even replacing both brick and mortar and etail channels. Customers love the convenience, and it’s a unique way for retailers to build loyalty. Material World has recently started offering a Material Box: the service delivers a pre-owned outfit styled by a designer straight to your doorstep, which you can also use to donate items of your own when you send it back. Subscription is proving to be both a great way to provide an easier shopping experience to your customers, and to learn more about them and build a deeper relationship. 

The Future of Bots

Automation is a useful way to cut down on the number of basic inquiries coming through to your customer service representatives, giving customers the fast responses they expect. However, the experience can only be taken so far. Instead, bots have to amplify your agents’ abilities, not replace them.

What’s Next?

We can’t be sure of what the future holds, but from our conversation with Rie and Randi, we’re pretty sure it’s going to include way better experiences for customers—whether they’re in-store, online, or somewhere in between. That, and dancing. Lots of dancing.

To listen to the full episode, head over to SiriusXM.

How to Turn One-Time Shoppers Into Repeat Customers

What we learned from our webinar with DSTLD and Optimove

How do you keep customers coming back? Our latest webinar answers just that question, and features DSTLD Customer Experience Manager Laura Gramlich (read our guest post from Laura here) and Optimove Solutions Engineer Leigh Noy, hosted by our own Senior Manager of Marketing Programs Stacey Dolchin. We discussed how to build loyalty with the rush of customers that companies acquire during a busy period. Whether that’s holidays, product launches, or special events, you need to prioritize loyalty and retention to be successful.

Our conversation with DSTLD and Optimove brought up an array of useful insights for dealing with these issues, perfect for any brands looking to build a stronger relationship with first-time buyers.

DSTLD is a brand that prioritizes their end-to-end experience to turn their customers into diehard fans. By selling high-quality denim and basics directly to consumers at a fraction of the price of bigger brands, they’ve struck a chord with fashion-enthusiasts. Their unique offering drives interest, but it’s important to keep these shoppers coming back for more. DSTLD has a few strategies for this:

Individualized and Personal Customer Service: By integrating their existing shopping platforms with Kustomer, they can view orders and customer conversations together. By having this information in one timeline, it’s easy to deliver fast, intuitive assistance.

Real-time Chat: One of the highest rates of drop-off for an ecommerce site occurs when a customer has issues prior to and at checkout. After launching chat on their site, DSTLD was able to respond immediately to their customers and answer their questions, resulting in a higher conversion rate at checkout.

Post-Purchase Automation: If deliveries are delayed due to a weather event, DSTLD’s goal is to identify customers who may be affected by using Kustomer, and then reach out to those who have been affected with an automated message that allows them to easily pick the next course of action.

Improved Returns Experience: DSTLD has made their returns experience a priority, constantly innovating and scaling up in the offseason to deliver the best possible experience when demand is high. Their new process for exchanges makes completing them even easier, meaning customers receive their item even faster than before.

Optimove picked up where DSTLD left off, sharing how to retain customers and build engagement after a high-demand period. They suggest following 3 key steps to make a difference in your experience to build a bond for life with customers.

1. Detect and Reward Your VIPs: VIP’s (the top 5% of customers) are responsible for 60% of your revenue according to Optimove, so it’s crucial to find them and treat them right. Look at the journey of your current VIPs to identify future candidates, then give them early access and special offers — but don’t take your current VIPs for granted, either.

2. Create a Plan for Post-Holiday Retention: The average transaction amount during the holiday season is 30% higher for repeat customers than new customers, but newly acquired customers during the holiday are 90% less likely to return for repeat business — making it all the more crucial to have a retention plan ready.

3. Strategize for The Long Game: The chances of making another transaction increases as the number of initial transactions increase — that means there’s a real incentive and knock-on effect to converting first-time shoppers. Analyze them, and apply what you’ve learned from your multi-time shoppers to convert more first-timers into repeat customers.

Clearly there’s real value in focusing on a long-term strategy for getting customers to buy from you again and again, beyond simply making more sales. Repeat customers are more loyal and enthusiastic for your brand, and buy far more than the shoppers who just stop in when demand is high. A solid strategy, top-notch experience, and a commitment to finding and encouraging the customers who are most likely to keep coming back is what will make the difference for your business — and knowing everything about your customers makes it that much easier.

IQPC CX Research Report for Retailers: Top Takeaways

Our executive-level insights from our most in-depth report yet.

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT NOW

At Kustomer, we love retail and direct-to-consumer brands. These brands are becoming more and more obsessed with their customers—because they need to be to differentiate themselves in today’s competitive era of retail. For them, experience is everything: product, sales, service, branding, and more.

Our most recent and intensive research report, authored in partnership with Customer Contact Week Digital (a division of IQPC), takes an in-depth look into the state of customer experience for retail businesses. What we found was enlightening.

If you’re at a retail brand, definitely pay attention, because one thing became very clear:

CX IS THE MAIN DIFFERENTIATOR FOR RETAIL
That’s right. Not branding, not marketing, not pricing.

The research shows that you must avoid the major retail trap and focus on the entire customer lifetime journey — not just the Point of Purchase. Retailers need to optimize their interactions, but stay focused on increasing lifetime value with simple, personal experiences. And despite their commitment, most retailers aren’t capable of delivering these experiences. The report found that:

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • The #1 priority of most retailers is to reduce the effort customers need to spend in their customer experience. The #2 priority is automation.
  • The #1 frustration for agents is disconnected systems.
  • 80% of retailers say that their customers struggle to move between touchpoints without having to repeat information.

And in the report, we dive deep into the opportunities for retailers and how they’re capitalizing on them to improve their experience and drive business growth:

  • Reducing Effort: Only 48% of businesses are making any attempt to measure effort. However by putting all their information in a single timeline, ParkWhiz was able to matchmake users and parking spaces, and found a 2–3% increase in retention with customers who have interacted with the CX team — and increased average Time to First Response by more than 10%.

  • Personalization: Only 46% of businesses are actively attempting to assess the personalization of their experiences. Yet Glossier is able to see all their customer and order information in one place, which makes it easy to deliver highly personalized, 1–1 interactions.

  • Automation: 79% of retailers believe bots are important, and 60% plan to maintain or increase their investments in automation. By making the customer their atomic unit of understanding, Slice was able to manage customer interactions across teams and manage thousands of touches daily, seeing a 20–30% decrease in handle times.

Investing in these goals yields real results.
Delivering a solid and memorable experience is difficult and getting harder, but Kustomer is here to help. The full customer picture provides teams with the right intelligence to better optimize business service processes with automation, prioritize team member time, and scale your service operations as the business grows, driving increased customer lifetime value.

The retailers that invest in their customer experience and get this complete customer view are going to be able to differentiate themselves and remain relevant. Read our full report, and make this the year you deliver the best customer experience yet.

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Know Everything About Every Customer

I am unique. You are unique. We differ in many ways, including how we behave, shop, engage, talk, and react.

We are also creatures of habit and prefer to leverage a trusted vendor who has provided us with a consistent, good experience. For example, most people have a favorite local barista at the cofee shop we buy our large coffee from on the way to work. When we have consistent, good experiences, we return to the same trusted vendors or brands that serve our diverse daily needs like clothes, cosmetics, jewelry, housing items, pet food, travel and food.

These businesses also have an identity of their own, a unique approach and well defined processes for treating and serving special customers like me and you. However, there is often a disconnect between businesses’ approach to the customer experience and customer expectations.

The chasm between the needs of today’s customers and what experience brands truly provide, is referred to as the CX Expectations Gap. Meeting these needs requires a lot of work: time, money, effort, and resources.

There are places and companies who have been successful at addressing specific expectation and personalization needs. They are usually local vendors who have intimate knowledge and recurring facetime with their customer base. You interact with these local vendors every day, from your regular bar’s bartender, local diner manager, barista at the coffee shop on your way to work, or my local fruit vendor. They are all different in many ways but have one critical aspect in common. A process that helps them know everything about every customer.

My local fruit vendor works hard. He recognizes me and knows my preferences. If there are great, slightly green bananas and it’s Monday he knows to save me these as I pick up fruit on way back from work. When he gets an order of figs (one of my favorites) and sees me exit the subway, he lets me know. He knows I like the extra hard cucumbers and the plums my kids make me buy everytime they come with me to buy fruit.He offers these as upsell and perhaps caters to people like me with a special offer.

He knows there is another vendor three blocks away, so after a bad experience with sour, bad grapes, he immediately refunded me and offered fresh grapes. And he now knows that everyone who bought these batches of grapes that day may have experienced the same displeasure and are at risk of moving to another vendor, risking a loss of repeat business and clientele. So he asks those he remembers if the grapes were ok and offers similar replacements.

But does this process scale? What if it could? What if you could make every customer a priority, just like my local fruit vendor, by knowing everything about them?

For that you need to ensure every system, app, and data point is integrated the right way as to portray your unique business processes, focusing on driving superior CX and enabling you to drive the right, informed action by agent, marketing, automation and knowledge workers in the company.

This requires the following:

  • Incorporating every customer’s entire buying history, from self service, online, offline and every relevant action into as single repository that drives the right action for the appropriate customer facing employee.
  • Understanding your customer’s engagement preferences, to be able to respond to them when needed and proactively reach out when appropriate.
  • Analyzing sentiment changes, trends, and patterns, as to drive informed decisions for a segment of customers, who may have received the wrong or damaged product.
  • Enabling inventory demand vs supply shifts to notify the right person through their preferred channel of interaction and to offer alternate products now vs waiting for the restock.

Automating your business processes to drive great CX, enabling a full view of every customer’s unique story, and knowing everything about every customer as to drive informed actions — that’s the vision and future we all dream about.

Stop dreaming. And start today with Kustomer.

About Alon Waks: Alon Waks is the VP of Marketing at Kustomer. Previously Alon was VP of Marketing at 8×8, leading segment and demand globally, including all Go-to-market, content and sales development. Alon has a vast experience in B2B Marketing, Product Management, GTM and consulting. Prior to 8×8, Alon was VP, Global Head of Marketing at LivePerson, where he led all content, demand generation, field marketing and global operations, and also served as the head of product marketing for many years. Prior to that, Alon led Product Go-To-Market for Avaya. He has a rich background in IT consulting, Business Intelligence, Product and working worldwide with enterprise customer’s Line of Business, IT and marketing. Alon holds a dual degree from Tel Aviv University and a MBA from Duke University.

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