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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photographs: Howard Sayer 

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

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

Making the call-centre standout

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

Get a head of brand language

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

Sophisticated analytics

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

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

How To Ensure A Smooth Brand to Dealer Experience

brand to dealer

Possibly one of the best times to buy a car is during the festive season, due partly to discount-happy dealers aiming to make their end-of-quarter sales. However, the journey from beginning to end can be tenuous for brands.
By the time a consumer has clicked on the test drive button, the connection between brand and caller is broken, after that, the dealer takes over the process. With such a large pool of engaged clientele congregating online, the ability to follow a lead into an acquisition is arguably facilitated by the digital communication channel.

A Little Background

The automotive model has remained steady for the last century, the entire research and buying process standardly occurred at brick and mortar dealerships, but with the advent of digital marketplaces like eBay,, Car Giant, and AutoTrader the market has expanded significantly. According to AutoTrader, “car buyers now spend 59 per cent of their time online,” researching a future purchase.
Other stats illustrate that 23 per cent of these customers are enduring a full customer journey online up until buying the car at a dealer.

The problem is that the dealership interaction can sometimes negate the relationship created between brand and caller up to that point since 88% of consumers refuse to buy a car without a test drive, multi-location businesses need to consider ways to bridge this gap. Additionally, there is a feeling of disconnect felt by consumers once they’ve left the cushy, streamlined world of online branding.

“My experience was that the dealer was remarkably unaware of the steps I had already taken to get this far. When I arrived at the dealership, the car I had requested was available to be driven, but the dealer didn’t know if I had configured the car, what my criteria were in buying a car, or why I had chosen the make, model, and options that I had,” writes Adobe Digital Experience blogger Axel G. Heyenga.

Despite the fact that dealerships operate as independent entities, consumers remain connected with the brand’s website during their time on the ground.

A Car Buyer Journey study commissioned by Autotrader and conducted by IHS Automotive found that the top five uses of a mobile at a dealership include, “comparing prices for vehicles at other dealerships (59 per cent); finding prices for vehicles at the dealership where the consumer was (41 percent); comparing inventory at other dealerships (38 percent); check inventory at the dealership where the consumer was (36 per cent); and research trade-in pricing (33 percent).”

The evidence more than suggests that the buyer is less comfortable breaking ties with their online data pool, they are also arriving at a dealer sometimes more educated than their salesman.

A Smooth Continuation

Many auto brands and marketplaces have found novel ways to connect the dots; Audi City is one example of an attempt at digitising the showroom culture, BMW also seeks to make their on-the-ground experience less informative and more transitional. Still, the ability to follow a lead may require a more structured and transparent set up that lays the brickwork for brands to monitor the entire car buyer’s journey from research to purchase.

As technology continues its rocket towards a fully automated existence, eventually brands won’t have to worry about such a separation — test drives may even be conducted from the comfort of a living room, and all coveted customer data will be collected under one digital roof.
Until then,“ the overarching lesson here is the need to view the automotive customer journey as a whole,” states Oliver.

Via: Oliver, AutoTrader

Conversational commerce – Do the figures back it up..

Can your brand become a conversation brand
Do the usage figures or general expectations of consumers stack up against Conversational Commerce. Is this all hot air or are we onto something here….
Let’s do it.
Big facts for marketers who like numbers


  • People worldwide will send 8.3 trillion text messages in just this year alone. That’s almost 23 billion messages per day, or almost 16 million messages per minute. (Portio Research)
  • The average Millennial exchanges an average of 67 text messages per day (Business Insider)
  • 79% of companies believe customers want SMS/text support. (ICMI)
  • 80% of professionals currently use text for business purposes. (RingCentral)
  • 65% of website traffic in January 2016 was via mobile (Emarketer)

App messenger

  • 900 million active users on WhatsApp, 800 million on Facebook Messenger, 860 million on QQ mobile, 650 million on WeChat, and 300 million on Skype (Statista)
  • Over 2.5 billion people have at least one messaging app installed (Economist)
  • WhatsApp users average nearly 200 minutes each week using the service (Business Insider)
  • 51 percent of people say a business needs to be available 24/7 (Ubisend)
  • 63% of consumers are more likely to message a brand today more so than two years ago (Facebook)

Chat bots

  • 11,000 chat bots have been added to Facebook messenger  (Venturebeat)
  • The Wit AI community now boasts 21,500 active developers (Wit AI)
  • Messaging app user penetration is projected to exceed 68% by 2019. (Emarketer)
  • Bot proliferation began in early 2016, within 6 months each of the major tech platforms had launched a bot platform  (Activate)
  • 50 use cases brands should be able to draw inspiration from on the possibilities of a chat bot (Exponea)


  • By the end of this year there will be an estimated 2 billion smartphone users (Emarketer)
  • 70% of mobile searchers have used click to call to connect with a business directly from the search engine results page. (Google)
  • 61% find it extremely important to be able to call a business when making a purchase. (Google)
  • Mobile search alone will drive 73 billion calls per year by 2018 (BIA Kelsey)
  • An estimated £13 billion in internet related revenue is conducted over calls (Vodafone)

The conversation is becoming more integrated and a seamless part of our lives
The way we interact with brands has forever changed since the smartphone and with the growing usage of mobile messaging applications and an entire generation of mobile-native consumers who are comfortable and fluent with messaging as an interaction. Text and voice interactions with brands are only going to grow and expand across interfaces that will be expected to either be served by a human or an AI that is nearly indistinguishable from a human.
Our vision is to place marketers at the centre of every customer conversation and give them the power to improve experiences on a global scale.