Why The Future Of CX Means We’ll Be Talking More

future of CX

Customers will always want to speak to someone during their journey to purchase, especially when a decision is close to being made. Why? Phone calls are immediate, they remove the worry of waiting for an easily ignored-email reply. Speaking to a human representative can make explaining a complex situation much easier. A Google study found that 61% of mobile users call a business when they’re in the purchase phase of the buying cycle.

The type of purchase is usually a good indicator of why this person is calling, if a considerable amount of money was spent on a car or home, customers can be assured more easily with a voice. Filling out forms simply isn’t a popular form of communication anymore, to combat this, there is now an option to automate the process by adding auto fill extensions to their system. 

Automating form filling may have eased customer frustration but it hasn’t deterred the need to talk. Click to call has influenced nearly one trillion dollars in consumer spending according to BIA/Kelsey. 

Click-to-call is another automation designed to combine both a customer’s need for quick action and personalisation. Almost all websites on the internet offer a clickable option to call. According to a report by Google, after Esurance, an American Insurance brand, began placing click-to-call ads in their search results they saw a 200 per cent increase in traffic on their mobile site. 

The future of B2C is looking more like a speedy and predictive space for talkers. Instead of wasting human agents’ time on arbitrary questions like store opening times and parking, machine learning technology and FAQ-type voice bots will handle the simpler questions while prioritising more complex queries to their human counterparts. 

With this in mind, speech recognition tech is set to become a common addition to everyday life. Most heavyweights in the industry predict a time when customer service will be sophisticated enough for “Star Trek style full conversations where the computer interacts with the user and can control technology,” says Peter T. Boyd, President & Founder of SEO firm PaperStreet

Either way, conversations will still be happening, and creating a streamlined path to boost the brand conversation economy is down to keeping up with the digital Joneses

Via: The Future of Everything, BIA/Kelsey, Google. 

5 Common Mistakes Made When Updating Call Centres

call centre mistakes

In customer-facing businesses, when a prospect decides to call, it’s usually because they are looking for help and an informed voice on the other end. Call centres that can meet these requirements need the software that can keep up with modern expectations. Some companies outsource their call centres, while others are moving towards communication technology that keeps everything in-house. But when updating call centres with new systems, what are major mistakes to look out for?

1.Too hard to implement

Revamping an existing platform that has worked for decades can be harrowing, but sticking with legacy systems can also push a company’s customer service back in time. Finding a middle ground where the new software is easy to learn and makes change seamless is the goal, don’t look for the hottest package on the market and expect miracles. It could all end in tears.

Starting with integrative software is a great way to inch into new territory for brands and their call centre teams. Find programs that act as middlemen – streaming call data into existing CRM systems.

2. Doesn’t remove data silos

The bane of most modern call centres is too many data silos. The latent and real-time caller data that streams into call centres have significant value but it needs to used and not stored for a rainy day. According to My Customer via SAS, “only 23% of companies — less than 1 in 4 — are able to generate real-time insights with customer data.”

The technology is out there with routing, profiling and prioritising capabilities that paints an entire picture of data impact on ROI and company development. Use it.

3. Thinking more IVR means better customer service

Nope. In no way does adding more IVR to a call queue make it better. Customers don’t want to wait to speak to a service representative for ages, it’s a guaranteed way to lose prospects. “At the beginning of a customer service experience, 90 per cent of our respondents want to speak to a live agent,” says The Conversation.

4. No remote option

Modern contact centre software gives agents the opportunity to work remotely. This is helpful when considering the impact of the global community on business development, our borders are definitely blurring. If needed, using agents from all corners of the globe remotely under the umbrella of a unified system can improve personalisation by breaking language barriers. Don’t send a non-English speaking customer to an English speaking agent. Route calls to the right agents wherever they are.

5. Not using the right metrics

Focusing on how every agent is managing a call isn’t always the best use of data. There are multiple signifiers of how to better the call experience. Luckily platforms offer dashboards that reveal the intricate elements of call. Metrics like call through rate, call duration and missed calls can point to more than just a lack of good customer handling, rather how the brand can improve the entire customer journey through better marketing, targeting, and nurturing.

Improving training for agents is always good, but optimising the caller journey can also make an agent’s job a lot easier and more fruitful.

Need more help?

Via: The Conversation, My Customer.

7 Ways To Have An Impactful Conversation With Your Consumers

These days, consumers arrive from an array of digital channels during the path-to-purchase journey, but more often than not there is a moment when human interaction is necessary, especially when something goes toes up or for larger purchases such as real estate or a car.

According to Google, “47% of those they surveyed described feeling “frustrated or annoyed” or “more likely to explore other brands” when a call wasn’t picked up. The advent of click-to-call is causing an influx of call volumes, a whopping 70% of prospects hit the call CTA.

Once the button is pressed and an offline interaction begins, the quality of conversation or rate of pick up can make or break a conversion, which is why we have a few suggestions for transforming your communication strategy that will guide your callers to the final stage of their journey and beyond.

1. Follow up

Following up is not chasing or harassment, its courtesy and can improve upsell potential. A post-conversation chat should be filled with a knowledge of the customer (based on their history) and also questions that can help gauge a greater understanding of what they want in their own words.

2. Speed up decision making

Automated workflows can speed up how a caller lands on the right agent based on their context. If a specific answer is required, understanding a prospects movements on a brand website can give the agent a headstart to finding a solution before they even answer the call.

3. Remove friction

Take away the multiple delays associated with IVR systems, no one likes friction in CX especially when the purchase is of high value. Remove pain points for callers by cascading or sending them through a quicker route to the conversation they really need to have.

4. Know the trends

Analyse, analyse, analyse. Conversations with consumers these days come with a ton of context behind them as the research phase almost always starts with a browsing history. Tracking every key measure from these touchpoints can be a useful way to understand the bigger consumer picture and make conversations less about interrogation and more about connection.

5. Understand their data

Knowing every granular detail of where/how/why a consumer has arrived at your doorstep is vital. In some cases, a PPC (pay-per-click) caller is more of a priority than someone who didn’t visit a higher value page or is just casually browsing.

6. Bring them back

B2C industries like automotive and travel know that a missed call is a missed opportunity, especially when considering their high-profit margins. If a consumer’s call isn’t acknowledged it can be detrimental to both company reputation and the bottom line. For mobile workforces, a simple solution is using just that, their mobile.

Missed call notifications in email or SMS form have a knack for dropping call abandonment rates by nearly 80% while ensuring sales teams value callers and proactively pursue them. Sending a callback request SMS to a missed consumer is always favourable on their end if a call isn’t picked up, data from Software Advice shows that 63 per cent” of consumers surveyed preferred callback.

7. Be a human!

This brings us to the last and final point of any consumer-facing conversation, be a human being! Personalisation is the bread and butter of CX lately, we may think we want to speak to robots but the need for just the right amount of empathy is currently outweighing the convenience of chatbots.

A happy medium is the best bet in this scenario, use technology to make the process of getting to the human help easier, now that’s impactful.

Via: Google, Software Advice

How Workflows Improve The Consumer Experience

“Whatever we do must be in accord with human nature. We cannot drive people; we must direct their development,” – Henry Gantt.

The idea of workflows has been around for decades and presently pops up everywhere in commerce. Henry Gantt, an American mechanical engineer and pioneer of the “Gantt Chart” was possibly the first to spark the idea of a project management schedule during the industrial revolution – which has since become a workflow.

Overall, the Gantt Chart was about increasing efficiency and that aim has transferred to how the consumer experience is managed today within multiple business models.

Workflows are about automating the business process using technology for peak performance and easy communication between brand and buyer.

In a heavily populated digital ecosystem consumer service is more programmed than ever and sometimes these automated interactions do little to maintain loyalty with a consumer base. Human beings are the sum total of their experiences and that notion should transfer to how they exist online as well.

A notable complaint of many callers is being trapped in the IVR abyss and then being shuffled around from department to department like a pack of cards with very little empathy in place. Well placed workflows have a knack for making sure no conversation is lost in the din of call centres and chat queues.

How do they do this?

Granular data

Anyone on the internet is just a blob of data there to be captured, harsh but true. Forming that mass of binary into something useful (and compliant) is now the job of brands more than ever.

Workflows that include granular targeting can help boost efficiency and make callers feel a sense of personalisation even if they’re merely one of many. Granular targeting uses granular data which is malleable and highly useful information that, “can be aggregated and disaggregated to meet the needs of different situations,” says Technopedia.

Considering the fact that millions are at stake for every ad campaign, building a strategy based on specific consumer details derived from granular data can help make every penny count and put brands on the right side of a gamble. This is good if a company needs, “to prove a theory,” according to Hawke Media. A theory as simple as, “this is what our audience needs.”

It’s all down to the elements of what motivates or defines a caller/buyer/consumer. There are multiple reasons why someone is reaching out to a company and workflows including call routing take these things into account when managing a pool in call centres, dealerships or any consumer-facing business. Call routing workflows prioritise inbound calls based on factors such as geolocation, pages visited, phone number and device. Intelligent call routing can enhance the consumer experience by segmenting this data into profiles that take them to those answers they need.


Another way workflows add to a positive consumer experience is by using automation like notifications. One person will often reach out to a company via an arsenal of mobile technology, i.e., tablet, smartphone, laptop – in this day and age they’re used to speedy searches and easy satisfaction. Luckily, workflows can be triggered into different actions like sending an automated feedback email after a call or SMS reminders to agents if a call is missed. “Workflows make it easy to keep track of these important changes, so you know which of your leads are warmest, and can act on that information immediately,” says Hubspot.

Beyond the fact that actionable workflows aid in efficiency behind the scenes, they really help with consumer engagement too – once used holistically of course. A holistic approach points to custom building a digital interaction that acknowledges the needs of the receiver. Great CX has a basis in consistency and automated workflows are nothing if not dependable. With consistency comes trust and eventually, loyalty. “Trust-building and engagement are what notifications are all about. And it’s why thinking about notifications should be a key part of any CX plan,” notes Brent Sleeper for Marketing Land.

The human touch

Automation, notifications and granular details. Now that we’ve covered the technical intricacies of why workflows should be in every businesses’ toolkit, its time to consider what Gantt mentioned – keeping in line with human nature. Despite hiding behind numerous modes of communication thanks to advances in technology, human beings still need to feel that personal touch. The buzzword of the moment in consumer service seems to be AI thanks to Alexa, Google Home, Siri and other voice-activated robot assistants on the market. However, developers are still struggling with embedding empathy into their systems and this can be problematic, especially in consumer-facing industries, where dropped calls and lost leads are becoming more frequent.

“We’re now surrounded by hyper-connected smart devices that are autonomous, conversational, and relational, but they’re completely devoid of any ability to tell how annoyed or happy or depressed we are. And that’s a problem,” says Rana. We’re further away from excluding humans completely than we realise. We may be biased, but workflows should be considered a happy medium while we wait for those robot agents with emotional intelligence to take over.

Until then,  they will connect a human agent and a human consumer quickly and proactively by considering the technical context of how and why they got there. It’s this symbiosis that works, for now. “There’s going to be a learning curve with automated customer service, and everyone will get on the bandwagon in their own good time. Don’t force it, and introduce any big changes slowly. Your customers will thank you for the “toe dip” approach rather than being pushed into the deep end,” preaches Salesforce.

Workflows are a toe dip we can definitely live with.

Via: Salesforce Blog, Marketing Land, Hubspot, Hawke Media, Technopedia, The British Library. 

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 

Conversational Commerce: Turn 97% of your traffic into a sales conversation

In the 21st century, our communication habits are changing faster than any other period throughout history.
We now know the 4 big messaging apps boast more active daily users than the big four social media platforms. However, this trend shift has only been seen in the past 12-18 months.
Heres what 2014 looked like:
Source: (Comscore)
Source: (Nielsen)
And more recently, 2016
Source: (Statista)
And Overtime

Source: (Business Insider)

Messenger uptake is directly affected by how easy it is to facilitate conversations
Mobile had so much success in the first place because of text messaging.
The familiarity of texting drives efficiency, with a strong desire to get from A to Z in the least amount of steps.
WhatsApp hasn’t been so successful because it had 1000 features, it was successful because it allowed friends and family to have groups of conversations where the history could be seen. It was text messaging 2.0.

We are multi tasking across media types
We’re willing to embrace anything if it lets us have a conversation with each other through multi-media & channel as long as its in real-time and convenient.

The psychology of social is playing a part
Facebook have released a study which shows we are now much more concerned with our posting behaviour on social media and we are going out of our way to edit or delete posts we are about to post. The care free days of sharing and posting what we want has now reached a point where we no longer feel comfortable sharing certain information in a public forum. Social media has become the centre for how we wish our lives to be viewed by our wider social circle, not a private sharing amongst friends.

Messaging facilitates privacy, ease and instant gratification
Messaging offers a new “more convenient” way of sharing information with certain groups of people. Sending a picture to a set of friends in a group is very different from posting it on Facebook for everyone to see.
Messaging apps have offered us a new way to have complex or simple conversations that are private or open in an easy to control environment where the user can be relaxed.

So where do brands stand in this conversation?
Easy, we should be less worried about our advertising (1-way monologue) and care more about how we offer our customers the opportunity to have a real-time two-way conversation with us.
Depending on the source, companies see an average 3% conversion rate on their site. This means that at the least 97% of your website traffic arrived, browsed and then left.
What if your marketing team offered chat, messaging, email, click-to-message, click-to-call, and was able to manage and personalise every inbound call. What kind of effect would that have on the website conversion rate?

Will “conversion rate” even exist by 2020. Will we care more about “conversation rate”.
The question we should all be asking ourselves:
How can we turn the remaining 97% of our website traffic into a sales conversation?

Conversational commerce, now, in the Google stack

Telling and selling is over, the conversation arrives
So with conversational commerce and the scene set let’s take it back a step and place this into a deliverable context that’s available right now. How can you be making the most of your customers conversational data for marketing.
Three huge areas…. being blunt.
Display advertising, Search advertising and Website analytics, and we have three plug-and-play real-time integrations with Google for you.

Google Doubleclick – Supercharge your display
Our users take advantage of our plug and play Doubleclick real-time integration to make sure they see any customer conversation event alongside their display and video advertising campaigns. We help our customers make sure Doubleclick can act on any type of customer engagement, i.e checkout, chat and phone calls. Freespee data offers businesses the ability to prospect for new audiences on more than just the traditional checkout event, and delivers re-targeting of customers that showed high purchase intent through chat or the phone.

Google Doubleclick Search – Enhance every campaign
In the same vein as Doubleclick, we offer our customers a plug and play Doubleclick search real-time integration that places customer communication events alongside their search advertising campaigns. Down to the keyword, Freespee users know what campaign influenced their customers to enter into a conversation. Knowing the outcome of the conversation provides insight into developing keyword strategies that are optimised to acquire traffic suited to business goals.

Google Analytics – Add your missing audiences
Conversion optimisation is a hot topic, how do we get more out of what we have, and with Google recently announcing a free website a/b testing solution, they are trying to make it even easier for you to optimise the digital experience for your visitors. Synchronising the Freespee conversation cloud with your Google 360 account empowers you to see your visitors and how communication events for various visitor experiments influence your online sales. As Freespee is agnostic to the conversational interface the customer chooses to use, you can manage the data from all of your customers conversation threads across voice and text in one platform.

Freespee offers advertising campaigns responsive to customer conversations
Conversational commerce represents an evolutionary step forward from both a traditional outbound acquisition and retention marketing focus. This is why our customers choose Freespee.. Conversational data is of strategic importance in staying ahead of the market and competitors.
Unless you have complete visibility and control over every inbound conversational event, you are a passive business in understanding holistically your customers behaviour, motivations, and how your brand is servicing your customers.
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.

Conversational Commerce Will Drive Inbound Marketing Dominance

Conversational commerce through the Freespee cloud

So far this week we have been painting the picture around the conversational commerce space, the channels, the opportunities and some of the players. All in all, its setting a scene that seeks to affirm the internet and the mobile consumer are in charge and they expect multi-device, instant-response methods of communication with brands.

A refreshing change of direction for both sides

Marketing and advertising is rampant with one-way push monologue. Conversational commerce is the massive shake up for brands because businesses and marketers will have to realise it’s finally time we actually let our consumers have a conversation with us… and the future is inbound. The ability to successfully “Monitor, manage and personalise communication experiences for your customers” through your inbound conversational interfaces.

Survival will be those who adapt and realise change is with the next wave

Can brands continue to consider themselves “customer focused” who offer a form, a 7 minute IVR queue, or call routing that takes their customers off into the ether where they have no visibility or control over whether they were were even answered, the consumer’s goals were achieved, or customer service. 

This will flip the marketing funnel upside down

The communication stack is now finally being opened through the inbound channels. Consumer conversational interfaces (text & voice) previously used for personal 1:1 communication are now being integrated into the marketing stack to offer the same level of personalisation and real-time interaction you would come to expect in a non-business context. With the increase in the opportunity and availability to have conversations with your consumers across multiple touch points, it will be those who deliver the best experience during and after the conversation that succeed. Not who spend the most on advertising.

Lessons learned from the traditional inbound marketing stack

If there is a massive learning brands should take from this, especially customer success, CRM and data-driven marketers is, not to let the same silo’s and lack of integrations become the next barrier to success. The traditional inbound channels are already routing your customer conversion and conversation data into separate solutions and databases, some of which you control and others you don’t.

Freespee solves this for enterprise brands with a channel agnostic approach

We provide our customers with a software layer that sits between your customers and every inbound conversational interface across:

Calls (voice)
SMS (text)
Chat (text)
Forms (text)
App messages (text)

Freespee is an interface agnostic solution that offers marketers one platform so they can be at the centre of their customers conversations… where they should be.

To find out more, contact us to schedule a demo.

Click-to-message ads and the rise of conversational commerce

Earlier this month Google announced the roll-out of a new feature enhancing its mobile Adwords offering: click-to-message ads. It provides an easy way for consumers to message brands through an ad extension, launching the SMS app with a pre-written message tailored to the relevant product or service.

Why this is a major shift for the entire industry
Consumers’ preference to contact brands via messaging solutions is on the rise. According to Google, 65% of consumers would like to use messaging in order to connect with brands and receive information about a product, service or schedule an appointment. And 97% of smartphone owners use texting—it’s also the “app” they use most frequently.

Can your brand afford to not be conversational now
With this new feature it opens up a large opportunity for consumers and marketers to be able have conversations over SMS bypassing the typical current barriers to communication. And with the meteoric rise of messenger apps in the market, the top four sharing 3bn users in total and silicon valley on a quest to provide the future AI Chat solution. Google are opening the communication stack in their own way to give consumers and brands the opportunity to open a dialogue through the simplest and most used means.

Why this relates back to Chris Messina’s 2015 post on conversational commerce.

In 2015 Uber’s Chris Messina predicted that 2016 will be the year of “conversational commerce”. He defined this term as “pertains to utilizing chat, messaging, or other natural language interfaces (i.e. voice) to interact with people, brands, or services and bots that heretofore have had no real place in the bidirectional, asynchronous messaging context.”

Why consumer behaviour is driving this shift:
Ease, effectiveness, and emotion.
Consumers want to move between devices and use the conversational interface they feel the most comfortable with to get service at any point in their pre-or-post-purchase journey instantly.

Conversational commerce represents a digital leap forward for many brands

The ability to carry out a host of tasks entirely via messaging: transfer money, ask questions, make purchases, book travel and check the weather through a bot is comfortable for some and not others. But this is not entirely relegated to text interfaces only, Amazon Echo offers all of these features through their voice technology, and consumers have been calling brands since the invention of the telephone to achieve these goals. To reiterate more plainly Chris’s observation, “Conversational commerce is a conversation through text or voice between humans or with a bot.

And some brands are onboard already

KLM partnered with Facebook Messenger to allow users to look at their travel itinerary, check flight updates, download their boarding passes and book new flights. And with the announcement of the paypal integration consumers will now be able to securely purchase products directly through the messaging app.

The conversation is the centre of the customer experience and the quality of the conversation is the brand differentiator.

Brands must become more comfortable in providing their consumers with a range of conversational interfaces across both text and voice. And the next step in this evolution is for non-developers to get easy access to this communication stack. It won’t be enough to enable these conversation channels, marketers and ecommerce professionals need to take control of the experience across every text and voice interface to create exceptional consumer experiences and influence sales conversations.

Freespee is the software layer enterprise brands need to take control of conversational commerce.

How? Freespee is the only conversation cloud that offers businesses a marketing and analytics layer between your customers and your conversation channels. We give you visibility, control and personalisation through automated real-time messaging across your text channels (sms, chat, app messaging, forms) and voice (calls).

With the Freespee conversation cloud you can now manage all text and voice conversations your customers are having with your brand today across your desktop, mobile web, and mobile app.

To find out more, contact us to schedule a demo.