Customer experience has always been about having meaningful conversations with customers. Being personable and human as a brand grasps people’s attention and builds long-term relationships.
But, that’s not how most companies traditionally viewed customer experience (CX). We were (and still are) focused on interactions, open issues, tickets, call waiting, and so on—making the whole concept of CX somewhat transactional and stale. Customers have picked up on that: for example, 84 percent of customers say being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business.
That’s not to say that effective, personable communication doesn’t happen. But that’s usually dependent on the skill of customer-facing staff.
Now, the next wave of CX is to be conversational by design.
Being conversational is shifting from fleeting interactions to long-lasting customer relationships.
This means implementing technology and processes that enable teams to have ongoing conversations with customers, whether in support, sales, or simply exchanging messages on social media.
Through those conversations, you get to know who the customer is and what they like or dislike. You’re no longer speaking to Issue #435, but to Max from Ontario who has bought twice before and has issues with the mobile app. What you have then is a customer profile – a relationship with context that gets updated whenever customers take actions. That’s the first step in delivering the best CX and ensuring continuity in communications.
And, let’s also remember the benefits to your team—instead of pressure to go through as many issues as possible, or having to deal with constantly frustrated customers, (think churn and burn call centers) agents can now focus on the human aspect of their job and have technology that helps them at every step.
All this ties into our philosophy when building our customer experience platform—especially the concept of conversational threads.
Think about the process of traditional ticketing systems. Our fictional friend Max contacts your company with an issue. A new ticket is created.
Never mind that Max has called in twice in the past with the same problem (and the tickets were handled and closed) and is almost ready to take his business elsewhere out of frustration. The system will treat this as a brand new issue for the team to resolve and move on. No context is available—like who he spoke to before, how they solved his issue, or whether he had already sent a message on social asking about the same thing. The company is missing an opportunity to treat Max’s communications as a relationship, instead of a series of interactions.
Think of Acquire’s conversational threads as email threads in Gmail—all exchanges with one particular person, regardless of channel, are weaved together in one clean timeline.
No matter who spoke to Max the first two times, the agent who picks up the conversation now has all the context they need. They can see the previous complaints, the social media message, order activity, and Max’s multiple knowledge base searches.
This enables them to take actions they wouldn’t have taken otherwise, like explore more permanent solutions and mitigate the risk of churn. A robust solution may even provide suggested answers to the customer based on previous successful customer searches or AI-trained answers. Most importantly, Max won’t have to explain himself over and over if his issue gets escalated to multiple agents—they all have access to the same information.
All this makes it possible for the brand to build a better, more personalized experience and ultimately a long-lasting relationship with the customer. Consider that 91 percent of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations.
That’s not to say that ticketing and case management should go away completely—these systems are often inevitable, like in cases of technical issues. And that’s why platforms like Acquire have smooth integrations with other tools in order to build a complete experience for both customers and agents.
We’ve already mentioned how conversational threads support omnichannel customer experience—every channel you use to engage with your customers can be integrated into the same unified view, enabling more streamlined conversations.
The question is: which channels do you use and how? In the past, we relied on phone and email, but technology has opened up a world of possibilities in conversational CX. In the end, it’s all about making it easy for customers to reach out to you, no matter the place or time.
For example, live chat is considered a very popular channel with customers because it’s instant. It has the power to reduce tickets piling up behind the scenes with the customer waiting hours or days to hear back. Imagine a customer reaches out to your live chat asking for their order to be canceled. That’s an issue you can handle right then and there and immediately inform the customer their issue has been resolved. No need for case management—a conversation well done.
In fact, our entire solution is built to enable conversations over mediums and channels that work best for your customers—from live chat and video chat to email and cobrowsing. And of course, AI chatbots.
We can’t say “conversational” without thinking AI.
Acquire’s chatbots are a core element in our conversational philosophy. They’re made to improve and speed up digital experiences for customers. Instead of waiting for a response from an employee, customers can instantly enter a conversation with a smart chatbot—in both support and sales scenarios, 24/7.
Chatbots are programmed to work without human help most of the time—they can reply with lists of questions, answer requests, share knowledge base articles, or collect customer information for human agents to review later.
And through all this, they don’t even need to sound scripted: effective chatbot design maintains your conversational focus even when no human is involved on the company side.
The new way of doing things in customer service doesn’t mean old metrics and KPIs need to completely go away. It’s still important to measure average handle time (AHT) or first-contact resolution.
We may just need to be less granular when measuring conversational CX—use specific quantitative metrics to identify areas of improvement, but ultimately focusing on qualitative metrics like customer satisfaction (CSAT), effort (CES), loyalty (NPS), and conversation content as the primary measures of success.
For example, one of our customers, financial services company Elevate, doesn’t get too hung up on traditional customer support metrics, such as AHT. They measure them for benchmarking and improving their service, not to hold their agents accountable. Instead, they use our platform to track how conversations affect customers and where issues arise (e.g. which pages customers send the most chats or requests from).
Our platform has an array of analytics and custom reporting options, all so you can get the most out of your CX efforts.
By now, it’s clear that as a company we favor meaningful conversations and relationships over ephemeral exchanges. That doesn’t mean we’re at the end of the line in revamping customer experience—on the contrary, there are exciting opportunities coming up, like even more advanced AI, hyper-personalization and more.
And we’re ready to have these conversations.
Nikoletta is a Content Specialist at Acquire. She's a writer and editor with an avid interest in data, tech, communication, and the customer journey.