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Finding the balance between automation and human support

AI and automation keep infiltrating business areas, and customer service is no exception. But can you really afford to lose the human touch?

Customer service is experiencing a revolution, driven by the rise of mobile messaging, AI, machine learning and bots. Expectations are quickly shifting, and companies are being forced to rethink their practices.

Gartner has estimated that by 2020, 85% of customer interactions with a company will be handled without human involvement. In the meantime, chatbots are quickly spreading. Reportedly, 69% of consumers interact with a virtual assistant or chatbot at least once a month. Does this mean automation will completely take over customer support?

Perhaps it will, perhaps not. As messaging is on the rise as a channel for support, businesses are using automation to connect with customers in a more personalised way, while saving time and money. However, before deciding whether automation is the way forward, companies should really understand that it shouldn’t be just about covering the basics of customer support – but always aim for customer satisfaction.

With a plethora of reports online and research pieces analysing if robots are outperforming humans in customer service – it seems that we are sometimes missing the point:  Business is built on relationships.

Customer satisfaction largely comes from establishing good relationships – these relationships are essential to the success of every business. But without human interaction; there can be no relationship in the first place. As engaging as robots can be, customers still bond with people.

As engaging as robots can be, customers still bond with people. #CustomerService Click To Tweet

Indeed, as more and more consumers demand quick answers and seek self-help options, AI and machines are presenting viable solutions. A major point in favour of using chatbots is response time, because – unlike humans – bots can manage thousands of interactions simultaneously.

But just because we can automate something, doesn’t mean we should. The reality is that robots have their limitations too. Make a chatbot your primary customer touchpoint, and there will be a very limited number of queries he’ll be able to handle. If you truly value your customers, you have to ask yourself if it is worth the risk.

People expect quick service, but they also want their interactions to be (or at least feel) “human”. So, businesses should provide customers the option of whether to interact with a bot or a human – or a hybrid of both.

 

What does the future look like for customer service?

 

Machines are here to make things easier for both agents and customers; but humans must be present to step in when something goes wrong. Hence, the best solution for managing customer relationships would seem to draw from combining both; the efficiency of automation with human engagement.

The important thing for companies implementing automated processes is to recognise when a person should take over – and find the right balance of automation and human interaction for delivering the right customer treatment.

The role of automation is becoming paramount to deliver a seamless customer experience. While it cannot fully replace humans, it super-charges them; making it infinitely easier to attend multiple queries, deliver and respond more efficiently.

 

Mastering the art of automation

 

Automation can help businesses to save time and money, but when it’s not used thoughtfully it can end up hurting engagement and retention. How can you make sure your company is automating the right way and for the best?

Here’s a few things to factor in:

 

  • Automate where it makes sense

Think about the problems you’d like to solve and be selective about the areas where automation can be useful, for both your agents and your customers.

If you want to incorporate automation for customer service, consider implementing it for repetitive tasks and simple queries. When it comes to messaging, automation usually works well for responding to questions that are frequent and simple to answer; this helps to free up some valuable time for your agents to focus on more important tasks.

 

  • Contextual data makes the difference

Contextual data is incredibly important when automating communications with customers – in context lies the power to deliver personalised, relevant content. This is crucial, especially when as much as 83% of consumers now expect a personalised experience.

Customer profiles should feed into your content strategy to provide an understanding of each customer. Companies should integrate this data into automated processes such as drip campaigns and general marketing communications, in order to send the right message at the right time.

Whether it is an auto message in live chat or an automated response via email – a little bit of context to tailor your communication can go a long way in making the customer feel that it’s not just another machine-generated message.

 

  • Timely follow-ups

One of the best uses of automation is the power it gives sales and service agents to follow up with both prospects and customers.

Workflows allow you to automate parts of your business that are essential to marketing, sales and service. From customer messaging to internal processes, automation can help organisations to increase productivity, drive sales and boost customer engagement.

 

  • Automating internally

The ability to streamline internal processes with automations cannot be underestimated. In addition to running communications, with Ibby’s workflows you can automate lead scores, contact statuses, tasks for your team and more; to easily manage your data and stay on top of every action required to convert leads, up-sell and retain customers.

You can trigger notifications for your agents based on your contacts actions and generate tasks automatically for your team to follow up. The possibilities to drive productivity are endless.

 

  • Be receptive to feedback

It can take time and effort to find the right balance for automated processes, so it’s important to gather feedback from your customers. Make sure you take their opinions into account and make adjustments in order to keep your customers happy.

 

Wrapping up

 

Automating processes can help you to gain a competitive edge, just make sure you’re improving the experience for customers, rather than just looking to save time and money – as this could do more harm than good.

Human interactions are still your best shot for building a bond with customers and solving difficult issues. From now on, a hybrid approach that incorporates automation (or AI) with live agents will be the key to successfully manage customer relationships.

AI is on its way to become an indispensable tool for customer service. Predictions indicate that advances in AI and automation will enable agents to enhance efficiency and performance, so companies need to be ready to adapt to future expectations and new industry standards.

 

Responding to leads: Are you moving fast enough?

A new lead comes in – the clock’s ticking. How much time do you have to respond before your lead falls off the radar?

Everyone seems to know that, when there’s an opportunity to close a sale, time is of the essence. Yet, research statistics out of Harvard Business Review show that most companies are slow to respond to leads, meaning they aren’t handling online queries effectively.

Looking at over two thousand U.S. companies to gauge how long they took to respond to a web-generated test lead, the results found that 24% took more than 24 hours — and 23% of the companies never responded at all.

What’s even more interesting, is the stat that reflects just how important timely responses can be. The research suggests that companies that respond to leads within an hour, are 7 times more likely to convert leads to sales.

Companies that try to contact leads within 60 minutes of receiving a query “are nearly 7 times as likely to have meaningful conversations with key decision makers as firms that try to contact prospects even an hour later” – the report reads. However, only 37% of companies manage to follow up with leads within an hour.

 

Every minute counts

 

The Harvard Business Review demonstrates the importance of responding within an hour, but what happens when looking more closely; at the minutes that follow the submission of a lead?

The Lead Response Management Study shows just how much every minute can cost you when your leads are awaiting response:

 

  • “The odds of calling to contact a lead decrease by over 10 times in the first hour.”
  • “The odds of qualifying a lead in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 21 times.”

 

Why is response time so important?

 

The reason why the time you take to respond to leads matters so much is not only to do with top-of-mind-awareness (a vendor is still fresh on the consumer’s mind when the contact occurs), but also because of the so-called “wow effect”.

Would it freak people out if you got back to them seconds after receiving a lead? Perhaps there was a time when this could have been a bit of a concern – but with all the recent advances in AI and technology, the truth is that consumers nowadays want and expect an instant response.

Responding fast to a potential customer is a great way to make a good first impression. It shows that you’re interested, and it tells them a bit about how quick your service can be – helping to build trust right from the start.

 

Beating your competitors to the punch

 

As much as 50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first. So, how can you make sure you are handling leads effectively and be the first to respond?

 

1. Equip your team with the latest live chat technology 

More than ever, consumers are demanding immediate attention, which is why businesses are increasingly turning to live chat software that can facilitate an instant response.

Ibby’s modern live chat tool can allow your sales team to be ready to strike a conversation whenever someone is interested in your product or service; and engage in conversation to answer questions in real-time.

With no need for submitting forms online, or consumers having to wait for your emails; live chat can simplify the funnel to a single conversation.

Aim to get back within 5 minutes for optimising your chances of success.

 

2. Use automations for tailored responses

Automated responses can provide good support for when you can’t provide an immediate personal response – providing your team is able to pick up and follow up, as appropriate.

In the usage of automated responses, it’s important to avoid auto-responders that come across as a canned response. Make an effort to personalise your messages. A good automation tool allows you to tailor messages to customers’ behaviours and actions, ensuring content is not only timely, but relevant and to the point.

With Ibby, you can also take it further and automate tasks for your team. Tasking users in connection to personalised auto-messages can help your team to stay on top of every action required to close more sales and move prospects through the funnel.

 

3. Follow up effectively

Apart from commonly slow response standards, statistics also show that companies aren’t persistent enough at following up on leads. On average, companies try to contact a lead only 1.3 times before quitting.

Think about how many choices consumers have out there. Your potential customers can be hesitant and require a level of attention that can only be achieved through appropriate following up. This is why persistency can be so important.

Workflow automations can be of massive help for following up, so that agents don’t have to manually chase leads and perform repetitive tasks. Workflows help companies to keep potential customers advancing through their decision cycle by communicating consistently with them.

By not following up effectively, you’re letting your leads fall off the radar and giving your competitors space for stepping in.

 

Conclusion

 

Delaying your response to inbound leads can easily result in money lost. Responses within an hour increase the chances of conversion by as much as 7 times, and your best odds of making a successful contact with a lead are within 5 minutes.

Responding to leads quickly is largely down to having the right tools to do so. Speed is critical, but so is relevancy. Make sure you equip your team with tools that allow them to respond fast and to send the right message at the right time. And remember – every minute counts!

 

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Get your hands on the latest messaging tools to be the first to respond and convert more customers. Sign up with Ibby today, you can get started for free!

 

Customer intelligence tactics for the finance industry

Technology-led changes have been disrupting traditional business models over the past few years, and the financial services industry has not escaped the impact.

The need for using technology to improve IT efficiency and optimising costs while continuing to support legacy systems has been a constant challenge for businesses in the finance industry. FinTech start-ups have made their way into established markets with new technologies and innovative customer-friendly solutions. Automated processes have become a must, and almost everything is done electronically.

Industry players of all sizes have to facilitate innovation in order not to slip behind. While building expectations for the future of financial services, the question that requires prompt answers is how businesses can better prepare to compete.

 

Customer intelligence: A key priority for success

 

In a research conducted by PwC which examined the forces that are disrupting the financial services landscape, is it predicted that by the end of this decade “customer intelligence will be the most important predictor of revenue growth and profitability” (Financial Services Technology 2020 and Beyond: Embracing disruption, PwC).

Building the technology capabilities for customer intelligence is therefore a key priority for competing in the financial services industry in the immediate future.

Here are 5 tactics for businesses to get more intelligent about customers’ needs and to get better-positioned to succeed:

 

  • Live chat

Consumers are no longer willing to dig deep into a website to find information; now more than ever, they expect to get an instant answer to their questions. This tendency, along with the overwhelming growth of instant messaging, has prompted businesses to increasingly install live chat on their websites to enhance the way they interact with visitors and customers.

As a low-friction point of contact, live chat is a smart way to turn visitors into customers quicker than forms, follow-up emails or other broken communication channels commonly used in financial services.

When it comes to learning about customers’ needs, the instant feedback from visitors and customers via live chat can provide valuable consumer insights to shape and improve business strategy.

 

  • Live website analytics

For virtually all businesses with an online presence, every visitor is a potential customer – which is why customer intelligence should start with analysing your visitor activity.

Live website visitor analytics are a powerful tool to track visitors in real-time; to identify opportunities and proactively chat with prospects. Monitoring visitors’ footprints is a great way for better understanding consumer behaviour in order to provide a more personalised service.

 

  • A context-centred model

Digitisation across different industries has shown customers that e-commerce delivers speed and personalisation, shaping their expectations for financial services as well.

The need for delivering a seamless omni-channel experience is becoming more important – and the context of every customer is paramount for providing a customer-centred, personalised service.

A simple solution is to make use of a smart CRM platform that can collate data for leads and customers, keeping everything organised and facilitating instant access to contacts’ history. The rewards for having the context for every customer right at your fingertips can be enormous.

 

  • Automation

Getting more intelligent about customers’ needs involves getting closer to them – this is when timely and relevant communications play a major role.

Automations, such as drip campaigns for sales and marketing, present a sure-fire way of supporting communications throughout the lifecycle. Used in combination with intelligent customer data, automated messaging can help businesses to send the right message to the right contacts, at the right time.

Automations can be the core of your sales and marketing communications strategy; to save time, nurture leads, move prospects through the sales funnel and keep customers engaged.

 

  • Reporting

No strategy can be complete without reporting to measure results. Intelligent reports are essential for understanding business performance and learning about customer behaviour.

For any business, comprehensive reporting can provide valuable insights not just for sales, but leads statuses, agents’ performance, communication with customers, email metrics and more.

 

Stay on top of the game 

 

The time has never been more crucial for industry players to keep a focus on technology and implement tools that can help to get an edge. Enabling customer intelligence, and the capacity to act in real-time on that intelligence, is becoming a key driver for success in the financial services industry.

 

At Ibby, we are working on a message-driven solution designed to empower businesses to capitalise on the aforementioned tactics for competing in the market. Sign up and take Ibby for a spin, you can get started for free!

 

8 Ways to step up your lead-gen game

2018 is shaping up to be a mind-bending year for marketers and e-commerce brands. The advances in AI and technology are moving at an unprecedented speed, consumer behaviours are shifting, and businesses have experienced a huge shake-up with new data protection laws.

Whilst catching up with everything that’s happening, the main challenge for businesses with an online presence remains the same: generating more – and qualify more – leads.

We’ve been watching closely how the relationship between consumers and brands is evolving, and the trends that have been shaping effective lead generation strategies. Here are 7 ways to step up your lead generation to help grow your business:

 

1. Get live chat

 

Consumers are no longer willing to dig deep into a website to find information; now more than ever, they expect to get an instant answer to their questions. This tendency, along with the overwhelming growth of instant messaging, has prompted businesses to increasingly install live chat on their websites to enhance the way they interact with visitors and customers.

One of the greatest benefits of live chat is that it enables you to engage with visitors on your website to instantly qualify leads. As a low-friction point of contact, live chat is a smart way to turn visitors into customers quicker than forms, follow-up emails or other broken communication channels. In fact, a study by Smart Insights found that visitors who chat convert at roughly 8 times the rate of non-chatting visitors.

Visitors who chat convert at roughly 8 times the rate of non-chatting visitors #livechat Click To Tweet

 

2. Use live website analytics

 

The most advanced live chat platforms come equipped with live website visitor analytics – a powerful tool that allows you to track your visitors in real-time, so that you can easily identify opportunities and proactively chat with prospects.

Monitoring visitor activity in real-time is an effective way to act on hot leads faster. You can initiate live chat with users to offer help based on what they are viewing on your website, making it a great resource for providing a more personalised service that can lead to higher conversion rates.

 

3. Be active on social media

 

Your brand needs to be where your prospects are – and that’s social media channels. But it’s not enough to have a presence and a number of followers; good social media practice should result in driving traffic to your website.

One of the greatest wins of using social media for business is the ability to reach high quality leads through advanced targeting. It’s important to keep a focus on interaction and engagement; share good quality content that can really appeal to your target audience – and stay active.

There are many ways to generate leads with social media. Some common tactics include making the most of the different advertising options combined with smart targeting, hosting live videos and running contests.

 

4. Optimise for mobile

 

Mobiles have assumed a central role in people’s lives. A few years ago, they overtook desktop computers and became the primary point of access to the internet. Reports show that mobile now accounts for 71% of internet use, and 57% of traffic is generated from smartphones and tablets.

Hence, the importance of mobile optimisation is paramount for lead generation. Simply put; if users struggle to navigate your website, or your content doesn’t look right on their device – your conversion rate will suffer.

 

5. Make the most of videos

 

With recent stats showing that video on landing pages can increase conversion by as much as 80%, video is quickly becoming one of the best opportunities to boost conversion and drive more leads into your funnel.

Online video has fantastic benefits because it appeals to a massive audience of consumers who prefer watching over reading. In fact, results from a 2018 survey analysing video marketing shows that 72% of people would rather use video to learn about a product or service.

Videos can work magic for both your website and social media channels, and they can be used for a wide range of purposes – from interviews to explainer videos, product demos, testimonials and much more.

 

6. Tap into the power of influencer marketing

 

This marketing move has really taken off in the past couple of years, and it’s all about collaborating with industry influencers to amplify brand awareness and help to generate quality leads.

A key takeaway here is to find the relevant influencers – not necessarily the ones with a massive base of followers. Tapping into the loyal following of micro-influencers can be far more valuable for brands, as this can really help you to reach target customers without spending a massive budget.

 

7. Use drip campaigns for lead nurturing

 

There’s a simple reason why marketing automation is growing at an astonishing rate – it works.

Lead nurturing follows immediately after lead generation, and it’s just as important for closing more sales. This is when marketing automation can play a major role; helping to reduce man hours required while nurturing leads through automated smart campaigns.

Drip marketing is a great way to automate emails and SMS communications that can help you to send the right message to the right contacts, at the right time. It can be a powerful strategy that saves you time and moves your prospects through the sales funnel.

 

8. Leverage customer reviews

 

Customer review platforms generally have a robust presence in organic search, presenting a great chance to increase brand awareness and drive traffic.

Review sites are usually favoured by search engines like Google because of the independent role they have in helping people to find what they are looking for.

Furthermore, they’re perceived by consumers as a valuable source of unbiased recommendations for products or services. Research shows that 91% of people read online reviews, and 84% trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

 

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Ready to step up your lead generation strategy?

 

We’re building an innovative message-driven solution to boost leads, sales and support with modern messaging tools. Sign up today, you can get started for free!

 

 

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