Most companies are aware of the importance of having a social media presence, but the smart ones also stay on top of how to maximize the benefits it can bring.
At the beginning many created a Facebook page or Twitter account and put out news on personnel moves, product developments and promotions. That quickly proved insufficient as customers, especially younger demographics, expected regular content. Then came corporate social media directors who maintain that relationship by adding value through providing relevant content and communicating with customers.
The next step in that evolution is conversation management software, Frank Chevallier said. Mr. Chevallier is the vice president of software products for LiveWorld, a provider of conversation management software, consulting and online agent workforce services. LiveWorld helps brands engage customers one-on-one in real time while delivering personalized interactions. Their SaaS platform tracks and manages dialogue, engages customers and integrates chatbots and human agents with enterprise systems.
LiveWorld recently expanded its conversation management software by including WeChat, Telegram and web chat in its list of major messaging platforms that includes Facebook Messenger, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. That scope allows companies to get a more comprehensive view of a customer’s brand engagement history across channels by facilitating conversations in one place via the LiveWorld interface.
“Our software offers smooth in-channel conversation switching to provide greater customer intelligence, personalizing engagements across the channels,” Mr. Chevallier said. “Our platform minimizes the issue of channel-hopping for brands while gaining customer intelligence for tailored messaging.”
Mr. Chevallier described the fusion of technologies LiveWorld has created as a game changer for brands as they have the ability to interact with customers at the latter’s convenience and on their preferred platforms.
“The fact is customers are in control, and through mobile and social networks companies can provide more practical and powerful messaging. People can lead the charge and ask for what they want from friends and brands.”
Financial industries missed the chance to be early adopters of this technology, Mr. Chevallier said. Perhaps they deemed it too complex to integrate into their existing systems, which is unfortunate because there is tremendous opportunity to both save money and provide a better customer experience. Imagine filing an insurance claim or addressing account issues on Facebook.
“Now people can contact their banks at their leisure and that changes everything,” Mr. Chevallier explained.
He cited Walmart as an example of a company that excels at using social media to engage with its customer base. Eleven times as many people contact Walmart through messaging as they do through call centers.
“It’s a simple and personal way to contact the brand and it’s up to the brand to be there for them,” Mr. Chevallier said.
There is no one recipe for the optimal customer engagement experience, Mr. Chevallier explained, citing factors as industry type, client choice and existing resources as differentiators. LiveWorld works with the client to plan and evaluate how to best proceed with the combination of technology and inside or LiveWorld agents.
Individual channel integration is not difficult as most platforms work in similar ways, he said. The challenge is working with clients to integrate them in the proper order to ensure a customer can have a complete experience across channels, so if a customer sees an ad on Twitter, they can click to order, receive shipping information on SMS and ask product questions on Facebook.
Another challenge is to determine the proper balance of chatbots, messaging and customer service agents, Mr. Chevallier said. Bots are good at answering basic targeted questions and will be able to handle more complex issues as the technology improves, but for now companies have to manually enter the conversation at earlier stages.
“For chatbot automation to handle messaging at scale it needs to bring the personal and conversational aspect, to react like a human, and it’s not there yet,” Mr. Chevallier said. “To answer not only the simple questions they need more empathy and complex, personal, and contextual knowledge.
“The ability to manage the collaboration between human agents and digital agents – LiveWorld’s focus, is to support the customer with chatbots and augment those with human agents ready to intervene so chatbots can hand off to humans in an efficient way. Human agents can react in real time with a civilized conversation and involve the bot again if and when it is appropriate.”
In order for chatbot technology to assume a large role in customer conversation management it needs to address two areas, Mr. Chevallier said. The first is conversational engagement recognition. Artificial intelligence and Natural Language Processing need to evolve to be able to detect more subtle intent and context so they can address more complex issues and link to previous messages.
“That is coming soon,” Mr. Chevallier predicted.
The level of automation technology required so bots can help with more searches needs to increase and that technology already exists so it is also near.
The quality of chatbot conversations will improve as more customer interaction data is retained as that is useful in predicting future needs.
“What can and does work well is the solving of the data capture issue,” Mr. Chevallier said. “If the chatbot asks the right questions, data can be stored for each customer such that there will be a more proactive chat the next time.”