tag:econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/online-customer-service Latest Online customer service content from Econsultancy 2018-04-17T10:30:00+01:00 tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69957 2018-04-17T10:30:00+01:00 2018-04-17T10:30:00+01:00 Why did JD Wetherspoon delete its social media accounts, and was it the right marketing decision? Sean Cole <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3646/Screen_Shot_2018-04-16_at_08.17.14.png" alt="wetherspoons social media statement" width="450"></p> <p>JD Wetherspoons has suggested that such activity doesn’t take place on their social accounts, which has left some wondering if there is more to this than meets the eye. As many companies, especially those that are as well-known and widely available as JD Wetherspoon, rely heavily on social media for important business functions like customer service, updating followers with news and information, and customer feedback/reviews, it could be argued that this is a drastic measure to tackle something that doesn’t seem to directly affect the company.</p> <p>On the other hand, could it genuinely save the company money, or make sense to take a step back from social media platforms, amidst controversy surrounding customer data? JD Wetherspoon famously <a href="https://www.marketingweek.com/2017/07/05/wetherspoon-data-email-marketing-gdpr/">deleted its email database in 2017</a>, amidst nervousness about the forthcoming enforcement of the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/hello/gdpr-for-marketers/">GDPR</a>.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">Spoons and Tim Martin seem to be making a lot of self-righteous noise to justify closing their social media accounts, but honestly reckon this is another cost-cutting move from a businessman who’s always been a believer in marginal gains.</p> — Clement Murphy (@ClemMurphy) <a href="https://twitter.com/ClemMurphy/status/985783876059615233?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 16, 2018</a> </blockquote> <p>To make some more sense of all of this, we reached out to some social media experts for their take on the announcement.</p> <h3>This is all about budget and brand</h3> <p><strong><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/michellegoodall/">Michelle Goodall</a>, social media consultant (and trainer of Econsultancy's <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/fast-track-digital-marketing/">Fast Track Digital Marketing</a> and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/social-media-and-online-pr">social media courses</a>):</strong></p> <p>"I think that this is a budgetary decision and the ‘bad publicity surrounding social media” is a convenient smokescreen. The value of social media as a channel for PR acquisition and retention purposes will have been reviewed with a critical, cost-conscious eye. </p> <p>"Maintaining Facebook Pages, Twitter accounts and handling customer service issues requires significant resource. <a href="https://wetherspoonscarpets.tumblr.com/">A Tumblr dedicated to Wetherspoon’s carpets</a> is a lot of fun, but it hasn’t made me take my family for a Sunday Roast to admire the Axminster.</p> <p>"’Spoons is a 40 year old brand. Everyone in the UK knows exactly who they are and what they offer - value, convenience, consistency, unpretentiousness. You either love them, or will never be a customer. </p> <p>"Social media won’t drive price-sensitive students in droves to their pubs - they are already in there, along with families enjoying a cheap meal out, businesspeople eating full English Breakfasts and the traditional British pub clientele."</p> <p><strong><a href="https://willfrancis.com/">Will Francis</a>, Founder &amp; Creative Director, VANDAL:</strong></p> <p>"A really interesting move from a well-known brand. Some are claiming it’s a publicity stunt, and others that it’s to get away from post-Brexit criticism (the chairman Tim Martin was a prominent Vote Leave supporter) not to mention the vast multitude of bad reviews of their pubs. I think it’s probably all those things, but ultimately in saying "I don’t believe that closing these accounts will affect our business whatsoever” (quoted from a now-unavailable tweet) Martin is mostly right. A 900-outlet food and beverages brand will always struggle to make meaningful use of social, without heavy investment and best practice down to local level."</p> <h3>Social media is hard...</h3> <p><strong><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/joannahalton">Joanna Halton</a>, Founder at Jo &amp; Co. and digital marketing lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University:</strong></p> <p>"The statement they gave seemed woolly and slightly bizarre, mentioning the general social media climate, MP trolling and concerns around the addictive nature of the platforms themselves. Slightly odd from a company that serves alcohol from 9am.</p> <p>"What else could be the motivation? It appears that Wetherspoons had accounts for nearly all their 900 pubs, as well as their central accounts. Many of the individual pages had fewer than 1,000 likes and were unlikely to be seen in users’ feeds. To maintain content, keep relevancy and police that many accounts would be an immense drain on resource. Without a proper strategy in place, it's improbable that the potential benefits of the channels are outweighing the negatives."</p> <p><strong>Will Francis:</strong></p> <p>[Social success] for me would mean messaging from the brand on the level of someone like Nando’s where you’re seeing great, engaging and fun content marketing that genuinely builds and retains an audience; complemented by branch-level accounts that engage directly with that outlet’s local community but remain true to the brand (wittily-written, beautiful imagery) as Waterstones do. If they can’t do that they’re just drowning in trolls, poorly maintained pages and bad reviews. After all, today’s digital landscape  - saturated, splintered, algorithmic - is not kind to anything other than brilliantly executed marketing.</p> <h3>...but social conversation will continue regardless</h3> <p><strong><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/depeshmandalia">Depesh Mandalia</a>, Founder &amp; CEO, SM Commerce:</strong></p> <p>"As a bricks and mortar establishment, will JD Wetherspoon suffer from being away from social media? Maybe not as much as many businesses that have a high percentage of sales driven by social media platforms but there may be a knock-on impact at a local level.</p> <p>"In addition, what will happen is that those that wish to continue the conversation, good or bad about JD Wetherspoon will spin off into their own profiles or groups. Are they likely to download the app or email them through the website? Looking through Facebook for example, each of their locations has a page set up, with ratings and reviews, opening times, menus and special offers with a good number of followers for each location. Social media is a far easier medium for people to converse with the brands they love [than a website or app]."</p> <h3>'Spoons would rather deal with customer service in situ...</h3> <p><strong>Michelle Goodall:</strong></p> <p>"When it comes to customer service, I imagine that they would prefer to deal with any complaints or issues in situ rather than in social media, where a central team would have to speak to venue managers to understand and resolve or rebutt many of the issues. </p> <p>"Various polarising political issues and the “bad publicity surrounding social media” will have been factored in. Chairman and founder, Tim Martin maintains a very public position on Brexit and I’m sure the corporate communications team has had to handle a number of negative/trolling comments, but I doubt that this was the single deciding factor.</p> <p>"I’d be surprised if they don’t keep a single corporate PR presence on Twitter in place at the very least, publishing corporate news but not responding to tweets/enquiries."</p> <h3>...but no other tool is as good at a local level</h3> <p><strong>Depesh Mandalia:</strong></p> <p>"Whilst much of the local information is already covered in places like Tripadvisor and Google, what's going to change is that they won't be able to own the narrative as they could on Twitter and Facebook, which have allow them to connect better at a local level. How else will Sirhowy JD Wetherspoon Blackwood get the message out about Chicken Club as easily as they could with Facebook or Twitter?</p> <p>"Combine that with their deleting every single customer email, it's a marketers nightmare - to cut off key digital communication with loyal customers and rely solely on the mobile app, inbound emails, local flyers and word of mouth. I'm not sure deleting all emails and social profiles is the most beneficial growth decision they could have made, even if their intent is noble. Nobility and business growth don't always go hand in hand."</p> <p><strong>Joanna Halton:</strong></p> <p>"A bit of online research suggests that Wetherspoons have been <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/apr/16/jd-wetherspoon-closes-all-social-media-accounts">receiving a number of negative reviews</a> and comments across their social properties. This will not come as a surprise to anyone who has ever worked in the service industry on social media. However, by deleting their accounts, Wetherspoons have lost their only mechanism to publicly address and resolve these claims. Without an outlet, these types of comments tend to have a nasty habit of leaking onto other properties like Yelp or Google reviews."</p> <h3>Social has actually generated some good PR for 'Spoons lately</h3> <p><strong>Joanna Halton:</strong></p> <p>"One of the biggest shames about this move is that other businesses, which could really thrive on these platforms, might now see this as evidence that they shouldn’t use it.</p> <p>"Aside from this, it is amusing that they’ve chosen to delete their social accounts when Wetherspoons have been getting quite a bit of attention (and likely money!) from social lately, particularly Twitter, due to their app. Famous cases have led others to share their table number and location in an attempt to garner beverage and food gifts from other benevolent social media and Wetherspoon app users. <a href="https://www.thepoke.co.uk/2018/02/12/free-drinks-wetherspoons-woman/">Who could forget those infamous four gravy boats of peas?!</a></p> <p>"Whatever the rationale, it’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out. Who else is thinking there could be a very public social media re-launch in a month or two…?"</p> <h3>This is a pivotal time for social media platforms</h3> <p><strong><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/gregallum">Greg Allum</a>, Head of Social, Jellyfish:</strong></p> <p>"These are interesting times for social as companies wrestle with the potential societal impact of social media channels. It is reminiscent of the gaming industry in the 90s, which came under fire for negatively influencing individuals. As with the gaming industry, social media platforms are undergoing a deep analysis of their purpose, principles and value. This is a positive move in the mid-long term, as it will allow these platforms that have grown rapidly to re-assess their approach to audience data, which is much needed.</p> <p>"The power of social media continues to drive value for a majority of brands, and will continue to do so in its current guise. At best, social media, in particular Facebook, can target audiences at scale and reach them with content that resonates, whilst allowing us to measure the impact of this effectively. At worst, brands can target audiences at scale with poorly crafted content that interrupts and weakens a user's experience, whilst potentially damaging their reputation."</p> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/social-media-best-practice-guide/"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3234/Social_Media_Best_Practice_Widget__1_.png" alt="social media report banner" width="615" height="243"></a></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69896 2018-03-23T09:30:00+00:00 2018-03-23T09:30:00+00:00 Shelter Scotland’s chatbot had >4,000 interactions in its first four months, freeing up time for helpline staff Nikki Gilliland <p>Shelter is one charity that has experimented with the technology in the past few years. It first developed ‘Sheldon’ during a hackathon – a bot that would theoretically be able to answer people’s queries about private tenants’ rights in Scotland. On the back of this, the charity has gone on to develop and implement ‘Ask Ailsa’, which is a fully working chatbot created in the same vein.</p> <p>In order to gain a better understanding of Ailsa, as well as the charity’s use of artificial intelligence in general, I spoke with Keith Bartholomew, senior digital officer at Shelter Scotland.</p> <p><em>(N.B. If you're interested in AI and marketing, check out Marketing Week's <a href="http://conferences.marketingweek.com/">Supercharged conference</a> on May 1st.)</em></p> <h3>What’s the purpose of the chatbot?</h3> <p>According to Bartholomew, the purpose of Ailsa is very much rooted in problem-solving rather than fundraising or general awareness. </p> <p>Ailsa was developed to coincide with major changes being introduced to private renting in Scotland, involving a new kind of private tenancy, with new rules around the length of a tenancy, how much notice a tenant had to give, and how a landlord could end a tenancy.</p> <p>While these changes were created to give more rights and better protection to tenants, as well as to easily resolve disputes if things go wrong, Shelter predicted that the changes would inevitably result in confusion for tenants and landlords alike. </p> <p>As a result, Bartholomew says that "the chatbot was developed to answer any questions people may have, and ensure they are aware of the new rules."</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3128/Ailsa_1.JPG" alt="" width="500" height="523"></p> <h3>The chatbot currently has very little ‘chat’ – does it matter?</h3> <p>One of the biggest obstacles brands face when creating chatbots is limitations in technology. While NLP (natural language processing) theoretically offers users a richer and more interactive experience - one that mimics human interaction – this often takes a long time to come to fruition (as the bot learns natural speech patterns over time).</p> <p>These kinds of bots can also go awry, either failing to answer basic queries or worse – speaking in offensive language. Microsoft’s Taybot is the most famous example of this.</p> <p>For Shelter Scotland, the chatbot was initially developed to work from a set decision tree of questions.</p> <p>The speed and ease with which the bot could be created was undoubtedly a big motivator, as well as the straightforward nature of user queries in the first place. However, the charity has since decided it is keen to develop the bot further.</p> <p>Bartholomew tells me the bot is "currently in development of stage two, which will introduce natural language programming and allow for a greater number of queries."</p> <p>With recent talk about further new rules for private renting in Scotland, Shelter is clearly intent on pre-empting the next inevitable onslaught of questions.</p> <h3>Why an on-site bot rather than Facebook Messenger?</h3> <p>A lot of brand chatbots have been created through the Facebook Messenger platform. This is largely to do with the technology’s accessibility, but also so that brands can expand their presence on the channel and connect with its mammoth audience. </p> <p>Shelter Scotland decided against this, instead creating the chatbot to be hosted on its standalone website, which would be promoted through very targeted marketing.</p> <p>Bartholomew explains that this decision is also due to the bot’s very niche purpose: "Since it could only answer questions relating to the new private renting rules, we didn't want to open it up Facebook Messenger or to respond to general advice queries."</p> <p>Instead, the bot is integrated into the charity’s ‘New Rules’ microsite.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3130/Ailsa_2.JPG" alt="" width="490" height="535"></p> <h3>How many people have used Ailsa?</h3> <p>According to Bartholomew, the chatbot has been used 4,380 times since it first launched last October.</p> <p>That’s a fairly impressive amount considering the time-frame – and definitely worthwhile considering that those people would have otherwise contacted the charity’s helpline service.</p> <p>"The chatbot allows people to self-serve and find out the information online, rather than phone our helpline. It has helped a significant number of people get to grips with the legislation changes, without us getting a large volume of calls to our helpline," says Bartholomew.</p> <p>Quite rightly, he reiterates how "advisers are available to respond to more urgent queries" as a result. And from the user’s perspective, it undoubtedly means a better experience – with less friction and a satisfying outcome. </p> <p>Ultimately, this has been the bot’s biggest benefit and the reason why Shelter Scotland would consider AI again in future. The charity is running a hackathon in Edinburgh at the end of March in order to develop further solutions related to the private renting situation in Scotland.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">What problems persist for private renters? Join us to develop practical solutions with <a href="https://twitter.com/ProductForge?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ProductForge</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GenerationRentPF?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GenerationRentPF</a> <a href="https://t.co/SPAhmeijOk">https://t.co/SPAhmeijOk</a> <a href="https://t.co/nRCYIQR3jh">pic.twitter.com/nRCYIQR3jh</a></p> — Shelter Scotland (@shelterscotland) <a href="https://twitter.com/shelterscotland/status/969593685901021189?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 2, 2018</a> </blockquote> <p>I finished by asking Bartholomew whether or not Shelter will look to use AI technology for other purposes in future. He explained that while "there are no immediate plans to, we do hope to use the same technology for other advice-giving opportunities on our website."</p> <p>With users clearly finding value in Ailsa, it’s an example that could be well-worth repeating (and one that other brands keen to develop chatbots could learn from).</p> <p><em><strong>Related reading:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><em><a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/69839-eight-things-your-chatbot-should-never-do" target="_blank">Eight things your chatbot should never do</a></em></li> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69716-why-fashion-and-beauty-brands-are-still-betting-on-chatbots" target="_blank">Why fashion and beauty brands are still betting on chatbots</a></em></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/3429 2018-03-06T03:18:54+00:00 2018-03-06T03:18:54+00:00 Mastering Customer Experience (CX) Management - Singapore <p>Quite simply, without customers you don’t have a business. Winning customers today has a become a lot more complicated as people have changed the way they buy goods and services.</p> <p>Research indicates that typically 80% of your business comes from 20% of your loyal customers.</p> <p>But in today’s customer controlled world, earning loyalty is a real challenge.  This is because we are dealing with a very smart and discerning customer who is looking for immense value, has very high expectations and hyper researching everything.</p> <p>Yet, innovative and smart businesses have created customer experience formulas that work extremely well for them. Zappos, Disney, Airbnb, Virgin, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Hubspot among others continue to deliver amazing experiences and drive sales.</p> <p>This unique and insightful course teaches you how successful companies design and deliver amazing customer experiences (CX). It gives you an insider view and highly effective tips and tricks to deliver amazing experiences at every brand touch point to win and retain your customers.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69816 2018-02-21T15:19:34+00:00 2018-02-21T15:19:34+00:00 Great social media customer service is proactive, not reactive Tamara Littleton <p>But two major trends have emerged that are changing brands’ thinking, to view customer service as proactive, not reactive: </p> <ol> <li>Great customer service is a differentiator for brands; and </li> <li>Companies are using technology to anticipate the needs of customers in order to deliver relevant, personalised service. </li> </ol> <p>We know that much of this customer service is delivered via social media. Nearly 70% of consumers have said that they have used social media for customer service issues on at least one occasion, according to <a href="http://www.jdpower.com/press-releases/2013-social-media-benchmark-study">research</a> published as early as 2013. And customers spend 20-40% more money (<a href="http://www.bain.com/Images/BAIN_BRIEF_Putting_social_media_to_work.pdf">Bain and Co</a>) with companies when they engage and respond positively to customers on social media.</p> <p>With customer service teams already stretched, how can brands deliver great, proactive customer service on social media? </p> <p>There are four things that brands should be doing. </p> <h3><strong>Use bots to free up humans to be brilliant</strong></h3> <p>Bots can be used to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68388-how-klm-uses-bots-and-ai-in-human-social-customer-service">triage queries</a> or automate simple responses. Automating non-complex, routine queries (such as “when will my parcel arrive”), if done properly, doesn’t negatively impact the customer experience.</p> <p>Instead, it takes the pressure off human customer service agents or community managers and frees them up to do what they do best: using their skills to proactively engage with customers, creating personal connections and seeking out opportunities to surprise and delight.</p> <h3><strong>Use data to predict customers’ needs</strong></h3> <p>Analytics and social listening tools can identify trends in behaviour, spikes in queries, or changing demands. This data gives you insight that your team can use to predict what your customers need and want, and deliver it.</p> <h3><strong>Use emotional analytics</strong></h3> <p>Emotional analytics help to understand not just what your customers are saying, but <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68782-three-ways-brands-are-using-emotional-analytics-to-connect-with-customers/">how they feel about your brand</a>.</p> <p>That might be a reaction to a campaign or a product, or to an issue that your customers feel strongly about. That insight will connect you to the things your customers are passionate about, and inform your future campaigns and service. </p> <h3><strong>Invest in the best people to connect with your customers</strong></h3> <p>If customer service is your brand’s differentiator, you need great people to deliver it.</p> <p>These people will be able to take the insights from your data and use it to engage proactively with customers. They’ll use their initiative to spot opportunities to create personal connections with customers that will build loyalty. They’ll be skilled at spotting and resolving issues before they become full-blown crises. And they’ll do all this while sticking closely to the brand’s values and tone of voice. </p> <p>Great social media customer service takes human skill, initiative and intelligence. It takes technology to deliver data for humans to know where their skills are most needed. And it takes humans and technology to work together to deliver it at scale for brands.</p> <p><em><strong>More on social customer service:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li> <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/social-media-customer-service">Social Media Customer Service Training</a>, London</li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68481-seven-guiding-principles-for-implementing-social-customer-service">Seven guiding principles for implementing social customer service</a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69790 2018-02-09T12:45:00+00:00 2018-02-09T12:45:00+00:00 The best digital marketing stats we've seen this week Nikki Gilliland <h3>Consumers open to automatic buying via digital assistants</h3> <p style="font-weight: 400;">Econsultancy’s <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-next-revolution-of-search/" target="_blank">Next Revolution of Search</a> report has revealed that consumers are more open and willing to experiment with intelligent digital assistants, making this the next logical extension of search. </p> <p style="font-weight: 400;">80% of survey respondents said that it would be “incredibly useful” if a personal digital assistant could help find the options right for them. Meanwhile, the report highlights the potential benefits of automatic buying using digital assistants, meaning purchases or transactions that have little or no input from consumers. </p> <p style="font-weight: 400;">75% said that this kind of service would be useful to them, and 67% said they would be likely to have products delivered automatically if there was no unexpected change or variation in price. Even among those who are sceptical of such a service, 90% admit that it would make their lives better to have products they use regularly delivered automatically.</p> <p style="font-weight: 400;"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/2178/Stats.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="510"></p> <p style="font-weight: 400;"><em><strong>Subscribers can download the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-next-revolution-of-search/" target="_blank">report in full here</a>. </strong></em></p> <h3>Tide sees the most Super Bowl conversation</h3> <p style="font-weight: 400;">According to Talkwalker, there were 5.3 million mentions of the Super Bowl across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram last Sunday. Online conversation peaked at the halftime show, with one million mentions of Justin Timberlake, and 117,200 mentions of his tribute to Minneapolis hero, Prince. Despite not making a surprise appearance, there were still 43,800 mentions of his previous halftime show co-performer, Janet Jackson.</p> <p style="font-weight: 400;">When it comes to brand ads, Tide generated the most conversation with its ad featuring David Harbour from Stranger Things. There were 163,800 mentions of Tide during the event. </p> <p style="font-weight: 400;">Another advertising highlight was the Mountain Dew and Doritos joint ad featuring a rap battle between Morgan Freeman, Peter Dinklage, and Missy Elliot. The ad was mentioned 115,100 times overall.</p> <p style="font-weight: 400;"><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/doP7xKdGOKs?wmode=transparent" width="640" height="360"></iframe></p> <h3>Customers fed up within five minutes</h3> <p style="font-weight: 400;">It only takes five minutes for US consumers to feel fed up with a customer service experience – that’s according to a new report by Point Source (based on a survey of 1,008 US consumers). It found that 34% of customers on hold with a retail customer service agent want to switch to a chatbot after five minutes. However, 59% of consumers will also grow frustrated if a chatbot doesn’t provide them a resolution within the save time frame.</p> <p style="font-weight: 400;">Data privacy is still pressing issue for people too, with 41% citing this as a cause for concern when using a chatbot. 44% say accuracy of information provided, while frustrations over chatbots not understanding intent or language remains the biggest – 51% cite this concern.</p> <p style="font-weight: 400;">When asked about why customers might want a chatbot’s help, the majority of respondents said they are open to interactions throughout the majority of the customer journey, such as when researching online and tracking and order. However, there still appears to be resistance post-purchase, with 80% of retail customers not being comfortable with chatbot assistance when resolving problems with an order, and 71% saying the same for the in-store experience.</p> <p style="font-weight: 400;"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/2177/PointSource.JPG" alt="" width="395" height="618"></p> <p style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>More on chatbots:</strong></p> <ul style="font-weight: 400;"> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69716-why-fashion-and-beauty-brands-are-still-betting-on-chatbots" target="_blank">Why fashion and beauty brands are still betting on chatbots</a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68732-what-makes-a-good-chatbot-ux/" target="_blank">What makes a good chatbot UX?</a></li> </ul> <h3>Mobile commerce on the rise in Asia</h3> <p style="font-weight: 400;">According to a <a href="https://www.warc.com/content/article/event-reports/five_asian_retail_trends_for_2018/120035" target="_blank">report by Warc</a>, the popularity of shopping on smartphones is also on the rise in Asia. 71% of Asian consumers are said to use their smartphones to help them shop, compared to 59% of all global shoppers.</p> <p style="font-weight: 400;">There are also two markets in particular where smartphone usage is booming. 76% of shoppers in Indonesia are using their smartphones, and 90% of shoppers in China are doing the same. </p> <p style="font-weight: 400;">While the in-store experience is also a big focus in these markets, mobile commerce is also becoming an increasingly natural and instinctual experience, as shoppers forgo desktop entirely and go straight to smartphones.</p> <p style="font-weight: 400;"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/2176/smartphone_shop.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="466"></p> <h3>Ad engagement 29% higher on premium sites than social</h3> <p>Social media is typically associated with high levels of attention, however, when it comes to ads, studies suggest that it could be failing to properly engage users. This is the basis of <a href="http://www.newsworks.org.uk/%2FMedia-Centre/engagement-is-29-higher-on-premium-sites-than-on-social-media" target="_blank">recent research </a> by Newsworks and the Association for Online Publishing (AOP), which aimed to find out why the context of quality editorial generates greater engagement than social. </p> <p>The research measured participants’ brain responses to identical ads in different contexts, analysing a number of areas of the brain in order to identify key research metrics. </p> <p>It found that ads seen on a premium publisher site are viewed for 17% longer, create 29% higher engagement (due to personal relevance) and generate greater levels of left brain and right brain memory encoding than ads on Facebook and YouTube. Memory encoding is key because it correlates with decision-making and purchase intent. </p> <p>Lastly, ads seen within a premium context also provoke stronger, more positive emotional responses.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/2174/Newsworks_and_AOP_press_release_spider_graph.jpg" alt="" width="780" height="438"></p> <p><strong>More on ads:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/69708-five-trends-for-online-advertising-strategy-in-2018" target="_blank">Five trends for online advertising strategy in 2018</a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67704-four-useful-tips-for-making-online-ads-relevant-personal/" target="_blank">Four useful tips for making online ads relevant &amp; personal</a></li> </ul> <h3>Generation Z consume 10 hours of digital content a day</h3> <p>Adobe has revealed that Britain is a nation addicted to digital content, as millennials spend 8.5 hours a day consuming digital content, while Generation Z spend a staggering 10.6 hours a day doing the same.</p> <p>This news comes from a survey of over 1,000 UK consumers on their daily digital habits. The results also show that, despite increased consumption, users are also becoming increasingly sceptical about fake news content. </p> <p>77% of those surveyed said that they are more careful about the content they engage with than they were five years ago. As a result, consumers respond strongly to branded content if it provides an authentic, well designed, and relevant experiences. 46% of consumers say that this would inspire them to make a purchase.</p> <h3>UK shoppers turn to smartphones for groceries</h3> <p>Shoppercentric’s <a href="http://shoppercentric.co.uk/news/" target="_blank">Stock Take Index</a>, which comes from a survey of over 1,000 Brits, has found a substantial increase in smartphone usage for grocery shopping. </p> <p>While computers and laptops are the most used touchpoint – up 6% on 2017 to 63% of shoppers - smartphones saw a bigger increase of 18% to reach 45%. Tablets secured the third place spot with 29% of shoppers using the device.</p> <p>Elsewhere, the report also highlights an increased use of discount stores – up 13% on 2017 to 57% of UK shoppers.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/2175/shoppercentric.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="423"></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69738 2018-01-19T10:58:25+00:00 2018-01-19T10:58:25+00:00 What marketers need to know about WhatsApp Business Patricio Robles <p>But Facebook has proven adept at monetizing not only its own social network, but another popular service it acquired for a ten-figure amount, Instagram, and the social media giant's efforts to turn WhatsApp into a revenue generator are becoming more apparent by the day.</p> <p>Case in point: WhatsApp yesterday <a href="https://blog.whatsapp.com/10000637/Introducing-the-WhatsApp-Business-App">announced</a> the launch of WhatsApp Business. Here's what marketers need to know about it.</p> <h3>It's an Android app</h3> <p>WhatsApp Business is an Android app designed for small businesses. Using the app, businesses can create and manage business profiles, which are like Facebook Pages for WhatsApp. These contain basic information about the business, such as a description, email address, physical address and website URL.</p> <p>The app also provides messaging tools that enable businesses to more easily communicate with their customers through WhatsApp. These tools include the ability to set up automated greeting and away messages, as well as to define quick replies for common requests.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0009/1771/replies-blog-flyer.jpg" alt="" width="350"></p> <h3>Using WhatsApp Business unlocks desktop functionality</h3> <p>Businesses that use WhatsApp Business won't need to use the Android app exclusively to send and receive messages. Instead, they'll be able to use a WhatsApp Business web application, making it possible for them to manage their WhatsApp presence from the desktop.</p> <h3>It's available in several countries to start but will be available globally soon</h3> <p>WhatsApp Business can be downloaded through the Google Play Store in the U.S., U.K., Mexico, Italy and Indonesia. WhatsApp says that the app will roll out globally “in the coming weeks.”</p> <h3>WhatsApp will provide analytics data</h3> <p>To help businesses better understand how their WhatsApp Business activities are working, WhatsApp will give them access to analytics data, such as the number of messages read. While it sounds like the analytics functionality will be fairly rudimentary to start, given Facebook's experience in this area on its core social network and Instagram, expect this to be one area it develops over time.</p> <h3>Business accounts will be designated as such</h3> <p>Businesses that set up profiles by using WhatsApp Business will have their profiles labeled as business profiles so that WhatsApp users who interact with those profiles understand they're interacting with a business. </p> <p>WhatsApp is also verifying some business profiles by confirming that the phone number on the account matches the phone number of the business. Verified businesses feature a label indicating that they've been verified.</p> <h3>Businesses can't communicate with all users</h3> <p>Businesses using WhatsApp Business won't be able to contact WhatsApp users at their leisure. Instead, users must opt in to receive communications from a business. This means that businesses wanting to put the messaging platform to good use will need to develop marketing and engagement strategies that promote such opt-in. </p> <h3>Paid features are likely coming</h3> <p>Last year, WhatsApp chief operating officer, Matt Idema, <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-tees-up-whatsapp-to-make-money-1504609201">told the Wall Street Journal</a> that the company eventually plans to launch paid features for businesses. Idema did not reveal what those paid features might be but it's logical to assume that, at least initially, WhatsApp will target paid features to larger enterprises that are more likely to pay for such features.</p> <p>While WhatsApp Business is designed for small businesses, WhatsApp is also allowing larger companies like KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to interact with users by integrating their own applications into the WhatsApp platform directly.</p> <h3>So should businesses jump on the WhatsApp train?</h3> <p>WhatsApp is an incredibly attractive platform for businesses. With more than 1.3bn users, it's larger than Instagram, which Facebook has developed into one of the most popular social platforms for marketers. WhatsApp users are also incredibly engaged, sending more than 55bn messages each day.</p> <p>With usage like that, it's no surprise that <a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/68695-how-brands-are-using-whatsapp-for-marketing">some marketers are finding success using WhatsApp</a>. For instance, Morning Consult says that 80% of small businesses in India and Brazil that are on WhatsApp indicate that the messaging platform is helping them communicate with their customers and grow their businesses.</p> <p>Of course, WhatsApp is a messaging app, so it's not quite like Facebook and Instagram and shouldn't be treated the same way. It's also more popular in some countries than others, which will realistically influence just how successful any particular business will be on the platform.</p> <p>For instance, WhatsApp is far more popular in India than it is in the U.S. So the ability of businesses to gain from their use of WhatsApp Business will probably be based in part on the popularity of WhatsApp where they're located.</p> <p>While business use of messaging platforms in the U.S. and Europe isn't as robust as it is in, say, Asia, because of its size and Facebook backing, WhatsApp is a logical platform on which Western businesses can start experimenting with messaging and WhatsApp Business will make it easier for them to do that.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69416 2017-10-13T11:27:00+01:00 2017-10-13T11:27:00+01:00 Mobile’s sorted, isn’t it? So why aren’t things getting better for many hotel chains? Martin Jordan <p>You won’t rank in Google, you won’t convert traffic and your brand will be slowly dying (at least online). Any traffic from mobile you do receive will be research traffic alone – and likely traffic with high bounce rates and low dwell time.</p> <p>Thankfully the UK market is mature, has always innovated and most brands will at least have a site that is adaptive or responsive to mobile. That said, there is still a lot of evolution required in the hotel web space that actually starts to exploit mobile as a device, rather than just as another browsing platform.</p> <p>Many brands are still staring down low conversion rates and lots of traffic that looks like “research” traffic due to poorly thought out mobile experiences or pseudo-mobile third-party book­ing engines that look like they’ve been there since the noughties.</p> <h3>Intelligent mobile</h3> <p>Today as we see many hotel brand sites pass the 50% mark for mobile traffic, the approach to developing mobile-friendly sites needs to come with a completely different approach to the user – one that is actually less about mobile and more about the user.</p> <p>At Equator, we refer to this as “Responsive Plus” – a site that not only adapts to the user’s device but thinks intelligently about the content it is going to show them by looking at where the user is, what time of day it is, whether they are logged in, whether they have a booking and whether they are in the middle of the booking process. A connected website such as this, with visibility of its location can tell you that User X is at your hotel, making use of their booked stay.</p> <p>Sounds straightforward enough when put like that, but it belies a greater problem in the hotel space, that of legacy, unconnected and inflexible systems. Here in the UK, we have a generally digitally mature hotel space, made up of medium and large-sized chains. The “mom and pop” operations that typify central Europe are far less prevalent here.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/9706/travelodge.png" alt="" width="700" height="336"></p> <p>This means that most of the brands here digitised their systems and processes some time ago, buying into comprehensive and complex Property Management Systems and investing in hardware and hosting for them to reside in.  And agencies like ours will have been tasked to build them sites, design a booking engine, get them online and eventually get them visible to mobile users too. All well and good, but this whole technology stack is now woefully dated and is slowly strangling the contemporary hotelier.</p> <p>The reason for this is that the PMS dominates the technology conversation. Everything the hotelier relies on flows from it: the booking engine, F&amp;B, payments, revenue management, channel management, upselling… and a heck of a lot more. If the hotelier wants to do something innovative with any part of their technology stack, the PMS gets in the way.</p> <p>Seen a cool new upselling tool? It needs to work with the PMS. Like to integrate with a smart AI-powered revenue management system? Needs to integrate with your PMS.</p> <p>Hoteliers all over keep having to answer the same question – “What PMS have you got and what version is it?”. Why? Because, invariably it’s legacy, not built on open principles and not designed for easy two-way engagement.</p> <p>So, why are they not tearing out these legacy systems and replacing them anew? Sadly, it’s not always that straightforward. There may be enough CapEx to replace the PMS itself, but many of the incumbent systems connected to it or slave to it will likely need replacing – or certainly overhauling. These systems too will have likely been built as slaves to the PMS and without modern open interoperability. And of course the website will need a new IBE to go with the new PMS too. It’s all expense and can seem like too much for the typical hotelier to bite down on.</p> <p>But perhaps it’s worth sitting down and doing the longer-term maths and building a business case with a 2-3 year viewpoint. Whilst neither the task nor the immediate costs are small, there are multitudinous benefits in the long term. That server-based PMS does not evolve and is likely a few versions old. It needs hosting, it needs patching and it eventually becomes unsupported. Except if you want to pay the supplier a <em>lot</em> of money on support and maintenance.</p> <p>New cloud based technologies are locked out or require prohibitively expensive “bridge” work to make them compatible with your PMS and all along the way. You find you’re missing out on huge revenue opportunities or finding your budget strangled by costs for any enhancement you want to make to it. When this technology is cloud based and open, it’s no longer your problem.</p> <h3>In the cloud </h3> <p>As more hotel systems become cloud driven, we are now witnessing a shift towards a more customer-centric view and away from obese legacy desktop and server-based systems.</p> <p>This new cloud-based approach is opening the hotel tech ecosystem to multiple new players such as Guestline, Hetras and Hotelogix, bringing new capabilities for hoteliers large and small.</p> <p>What used to be an expensive and cumbersome purchase can now be affordably bought from multiple vendors for a single property, as it is for a 100+ hotel chain.</p> <p>With open systems powered by customer data, machine learning and analytics capabilities, hoteliers can exercise their customer data with more flexibility than ever before.</p> <p>This brings a host of benefits:</p> <ul> <li>Smarter front-of-house, capable of personalising the customer experience.</li> <li>More intuitive web experience that tailors itself to the users’ preferences and behaviours, driven by the CRM database.</li> <li>Better marketing function that promotes less but ultimately drives more revenue and deeper loyalty.</li> <li>Unique and individual offerings through an enhanced on-premise experience in a world being commoditised by the OTA.</li> </ul> <p>We’re spending an increasing amount of our time intelligently connecting these systems and have written in more detail about them in our <a title="The hotel in the clouds" href="https://www.eqtr.com/uploads/SmartHotels.pdf">Smart Hotels paper.</a> Whilst technology standards like <a href="http://www.htng.org/">HTNG</a> go a long way to help ensure the interoperability of systems, the technological space in hotels moves very fast and every brand has their own unique needs.</p> <p>There is now huge potential to deliver new forms of service through automation and machine learning – achieved through the connectivity offered by contemporary systems. </p> <p>Examples include:</p> <ul> <li>Linking a hotel’s Wi-Fi system to their CRM platform to personalise the on-site internet experience and give loyal customers super speedy broadband.</li> <li>Developing the ability to reward loyalty without a complex and expensive loyalty scheme or the need to involve senior staff in approval of discounts or upgrades.</li> <li>Taking the typical lobby screen and allowing it to serve real-time offers based on actual availability, demand curves, current weather and more as well as pushing distressed inventory without effort.</li> </ul> <p>It’s this very path to innovation that has the potential to finally free the hotelier’s reliance on the OTA and bring their market share down more in alignment with the airline industry, where direct brand purchases still make up almost 60% of sales. And to suggest that the transition from desktop to mobile could throw this all into jeopardy is to tell just one side of the story. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/9705/ryanair.png" alt="" width="700" height="331"></p> <p>With so many expert systems and technologies available at prices that no longer cripple, hoteliers are increasingly building a technology-driven hotel business. And as these systems are connected and made accessible, the opportunities to drive greater revenue, improve efficiencies, deliver better service and change the entire marketing proposition are tangible and excitingly achievable.</p> <p>Any fear of change needs to be swapped for the fear of being left behind. Technology continues to evolve ever faster. If you can’t keep up, find a technology partner who understands your world to help you stay ahead.</p> <p>In the future, when everybody’s lives are in the cloud, the savvy hotelier will be using tech to make their hotel feel like home. The in-room entertainment will be what the customer likes and their dietary requirements will be understood – all without adding mountains of cost or complexity. The future is not far away. But it starts with a <strong>more connected</strong> hotel world.</p> <p><strong><em>For more on this topic, read:</em></strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/69414-four-big-digital-trends-impacting-travel-tourism-marketing"><em>Four big digital trends impacting travel &amp; tourism marketing</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/travel-statistics-compendium"><em>Travel Internet Statistics Compendium</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/67766-10-examples-of-great-travel-marketing-campaigns"><em>10 examples of great travel marketing campaigns</em></a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69328 2017-08-19T21:00:37+01:00 2017-08-19T21:00:37+01:00 Should companies embrace SMS texting for customer service? Patricio Robles <p>As <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-10/furious-about-delays-and-lost-luggage-text-your-airline">detailed by</a> Bloomberg's Justin Bachman, despite its ubiquity, SMS text messaging — "arguably the world's most favored form of communication" — has largely been ignored as a customer service channel by businesses, particularly large corporations. Instead, SMS has historically been used as a one-way channel to deliver notifications and marketing communications to customers. </p> <p>But that is changing.</p> <p>Case in point: while airlines have long used SMS to deliver information such as flight status updates to their customers, two airlines, Hawaiian and JetBlue, are or will be experimenting with SMS-based customer service.  </p> <p>Hawaiian Airlines began testing SMS-based customer service in April and recently decided to make the channel permanent. Currently, it handles about 200 texts a day, a tiny number for the eighth-largest commercial carrier in the United States, and interestingly, says that 70% of the SMS inquiries "don't involve itineraries or the carrier's HawaiianMiles program."</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/8304/hasms.png" alt="" width="396" height="252"></p> <p>JetBlue has invested in a startup called Gladly, which offers a customer service platform that supports SMS. According to the company, once JetBlue integrates Gladly's platform into its call center operations, "JetBlue customers will be able to have continuous, real-time conversations through whichever channel they prefer at the moment. They’ll be able to switch communication channels mid-conversation, and JetBlue will be able to pick up where they left off by accessing the full history of conversations with the customer from both current and previous flights."</p> <h3>The problem with SMS</h3> <p>While there are logical reasons to believe that SMS-based customer service has a future, in large part due to texting's popularity, it's not certain that customers will embrace it. There are a number of reasons for this.</p> <p>For starters, one of texting's benefits – its asynchronous nature – can also be a drawback under certain circumstances. While many consumers avoid phone customer service like the plague, for urgent or complicated matters customers might very well prefer to speak with a person who can respond to them in real-time. This raises the question as to whether SMS-based customer service will become anything more than an email alternative.</p> <p>Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, is the fact that when it comes to text-based customer service inquiries, it's possible that many individuals will turn to social media channels like Twitter before they use SMS. As some observed <a href="https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14979737">in a discussion thread</a> about SMS-based customer service on Hacker News, companies have an incentive to respond promptly to inquiries that are posted in social channels. After all, those inquiries are public and a failure to address them adequately and in a reasonable period of time could result in negative press or even a full-on backlash.</p> <p><strong>In other words, the appeal of social media customer service is that consumers feel it gives them more leverage to get companies to take their inquiries seriously and respond.</strong> That leverage doesn't exist when texting because the communications are private.</p> <h3>The bot factor</h3> <p>Even if SMS proves to be a marginal customer service channel for industries like air travel, Bloomberg's Bachman noted that there are other markets, such as banking and telecommunications, that might be better-suited. According to Rurik Bradbury, the head of global communications and research at LivePerson, up to 70% of the inquiries in these markets could one day be responded to in an automated fashion "because you have 60-80 very common questions."</p> <p>The predictable nature of inquiries, coupled with the relative simplicity of addressing many of them, lends itself to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67697-does-the-rise-of-messaging-apps-mean-brands-need-a-bot-strategy/">the use of bots</a>, which in some cases might totally change the viability of using SMS for customer service. While companies need to be careful about buying into <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68388-how-klm-uses-bots-and-ai-in-human-social-customer-service/">the idea that AI-powered bots can automate customer service completely</a>, bots backed by humans could be an effective combination.</p> <p>As customer service platforms add support for SMS, making it possible for companies to offer SMS-based customer service, expect more and more companies to give it a look, especially if they're already investing in human and bot text-based customer service for other messaging channels such as social.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69107 2017-05-23T00:02:00+01:00 2017-05-23T00:02:00+01:00 Three risky customer experience (CX) initiatives Jeff Rajeck <p>If you need some help with CX, Econsultancy recently published a report,<a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/implementing-a-customer-experience-cx-strategy-best-practice-guide"> Implementing a Customer Experience (CX) Strategy Best Practice Guide</a> and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/events/cx-trends-data-and-best-practice-apac-time-zone/">we are offering a webinar</a> which offers a glimpse of the report on Thursday, May 25th (11:30AM SGT). </p> <h3>1) Surge pricing for deliveries</h3> <p>Redmart is an online, home delivery supermarket based in Singapore which provides all the bells-and-whistles that one might expect from a digital leader in 2017. One way it has pulled ahead of the pack, though, is in how it schedules deliveries.</p> <p>Once customers have finished their shopping, they are asked to choose a two-hour slot for delivery. But instead of offering free delivery at all times, <strong>Redmart has made a risky decision and imposed 'surge pricing' at popular delivery times.</strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6275/redmart.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="514"></p> <p>That is, if you can only accept groceries at a particularly busy time then you are charged for your otherwise 'free' delivery. On the plus side, if you can receive groceries at an unpopular time you pay nothing for delivery or even get a small rebate.</p> <p>This is a risky strategy as <strong>most companies do not like to add visible surcharges to services initially offered for 'free'. </strong></p> <p>The customer benefit of this innovation is that those who have a tight schedule can be sure to get the delivery time that they need at a small extra cost. And those who are flexible enough to make the company's schedule just a little bit easier benefit with a small discount.</p> <h3>2) Using customer rewards to encourage criticism</h3> <p>Qoo10 (pronounced 'cue ten') is a popular online marketplace in Southeast Asia.</p> <p>The company's main strength is that customers can buy low-cost products from China and find obscure items globally through one shopping and payments hub. This strength, however, is also a weakness as <strong>the company's customer experience is dependent on the performance of its merchants.</strong></p> <p>To encourage its partners to deliver quality products on time, Qoo10 take a significant risk. <strong>The site rewards each customer with redeemable Qpoints when they verify delivery</strong> and offers additional points to those who take a photo and write a short review.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6276/2.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="221"></p> <p>The result of this simple mechanism is that every product listing is accompanied by numerous comments about the quality of the merchant's services, including photographs of the received items. These are largely positive but in many instances customers make it clear when they receive poor quality goods or late delivery.</p> <p>On one hand, encouraging comments risks damaging the site's reputation but, on the other, <strong>having reviews from multiple, unrelated customers enhances the overall customer experience.</strong></p> <p>Qoo10 consumers can take comfort that they can order from suppliers outside of their home country without worrying too much about their commitment to customer service.</p> <h3>3) Significant discounts for those working in the sharing economy</h3> <p>As everywhere, southeast Asia is now enjoying the benefits of the 'sharing economy' through taxi-hailing apps. In Singapore, one of the main companies in this space is called Grab.</p> <p>In Singapore, however, <strong>Grab drivers must purchase commercial auto insurance even if they are only working for Grab on a casual basis.</strong></p> <p>In response to this requirement, AXA has decided to take a risk to serve its customers better.  The company now offers an insurance product which <strong>reduces the cost of the commercial insurance for part-time drivers by 30% and then charges drivers on a per-km basis</strong>.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6277/3.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="302"></p> <p>This means that <strong>the firm is, in essence, leaving money on the table</strong> so that Grab drivers who work on a part-time basis pay less for insurance than those working full-time.  Customers clearly benefit in this case at a significant and measurable cost to the company.</p> <h3>So...</h3> <p>Whether its risking <strong>upsetting customers with additional fees</strong> (Redmart), <strong>exposing bad merchants in your marketplace</strong> (Qoo10) or <strong>leaving money on the table</strong> (AXA), companies are taking significant risks to improve their overall customer experience.</p> <p>Whether any of these strategies will pay off is uncertain, but to enjoy the benefits of improving customer experience, it is likely that more companies will have to undertake similar, risky initiatives.</p> <p>*Forrester study: <a href="https://www.forrester.com/Only+One+In+Five+Companies+Deliver+Good+Or+Great+CX/-/E-PRE9504">One in Five companies Delivers Good or Great CX</a></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68898 2017-03-17T09:39:50+00:00 2017-03-17T09:39:50+00:00 Seven retailers that use live chat to improve customer service Nikki Gilliland <p>In fact, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/63867-consumers-prefer-live-chat-for-customer-service-stats/" target="_blank">92% of customers feel satisfied</a> when they use a live chat feature compared to other modes of communication. And with <a href="https://www.forrester.com/report/Contact+Centers+Must+Go+Digital+Or+Die/-/E-RES122341" target="_blank">55% of US adults</a> also likely to abandon a site if they can’t find the answer to a question, live chat can be an effective key way of keeping customers happy and more likely to make a purchase.</p> <p>Offering immediacy, one-to-one interaction and potentially resulting in greater levels of customer satisfaction – here are a few examples of online retailers utilising the technology.</p> <h3>ModCloth</h3> <p>ModCloth is well-known for its tone of voice, however it’s just as friendly when it comes to customer care. With its live chat functionality, consumers can chat one-to-one with staff – or a Modcloth ‘advocate’, as they’re also known.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4693/Modcloth_live_chat.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="640"></p> <p>The fact that the service includes a photo and the first name of the person makes it much more personal – users really feel like they’re talking to a real life person rather than to a faceless brand. Similarly, this also serves to emphasise the brand’s customer-centric reputation. </p> <h3>Nikon</h3> <p>While fashion retailers might use live chat to drive the path to purchase, technology brands like Nikon use it to speed up the customer care process. After all, with <a href="https://blog.zopim.com/2014/11/13/infographic-theres-a-chat-for-that/" target="_blank">42% of people</a> saying that not having to wait on hold is one of the biggest benefits of using it, the immediacy of the service is key.</p> <p>For brands that have a commitment to customers when products go wrong, live chat can be utilised to troubleshoot common issues, also saving on the hassle of sending back products for repair.</p> <p>Nikon is a great example of this, offering help and advice on how to fix specific problems with its cameras.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4694/Nikon_live_chat_3.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="764"></p> <h3>Canyon Bikes</h3> <p>While many retailers might offer live chat, it’s often buried within a website’s help and support pages. In contrast, mountain bike retailer Canyon Bikes puts the service front and centre on its homepage.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4695/Canyon_Bikes.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="497"></p> <p>Not only does this instil an instant sense of trust – reassuring people that help and information is at hand throughout the path to purchase – but it also ensures that customers are less likely to abandon their journey due to difficulty in finding it.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4696/Canyon_live_chat.JPG" alt="" width="672" height="578"></p> <h3>Warby Parker</h3> <p>Eyewear brand Warby Parker also puts live chat at the forefront of its customer service, promoting it alongside email and telephone help. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4697/Warby_Parker.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="607"></p> <p>However, with live chat resulting in <a href="http://www.maruedr.com/live-chat-tops-customer-service-league-table-thanks-to-high-satisfaction-and-low-customer-effort/">73% satisfaction levels</a> - the highest for any customer service channel - compared with 61% for email and 44% for phone, it’s likely to be the service that consumers are drawn to the most.</p> <p>This mainly looks to be due to its time-saving nature, providing instant results in comparison to calling up or writing out an email.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4698/Warby_Parker_live_chat.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="545"></p> <h3>Nordstrom</h3> <p>Nordstrom ensures that its online customer service covers all bases by separating its live chat service into categories such as 'designer specialist' and 'beauty stylist'.</p> <p>Even better, its live chat stays open 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Not only does this improve levels of customer satisfaction, but it also helps to prevent customers from being disappointed and potentially abandoning a purchase due to an unavailable service.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4701/Nordstrom_live_chat.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="523"></p> <h3>Toys R Us</h3> <p>While I am including Toys R Us on the list, this is not necessarily a good example of how to use live chat online. This is mainly because the service looks to be automated, sending consumers pre-programmed answers based on the query they select.</p> <p>So, even though the ‘Ask Emma’ service appears to be a real person, it’s actually not.</p> <p>This is a dangerous move, as instead of improving the customer experience, it could potentially harm it – leading users to feel frustrated and even duped if they realise <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68458-why-chatbots-are-an-important-opportunity-for-retailers/" target="_blank">‘Emma’ is a bot</a>.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4699/Toys_R_Us_Emma.JPG" alt="" width="615" height="401"></p> <h3>Goldsmiths</h3> <p>Finally, Goldsmiths is a good example of a brand going one step further and making use of live chat with sound and video as opposed to just text.</p> <p>The jewellery retailer recently introduced this feature in order to mimic the personal service that it offers in its physical stores. With consumers potentially preferring an in-store experience – and therefore avoiding shopping on the website in the past – this is a great way to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68023-think-retail-how-brands-are-targeting-the-phygital-generation/" target="_blank">fuse the physical and digital</a> experience and encourage online purchases. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4700/Goldsmiths_live_chat.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="574"></p> <p><em><strong>Related articles:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68546-social-media-customer-service-six-important-talking-points/" target="_blank">Social media customer service: Six important talking points</a></li> </ul>