It’s rare that a solution comes along and just rips out everything that came before. Mostly we adapt to change by layering it in. I’ve been thinking about this on a personal level too. How can I change multiple things, as personal habits, but where each changed behaviour reinforces the others? Its clear that I can get to the gym in the morning because I create a new habit (or layer in a new behaviour) of getting my bag ready the night before, and leaving it by the door. In order to stop myself from looking at my phone so much I’m going to start wearing a watch because I often look at my phone just to know what time it is, and then get sucked into all kinds of non-value added. Companies and their customer engagement could benefit from thinking in these terms too.
Brian Roemmele coined the term VoiceFirst (#voicefirst) to mean that our most natural interaction mode with the world around us is Voice. We even “talk to ourselves” in our own heads, we talk to our own brains, we try to coach ourselves towards better behaviours. Speaking out loud to tell objects, services and systems what we want is inherently more natural than typing. Many took this to mean “we will do it all over voice”. We ask Alexa to order sushi and Alexa remembers my favourite restaurant and I simply ask for what I want to be delivered. But voicefirst does not mean voice only, as Brian is at pains to point out. I may want to see a picture of the dish or see a quick video on how it is prepared. I may ask this to be shown on my nearest screen, which happens to be my new Samsung TV. Voice will be layered in with other channels and services.
It’s the same with messengers. In some cases, you might ask a few questions such as ”what time is the hotel car park open until”, and “is there a charge”, “can I reserve a place?” A quick back and forth to book my room and I can also reserve a parking place. A scannable QR is shared to my messenger which I show to the automated barrier to gain entry. I may even get a notification over messenger to remind me that the car park closes in an hour’s time. This is an ideal use case for customer engagement and a messenger interaction.
Messenger interactions can also be blended with other services as part of an overall solution. In this case, a retailer using the Amazon marketplace didn’t know its end customer, so it used messenger to gather more information and build more customer intelligence. When it had a delivery address the retailer cross referenced this detail with Facebook Custom Audiences and in over half the cases it was able to identify the end customer. In this case Messenger was working as part of a customer feedback and data gathering process.
Webio are also working with companies that are using conversational forms like Typeform in a similar fashion. In a conversation between an agent and a customer, the company might want to conduct a short survey or information gathering exercise. This could be an ideal opportunity to gather or update information that is crucial to your ongoing customer relationship. Understanding that this could be the best time to ask for that information is an example of great layering in of questions.
The power of ‘layering in’ is that it is compounding. You are not only communicating effectively with the customer (engagement), but also decreasing your cost of contact (through automation) while also gathering more customer information (intelligence). Webio have found similar advantages in layering in human interaction into the automated conversation. Small changes in organisational habits such as data gathering at the point of customer interaction, can become part of an overall effort to transform your customer engagement and your business.