Cook the perfect bot

Who doesn’t love a treat that delivers the perfect combination of happier customers and greater efficiency?

Bots have certainly proved a tantalising prospect in recent times for company leaders. Millions of pounds have already been ploughed into these solutions. Unfortunately all those that we’ve tried to date have tended to leave a sour aftertaste of bad client experience and outcomes. Tedious unintuitive questions and stock responses that miss the nuance of the question. Urrgh. In the past customer sales and service and relationship management has seen similar trends of widely adopted solutions built in the name of efficiency and hated by customers. Poorly implemented offshore call centres. Annoying IVR systems.

The prospect of good bot solutions are there for us all to see however. AI is maturing to an extent that it can’t be ignored. My 5 year old knows she’s far more likely to get a sensible (and correct) answer to a question from Alexa rather than me. To achieve the desired results in customer sales, service and relationship management, you just need to allow the solution time to breath. Do it well, and you’ll get the added benefit of happier and more engaged customers.

Here is our recipe for the successful deployment of a customer sales and service bot:

Step 1

First get customers to engage over messaging. This shouldn’t be a problem as it is how most people communicate given the choice. Use Nivo to quickly and cheaply get your customers onto a secure and convenient messaging solution. This is the only network built for the purpose of establishing the requisite trust for customer sales, service and relationship management without compromising experience. We’d warn against the use of poor imitation products trying to capitalise on market demand without properly understanding the potential. Also aim to avoid solutions which only restrict conversation with your own organisation (the customer agitation this causes results in bitterness).

Step 2

Carefully start responding to messages with your trained and proven human agents. You’ll begin to see 2-6 times efficiency just by staffing conversations over messaging rather than over the phone. Keep stirring and you’ll soon see happier customers and improved efficiency come to the boil.

Step 3

Gradually introduce bots to the Nivo APIs. Go slowly at first, experimenting and carefully monitoring results. You can even try different bots to see how they perform in the mix. Make sure you constantly check the temperature of your customers and the activities they are doing.

Step 4

After a while you’ll start to see the perfect blend of bots and humans, presenting customers with a feast of prompt and effective messaging, all done at a fraction of today’s costs.

Serve with a side of smugness. You are no doubt the person in your organisation who saw ahead of the rest of the market, the opportunity to use secure messaging and bots to deliver a material step change in your customer proposition.

Why Facebook, Google and Apple won’t necessarily dominate customer messaging like they do peer to peer

Most people working in Digital would agree that in future, messaging is likely to become much more dominant in how people interact with organisations. The success of WeChat in China is often seen as leading the way in this kind of user interaction. The natural assumption many make is that it will be the technology titans of today that will also come to power customer sales and service interactions. Most don’t see past Facebook, Google and Apple, with a few interested in Amazon’s move in this space.

Certainly there are two facts in favour of this. The reach of Facebook, Google and Apple’s messaging solutions is massive. Well over 100 billion messages are sent every day. Secondly it is clear that these companies are making active moves to pursue this market: Here’s Facebook’s plan to make money from Messenger; WhatsApp just offered another clue as to how it will finally start making money for Facebook; Apple business chat coming next year – here’s how it will change the game; Amazon is building a messaging app called ‘Anytime’.

At Nivo, we would challenge the view that the ultimate winners in customer messaging will inevitably come from these heavyweights. There are a number of barriers their current solutions have to overcome to obtain the requisite trust of the West’s companies and institutions:

  1. Lack of identity of individuals
    I can setup an account with Apple, Google, Facebook or WhatsApp, and establish an identity against that account in seconds. When it comes to peer to peer communication, this is completely acceptable. Speed is king. When it comes to engaging with companies however, where there are fraud, financial crime and data privacy risks, it becomes a problem. Companies need to know you are who you say you are. At the moment all I prove at most is that I am in control of a phone number or email address. For the dominant peer to peer platforms, integrating identity controls without compromising existing customer journeys will be a problem.
  2. User configuration of security
    Much of iOS and Android device security controls are open to configuration to the user. Today’s peer to peer applications make data immediately visible to the customer based on this configuration through notifications and app access. A company could never be sure of the integrity of the data they send if this remains. If that risk is unacceptable to companies, are these platforms prepared to compromise user experience for peer to peer communications to ensure an appropriate level of security control?
  3. Multiple customer credentials for authentication
    One solution to the issue of identifying individuals would be to use proprietary security credentials through an existing channel to identify the customer. For example, provide your password or PIN for that particular organisation. That leaves today’s issue however that a user needs to remember different security credentials for every institution they have a relationship with. If they don’t have a relationship with that institution then they’ll have to go through a lengthy sign-up process. Perhaps institutions will come to trust Apple, Google and/or Facebook’s identity capabilities. This has begun to happen with Touch-ID where an existing proprietary identity has been associated with the Touch-ID registered on a phone. Whilst this is OK for low value payments, there is still a long way to go before the tech giant’s identities can be trusted as stand-alone identities in their own right for high risk transactions.
  4. Lack of identity of companies
    In the same way as it is easy to setup an individual’s identity, it is also pretty easy to purport to be a company or institution. So even if a company could assure itself of the identity of the individuals they are communicating with, their customers and prospects could still be duped into a conversation with a criminal purporting to be from their company. Whilst controls could be introduced to combat this, how could these be retrospectively integrated where companies are already active in these networks? I know from experience in Financial Services, getting companies to commit to revalidating their identity on a platform they already actively use is an incredibly difficult task. To assure the network of the integrity of all its participants, even one false identity is a huge weakness.
  5. Sprawling existing networks that have multiple weak points
    The current peer to peer messaging networks have rapidly evolved into vast, sprawling networks. Data is spread all over the world on billions of devices connected to thousands of applications. These networks have not been designed for confidential conversations that carry fraud and financial crime risks. We know first hand the level of due diligence that a Financial Services company (as an example) would expect to be able to do on a network carrying confidential customer data. In a controlled, segmented network this due diligence can be achieved. In these open networks, it will be far more difficult to control the risks.
  6. Culture of commercialising data
    Google and Facebook have been commercially successful from business models that are based on mining and monetising personal data. For customer service interactions, data privacy, care and control are much more of an issue than they were in these previous business models. It isn’t beyond the realm of possibility for a company to launch new products and propositions with business models very different to those that they have in place already. It is however pretty rare. Given the extent to which the value of customer data must be so entrenched in the culture of these organisations, could they ever truly adapt? It is hard to believe they could so completely adapt their way of thinking to be able to prioritise data privacy over data insight. Will people and institutions then accept the security flaws that come with this?
  7. Brands and solutions recognised and developed for peer to peer communications
    The distribution of solutions such as iOS Messages, Android Messages, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger is clearly a huge advantage. The fact is though, the existing user base recognise them as brands and solutions for peer to peer communications, not yet ones that support customer service interactions. Due to the security concerns inherent in today’s solutions many industries have educated their customer base to be wary in these channels. Despite app fatigue existing for some time, that hasn’t stopped the proliferation of some messaging apps that have a differentiating factor. Solutions such as Slack and Snapchat have found a niche for their messaging apps to grow into huge multi-billion dollar companies. This, even in a time when Google, Apple and Facebook were already dominating Western messaging solutions. It isn’t always the case that the winner for a new use case is a bastardisation of an already successful product. More often the winner is a product built specifically with its purpose in mind.

Of course, with the resources available to these companies you can’t rule out that they will find solutions to these problems. Maybe though, the answer lies in our story. Nivo has spun out of a major global bank’s innovation arm. Like many great innovations, the concept at the heart of Nivo is simple. Our network is secured. We identify and verify all the institutions coming into our network, and then the institutions identify and verify the consumers of their products. Simple as it is, by building a network founded on this simple premise, perhaps we can be the key to unlocking the power of secure instant messaging in customer sales and service.

Using Live Chat? Your customers want instant messaging

Live chat just exploded. From 2015 to 2016 live chat usage more than doubled. All the signs are that growth will be even bigger in 2017 with more and more companies implementing it.  

But is live chat the right decision? Our survey suggests that for those customers who don’t want to call, the majority would prefer instant messaging.

How would you rather contact service providers of financial services, telecoms/broadband/tv, medical care, utilities, transport, recruitment or public services?

Blob keys.001  Live chat (wait for a connection and correspond in real-time for as long as a conversation takes)
Blob keys.002  Instant messaging (WhatsApp / Messenger / SMS type experience with notifications when a response is received)
Blob keys.003  Telephone
Blob keys.004  Branch

Screen Shot 2017-08-08 at 08.22.09

And that’s not even taking into account the fact that wait times and poor customer service are prevalent in live chat services that are deployed (eMarketer).

The indisputable fact is that messaging is most people’s customer service communication mechanism of choice. This demand is already being forced onto institutions through social media. Customer service interactions over Twitter have increased 250% in the last 2 years. The public nature of these channels means institutions have to ensure strong staffing levels to respond quickly. However, certainly for industries like financial services, this demand has caused a problem. They can’t serve customers over these channels because they don’t know they are who they say they are, and the data isn’t secure. This means the institution either calls the customer back, or directs them to an alternative channel. In both scenarios, the company pays twice. Once to serve the customer on social media, and once again in another channel. And despite paying twice, by failing to serve the customer in their channel of choice, satisfaction and advocacy are adversely impacted.

Many companies have seen live chat as the answer. Where security is a concern they deploy a live chat solution behind their own customer authentication capability. For those that have done this it has delivered strong benefits. It gives customers a messaging interface. As a result customers are happier. Plus research estimates serving customers via messaging is 2-6 times more efficient than the phone. Happier customers and lower operating costs are a winning formula.

Reading too much into the success of live chat misses the bigger picture on the future of communications though. It is instant messaging that’s dominating channel growth as a whole outside of customer service. The top 6 of the 10 global apps are messaging apps. 60billion messages are sent every day over WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger alone. The only thing the success of live chat proves is that it is better than the telephone. Just think about the benefits of embracing an instant messaging strategy instead:

  • As shown in our survey, the majority of messaging customers would prefer this experience over live chat
  • If your customer has to break-away from the conversation because of a time constraint or if a connection drops, the conversation can be easily picked up at a later point
  • Instant messaging affords the time to effectively route and segment customers to the appropriate agent, even mid-conversation
  • There is more leeway in response times with instant messaging because of notifications, whereas in live chat poor response times destroy satisfaction
  • You can communicate outbound to customers as well as responding to inbound queries
  • You can more naturally share files and images e.g. statements and images of documentation
  • You can spread complex conversations (like onboarding prospects) more conveniently over a period of time.

If you want to explore an instant messaging solution but you need to trust the security of data and the identity of the individual, then Nivo is the answer. Nivo doesn’t require expensive integration to existing technology infrastructure.

Discover secure instant messaging