After attendees at LiNC Local Sydney enjoyed a hearty lunch, it was time to round out the afternoon with a few breakout sessions designed to provide a deeper dive into what it means to deliver great digital customer experiences. Track A was unique in that it was less about Lithium doing the talking and more about putting a spotlight on our super star customers in Australia and underscoring something we already know to be true: that companies leading the charge on digital customer experience regularly outperform the general market.
In Part One, entitled “Digital CX is the New Playing Field,” Lithium’sDenise Jack led a spirited panel discussion with AGL’s Liam Woods,ATO’s (Australian Taxation Office) Liz Bott, and Optus’ Nadia Hudson about how they are leveraging Lithium’s products along with data and insights to help create better digital experiences for their customers – especially in this day and age when 89 percent of companies say they expect to compete on the basis of customer experience (versus 36 percent merely four years ago!).
For AGL, the biggest hurdle was securing stakeholder support internally, as many internal teams – including Marketing – didn’t understand the value of building an online community or creating a more robust social customer service program. However, once Woods was able to share call deflection metrics, people started to catch on. The truth, said Woods, is that “selling energy to 3 million retail customers in Australia is no easy task. Customer tolerance for BS – aka, a subpar experience – is really low.” They knew that customers wanted an easier way to manage their energy, so AGL created a customer-, data-, and experience-led strategy that made it possible for “customers to do what they want to do in the channels they’re already in,” further signifying how digital is quickly becoming a way for AGL to win and compete in the digital marketplace.
The situation was a bit different for the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). The team there, as Bott put it, is on a “reinvention journey,” identifying user needs, pain points, and making digital customer experience a primary focus. “Understanding how the entire customer experience ecosystem plays together is still a bit of a challenge,” said Bott, “but what we know is that we need to make that experience as easy as possible for customers.” What makes ATO’s case unique is that no one really wants to deal with the taxation office. So, a big part of the digital strategy here was to use social as a form of education in the hopes that it could “create behavioral change.” The ATO’s recently launched community (in beta) will help do just that – and create, by default, a “feedback loop where customers can come in and help us learn how to make the experience better.”
For Optus, a brand that’s quickly shifting its positioning from simply being a telco to a multimedia-led telecommunications company, the focus has been on “personalizing the digital customer experience and making it seamless from start to finish.” To do that, according to Hudson, “it’s important to connect the experience to insights...everyone’s going on social, so how do brands have to evolve to meet that demand?” (And don’t try to argue with Optus on this point as a whopping 85 percent of their social customer service traffic now comes from Facebook Messenger!) Content, informed by data and insights, has also played a big part in the success of Optus’ digital customer experience efforts. “The blog has really helped human the brand’s content and messaging,” which has, in turn, created a more useful and relevant experience for customers.
Then, shifting gears slightly, in Part Two, entitled “The Future of Social Media Management,” Lithium’s VP of Product Marketing, Leslie Jordan was joined by Lithium’s Meg Hahn and Woolworth’s Stephan Arnold to discuss the growing importance of social customer service. In an era when 92 percent of customers say they’ll stick with a brand that resolves their issues in the first attempt, it’s becoming increasingly important for brands to figure out how to do that effectively. In fact, 89 percent of marketers want to understand the ROI of social service while 91 percent are keen to understand what social tactics are the most effective for engaging with their audiences.
The reality is that “flipping a customer [into a loyal or buying customer] doesn’t happen overnight,” said Arnold. “Social can slightly nudge customers, but there are a lot of steps that happen in between to drive a sale; it’s about changing perceptions over time to reach a desired result.” To accomplish this, it’s important to break down the siloes and open up the lines of communication between internal teams. According to Arnold, “social engagement tools are helping to facilitate those conversations.”
That’s precisely why Lithium recently made enhancements to itsSocial Media Management platform. “It’s important to know what people are talking about or saying about your brand before developing a marketing strategy,” said Jordan. “Bringing listening into the Lithium platform will help brands do this effectively.” Just one way Lithium is helping brands get un-stuck from “broadcast mode” and shift their attention towards engaging customers in a more meaningful and relevant way.
A lot more was discussed, but, unfortunately, too much to cover here. Learn more about our super star customers in Australia and get more information on how you can take your transform the digital customer experience with the Lithium Engagement Platform today.
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Bringing the morning session to a close, Partner at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Monty Hamilton took to the stage to discuss the five ways in which brands can embrace digital transformation. We won’t give away all of the surprises here – because it’s definitely worth taking the time to watch his entire talk below- but here’s a sneak peek at the highlights:
Data: Data has changed the game for both brands and consumers. The knowledge and insights gained from it have helped brands “create better, more efficient, and more convenient experiences” that truly surprise and delight customers. To do this, however, brands must recognize a few things: 1) that data is already currency in today’s digital world; 2) that brands must not only use data to meet customer expectations, but instead to stretch them; and 3) that data must be liberated from organizational siloes so that the insights gleaned can benefit all parts of a business.
AI & the Machine: The convergence of technology and human life is greater now than ever before – thanks in big part to our smartphones. As mobile technologies become more intelligent and perceptive, brands can tap into that keen sense of spatial awareness to gain insights that can change, impact, and improve even the most commonplace aspects of daily life. Whether it’s creating a smoother Uber ride or shifting perceptions about the convenience of air travel with the rise of driverless cars, artificial intelligence, when leveraged with the consumer’s wants and needs in mind, can ultimately be the key to creating better customer experiences.
Mixed Reality: Who says the only way to type is with your hands? Well, according to Hamilton, we’re not far off from being able to type faster with our eyes thanks to the rise of augmented reality (AR) technologies. And that’s just the beginning. As “mixed reality” increasingly becomes one of the many ways consumers engage with brands, there’s an opportunity for brands to translate those experiences into new markets that will alter the customer experience and shift customer expectations in a big way.
Culture: Today, “technology is too far ahead of culture for us to simply accept it,” said Hamilton. “It’s better, faster, and cheaper than ever before.” Here’s the hitch: because technology is evolving (culture) at such a rapid pace, it’s become hard for brands and consumers to keep up. In fact, there is oftentimes a fear to embrace the unknown even though, as Hamilton put it, “we must embrace change.” There are a few things brands can do to prepare themselves to do this and bring culture to life through internal practices: 1) create collaborative working environments; 2) embrace human-centered design; 3) build lean, effective teams; and 4) adopt agile business practices.
Customer: Brands have recently talked about “extreme customer expectations.” The truth is, however, that consumers don’t actually think their expectations are all that extreme. This is because expectations are constantly evolving as customer experiences continue to change and improve. In short, the more brands do to create better customer experiences, the more consumers come to expect those great customer experiences as the baseline. Anything less is subpar. In fact, this is so much the case today that a single awesome experience a consumer has with one brand can have “a halo effect across all other service providers within a consumer’s day-to-day life.” Long gone are the days of simply meeting customer expectations; today, “brands have to surpass expectations.”
Wrapping up this incredibly insightful talk, Hamilton explained that brands must have the “knowledge to transform the business, the imagination to create an experience, and the trust to deliver those expectations through technology.”
To get the full scoop, be sure to watch Hamilton’s full presentation below:
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Lithium’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Rob Tarkoff ( @RobT), took to the stage to kick off a full day of thought leadership, insights, and a few surprises at LiNC Local Sydney .
Addressing a packed room of digital marketers, community managers and customer service professionals, he started his talk by asking the audience an important question: “Where does customer experience sit today?” And while it pretty much goes without saying that customer experience is top of mind for practically every brand today, many fail to realize, according to Tarkoff, that “there’s very little separation between a company’s culture and behavior and how consumers perceive or feel about the products and services that fall under a brand’s purview.”
A recent Harris Poll survey , conducted on behalf of Lithium, 83 percent of consumers agreed that a positive experience with a brand is just as important as the experience they have with a brand’s product itself. Equally, 43 percent said they would buy an inferior product from a brand that offered a great customer experience. And probably most alarming, a whopping 73 percent firmly believed that there are no such thing as second chances, saying they would stop using a brand after a single bad experience.
So, in an era when brands are eager to maximize their share of wallet, they have to accept a very simple truth: happy customers simply spend more!
This was the perfect segue for Tarkoff to share Lithium’s Digital Customer Experience (aka, “Digital CX”) vision – in other words, the convergence of customer experience and product excellence. To find the Digital CX sweet spot, Tarkoff suggested that brands must always be ready to Listen, Engage, Enlist, and Embrace consumers, whenever and wherever they may be. In fact, he boldly claimed that “it’s time for brands to grow up and take Digital CX to the next level” via Lithium’s single platform for social media management and online communities. “Digital CX is the moment; it’s time for next generation digital customer experiences.”
Before closing, Tarkoff quickly discussed how Lithium’s recent acquisition by Vista Equity Partners is helping to further position the company for growth at a time when Digital CX is more important to brands than ever before.
Check out his full slides to learn more about Digital CX...and more!
Plus, check out this video from LiNC Local London to see Rob in action.
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LiNC wouldn’t be the same without tips, real-stories and even a little banter from peers – all in the tried-and-true conference panel format. And LiNC Local London was no exception.
During the breakout sessions, we hosted ‘Track A- Inspiration Room’ with three different sessions. The goal of each session was to deliver Lithium success stories and have the audience learn key takeaways that they can take back to their day-to-day jobs. @UlrikaH was our moderator for Track A and – as usual- she asked the questions we all wanted to hear the answers to.
Session 1: Digital CX is the New Playing Field
Everyone who attended the conference plays a role (big or small) in their organization’s digital customer experience so we knew this would be a popular panel. We were thrilled to have the following panelists share their stories:
Linda Van Seuren, Sr. Community Manager at ING (@lindavs)
Michel Da Silva, Community Manager at Parrot (@Mike_Silva)
Marlene Summers, CS Services & Community VP at Zuora (@marlene1)
Linda kicked off the panel with this ‘fun’ stat and that really got the conversation started: Nearly 1/3 of consumers would rather clean a toilet than talk to customer service.
Top 3 takeaways from the Digital CX panel:
Collaborate with other departments (for example: set up re-occurring meetings and have shared goals and put customer feedback first)
Map out your customers’ journey across all digital touchpoints
Measure and set goals related to customer journey touchpoints
Session 2: The Future of Social Media Management
With our newly announced Lithium SMM features, we were excited to host a social media management panel to get the inside scoop from our customers. Most importantly, to breakdown the biggest challenges and to hear how teams are delivering results with their SMM strategies. We were lucky to have the following panelists participate:
Liam Dyson, Head of Digital at Plusnet (@PlusnetLiam)
Chris Brennan, Sr. Social Strategy Manager at Scottish Power (@cbrennan79)
Phill Fothergill, Social Media Operational Lead at nPower (@Foggy)
Darren Jones, SM & Audience Insight Manager at Post Office (@darrenianjones)
Top 3 takeaways from the SMM panel:
Know your Audience & Influencers (dig into your social and community data, think about launching influencer groups to test theories/models/programs)
Publish Relevant Content (make sure you are using technology to publish the right thing at the right time)
Measure and Prove ROI (both internally and externally)
Session 3: Community & Beyond
We closed the track with a lively discussion on all-things community. Our panel included community experts from a diverse set of industries – high tech, b2b, retail and telco – and with a ton of passion and tips to share. Our panelists included:
Esther Heide, Community Manager at TeamViewer (@Esther_H)
Wendy Schippers, Sr. Community Manager at HP (@Wendy_S)
Timo Tolonen, Head of Community at GiffGaff (@timotolonen)
Paco Campos, Community Manager at Leroy Merlin (@PacoCampos)
Side note: Be sure to read all about @Estherheide experience in My Top Takeaways from LiNC Local London 2017.
Top 3 takeaways from the Community & Beyond panel:
Map out your digital customer journey (ask: does my community touch every stage of my digital customer’s lifecycle?)
Keep your community vibrant with relevant content (activate UGC across digital), moderation and super user programs
You are brand stewards - make sure your community is consistent with your brand
Thanks to all our panelists and sharing their best practices. Here’s to the next LiNC!
Download the full presentations here:
Digital CX Panel
The Future of SMM Panel Community & Beyond Panel
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“Our community is all about customer experience.”
Dave Hoffman, Manager of Community, Social, and Chat – Sprint
Many businesses know that today’s consumers will opt to call customer service as a last resort. In fact, our very own research has proved this time and time again. More people want to find information on their own – and they’re looking to a brand’s website and online community to get the answers they need, fast. So, when it became clear to Sprint that this is what their customers wanted, needed, and expected from them, they knew it was time to look for a partner that could help them deliver on this. That’s when they turned to Lithium. Listen in and watch our chat with Dave Hoffman, Sprint’s Manager of Community, Social, and Chat, about why finding the right partner has been so critical in achieving these goals.
In the videos, Dave tells us:
“We started to confront some serious obstacles before we began working with Lithium. Not only were there some general platform issues for us to deal with, but, as we dug in deeper, it was clear that not enough members were participating in our community to make it a truly valuable experience for anyone visiting our website. We didn’t even have brand ambassadors that we could rely on to help us curate the community experience. What we knew, however, is that customers didn’t want to call us to get the help or answers they needed. Unfortunately, because our community wasn’t operating to its full potential, they had no choice but to call us. This was simply not an effective way to serve our customers’ needs.”
Addressing Customer Needs
“As we began the overhaul of our online community, our primary goal was to help our customers get answers to their questions, fast – and without having to call customer service. There are two reasons for this. First, knowing that our customers wanted to come to our website as a first line of defense to find answers, we had to put ourselves in their shoes and think about how we could build and deliver an experience that ultimately addressed their needs. Driving them to our community was – and still is – our priority. Second, from an internal standpoint, we needed to help our customer support team operate more effectively by staying focused on helping our customers overcome more complex issues and not being bogged down by simple, easy-to-answer questions that contributed to massive call volume. So, as we started to build out our new online community, we paid very close attention to call deflection. Here’s the good news. As we made more answers and solutions readily accessible on our community, we’ve seen call volume decrease significantly as visits to the community have increased exponentially – currently, at a whopping 16 million views per month! Clearly, our strategy is working.”
A Makeover with a Purpose
“By working with Lithium to give our online community new life and purpose, it soon became abundantly clear that creating a robust digital customer experience across our entire digital presence needed to become our next priority. So, we’re now giving Sprint.com a complete makeover. “Community” will be at the forefront of this design. What we know is that we must put the customer’s wants, needs, and expectations first. Focusing on what our customers need from us will be central to every business decision we make moving forward. They want to find answers to questions, fast. Our entire approach to digital customer experience must address that need head on.”
The Importance of Social Care “Social customer care is quickly becoming a more integral part of how we better serve our customers. As we’ve started to build out our social care capabilities, we took three important things into consideration. First, we needed a best-in-class platform to simplify, streamline, and automate this experience more effectively. Second, we needed access to robust analytics and reporting capabilities so that would could understand the impact of our social care efforts in real-time. And third, we needed a partner to help us take this experience to the next level. It didn’t take us long to realize that Lithium would soon be this partner. What made them stand out was the simple fact that their platform was created and built by customer care professionals: people who understand the ins and outs of customer care. For us, this was more than just choosing a platform; it was about finding a partner who could work with us every step of the way to ensure that the customer was at the core of our social care efforts.”
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