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Out with old, in with the new – strategy that is. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is facing a new frontier with the exposure of assisted channels and marketing technologies. However, these new strategies do not only focus on technology. Instead, they revolve around the way companies perceive their CRM potential and the steps they can take to improve their inbound marketing processes. The question we want to ask is: can marketers leverage a real-time application like IBM Interact to feed assisted channels, like Live Chats, with marketing messages?

Of course, they can!

Companies are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to make the best use of their CRMs. Using IBM Interact to connect CRMs with assisted channels is a unique way for a customer service representative (CSR) to identify prospects and use programmatic marketing to push related goods and services.

Opening Online Channels

Customer service, like most business functions, is beginning to see the need for online accessibility. Most companies still rely on call center operatives for their customer service; however, this method is slowly becoming less efficient, as other functions begin to migrate online.

Think of it this way – if a user is already banking online, why should they change medium just to get more information?

Because of this growing trend, big businesses will start to feel the pressure to reassess their current CRM strategies.

Live Chats

One of the more established assisted channels that have been growing in recent years is live chats. When it comes to millennials and Gen-Zs, live chats may be one of the best ways to reach them. It is a quick, practical medium to communicate directly with a CSR without using a phone.

Typically, this technology is integrated directly into a company landing page or internally within an application. Companies then hire CSRs to monitor their live chats and engage with customers to assist with general information. Requesting the user’s information or presenting predefined topics before starting the chat are great ways to categorize leads and understand the audience.

In some cases, businesses upload scripts to help automate the chat by redirecting customers to use emails or set appointments. Additionally, some of these live chat applications also incorporate audio and video-based communication to engage better with mobile users. Remember, different communication options increase the likeliness that customers commit to the tool.

Two prime examples of this software include LivePerson, a leader in the space for over 15 years, and Intercom, an upcoming competitor who first introduced In-App messaging. They have based their business model on efficiency through intelligent real-time responses and cost-effective relationship-building opportunities.

Using IBM Interact and Live Chats

For direct marketers, a key value in these chatting platforms is their ability to interface with real-time decision-making tools such as IBM Interact. These tools enable marketers to leverage Interacts cross-channel and targeting capabilities to feed the right message at the right time into the live chat.

Here are the four steps that can be used to map a potential IBM Interact use case for live chats.

1. The Customer: First and foremost, employers need to determine which criteria they will take to identify users on their website. For example, most sites encourage profiles for returning customers and hence use login information as their key variable. If this is the case, identifying login information will trigger IBM Interact to populate a website or live chat with the necessary information to engage a user.

However, if it is a new prospect, it may not be as easy to get the right information. Fortunately, live chats usually automate call-to-actions to engage with new users. The application will run scripts prompting the user to participate in the chat if they have questions or trouble navigating the site. If users do engage with the live chat, it opens the opportunity to gather the information needed for IBM Interact to initiate a programmatic campaign.

2. The Client or Prospect: If a client or prospect is identified, the CSR is responsible for making the next move. If it is a client, IBM interact will push user information to the CRM and original campaign messages and offerings to the CSR. On the other hand, if it is a prospect, agents can promote a product or service using the information they gained while observing the customer’s actions.

3. The Conversion: If the client does convert in the chat, excellent. However, the odds are that most customers will just use it as a probing tool to ask for information. If that is the case, the sales agent needs to determine whether it is worth pursuing the prospect or not.

4. The Green Light: If the CSR agent does give the green light, the lead can either be sent to the CRM for a sales follow-up or passed back into Interact. When sent back into Interact, the lead gets targeted for future cross-channel retargeting activities for both outbound and inbound engagements.

New Strategy

Live chat applications have been around for years.  Some of the most important aspects of live chatting make a compelling addition to today’s business world.  This includes:

  • The ability for chats to interact through APIs in real-time to other intelligence applications, such as IBM Interact, as inbound prospects and customers, initiate chats. For marketers, this means they can influence discussions by providing CSRs with targeted messages and content.
  • Chat messages are measured the same way that web analytics are, using clicks and conversion KPIs. Moreover, marketers can improve the conversation over time by targeting customers with more relevant, timely messages.
  • Finally, chat services are no longer just about chatting. Most chat services have evolved into messaging platforms enabling CSRs to share content, send emails, and book appointments. Each platform packages more functionalities that differentiate each software from the next.

The new and ‘scary’ part for companies is the perceived return-on-investment (ROI). However, the underlying business value is not only about the technology – but rather an entire strategy.

The brick-and-mortar model is losing ground as more industries, such as banks and retail, begin moving online. Complementary disciplines like CRM need to break the fold to keep parallel with all other business operations and support the overall business strategy.

Assisted channels represent a new and innovative way of incorporating IBM Interact into an overall marketing strategy. This open channel will be more accessible and engaging when extending inbound marketing interactions with outbound communications.