Your brand is no longer just your logo or your reputation. It’s the sum of every single interaction you have, be it with your customers or your employees. 

But as the demand for more (and more valuable) interactions grows, organizations’ time and resources are becoming more constrained. This conflicting challenge is what we’ve coined the Brand Interaction Gap — the growing gap between what brands promise and how they actually interact. 

So how can brands purposefully automate conversations with each customer and employee (while saving costs and growing revenue), without betraying the brand they promised to be? 

Well, that’s exactly what we explored during the first ever Ada Interact — a virtual event series where experts share the latest thinking, technology, and trends in Automated Brand Interaction (ABI). 

Hosted by Ada cofounder & CEO Mike Murchison, this Ada Interact discusses the ideas and tools brands need to drive automation forward. And it reveals the trailblazing technology that’s taking automation to a whole new level.

Joined by Justin Gonzalez, Global Head of Customer Empowerment at Square, we learned how Square uses ABI technology to enhance customer experiences and increase employee engagement. 

Missed it live? Not to worry — not only can you watch a full recording of the event, but we’re about to break down the highlights for you. Let’s get to it. 

Five priorities for a successful ABI program

To kick things off, Mike gives us the low down on why automated brand interactions are so crucial to meet the needs of today’s digital buyers. It’s hard to believe that five years ago, only 25% of customer interactions occurred in digital channels. Today, more than 65% of customer interactions are digital.

Brand Interaction Volume Growth is increasing year-over-year across industries

And it’s not just that the interactions are more digital. The total number of interactions with brands are increasing dramatically — by as much as 20% annually. This rapid rise in digital interactions means that brands have access to a tremendous amount of data, setting the stage for experiences that are more personalized, valuable, and relevant. 

Many brands are turning to automation to leverage this data. By 2025, 95% of brand interactions will include some degree of AI. But investing in automation alone isn’t enough to win in a highly competitive market. Brands need to make the right investments and use technology that empowers ABI best practices. 

Elaborating on these best practices, Mike shares five fundamental ABI priorities organizations must follow to truly set their brand apart: 

    1. Be everywhere: provide consistent, seamless interactions across any channel for any stakeholder. 
    2. Be proactive: anticipate and initiate the conversations that matter, when they matter. 
    3. Be personalized: build and demonstrate a personal relationship with every interaction. 
    4. Be effortless: integrate across systems to enable instant action. 
    5. Be self-improving: get smarter and faster at each stage of your program. 

Mike then shares a demo of Ada in action that you have to see to believe. It takes #3, “be personalized,” to the max, giving a small taste of what brands can do with the right technology and data. Check out this short clip, and watch a full recording of the event to see how it transpires:

Demo 1

When tech and careers collide

Next, we hear from Justin from Square on how his career evolved based on the potential he saw to use technology more holistically throughout the customer journey. With deep roots in marketing, Justin realized that customer support was underused as a channel for retention and growth. 

For Justin, the ability to interact at scale started with his first job working in social media at a small advertising agency. As he progressed, his attention shifted from simply gaining someone’s attention to instilling in them a sense of brand loyalty and retaining them as a customer. Seeing the power of automation in the marketing world early in his career inspired Justin to find ways to pull through some of those same principles (and technologies) into the support world — with incredible results.

Demo 4

Should every person have "Customer" in their title?

Through the conversation, Justin reveals one of the most important lessons he’s learned: no matter who you are or where you sit within an organization, you’re responsible (on some level) for the customer experience. Instead of siloed, political thinking (“what is best for me and my team?”), everyone needs to think from the point of view of the customer: what is best for them? 

Throughout the customer journey, interactions create data that can be used by all departments. Silos break down when everyone has the same perfect memory of who customers are and what they care about. And from the customer’s perspective, they’re not really interested in what department a person happens to be situated within — they want a personalized, effortless experience.  

Going back to ABI priority #1, “be everywhere,” brands have an opportunity to provide consistent, seamless interactions across any channel. But not every automation technology is created equal in this regard. 

Here’s Justin explaining further:

Demo 8

CX and EX are two sides of the same coin

If you want to retain employees, you must empower them to do work that matters. Justin has strong opinions about this.

In today’s fast-paced world, becoming truly customer-centric involves using every tool at your disposal. And it turns out that often, what is good for customers is also good for employees. By using automation effectively, customers get what they need more quickly and conveniently, freeing employees to spend time solving more interesting, complex problems for customers — truly a virtuous cycle.

By leveraging an ABI strategy that considers both the customer and employee experience, Square has flipped the script on traditional customer support ideals. Instead of becoming more available generally, ABI has allowed Square to focus on depth in customer interactions that really move the needle for the brand. 

Here’s Justin’s take on the interplay between customer and employee satisfaction:

Demo 6

Why ABI is the next evolution of business 

Finally, Mike asks Justin what automated brand interactions means at Square, and why they’ve gone all-in on ABI at the strategy level. 

Justin reveals that Square’s primary challenge is scale. Interacting with tens of thousands of customers every day across a variety of digital channels and providing them with answers or solutions to their problems is hard enough. Layer on the need to do so across international borders and in a variety of languages, and the issue of scale becomes crystal clear. 

For Justin, the antidote to all this complexity is simplicity and equity in access. Interactions need to be intuitive and work seamlessly across devices and channels. And every customer needs to feel like a VIP, whether they’re a prospect or existing customer who needs a solution for a challenge that’s holding their business back. 

For Square, automation is the only way to do this well at scale. With Ada on their side, every brand interaction can be personalized, valuable, and relevant — no matter how great the total volume or number of channels. Just as Square seeks to empower its customers to be successful regardless of size, so too do they rely on a technology that helps them serve each customer equally well.

Demo 7

There’s a ton more content you won’t want to miss — watch the on-demand recording to get the full experience.

A huge thanks to Justin for sharing his incredible insights with us, and thank you to all who attended live. Stay tuned for more on how automated brand interactions are empowering brands to create experiences customers and employees love at the next Ada Interact in June.