Growing Your Brand in a Volatile Economy

Over the past three years, we’ve experienced national and global events that have upended any sense of economic stability. 

The pandemic created sudden, massive economic shifts: ecommerce business took off, travel halted, and the stock market looked like an EKG reading. We hadn’t finished reeling from the after-effects, and then: inflation, stagflation, revenge tourism, supply shortages. Customers are somehow spending more and less at the same time. Brands that thrived in 2020 are now facing plummeting valuations, whereas the travel industry is struggling to keep up with demand. 

Now, with speculation of a looming recession, companies are understandably shifting priorities. Compounding challenges are impeding access to capital, and leaders are struggling to scale in traditional means. They’re focusing on cutting costs where they can, and an unfortunate side-effect of that is layoffs. There are less resources available, but CX leaders are still being held to the same SLAs. Words like “operational efficiency,” "belt-tightening,” and “streamlining” seem to be the path towards profitability.

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These fluctuations can have different effects — some companies will falter, while others will thrive. The ebb and flow is constant: one day you’re on top, the next you’re struggling to keep up. The timing of decline or recovery is unpredictable, for example: while consumer discretionary spending is often first to go down, it’s also one of the fastest segments to recover. On the other hand, energy companies are slower to experience a downturn and even slower to recover from a recession. And supply shortages are still causing massive spikes in customer support queries, leading to  wait times.

All this in three years (two and half really, but who’s counting). Unprecedented times indeed. 

If we’ve learned anything, it’s that there will be changes that are completely outside of your control that will affect company growth either directly or indirectly, through shifting customer behavior, investments or lack thereof, and the need to rapidly scale support teams up or maintain service levels with fewer resources available. This will continue to happen, and trying to stop it from happening is an exercise in frustration. Your efforts are better spent preparing, instead of predicting or reacting.

The best ally to prepare for the unexpected is AI-powered automation. Automation is a critical infrastructure in your strategy to support your goals, grow your company, and deliver on brand promises. It’s also a stabilizing force that all your teams can leverage to have better elasticity.

“To remain relevant in the current age of immediately available information, it's critical for brands to use automation and other technology solutions that provide what customers expect.”
- Sarah Ricketts, Director, Systems & Business Solutions, Mailchimp 

Let’s take a look at how it can address the needs of companies experiencing negative and positive pains.

Automation for negative pains

Negative Pain. Revenue dries up while customer support is inundated with demand.

The most meaningful opportunities for growth are born from the most challenging experiences. When equipped with the right tools, the potential for creative problem solving increases exponentially.

Recession-proofing your brand means reducing costs, yes, but automation offers hope. With the right AI-powered automation platform on your side, you can continue meeting KPIs and delivering on SLAs without needing as many resources. Here’s how:

Rapid time to value: Urgency is the key word here, and the right automation solution will help you hit the ground running. Ada clients have launched enterprise ready automation in four weeks and started seeing the return on their investment almost immediately.

Quick wins with low hanging fruit: You can quickly and easily automate over 80% of “low-hanging fruit” interactions, ones that are low value and high volume (and won’t that look nice against your quarterly targets?) Bonus: all those interactions are handled immediately and with a consistent brand voice, so your customers actually receive a better experience.

More impactful agents: By automating the bulk of brand interactions, agents can focus on the high-impact ones that drive revenue and loyalty. By leveraging conversational AI, you can triage these interactions and route them to the right agent at the right time, handing them off with full conversation context and customer history. Agents are able to help faster and have the right information to cross-sell, upsell, or just make the customer feel like a VIP.

“Our agents are intelligently powered by the information they’re getting from Ada. Their job is easier and more impactful now.”
- Anna Skidmore, VP of Customer Care, BFA Industries

Flexible changes: The right solution will put the Automated Brand Interaction (ABI) strategy in hands of the people who know the customer experience best: the CX team. You can implement the ABI tactics you need to help the company meet its goals and make changes on the fly, without relying on an IT team or a managed services agency. 

Proactive communication: Flight cancellations, shipping delays, service outages…there are so many reasons that would cause customers to reach out at the same time, en masse. Automation allows you to proactively reach out to all affected customers to alleviate concerns, address needs, and offer alternative solutions or next steps. This can turn a potentially terrible situation into an opportunity to deliver a fantastic customer experience.

Automation for positive pains

Positive Pain. Customer support volume skyrocket because demand for the company's products/services are on a meteoric rise.

Your company is growing, your revenue is at a steady increase, and more customers are reaching out to talk to you. It seems like an ideal scenario, but it’s not without its problems. Scaling up your CX team to meet the demand is costly and time-consuming. 

Here are some ways automation allows you to continue revenue growth and support customers without significantly increasing costs:

Hit the ground running: The right AI-powered automation solution will feel like you added and onboarded a whole CX team immediately, without having to add headcount — from support agents to greet and help customers when they want to interact, to data analysts that improve the customer experience, and even marketers and salespeople to qualify and convert leads. 

Flexibly scale up and down: Spikes in interaction volume can either happen due to market cycles or unpredictable events. In either case, having an automation solution in place can automate 80% of brand interactions, so no matter when these spikes happen, your support agents will never be overwhelmed. And unlike hiring expensive seasonal agents to help you through known busy weeks, when the spike subsides, you won’t have to do anything to scale back down. Bonus: all the customers will have the same immediate, consistent, VIP experience whether they’re the first or the hundredth to reach out that day.

Interact on more channels: Every interaction is an opportunity to build trust, deliver value, and, ultimately, drive growth. In today’s digital world, customers want to interact with your brand on the channels they prefer, including social media and SMS. While opening new channels of communication might seem daunting during a period of high interaction volume, automation enables you to meet your customers everywhere without needing to hire any extra support. The right platform will let you build once and deploy conversational AI across all channels, and then centralize all that interaction data in one place. This way, customers will receive the same consistent brand experience, no matter which channel they are interacting on. Now you have even more avenues for growth.

“There's immense pressure on brands to provide support and services across all channels, around the clock, in the customer's preferred language and in real-time. It is impossible for brands to deliver on this level of customer attention and care without AI.”
- Yasmin Razavi, General Partner, Spark Capital

Proactively communicate: Customers are hungry for your product or service, so strike while the iron is hot. Proactively engaging with customers will get their attention. Use the information you have to create personalized, contextual experiences at scale that help you meet your company’s goals.

Optimize with AI-powered insights: Speaking of centralized data, an AI-powered automation platform will help you analyze all customer data from across all interaction channels and deliver actionable insights. This way, you’ll be able to identify friction points in the customer journey and resolve them. When the friction points are out of the way, less customers will be compelled to reach out and you’ll see more conversions.

“Companies must define their brand promise to their customers. Then they must consistently deliver on that promise with every customer interaction to drive loyalty and revenue. How? By using data from every customer interaction to measure and optimize success and drive CX, product, and process improvements.”
- Kate Leggett, VP & Principal Analyst, CRM and Customer Service, Forrester Research

Take control of your brand's growth

For growing companies and enterprises, automation is mission-critical to top priority goals such as profit and efficiency. Brands can leverage automation to drive cost-effective, digital-first operating models that let them scale (up or down) rapidly without sacrificing brand image or SLAs.

While the world can be unpredictable, your company’s growth won’t be. The flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds of today, and investing in the right automation solutions is how you plant the seed of proofing your brand against the effects of an ever-shifting or volatile economy.

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Lynn Charafeddine
Lynn Charafeddine

Lynn’s career has spanned across different kinds of content, from copywriting, to journalism, to marketing, and even mystery puzzle games. She brings facets from all these disciplines into her work at Ada. Outside of that, Lynn loves playing games, hiking, and reading about trees.

More info about Lynn Charafeddine: LinkedIn

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