What is a "brand" today?
This might sound basic, but what actually is a brand?
In the past, a brand was something concrete and much more literal. It began with cattle ranchers branding cattle to signal ownership. So in its origin, a brand was simply a name or image associated with a product.
In 2022, a brand is something much bigger. It’s not just a name, logo, or slogan. It’s not just about marketing or advertising. It’s the sum of every interaction you have. It’s how you’re perceived as a whole, out in the world, and how you make people feel. Your brand is a set of values reliant on the team unified around those values. It’s a voice with a consistent tone. The most impactful way for brands to let those values and their voice shine is at that magical moment of interaction — when a person reaches out to engage with you, hoping you will live up to the brand you promised to be.
What, exactly, are interactions?
Keeping this high level, then: what are interactions? An interaction is any point of contact a brand may have with a person — a prospect, customer, or employee. Interactions are the bridge between brands and the people who want to talk to them.
In a digital world, where people expect their needs to be met with a quick chat or button click, delivering valuable interactions is where rubber meets the road. And given the multitude of social channels, messaging apps, and contact centers at our fingertips, opportunities for interactions are nearly infinite.
They’re possible at every touchpoint your brand has with a customer or employee. They’re the wide array of social media, outbound or inbound customer communication, on-site and off-site customer support, and employee onboarding and engagement. And these touchpoints are ever-expanding and different from person to person.
Bridging the divide: what are brand interactions?
So tying it all together: what are brand interactions? Brand interactions are the merging of these two worlds — bridging the divide between your brand and the people who are trying to talk to you.
At work and in their personal lives, people expect their interactions with brands to be instant, consistent, and relevant. When these expectations aren’t met, customers quickly take their business elsewhere, and employees become frustrated and less productive.
It all levels up to the overall brand experience. These points of interaction are your greatest opportunity to deliver a VIP experience to your customers, prospects, and employees — in a way that not only makes them feel valued and assures them they’re being heard, but in a way that delivers on your brand promise.
Why do brand interactions matter?
We’d argue that brand interactions are what makes a brand. They help you stand out to prospective clients and employees, and they’re a key driver of customer loyalty and retention. It’s often said that the costs of converting a new customer are between 5x and 25x higher than existing ones. And a mere 5% increase in retention can mean a 25% increase in profit.
Brand interactions are the distinguishing point between a company merely treading water and a company going above and beyond. They are your way of showing people that you’re there for them on a personal level. Nothing gives a customer a worse impression of a brand than reaching out for support and being left on hold.
In essence: if your brand interactions are poor, your investments fall flat. The experience someone has with your brand is much more important to how you’re perceived than the name you go by or the logo attached to that name.
Understanding the importance of brand interactions and investing in creating valuable interactions for your customers serves as a foundation for a long-term customer-brand relationship.
How to align your brand interactions with your customer experience?
With an understanding of what brand interactions are and how vital they are to a business, the next piece of the puzzle is them to the customer experience. The end goal is to interact in a way that makes every customer feel like a VIP at every touchpoint.
This means instilling a consistent, reliable brand voice and one-to-one communication process across all channels. Every brand interaction will be unique to them, so maintaining consistency of voice and process is the key to unifying your experiences under one brand voice. Aligning brand interactions to customer experience boils down to three essentials: availability, helpfulness, and consistency.
On the availability front, your brand interactions need to always be responsive regardless of the channel, location, or language someone is using to interact with you. It’s clear now that leaving a customer on hold is damaging to their loyalty in the long run.
Next, and this should come as no surprise, a brand needs to provide assistance in a way that’s proactive and personalized — even if that assistance is a responsive escalation to a higher tier of support. People need to feel like their needs are not only being met through their brand interactions, but that the brand is paying attention to their unique actions and past history with the brand. This elevates your brand from one that is simply reacting to customer inquiries to one that is anticipating your customer’s next move and providing them with the experience they’re looking for without them needing to ask.
Finally, brand interactions need to be consistent. Regardless of where someone is interacting with a brand, the brand experience needs to be maintained. A brand interaction is a person speaking directly to your brand, and it should feel that way: personable and professional.
When a brand instills a uniform voice and mandate for responsiveness throughout their communications, it resonates beyond the customer experience. It becomes a unified brand experience for customers, prospects, and employees.
Why do you need a brand interaction platform to achieve this?
In a perfect world, a brand would be able to have an infinite number of employees communicating directly to customers and address all their needs while maintaining a consistent brand experience. Realistically, brands need platforms that leverage AI and automation to ensure that their interactions align with expectations — of both their customers and employees. Conserving human CX teams’ bandwidth to focus on higher-touch interactions, like support escalations and warming up new leads for their sales team also relies on a company’s ability to provide better employee experiences (EX). Employees need instant access to the tools and resources they need in the moment, wherever they are, at whatever time they choose to do their work.
Automating brand interactions helps guarantee the rule of threes for customers and employees; interactions need to be always on, consistent, and designed to assist. They sit on the frontlines, enabling agents to understand the issue and address it quickly and employees to quickly self-serve their most common workblockers.
Aligning brand interactions to CX is crucial to creating personal connections with customers that serve loyalty and retention efforts over time. As a brand grows, more people will reach out to engage with them. And when they do, they will expect an experience that lives up to the brand promise. Problem is, as customer demand increases, it becomes more difficult for brands to keep pace. The pressure mounts on internal CX teams to deliver helpful, personalized, and empathetic experiences to every person that interacts with them, at any moment they choose to engage with the brand. By leveraging AI and automation, businesses are able to maintain quality brand interactions in a scalable way.
When value is placed on brand interactions, every stakeholder in the brand — whether it’s customers, prospects, or employees themselves — is shown their value. When the goal is a VIP experience for every brand stakeholder, the merging of technology with a human touch is the vehicle to deliver that.
What is a brand interaction platform?
And this leads us to an important question: what is a brand interaction platform? Perhaps a more pertinent question would be: what is the difference between a chatbot, conversational AI, and a brand interaction platform?
You’ve likely heard the terms chatbot and conversational AI used interchangeably. A chatbot uses AI to simulate one-on-one conversations with people and automate answers as if they are talking to human. Conversational AI can be applied to chatbots to power a deeper understanding of language and automate meaningful conversations.
Automation through chatbots and related technology help companies solve their most basic brand interactions, but they lack the breadth and intelligence to move beyond reactive support to deliver cross-functional interactions that anticipate individual needs and intentions across every touchpoint in the customer journey.
Most chatbots are siloed by department, meaning that they are serving a specific need or use case. A brand interaction platform, on the other hand, unites departments — from support, to sales and marketing, to product — to offer consistent CX across the entire customer lifecycle.
A brand interaction platform is a singular automation platform for all your brand interactions, building and connecting across teams and systems. It gives brands the power to:
- Provide a consistent, connected brand experience across each customer and employee touchpoint
- Apply greater personalization based on a more holistic view of the customer journey and profile
- Access richer, more complete interaction and data insights in a single location
This unified approach to support and improvement across the organization introduces the modern enterprise to a new world of possibility. Brands can increase engagement, conversion, and revenue by accelerating the qualification rate of leads, improving customer retention and loyalty, and reducing cost per interaction.
Delivering these kinds of valuable brand interactions at scale has traditionally required tons of money and staff. And this leads to missed opportunities to drive incremental revenue and better experiences for customers and employees. A brand interaction platform covers the broad spectrum of CX, and it can be used to automate the same interactions needed to improve EX.
Brands can simplify and streamline internal inquiries, tasks, and processes to boost employee productivity by automating repetitive tasks. Resolving technical or logistical work-adjacent issues like accessing technology or managing benefits allows internal teams to spend more time on valuable work. Automating tasks that typically slow employees down reduces friction among teams and increases job satisfaction.
With a brand interaction platform, you can elevate the brand experience for all. Nearly every brand interaction can be improved through automation, and each customer and employee can enjoy a VIP experience that’s personalized, proactive and accessible — no matter who they are, what channel they prefer, or what language they speak.
Top 4 examples of brand interactions
1. Pre-purchase interactions
Live support resources are expensive and difficult to obtain in a competitive labor market. Often, teams are forced to resort to expensive, reactive, and manual support models, while customers are often left to find information from static digital interfaces and forms. This is problematic for brands — 50% of online shoppers abandon a purchase because they can’t find answers quickly.
A brand interaction platform encompasses a wide scope of capabilities, but likely your first step as a company is to resolve the routine questions and needs of your customers.
The majority of your interactions are low-touch, repetitive, and better suited for self-serve. Automation is meant to complement your CX efforts, acting as the interaction layer between brands and customers to enable brands to have more personalized, valuable conversations with their customers at scale. This means providing people with the ability to self-serve simple tasks like finding quick answers to their most basic FAQ questions. And saving complex interactions — those with high value or high intent — for your human teams.
Perhaps you’re looking into a product or service from an ecommerce or SaaS company, and need quick and easy access to information like pricing, sizing, return policies, or product selections? This information likely exists somewhere on the website, but if it’s not easy to find, your customers will lose interest and head to another brand with a better experience.
Using a brand interaction platform to power conversational AI, this information is one quick click away — customers can easily engage with you to find the resources they need to make an informed purchase.
Example: Beauty for All (BFA) uses Ada to automate their top drivers for brand interactions that don’t require agent support.
Without a brand interaction platform enabling customers to self-serve their most basic needs, agents spend countless hours digging themselves out of piles of repetitive inquiries, customers are left waiting, having to repeat themselves, and going back and forth to get a simple resolution.
And worse, without a clear and convenient path to having pre-purchase interactions with you, brands will miss out on opportunities to capture leads and start nurturing prospects. Interactions are your brand’s best way to start getting to know your customers on a more personal level, and if you’re not engaging with them in a way that’s helpful and consistent, they’re likely to hit the road.
Ada’s brand interaction platform allows brands to provide customers self-service solutions that resolve up to 90% of their interactions, while meeting brand standards and providing personalized support that anticipates needs. This enables teams to achieve a 90%+ reduction in cost per conversation while reducing customer effort.
2. Point-of-purchase interactions
Often, teams lack the ability to easily convert online engagement to qualified conversations. If teams aren’t engaging with prospects when they are ready to buy and convert, valuable prospects fail to get the insight, offers, and experiences that would otherwise have led to a direct conversation and leave for other brands.
In the past, a brand had to wait for a customer to ask for help before delivering value. But not anymore. Data-driven, hyper personalized interactions and proactive messaging allows brands to leverage internal customer data and insights to target individual customers with tailored interactions that lead to increased engagement, conversion, and customer lifetime value.
Example: SaaS brand uses past customer interest to engage further and capture lead.
Using a brand interaction platform, sales teams can instantly qualify and funnel warm leads to sales reps and avoid wasted time with unqualified opportunities. Valuable prospects are presented with the tailored offers and information that lead to interest in direct conversations.
Example: AirAsia uses customers’ past history with their brand to provide helpful recommendations.
As customers continue to engage with their favourite brands across industries and channels, one expectation remains the same: a supportive, effortless experience. With a brand interaction platform — and an automation strategy built on data and insights of your customers past interactions and experiences with your brand — businesses can convert high volumes of their interactions into personalized, revenue-generating experiences, through:
- Acquisition: Driving leads and nurturing prospects with proactive engagement.
- Activation: Encouraging customers to take specific actions and interact with your product.
- Retention: Delivering best in class CX and drive loyalty by anticipating customer needs.
Ada’s brand interaction platform uses customer insights to enable more valuable interactions that better meet the needs and interests of prospective and current customers. As a result, teams can experience up to 25% reduction in qualification time and up to 30% increase in pipeline velocity.
3. Post-purchase interactions
Providing always on and always consistent interactions with customers is what will set brands apart from their competitors. And this doesn’t end at the point of purchase.
Reality is, when an existing customer comes to you with a question and you neglect to acknowledge their history with the brand, it signals to the customer that you don’t value their business. Brands need to show their appreciation at each point of interaction, and keeping customers engaged is key to keeping them loyal.
For example, WISMO (where is my order?) interactions account for the lion’s share of ecommerce interactions. With a brand interaction platform, customers can track their packages in real-time regardless of carrier – giving them up-to-the-minute visibility and reassurance, and reducing the number of costly WISMO inquiries to live customer service representatives.
Example: Indigo can now provide ongoing notifications to customers as packages reach key points in their delivery journey.
Once a customer has signed up for your services or a membership with your brand, your work has just begun. They need quick and painless access to updating their account, upgrading their membership, troubleshooting issues, submitting feedback, and opportunities to redeem rewards and buying ancillary products or services.
Your long-term customers may have even higher expectations, and to meet these, brands need to consider their history in each interaction by aggregating data from all your customer’s interactions to create holistic, 360 customer profiles. Drawing on this information, each customer can receive tailored CX that rewards their loyalty.
And when it comes to recurring payments, there’s no time to waste. Every interaction that doesn’t meet or exceed customer needs is one that will send them straight into the hands of the more convenient option your competition is offering.
No matter where your customer may meet you, a brand interaction platform allows brands to serve their customers in the UI of their choice, from web chat, to social media, to in-app. And wherever your customer chooses to interact with you, more complex interactions can be intelligently routed to the right agent for their issue (you wouldn’t send a customer with a troubleshooting issue to the same agent as a customer looking to upgrade their plan, right?).
Using Ada, teams are able to engage current customers with personalized offers, answers, and experiences necessary to improve engagement across each step of the customer journey. This results in increased revenue and customer loyalty.
4. Employee interactions
Experts predict that remote work will stay at 300% of pre-COVID levels, permanently changing how organizations operate and design their employee experiences. At the same time, employee expectations haven’t waivered — it’s actually the opposite. Employees expect more from their employers in the digital age: thoughtful, well-designed, and consumer-like personalized experiences that enable them to do their best work at any time, from anywhere.
Brands need an automated employee experience (EX) that puts employees in the driver’s seat — providing them with best-in-class technology experiences like instant access to software and tools and speedy resolutions to their most pressing questions and work-blockers. And, at the same time, freeing up IT and HR teams from tirelessly attending to repetitive and mundane tickets that are better suited for your employees to self-serve.
Employees, like your customers, want instant access to their most pressing questions. Automating repetitive inquiries that require little to no human intervention like password resets, login support, and system access, for example, removes barriers and allows employees to auto-resolve inquiries from anywhere, at any moment they choose.
Example: Employees self-serving basic IT requests.
With a brand interaction platform like Ada’s, helpdesk teams can use chat automation to help employees self-serve over 60% of their questions, while decreasing handle time for tickets from days to minutes or less. This gives leadership the ability to spend more time on priority initiatives and strategic tasks, while employees benefit from better experiences and increased productivity.