Verint has announced the intention to acquire Conversocial, a US-based social media management system provider for USD 50 million to integrate social messaging capabilities across Verint’s cloud platform. The deal is expected to be closed in Verint’s third quarter subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory clearances.
Verint has been expanding their digital engagement capabilities through acquisitions. In June, Verint expanded their Workforce Management (WFM) offerings to include AI-driven insights for better hiring decisions through the acquisition of HireIQ. To extend Verint’s omnichannel cloud Voice of the Customer (VoC) portfolio, Verint acquired Foresee. Verint is also building IVA capabilities and recently launched a low code version of their IVA solution to make it easier for brands to build the solution without the need for technical knowledge.
The Need to Enhance Digital Engagement
Using self-service and messaging as the first point of connection to engage with a brand is growing rapidly. It accelerated during the pandemic, and it is common now for individuals to engage with their financial institution, airlines, retail and others through social media. Now that customers are demanding it, brands are lifting their game and engaging with customers on the platform of their choices. This acquisition will allow Verint to deepen their digital engagement with customers across Marketing, Contact Centres and digital functions – it follows the pulse of today’s customers.
Digital discussions are accelerating and having a platform that can orchestrate as well as understand all the data from each digital and social messaging channel is important. Verint is taking the data discussion seriously and earlier this year they launched Engagement Data Management Solution (EDM). The ‘’data’’ piece is huge and cuts across functions – from back-office communications to gathering data across all channels and touchpoints. However, where this is going wrong for some enterprises is that all the data they collect sits in multiple repositories; in some instances the data has not been analysed for years! Managing the multiple social experiences, including data management and insights from these multiple sources, will be key to delivering proactive customer experience.
The data discussion is particularly significant for a vendor such as Verint – they are well known for their speech analytics and compliance management capabilities. These are all critical to managing multiple channels of conversation. They help agents to be accurate, efficient, and compliant; allow organisations to use asynchronous channels and social messaging and digital channels; immediately rectified errors through monitoring the data on the channels and so on. More importantly, they allow organisations to pick up points from conversations that can be passed on to Marketing to gauge the effectiveness of the messaging and campaigns. Organisations can ‘’identify and fix” problems by truly listening to customers.
If we look at the Conversocial customer stories, we realise how relevant their offerings are to industry requirements. They offer brands the ability to engage through an automated channel and chatbots. Whirlpool appears to have benefited by integrating channels to deliver better customer care as well as communicating with field engineers through WhatsApp. Another customer, Freshly – a meals delivery company – saw a spike in incoming queries at the start of the pandemic. They were able to use automation to ease of the load and say that 50% of the conversations were handled in-channel through automation without the need for human agent intervention. They were also able to use Facebook Messenger as a preferred contact channel and decreased their cost-per-contact.
This acquisition demonstrates how Verint is taking the digital and the data discussion seriously. CX Vendors that do not move fast in building end-to-end digital capabilities will find it hard to compete in a highly competitive CX market.
COVID-19 made the few businesses that did not have an online presence acutely aware that they need one – yesterday! We have seen at least 4 years of digital growth squeezed into six months of 2020. And this is only the beginning. While in 2020, the focus was primarily on eCommerce and digital payments, there will now be a huge demand for new platforms to be able to interact digitally with the customer, not just to be able to sell something online.
Digital customer interactions with brands and products – through social media, online influencers, interactive AI-driven apps, online marketplaces and the like will accelerate dramatically in 2021. The organisations that will be successful will be the ones that are able to interact with their customers and connect with them at multiple touchpoints across the customer journey. Companies unable to do that will struggle.
Digital Engagement Will Expand Beyond the Traditional Customer-focused Industries
One of the biggest changes in 2020 has been the increase in digital engagement by industries that have not traditionally had a strong eye on CX. This trend is likely to accelerate and be further enhanced in 2021.
Healthcare has traditionally been focused on improving clinical outcomes – and patient experience has been a byproduct of that focus. Many remote care initiatives have the core objective of keeping patients out of the already over-crowded healthcare provider organisations. These initiatives will now have a strong CX element to them. The need to disseminate information to citizens has also heightened expectations on how people want their healthcare organisations and Public Health to interact with them. The public sector will dramatically increase digital interactions with citizens, having been forced to look at digital solutions during the pandemic.
Other industries that have not had a traditional focus on CX will not be far behind. The Primary & Resources industries are showing an interest in Digital CX almost for the first time. Most of these businesses are looking to transform how they manage their supply chains from mine/farm to the end customer. Energy and Utilities and Manufacturing industries will also begin to benefit from a customer focus – primarily looking at technology – including 3D printing – to customise their products and services for better CX and a larger share of the market.
Brands that Establish a Trusted Relationship Can Start Having Fun Again
Building trust was at the core of most businesses’ CX strategies in 2020 as they attempted to provide certainty in a world generally devoid of it. But in the struggle to build a trusted experience and brand, most businesses lost the “fun”. In fact, for many businesses, fun was off the agenda entirely. Soft drink brands, travel providers, clothing retailers and many other brands typically known for their fun or cheeky experiences moved the needle to “trust” and dialed it up to 11. But with a number of vaccines on the horizon, many CX professionals will look to return to pre-pandemic experiences, that look to delight and sometimes even surprise customers.
However, many companies will get this wrong. Customers will not be looking for just fun or just great experiences. Trust still needs to be at the core of the experience. Customers will not return to pre-pandemic thinking – not immediately anyway. You can create a fun experience only if you have earned their trust first. And trust is earned by not only providing easy and effective experiences, but by being authentic.
Customer Data Platforms Will See Increased Adoption
Enterprises continue to struggle to have a single view of the customer. There is an immense interest in making better sense of data across every touchpoint – from mobile apps, websites, social media, in-store interactions and the calls to the contact centre – to be able to create deeper customer profiles. CRM systems have been the traditional repositories of customer data, helping build a sales pipeline, and providing Marketing teams with the information they need for lead generation and marketing campaigns. However, CRM systems have an incomplete view of the customer journey. They often collect and store the same data from limited touchpoints – getting richer insights and targeted action recommendations from the same datasets is not possible in today’s world. And organisations struggled to pivot their customer strategies during COVID-19. Data residing in silos was an obstacle to driving better customer experience.
We are living in an age where customer journeys and preferences are becoming complex to decipher. An API-based CDP can ingest data from any channel of interaction across multiple journeys and create unique and detailed customer profiles. A complete overhaul of how data can be segregated based on a more accurate and targeted profile of the customer from multiple sources will be the way forward in order to drive a more proactive CX engagement.
Voice of the Customer Programs Will be Transformed
Designing surveys and Voice of Customer programs can be time-consuming and many organisations that have a routine of running these surveys use a fixed pattern for the data they collect and analyse. However, some organisations understand that just analysing results from a survey or CSAT score does not say much about what customers’ next plan of action will be. While it may give an idea of whether particular interactions were satisfactory, it gives no indication of whether they are likely to move to another brand; if they needed more assistance; if there was an opportunity to upsell or cross sell; or even what new products and services need to be introduced. Some customers will just tick the box as a way of closing off a feedback form or survey. Leading organisations realise that this may not be a good enough indication of a brand’s health.
Organisations will look beyond CSAT to other parameters and attributes. It is the time to pay greater attention to the Voice of the Customer – and old methods alone will not suffice. They want a 360-degree view of their customers’ opinions.