GDS Summit:

Driving Top Line Revenue Growth With Gen 3 CX Automation

Watch the presentation to see how cutting edge retail brands like Levis, PacSun, Carters Oshkosh, Farmacy Beauty are driving top line revenue growth with Gen 3 CX Automation.

Topics Covered:

Doug Sill

Vice President of Sales
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Linc

Doug Sill is a process-focused results-oriented leader who successfully creates GTM strategy, client relationship, team mentorship as a metrics focused professional.

Kristina Cartwright

Global Head of Content & Presenters
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GDS Group

Kristina Cartwright is the Global Head of Presenters & Content at GDS Group. Her team of moderators host all GDS & Meet the Boss events including summits, showcases, webinars, roundtables and in-person dinners with C-level executives.

Doug Sill  

Thanks for having me.

Kristina Cartwright  

Thanks for being here. Where are you calling from this morning east coast, west coast.

Doug Sill  

San Francisco Bay Area west coast.

Kristina Cartwright  

Well, thanks for waking up super early. We are super excited, I know you're going to talk a little bit about the difference Gen three makes in customer experience. And before we brought you up on stage, you may have noticed we launched a poll about customer experience. So I'd love to kind of take a look at the results that the audience weighed in on about what is your biggest focus area for improving the customer experience?

Kristina Cartwright  

Let's bring up those poll results. Wow. I think we know what one here 69% of you guys said unlocking better insights through data. Only 3% said changing the mix of channels. So maybe we have it all figured out. But you know, Doug, love to kinda get your thoughts on that one before we kick start your presentation.

Doug Sill  

Yeah, no, absolutely. So interesting, because the problems of the customer have been changing with ecommerce support and how you can digitally engage with your associates. So knowing those areas of focus, and knowing the areas of the biggest impact are really some of the biggest attributes that you're going to need to come out of your software partner. And that will allow you to have the biggest possible impact, the quickest.

Kristina Cartwright  

Awesome, and you know, we talked a little bit about automation, there's a lot of excitement around it. A lot of people are innovating, we know you have a great presentation lined up. So Doug will pull that up for you. And don't worry, we'll save some time for some audience q&a. So audience members, please, well I know you'll be taking notes and listening, get those questions in the chat or raise your virtual hand, we can bring it on up with Doug. So let's get that presentation on up and up the floor is yours.

Doug Sill  

All right, thank you so much. So as introduced, good morning, my name is Doug Sill, head of sales for Linc global.

Doug Sill  

We are a technology company that really supports ecommerce and retail ecommerce through digital engagements with their employee base or their client base.

Doug Sill  

What I really want to talk to you guys about this morning is the trends that we're seeing and the most important advancements that we've seen with how to digitally engage with your clients, and then really kind of how generation three of that automation is really changing the game for some of the biggest brands in E-commerce.

Doug Sill  

So as we kind of move forward, why don't we talk a little bit about the foundation of what brings us to today, and that will help explain what Gen three really is. So if you really think about this transition that's been taking place from from retail to e-commerce, it comes with some inherent challenges, right?

Doug Sill  

So one of those challenges, of course is, as I have more ecommerce, there's more questions I need to answer, there's more support, I need to give people. In a retail environment that's easy. You staff, the store with associates, they're there to answer questions. In the ecommerce environment, now you have this idea of I have a support center that I need to build.

Doug Sill  

The challenge with the support center that you're building is that as your ecommerce company grows, that support center almost has to grow in sequence with the size of your ecommerce business, the more orders you have, the more questions that are coming in, so on and so forth.

Doug Sill  

So traditionally, the way to solve that Gen zero, if you will, is really through a human workforce. So just keep building that team of human beings to be able to satisfy the questions. The challenge with that, of course, is that it's not really sustainable and scalable.

Doug Sill  

You're only gonna have a very small percentage of people that are like Rockstar A players, the average tenure is nine months of a customer service associate today. And on top of that, it's really very expensive to do.

Doug Sill  

So over the years, people thought, okay, there's got to be a better way, there's got to be a way for me to start identifying those common questions that are asked, finding better ways to automatically answer these questions, so it takes the pressure off the human workforce, and maybe I don't have to hire as many people, maybe I've got to focus on keeping those a and b players and really building out a rock solid CS experience for my clients.

Doug Sill  

They've been able to do that through generation one and generation two automation, which I like to describe as just a kind of a fancy 'if then' statement. So you can predict the type of questions that are going to be asked, and as a result, drive the answers to people in a very predictable method.

Doug Sill  

In Gen one, you really can have predicting basic questions that people ask and driving people towards basic information. So a return policy, store locator list, you know, basic general data that you can get people back.

Doug Sill  

Gen Two got a little bit fancier where I thought, Gosh, I can start building an 'if then; tree, I like to think of this as a Choose Your Own Adventure book for people that used to read those their kids, where you can kind of predict the different ways that the story might go and start building different kind of answers and responses to people.

Doug Sill  

Typically, what we find is that in gen one and gen two, when they're done really well, you could still take care of between 10 to 20% of those questions that people ask. So you're acting as a pressure release to your customer service team, which is helpful, but it's still really only having a very small impact.

Doug Sill  

The downside of Gen one and Gen 2 is that you run the risk of having what I described as almost a creepy experience because it might kind of push you down the road or something that's not exactly right.

Doug Sill  

So we noticed this problem and started to think, how are we going to have an impact and resolve this. So like the introduced Linc and the concept of Gen three CX automation. So the third generation of this process is really powered by artificial intelligence. Now AI is I think, an overused concept. I think a lot of people talk about AI as a buzzword. But I think really the big difference here with AI based agile Gen 3 CX Automation is that conversational aspect.

Doug Sill  

So if you really think about how a conversation happened between two human beings, very fluid, it's very almost matrix based. And the reason for that is that you have a lot of knowledge in your brain. And you can kind of subject matter switch between different things, and have a very fluid conversation. You know with gen one and gen two it's very difficult, because it's kind of matrix based creating that, you know, pseudo creepy flow.

Doug Sill  

So with Gen three, automation, powered by AI, you're really able to have that same conversation you would with your best customer service agent, but do so through a digital employee. So let's talk a little bit more about how that works.

Doug Sill  

This is a very busy slide, and I promise not to get in all the details here. But we'll kind of go through the high level notes. This, this box in the upper right, I guess I can't use my pointer here. But the main box, the main dark box, in the top, middle top left, looks at all the different ways people want to engage with companies today.

Doug Sill  

So obviously, there's gonna be email, there's gonna be SMS, there might be live chat, but you might engage people through Alexa through WhatsApp through social media channels, a variety of different ways to engage.

Doug Sill  

What's gonna end up happening is Linc and this gen three automation acts as your first line of defense, before it actually gets to the customer service center. So the Linc AI software is able to satisfy about 85% of questions that come in, and I'll explain why in a second, before they actually have to get to a human being and that live agent.

Doug Sill  

The 15 or so percent that we can't satisfy, will still go the live agent, drops directly into their software they're used to using today, so there's no rip and replace, there's no like changing element here. It's just empowering those top agents to having better conversations with their clients.

Doug Sill  

And then because every single interaction goes through the AI based software to start, now you're starting to gather credible data on what people are asking about, what products are having problem with, what types of questions you have on those different products, so that you can start acting on a more macro standpoint for the business, making bigger wholesale changes.

Doug Sill  

Now, all this data kind of is empowered by this middlebox the brain, if you will, of the AI structure. So when you think of the brain as a structure, we need to feed the brain with knowledge, you know, what makes your best customer service rep, that best customer service rep?

Doug Sill  

It's the fact that they know your catalog and know the product backlog and they know how to get data information on orders. They know what promotions are going on what you know, tribal knowledge might exist from that customer service agent. So the first thing that we do and we work with our clients is we'll actually connect the API and ingest that data into the AI powered brain, and what that allows us to do is understand how people ask questions, so when people come in and ask about something that might be a term specific to the company or specific to the industry that'll come from the product catalog or confab the tribal knowledge training that might exist.

Doug Sill  

So now we can process the questions as they come in, against all the information that's custom to your business. The beauty of this is there's no build, we're not building an event statement, we're not having to predict in advance what questions are going to be asked. It's based on the data that you already have for your business.

Doug Sill  

And then really, once the questions come in, we can now infer kind of what people are asking. So when people ask things in a different way, if the system doesn't understand that, it can now learn. So it can understand that this means that, so let's go ahead and satisfy this question with a response from your data.

Doug Sill  

So through this kind of AI based model, now the technology can think on behalf of your company, and drive a really solid digital customer experience different than the traditional gen one gen two, which I would describe as more of a bot, where this really is very conversationally based similar to what you'd see from your best customer service reps.

Doug Sill  

Now, the beauty of this, of course, is that it's going to help drive a lot more efficiency to your CX team.

Doug Sill  

People use this a lot in a variety ways. This doesn't necessarily mean hey, I can go ahead and reduce 85% of my customer service staff. In today's environment, we're seeing a lot of clients come to us saying gosh, I've got a lot of pressure with today's economy, I'm letting people go, yet my sales continue to go up and my inbound customer service requests continue to go up.

Doug Sill  

How do I handle those? That's one way of managing this. But the other thing that we really try to kind of challenge our clients to think about is, this is not just a CX automation play. This is a digital engagement play of how do I engage with my clients to actually have a better experience that might include upsells, micro pre sales to help people with product questions to help abandoned cart problems, it might include post sales, so you engage people digitally after the products been delivered, to help them sign up for subscriptions to your product or buy additional pieces of the same thing that they just purchased, for example.

Doug Sill  

So think of like the engagements that you might exist in a retail store with that retail associate, or the engagements that someone might see with the best customer service agent they have, all of those can be digitized, if done in a very conversationally natural way.

Doug Sill  

So, let's talk about what that means. On the left side it kind of gives you an idea of, you know, gen one, gen two and kind of that conversational flow. When you start thinking about what that conversational flow looks like, this is very common how people might ask the question, "Hey, there's an item missing from my order. Where's it?"

Doug Sill  

To a predictable decision tree there's not much information given that, right? So all of a sudden, this becomes a creepy experience where it's going to give an answer that might not be really accurate.

Doug Sill  

Oh, no, I would speak to an agent. Okay. This is maybe one of the 80% that didn't get resolved by the conversational bot, and then drags people toward maybe an answer that I'm looking for. While in the conversational flow, remember, we have your product information, we have your order information.

Doug Sill  

So when someone comes in and asks Linc that same question, we can recognize that, hey, this is a current customer, from the cookies in our system, and we can be like "Great, here are your last orders" we can get feedback right back to you just like your best customer service rep might, but they already knew who the person was.

Doug Sill  

That allows them to kind of interact, say, oh, blue denim shorts, middle item, you know, whatever it might be in a normal conversational flow and then be able to satisfy the question.

Doug Sill  

The thing I like about this, the right side of the slide more is that the second question of, "Hey, I need help. Yeah, I need 501's for my sister." So Levi Strauss is one of our clients. we use this as an example, for those of you on the call that realize what 501's are, they're a pair of jeans, or a pair of pants, it's a style code for Levi's

Doug Sill  

Now if you're not Levi's, you don't know that, you know, it's not something you use every single day. But our system has consumed their datafile, so we know, hey, 501's, we have a number of products that are 501's, we know that need to be white so let's pick all the products that actually have white in the color assortment for 501's, and they give us a little more information here, in fact, it's for my sister, well sister connotates, a woman, most often connotates adult woman. So let's go ahead and give the adult female white 501 choices as an option.

Doug Sill  

So it really provides a much higher level, deeper engagement similar what you find with your top customer service agents. When you think about the impact that can have is really twofold, right? So certainly the first impact is if we can deflect 85% of the questions being asked before it gets to customer service, it's going to save us a lot of time and money in that customer service area.

Doug Sill  

On average, we find that $3 per session deflected is saved, and if you're a US based customer service, that can also be between five and $7.

Doug Sill  

So, when you look at our average clients, this is a real life example so we won't be naming names, someone that does $250 million in GMV per year, we're able to actually deflect over 750,000 interactions leading to 2.7 million.

Doug Sill  

But then more importantly, we want to drive top line growth. We want to help them find ways to presale, reduce their cart abandonment, sign up for subscriptions, so we can digitize that interaction having a bigger impact on their top line.

Kristina Cartwright  

You know, Doug before we go into your next slide, I have a great question because I really enjoyed seeing that experience the legacy experience because that's me yelling agent on the phone or typing agent, text message.

Kristina Cartwright  

And then putting in a simple code, I didn't know what 501's mean, and the fact that you know, the system picked up on it, is there a data really to show that consumers prefer this type of automated experience?

Kristina Cartwright  

Because sometimes, you know, I just really want to talk to a person.

Doug Sill  

Yeah, what a great question. So, absolutely.

Doug Sill  

So there's been studies that show that more than 60% of clients prefer a self service solution first. The reason they want to find that self service solution is that their speed to an answer is the most important thing.

Doug Sill  

So if you can actually have an immediate answer, and have an accurate answer, that's your best possible experience. And when you're able to provide that you're gonna see net improvements, to your net promoter score.

Doug Sill  

So it's funny, I think most people think of automation when it comes to kind of customer support, and they feel like oh, it's gonna be a good experience. It's gonna hurt my overall brand. The truth of the matter is, it doesn't. If done right, it can actually drive gains in your NPS scores.

Kristina Cartwright  

Yeah. And you know, you talked a little bit about before not hiring as many people so you can build this rock solid team and empower agents with this.

Kristina Cartwright  

We know that this type of automation can really help agents. But do you have some cultural resistance to change? How are some of your clients kind of adapting this and getting their agents on board?

Doug Sill  

Yeah, well, it's interesting, the agents themselves love it.

Doug Sill  

Because what's ended up happening is they don't have to learn any new systems, right. So they're using Zendesk, they're using Salesforce, Einstein, whatever it might be for their customer service call center.

Doug Sill  

But now what's happening is instead of a generic email, generic calls, and generic chat coming in, it's the chat is prepared for them.

Doug Sill  

So we've already gathered a lot of information on that engagement with the customer, and then we'll gather all that information and pass it along to customer service agent, when we can't resolve it, and to be honest, there's some things that we don't want to resolve clients don't want us to resolve, they want to go to a customer service agent. Makes sense, right?

Doug Sill  

So in that case, now, their customer service agents powered with so much more information in their current systems don't have to learn any new technology to provide a much stronger experience.

Kristina Cartwright  

Thanks for answering some of my questions. I know you have a PacSun case study now, so let's go back to it, thanks for sharing that.

Doug Sill  

So I think that the big picture, let's just kind of wrap this up and share the impacts that this has, right. So PacSun, obviously a very large, retail ecommerce brand, their big focus is driving efficiency to their CX group, right.

Doug Sill  

Great questions.

Doug Sill  

And so as their e commerce grew, obviously, a lot of ecommerce grew over the last few years, they were just inundated with call requests and support requests, or CSAT scores plummet.

Doug Sill  

So well maybe I'm exaggerating that a little bit, they're falling.

Doug Sill  

So as a byproduct, they looked at Linc as a solution of how do we actually work with that first line of defense. And the good news is, is that we're able to actually assist an 80+ percent of the different questions that are asked, because we consume their knowledge and have the same knowledge as their best customer service agents.

Doug Sill  

I think the most important thing here is not only that, we were able to drive down their their call volume, so you can kind of catch up and provide a high level of service. But 19% of the engagements that took place for like upsells, and cross sells ended up an additional sale.

Doug Sill  

So they were able to say, gosh, now I just saved my time and efficiency for my CS group, we're able to catch up and provide a level of support that wanted to provide, but they can do that while driving top line revenue, which is traditionally not how a customer service team is driven.

Doug Sill  

As you kind of move to the next one Farmacy had a little bit of a different problem, you know, they were looking at how do I digitize experiences when we drive revenue growth, specifically pre sale.

Doug Sill  

The interesting thing here is that we're able to find 2X improvements on their opt in rate for their SMS notifications, which is just another touch point for them to be able to start promoting and cross promoting and selling.

Doug Sill  

For the first three months 40+ percent of the engagements we got involved in, we were able to take care of so we didn't have to hand it off to customer service agent.

Doug Sill  

So we're able to really help them control kind of the inbound and take care of their clients while driving top line revenue growth.

Doug Sill  

And they were kind of interesting, right, because it's a very specific product, you know, in health and beauty, you need to know specifically what you're trying to accomplish. So we're able to work with them to build up surveys, using their data so people can ask them, "Hey, what's the best foundation I should use for oily skin, for this skin, for that skin?" and drag people towards their answers to get conversions.

Doug Sill  

And then finally, with Levi's, I think is a very interesting one as well, so as the pandemic happened, and now starting to realize that a huge percentage of their questions were coming in off hours, right? So how are they gonna be able to take care of their clients?

Doug Sill  

So we wanted to work with them to be able to create a 24/7 experience where they can be able to support their questions. 85% of their questions, were able to be supported through Linc Gen 3  automation, but more importantly, now you can support people 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Doug Sill  

Imagine the impact that has in customer service supports. So the value here is that 30x of the questions that were being asked are 30x, more questions were being asked, we're being satisfied, leading clients to drive and buy that product.

Doug Sill  

So I think the big picture here is that while Gen three is kind of a new term you might be hearing for the first time, it's proven.

Doug Sill  

There's 120 million plus interactions that have taken place over some of the biggest brands in the industry, and the thing that I love most about this is not only is it driving additional top line revenue, not only is it obviously making your business more efficient in a climate where you're probably got a lot of pressure right now to drive efficiency, but you're going to do so in an environment where it's going to improve your NPS. scores, because you're satisfied people the way they want to be satisfied.

Doug Sill  

So I know we're running out of time here very quickly, I really appreciate you letting me speak with everyone today, If you are curious and diving a little bit deeper into this, obviously, you can just connect with me on LinkedIn, happy to have a conversation with you specifically about what's going on in your business.

Doug Sill  

And really appreciate what GDS has done because we've had a number of really positive conversations yesterday, about, you know, what people are really trying to do to kind of stay ahead of their 2023 strategic objectives, and a lot of those are tied to running the business more efficiently, and how do I find sales I didn't already have.

Kristina Cartwright  

Yeah, and you just kind of really showed us what Gen three can do. And you're right, gen one basic questions. Gen one and two has been very creepy lately. And so Gen three is definitely the future.

Kristina Cartwright  

You definitely have inspired some people out there because we do have an audience question, and I'm excited to bring him up because he's actually the roundtable moderator for the ecommerce landscape roundtable. So it's right up his alley, let's bring up Emil from Kaiser Roth Corporation. Hey, Emil, how are ya?

Kristina Cartwright  

You might be on mute. Our famous last words

Emil  

So I have a question. So this is really interesting. And I, you know, like this is really good, because like, then they will be able to leverage the product data, right, that's being sent today.

Emil  

I have a question, though, like, will this be able to, will this bot be able to handle a language, friendships, translations, as far as like, implementing internationally?

Doug Sill  

Great questions, yeah, I'm sorry, was there another part of that?

Doug Sill  

Okay, so two things about that. Yeah. But first and foremost, yes, we work in multiple languages, all core languages are already supported by Linc Global, and as you continue to work with us, we have the ability to kind of add additional languages that are not part of our core service right now.

Emil  

No, that's it.

Doug Sill  

But on top of that, I think what you're gonna find with language differences, there's also kind of terminology differences that are accustomed to different parts of the world, right. So that's really where that AI learning is so valuable, is if the product doesn't already understand that, you know, this terrible example, but doesn't understand that boot might mean a pair of football cleats in in the UK, but in the US doesn't mean that the system is going to be able to digest that information, learn from it, so the next time the next person asks it, it'll actually be able to answer the question correctly.

Doug Sill  

So just like you might in a traditional gen one, gen two, you'd have to start realizing, Oh, this is a question that gets asked, let's create a new flow for this and constantly build for what you predict might be the questions, the AI based software Linc will learn that and then be able to understand next time.

Emil  

Okay, thank you.

Kristina Cartwright  

Thanks so much Emil. And I guess we'll see you tomorrow for our roundtable moderator panel. But thanks for jumping on stage.

Kristina Cartwright  

We do have a another audience question for you deck. So as Emil, gets whisked away, back into our audience grid here, let's bring up Raymond, Raymond, welcome over to the session, what Corporation Are you part of Raymond?

Raymond  

Hi, I'm with Syniverse, based in Tampa, Florida. Fantastic. We've been in business... and the question I have is with respect to your clients, current clients and potential clients who you're working with, how many have reached out to you because they cannot recruit and retain customer service agents? Because I think as you as you and I know, you get into a sophisticated retail operation, there's a lot of multiple systems and so forth and that's a high stress, highly skilled job in many respects.

Doug Sill  

Yeah, absolutely. So I think one of the challenges, we talked about it in the early part of the presentation is, in order to really satisfy people in gen one, gen two, Gen three, you need human beings, right? And then part of that problem is when you find good human beings, A. it's hard in today's economy, but B. when you find them, the average tenure is nine months. So by the time you've actually trained somebody, the impact they can have is just a few months before they're gone.

Doug Sill  

And that's why most customer service teams only have a very small percentage of like Rockstar A players. So what this allows our clients to do and they have come to us for this reason is they'll say, "Gosh, you know, I'm very seasonally based. How do I handle this flow during holiday season where I need to triple my customer service group, and then let them all go in January?", where now you don't have to do that.

Doug Sill  

So it allows you alot of flexibility with how you want to run your business, and that's one of the main problems it solves as well is, how to actually get the right human beings to run my customer service team. And this allows you to kind of scale up scale down very quickly digitally, because you don't have to actually have a real human being handling majority the questions.

Raymond  

Thank you very much.

Kristina Cartwright  

Appreciate it. All right, one more question for you, because I only have three minutes with Doug, this has been been really interesting. Does your solution really replace live chat solutions or really worked with them?

Doug Sill  

So, I think most people have a misnomer and think, okay, this is just going to replace my customer service team. And I really want to be very clear, it does not replace your customer service team, you know, this act is a first line of defense for your customer service team.

Doug Sill  

A lot of companies are very proud of the support they're able to provide their clients as well as should be, they worked hard over the years to kind of develop that knowledge base, the tribal knowledge, the product information, and you're always going to need to have a customer service group.

Doug Sill  

But, what this will allow you to do is really take the pressure, the predictable pressure off the customer service team, to be able to focus on the best possible experience for their clients. So when it goes to customer service, and let's be honest, there's things that you don't want the AI digital workers to satisfy, you know, when people want to actually opt out of a subscription program, nope, gotta go to a real human being talk to them about that, right.

Doug Sill  

So there's things that always require the human interaction. So think of this as a supplemental tool that relieves pressure on customer service group, and empowers them to have an even better conversation today, because they're going to gather all the data in advance, so by the time it actually hits a customer service agent in their system, they know exactly what's going on, and we can satisfy the customer.

Kristina Cartwright  

Great to hear you know, with the minute we have left,  what does it take to really implement your solution to get that 80% Less automated resolution that we all would want.

Doug Sill  

So honestly, this is one of the kind of secret sauce of AI, right, is that the time the money the time to value is relatively immediate, right?

Doug Sill  

So, in a gen one, gen two, you need to build, you're constantly building if then statements and interactions, so the ability to get to 10-20% effective rate might take you, you know, six months to a year, where with us, we're API integrating through your different pieces of technology. And those integration steps are done by our CSM group, you know, obviously a little bit of help with your engineering team, but we'd like to kind of see this as it's a it's like a fraction of a one sprint, but we don't want to bother your engineering team very much.

Doug Sill  

And once we've made those connections, the ability to actually start creating positive engagements happens immediately, because the AI is now consuming your data. So think of that, like three month learning curve that a customer service agent goes through. Our system digests all that information through an API interface. And now it has all that information available to satisfy the clients to be.

Kristina Cartwright  

Fantastic. The secret sauce of it. Well, Doug, it's been a pleasure. Thank you so much for sharing that. I'm sure you'll touch base with a lot of other audience members in those meetings later today. But enjoy the rest of the summit. We hope to see you again soon.

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