Four years ago, I joined Invoca as CEO just a few weeks before our annual customer event, Invoca Summit. And in each year since, this event brings together everything that I love most about Invoca — sharing innovative new technology, spending time with our customers, and seeing the magic of the entire Invoca community at work — especially through the passion and commitment of our employees.
While every Invoca Summit has been important, I am especially excited for this year’s edition. 2020 has been unique (to say the least), so I expect our community to get more value than ever by comparing notes and learning from peers. With over 40 speakers, 22 sessions, and a keynote from the world’s most well-known marketer, Seth Godin, there are more opportunities to learn and bring an impactful idea from the event back to your business.
But there's another important reason we've been looking forward to Invoca Summit 2020: it marks a fundamental transformation in our product and the value we provide to customers. Traditionally, Invoca has served the needs of performance marketers by enabling more granular attribution and campaign optimization. But the onset of COVID-19 and the rapid changes it spawned in consumer behavior have made it imperative to ground your business strategy in a deep understanding of customers and to capture real-time feedback to monitor how that strategy is playing out. Conversations with customers play a critical role in both of those activities, which is why we’re extending the power of conversation intelligence across all revenue teams, including marketing, e-commerce, sales, and customer experience.
Companies Want to Shift from Crisis Mode to Growth Mode
When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit back in the spring, the economic impact was harsh and immediate. Consumer sentiment and spending tanked, millions of people lost their jobs, and the economy entered a recession. Companies hunkered down in “survival mode,” and many have stayed in that stance ever since. But increasingly, customers tell us how they are eager to move back into growth mode. In a similar vein, Accenture CEO Julie Sweet has advised companies to “be brutal with their realities” and to not only shift quickly out of crisis mode, but acknowledge that “business conditions have changed for good.”
The imperative is to lay out a new business strategy, grounded in an understanding of how consumer preferences and behavior have changed. In the US, e-commerce share of retail sales jumped from 11.3% in Q4 2019 to over 16% in Q2 2020. That three-month jump was equal to total e-commerce growth during the previous six years. And McKinsey found that 75% of consumers have changed brands, shopping methods, or places to shop since the pandemic began. That means that more consumers than ever are “in play,” so companies have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gain — or lose — market share.
The Foundation: An Empathetic Connection to Your Customer
The first step in shifting back to growth mode is basing your business strategy on a profound understanding of your customer and their “new reality.” That means more than knowing what they want to buy — it requires deeper insights into why they are looking to make a purchase so you can meet their most fundamental needs.
Over the past few months I’ve heard more marketers say “we want to build empathy with our customers” than ever before. And “empathy” is a far deeper, more emotional connection than more mechanical, data-oriented exercises like “having a 360-degree view of the customer” or “personalizing the customer experience.” The use of the word “empathy” reveals the desire to build a more meaningful, personal bond between the brand and consumer. Listen to how Chris Erckert, Channel Director at BBQGuys, describes this approach to building empathy as part of the conversation:
The challenge for marketers has been obtaining this deep insight into what consumers want and expect in this new age. Digital analytics provides glimpses into how customers are engaging, but it doesn’t illuminate the “why” and the underlying consumer motivation. This is where mining conversations for insight can reveal more profound motivations and desires.
Execution: Using Conversational Feedback to Improve Revenue Performance
Conversations aren’t just fundamental to business strategy — they also provide insight into what operational aspects of your new strategy are working, versus those that aren’t. Marketers have long used conversation intelligence to gain visibility into which campaigns are resulting in the most revenue-generating calls. These insights enabled data-driven decisions on how best to invest your digital advertising budget.
So we extended the power of conversation intelligence to other revenue teams, providing the ability to mine insights from the thousands of discussions that happen every day. Given that most consumers first interact with brands over digital, and then escalate to the contact center when they fail to get what they need, these discussions are amazing sources of feedback for both your digital experiences and human-to-human interactions. With the new Invoca platform, all of your revenue teams, and not just marketing, can leverage the power of conversation intelligence.
As COVID-19 spread and in-person interactions came to a halt, consumers have been moving more of their “high stakes” purchase activities online, or via consultation with sales agents. But e-Commerce teams have lacked visibility into when, and why, consumers abandon digital carts and conversion flows in favor of getting buying advice over the phone. With Invoca for e-Commerce, these teams get a data-driven feedback loop as escalations happen and the insight to improve e-commerce and conversion flows, keeping more buying journeys 100% digital from end-to-end.
Business-to-consumer sales teams have more challenges than ever in the COVID era. Working from home, oftentimes using archaic on-premise technology, these sales agents are struggling with higher call volumes, more anxious consumers, and seemingly new questions arising every day. With Invoca for Sales, managers can get real-time conversational insight into which agents are performing best, versus those that could benefit from feedback and coaching. This helps make the team more effective and productive overall, leading to higher revenue and lower agent turnover. Anand Rao, the SVP of Marketing and eCommerce at AutoNation, describes how conversation intelligence benefits their associates across 300+ stores nationwide.
With the shift to more digital and “remote buying assistance” interactions, companies are struggling to comprehend exactly how the new “buying journey” for high-stakes purchases is working. With Invoca for CX, customer experience teams gain visibility into the entire end-to-end buying journey, spanning both digital clicks and human-to-human conversations. This illuminates areas of friction in the buying process, empowers CX teams with revenue-focused insights to drive top-line growth, and helps brands develop a deeper relationship with customers. Listen to how Melissa Preussing, the SVP of Consumer Marketing at Aspen Dental, talks about using technology to build empathy and trust:
Activating Conversation Insights Across Your Business
In order to scale effectively, you need to activate conversation intelligence across all of your customer engagement platforms. So we built the Invoca Exchange, an ecosystem of 40+ technology and lead generation partners, to leverage these insights across your business. The Invoca Exchange includes integrations with leading platforms for digital advertising (Google, Facebook, Instagram, Microsoft, and Snap), customer data / CRM, (Tealium, Adobe, and Salesforce), personalization (Optimizely), contact center (Five9), experience analytics (FullStory, Decibel, Auryc), and more. The Invoca Exchange also includes a number of lead generation partners, such as Clearlink, Barrington Media, RingPartner, and PALO Media, to complement your in-house marketing campaigns and drive supplemental inbound demand.
Invoca Summit: Customer Examples of Shifting Back to Growth Mode
We are excited to see how Invoca conversion intelligence can help you accelerate revenue, but to get the most out of new technology you need best-practice guidance on how to apply it to your business. So this week at Invoca Summit, a variety of companies will be sharing how they have used conversation intelligence to drive growth in 2020, despite the headwinds of COVID-19. The VPs of Marketing and Sales at Windstream Communications will describe how they have achieved 150% of their 2020 objectives, even with reduced advertising budgets. Spectrum Retirement Communities will explain how they’ve increased customer retention by 20%, despite COVID’s significant impact on the senior living sector. The head of marketing analytics at Flagstar Bank will talk about the $2,141,419,533 in loan applications that they can now attribute to the precise marketing tactics and media sources. And the digital marketing team at Viasat will describe the steps they took to improve the conversion rates of their handled calls by 74%, despite a massive influx of inbound calls.
Our goal at Invoca Summit is to provide you with new technology solutions and business insights so you can move back into growth mode. We hope that you enjoy the event, and I always welcome your feedback and suggestions. Have a great Invoca Summit!