Estimated reading time: 6-7 mins
The 3rd wave of digital commerce
First we had websites, then apps. The next tectonic shift in digital commerce revolves around going conversational, which I haven’t been shy in posting about over the past year.
The added element with PAAS is layering on automation, so in essence it looks like this:
Conversational + Automation = Brands operating as personal assistants for their customers efficiently
The equation just makes a tremendous amount of business sense and is the natural evolution to how consumers want brands to use technology to make their lives better, and make it easier to communicate with them so that they can ultimately get what they want and need more simply.
Top Articles on How Businesses are using Bots:
Let’s unpack the concept of PAAS further.
Stop thinking traditional A to B, and think in between
If the way you’ve been operating your business is a linear line to get customers to go from A to B, then the way to win going forward will be focusing on all the parts between A and B. This can be applied to just about any business in any industry. Here are a few examples.
The conversational bank. Not much has changed in the past 200+ years. As customers, we want a secure place to store our money, earn some savings and carry a line of credit to buy new things.
As a bank, the traditional A to B path is offering customers a branch, staff, cards and services so that they can open accounts and go spend money in order for you to collect fees and keep all of those things running, and try to somehow do it differently enough to get as many customers as you can from the next bank all while maintaining a profit.
We’re now at a business intelligence and analytics saturation level where brands have so much good data on hand (almost too much data) that isn’t being put to good use. The winning opportunity is for the bank to shift the focus and efforts to operate as a personal assistant to everything happening between A and B.
A bank operating a PAAS puts that data to good use extremely efficiently. It knows what’s happening between A and B — where you like to travel, where and how you shop, what your favorite restaurants are, and so on.
Where’s the value for the bank between A and B? It’s in harnessing that data effectively to deliver a better service along the journey for their customers.
For the customer? It’s getting more value for how they spend money.
The magic happens by stripping away all the crap that today’s modern customer doesn’t care about — physical bank branches, a physical card that can get lost or stolen and an 800 support line that nobody wants to call.
When you go all digital with no physical liabilities, you divert all of your brand’s energies and funds into delivering a modern experience that just makes sense for today’s customer. You act as their personal concierge along all of those points between A and B, offering the ability to get the best sushi they ever had during their business trip to Japan, get help shopping for the perfect gift for a spouse on an anniversary, and so on.
It’s about giving time back to your customers and building an intimate one-on-one connection for the moments that pop up between A and B. Where you, as a brand, have the opportunity to deliver a little magic. A memory. A special fabric in time at scale for lots of customers, everyday. Wow, talk about redefining business values — now you can authentically stand behind the core value of changing people’s lives.
A perfect example of the conversational bank is buddybank. No physical branches. No physical cards. Nothing getting in their way. They focus all of their efforts on being the best “buddy” they can to all of their customers everyday. Here’s a glimpse of a day in the life of buddybank. The result — Customer Satisfaction scores of 96%!
The conversational airline. For a traditional airline, it’s literally competing on product and price to get as many passengers from A to B.
The conversational airline thinks differently — how can I delight as many of my customers by delivering the unexpected everyday? Simple — they use all the data available to them and make it extremely easy to communicate with customers throughout their entire journey.
For instance, you know where they’re traveling to and what their preferences are. That’s the positive legacy websites and apps have given us- a rich harvest of customer preferences, common intents and characteristics. Use it!
You could send them a direct message like “I see you’re traveling to Denver. We won’t have a vegetarian meal on the flight, but I can book you a table on the patio at Vital Root. Would 7pm work for you?”
Wow! That’s not a misuse of data, but the exact opposite — a very proper use of it. When you match personalizing the content with timeliness and give time back, nobody’s going to complain. In fact, that’s when they go out of their way to pay you a compliment on social media.
The conversational restaurant chain. The traditional A to B is to get as many customers through your restaurants as quickly as possible, using the best, but cheapest ingredients with as little labor as possible.
The conversational restaurant thinks, “how can I help our customers learn more about the the food we serve, help them adhere to a diet, deliver a special moment on their birthday.” You know, all the things happening between A and B.
The conversational hotel. Hopefully you get the picture by now. It’s not just about booking a room and never having a relationship with the customer before, during and after their stay. That’s operating like a commodity, and in that case, why not just go to Orbitz and get the best price?
Nope, the special moment is you helping them get that highly sought after table at the exclusive restaurant, introducing them to a new cocktail in the bar, or giving them a fun fact about the city they’re visiting that they could get nowhere else.
Memories. Magic. Moments.
Let me introduce you to Rose at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. A superior example of a finely tuned chatbot incorporating the brand’s true personality and DNA, while delivering amazing results.
Remember it’s about PAAS, not PAAP
The last thing you need to waste the next 24 months on is trying to figure out how you build a Personal Assistant as a Platform, wasting IT, Marketing and Contact Center time and resources to turn on all the channels where your customers want to communicate with you — Alexa, Messenger, Apple Business Chat, Instagram, WhatsApp, Google RCS, etc while also building automation at scale that doesn’t suck and deeply integrating that all into your enterprise systems.
LivePerson has already built all of this and is working with the world’s most innovative brands, helping them to go conversational with speed, quality and scale.
The special ingredients of delivering the people, platform and process required to go conversational effectively.
My job, literally, is to get brands to rethink A to B and operate in between A and B by adopting PAAS as a business model. This is the future . The opportunity is to be first in your industry. And when you’re first, you need to be exceptional. And if you’re not first, you need to be even better.
As Forrester predicts, it will not be your product or price (A to B), but your customer service (what happens between A & B) where you will need to differentiate yourself. Your customers demand it.
I sit on the enterprise strategic account team with leading global conversational commerce company, LivePerson (NASDAQ: LPSN).
I work with the world’s largest brands to implement a best-of-breed technology stack that will transform the customer care and sales experience to digital messaging, leveraging bots, AI and a proven operational blueprint.
It’s Time to PAAS (Personal Assistant As A Service) was originally published in Chatbots Life on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.