MarTech Interview with Mike Myer, CEO & Founder at Quiq

Conversational AI experiences are becoming more crucial to marketers and salespeople in today’s marketplace, Mike Myer, CEO & Founder at Quiq shares a few quick conversational AI trends in this catch-up with MarTech Series:

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Welcome to this MarTech Series chat Mike, we’d love to hear about you and your journey through the years…what inspired Quiq and how has the journey since launching been?

I’ve spent most of my career in tech and have degrees in Computer Science. I started my professional journey at Bell Labs, then served as the CTO at RightNow—a leading provider of SaaS customer experience software.

I started Quiq because I saw a huge gap between the way consumers could communicate with companies and how they communicate with family and friends. I founded Quiq with the belief that texting is how we get stuff done in our personal lives. It should be the same for business communication, too.

What’s happened over the last couple of years is that businesses are being asked to do more with less, but inquiry volumes are higher than ever before. And as a result, companies need to find more efficient ways to serve their customers—not just equivalent to how they served them in the past, but better.

Conversational AI is the way businesses can get more done with less. However, the technology must be implemented seamlessly with human agents because conversational AI is great for specific problems, like where is my order? The data is available on a back-end system. But, if you asked for a recommendation for blue jeans, for instance, that’s probably not something that conversational AI can make good decisions about and an advisor could better serve you.

So, at Quiq, we’ve really realized the importance of conversational AI for businesses and how careful implementation with human agents makes or breaks success.

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Why do you feel conversational AI will (or rather, already is!) set to play a crucial role in how brands and end users communicate and more so, in how brands can use this to drive purchases?

Conversational AI will uniquely solve a conflagration of problems. The call center is already overloaded with customer service. There’s no way they can absorb proactive, additional inquiries without conversational AI. Plus, nobody who’s shopping on the website is going to want to have to go through a contact center to get answers.

And remember: Your competitor is just one click away. So if your customers have a question about your product, and it’s not readily apparent on your website, and you don’t have any conversational AI to help them, then they’re just going to go to another website for the answer. Because maybe your competitor actually has more information available than you do.

So conversational AI’s role is that of a helpful store assistant, making sure customers can ask questions as soon as they have them. Maybe answers can be provided through conversational AI, or maybe it has to go to a human agent. But answering at the point of need is critical—and conversational AI provides the way there. The right conversational AI platform will help brands reduce call volumes by identifying repetitive questions that are right for conversational AI, and those best handled by a person.

Can you share a few thoughts on some of the most innovative conversational AI experiences you’ve seen in the eCommerce marketplace?

Absolutely! There are many Quiq clients doing amazing things with conversational AI. Here are a few stand-outs.

Blue Nile was able to better identify, separate, and route sales opportunities from service inquiries—and manage both with the appropriate next action. Their intelligent chat design resulted in a 70% growth in the number of sales interactions and a 35% increase in successful sales transactions. A simply incredible customer experience with a demonstrated understanding of how to integrate conversational AI with the company’s Diamond Experts.

TechStyle is another one. TechStyle gets an overwhelming amount of volume on social media. Often, customers missed their order status emails and reached out via social media, preventing the TechStyle care team from being able to work on higher-value interactions. To solve this challenge, TechStyle built an opt-in to receive order notifications in Messenger after customers make a purchase. They also built an inbound where is my order? assistant to handle inbound order inquiries. The hard work paid off: 86% of customers who opt-in use the self-service and give it a 95% CSAT score.

Daily Harvest has also achieved jaw-dropping results. Their first-ever AI chatbot guide, named Sage, has reduced the volume of agent-handled conversations significantly. The team decreased overall Care Associate support volumes by reaching up to 60% containment. As a result, Associates are freed up to help customers who need more 1:1 care. Among those who interact with Sage, CSAT consistently performs within Daily Harvest’s standards for an excellent customer experience.

What should marketers/salespeople keep in mind when they program their conversational AI systems to respond to users in real-time: a few best practices for teams at the starting point of deploying these technologies?

First and foremost, marketers and salespeople should make sure their bots are programmed for proactive communication. The future is engaging customers with knowledge about what that customer has already done.

So if you return to a website after having recently placed an order, there’s a chance that you have a question about it. The website should proactively ask if you have a question about your prior order. If you are in a shopping experience and have stuff in your cart, the website should proactively ask if you need help completing the transaction.

Personalization and proactivity in conversational AI is the golden ticket for brands, particularly eCommerce ones. As far as best practices if you are at the starting point of deployment, I have a few important ones:

You should not try to do it by yourself. You need to engage an expert. We’ve seen lots of situations where somebody tries to build a simple bot, and the results aren’t very good. And it’s usually due to situations where the employee who originally launched the project was either a programmer or a business person, and they didn’t have the essential user interface and experience design skills. Or vice versa. And that results in a lousy experience in a lousy bot. Partner with an expert who will be able to tell you how to make it proactive and personalized, and bring all the right skills to the table. 

Your bot needs to hook up to data. Even if it just provides general answers, it needs to be able to access internal data to figure out prior customer activity. The more access you have to internal data, the more valuable your bot will be. A bot that returns a link to the Order Status page is not nearly as good as a bot that actually returns the order status. 

Think about the variations your business will need and which systems you’ll want conversational AI to integrate with—like your CRM and payment processor, for example.

We’d love to hear more about some of the recent innovations from the Quiq offering (latest offerings) and how this changes the game for customers?

Six months ago, we completed the acquisition of Snaps, the leading conversational AI platform on the market. Combined with Quiq’s lead as the next generation contact center, we’re now doubly as dynamic. Together, we’ve got the most complete next-generation contact center with conversational AI out there. On top of that, we’ve just added payments and surveys.

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A few thoughts on the future of conversational AI in marketing and sales?

I think the future of conversational AI in marketing and sales will be conversational commerce—and we’re only in the first inning! It’ll revolve around natural language processing and machine learning. And Instagram has really just opened up for brands to engage shoppers with conversational commerce. Conversational AI is officially a part of the transaction.

In the future, ads will lead to conversations as well. A larger and larger portion of transactions are going to be handled inside of a messaging conversation without using the website. Customers will engage either starting on the website or inside of a conversational platform. If they start on the website, that’s likely to lead to a conversation that jumps off a product page, for example. If they start on a conversational platform like Instagram, it’s likely to direct them to the website but the conversation is still the core point of interaction—not browsing the web.

Some last thoughts, takeaways, martech tips and best practices before we wrap up!

Definitely! I have some takeaways I’d like to leave readers with:

  1. Bring on a partner. Conversational AI is an extremely powerful tool that has the potential to unlock tremendous value, but don’t go it alone. Thinking through the partner you bring on is really important.
  2. You don’t need to allocate a budget for this. Because it pays for itself. One of our customers achieved 40X return on ad spend in their first campaign alone.
  3. Know where you are at. Get some third-party validation or feedback about how helpful your site is; is it easy to navigate? Can visitors find the information they need?

And last but not least: Conversational commerce—largely driven by conversational AI—is the future of conversations between brands and their customers. Get on board now, before your competitors do.

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Quiq

Quiq is a technology company that makes it easy for people to have a conversational experience with a company.

Mike Myer is the CEO & Founder at Quiq

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