Customer Service, Artificial Intelligence

How to Build Brand-Aligned Response Flows

Your customer service is an important extension of your brand. Your responses and policies tell customers more about your brand values than any marketing can.  Most customers don’t believe a brand’s marketing anyway - they believe in their shared experience with the brand, and that experience is almost always its customer service.

When customers feel comfortable and confident with your brand, they’re more likely to shop with you again. Your branding via service also helps differentiate your company from competitors. Ideally, your consumers get to know you—what you sound like and feel like. A strong brand voice in service is a long-term competitive advantage.

Key Components of a Customer Service Brand Strategy

What does “branding” really mean—especially in customer service? Branding encompasses everything from your policies to your personality. It provides customers with a "feel" of the company. It gives them something to connect with and trust.

When executed well and with consistency, here's what branding can do within customer service.

  • Sets customers’ expectations: Through consistent experiences, customers come to understand how long they have to wait for answers, what type of returns are possible, and how friendly the customer service agents are.
  • Tells customers what you stand for: Your values shine through your brand messaging—whether it’s giving customers the benefit of the doubt or making ticket resolution as easy as possible.
  • Builds trust: Customers come to know you and believe in what you deliver.
  • Sets you apart from competitors: Your voice, your values, and your responses differentiate you from others in the market.
  • Shows that you listen: Customer-centric brands take customer feedback and implement changes to offer a better experience.
  • Defines your voice: How you respond to tickets and social media messages helps customers to know your unique voice and trust you.

Why Brand-Aligned AI Responses Are Essential

Consistency is the mark of a well-trained, well-managed team. Customers shouldn't get a fundamentally different experience with different staff members. And your AI should blend in with your agents. If an AI response upsets or confuses a customer, it only creates more work for the team. By aligning your AI processes and goals, your agents can better help customers when  they need to step in.

 

5 Steps to Building Brand-Aligned Responses

Knowing what makes a strong, customer-centric brand is the first step. The next piece is to integrate that branding into your customer service operations, automation, and policies.

Here are the five steps for creating brand-aligned responses within your streamlined CS organization.

1. Identify clear decision points

Within your customer service operations, determine key decision points—including your processes, policies, and SLAs. The goal is to understand the logic of your agent. What information is needed for them to reach certain conclusions? From there, you can determine how to mimic that process with your AI.

If there are areas of uncertainty, such as when an agent needs to make a judgment call, you'll want to change that to a firm line. You don’t want the response a customer gets to be dependent on which agent is responding to them or whether that agent has had a bad day. AI doesn’t make  judgment calls. That's why you need to have clear cut guidelines on how AI will respond.

2. Establish various versions and tiers of responses

Within a certain ticket type, there are several possible scenarios. As an example, is the return request already past your standard 30-day window? How far past—a day or a week? Take these elements into consideration when you formulate responses.

You'll also want to consider other elements such as if it's a new customer or if it’s a high-value customer that spends a lot annually. These elements can factor into your decision and how your branding will respond—whether it’s an agent or AI.

If there are grey areas in a customer situation, the best practice is to transfer the issue to a human to make the one-off call. If the grey areas keep repeating, a firm policy should be established. Use customer feedback loops to determine the effectiveness of any changes.

3. Craft brand-specific responses

The real substance of your branding happens when you write your responses. The exact language you choose is paramount in getting across your message in a certain tone. Communication with customers should be clear, concise, and carry your brand’s personality.

A best practice is to build a sample logic and language flow, then put it in front of agents and other stakeholders in your company. Discuss each point along with the information you want to convey to the customer.

Your wording should work in all cases. That’s why it’s important to get it just right. While agents can tweak their wording on the fly, AI cannot. For AI, playing with your phrasing can help make responses appropriate for a wide range of scenarios. For example, you might not want to say, “I’m happy to help you track your order.” If the customer has already been tracking their order, the response could upset them. Instead, a more neutral language would be: “I’m happy to check on your order for you.” 

Unsure of the language you should use? Choose an AI solution that will partner with you on the language and branding details.

4. Ensure your brand is reflected end-to-end

For every customer contact, there are several steps and touchpoints. Whether it’s a self-service portal experience or a text-based conversation with AI, ensure your branding remains consistent. Follow customer pathways through entire processes to ensure that there’s a brand-aligned response at each point.

5. Continue honing your branding

As you integrate automated responses, look at feedback to gauge how it's going. Make adjustments over time to ensure customers are getting the responses they expect and deserve. With AI, you can also A/B test language changes to see which is most effective. Brand voice doesn’t happen overnight, it should be a consistent effort. As you grow your brand and customer base, and even expand your company's offerings, work to make your brand consistent.

Your customer service is a key representation of your brand. With brand-aligned response flows, you can deliver best-in-class service—all while standing out from the crowd.


Sources

  1. Customer Care Measurement & Consulting LLC 

  2. 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report 

  3. Hanover Research

  4. Harvard Business Review

  5. The Startup