Invoca combines digital marketing with 1:1 consulting sales in the contact center

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Invoca combines digital marketing with 1:1 consulting sales in the contact center

(© Bojan Milinkov – Shutterstock)

Digital marketing has become increasingly sophisticated in recent years. But for businesses that still rely on the consumer picking up the phone to complete a purchase—for example, getting a cable deal, health insurance, or getting a loan—handling digital channels to the contact center is often their weakest link . Bridging this connection across brands as diverse as Dish Network, Mayo Clinic, Mutual of Omaha and Subaru has helped Invoca build a $100 million per year recurring revenue business. Gregg Johnson, CEO says the impact can be significant:

This problem is only worth tackling if 60-80% of your revenue comes from the contact center. But if you’ve never tackled it, your added value is pretty high.

Bringing data and processes together across different lines of business is a hot topic among technology providers right now, but Invoca is targeting a specific pain point in a well-defined segment. Its prospects and customers market at scale, typically to consumers and in some cases to small businesses, using digital channels such as advertising on Google and Facebook, as well as their own web presence and direct email on platforms such as Adobe and others. However, the purchase process is not entirely digital, as in order to complete the purchase, the customer must have a conversation with a contact center agent. This move from a digital marketing experience to a face-to-face phone call means the process involves disparate systems that traditionally have not been connected. Johnson explains:

Today as a marketer you are investing money and you need to show where you are spending the money in terms of sales and revenue. The problem is, if you put money into Google, Facebook, and Adobe and grow sales through e-commerce, you can track all of these things and it works beautifully. But in these industries, there’s still a face-to-face consulting aspect to the sales experience, and you can’t make the connection between where you invest and where you grow sales…

We sell to the marketing team and say, “Hey, we’ll give you a feedback loop on the 60/70/80% of the revenue you make that goes through the contact center (which) you can.” You can’t today measure nor quantify. We help you understand what works well and what doesn’t.

Most contact center software is not designed for these consultative sales calls. Instead, it focuses on the more common use cases of resolving incoming issues as quickly as possible or quickly going through a list of outgoing sales contacts. Maximizing revenue from incoming customer inquiries requires a different approach. Johnson elaborates:

We want to help these consumer brands deliver the right combination of digital interaction and human touch to engage customers and increase sales. This is where we differ from the contact center providers, because our focus is not on self-service, cost reduction and call forwarding.

We believe that the contact center can be a strategic growth driver and can work very well with marketing. The problem is you don’t have the technology to do it – and usually the CMO is here, the head of the contact center. They meet at the CEO’s. They don’t work together much.

A typical customer might build their digital experience on a platform like Adobe, while the contact center might use Salesforce for their sales and service documentation and handle calls on a platform like Five9, Genesys, or NICE. Invoca connects across these platforms so that if a customer visits a landing page with a special promotion, for example, and then calls the contact center, the agent already has that context in mind, rather than the customer having to explain everything from scratch. The result is a much better consumer experience, says Johnson:

You think of it as that random moment of magic that’s really all about technology and putting dots together so that the agent who picks up the phone understands what you’ve been up to online before you even get to the contact center have turned.

The product also enables end-to-top-end analysis of customer journeys, connecting the data path through search and website to contact center conversation to product purchase and other data such as geolocation. This creates a model of lifetime customer value that is linked to the digital experience. The most obvious use case for this data is quantitative analysis to optimize ad spend and fine-tune offering. However, customers are increasingly finding that there are also qualitative results.

For example, a healthcare customer noticed a restaurant name that kept popping up in call center conversations.

It turned out that agents were showing customers directions to one of his facilities, so he added a menu option in the IVR that sent a text message with a Google Maps link to automatically direct customers. Other examples surfaced during the COVID-induced disruption, when customers had new questions about the availability of procedures or safety measures that could be answered by adding additional information on the website or via email. Johnson comments:

What we’re seeing is that at a time of significant disruption in an industry – such as new competitive threats or changing pricing models – the contact center is an amazing source of information for a digital marketer to think about, “How do I refine my pitch?” my added value ? What can I proactively educate the customer about online and prevent that demand from reaching my contact center so I can focus on more value-added activities?

What begins as a means of measuring the effectiveness of digital spend becomes a broader mechanism for refining the customer experience for Invoca’s clients. He comments:

First of all, we are a very highly quantitative ROI-based delivery. But then you find all these qualitative improvements you can make as you mature into your second, third, and fourth use cases, which are typically again about the vision: how do we deliver the best combination of digital self-service and the human touch ? directions?

Inevitably, this is where AI plays an important role, helping to guide agents and also learning from their interactions to provide feedback into the evolving model. He summarizes:

It’s about helping the agent have a better conversation with the consumer. It’s also about feeding key insights from the conversation with the agent back into the personalization engine. And then you help the agent navigate… if they have more context and engage in the conversation, what can they do to provide a better experience?

My opinion

Isn’t it ironic that after more than a decade of investing in digital transformation across the enterprise, we end up with so many digital silos? This phenomenon is largely the fault of the marketing department, which builds a consistent digital experience that works well as long as it doesn’t require 1:1 interaction with humans – and then it fails immediately because the humans didn’t make it. It was not included in the digital cycle.

Invoca serves as a specific example in its target market, but there are many other such flawed processes where digital investments within individual functions are not aggregated across the organization to ensure they meet the goals of the organization and its customers. Aligning these end-to-end processes is a daunting task, but as Invoca’s example shows, once connected, there’s tremendous value to be gained by applying AI to the data and feeding those results back to the people in these processes.

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