When is the last time you did business on the web and came away thrilled by the experience?
OK, maybe thrilled is asking too much, how about with just a hint of the warm-fuzzies?
If you’re typical, the answer is “almost never.” And, yes, we’re being generous with the “almost.”
Compare that to the physical world.
Somewhere out there, there’s probably a barista who greets you with a smile, genuinely wants to know how you are, and fixes your jo exactly how you like it -- a red eye in the morning, a half-caff latte anytime it’s after 5. When you look like you’re having a bad day, maybe you’re offered a cookie “on the house.” When you get all decked out, they take notice.
Or, if you’re not into coffee, maybe it’s your dry cleaner, Tony at the deli or your shoe sales person. No matter who you are, it’s likely that you buy from people who serve you well and with whom you feel a connection. And you buy from those same people over and over again, even if you have to go a few steps out of your way to do it.
Online is Missing the Personal Touch
Do you feel that same way about the world of commerce on the web?
“Probably not,” says Eoghan McCabe, CEO of Intercom.io, a brand new way for web and mobile businesses to connect with their customers.
Although McCabe doesn’t know you as an individual, he and his team know quite a bit about your online experiences.
“They’re terrible,” he says. “They’re impersonal. They’re disjointed. Conversations never happen unless there’s a problem.”
That’s not much of a business model is it?
And in a world of sameness, where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate yourself by what you sell or what services you provide, the customer relationship is king.
Except there aren’t many kings or king makers.
“The way companies communicate with their customers is broken,”says McCabe.
And, get this, he thinks technology may be, largely, to blame. Not all technology, mind you, just the disconnected, bloated Customer Communication systems that were built 10 years ago and that most companies still use today.
And when McCabe talks about Customer Communications, he’s talking about several applications and business areas, not just one.
“Most companies have separate solutions for helpdesks, email marketing, product feedback and CRMs, he says. “It seems that as online capabilities grew companies just hacked together point solutions around sales, email, customer service and chat. “
The result? The sales team has no idea what customer service is doing and so on.
“The Internet is just catching up to how people interact in the real world,” he says, adding that the majority of innovation in this space is purely on the consumer side.
Intercom.io, Changing Customer Communications
Until now, that is. Intercom.io is on the way to making that change. They’ve built an integrated platform for the entire company to use for support, marketing, product and sales communication. It gives users a whole view of the customer so that they know the full story and can thereby support the right customer, at the right time, with the right message or offer.
“Conversations have to be personal,” says McCabe. And with Intercom.io they happen in app not via emails that show up minutes, hours, even days after the customer has left the site and may never come back. (At that point, emails may be sent if there’s no other way to reach the customer.)
How effective is Intercocom.io’s Customer Communications solution? Some companies report as much as a 12 percent increase in customer retention, which is pretty impressive in our eyes, especially if you take into consideration how much money Marketing typically spends to win a new customer.
But forget what we think, the proof is in the pudding. Among Intercom.io’s more than 2000 paying customers are the Internet elite, companies like Heroku, Hootsuite, Yahoo!, Perfect Audience, Rackspace and Visual.ly.
Not bad for a company that came out of beta just 18 months ago.
And we aren’t the only ones who think so. Intercom.io has just announced that it has raised $23 million in funding, and brought in former PayPal and Yammer executive Mark Woolway as its chief operating officer.
Woolway, it’s worth noting, has worked for three CEOs in recent history: Peter Thiel, Elon Musk and Yammer’s David Sacks.
He’s clearly expecting to do big things with the company, and we’re looking forward to watching.
Title image by Chones (Shutterstock).