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The Importance of Perceived Performance in Sending Message

Sending Messages Is All About Speed

Technology has made consumers impatient. We don’t just want instant gratification for every click or tap—we expect it.

Retailers and e-commerce companies have been dealing with this for years. That’s why so much time is spent trying to make small, incremental improvements to page load speeds.

Even though you aren’t loading pages in your messaging experience, the demand for instant gratification remains. Users want messages sent at the speed of light—can you deliver?

Perception Is More Important than Reality with Message Send Speeds

Whether you’re using a social media app, a messaging app, or your sending standard text messages, you’ve probably experienced the agony of waiting for message delivery at least once. We take instant messaging for granted, but there are multiple factors that contribute to delayed delivery, including:

  • Poor Internet Connection: If a user has weak cell or WiFi connection, it doesn’t matter how great your messaging experience is—messages won’t send instantly. This is a problem between ISPs and consumers, but users will often blame the actual app they’re using instead.
  • Server Overload on Server Side: Your backend infrastructure has to be prepared to handle all of the messaging traffic from users. This is a constant challenge for messaging apps like WhatsApp, but it can cause minor delays for your own experience, too. Anything less than instant gratification can result in a diminished user experience and hurt your business.

These two high-level problems make it almost impossible to guarantee messages will be sent instantly 100% of the time. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create the perception of instant gratification.

Improving time to send messages is important, but even more important is showing messages in a conversation the instant users tap “send.” This is a simple visual hint, but it makes all the difference in your messaging customer experience.

Instant Gratification in Asynchronous Communication

One of the best benefits of messaging as a central communication channel is the fact that it’s reliably asynchronous. You don’t have to disrupt customers with phone calls and you don’t have to worry about emails getting lost in the shuffle.

It’s great to get back to messages when it’s most convenient, but we still want them to send instantly. Think about what this looks like for a company like BOOK A TIGER that creates direct connections between customers and cleaners. Customers want to send a message and know that it’s been delivered. If they had to sit and wait for a message to deliver over a poor internet connection, BOOK A TIGER would risk losing customers to competitors.

Delivering messages at the speed of light—or at least looking like you are—is a more important piece of the messaging experience than you might think. However, it’s still just one of many best practices to think about as you design customer conversations.

If you want to learn more about building the best possible messaging experience, check out our full Messaging Best Practices guide today.

Introduction to the Conversational Economy Series

Discover the Conversational Economy

The Conversational Economy series will explore the trends in business and technology that are taking us back to a relationship-based economy, where customers are treated as individuals, and where businesses no longer need to guess as to what their customers want.

Commerce Rebooted

Commerce used to be personal. We used to have close relationships with the businesses we patronized. They used to treat us like human beings. The “market” was really a function of the conversations comprising it, and as such, these “conversations of value” represented the center of the customer relationship. Without conversation, there was no market. So what happened?

With the rise of mass-marketing and mass-retail, the personal, relationship aspect of business waned. It survived almost entirely in the extremely high-end, out of reach for most consumers. What most of us got was advertising and big-box merchandising, not personal service.

Customers Are the Heart of Commerce

In this first installment of our new Conversational Economy series, I take a look at the convergence of two major trends: the rising power of the customer and the importance of the customer experience, and the preeminence of messaging as the dominant user-interface metaphor for mobile.

We explore the concept of the “one-to-one future” of marketing and customer relationship management pioneered by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, and connect their 1993 predictions to the current reality of the mobile era.

Rich messaging, as the preferred user interface for mobile, forms the anchor for a new kind of customer relationship. One that companies like Trunk Club and Staples are leading the way with, and one that will become table stakes for businesses moving forward.

You can read the first installment on Medium here

Algorithms Are Not Enough in Financial Services

Algorithms Are Not Enough in Financial Services

For every article you see about the advantages of emerging artificial intelligence (AI) technology, it seems like there are 3 or 4 discussing how machines are going to take all our jobs.

Finance has been one industry where employees are already experiencing significant displacement. However, financial services firms shouldn’t get carried away with automation.

The most successful firms will be those that can master a hybrid approach to financial management. Computers give you algorithms—but humans facilitate the experiences customers need.

Using Computers for What They Do Best

At times, the outcry about computers displacing human workers goes too far. There’s nothing wrong with automation, but companies have to find the appropriate use cases.

The hallmark case study for computers overtaking humans in financial services is at Goldman Sachs. Back in 2000, Goldman employed about 600 cash equities traders who worked with the firm’s largest clients to buy and sell stocks. As of early 2017 automation has taken hold—only 2 of the 600 traders remain.

According to CFO (and former CIO) Martin Chavez, this is only the beginning of automation at Goldman Sachs. In a recent speech, he explained that “everything we do is underpinned by math and a lot of software.”

The business benefits of automation are clear. Rather than paying high six-figure salaries for 600 traders, the firm only has to pay the 200 computer engineers that have taken their place in that division. When the trades include pricing analysis for things that easily are determined on the market, complex trading algorithms remove the margin for human error.

And Goldman is even starting to implement algorithms for investment trading processes that have typically relied on salesmanship and relationship-building skills. It’s clear that these types of efficiency gains will only increase.

If you take Goldman Sachs as the example, you might think that they’re on a collision course with total human displacement. However, if you look at Goldman’s venture into online retail banking (GS Bank), you start to see the value of balancing computer algorithms with human experiences.

Hybrid Financial Management: Balancing Automation with Human Experience

Streamlining operations with automation has given Goldman Sachs more freedom to pursue other markets. And in early 2016, the firm set its sights on the millennial market by entering the growing online banking sector.

By avoiding the costs of brick-and-mortar retail banking locations, Goldman can keep its delivery costs down and compete with direct banks like Ally, Discover Bank, and Capital One 360 by offering attractive interest rates.

The only problem is that technology can be commoditized and other digital disruptors will always be able to rival Goldman’s product offerings. This is why financial services firms have to balance automation with human interaction—because the customer experience is your key differentiator today.

Despite its aggressive product offerings, GS Bank has seen complications in terms of customer experience. A reliance on IVR systems and the absence of branch offices have showcased the dangers of eliminating human interaction from banking.

While you embrace automation to drive your financial services business forward, you have to make sure you never lose sight of the fact that your human employees are the ones that create customer experiences. If you can create a hybrid financial management platform—one that can automate trading while giving access to humans for greater personalization and service.

Basing your hybrid financial management platform on a universal messaging experience can give you the best of these two worlds. Automation and intelligence can work harmoniously to scale personal human interaction, while delivering value to customers for whom high-touch service would previously have been too expensive.

If you want to learn more about designing a customer experience that lets computers and humans each do what they do best, contact us today for a free demo of the Layer customer conversation platform.

Introducing Layer UI for Web

We are pleased to announce that Layer UI for Web is now generally available. Layer UI for Web extends the Layer Web SDK to include a library of customizable, commonly used widgets to be used for creating web-based messaging experiences.

These widgets are intended to allow developers to focus on the look, feel and use-case specific functionality of their web messaging interface rather than building basics from scratch.

This post will serve as an overview of our approach and an introduction to Layer UI for Web. You can view the full documentation here.

 

Our UI Framework Philosophy

React is popular, so there was a lot of temptation to use it to build a UI framework that would primarily satisfy React developers and call it good enough.

We didn’t.

Our philosophy on JavaScript Frameworks is as follows:

  • Your framework is your choice
  • We’re not going to force you to also use React, or Angular, or any other common framework
  • The ability to easily customize or even replace any single widget or behavior is critical to you building your application the way you want it.

To achieve these goals, we’ve used Web Components. Web Components will work with almost any UI framework (or with plain JavaScript) without requiring dependencies beyond an optional Web Components polyfill. They are also remarkably easy to work with.

To illustrate how Web Components are used, the code below uses no framework to generate the picture above, and depends upon two widgets:

  1. layer-conversations-list: A widget for loading, scrolling through and selecting Conversations that your user is participating in
  2. layer-conversation-panel: A widget for viewing messages in a conversation, sending messages in reply, typing indicators, marking messages as read, paging, etc…
<body>  
  <layer-conversations-list id='mylist'>
  </layer-conversations-list>
  <layer-conversation-panel listen-to='mylist'>
  </layer-conversation-panel>
</body> 

Web Components provides the capability of telling the browser that the DOM nodes described above exist, as well as the ability to associate rendering and behaviors with those nodes.

We add an optional header row as used in the picture above:


<div class='header'>  
  <div class='layer-conversations-list-header'>
    User <span class='user-name'></span>'s Conversations
  </div>
  <div class='layer-conversation-header'></div>
</div>

The listen-to attribute tells the conversation panel to listen to the conversations list and to show any conversation selected by the user.

Alternatively, instead of using listen-to, we could build this ourselves with a little JavaScript:


// Initialize the Layer UI Framework
layerUI.init({  
    appId: "layer:///apps/staging/UUID"
});

// Get the dom nodes
var conversationList = document.querySelector('layer-conversations-list');
var conversationPanel = document.querySelector('layer-conversation-panel');
var conversationHeader = document.querySelector('.layer-conversation-header');

// Whenever the user selects a conversation:
conversationList.onConversationSelected = function(evt) {  
    var conversation = evt.detail.item;

    // Tell the Conversation Panel what conversation to show
    conversationPanel.conversation = conversation;

    // Update the label above the Conversation Panel
    conversationHeader.innerHTML = conversation.metadata.conversationName;
};

Isn’t Web Components just another UI framework?

Well… ok… yes. But it’s also:

  • A Web Standard
  • Natively supported in many browsers and is supported via polyfill in all other supported browsers
  • Can be written using a number of open-source frameworks or with raw JavaScript.

How much coding is really required?

There are products where you just drop an entire chat experience as a widget into your app and you declare done. This is great for certain use cases and providing such a starting point is a goal we are working towards.

But ultimately, as any application evolves, it requires custom UI behaviors that differentiate your app and help focus on your core business goals.

To accomplish this, Layer is making available a library of UI widgets that you can integrate into your application and customize as you see fit. In the above example, the <layer-conversations-list /> provides an event when the user selects a conversation, and you use that event to tell the <layer-conversation-panel /> what the selected conversation is.

Is that all the coding that is needed for a basic, un-customized application? Yes that is all the UI code needed (there is still authentication which is handled separately via Layer’s WebSDK).

Ultimately, more code will always be added:

  • Do you want a dialog to show a list of users to create a new conversation?
  • Do you want to support custom message types?
  • Do you want to allow for deletion of messages or conversations?
  • Do you want to modify messages before they are sent?

As you depart from the plainest possible application and head toward customizing an experience, more coding will be needed. But configurability is core to our UI philosophy. Relatively small amounts of code are typically needed to customize behaviors.

Configurability

A message list is just the beginning of your messaging experience. Being able to send textual messages back and forth provides you with a basic shippable product. But interactive content is where your app stops feeling like an SMS integration and starts feeling like a rich, interactive conversation between participants.

Being able to render content like credit card forms, purchase approvals, work orders, shopping cards, and other resources in the messaging list will help you shape your UX to fit your business needs beyond plain text.

Using any Web Component framework you like, you can implement a message handler capable of rendering the custom resources your application needs. This functionality, available across the Layer platform, allows for the creation of arbitrarily rich, interactive message elements. Examples below will include some basic utilities Layer UI uses to define its own Web Components, but this is not a constraint on your own implementation.

The first step is to tell Layer UI how to handle a custom/credit-card message:

layerUI.registerMessageHandler({  
  tagName: 'custom-credit-card-form',
  label: 'Credit Card Form received',
  handlesMessage: function(message) {
    return message.parts[0].mimeType === 'custom/credit-card';
  }
});

This code includes:

  • tagName: Identifies the DOM node that will be generated to render this message. The example above tells Layer UI to generate a <custom-credit-card-form />.
  • handlesMessage: Tests against each Message to determine if the specified tagName should be generated for this Message.

The second step is to build a Web Components custom-credit-card-form:


var MessageHandler = layerUI.mixins.MessageHandler;  
layerUI.registerComponent('custom-credit-card-form', {  
  mixins: [MessageHandler],
  template: `<form><fieldset>
    <legend>Enter Credit Card</legend>
    <div><label>Card Number</label><input type="text" /></div>
    <div><label>Expiration Date</label><input type="date" /></div>
    <input type='submit'>Setup Payment</input>
  </fieldset></form>`,
  methods: {
    onCreate: function() {          
        this.querySelector('form').addEventListener('submit',
            this.validateAndSendCardInfo.bind(this));
    },
    validateAndSendCardInfo: function() {
       // custom code for validating the card and sending it to your server
    }
  }
});

On filling out the credit card form and hitting send, the card information can be sent to your server securely, and then your card could then send a message to other participants indicating that payment was received.

More Customizability

Our documentation is full of examples for how to customize a variety of aspects of your application.

  • Defining new message handlers
  • Changing the layout and template of a message item in the message list
  • Adding, enhancing, and replacing behaviors of widgets using Mixins
  • Changing default behaviors such as what happens when the user hits the SEND button after typing a message
  • Replacing widgets such as the avatar widgets with your own widget definitions

These are all written up in more detail in the Layer UI Customization Documentation.

What’s Next?

How BOOK A TIGER Uses Messaging to Build Trust Between Customers and Cleaners

How BOOK A TIGER Uses Layer Messaging

BOOK A TIGER is a Berlin-based company that provides on-demand cleaning services for both residential and business customers. Founded in 2014, BOOK A TIGER has grown quickly and raised $21.5 million in venture capital in February 2017.

On the consumer side, BOOK A TIGER’s ability to build trust between cleaners and the customers who are inviting them into their homes is critical. BOOK A TIGER’s digital booking platform must facilitate frictionless coordination and strike a balance between intimate and professional conversation.

However, BOOK A TIGER CTO, Matias Bonet, says that “even though we are considered a tech company, the real value for our customers is the quality of our cleaning, regardless of the fancy technology tools around it.”

Rather than getting bogged down building out a powerful communication infrastructure for its platform, BOOK A TIGER turned to Layer to power its customer conversations.

How Overnight Uses Messaging to Engage with Guests Quickly     How Overnight Uses Messaging to Engage with Guests Quickly

The Problem: No Time to Build World-Class Communication

“Especially in B2C, customers have to trust the people coming to clean their homes. They open their doors and they want to see the same person every week, 2 weeks, or month,” said Matias. “If the cleaning team has to change, they want to see that once a year—not on every visit. So that’s one of the basic promises to our customers. You build a relationship between the customer and cleaner that leads to trust and flexibility in scheduling.”

But fulfilling this promise is easier said than done—especially when you have to pitch a proof of concept to stakeholders on short notice.

BOOK A TIGER only had a couple of days to come up with a proof of concept for its digital booking platform and prove that it could facilitate trust and communication in the cleaner/customer relationship.

According to Matias, “We spent the first 2 hours searching for different providers and evaluating different approaches to integrate all of our existing systems with this new functionality. We decided on messaging functionality where cleaners and customers can communicate with each other without having BOOK A TIGER getting in the way—something integrated in mobile that also worked in a web app.”

After looking down a few other paths, Matias at the BOOK A TIGER team decided to contact Layer.

The Solution: Simple Integration and Fast Proof of Concept with Layer

BOOK A TIGER found out first-hand that it doesn’t have to take long to create a working proof of concept for world-class, branded messaging.

“Before working with Layer, we were doing these conversations over email and SMS,” said Matias. “But over the course of the 18-hour proof of concept project, we discovered our roadmap for implementing messaging from cleaner and customer perspectives. With our Layer proof of concept, we closed our deal with stakeholders, get approval to finish the project, and in the end, it was about 4 days of work.”

While the initial proof of concept was just a skeleton, the feature has seen robust adoption in production across their consumer segment. BOOK A TIGER users have even organically discovered a use for location sharing within their conversations (included with Layer UI) in the coordination of picking up cleaners from awkwardly designed neighborhoods and gated communities.

“We’ve found that sometimes cleaners are late because they can’t find the right customer address,” said Matias. “With the rich location-sharing feature through Layer, we now have customers offering to pick their cleaners up to get them to the right location.”

The BOOK A TIGER story shows that any company can foster mobile customer conversations that drive lasting business value, and that they can do so in a customer experience that they control end-to-end.

If you want to learn more about how BOOK A TIGER got to market so quickly with its messaging strategy, contact us today for a free demo of the Layer customer conversation platform.

5 Key Takeaways from FinovateSpring 2017

Zoom on FinovateSpring 2017

FinovateSpring 2017 wasn’t like most conferences. With just two days to deliver value to the 1,200+ attendees from nearly 100 finance, insurance, consulting, and technology businesses, you might expect a jam-packed schedule of panel discussions and keynote presentations.

But Finovate takes a different approach. Instead, FinovateSpring gave 59 companies a chance to present their innovative new products for 7 minutes each—no sales pitches, just a demo of your product’s relevance. The pressure of digital transformation is weighing heavy on the financial services industry and FinovateSpring gave business leaders a chance to assess strategic business solutions.

After listening to all of the presentations (and getting feedback on our own Layer demo), I learned there are 5 pain points that financial services firms are focusing on.

The 5 Pain Points Pushing Financial Services to Go Digital

The root of digital transformation problems for large financial services firms is the need to rethink customer conversations. Attacking specific points of friction in customer conversations can lead to easy wins for companies that have struggled to keep pace with digital competition.

I spoke with many different financial services stakeholders and the following 5 pain points kept coming up in conversation:

  1. Consumer expectations have already changed, meaning customer conversations need to transform right now in 2017.
  2. Depending on phone and email to connect with customers isn’t working.
  3. Desktop-based sign-up forms don’t sell loans or credit cards effectively.
  4. Consumers are only using existing digital experiences to check balances—but they want advice and expertise in these channels.
  5. Customers have multiple entry points and points of contact within the organization but can’t centralize their conversations.

These problems are much bigger than any specific point in the buyer’s journey. They require complete business solutions rather than a tech tool that solves just one point of friction or applies to one use case. That was our focus for the Layer demo.

How Layer Fits into Digital Transformation for Financial Services

We know that the flexibility of the Layer platform can help companies think of very diverse sets of use cases and eliminate friction throughout the whole buyer’s journey. In the 7-minute presentation, it was important to convey that messaging isn’t just another feature for digital transformation — it’s a way to unify conversations and remove silos around existing communication channels and people within an organization.

Layer Loan Onboarding Example from Ivy Montgomery on Vimeo.

After our presentation, these were the aspects of Layer that seemed to resonate most with the audience:

  • Connecting with High-Value Clients: It’s hard to get ahold of high-value clients that are always on the move. Our team ran through a mock conversation between a financial advisor and a client to show how messaging technology can reach customers conveniently.
  • Support for Multiple Channels: You can’t transform customer conversations if you don’t support multiple channels. We showcased how financial advisors can start a conversation via SMS and move that conversation to a mobile browser environment seamlessly.
  • Ability to Provide Real Financial Advice via Mobile: With Layer messaging, financial services firms can use rich media cards to efficiently review portfolio performance, help select a charity to donate to, schedule follow-up calls, establish post-call action items, and more.
  • Messaging Is More than Just Text-Based Communication: Individual features of the platform are important, but what really resonated was our focus on eliminating email/phone silos, our ability to support next-gen cognitive technology, and the ability to integrate with backend systems like SFDC and Zendesk—all within a central messaging environment.

We’re excited about the potential for Layer to help financial services firms reach their digital transformation goals by redefining customer conversations. If you want to learn more about what we can do for the financial services industry, contact us today for a free demo of the platform.

Looking Back on the 2017 EyeforTravel San Francisco Summit

2017 EyeforTravel San Francisco Summit

The theme for this year’s EyeforTravel San Francisco Summit was the Digital Big Bang—the need for the travel industry to adapt and keep pace with new digital competitors. Put simply, hotels need to find ways to compete with Airbnb and airlines can’t let OTAs take over.

We had the privilege of taking part in this year’s Start-Up Awards and talking about how messaging can help transform digital travel experiences. But we learned a lot from our two days at the event.

Here are a few things we learned from the 2017 EyeforTravel San Francisco Summit.

Mobile Is the Travel Industry’s New Destination

Desktop won’t disappear anytime soon, but the big focus at this year’s event was mobile. We talk a lot about the importance of embracing mobile because it’s where consumers are most comfortable.

There were a few key points about mobile that travel industry experts used throughout the event to drive home the growing importance of mobile:

  • Mobile is the hub of the traveler’s journey—from dreaming to planning, booking, experiencing, sharing, and more.
  • 60% of searches for travel destinations are on mobile
  • 94% of leisure travelers switch between multiple devices when they plan and book their trips
  • 85% of travelers decide on activities after arriving at their destinations—they need travel-related info at their fingertips even during their trips.

The overwhelming desire for a mobile travel experience is what makes companies like Airbnb so successful. However, it was great to see how a travel industry veteran like Hilton is adapting to mobile demands.

Lessons Learned from the Hilton Honors App

The Hilton Honors App has become one of the highest-rated travel apps, making it a hot topic at the EyeforTravel event. With the help of real-time chat, the app allows Hilton team members to complement a guest’s check-in experience and personalize the overall travel experience—all from a single mobile channel that provides multiple digital tools.

We learned that Hilton has a three-step mindset that has resulted in the app’s success and the company’s transformation:

  • Step 1: Create an integrated IT infrastructure across the entire organization
  • Step 2: Break down silos that result in friction in service delivery and customer communication
  • Step 3: Collaborate with partners to provide a differentiated digital travel experience

For traditional travel companies to get ahead of the Digital Big Bang, they have to replicate Hilton’s success in a way that reflects their own brands.

3 Ways Layer Can Help Travel Companies Own the Digital Big Bang

Spending time at the EyeforTravel event gives you first-hand insight into what traditional companies need help with in the wake of digital transformation. For companies looking to fulfill Step 3 of the Hilton mindset, here are a few ways Layer can help offer a powerful, branded mobile experience:

  • Data-driven Personalization: Attendees overwhelmingly claimed this was the most important component of their digital success. With Layer, each customer conversation contains an event stream of data that helps continually personalize the travel experience.
  • Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence: This was the EyeforTravel topic attendees were most excited about—but implementing them into a digital travel experience isn’t always easy. Layer has the flexible framework to incorporate AI and maximize the potential of data gathered from customer conversations.
  • Branded Mobile Messaging: Chatbots are one thing, but the key to Hilton’s success has been real-time chat. Layer has the AI and machine learning tech necessary to understand traveler intent and can automate recommendations—but the real value comes from personal 1:1 conversations that conform to individual brands.

By 2020, the travel industry expects to reach $564 billion. However, the traditional market landscape will continue to be displaced by digital newcomers if incumbents don’t adapt.

If you want to learn more about how Layer can help you get to market quickly with a branded messaging experience that can win the Digital Big Bang, contact us today for a free demo of the customer conversation platform.

World-Class Messaging in Minutes

Guide to World-Class Messaging

We know that messaging increases customer engagement and improves conversion. No matter what industry you’re in, a 1:1 customer conversation strategy can lead to business success. However, creating your own branded messaging experience might sound easier said than done.

But did you know you can achieve world-class messaging in just a few minutes? It’s possible when you build on top of the Layer platform.

3 Components of Layer that Streamline Messaging Go-to-Market

Our goal at Layer is to enable you to build your own world-class messaging experience with minimal effort by using our customer conversation platform. To help, we’ve designed a new workflow in our dashboard that allows anyone (including non-engineers) to get started on Layer.

There are three main components in this workflow—an identity provider, sample apps, and a web wizard.

Rather than forcing you to register with Layer itself, the platform offers a simple identity provider. This eliminates the typical engineering hurdle platforms require when you have to migrate existing users or integrate your user management system. We’ve developed a simple 1-click deploy to Heroku that allows anyone to start experimenting with messaging through Layer quickly.

After you’ve had the chance to experience Layer, you can integrate your actual user management system for full-scale production deployment.

This streamlined access is also useful for existing applications that have already been built on Layer. By downloading the sample apps that are available for iOS, Android, and web, you can integrate your user management system and compare application behavior with Layer’s best practices. Validating against the best practices can help ensure you’re releasing an optimal messaging experience.

All of these processes can be completed through the web wizard available in the Layer dashboard. It guides you through the whole process of setting up your branded messaging experience.

This 3-phase workflow can be completed in just a few minutes and help you get well on your way to releasing your own customer conversation channel.

Want to see how it works in real time? Check out the quick 3-minute demo below.

by Amar Srinivasan

Sending Your First Layer Message from Ivy Montgomery on Vimeo.

FinovateSpring 2017: Bringing Financial Services Out of the Stone Age

Bringing Financial Services Out of the Stone Age

The financial services industry is one of the most heavily affected by digital transformation. With such strict regulatory and security standards to adhere to, it’s no surprise that going digital has been a challenge.

But just because digital transformation is difficult doesn’t mean banks and other financial institutions can sit idly.

Since 2007, Finovate has been hosting its series of events to keep financial services firms on top of the latest technology. This year, we’re joining the effort with our own presentation about how the finance industry can create mobile, personalized, interactive, and at-the-moment customer experiences.

If you couldn’t make it to FinovateSpring this year, you can still learn about getting ahead of digital transformation demands with a messaging experience built to delight customers.

A Fork in the Road for Financial Services

Maintaining the status quo might seem like the safe approach for any incumbent bank or financial services firm—but even the most established brands must resist this urge.

If there’s one thing to take away from FinovateSpring, it’s that new technology like person-to-person lending, blockchain, mobile, and more aren’t fads—they’re becoming the new norm.

Research from McKinsey & Company found that the next 3 to 5 years will represent a fork in the road for incumbent financial services companies looking at digital transformation.

Taking the “wait and see” approach to digital customer experiences will open incumbents up to see 35% of their net profits erode. Whether these profits are lost to competitor innovation, margin compression, or increased operational risk, it’s unlikely anyone would see this as the ideal path.

Banks and financial services firms that embrace can boost inflow revenue by 45%. Three major opportunities when digitizing include:

  • Increasing revenue with new offers and business models native to mobile and other digital channels
  • Offering new products and creating distinct digital sales processes that use data to cross-sell
  • Leveraging automation and transaction migration to lower operational costs and increase margins

One reason incumbent banks have been hesitant with digital technology is this perception that only millennials are resisting traditional channels. However, more than 50% of Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers prefer digital channels for multiple phases of the loan process.

FinovateSpring 2017: Bringing Financial Services Out of the Stone Age

When you root your digital transformation efforts in mobile messaging, you can take advantage of these digital transformation opportunities and drive loyalty with valuable customer conversations.

Messaging—The New Digital Focal Point for Financial Communication

Consumer communication has evolved far beyond how conversations work in traditional financial services. Face-to-face communication is great—but it’s like living in the Stone Age at this point.

Phone calls and emails have their place as well, but messaging is the preferred channel for modern communication (even with businesses).

With a branded messaging experience, you can have frictionless conversations with customers (and prospects) throughout the entire buying process:

  • Digital loan and account application with a mix of chatbots and human interaction when necessary.
  • Allow customers to make policy modifications and claims reports without dealing with the traditional headaches.
  • Provide push notifications and immediate messages regarding fraud detection so customers are always informed.

Building a digital customer experience that drives business requires differentiation, personalization, and a mobile-first mentality. Building your own messaging is the best way to accomplish all three.

Branded Messaging Is More Accessible Than You Think

Time is of the essence when it comes to digital transformation. Every month that passes is a new opportunity for your competitors and emerging digital natives to claim more market share.

It’s one thing to talk about releasing a core messaging experience and quite another to actually build one—but that’s why we presented at FinovateSpring this year.


         

With the Layer customer conversation platform, you can cut out the months of infrastructure development that seem so daunting when starting down the digital transformation path. Build your user interface on top of a platform tailored for the financial services industry (and all of its compliance challenges) and start taking advantage of digital customer conversations in days.

If you want to learn more about how a branded messaging experience can help you succeed with digital transformation, contact us today for a free demo of the Layer platform.

Have an EyeforTravel? How Messaging Creates an Edge in the Travel Industry

How Messaging Creates an Edge in the Travel Industry

The travel industry is poised for booming gains in the coming years as the millennial market continues to mature. Millennials already make up about 20% of all international travel. Moving forward, this new experience generation will prove to be an ever-growing cash cow for airlines and hotel chains.

But there’s a catch. Owning the revenue potential of the growing market will require more than just travel experiences—a mobile-native customer experience is now table stakes in the industry.

Traditional airlines and hotels might feel like they’re at a natural disadvantage against emerging (and established) online travel agencies, but they don’t have to be.

The 9th annual EyeforTravel San Francisco Summit will give industry leaders an opportunity to see how they can gain a competitive edge in the digital travel world—and we’ll be competing in the Start-Up Awards with an explanation about how mobile messaging can help you own the revenue potential of the experience generation.

It’s Not Too Late to Transform the Travel Industry

Online travel agencies are disrupting your business, leaving you with two choices. You can either watch as these companies leverage mobile technology to take more of the travel market, or you can close the tech gap and create a differentiated customer experience that makes you the premier option for consumers.

It may seem as if OTAs have already mastered the art of generating revenue through ancillary services, but there’s still time for traditional airlines and hotel chains to step in and regain control. Terry Jones, former CIO of American Airlines, CEO of Travelocity, and CEO of Wayblazer, once said:

“Kayak has 50 million users of our travel app, but most don’t use it during the trip. TripIt and TripCase have millions of users who get itineraries, use them during the trip, but don’t have much utility beyond the itinerary. Yelp and TripAdvisor are used during the trip, and at least TripAdvisor will get you to buy a few things along the way. Expedia is pushing hard on tours. But I would posit that no one yet really owns the travel edge.”

It may seem to transform into a travel company that can own the customer in the face of modularization by OTAs. However, a solid mobile strategy with messaging at the core can give you a direct line of frictionless communication for booking, support, and loyalty that will help you thrive against digital disruptors.

4 Ways Messaging Can Help You Own the Digital Travel Customer

It’s not enough to just dip your toes in the digital waters with something like a chatbot. You have to dive headfirst into the mobile deep end if you want to capitalize on the revenue potential of the experience generation.

When you implement a mobile-native messaging strategy, you can:

  • Cater to Millennials with Personalization: Consumers are coming to an expect an Uber-like experience in all aspects of digital. With a centralized messaging experience, you can offer booking and service experiences personalized to specific customers because you can engage in 1:1 conversations with them. Chatbots will help you scale—but the real differentiation lies in human interaction.
  • Overcome Challenges of the Sharing Economy: The rise of sharing-economy companies like Airbnb doesn’t have to be as daunting as it seems. Getting to market quickly with a branded messaging experience can help you bridge the tech gap so you can offer customer experiences that can compete in the sharing economy.
  • Create Upsell Opportunities: Expanding RevPAR and RASM are top priorities for hotels and airlines, respectively. How can you start making money by selling things other than flights and rooms? Engaging in 1:1 conversations with customers gives you upsell opportunities in a way that isn’t disruptive. OTAs are selling ancillary services and you can, too.
  • Drive Loyalty with Mobile Booking: Owning 100% of customer conversation data means you can create seamless experiences for repeat customers. If you provide a differentiated experience that caters to specific customer needs, they won’t have any reason to leave for OTAs.

These are just a few of the benefits of messaging that we’ll be talking about at this year’s EyeforTravel Start-Up Awards at the San Francisco Summit.

Mobile is already changing consumer behavior and messaging gives you a way to facilitate new business models that will help you improve your footing in the evolving travel market. If you want to learn more about how you can create a branded messaging experience that competes against OTAs, contact us today for a free demo of the Layer customer conversation platform.