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Voyage CEO Rev Reddy Talks SMS Human-in-the-Loop (HTL) On Office Hours with David Meltzer
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Voyage CEO Rev Reddy Talks SMS Human-in-the-Loop (HTL) On Office Hours with David Meltzer

In the latest episode of Office Hours with David Meltzer, Voyage SMS CEO Rev Reddy spoke with Meltzer and co-host Mike Diamond about the personal touch Voyage is bringing to customer journeys.

March 9, 2022

Trends shaping human-centric SMS customer experiences leading eCommerce brands are adopting.

In the latest episode of Office Hours with David Meltzer, Voyage SMS CEO Rev Reddy spoke with Meltzer and co-host Mike Diamond (not the Beastie Boy) about the personal touch Voyage is bringing to customer journeys. 

Coming off of Voyage’s recent funding and acquisition announcement of LiveRecover, the conversation messaging platform, Rev discussed with the hosts how the pandemic has driven SMS industry growth, and how customer retention is being positively impacted by SMS programs adopting a human-centric element.

The Pandemic Ripple Effect on SMS

When we think of the pandemic, social distancing and remote lifestyles are top of mind. The digital engagement driven by this forced separation has led brands to focus on making their digital experiences as personalized as possible. SMS being the most personal form of digital marketing channels, short of video chats and phone calls, has seen increased demand due to this pandemic ripple effect. 

“COVID in general, as we know, compressed eCommerce effectively three years into three months,” Reddy said. “That’s what we saw with the market. We saw a huge demand for SMS marketing automation technology,” Rev shared.

With this increased adoption of SMS into brand digital channels, many brands default to automating every interaction. Although automation has its place in helping brands engage with their customers at scale, there’s a balance needed to craft a truly personalized experience, and that’s adding humanity into SMS interactions.

“What we’ve seen with the dramatic shift in customer behavior is consumers spending time on their mobile devices. This includes browsing and shopping. What we’ve seen success with is a lot of these automations and the scalable technology that allows a brand to reach out to these customers through SMS. What’s been lacking though is this human element,” Rev explained.

Putting Human Interactions into the SMS Loop

As we all remember, in pre-internet days people would shop at stores where they’d get help from real live customer service members in person. They’d help you browse, inform you about your purchase, and answer any questions you may have. Voyage is empowering brands to make their SMS customer experience have this personalized element by injecting human interaction into its SMS operations. 

Voyage takes SMS personalization a step further with human-in-the-loop (HTL). The addition of actual human interaction improves customer experience, creating brand loyalty.

“We are transporting that same experience into the digital environment,” Rev said. “By having both in combination with each other you create this holistic experience and that’s where we see the next five years of opportunity.”

Receiving personalized recommendations and connecting with a live agent in real-time to ask questions and solve problems is bringing the personalized level of service back into SMS marketing. 

“I think by adding the human you’re driving not only the revenue that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to recover, but you’re converting one-time customers into repeat customers. I would say 25 percent of the time (customers) are almost skeptical they’re talking to a human. When you can prove it, the brand affinity that you develop is just so strong,” Rev shared.

💡 Related Article: When and How to Use Human-Powered SMS Conversations

How the Human Approach to SMS is Accelerating CLTV

Voyage is helping brands navigate customer journey interactions and finding the balance between automated and human-in-the-loop (HTL) SMS campaigns. Parts of the customer journey benefit most from human interaction. Giving reassurance from an actual person can pay big dividends.

“Abandoned cart was the first use case where we saw success with human-in-the-loop. You know someone is interested in your product. They may have some hesitation, or they simply forgot. Having that human be able to offer answers is just incredibly effective,” Rev explained.

It also helps build a good rapport with the customer, which is invaluable with today’s consumers. With the cost of customer acquisition on the rise and people becoming more concerned about their personal information in cases like the Apple IDFA challenge, that relationship is the difference.

“The CLTV (customer lifetime value) side has never been more important. When you can prove that revenue over time, not the one-month period but over six months, you will see a repeat in your customers, you will see an increase in CLTV,” said Rev.

How does SMS pivot back into the conversation?

The best thing about SMS is that it’s synchronous and happens in real-time. The actions are immediate. There is no waiting, something today’s mobile consumers hate to do.

It might get complicated on the back end when a decision needs to be made where to route the customer. But that shouldn’t impact the customer, and the personal simplicity of SMS is what they’re looking for in certain cases.

“The value is in this experience on your mobile device, in this universal channel, this universal app,” Reddy said. “Being able to get answers to your customer service questions, being able to get routed to someone on the phone. Whether our technology is handling that natively is irrelevant to the customer. That’s all the sophistication on the back end to enable this holistic unique experience to route them in the right direction.”
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