Today, I am excited to announce Gladly Sidekick, our new AI and automation platform that enables personalized self-service. It’s designed to work hand-in-hand with Gladly Hero, our people-centered platform for delivering personalized agent-assisted customer service.
We’re introducing Gladly Sidekick as a result of our acquisition of Thankful, a generative AI and automation solution for customer self-service. Gladly and Thankful have been partners since 2020, powering personalized service at scale across our shared customers – some of the world’s most-loved brands like Bombas, Breeze Airways, Crate & Barrel, JOANN and MaryRuth Organics.
We decided to acquire Thankful and their world-class team to accelerate the work we’ve been doing to bring AI and automation into the foreground for customer service teams. I talked about this at our annual CX conference, Gladly Connect Live 2023, and it’s so important to reiterate — the age of AI is officially here. It’s fundamentally changing how we create, communicate, and work. And it’s especially going to change how companies provide customer service.
The acceleration of AI is happening at a time when companies are working hard to do a lot more with a lot less, while continuing to scale personalized service to ensure their customers are wildly loyal.
On the surface and from the headlines, AI seems like a quick fix and easy solution to scale customer service — just roll out a ChatGPT bot and all problems will be solved.
But we all know the reality is AI lacking a deep customer focus leaves customers feeling “deflected” instead of engaged and cared for. When applied without a foundation of understanding of the unique needs, voice, and content of a brand, AI will only frustrate customers and turn them away. You can’t deliver customer service that hallucinates.
At Gladly, we believe that to truly build customer loyalty, customer service must be both people-centered and AI-powered in order to scale. We already know from our 2023 Hero Experience Report that the top motivator across customer service teams is to engage more deeply with customers, and this is what we want to empower our own customers to do — deliver an experience that’s radically personal.
‘Radically personal’ is not a slogan, or an empty turn of phrase. It’s a movement and mindset that puts the customer at the center of everything a company does. We’ve put genuine human experience at the heart of our business, because great customer service is about people. And we know the potential for radically personal customer service lies within every single company.
To scale a radically personal experience, brands need to apply AI with a deep customer focus. Our mission at Gladly is to make this possible, and we’re doubling down on this mission with our investments in generative AI, the acquisition of Thankful, and our announcement of Gladly Sidekick.
Gladly Sidekick is a generative AI and no-code automation platform dedicated to providing scaled and personalized customer self-service, through what we call Self Service Threads. We’ve all seen the power of generative AI to answer questions, and Gladly Sidekick helps deliver conversational responses. But that’s just the start.
We go beyond answering the most common customer service questions, to actually executing a transaction such as managing a return, processing an exchange, changing a flight, and much more. It’s about both answering questions and uniquely automating a transaction — all in a personalized way that’s smooth for consumers and makes them feel great about the experience. It’s about resolving, not just responding. Here are some examples of how this plays out in real life. Crate & Barrel uses Gladly Sidekick to streamline routine requests like returns or exchanges, and matching customers to customer service heroes based on the live context.
Bombas reduces the load on their Customer Happiness Team, enabling customers to self-service basic tasks and questions. And, with Sidekick decreasing the back-and-forth between customers and agents, they’ve been able to get customers back to their lives and back in their comfy socks. JOANN has also seen impressive efficiency – they handled a 25% increase in holiday conversations without needing to expand their team.
Of course, we’re also leveraging AI for the customer service agents themselves, to turn them into customer service superheroes. With our people-centered customer service platform — Gladly Hero — and Hero AI, we’re helping companies deliver personalized experiences that include everything from suggesting answers to summarizing customer conversations to improving the editing and writing of responses, all at scale.
That’s now two product offerings focused on using AI and automation to help brands scale how they deliver radically personal customer service.
The most exciting piece for me about this news is that our customers don’t have to wait to realize this future; the future is here. We’ve already seen success across our shared customers and are now expanding that value to current and future customers.
We call this future the “Loyalty Economy” — a world where brands navigate the tension between saving money with AI while still delivering world-class experiences for consumers. It’s a state where…
Customers can easily help themselves. With AI and automation, routine service questions and tasks are automated. For example, when a customer needs help with a replacement item damaged in shipment, AI and automation lead the process with no human support needed.
Companies control the experience. While automated, you still control the experience. It’s not an AI black box where a disconnected chatbot hallucinates a made-up answer. It’s based on your customer information, your customer’s conversation history, your customer service answers, and your company’s overall customer experience playbook.
Customer service teams are productive. With a rich history of past conversations and AI, your team does its job better. Customer service teams show they know each customer. Real-time insight summarizes the conversation when they join, and important customer information surfaces to empower the team. AI helps them author responses based on your brand.
Self-service and assisted service is a unified experience. When you unify the entire experience, there’s no distinction between talking to a person, customers helping themselves, or conversations with AI. Customers are treated holistically and never have to repeat and recap what happened during an automation or in another conversation.
It makes a lot of ‘cents.’ When done right, this unique combination delivers a more personalized experience and dramatically lowers costs. Great experiences create loyal customers. And loyal customers create repeatable revenue from higher average order values, increased purchase frequency, and resistance to competitive pressure. Loyalty transforms customers into brand advocates, who refer other customers and lower your acquisition costs. And with more self-service and automation, customers can help themselves more which dramatically lowers long-term costs.
We’ve all been there with the endless chatbot cycle, left frustrated and just wanting to talk with a human being. Brands can’t rely on AI without the proper controls on the experience with such a small margin of error; they can’t take the risk of losing loyal customers. Loyal customers are the ones with higher order sizes, who buy more frequently, resist competitor offers, and refer others. Loyal customers drive the business.
Together with Gladly Hero and Gladly Sidekick, we have an opportunity to set a new standard for what customer service can be. AI and people, in sync, delivering radically personal customer service at scale to build a loyal customer following. I look forward to sharing more about what we’re doing this year and getting Radically Personal with our amazing brands as they enter the era of AI. Exciting things to come!
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