Q&A: Ben Nimmo, Co-founder and CTO, Orlo

Q&A: Ben Nimmo, Co-founder and CTO, Orlo

RTIH: Tell us about Orlo

BN: Orlo is a complete online conversation ecosystem that enables brands to create powerful customer experiences and harness emotional connections. Hundreds of leading global organisations and thousands of users, such as Ocado, Mercedes-Benz Retail, Iceland Foods, Laura Ashley, Hamleys Toys and JoJo Maman Bébé, trust us to effortlessly inspire their customers online.

We empower brands to move seamlessly across multiple online channels and conversations - just like consumers do. A single ecosystem comprising social media management, web chat and CRM integration allows brands to create a unified customer view and powerful digital engagement.

Advanced, customisable automation within the customer service module allows brands to automate low value, repetitive tasks, creating resource to focus on more complex enquiries and achieving the perfect balance between ruthless efficiency and meaningful human engagement.

How to get customer service to work more effectively with marketing has been a problem for many years. Orlo also comprises comprehensive marketing and PR modules. Marketing teams use it to manage all organic and paid social media campaigns, ensuring the right message appears in a customer’s feed at the perfect moment - particularly important for important content as organic reach is now down to single figures. We act as the conduit between customer service and marketing, delivering visibility, collaboration and eliminating PR mistakes.

Completing the ecosystem is a full suite of customisable analytics. A customer engagement report allows customer service departments to track and improve key metrics around response times, sentiment, inbound volumes and peak engagement times. A marketing report informs teams of their best-performing content, optimum times to post and followers, reach and engagement. Finally, website analytics deliver complete attribution of e-commerce sales, web traffic and form completions back to individual posts or campaigns.

RTIH: What was the inspiration behind setting the company up?

BN: It’s now firmly accepted that emotion drives behaviour, summarised perfectly by Maya Angelou when she said “people don’t always remember what you said or even what you did, but they always remember how you made them feel”. 

Harvard Business Review 2018 found that 95% of purchase-making decisions are driven subconsciously by emotion. Similarly, the Forrester Customer Experience Index 2018 identified “emotion” as a key pillar of customer service and sales, and that when customers feel valued and appreciated, 87% become advocates and 74% remain with the brand.

So, if brands want to be there instantly, effectively and meaningfully when their customers need them most, they can create amazing online experiences and inspire positive emotions, influencing behaviour at scale. Those behaviours might be to turn your social media followers and website visitors into customers, to turn your most satisfied customers into your biggest advocates, or to encourage those that matter to see online as the best way to speak to you.

"Digital economies have reset the balance of power between brand and consumer. Barriers to switching allegiance are almost non-existent, all it takes is one bad customer service interaction and a customer will switch to a competitor"

RTIH: What has been the industry reaction thus far?

BN: Industry reaction has been phenomenal, with Orlo already being used by leading global retailers such as Ocado, who said: “Finding a product which could be changed and updated easily was important to us. Customer needs are constantly evolving and Orlo allows us the flexibility to change with our customers. They stood out to us as they work with us and allow us help develop the product roadmap for their new features. Their integrated platform creates efficiencies between our social media and webchat teams, whilst also allowing our customer service teams more flexibility. This increased efficiency allows us to respond to customers more quickly than ever before. The efficiencies created within our customer service team by using Orlo mean our customers see quicker response times and, as a key element of customer satisfaction, this is a real benefit for Ocado shoppers.” (Ian Pattle, General Manager Service Delivery and Strategy).

Gartner has recently reported the emergence of a new area of customer care that might be referred to as "digital customer service". In this area is a set of vendors that focus on digital engagement through web chat, chatbots, messaging, and outbound alert (or push notifications) and social media engagement. This is where Orlo sits, but with the additional USP’s of integrating all of these channels and functionalities into a single solution. Complete organic and paid social media marketing, media monitoring and a full suite of analytics make it an enterprise-wide solution.

With so many forward-thinking retailers already choosing to partner with us, coupled with Orlo sitting in the exciting, emerging space of digital customer engagement vendors, there has been significant press interest, with many CX, marketing and retail people now requesting information.

RTIH: What has been your biggest challenge/setback?

BN: Previous to the Orlo launch on 5th December, the company was known as SocialSignIn and had been operating for six years, helping hundreds of organisations across the UK, Europe and North America to manage social customer service and marketing. So one of the biggest challenges was communicating the reasons for the rebrand to the existing customer base of thousands of users.

One of the core values of SocialSignIn had always been to work in close partnership with its customers, using user groups and feedback sessions to inform the product roadmap. This ensured that any new products would always add value and stay closely aligned to changing user needs and the behaviours of their own customers. One of the key requirements for brands going forward is to be able to join up digital channels and remove data silos, this helped to drive the rebrand to Orlo.

By using customer feedback to help inform the product roadmap, SocialSignIn ensured its evolution and rebrand to Orlo, and the new solutions launched (web chat and paid social advertising), could be communicated in a way that resonated with the customer base. Many of our existing customers are now replacing their existing web chat suppliers with Orlo’s, providing a holistic approach to digital customer engagement and internal flexibility and efficiency for brands. The company can now grow and evolve with a brand as their digital presence and ambition grows.

RTIH: What are the biggest challenges facing the omnichannel retail sector right now?

BN: Long-standing challenges around rising customer demands/volumes, and reducing brand budgets, still persist. Digital economies have reset the balance of power between brand and consumer. Barriers to switching allegiance are almost non-existent, all it takes is one bad customer service interaction and a customer will switch to a competitor. 

This places a real emphasis on CX as a key battleground, with personalisation, response times and effective resolutions being key strategies. Due to this, one of the most interesting new challenges for brands is how to achieve a single customer view.

At the aforementioned launch event, many of the speakers, including Ocado, Virgin Trains and Microsoft, spoke about how CRM integration projects which create a unified customer view are now a high priority for many leading organisations.

This is the reason why CRM integration is one of the solutions within our ecosystem that is attracting so much interest with leading retailers. Using this functionality, CRM records can be linked to social media profiles or a web chat login, so that when a customer service agent is speaking to a consumer, they can have a pull through and display within Orlo a complete view of that consumers previous interactions from across any company touchpoint - delivering faster and more effective resolutions. Social media or web chat data can also be pushed back into a CRM database, so that agents on telephone or email channels also have a complete view from across digital channels.

Solutions such as this enable brands to deliver greater levels of personalisation, faster resolutions and frictionless interactions, efficient interactions for both brand and consumer.

"It’s now firmly accepted that emotion drives behaviour, summarised perfectly by Maya Angelou when she said, people don’t always remember what you said or even what you did, but they always remember how you made them feel"

RTIH: What's the best question about your company or the market asked of you recently by a.) an investor and b.) a customer?

BN: We are being asked more and more to integrate with diverse online websites such as TripAdvisor, Glassdoor or Google Reviews, highlighting further the shift by brands towards wanting to manage multiple online touchpoints from within a single management ecosystem.

We are also repeatedly asked to add channels such as WhatsApp or SMS as brands look to consolidate communications, due to the tangible benefits to both brand and consumer and creating event further seamless transitions between multiple conversations and channels. This also enables brands to deliver a consistent customer experience and branding across all of its touchpoints.

RTIH: What can we expect to see from Orlo over the next 12 months?

BN: We have been investing heavily in AI and conversation chatbots during 2018 and will be bringing some powerful new solutions to market in 2019. Using AI to compose responses to FAQ’s across social media and web chat, ready for an agent to approve or edit is one big new time-saving innovation.

A conversational chatbot will let a consumer use their dialpad to self-serve for simple transaction enquiries such as checking a balance or the status of a delivery. AI will also be used to produce social media insights, including anomaly detection for PR or crisis scenarios, entity extraction to highlight geographic or brand mentions from plain text, and emotion detection around marketing campaigns or customer service.

Orlo is integrating with IBM Watson to deliver a seamless handoff from Facebook’s chatbot to a customer service agent for a large brand based in Spain. We are also developing blockchain technology that allows the exporting of social media conversations so that they can’t be tampered with, delivering new levels of governance and auditability.

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