Slack creative chief touts humanity over AI when it comes to CX

Words bring it all together, says creative director of the business and collaboration tool

Words have never been more important to a brand, says Anna Pickard, creative director of business and collaboration tool, Slack.

And marketers might want to pay attention to this assertion, as words are where Slack is looking to differentiate itself from the pack, doggedly using them to offer a human element to its customers that can often be missing in a multi-channel, artificial intelligence-driven world.

Launched in 2014, Slack is a cloud-based set of proprietary team collaboration tools, apps, and services borne from a now defunct online game. It now exceeds 50,000 paid teams and two million paid users, including 43 per cent of Fortune 100 companies. Recently, the vendor achieved US$200 million in annual recurring revenue, more than double the previous year, nine million weekly active users, and more than six million daily active users in over 100 countries.

Pickard is credited with being the ‘editorial soul’ of Slack. The words she uses not only inform the company’s customer engagement efforts and staff training, but also everything else, including how the software is designed, updated and communicated.

While Pickard agrees authenticity, humanity and customer engagement are the main tools in the savvy marketer’s box, it is in striking the correct balance between humanity and service, playfulness and solutions that she believes most are falling down.

“Of course, at the moment everyone is doing ‘human voice’ in customer engagement,” Pickard tells CMO. “In a world of Alexa and Siri, people are getting used to speaking to their technology in a human voice and hearing responses back in a human voice. Nothing is impersonal anymore, and if it is, it really sticks out.

“So we’re all in the same space trying to ensure we are giving people an authentically human experience. That leads to people going way too far and injecting personality into literally every single experience. You don’t want personality injected into every single little thing, it’s about finding those touchpoints where you can really connect with people authentically." 

While bringing that personality in and being playful can be a great brand tactic, the danger is that it ends up being scattered everywhere, like too much salt, Pickard claims.

"Working out moderation when we are connecting with people, and ensuring we are connecting at the appropriate points, is increasingly differentiating us,” she says.

Customer experience is the key, and this has to occur from the ground up within any brand. “We have to make sure we retain a consistently strong voice so that people understand where it comes from; who we are as a company informs what we sound like,” Pickard continues.

“The words we use ensure we feel like one strong fabric. An increasing part of my job as we scale is making sure we sound clear, concise and human.” 

What this means for Slack on a daily basis is having a mature consideration of what it means to be at work, what communication means within work, connecting it all together, and ensuring the conversation is consistent across all channels and mediums.

“We often brainstorm about how we can more closely connect what people’s experience of work is and incorporate this into our brand experience," Pickard says. "So when we talk to people on customer service, they’re hearing the same voice as when they get on the website. And if the leg falls off, people know they’re hearing from Slack, they’re hearing from a real human. That is our unique selling point.”

Slack is tapping machine learning to help people find things better as well as learn how customers are using its solutions. This is then informing how features and functionality are designed and built.

"We use Slackbot, which is not an AI bot as there’s no natural language processes, but we are able to give people a platform to bring those ways of communicating and creating human bots in that space," Pickard explains. "It’s something we think about in the way we anticipate what people are looking for, or wanting to hear, without putting words in their mouths.

“Really, creating the brand experience for the whole company is very much the same skill as creating the persona for a bot. It’s about anticipating people’s needs and feelings, and what they’re looking for and hoping to find, and how they’re hoping to hear those answers. It’s a similar skill and I think we have a lot to learn from each other."

Related: Interview: Bill Macaitis, CMO, Slack

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu 

 

 

 

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

More Videos

Extremely informative. One should definitely go through the blog in order to know different aspects of the Retail Business and retail Tec...

Sheetal Kamble

SAP retail chief: Why more retailers need to harness data differently

Read more

It's actually a nice and helpful piece of info. I am satisfied that you shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us informed ...

FIO Homes

How a brand facelift and content strategy turned real estate software, Rockend, around

Read more

I find this very strange. The Coles store i shop in still has Flouro lights? T though this would have been the 1st thing they would have ...

Brad

Coles launches new sustainability initiative

Read more

Well, the conversion can be increased by just using marketing, but in general if you are considering an example with Magento, then it is ...

Bob

How Remedy is using digital marketing and commerce to drive conversion

Read more

yo nice article

Bob

6 Ways to ramp up Social Media to Your Web Design

Read more

Blog Posts

9 lessons from 7 months of relentless failure

The most innovative organisations embrace failure. Why? Because it is often through failing the most creative out-of-box thinking happens. And with it comes vital learning opportunities that bring new knowledge and experience into teams.

Jacki James

Digital product lead, Starlight Children's Foundation

Why conflict can be good for your brand

Conflict is essentially a clash. When between two people, it’s just about always a clash of views or opinions. And when it comes to this type of conflict, more than the misaligned views themselves, what we typically hate the most is our physiological response.

Kathy Benson

Chief client officer, Ipsos

Brand storytelling lessons from Singapore’s iconic Fullerton hotel

In early 2020, I had the pleasure of staying at the newly opened Fullerton Hotel in Sydney. It was on this trip I first became aware of the Fullerton’s commitment to brand storytelling.

Gabrielle Dolan

Business storytelling leader

Sign in