When our Chief Conversologist Jam Mayer leapfrogged the ranks of the customer service industry, she had little idea it would be her grounding for a career in Facebook Messenger and AI chatbot design, tutor, trainer and NZ Hootsuite Ambassador, nearly two decades later.
Conversational Customer Marketing Begins
Messenger is the tool of the moment and everybody’s claiming to be an expert. But long before chatbots, there were call centres, and it was here that Jam Mayer made her first impact as a professional in what we now call conversational marketing.
This is Jam’s story. Read it.
Kicking Butt In A Call Centre
Ok so not literally kicking butt. Although actually a lot more literally, after a few years. Bear with, this is relevant to the end of the story. But don’t fast-forward, unless you’re a habitual scroller.
As a young noob with a fetish for pagers (no kidding: “where do the messages come from? Who types and sends them?”) and fresh from Computer Studies in university (she’s a nerd, let’s get that out of the way now) Jam joined the industry as a call agent.
Yes, one of those annoying people who calls you at night asking you to answer a survey.
How did she do?
She did well. Career-launchingly well. Jam was consistently the top surveyor in a team assigned to gather information from US IT companies about their tech. Her task was to get as many answers as possible without the call being declined or the subject losing patience.
The key to getting that much information? Keep the caller engaged.
Meh, there was a script. But Jam’s talent went beyond scripts. It was her conversation, getting respondents to lower their walls through rapport, exchanges that were also personal, relevant, that kept them talking about themselves.
Jam ruled it. After only about six months she was promoted from call agent, to quality control, now fine-tuning call centre scripts and creating development plans to train other teams how to get results.
And yes, kicking the butts of those who weren’t delivering – even firing a few.
The Key Learnings of Call Centres
“Inbound or outbound,” Jam says, the key is “to not anticipate: listen to what the other person is saying, take that into account and, only then act.
“It’s the same thing in social media. People hate being sold to” If they think they are being sold to, “the customer won’t be retained.”
In other words, get-rich-quick, fast-sales, adsy strategies through social are unsustainable. They burn audiences and create resistance. They send people into dark social, into ad blocking, into personal recommendations over promotion.
Long term, and this is something every big, long-lasting brand knows at its heart, marketing, including social, should be invested in the needs and the world of the customer.
Jam references knowing audiences, understanding their likes, dislikes, beliefs and persuasions; yes, it’s 101 stuff, but it’s also so often overlooked. In social media, we talk about tribes and communities on social.
Believe it or not, it was the same in call centres: “The point of rapport in a call centre is getting people to trust you. It’s what makes people send flowers.”
Ever heard of a call centre talent being given flowers by a customer? 🌹 That was Jam.
Tech, Blogging, and Winning Online
The other part of Jam’s journey was motivated by her lifelong fascination with technology. (Pagers, remember?)
This was the dawn of the Internet, a source of fascination for nerd Jam – especially when she discovered this thing called “blogging.” Sharing her personal thoughts and professional learnings, growing a following and creating conversations?
Jam was in.
Jam’s blogging focused on her interests: call centre experiences, customer service and gaming. The latter included cheat-sheets and walkthroughs. Quickly noticed, Jam was picked up by a company that began paying her for the call centre blogs: soon after that, she became a pro gaming blogger as well.
Jam realised: here again conversations, this time in the comments sections of her blogs, were the key. Not only did they extend engagement, but helped create a journey, from casual reader, to invested buyer, to loyal fan.
Like the call centre; conversations were the heart of the process.
Greener Pastures and New Bloggers
After running her own startups in web design and graphic design, professional blogging, and then building a business that basically pioneered webinars in her home country (yep, that’s a whole other story right there) Jam was fast becoming a specialist in social media and digital marketing.
Then – a change. Big change.
In 2012 a personal turning point led Jam to seek new opportunities overseas. She found herself, almost by point-at-a-map chance, in Auckland, New Zealand. A woman motivated by change, creating her own life change.
But New Zealand, Jam says, was totally not what she had expected. She had thought NZ would be social media savvy:
“… I was so excited. I wanted to look for social media practitioners in New Zealand, and I heard crickets.”
Eep eep. 😮
So Jam took matters into her own hands, and set up a social media meetup group, The New Zealand Bloggers Network. Win.
Jam’s next NZ break came when she partnered with a local business director who shared her vision of social media solutions: Conversologie was born. Its logo, a stylised speech bubble incorporating the balance of conversational yin and yang, the brainchild of Jam and lifelong friend back home, Filipino graphic novelist Carlo Vergara.
In effect, Jam was creating conversational marketing as early as 2013, well before it was the phenomenon it is today.
Everything began to come together.
As Jam’s New Zealand marketing consultancy picked up clients, she also began to attract the attention of the industry. She was invited to speak and run breakout workshops at NZ’s annual social media conference SMCNZ. She was offered free tickets to a highly respected International conference, Hubspot Inbound in the US in 2016.
She was part of the Social Media Club Auckland (SMCAKL) for which she prepared and hosted events to keep the industry up to date. One event attracted more than 300 attendees – proof that her finger’s truly on the pulse of what’s relevant.
She was also snapped up as tutor by respected tertiary educators like Unitec and NZIE.
Jam’s love of technology had early-on also led her to Hootsuite – the social media management platform. (Trigger alert: ad-like blog copy ahead … )
A global leader in enterprise social media management solutions, Hootsuite brings together scheduling, monitoring, analytics, advertising and all of the big glorious morass of communication, conversation and information that make the social media playground so confusing to most of us.
Jam nerdgasmed over it.
It was not long before Hootsuite itself, recognising her enthusiasm and uncanny capacity for absorbing its functionality, crowned Jam New Zealand Ambassador and only Digital Services Partner, and with that, certification trainer and advocate.
But wait, there was more …
Facebook Messenger Chatbots
It makes absolute sense, doesn’t it?
Inevitably Jam’s love of technology and human interaction would draw her towards the fledgeling industry of chatbots.
In a New Zealand chatbots market that is still … um … * cue crickets * … Jam threw herself into chatbot scripting, and development, with the support of a home-based team. She also paired up with AI chatbots developer, Ako.ai, and launched her own brand of chatbots fine tuning.
While developers created the form and function, the basic flow, it was Jam’s specialisation to oversee the conversations. Nuance, idioms; humour, even cultural, gender and contextual sensitivity.
She also designed the conversational flow – what is the most natural, intuitive progression? When will media – video, images, even emojis – evoke the best response for engagement and user satisfaction? When does the bot flow need to be handed to a human instead?
These elements are about more than how a chatbot works. This is about how it feels, how people interact with the chatbot – its likeability – and as Jam will tell you, as she learned in the call centres, as she has seen throughout her career, it’s how people feel about the conversation that really has the lasting impact.
And of course, that got her noticed. Again:
Based on her knowledge of one of the world’s leading chatbot platforms, Manychat, Jam qualified Conversologie as Manychat Agency Partner, giving her company the seal of approval to develop and tune chatbots for Manychat users.
Opening Up the Jam Factory
New technologies, how they connect with people, and how people use them. From pagers to artificial intelligence generating intimate conversations, this is Jam’s jam. So to speak.
Her method, to wade in – get physical and hands-on, and learn from trial and error and intuition.
“First I want to be a scientist, and then I want to be a journalist – because I want to freaking blog about it!”
The urge to share her knowledge and a natural drive to perform led Jam towards developing her own workshops and training programmes, too. Getting her trainees hands-on and knee deep. Away from Death-by-PowerPoint and into the real world of suck-it-and-see. “I’d rather get their hands dirty, get them to experiment.”
The future of Conversologie?
If you ask me, a recent convert to the brand, I’ll say this: Conversologie’s future is continuing to pioneer as technologies grow.
From what I can see, through Jam Mayer’s vision, Conversologie will stay ahead of the pack, exploring and experimenting and breaking new ground, while others follow the trail that has already been cut.
Jam reflected on this. “I don’t know why I always need to be ahead, or the first. But that’s like the art and science – that’s why Conversologie is so freaking … ‘me.’”
The future of Conversologie? Literally the unknown.
You can take advantage of Conversologie’s strengths for your own business. Make contact with Conversologie and Jam Mayer directly by messenger and let’s start the conversation.