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They may not always show up—or pay their bills— but our customers really want to talk to us.

Great customer experiences have become a major contributor to business success, impacting industries from retail to healthcare. But what makes a delightful experience? That’s changing too. Customers still expect their needs to be met…but they want the process to be easier and more human.

That’s why conversations have increasingly become the key to great customer experiences. Just ask Darcy Peters, a customer advocacy lead at Buffer, which helps individuals and companies connect with their followers over social media. “You build this rapport,” she said. “It increases that fondness on both sides.” And Buffer practices what it preaches, maintaining an active social media presence, a Buffer community Slack account, and regular Q&As with the company’s CEO. “We try to have as many genuine, authentic, and valuable conversations as possible,” Peters said.

Many of the most successful companies have invested in building genuine relationships with their customers, and we’ve been lucky enough to experience a few of them here at WELL. We recently started using TripActions, which differentiates itself by providing round-the-clock access to support staff through its app. TripActions employees will let you know if your flight is canceled or delayed, and they’ll sort out the details for you. Investing in communication is clearly paying off: the company just successfully raised $154 million in Series C funding. And I recently traveled to a Kimpton hotel, where they messaged me to let me know my room was ready, then graciously agreed to give the key to a friend waiting in the lounge. All via text. No wonder IHG, which owns the Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group, has snapped up 16% of global market share.

And these conversations have to take place where your customers are most comfortable. Much has been made of Gallop’s finding that texting is the most common form of communication for people under the age of 50. But customers want to reach out in many ways. A 2016 Radicati report tells us that email is still alive and kicking: by 2020, it will be used by 3 billion people worldwide. Zendesk found that customers were more likely to be satisfied by live-chat support than any other medium.

At WELL, we know how important it is to have great conversations with patients. That’s why we’ve just added conversational email functionality. From the beginning, we’ve had a simple mission: to connect patients directly to medical staff, revolutionizing the way people communicate with their doctors’ offices. WELL’s platform already allows patients and staff members to text back and forth, and that’s a great first step. But until now, email communications have only been one-way. Now, patients and staff can switch back and forth seamlessly between email and text, all in the same secure channel. In other words, even though it’s happening over multiple mediums, our system will treat it as one long conversation.

This is just the beginning. We’re working on support for many other communication mediums.

Now, let’s get those conversations started.

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