When Creating a Better IVR Experience Has Become a Simple Process, Why Do Some Businesses Continue to Frustrate their Customers?

IVRs (Interactive Voice Response) is a ubiquitous and often misunderstood contact center technology that provides many undeniable benefits. First and foremost, it eliminates the need for a switchboard operator to answer incoming calls, presenting callers with a menu of options to choose from, attempting to answer frequently asked questions, routing calls and in many cases, helping to deflect call volume from overburdened agents. Beyond the obvious advantages of time saving and 24/7 availability for customers, it enables functions such as providing bank and stock account balances and transfers, selective information lookup, simple order entry transactions, and more.

IVR systems are mainly comprised of telephony equipment, software applications, and a database along with supporting infrastructure. A business can either run its IVRs in house by purchasing the necessary software and hardware or choose to contract with an IVR hosting service that charges an ongoing fee.

Over the years, the IVR has become one of the most widely used products in contact centers, with a recent Call Centre Helper survey finding that usage is growing year-on-year, with 86.1% of contact centers installing such a system.

Of course, it’s far from all champagne and roses. For many consumers, IVRs are the technology they love to hate. Just about everyone has at one time or another been caught up in the maelstrom of a poorly programmed system that just takes them in a never-ending circle with no hope of resolving the issue they called in about. Comedians have had a field day lampooning the “Please listen carefully because our menus have changed” drone that callers encounter before often being overwhelmed with a laundry list of confusing options. IVR systems have been criticized for being an impersonal, impenetrable barrier between customers and live agents, whose jobs they have been accused of putting at risk.

Contributing to this disconnect is the fact a significant percentage of contact centers that implemented the technology a while back simply hasn’t made enough… or even any… changes to improve it. In fact, another Call Centre Helper poll found that 10% of organizations had never reviewed or updated their IVR systems, with another 10% saying they didn’t know the last time they had done so and another 14% revealing it had been more than a year.

Call routing through IVRs has evolved dramatically since the early days of basic menus and limited capabilities. Most companies have long since implemented advanced IVR systems that incorporate speech recognition software which enables customers to communicate more effectively by verbally expressing their requests instead of punching in numbers. When first introduced, such systems were a double-edged sword: callers became frustrated and angry at voice recognition systems that didn’t recognize their questions. Constant improvements in conversational AI and better voice recognition driven by natural language processing have made updated IVRs a far more valuable tool. In addition, language generation applications now provide the capability for the IVR to deliver more conversational responses.

All the elements are in place to offer an enhanced IVR experience that drives improved customer journeys. Yet, many companies are still in the dark about how to use IVRs to increase efficiency and deliver better business results. On October 24, CrmXchange is offering a complimentary webcast entitled “When Customers Call, Will Your IVR Be Ready?” presented by cloud communications specialist Plum Voice. Nogol Tardugno, VP of Customer Success for Plum Voice, will demonstrate specific steps to be taken to reduce customer frustration by deploying an optimized IVR. Among the topics to be discussed are:

  • How to easily create IVR voice applications with no need for complex coding
  • How to use permission structures that facilitate collaboration across technical and non-technical staff so that every member of the team can contribute to delivering an improved customer experience
  • How to put data to work to gain a better understanding of how end-users interact with the company’s voice application enabling it to continuously identify areas for improvement
  • How to effectively collect customer feedback and link it to specific customer-agent interactions

Register now for this demo session: those unable to attend live can download the webcast approximately 24 hours after it is completed.

Robotic Process Automation: Bridging the Widening Gap Between Customer Demand for Service and Real-Time Agent Availability

Driven by the instant gratification offered by ubiquitous handheld devices, consumers want all their issues resolved a minute ago and any other questions answered instantly. In the current contact center environment, these constantly rising expectations have reached a level where it’s simply no longer always humanly possible to meet them.

While call routing and scheduling software are constantly improving, even these solutions have difficulty keeping up with the demand for agent availability in real-time. Add in the ongoing corporate mindset of lowering costs and keeping headcount to a minimum and you often have the proverbial irresistible force meeting the unmovable object.

Fortunately, there is a rapidly emerging technological transformation that is changing this seemingly insoluble equation. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) gives companies the capacity to meet the growing challenges of maintaining service levels while improving efficiency and providing greater bandwidth. RPA automates the routine, repetitive and time-consuming tasks that can slow contact centers down to a crawl, enabling front-line personnel to pay greater attention to more complex interactions that require empathy and a human touch in decision-making.

The improvement starts from the point of contact. In traditional contact centers, when a customer reaches the agent, he or she needs to identify them within the system to get the necessary information such as status, order number, pending support tickets and more This puts the agent in the awkward position of having to interact with the customer while simultaneously toggling from one system to another. Multiple logins can also further slow down the agents, as can silos pertaining to different systems.

By implementing RPA, contact centers can significantly diminish the time required to identify a customer in the system, viewing all necessary details associated with them in one screen. When customers don’t have to wait for the agent to load all the details, it reduces the average call duration, contributing to an improved customer experience.

In addition, the technology can make it far easier to make necessary data updates to a customer’s account during an interaction. Instead of having agents entering data manually across multiple fields in different systems — a tedious and error-prone process– RPA enables integration of data across various fields of associated systems using a single agent entry. RPA can create auto-fill templates that enable simple copy-pasting of information, with limited human intervention. Integrations with CRM and other third-party tools almost totally eliminate the need to spend time on cross-application desktop activities. RPA can also help consolidate customer information over a variety of channels, giving agents information they need to help the customer no matter what touch point the conversation is taking place on.

What is the economic impact of RPA for businesses? According to a KPMG study, use of RPA in financial institutions can help reduce operational costs by as much as 75%. “In terms of its potential to reshape the economy, it will be as significant as the Industrial Revolution,” said noted industry analyst Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting “It’s going to create a whole new class of employees, a technically savvy generation of workers coming from the Millennial and Generation Z cohorts. The AI/RPA revolution will be a game changer for companies that welcome the opportunity to improve the timeliness and accuracy of their work processes.”

Fluss will present a detailed analysis of the economic advantages, operational efficiency gains and customer experience enhancements made possible by RPA in a complimentary CRMXchange webcast on Wednesday, October 16 called “Attended Robots Improve Productivity and Agent Efficiency.” Among the topics covered will be

  • An explanation of what RPA entails and present top use cases in the contact center
  • A discussion of the effect of RPA on employees
  • An outline of best practices for implementing RPA

The webcast, sponsored by NICE, is complimentary and those unable to attend it live can download it approximately 24 hours after it is completed. Register now.

Melding AI and Virtual Assistants with Humans: The Right Formula for a Superior Customer Experience

By now, just about all of us have encountered an automated system when reaching out to a contact center. According to research cited in a 2017 IBM Watson blog, by 2020, 85% of all customer interactions will be handled without a human agent. Sometimes, such systems work flawlessly: the bot or virtual assistant (VA) understands customers responses easily and the conversation progresses smoothly as they either get the information they expected or complete the process they hoped to finish. In some cases, customers may not even be sure they are interacting with an automated entity.

But while AI continues to provide increasingly beneficial results in the contact center environment and to grow in its capabilities to emulate human behavior, it is not yet the be-all, end-all technology that can resolve every issue. In some instances, the AI system simply can’t process the information that customers supply, leaving them ensnared in a loop of repetitive responses….and the resultant frustration can have immediate and serious consequences. NICE inContact’s 2018 CX Transformation Benchmark, revealed that only 33% of consumers found that chatbots and VAs consistently made it easier to get their issues resolved.

This is precisely why it’s critical to ensure that empathetic human intervention is readily available.

When the human touch is needed, it must be prompt, proactive, professional and above all, responsive to the customer’s needs. While many contact centers are increasing their reliance on AI solutions to reduce headcount and deliver rapid ROI on their technology expenditure, they are also learning that not having enough caring flesh-and-blood agents ready to complement their electronic counterparts can result in diminished loyalty and customer churn. Establishing the right balance between an effective, continuously updated AI program and humans who can seamlessly step in at just the right moment is a necessity in an environment where customer satisfaction has become the most significant business differentiator.

Having the capacity to train an AI system to determine the exact point in a conversation on any touch point where the customer needs to be handed off to a live agent is the most important factor in the process. Analytics plays a key role: data gathered within each individual interaction can provide a treasure trove of relevant information enabling managers to better understand what sets a customer on edge, what makes them feel more comfortable in a conversation that is not going well and what can ultimately drive them to take their business elsewhere. Having the right intelligence readily available also enables management to also pinpoint necessary adjustments in policy, procedure or verbiage.

Of course, as AI increases in intelligence through machine learning, it can also provide additional value-added suggestions such as which department is best equipped to assist customers based on analysis of their specific needs. Leading-edge AI solutions can pair such customers with an individual agent with the right skill set to guide them to successful resolution of their issue.

Companies investigating either implementing or upgrading an AI customer service solution need to develop a strategy that offers optimal potential to enhance customer relationships and improve the quality of interactions on all touch points. In addition, they must explore ways to strengthen collaboration between self-service entities and live agents.

On Thursday, October 3rd at 1:00 PM ET, CrmXchange will present a Best Practices Roundtable on Seamless Customer Experience: Combining AI VA with Live Agents, featuring experts from leading solution providers NICE inContact and Verint. Among the topics discussed will be:

  • Current AI adoption trends: how to get the most of early AI investments
  • How is AI impacting customer service today and what’s ahead in the future?
  • Where AI can add the greatest benefits
  • How to define and implement the right mix of automation and human touch—without damaging consumer trust and undermining relationships in the process of digitization.

This informative roundtable webcast is complimentary and those unable to attend it live can download it approximately 24 hours after it is completed. Register now

How Does Employee Engagement Help Companies Deliver on the Marketing Promises Made to Customers?

Businesses spend enormous amounts of time, effort and capital building a brand to which people can relate. They use terminologies such as “dependable,” “on your side,” “you’ve got a friend,” “like a good neighbor,” “we treat you like you’d treat you,” “you can count on us,” and too many others to mention. But applying such warm human attributes to a company is a double-edged sword that can cut quick and deep when a customer’s experience with front-line personnel doesn’t live up to the expectations created by marketing.

A recent Aberdeen study revealed that successful customer interactions have more influence on customer satisfaction than any other factor—including product features and pricing. The challenge faced by every organization is to motivate its people to keep these marketing promises.

In a 2016 report the research firm The Temkin Group (since acquired by Qualtrics) noted the correlation between employee engagement and delivering a consistently superior customer experience. It found that 77% of employees are highly or moderately engaged in companies that are better financial performers than their peers, compared with only 49% of employees in companies which are not doing as well– a 60% difference. It also found that highly engaged employees are more than four times as likely to recommend the company’s products and services and do something good for the company that is not expected of them. These employees spread their enthusiasm to customers and are more dedicated to providing the best possible service. One significant example of this is reported by the Bain Group, stating the “key ingredient” to JetBlue’s high customer ratings is that “JetBlue employees treat customers’ problems as their own.”

As noted in an article in Forbes, ‘engagement comes from feeling good, from passion for the company, from believing that the work that one does is meaningful and from attaching part of one’s identity with their job.” But research indicates that employees in in customer-facing roles are often less engaged due to the non-stop, day-to-day pressures of their jobs. One important way companies can inspire higher levels of engagement is to provide employees with the technology they need to improve communication and collaboration. When the right support is in place, employees tend to become more invested in the organization, which can double customer satisfaction rates when compared to others in their industry.

While improving employee engagement is critical to bottom-line success, taking a “one-size-fits-all” approach does not work. “Employee Engagement – The Hidden Secret to Customer Engagement,” a CRMXchange webcast scheduled for Tuesday, September 24, sponsored by business communication and contact center technology provider RingCentral will start you in the right direction. Omer Minkara, VP & Principal Analyst, Contact Center & Customer Experience Management, Aberdeen will delve into the key components in building a successful program. These include

  • Top drivers of employee engagement
  • The solutions best-in-class firms use to improve employee engagement
  • How emerging technologies, such as AI, influence employee engagement and CX results
  • Real-life success stories from firms that transformed their CX results through employee engagement

The webcast is complimentary and those unable to attend it live can download it approximately 24 hours after it is completed. Register now.

On-Line Workshop on Speech Analytics Designed to Help Understand the Process

To take a step forward, sometimes you need to take a step back to assess where you want to go. Many businesses are eager to implement programs to move their CX needle but often delay in the process because they simply don’t know how to get started. Beyond the obvious decision of which one will be best suited to their needs, they must also weigh such factors as calculating short and long-term costs, developing a formula for achieving ROI, and doing due diligence on the level of vendor help in both getting off the ground and maintaining a successful program.

The new CrmXchange Build-it! series of how-to webcasts offers a head start by learning the basics of putting a successful program in place. Each webcast will provide step-by-step guidance to help launch programs in a variety of customer experience technologies. Registrants receive a worksheet to help them define their goals, identify the specific improvements they want to achieve and analyze the existing technology.

Professionals benefit from an in-depth review of which areas will make significant improvements. “How to Build a Speech Analytics Program- A Workshop” will be presented by CallMiner, one of the most respected solution providers in this space.

Recent research by DMG Consulting indicates that implementing speech analytics in contact centers pays for itself in less than one year, and TechTarget reports that it pays for itself in as little as three months. The many benefits include:

  • Improving the Customer Experience
  • Cost Savings
  • Revenue Enhancement – Identifying Upsell/Cross-Sell Opportunities
  • Improvement in Operations
  • Helping to Promote Customer Loyalty & Retention
  • Diminishing Compliance Risk Issues
  • Reducing Average Handle Time

While contact center leaders have been hearing for years about what speech analytics can do, hardly any webcasts or white papers have discussed the mechanics of putting together a functional and successful program. This live workshop will focus on critical components that need to be considered:
•Goals: How to define and prioritize
•Data Collection: What information is needed, what does your business have and what is it missing
•Staff: How do you get the right departments involved and who needs to be included
•Reporting: Who gets reports, what format are reports in, reactions to new information

Register now and come away with a detailed outline of steps required to have your program hit the ground running. If you can’t make the live September event, the recording will be available for one year.

Building a Case for Knowledge Management: Information is Everywhere, But Not Always Available When You Need It

Knowledge is a process of piling up facts; wisdom lies in their simplification.” Martin H. Fischer, German-born American physician and author

We’ve all experienced it: you’re frantically searching for a certain bit of important information, which you can’t locate in the FAQs or find anywhere else on a company’s website. So, you call into the contact center or initiate an online chat. You want to believe that the agent you encounter has the knowledge and experience to provide the answer to resolve your issue quickly and accurately. Sadly, that is not always a realistic expectation.

In a recent survey, Forrester Research asked 5000 customers “What creates the greatest pain when you contact a business for customer service?” The response was resoundingly clear: the lack of knowledge and consistency of information on the part of agents, followed by the difficulty of finding relevant answers on company websites. The feedback read like a litany of customer discontent:

  • Different customer service agents give different answers (41%)
  • Customer service agents don’t know the answer (34%)
  • Can’t find correct answers on website (31%)

This disconnect has contributed to a 3-year decline in the perception of customer service. In reviewing the Forrester CX Index for 2016, 2017, and 2018, no single company offered “excellent” customer service in 2017 and 2018, and the number of companies offering “good” customer service declined from 17% in 2016 to 15% in 2018.

While this seems like a dismal picture, it is certainly far from hopeless. Most businesses have no shortage of information, but have so much content scattered in different places that it is often nearly impossible to find what is needed in the moment. The” magic bullet” to make information immediately accessible to agents has been around for years, but for some reason, knowledge Management (KM) systems have not yet been adapted by the majority of companies.

By capturing, organizing, and analyzing data for shared intelligence and improved performance through best practice implementation, effective contact center KM solutions can dramatically enhance customer support and agent productivity while reducing training time and customer frustration. Having the right KM system in place enables wider sharing of information across the entire organization, spurs operational efficiencies in rapidly communicating accurate intelligence, and helps ensure consistency across an omnichannel implementation.

But building, implementing and maintaining a successful KM program can be a daunting process. A business needs to determine the right procedures to setting up a single source of the truth for all users across all channels and institute a reliable method of measuring its effectiveness at every stage.

Discover how your company can take the right approach to get the ball rolling and put your program on a trajectory to success. Listen to “The 10 Steps to Building a KM Program that Works” presented by Verint on Thursday, September 12, 2019 on CRMXchange. If you can’t attend the live webcast, you can download it 24 hours after it is completed.

 

It’s So Random: Changing the Culture of ‘Who’s Up Next’ with Intelligent Call Routing

With comprehensive information at everyone’s fingertips, few people now book a hotel room in a far-off location, make a reservation in an unfamiliar restaurant or hire an unknown contractor without carefully reviewing all relevant feedback. For the most part, businesses are even more cautious about making moves, industriously uncovering everything about prospective employees during the hiring process, and thoroughly investigating every angle of any potential partnership, investment strategy or technology purchase.

Yet, with all the rich data resources available to them, most organizations leave one crucial business process almost entirely to chance: which front-line representative takes the lead in customer interactions. Startlingly, 95 – 99% of companies still randomly route customer calls to the next available agent. Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way. Intelligent routing systems—with the capability to identify the caller and the reason for the call to assign the customer to the agent best skilled to handle the specific inquiry— have been around for years and are constantly becoming more efficient and affordable.

Rather than adhering to the circuitous procedure of using interactive voice recording (IVR) to send the customer to the most appropriate department or to an initial operator who will forward the call, intelligent call routing totally streamlines the process. It taps directly into customer records to retrieve information about the caller based on previous interactions and instantly directs the call to whom it judges to be the most qualified agent to handle the issue. In making split-second routing determinations, such systems not only take into account an agent’s track record, training and skills, but also consider caller priority, long-term customer value and more. Sometimes, the best responder for a specific call may already be engaged in another ongoing conversation that started only a few minutes earlier. Depending on how long the caller may have to wait, how wait time impacts that individual’s satisfaction and the skill level of others available, intelligent call routing decides to either have the caller wait or assign them to the next best agent.

With the increasing volume of available data on customer history and improved knowledge of agent capabilities, the traditional legacy routing strategy is evolving to become more intelligent, personalized, and able to effect specific improvements in a company’s metrics. Integrations now enable the use of data gleaned from previous interactions to provide insight into a customer’s personality and behavioral characteristics. By applying this knowledge, companies can gauge their customer’s communication preferences–intelligent routing can go beyond calls, helping to shape better outcomes on email, chat or messaging channels– and deliver the optimal experience.

Learn how your company can use this vital and improving technology to both reduce customer effort and create more personalized connections. Listen to a complimentary webcast “How Intelligent Call Routing Can Deliver Business Results,” presented by NICE Nexidia.

70% of U.S. Employees Hold Positive View of Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace Today

Despite recent doom-and-gloom anecdotal reporting, a nationwide survey of 1,001 workers in the United States (U.S.) finds that 70% have an upbeat attitude toward new workplace technologies involving artificial intelligence (AI), such as chatbots, robots and augmented reality. Only 5% say they dislike new technology for putting their jobs at risk today. In fact, 32% of U.S. respondents feel AI will have a positive impact on their job in the next five years, increasing from 26% today. Just 19% of those surveyed express fear that AI/bots could swallow their jobs within the next decade.

These findings stem from new research by Genesys® (www.genesys.com) into the attitudes of employed Americans regarding the rising adoption of AI in the workplace. Genesys conducted an identical survey in six countries — the U.S., Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand — for a total of 4,207 participants.

The picture isn’t all rosy, however. While 75% of Americans surveyed say they are “rarely” or “never” threatened by new technology at work, one quarter do feel unsettled by it. Happily, only 4% “always” feel threatened. This is fairly similar to respondents in Germany, the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand, but in Japan that figure jumps to 12%.

Is AI a Friend or Future “Frenemy”?

While 52% of U.S. workers surveyed say AI has not yet affected their jobs, that number falls to 29% when asked about a five-year timeframe, with expectations for an increase in both positive and negative effects. Part of the reason for the low percentage of AI’s current impact? It’s not as ubiquitous in the workplace as many people would believe. Among U.S. respondents, 68% say they are not yet using tools that leverage AI; surprisingly, there is not a noteworthy difference between large and small companies.

Survey results also shed light on AI’s influence on employee social interaction, ethics and upskilling, with worker attitudes varying according to age, company size, job status and job function. The overall impression? Employees have a generally positive view of technology now, but are less certain if technology enabled with AI will be their friendly co-worker in the future, or a “frenemy.”

“The survey findings substantiate a long-held Genesys belief that a blended approach to AI is best in customer contact centers as well as the workplace in general,” said Merijn te Booij, chief marketing officer for Genesys.

“Some jobs will evolve as human work combines with the capabilities of AI. The key for organizations adopting this intelligent technology is to help employees understand its potential to make their jobs more fulfilling by taking the mundane, easily automated tasks off their plates. This opens the door for more employees to apply skills AI just can’t replace – like creativity, leadership and empathy.”

Considering 27% of Americans say they simply cannot predict the impact of AI on their jobs five years down the road, and only half feel they have the skills to compete effectively, it’s increasingly important for companies to closely monitor the pace of AI adoption and employee training programs to address it.

A few additional U.S. findings related to overall attitudes toward AI include:

  • Two-thirds (66%) of the U.S. cohort say technology makes them more efficient in their jobs. This response is exactly the same across the three age ranges surveyed.
  • 8% of U.S. employees say they dislike new workplace technology such as AI and bots because it takes away their easy tasks.
  • More part-time U.S. employees (25%) fear AI will take their jobs within 10 years than do full-time workers (18%).
  • Surprisingly, exactly twice as many (26%) of the U.S. employees in the youngest cohort (ages 18-38) fear replacement by AI within the next decade as do their over-55 co-workers (13%).
  • Nearly 70% of U.S. employees trust their employers to use AI in an ethical way.

Survey Methodology and Participants

Within the U.S., a total of 1,001 adults completed the online survey in April. Respondents were evenly divided into three age ranges: 18-38, 39-54, 55-73, with women accounting for 65% and men 35%; less than 1% did not categorize by gender.

Approximately 80% of those surveyed have full-time employee status with the remaining 20% working part-time. Respondents came from seven categories of company sizes, with a total of 42% employed in companies of fewer than 250 employees.

While U.S. survey respondents work in a wide variety of industries, 77% fell into one of 11 functional job categories: Administrative, Assembly Line/Manufacturing, Customer Service/Retail, Doctor/Nurse/Caregiver, Education/Training, Finance/Accounting, Food Service, Human Resources, Marketing/Inside Sales, Media, and Driver/Transportation Provider. The remaining 23% fell into an “Other” job category.

For a copy of the full survey data, please contact genesys@sterlingpr.com

Seven “Must Have” Capabilities for Customer Service Applications

Written by Basabdutta Chakraborty

In the era of technological advancement, customers have endless choices of what products and services to purchase. To capture and maintain a higher market share require companies to create a meaningful corporate distinction. One way to accomplish this goal is by delivering a superior customer experience—one that capitalizes on the first impression about the brand and carries through on every interaction thereafter. To bring the best customer experience to life, consider these seven essential features:

  1. Omni-channel – Most customers seek the ability to engage from any channel of their choice from any device—email, telephone, chat, SMS, web, social or mobile app. To support a consistent experience across all the channels in the user’s journey, agents need to be able to respond to any inbound voice/text inquiries seamlessly. Therefore, to increase the productivity of an agent, a call center software needs to include a single user interface, where all inbound messages are tracked as tickets with contexts.
  2. Efficient ticket management – In order to resolve customers’ issues and queries efficiently and effectively, there are several factors to address:
    • Context and History. For each ticket, customer information and past ticket history should be available to the agent with relevant context.
    • Categorizing. Based on the ticket type, agents need to capture specific information, and perform grouping, merging, linking, cloning, and filtering.
    • Intelligent routing. Automated workflow can be configured to assign and route inbound tickets based on the agent’s skill, knowledge and workload.
    • Knowledgebase support. Depending on the issue type, relevant knowledge articles should be automatically shared with agents to provide better assistance.
    • Timely alerts. Based on Service Level Agreements (SLA) priority, agents and their supervisors should be notified on time.
    • Collaboration. Often complex issues require inputs from multiple agents. A live discussion forum can help them to collaborate instantly.
  3. Unified interface – While engaged in an interaction with a customer, an agent might require navigating through multiple systems. To minimize the screen switches, a unified user interface brings relevant applications to a single desktop. In this way, the agent can focus on the customer as opposed to the complexity of multiple systems.
  4. Self-service and chat-bots – In many cases, today’s customers prefer to resolve their issues themselves. Self-service options and capabilities empower customers by providing them with online searchable knowledge articles, FAQs, and discussion forums. Chatbots, on the other hand, help customers with informational and transactional inquires in a personalized fashion. Customers, however, should still have the ability to escalate to a live agent seamlessly in case of a complex inquiry.
  5. Personalized recommendations – Customers really appreciate it when they feel a representative is interested in them. The system should be capable of displaying personalized, targeted messages to the CSRs to assist them to develop a deeper bond. For example, while engaged in a conversation with a customer, if a CSR proactively says, “Ms. Smith, your credit card is going to expire in a month” or “your renewal is pending,” these personalized outreaches help build appreciative customers and long-term relationships.
  6. Predictive analytics – Knowing the next move of customers, ahead of time, is becoming increasingly more critical. Predictive analytics is the tool that measures customer satisfaction and determines future trends by analyzing past transactions and call history. Thus, businesses can identify potential threats in a customer’s journey and can take appropriate corrective actions. Similarly, the huge amount of call center data, such as average call handle time, ticket volume, etc. can predict if any agent’s performance needs to be improved or any additional staffing is needed or if the system’s performance should be enhanced.
  7. Cloud based application – Given there is a steady internet connection, a cloud-based customer service platform is undeniably a smarter choice than an on-site one for the following reasons:
    • It is easy to scale. Adding agents is just a matter of subscription, and so is spinning a new instance. It’s just a few clicks, and no infrastructure changes are required.
    • It is flexible. Agents can assist customers remotely, from any internet-connected device. Admins can make configuration changes and publish real-time.
    • It performs well and is stable. Most of the cloud providers ensures 99 percent+ uptime.
    • It saves infrastructure and maintenance costs. No hardware equipment is required. Patch, data backup-recovery are taken care of by the provider. It is secure. Dealing with personalized information of customers requires stronger data security and privacy, which is safeguarded by cloud applications.

    Key contributor to business growth – Customer experience is an important contributor to business growth. When done well, companies earn the trust and loyalty of their customers. Technology can provide the features that enable CSRs to do their job efficiently and effectively. The real success, however, comes from the commitment of the top executives to make customer experience excellence a key corporate initiative. When this happens, business and IT teams align on the strategy while defining the unique business and technical needs of their organizations. Continuous feedback from CSRs is a critical input in this process. Together they can build a better customer experience—one that enables them to stand out in the marketplace.

In the era of technological advancement, customers have endless choices of what products and services to purchase. To capture and maintain a higher market share require companies to create a meaningful corporate distinction. One way to accomplish this goal is by delivering a superior customer experience—one that capitalizes on the first impression about the brand and carries through on every interaction thereafter. To bring the best customer experience to life, consider these seven essential features:

  1. Omni-channel – Most customers seek the ability to engage from any channel of their choice from any device—email, telephone, chat, SMS, web, social or mobile app. To support a consistent experience across all the channels in the user’s journey, agents need to be able to respond to any inbound voice/text inquiries seamlessly. Therefore, to increase the productivity of an agent, a call center software needs to include a single user interface, where all inbound messages are tracked as tickets with contexts.
  2. Efficient ticket management – In order to resolve customers’ issues and queries efficiently and effectively, there are several factors to address:
    • Context and History. For each ticket, customer information and past ticket history should be available to the agent with relevant context.
    • Categorizing. Based on the ticket type, agents need to capture specific information, and perform grouping, merging, linking, cloning, and filtering.
    • Intelligent routing. Automated workflow can be configured to assign and route inbound tickets based on the agent’s skill, knowledge and workload.
    • Knowledgebase support. Depending on the issue type, relevant knowledge articles should be automatically shared with agents to provide better assistance.
    • Timely alerts. Based on Service Level Agreements (SLA) priority, agents and their supervisors should be notified on time.
    • Collaboration. Often complex issues require inputs from multiple agents. A live discussion forum can help them to collaborate instantly.
  3. Unified interface – While engaged in an interaction with a customer, an agent might require navigating through multiple systems. To minimize the screen switches, a unified user interface brings relevant applications to a single desktop. In this way, the agent can focus on the customer as opposed to the complexity of multiple systems.
  4. Self-service and chat-bots – In many cases, today’s customers prefer to resolve their issues themselves. Self-service options and capabilities empower customers by providing them with online searchable knowledge articles, FAQs, and discussion forums. Chatbots, on the other hand, help customers with informational and transactional inquires in a personalized fashion. Customers, however, should still have the ability to escalate to a live agent seamlessly in case of a complex inquiry.
  5. Personalized recommendations – Customers really appreciate it when they feel a representative is interested in them. The system should be capable of displaying personalized, targeted messages to the CSRs to assist them to develop a deeper bond. For example, while engaged in a conversation with a customer, if a CSR proactively says, “Ms. Smith, your credit card is going to expire in a month” or “your renewal is pending,” these personalized outreaches help build appreciative customers and long-term relationships.
  6. Predictive analytics – Knowing the next move of customers, ahead of time, is becoming increasingly more critical. Predictive analytics is the tool that measures customer satisfaction and determines future trends by analyzing past transactions and call history. Thus, businesses can identify potential threats in a customer’s journey and can take appropriate corrective actions. Similarly, the huge amount of call center data, such as average call handle time, ticket volume, etc. can predict if any agent’s performance needs to be improved or any additional staffing is needed or if the system’s performance should be enhanced.
  7. Cloud based application – Given there is a steady internet connection, a cloud-based customer service platform is undeniably a smarter choice than an on-site one for the following reasons:
    • It is easy to scale. Adding agents is just a matter of subscription, and so is spinning a new instance. It’s just a few clicks, and no infrastructure changes are required.
    • It is flexible. Agents can assist customers remotely, from any internet-connected device. Admins can make configuration changes and publish real-time.
    • It performs well and is stable. Most of the cloud providers ensures 99 percent+ uptime.
    • It saves infrastructure and maintenance costs. No hardware equipment is required. Patch, data backup-recovery are taken care of by the provider. It is secure. Dealing with personalized information of customers requires stronger data security and privacy, which is safeguarded by cloud applications.

    Key contributor to business growth – Customer experience is an important contributor to business growth. When done well, companies earn the trust and loyalty of their customers. Technology can provide the features that enable CSRs to do their job efficiently and effectively. The real success, however, comes from the commitment of the top executives to make customer experience excellence a key corporate initiative. When this happens, business and IT teams align on the strategy while defining the unique business and technical needs of their organizations. Continuous feedback from CSRs is a critical input in this process. Together they can build a better customer experience—one that enables them to stand out in the marketplace.

New CX Metrics for Today’s Digital World

Consumers want omnichannel but conversations and measurements haven’t kept pace by Ted Hunting, Bright Pattern

The customer experience (CX) is increasingly digital with over 95% of customer interactions starting on websites. Forrester research shows that customers are using and hopping between an increasing number of media channels, such as chat, text, messengers, and of course, traditional channels like email and voice calls. Even though “omnichannel” is still an industry buzzword and there has been a dramatic shift to new channels, fewer than 20% of companies offer a seamless, continuous conversation across channels. Ninety percent of consumers want this type of effortless customer experience without friction or silos, but companies are failing to deliver.

Similar to the gap between customers’ expectation for omnichannel and companies’ ability to offer it, metrics for customer experience have also remained siloed and focused all too often on voice. Traditional CX metrics like Average Handle Time are still valid but today’s digital world requires new metrics. In this blog, I will discuss and propose some new metrics as well as some keys to measuring them.

Key #1: To improve the journey, you must see and measure the journey.

Recent metrics that attempt to move beyond siloed metrics for the voice-only world include Reichheld’s Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), and Sentiment, which rate overall how customers feel about a company and their customer experience.

To improve the customer experience, I recommend using NPS, CSAT, and Sentiment as guiding lights for three new metrics: NPSJT,  and CSATJT, and SentimentJT . These metrics measure NPS, CSAT, and Sentiment by journey type (JT). For example, banks may want to measure CSAT, NPS, or Sentiment by journey type—think mortgages, credit cards, or home equity line of credit. Likewise, retailers may want to measure NPS by journey types like TV sales versus refrigerator sales. By measuring at the journey level, you can improve the quality of each journey type.

CSAT is typically obtained by a simple survey (e.g., rate your experience by giving 1–5 stars) at the end of the given customer’s journey. Sentiment can be measured by an average sentiment score or ending sentiment score for each journey using AI measurements.

Tip: Add new metrics for omnichannel digital CX: NPSJT , CSATJT , and SentimentJT .

Key #2: To improve channel CX and customer segment CX, institute quality measurements at the channel level and measure at the customer level.

It is also important to measure CSAT, NPS, and Sentiment at the channel level and customer level. To do that, I propose using these new metrics for channel type (C): NPSC, CSATC, and SentimentC . These new metrics measure the CSAT, NPS or sentiment on each channel, letting you see which channels are performing well or poorly. They require a simple survey at the end of all interactions within the larger customer journey. If you can see which channel is performing poorly (e.g., chatbots), you can improve the channels and smooth out any points of friction in the customer’s journey. A Bright Pattern survey of consumers showed that NPS scores for bots, text messaging, IVRs, email, and social interactions ranked low, showing common areas along the customer journey that companies should improve.

To measure CX at the customer level, I propose these new metrics for key customer segments (CS): NPSCS, CSATCS, and SentimentCS. Similarly you can look at CSAT, NPS or Sentiment by customer segment, such as gold customers, bronze customers, and new prospects. This provides you with the opportunity to provide specialized care to your best customers by personalizing their experience.

Tip: Add new metrics needed for Digital Omnichannel CX? NPSC and CSATC and SentimentC for channel and NPSCS and CSATCS and and SentimentCS for customer segment

Key #3: Enable omnichannel conversations and omnichannel quality assurance measurements via a platform approach.

So how to get started? First and foremost, to offer a seamless conversation across channels while measuring these omnichannel conversations to improve quality requires that you take a platform approach. All channels must be native in the platform so that a single conversation can be offered to your customers and all interactions can be measured from a quality management standpoint. An end-to-end omnichannel CX platform with omnichannel conversation capability and omnichannel quality management embedded within the platform is the key to easily creating and measuring great omnichannel customer journeys. Contrast this to bolt-on systems that are expensive and time-consuming to implement with siloed conversations and data.