Change Management

Predictive Behavioral Routing: Advancing the Capabilities of the ACD to Meet the Needs of 21st Century Customers

We’ve all had the frustrating experience of trying to extract information we need from a random agent who is not attuned to the specific issue with which we need assistance. We explain and try to provide context, but the conversation goes around and around in circles as we grow increasingly exasperated and the agent reaches new levels of confusion. In worst-case scenarios where there is a clash of personalities, the agent becomes defensive and the caller outright angry, often resulting in customer churn.

Call routing is a technology that has been around for as long as there have been call centers: the automatic call distributor (ACD) has been in place for more than 45 years since the Rockwell Galaxy appeared on the scene in 1973. But throughout that time, it has mostly been an application that supported faster pickup as opposed to more empathetic and effective customer service. It wasn’t until the early 90s that algorithms were developed that enabled skills-based routing. This called for the organization of groups of agents with specific skills that related to the needs of incoming callers based on their responses to a series of questions asked by a menu-driven IVR type of application.  Calls could theoretically be routed to people speaking the caller’s language with the right product knowledge.

While better than simply routing a call to the next available agent, skills-based routing still left a lot to be desired. It lacked the capability to take advantage of quantum advances in big data, analytics, and personalization strategies. But over the past five years, an emerging technology has been changing the equation. Predictive Behavioral Routing (PBR), first introduced by Mattersight in 2014, takes the customer interaction process from a chance encounter to a personalized connection. The company’s foundation in analytics along with its proprietary behavioral model allowed for the application of data to enhance calls right from the moment they were connected. Mattersight was acquired by NICE Nexidia in August of 2018 and the combination of NICE Nexidia’s advanced Interaction Analytics provide organizations a more comprehensive understanding of the customer journey along with a clearer view of the customer persona.

AI-powered smart routing communicates with the ACD to intelligently pair customers with agents best equipped to handle their personality style, resulting in more productive and positive call outcomes. Now being used by Fortune 500 customers in areas such as financial services, retail, healthcare, communications, and Telecom, Predictive Behavioral Routing is proven to provide improved business outcomes.

According to Paul Stockford, Research Director, NACC and Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research “Predictive Behavioral Routing is paving the way for a new era in customer care – combining the best of data analytics, artificial intelligence, and the customer experience.”

Although many contact centers executives and managers may have heard of PBR, they might not be aware of all the powerful benefits it can bring to their operation.  See first-hand how elevating the ACD from a simple call delivery tool into a strategic method for taking the customer experience to unprecedented new levels in a  complimentary “Predictive Behavioral Routing Demonstration – How Does it Work? What Can it Do?” on CrmXchange on November 19 at 1:00 PM ET.

Michele Carlson, Senior Product Marketing Manager, NICE Nexidia, will share the expertise she developed in over a decade at Mattersight in analytics technologies that provide businesses the opportunity to understand data and customer interactions. Among the topics covered will be:

  • Insight into how PBR captures a customer’s personality style and behavioral data, and the ways the data is used to identify the best agent to address their concern
  • How a call is routed to the optimal agent for the customer
  • In what ways KPIs improve with personalized connections
  • Results and best practices from enterprises that have elevated connections with Predictive Behavioral Routing

Register now for this exciting demonstration of a truly game-changing technology. If you cannot attend the live presentation, you can download it 24 hours after it is completed.

An Online In-Depth Education Program Without the Cost and Inconvenience of Traditional Live Conferences

While there are numerous quality live conferences in the CX/contact center space that delve into workforce optimization, attending these events often entails a series of complex decisions. First, you must determine if it includes enough seminars that are relevant to your specific needs and exhibitors with the right solutions to advance your program. Then, you need to obtain approval and funding, plan the details of the trip and make sure all your responsibilities are covered while you are away. While some consider traveling to an event a welcome break from routine, others find it a time-consuming, expensive disruption that they simply can’t justify.

The need for ongoing education in this critical operational area continues to grow. Over the past 12 years, an increasing number of workforce planning professionals have found a flexible, no-cost, no-travel alternative in CrmXchange’s annual online Best Practices in Workforce Optimization virtual conference, produced in conjunction with the Quality Assurance and Training Connection (QATC) and the Society of Workforce Planning Professionals (SWPP).

Over the past two years, the event has been expanded to provide even more in-depth education. For 2019, it will take place the first two weeks of November, with the first week (November 4-8) focusing on QA and Analytics and the second (November 11-15) examining strategies for Workforce Management and Performance Optimization.

The enhanced conference content reflects the evolution of how contact centers now approach workforce planning responsibilities. It used to be handled in independent groups, with one team handling quality assurance, another conducting training, and yet another developing agent schedules. Supervisors often tried to do coaching with no input from other functional areas, while managers simply ran and reacted to reports. But this disconnected approach no longer works in today’s complex, omnichannel contact center environments. Workforce Optimization is a wide-ranging field that now encompasses all these elements as a unified discipline. And the CrmXchange virtual conference provides WFO professionals with the year’s most convenient and comprehensive opportunity to gain greater insights on the latest technologies, tactics and best practices.

Attendees have the opportunity to meet in real time with industry experts and colleagues who can answer their questions and offer business solutions tailored to their contact centers, without the cost and time away from the office of an on-site conference. Anyone can attend learning sessions the same way they would in an on-site conference.

The format allows entire WFO teams to share newly acquired knowledge throughout an organization. Team members can attend live sessions together or attend different session tracks. All sessions will be recorded and available on demand for one week after the conference – giving those who could not attend the initial presentation the opportunity to view the sessions later.

In addition, attendees can visit the virtual exhibit hall to download product videos, and obtain product information, press releases, white papers, and much more. Sponsors, including Calabrio, CallMiner, NICE, NICE inContact and Verint, are ready to share the latest innovations that may benefit your contact center.

And while you can’t sit down over a drink after hours, you can still chat with presenters and peers in the virtual lounge, a specially designed virtual networking forum for registered members of this online event. Learn what others are doing, meet colleagues, pose questions, and offer your own insight.

The Best Practices in Workforce Optimization virtual conference kicks off on Monday, November 4 at 12 noon ET with a high-interest keynote address Building a Customer Experience Movement which examines the true elements required to create a culture-changing CX program that is built to last. It will be presented by Nate Brown, Co-Founder of CX Accelerator, a virtual community of customer experience professionals.

Join the thousands of industry executives who have already benefited from this powerful complimentary two week online conference Register now and check out the broad ranging agenda.

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.

5 Ways to Use AI in the Contact Center

Artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t about replacing live, human agents with robots; it’s about supporting the agent by handling more routine issues so customers can get live help for their complex issues.

Here are 5 ways contact centers can use AI.1. Replace simple IVR processes.

1. Replace simple IVR processes. Basic IVR can do something like transfer a call to the sales department. AI takes this several steps further thanks to machine learning and natural language processing, allowing it to understand what the customer is saying (as opposed to just giving the customer a string of choices). AI can get rid of annoying queues and “If A, then B” action sequences and replace them with smarter, more human interactions.

2. Act as an agent assistant. AI can function as an assistant by sitting on the desktop, collecting customer info via a bot that’s currently serving the customer, then alerting the agent about what their next steps should be. This goes back to the overall purpose of AI to help the agent perform better and to work smarter instead of harder.

3. Be part of the quality assurance team. AI solutions can analyze agent and customer conversations and give live feedback to team leaders and QA teams about both what is being said and how it’s being said. AI listens and interprets more than just words  it can also ascertain stress level and clarity of speech.

4. Help stabilize workforce management.AI can not only predict upcoming spikes in communication based on data but it can also recruit agents to fill in the gaps in the schedule. Also, since AI can handle a number of more basic customer needs on its own, it reduces the number of employees needed at any one time and levels out major peaks and valleys.

5. Improve the customer experience. AI can analyze the customer journey to determine where the hottest touchpoints are as well as different areas for improvement. It can also understand customer patterns and predict experiences in order to deliver an excellent experience before the customer even realizes what they need next. AI is finding its way into all sorts of brands, organizations and business processes. One of the places where it’s making the most impact is in the contact center. Managers are using AI to create better experiences for everyone, from agents and supervisors to the customers themselves.

Change Management: The Most Important Step Missing from Your Service Project

In today’s world of cloud technology and apps, changing or upgrading systems has never been easier. Whether you are changing from an on-premise to a cloud solution or providing your customers with a native app for their mobile device, much of the change is as simple as pointing your data to a new endpoint. So why is it so hard sometimes for those changes to be readily adopted? Why are your customers not acting on or receiving your changes as you anticipated? Why doesn’t it just work?

Because your customers are usually human.

Change is difficult. Change has different impacts on different segments of your associates or your customers. Some adopt or acclimate right away and start realizing the benefits of your product or service. We love these customers or associates; they make things so easy. But we usually have folks who realize only some of the benefits or have a hard time with the change. They become your squeaky wheel, your biggest challenger, or worse, your apple that tries to spoil the entire bunch.

What you may be missing from your service project is change management. How do you know? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are your organization’s leaders skilled in the arts and sciences of change management?
  • Do you have a change management plan or methodology?
  • Is change management part of your project plan?

In my past six years as a consultant for some of the biggest brands in financial services, tech, and retail, strong change management has been the difference between extraordinary adoption and a completed project, or even the success or failure of a project.

I support using a change management methodology called ADKAR, which stands for awareness, desire, knowledge, ability, and reinforce.

Awareness

Most successful changes start with the impacted stakeholders being made aware of the changes.  This is just an introduction to the changes that will be coming. This information may have a positive, neutral, or negative impact on morale, job satisfaction, workload, role, and/or position within the organization. Prior to making your associates aware of the change, I recommend completing a Change Management Assessment. See the following example:

Steps to Complete a Change Management Assessment

  1. Identify changes or workstream
  2. Provide a brief description
  3. Identify a single owner
  4. Judge the impact to the stakeholders
  5. Is it a positive, negative, or neutral change?
  6. Is training required?
  7. Is a communication plan or strategy required?
  8. Are there organizational changes associated with this change?
  9. How aware is the organization that this change is coming?
  10. Identify all stakeholders associated with the change

Desire

Often the building of desire coincides with the communication associated with awareness. This is your “why.” Having a strong understanding of the possible outcomes, consequences, and ripple effects is critical to be able to build the desire for change. While creating your plan to build desire, a great idea is to bring in two to four influential associates to understand their concerns, questions, and thoughts on what the general populous reactions will be to the changes.

Knowledge

This is where your training or continuous learning plans come into play.  In general, most people recognize this phase of change management best. This is where you develop and execute training or provide the knowledge for your associates.

Ability

If knowledge is the training or learning, ability is the opportunity to put what has been made aware and trained into practice. You will also want to make sure you are quality monitoring in this phase and that you are available to provide coaching and support.

Reinforcement

Sometimes the most forgotten area of change management, reinforcement is your opportunity to implement incentives (and consequences, if necessary) to help your associates keep/adopt the change. The most important part of this phase is credibility. Are you walking your talk? Is this a fly-by-night, flavor-of-the-month initiative? Identify multiple ways that your changes can be internalized by your teams.

The more impactful the change, the greater the need for change management. If you are discussing culture or a major technical system change, there are very few other things that could create as much impact as change management. Investing early in the change timeline and a change management methodology will help ensure your ability to execute. This model can be used for external customers as well, and I suggest just trying it for your next customer impacting initiative.

Now I have some questions for you:

  • Have you used change management methodologies before? If so, how did it differ?
  • If you fear process, does this sound like too much process?
  • Are you considering a change on the magnitude of a culture shift?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

For more on the specifics on ADKAR, visit PROSCI’s Change Management Learning Center.