Customer Experience

Meeting the New Challenges of Employee Training, Coaching and Engagement

Since the contact center agent is the face and voice that often defines a company in the eyes of existing and potential customers, workforce recruiting must focus on identifying vital traits, skills, and abilities in individuals. But even when those who meet the highest qualifications are put in place, they must be trained, continuously coached, and kept actively engaged to be successful.

Companies which can recruit and retain qualified and motivated front-line personnel are positioned to operate more efficiently while building customer loyalty. According to a McKinsey report, “Failure to keep talented employees can have significant repercussions… attrition can erode customer satisfaction while increasing operating costs. Each new agent hire is estimated to cost the contact center $10,000 to $20,000 in training, direct recruiting costs, and lost productivity during ramp up.”

Taking every step to keep top performers onboard is now more critical than ever. Although many consumers have become comfortable with online self-service tools, once they decide to call into the contact center the issues are almost always more complicated to resolve. Since people are already frustrated at being unable to find answers on other channels, they are on edge from the moment when an agent picks up the call.

This dilemma has only grown more acute during a crisis in which many customers are already panicked. According to a recent blog on CrmXchange by Uniphore, 60% of consumers said they were given different or conflicting information on current conditions from the news, leaving more questions than answers. Adding more fuel to the fire is that customers are often faced with longer wait times as companies adapt to a new wave of work-at-home agents. Nearly 40% who were put on hold with a company after calling about crisis-related issues stated that they were annoyed or frustrated.

Further McKinsey research suggests a need for companies to take a proactive stance when interacting with their contact-center employees by focusing on engagement and finding ways to increase their comfort and happiness wherever they are working. They found a startling difference in outcomes. Engaged and satisfied call-center employees are:

  • 8.5x more likely to stay than leave within a year
  • 4x more likely to stay than dissatisfied colleagues
  • 16x more likely to refer friends to their company
  • 3.3x more likely to feel extremely empowered to resolve customer issues

So how does a company ensure that these valuable assets are happier and more productive? Actions in three areas can have a major impact– targeted coaching, employment of updated training techniques and applying proven strategies to enhance employee engagement —and they are available for all contact centers to take.

A focused educational alternative now makes it possible for a business’s entire workforce planning team to benefit from the latest innovative thinking without ever having to take so much as a step away from their home offices.

CrmXchange is presenting a premier online virtual conference: Techniques for Training, Coaching and Employee Engagement, to be held from June 15-19. The event is being produced in conjunction with the Quality Assurance and Training Connection, (QATC), a membership association created specifically for quality assurance and training professionals in the contact center environment.

The web conference is structured to benefit contact center leaders at all levels – supervisors, managers, directors, and VPS. The fully interactive event enables attendees to meet with industry experts and colleagues who will answer questions in real time while providing updated strategies and techniques. The schedule is designed to provide direction to meet the changing needs of businesses transitioning to a greater percentage of work-at-home agents but will also provide guidance for companies still maintaining on-premise employees.

Among the topics to be covered in-depth are:

  • Learning how to work in a remote world
  • Best methods for coaching and training remote and on-premise agents
  • How to optimize agent performance in the new reality
  • Developing an effective instructor competency program

The event will kick off on Monday, June 15 with a focused keynote address entitled “Do Better Work – Finding Clarity and Camaraderie in a Remote World.” It will be presented by Max Yoder, CEO and Co-Founder, Lessonly who will offer stories of the best ways for businesses to navigate the path to working from home, providing specific examples of how to foster understanding, accountability, and progress from disparate teams.

Other areas to be explored in this targeted, complimentary virtual conference include:

  • How to Foster Agent Engagement and Human Connection Through Coaching Your Remote Contact Center Team in a Post-Pandemic World
  • Nurturing Employees to Become Ambassadors and High Performers
  • Agent Coaching and Engagement for Remote Service Excellence
  • Creating a Solid Gamification Strategy to Engage Employees Near and Far

In addition to the educational sessions, attendees can visit the booths of leading suppliers in the online exhibit hall. They can then download white papers, videos, product data sheets and other vital content from leading solution providers and organizations such as CallMiner, NICE inContact, Calabrio, NICE, Lessonly, C3 Software and Sharpen.

Register now at no cost for the complete four-day event: there is no limit on how many people a company can sign up. For those who cannot attend the live presentations or have the time to visit the exhibits during the event, links to all sessions and the exhibit hall will remain open for one full week after the event is completed.

Companies That Are Serious About CX Need to Up their Mobile Customer Support Game

It is no secret that customer experience (CX) has become perhaps the most compelling influence in the consumer’s decisions to initially do business—and build an ongoing relationship  –with a company. CX can be defined as the sum of all experiences a customer has in their interactions with a company and its products or services. Understanding these interactions, specifically what makes them positive or negative, is central to making improvements. Effective CX is determined by the quality of the experience customers have when they seek product information and seek support—tasks they now mostly use mobile devices to accomplish.

Engaging mobile consumers requires businesses to become more creative. Mobile devices are more than just hand-held web browsers. People have long since become accustomed to using mobile devices for a very wide range of activities, beyond calls: social media, taking/viewing photos, GPS navigation, downloading music and videos or watching live entertainment

SMS, or mobile text messaging is also a long-term primary use case, in social and now increasingly in business contexts. In fact, with the rise in mobile device usage, messaging is the default user behavior. But it goes beyond SMS texting alone. Mobile phone users throughout the world are sending messages back and forth, using Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat, and other emerging channels of mobile chat messaging. However, in the US where most of us are text messages, companies are just starting to learn more about these emerging channels and how they can use them to improve communications with their customers. These are developments that are taking hold and it’s becoming more critical for businesses to be knowledgeable about them. This particularly true for organizations that wish to expand their global presence.

According to research by Forrester, people don’t wish to go out of their way for support. This   put companies in the position of having to keep up when their customers are blazing new trails. As Forrester put it in a recent report, “Customers will explore emerging channels to reduce friction. Customers want to move between channels without having to repeat their situation every time. They want to get service at any point in their pre- or post-purchase journey.” This need for flexibility and responsiveness becomes a serious problem when customers are unable to reach a company’s agents as quickly as they would like to. Then, once connected, customer frustration ramps up rapidly when they can’t adequately resolve their issue through a voice-only conversation. So, the undermined customer loyalty and increased cost becomes a lose-lose scenario for businesses.

Of course, there are more effective methods to deliver mobile customer service that enhance as opposed to detract from the customer experience., Mobile service specialist UJET will share detailed information on how organizations can to transition from voice-only interactions to engaging their customers on a variety of rich and responsive messaging channels. On Thursday, May 27 at 1:00pm, UJET will present a complimentary webinar on CrmXchange entitled “Mobile Support For Cost-Effective and Enhanced Customer Experience.”

Josh Mazgelis, Solutions Consultant, UJET, will draw on his 25 years of contact center experience. He will discuss how to cost-effectively deploy the company’s cloud-based mobile-focused customer satisfaction platform to enable customers and reps to share photos and videos, take screenshots, and even combine voice and text together. Among the topics to be covered are:

  • Enabling end-users to easily share multimedia with agents
  • Elevating the customer experience with Rich Communications Services
  • Using data intelligence to customize and improve support channels

Register now to see how your company can upgrade its mobile service. If you can’t attend the live webinar, a link to it will posted 24 hours after it is presented.

Infusing Digital CX With Human Intelligence

In today’s contact centers, there are plenty of avenues for using technology to provide a great customer experience. How can we make sure to maintain a personal touch? In the live Virtual Conference webcast, Dave Hoekstra from Calabrio demonstrated how to infuse digital CX with human intelligence to create a meaningful customer experience for not only your customers, but for your agents as well.

In today’s contact centers, we are constantly hearing the terms “AI” and “machine learning”. What does all of that mean? Really, we are talking about the ability for machines to display human-like intelligence; a concept that CX has fully embraced in recent years. Years ago, customer service was strictly face-to-face. Over time, the customer experience has evolved into omnichannel experiences for the customer such as e-mail, chat boxes, and SMS messaging. In 2020, IoT data will grow at 50 times the rate of other data. CX must keep up with this trend, however, it is vital to maintain humanity in these exchanges.

Customer expectations for CX are increasingly rising, demanding instant responses, personalized services, and omnichannel experience. With these rising expectations, maintaining customer loyalty is more complicated than ever.

The problem is that most businesses don’t know what their customers want. Why? Because they are simply not listening. Only one in four companies actively use their customer feedback, while only one in three actively use their customer interaction analytics. Ninety-eight percent of invaluable customer intelligence is sitting on the shelf. Businesses must turn this information into actionable intelligence to push them toward their goals.

Here is what we know: customers prefer human contact. Eighty-six percent of customers claim they prefer human contact to chat bots. Seventy-one percent of customers said they would be less likely to use a brand if it didn’t have customer service representatives available. While many believe phone contact is dying, calls to businesses are expected to exceed 169 billion per year by 2020. In response, businesses must humanize their customer relationship.

As previously mentioned, businesses are sitting on a goldmine of information. Using sentiment analysis, businesses can take information such as recordings from phone calls to identify human emotion in order to really understand what is going on in the day-to-day processing of our customers.

Another focus area is employee and agent empowerment. By empowering human intelligence in the contact center, businesses can drive an agent-centric approach while giving their employees the flexibility and balance they need. The integration of AI in this equation provides a personal assistant to your employees rather than taking their place. Thus, improving work-life balance, allowing for flexible planning and scheduling, and happier agents. That’s the key: happy agents lead to happy customers.

AI Assistance may also improve training and development. This can include VoC (Voice of the Customer) training, automated quality monitoring, a more intelligent way to schedule training opportunities, and cross-functional job training. Businesses are still living in an environment where operations are siloed because agents’ skills are very specific. Enter: training across job functions. Here, businesses can get ahead of the curve by recognizing where their employees’ strengths and weaknesses are before they are out in the field.

All of this leads to more empowered employees. Employees that are more engaged are:

  • 8.5x more likely to stay than leave within the year.
  • 4x more likely to stay than dissatisfied colleagues
  • 3.3x more likely to feel empowered to resolve customer issues

It’s time to hear your customers out. First. audit your technology stack. Take a look at all of the different ways your customers can get in touch with you and figure out what works best. Second, tap into the conversation to gain a comprehensive view of the customer. Finally, focus on your people. Customers matter but so do your agents. It’s time for companies to focus on the people who are engaging customers on a day to day basis. CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE WEBCAST

 

AI-Driven Modeling to Improve the Agent and Customer Experience

Are traditional analytics and contact center practices enough to drive customer satisfaction? During this live Virtual Conference webcast, Larry Skowronek and Michelle Carlson from NICE Nexidia lead a conversation about how AI-driven data modeling can be the key to achieving greater success. To further explain, Larry and Michelle walk through the state of analytics today, an overview of sentiment analytics, an overview of predictive behavioral routing, and how to combine sentiment and predictive behavioral routing to maximize customer satisfaction and drive progress.

Today, we generally see a large disconnect between business and how they evaluate customer interactions. Eighty percent of companies claim they deliver “superior” customer service, while in reality, only eight percent of their customers actually agree. This is partially because the state of measuring customer satisfaction is deeply flawed. Manual reviews of calls that require a human to evaluate transactions lead to highly subjective, interpretive, and inconsistent feedback, which not only requires higher costs, but also fails to move the needle forward.

Customer contact centers are a dynamic and evolving animal. The only way to respond to change is with change. Enter: Sentiment Analytics. Sentiment Analytics is a way to use machine learning to train a model that measures whether our customer interaction was positive, negative, or neutral on a granular scale. The machine can take our otherwise subjective behaviors and turn them into subjective data that is highly valuable and actionable. This data is consistent, accurate, and without bias. Most importantly, because it is a machine, it can do as much work as we throw at it, so we can receive and analyze data for every single customer interaction.

This AI-based model has proven to be statistically accurate, according to several CX centers that use it. But how exactly does this model measure customer satisfaction. The model reliably measures every interaction, including:

  • Spoken words, like “Awesome”, “I’m annoyed”, and “This is ridiculous”.
  • Laughter detection.
  • Pitch and tone.
  • Cross talk: customer and agent interrupting one another.

These models may also differentiate calls that start positively and end negatively, indicating worst practices, as well as calls that start negatively and end positively, indicating best practices. The reliability and accuracy of these models have allowed businesses to gain deep insights on the overall customer experience and quickly translate those insights into action. Finally, these models create a hyper-personalized customer experience. This is a monumental advantage, as eighty-four percent of customers say that personalized customer experiences are key to winning their business.

For a perfectly personalized customer experience, sentiment models can aid in Predictive Behavioral Routing (PBR), which uses sentiment analytics to match the customer to the appropriate agent and therefore improves the overall customer experience. By bringing Sentiment Analytics and PBR together, businesses can seamlessly operationale their sentiment data by:

  • Calculating customer sentiment on 100% of interactions
  • Using this sentiment combined with personality, make the best connection for the customer.
  • Immediately improve customer experience with AI-powered routing.

So, what does this process look like in real time? In one example, a Fortune 500 company’s customers were initially being transferred all over the contact center. They then optimized their customer calls based on sentiment dada. Here’s what happened:

  • They saw a 15% decrease in negative sentiment on PBR (predictive behavioral routing) routed calls.
  • They saw a 13% increase in positive sentiment on PBR routed calls
  • They saw a 6.4% decrease in average handle time in PBR routed calls
  • This required 0 hours of coaching, training and employee change management.

The combination of sentiment and behavioral routing will improve customer satisfaction metrics, reduce costs for manual listening and surveys, improve customer satisfaction via targeted coaching and performance management, and increase employee satisfaction. Your analytics practices are valuable, but should be evolving to keep up with dynamic consumer expectations. Your employees and customers alike will thank you for it.

To listen to the full webcast click here: https://bit.ly/2ULJgPB

How Analytics Enable You to Bring Your Company Closer to the Customer than Ever Before

There are divergent opinions in what technologies are most effective in creating a better customer experience, but one thing that just about every expert agrees upon is analytics can be  a real game-changer.

According to a recent Harvard Business Review Analytics Services study, published in Forbes magazine;

  • 70% of enterprises have increased their spending on customer analytics solutions over the past year.
  • 58% of enterprises are seeing a significant increase in customer retention and loyalty as a result of using customer analytics.
  • 60% use real-time customer analytics to improve customer experience across touch points and devices as extremely important today.
  • 44% of enterprises are gaining new customers and increasing revenue as a result of adopting and integrating customer analytics into their operations.

The move toward greater use of analytics has been swelled by a wave of converging technologies including artificial intelligence, the internet of things (IoT), and cloud computing. The exceptional speed and precision advanced customer data analytics continue to improve at an exponential rate, making them a must-have for businesses seeking to forge stronger connections with their audience.

As further noted in the Harvard Business Review Analytics Services study, the number of corporate executives who responded to the study indicated that the importance of having the capability to use customer analytics to improve customer experience across all touch points rose from 60% in 2018 to a projected 79% for 2020.

But it’s an oversimplification to just state that analytics can be beneficial to businesses. Analytics tools encompass a broad spectrum of categories and technologies that needs to be understood and evaluated before being implemented and integrated into a company’s CX strategy.

Can text and speech be analyzed in the same way? Why or why not and how should companies be thinking about text analysis vs. speech analysis? Both text and speech analytics enable organizations to optimize customer engagement by looking deeper into interactions its agents have with customers, regardless of channel –phone, email, chat, social media, or surveys as well.

Speech analytics uses speech recognition software to convert spoken words of recorded calls into text where analyses can be performed. When used effectively, it can help identify the reason behind a call, the products mentioned and the caller’s mood. Sophisticated speech analytics software can analyze phrases used by customers to quickly identify their needs, wants and expectations and indicate areas that need improvement for front-line personnel.

Text analytics is the process of transforming unstructured text documents into usable, structured data. It works by deconstructing sentences and phrases into their components, and then examining each part’s role and meaning using complex software rules and machine learning algorithms. One can analogize it to slicing and dicing piles of diverse documents into easy-to- interpret data pieces. By more closely examining communications written by–or about– customers, business can identify patterns and topics of interest, and follow up with practical action based on what has been learned

Desktop analytics offers contact center managers a method of capturing and analyzing user activity at the desktop level. The data gathered about individual application usage and across applications can not only impact the customer experience but ultimately affect the IT resource budget as well. It resides on each individual agent’s desktop, compiling a list of every application, URL, and more the agent accesses during the day. This empowers companies to determine if contact center personnel are adhering to standards and see how well they are relating to customers.

Leading analytics provider Calabrio will take a deeper dive into the constantly growing use of analytics—and examine its specific role in enabling companies to become more customer-centric—in two complementary…and complimentary…webcasts on CrmXchange.

The first of the two presentations –“The Beginner’s Guide to Analytics” –will take place on Thursday, February 20. Presented by Contact Center Analytics Consultant Mark Fagus of Calabrio, it will explore such key topics as:

  • The differences between speech, text and desktop analytics
  • Analytics technologies, such as LVCSR (Large-Vocabulary Conversational Speech Recognition), Phonetics and STT (speech-to-text)
  • The top 10 analytics business use cases

The second webcast –Unlock Customer-Centric Intelligence on Thursday, March 12 will expand on how companies can make the most out of using analytics by empowering themselves to reach higher levels of comprehension by developing new insights to deal with their customers. Brad Snedeker, Director Product Marketing, Calabrio, will delve into features that companies can use to their advantage, including:

  • Embedded analytics – learn how analytics have been surfaced throughout the application to provide easy access to key insights without having to go outside everyday workflows
  • Unified, self-service dashboards – compelling and personalized insights within dashboards that can double as homepages
  • Enterprise KPIs – out-of-the box performance management tools
  • Speech-to-text enhancements – find out how to achieve increased accuracy and speed of transcription

Register now for the first or second of these informative Calabrio webcasts….even better, sign up for both! Each will take place at 1:00 pm ET: if you cannot attend the live presentations, you can download each one 24 hours after it is completed.

2020 Customer Support Predictions

2020 Customer Support Predictions from UJET’s Anand Janefalkar, Founder and CEO, UJET

  1. Messaging Will Surpass Voice – “While voice will always remain an important channel for support, especially for urgent issues, in 2020, we will see messaging (SMS and chat) overtake voice as the most critical support channel. Woe to customer service organizations that cannot provide an omnichannel support experience that includes messaging, as this will most surely equal the success or demise of the overall customer experience (CX).”
  2. Multichannel Will Expand to Multimedia – “In 2020, expect to see customer service organizations turn their attention to optimizing each support pathway to meet the tech-savvy needs of many of their customers. Chief among enhanced capabilities will be multimedia. The ability to share screenshots, photos and even video between the customer and support professional will become commonplace during support interactions.”
  3. Data Will Break Down Silos Between Customer Support and Other Teams – “In 2020, the ‘digital transformation’ conversation that has become commonplace across IT, will extend into the customer service center. We will begin to see the impact and value of support data being shared across the enterprise. Customer feedback, sentiment, profile data and more will be securely shared across organizations helping teams such as marketing, sales and product development to make more strategic decisions. And as a result, the importance and value of customer support will be elevated as a whole.”
  4. Agent Specialization Will Be A Key Focus  – “In 2020, as the presence of technologies such as AI and Machine Learning within the contact center continue to grow, and more customers are directed towards bots and self-service options, support agents will become hyper-specialized. Agent specialization will not only be geared towards channels, but also centered around specific issues, situations and the urgency of incoming support interactions.”
  5. AI Will Improve the Customer Support Employee Experience (EX), as well as the Customer Experience (CX) – “In 2020, AI will dramatically improve the employee experience (EX). The ability to automatically and instantly collect data from across multiple channels, analyze it and provide actionable insight will enable support agents to more quickly, easily and accurately address customer inquiries and come to highly satisfactory issue resolution.”

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.

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.

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

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.