Customer Interaction

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.

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

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.

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.

How Will Contact Center Channels Change in 2019?

Customer-centric businesses are working harder than ever to support all of the channels that their customers want to use. That’s why 84% of companies who consider themselves to be customer-centric have a heavy focus on supporting mobile channels for a greater customer experience. COPC reported that mobile care increases by 41% in 2018 alone.

The results from the 2018-2019 ContactBabel Report, as shown, illustrate that as mobile becomes more widely used by end users, channels like email, telephone, letter, and fax are expected to decrease in interactions. The channel with the largest expected increase in interactions for 2019 is web chat, with 56% of survey respondents believing there will be an increase. Social media customer service and SMS followed with 46% and 36% expecting an increase in interactions.inbound channnels

Both the need to retain strong CX strategies around traditional channels like email, voice, and IVR, and the need to add new channels has companies wondering how to create and run a true omnichannel contact center that empowers agents and delights customers. The ContactBabel Omnichannel Report walks though more stats from their survey, which could help you in your omnichannel journey.

inbound calls 2019

With traditional channels like voice, email, and chat, as well as channels like SMS/text, video, in-app, social messengers, and bots, Bright Pattern is the only true omnichannel provider that can be turned on in just days!

Boost Customer Experience Utilizing Service KPI Insights

Contact center Key Performance Indicator (KPIs) are used by SMB and enterprise companies to make better business decisions and improve the customer experience. Also called metrics, KPIs are the measurable values that show just how effective your business is at achieving its goals.

In our last couple blogs, we touched upon the top agent KPIs and team KPIs that your contact center should be tracking. We also covered the real-time metrics that supervisors use on a daily basis to monitor the status and productivity of their agents.

This time, we’ll check out some of the most used services metrics that show how your services are doing. A service is a specific reason for customers to initiate an interaction with a contact center, or, in the case of outbound dialing, for a contact center to initiate an interaction with a customer. In the contact center space, a service typically means the type of channel that connects the customer to the business: voice, email, chat, and so on.

Not only do supervisors monitor teams of agents, you are checking the performance of the services your contact center offers. Real-time dashboards and wallboards provide a broad view of:

    • Status: Where are the customers now—in IVR, on hold, waiting, being helped?
    • Abandonment: How many interactions were abandoned or dropped?
    • Dropped calls/chats: How many interactions were dropped, and why
    • What’s in the queue: How many customers are waiting to be helped?
    • Service level: How many calls and interactions have been accepted and handled today?

 

Keep in mind that you can track the nitty gritty of things by showing very granular metrics–if you want–and there may be dozens of service KPIs available in your contact center software.

The following are generally the most used and most basic of metrics that show where your customers are in your service offerings.

  • Name – The name of the service. This may seem obvious, but it’s not when you’re monitoring three or more simultaneously.
  • SLA – For voice services, SLA is the percentage of calls answered before the threshold time calculated over the most recent 20 calls. For email, it’s the percentage of emails replied to within the predefined service level threshold.
  • Waiting – How many customers are waiting to be helped for the given service.
  • Max Wait – The longest amount of time that the customer could wait before being helped.
  • In IVR – How many customers are in the IVR for self-service.
  • Queued – The number of customer interactions waiting to be connected to an agent.
  • Handled – The number of customer interactions that have been handled for the service.
  • Active – The active users (agents) handling interactions for the service.
  • Logged in – The number of agents logged in to your contact center.
  • Busy – How many agents are busy helping customers.

When you work in customer service, it’s safe to assume that people are calling, texting, emailing, and chatting with you not because they want to, but because they need to. Assume that they are already having a bad day, so do your best not to make it worse. For any service, it’s ideal to see low numbers for the metrics related to waiting and being on hold. In addition, you want to see high SLA, which shows that agents are helping customers promptly. Your goal is to help people quickly and efficiently. Don’t make your customers wait.

Service metrics provide detailed information about how your team’s customer service handling is impacting the customer. Ultimately, the quality of your services is directly related to customer satisfaction. Supervisors who see the number of customers waiting in queue rising higher than the number of logged-in, available agents to help them, can see that some adjustments need to be made as soon as possible.

A Contact Center Driven by Insights

KPIs provide the insights you need for improving agent engagement and elevating the customer experience. The customer experience hinges on empowering agents with the right training, tools, and service model. Bright Pattern’s omnichannel contact center software helps empower agents with unique tools that facilitate better conversations, boost agent performance, and deliver higher returns in customer satisfaction and agent engagement. Having a unified and powerful agent desktop that displays important KPIs helps to keep supervisors focused on teams and agents focused on customers.

You can learn more about how monitoring agent metrics can help improve agent engagement and customer service by downloading our e-book.

3 Innovations in Customer Service

Technical advances have done a lot of wonderful, game-changing things, but they’ve also made it much easier and quicker for customers to complain. This has forced brands and contact centers to amp up their customer service strategies. These innovative customer service ideas could have a major impact on the customer experience.

  1. Let customers test products or services before purchasing them.

Free trials can go a long way towards landing committed customers. Trying before buying isn’t yet the standard across the board, but it should be. By letting customers try out your product or service for a limited time, you tell them that you believe so much in what you’re selling that you know they’ll get on board. Contemporary customer service is all about making the customer’s life easier. Let them wait to pay until they’re sure they want to make a purchase.

  1. Use videos to answer complex questions

The more complex a FAQ, the more text you’re going to need to answer it. A lot of customers aren’t going to take the time to read a lengthy blog or social media post, which means they’ll either (a) go without finding their answer, which won’t leave them as satisfied as possible, or (b) call to speak with a live agent, which puts more pressure on your staff. An excellent alternative is to record a video that answers the question. You can solve the problem in less time than it would take to read the answer, and videos are also highly shareable, so your customers can help you spread the word.

  1. Make it easy to do even unwanted actions.

Stellar customer service shouldn’t end when a customer wants to switch providers or go with one of your competitors. You should still treat the customer well even if you’re going to lose their business – treating them well at this stage could actually convince them to stay with you or come back at some point down the road. Transparency should be embraced at every stage, even if the customer wants to close or delete their account. By doing something like hiding the “delete account” button, you’re getting in the way of the customer having an easy, seamless interaction with your brand.

 

Impactful customer service strategies are thoughtful, too. By combining innovation with high-level awareness, you can appeal to the customer’s emotions while meeting their tech-savvy needs.

What’s on Your Supervisor Screen? Agent KPIs to Watch

In your day-to-day contact center operations, everything under the sun can be measured, reported on, and popped to your screen. When you’re bombarded by data, only the most-used KPIs deserve a spot on your agent desktop. How do you know which KPIs are the most valuable to your team, contact center, and business?

A Key Performance Indicator (KPI), also called a metric, is a value that you can measure, one that shows just how effective your business is at achieving its goals. If your top business goal is to boost customer satisfaction, for example, you’ll probably want to keep an eye on KPIs such as call abandonment rates, survey responses, average handle time, and so forth. Contact centers use metrics to collect specific data from every interaction, service, queue, agent, survey, and more.

In any contact center, the real-time metrics that supervisors use on a daily basis generally fall into common categories, such as these:

  • Agent metrics
  • Campaign-specific metrics
  • List metrics
  • Service metrics
  • Skill metrics
  • Team metrics

Nestled in each category, there can be dozens, if not hundreds, of metrics, and the ones that matter really depend on your company’s goals.

Your Agents, At-a-Glance

Do you know what your agents are doing, right now? Supervisors need dashboards and wallboards with real-time KPIs that signal which agents and teams need to be monitored. And when there are 50+ KPIs to choose from, how do you know which ones are the most important? The more metrics you add to a dashboard, the less useful a dashboard becomes. In this blog, we will focus on some of the most-useful real-time agent metrics for contact center supervisors to watch.

Agent State

An agent’s state indicates whether or not the agent can handle an interaction. It may seem basic, but this information is very useful to the supervisor monitoring a team of agents working both in-house and remotely. Agent State provides an at-a-glance look at whether agents are ready, not ready, busy, idle, or doing after-call work. For agents in the Not Ready state, this metric also provides the reason (e.g., lunch, break, meeting, etc.).

Agent State shows what every logged in agent on your team is doing right now. If all your agents are busy, you know why the queue is filling up with calls, or why callers are still on hold. Likewise, if all your agents are ready yet the queue is backed up and customers are not being helped, you have reason to suspect your services are not running.

Time in State

Time in State is how long (in minutes and seconds) an agent has been ready, not ready, and so forth. Generally, supervisors will know what duration is acceptable for service calls, chats, breaks, and after-call work, and the Time in State metric will give them a cursory view of who’s working as expected, who’s slacking, and who needs help. For example, the supervisor may want to check in on an agent who’s been in the Not Ready state for 24 minutes, with no reason given.

ACW Time

After-call work (ACW) consists of all the tasks that agents must do before they can complete the interaction, tasks such as setting a disposition, creating contacts, writing notes, setting follow-ups, and more. These tasks are important but tedious. Agents in the ACW state cannot handle a new interaction until this work is done.

ACW Time can show you which agents and teams are not accepting new interactions because they’re still working on the old. High ACW time can indicate it’s time to relieve your agents of this type of work and automate the tasks instead.

Sentiment

Displayed as faces that are happy, neutral, or angry, sentiment provides a quick glimpse at the general mood and satisfaction level of your customers, in real time. It’s not the sentiment of your agents. Happy faces mean happy customers, and angry ones spell low customer satisfaction and poor reviews.

When agents chat with a customer, for example, the system is utilizing Natural Language Understanding and other cognitive technologies to assess the customer’s satisfaction level. Positive keywords, statements, and expressions become happy faces in the supervisor’s monitoring screen and in the agent’s active interaction. Sentiment is also saved in interaction records and chat transcripts such as this.

The sentiment of an unhelpful chat session would immediately appear on the agent’s screen within the chat as well as on the supervisor’s screen. A slew of angry faces in the supervisor’s list view of active agent interactions means the supervisor should monitor those agents and step in to help.

Customer Satisfaction

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) is the average result of surveys where the customer satisfaction question has been answered. The best way to know how your customers feel about your service, agents, products, or anything else, is to ask them.

Net Promoter Score

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is the percentage of points for all surveys where a response was given for the contact satisfaction question. The percentage is calculated out of the number of interactions, where surveys exist, by subtracting the percentage of promoters (values 9 and 10) by the percentage of detractors (values 0 to 6).

You want to have a high NPS at all times. Customers are more likely to respond positively to a contact satisfaction question if they had a good experience with a knowledgeable, helpful agent. For contact centers, NPS is key way to measure success

Contact Center Driven by Insights

Agent metrics provide detailed information about agent performance and customer satisfaction. These KPIs provide the insights you need for improving agent engagement and elevating the customer experience.

After all, customer experience hinges on empowering agents with the right training, tools, and service model. Bright Pattern’s omnichannel contact center software helps empower agents with unique tools that facilitate better conversations, boost agent performance, and deliver higher returns in customer satisfaction and agent engagement. Having a unified and powerful agent desktop that displays important KPIs helps to keep supervisors focused on teams and agents focused on customers.

You can learn more about how monitoring agent metrics can help improve agent engagement and customer service by downloading the Bright Pattern e-book.

Digital Disruption in Fintech Customer Service – an Uber Moment for All Industries?

Two years ago, during a brainstorming session at Customer Contact Week, a customer service leader from a government agency stated that it wanted its service to be as good as Nordstrom’s. What was a surprise at the time has become a new norm. Customers expect similar levels of customer service across industries.

Now, the financial services industry always an early adopter of new technology—is going through a wave of Uber- or Amazon-like digital disruption that will not stay within just financial services but will roll over into all industries. The smarter, more agile companies—midsized companies or large enterprises—will ride the wave and grow while others will struggle to stay relevant.

So what does this wave look like and what should customer service leaders in other industries be aware of? Let’s dive into what is happening in financial services and some lessons learned to see….

Fintech, Then and Now

Digital disruption has swept up the financial services industry, as traditional big banks are challenged by digital banks like Tangerine, traditional investment firms are challenged by companies like Wealthfront, and companies like Square or PayPal become digital financial services firms using innovative technology.

Many of the old-school companies are now either buying the financial tech (i.e., fintech) companies who plan to usurp them, partner with them, or just leverage the technology into their customer services operations.

To reduce effort and increase personalization, banks have turned to biometrics to authenticate. Rather than being greeted with an impersonal “name, rank, and social security number please” message, biometrics do the work and the agent can then greet them personally. Similarly, with 90% of consumers preferring online banking regardless of age, companies have rolled out chat text communication, and other forms of self-service. And more innovative companies are looking at video to increase personalization. OmniChannel banking is here, where the best of digital self-service is seamlessly blended with agents.

The shift to digital self-service can be significant to business. Take a look at Wells Fargo, for example, which announced earlier this month that it’s eliminating up to 10% of its workforce as a result of customers moving to digital channels and self-service. This is similar to AIG’s announcement a couple years ago to slash over a billion dollars of expenses as the company made similar moves to self-service and digital channels. Many of these shifts to digital channels and self-service are lessons other industries should heed and learn from.

So how do you compete if you are a midsize financial services company or large enterprise bank—or even in another industry? Customer service and customer experience remain the top strategy to win, especially when coupling this with disruptive digital approaches.

Let’s look at some key ways to win in financial services, ways that also are relevant to other industries too.

Key #1: Digital Channels of Choice

To stay relevant, it is key that your company handle not just classic channels such as voice, chat, email and text, but also emerging digital channels like bots, messengers and video.

Chat was the fastest growing channel most recently, but experts predict new messaging channels will overtake chat in the next wave. Forrester is actually predicting the average number of channels people will use often will increase from 9 to 11. Agents need to be able to communicate over these new channels and be able to hop across them if they have the right skills for the new channels.

Similarly, channels that customers prefer need to be offered to customers as a way to communicate with their digital banks. So the first takeaway is to provide customers with their digital channel of choice, both classic and emerging.

Key #2: Maintain One Conversation in Context

As communications happen over an increasing number of channels, you need a way to unify all these siloed interactions. If you want to keep customers and deliver frictionless communications, look for the entire customer journey rather than individual communications for each channel.

If you are communicating with a bot and then an agent, the agent should have at his or her fingertips all the context from communication on previous channels so they can provide an effortless customer experience. A single unified desktop that allows agents to see the full conversation in context empowers agents and makes for a much better experience for customers—whether you’re a digital bank or are in any other industry.

Key #3: Digital Conversations for a Mobile World

In addition to unifying all your channels in context, it is important to communicate with people where they are. In our super-busy, high-tech world, people are often looking at their mobile phone on trains, planes—and all too often—their automobiles. People are on the go. COPC recently reported that mobile care will increase 41% in 2018.

So make sure that your top channels can be accessed on mobile devices wherever the customer may be. Bright Pattern, for instance, allows in ap chat, file sharing, video chat, and more.

Banks had some of the most useful apps when they first created the deposit-by-picture feature. Yet, when you hit the “contact us” button in most apps in other industries, you are routed to a general phone number where an IVR asks you what language you speak rather than offer personal service.

Companies should take a mobile, personalized approach to their communications. Put the conversation where people are—and that is on the go.

Key #4: Cloud Customer Service is a Key Enabler

So how do you do all this—add digital channels, communicate seamlessly across them, respond to new channels, and more? Look to the cloud. A true “born from the cloud” customer service architecture where all channels are native versus bolt-on can give you a nimble platform in which you are the disruptor versus disrupted.

Cloud-first architecture is a truly agile, nimble platform because it doesn’t rely on legacy technology ported from old on-premises solutions. A cloud platform approach will break down the silos and deliver a simple solution that business users can make changes to without requiring costly IT and professional services. Our e-book explains how to safely transition your contact center to the cloud.

Final Thoughts?

The wave of disruption is everywhere, rolling through financial services and hitting other industries too. Ready to join the world of digital disruption sweeping through financial services? There is a brighter way to deliver disruptive customer service that smart companies are using, and it starts in the cloud.

I hope some of these keys were helpful. To learn more about staying relevant in this world of digital disruption, see Bright Pattern’s free e-book, 5 Keys: Effortless and Personal Omnichannel Customer Service.

Vonage Looks to Create Significant Strategic Advantages with the Acquisition of NewVoiceMedia

The recent announcement of Vonage’s acquisition of cloud contact center-as-a-service (CCCaaS) provider NewVoiceMedia for an equity price of $350M in cash was a carefully considered decision designed to leverage the strengths of both companies in the ever-evolving contact center space. “We thoroughly explored a number of companies as we looked for the right fit in cloud contact center before announcing our intent. We found the strategic benefits to be compelling,” noted Omar Javaid, Vonage Chief Product Officer. “The combination of Vonage’s robust UCaaS and CPaaS solutions with NewVoiceMedia’s pure-play cloud contact center offering provides a seamless user experience, with end-to-end communications to enable increased employee productivity, mobility and ease-of-use, as well as enhanced customer engagement and more productive conversations. NewVoiceMedia will provide us with global scale and round out our robust product offering in the high-growth cloud contact center market. This is a large market that is adjacent to UCaaS and is undergoing the same on-prem-to-cloud migration taking place in UCaaS.”

NewVoiceMedia delivers a cloud contact center solution that is distinguished by its specifically CRM-focused, go-to-market approach. As businesses adopt CRM tools to improve customer engagement and to drive digital transformation, these solutions offer what Vonage believes to be a superior, integrated experience with leading CRMs: for example, NewVoiceMedia offers a tight integration with Salesforce. This is particularly important for better, real-time, omnichannel interactions across chat, voice and SMS, as well as more robust analytics and data capture.

“By orienting NewVoiceMedia’s technology stack to a programmable, microservices architecture, we will be able to increase the number of programmable solutions offered on Nexmo, the Vonage API platform,” said Javaid. “There is a natural linkage between our programmable communications platform and cloud contact center in which components-such as queuing, IVR and speech analytics among others–can be accessed via APIs and embedded into a company’s existing solutions to improve functionality, making every customer communication count.”

“Once the deal has closed (which is expected in Q4), we will focus on fully integrating the solutions,” he said. “Since they complement each other so well, we plan on accelerating our strategy to create OneVonage, our combined, microservices-based, cloud communications platform. With OneVonage, we will provide solutions, all fully programmable, including packaged applications such as PBX, Contact Center, Collaboration and Team messaging, as well as programmable communication APIs.”

Javaid believes that by fully integrating NewVoiceMedia’s cloud contact center solutions into Vonage’s UCaaS offering, the company will be responding to the strong customer demand it has seen among mid-market and enterprise customers for such integrated solutions. “Up until now, we have addressed this demand by integrating third-party contact center solutions,” he said. “By owning NewVoiceMedia, we can more deeply integrate our products and deliver a superior solution versus competitive offerings.”

While the solutions will be merged, the companies will continue to operate independently. According to Javaid, NewVoiceMedia, which has more than 700 customers and more than 400 employees, will continue to operate on a standalone basis for the foreseeable future.

Vonage expects to realize annual run rate synergies of about $10M by the end of next year and hopes to see these results go “meaningfully higher” by the end of 2020.