Customer Self Service

Learn to Identify the Five Interaction Categories that are Most Effectively Handled by AI-Powered Virtual Agents

Just about everyone has an IVR horror story to share. Being forced to listen to repetitive menus. Getting stuck in an endless cycle of trying to navigate through options that don’t meet their needs. Wanting to throw the phone against the wall in frustration after hearing an automated voice announce, “I’m sorry, but I didn’t get your response.”

We all know the limitations of IVR systems. Yet too many companies still seem bound and determined to deploy antiquated, poorly designed call automation that not only doesn’t work well but is difficult to implement and expensive to maintain. This makes even less sense when there is a more time- and cost-efficient option available.

Over the past several years, the evolution of conversational AI and delivery over the cloud has enabled businesses to go far beyond the boundaries of traditional IVRs. Companies of all kinds are automating more conversations than ever before while maintaining…and often improving … the customer experience by adapting omnichannel solutions utilizing AI-powered virtual agents.

Even in the earliest stages of development, AI-powered virtual agents were able to handle many tasks that were formerly the sole province of live agents. Conversational AI enables virtual agents to automate the routine and repetitive call types that formerly took up much of a live rep’s day. The same type of simplified experience can be scaled to chat and text channels as a unified application. Virtual agents are powered by a centralized cloud-based AI “brain” that connects to a business’ customer data via APIs. With the broad variety of available tools to replicate the best live agent behavior, virtual agents exceed the capabilities of touchtone IVR, directed dialog, and simple chatbots for customer service.

Producing more productive conversational AI solutions is an ongoing process that requires constant monitoring and refinement. This involves machine learning, building out language models, customizing and weighting the acoustics to grammars on every single question to match the phrases companies think they heard versus what they know they are listening for to get the best possible speech recognition. Most suppliers start by focusing on the voice channel, which offers the greatest potential for rapid ROI. They then move onto scaling the application digitally to accommodate chat or text.

The most effective virtual agents can communicate at the real-time pace of a conversation, understand complex dialogue, and perform in a fashion that emulates a company’s top agents on all channels. While every contact center has a pool of live agents, whether in-house or remote, forward-thinking companies now have a pool of AI-powered virtual agents to handle the routine calls and chats that don’t require complex critical thinking or judgment. By doing so, these organizations are positioned to upskill their live front-line reps to handle only the interactions that genuinely require human intervention.

SmartAction, a recognized innovator of purpose-built AI-powered Virtual Agents for customer service, has found that in its experience of designing and deploying new AI-powered virtual agents for voice interactions, the self-service application consistently falls into one of five distinct categories. They have validated this formula with more than a hundred clients encompassing hundreds of use cases across 12 industries.

What are these categories? SmartAction will detail them in a complimentary live webcast, appropriately  entitled “The 5 Categories that Rule Virtual Agents”  on CrmXchange on Thursday, October 1st at 1:00 pm. They will show businesses how to understand and to broadly classify its interactions to ensure that a live human agent should never handle the ones that can be best addressed by AI-powered virtual agents. Among the areas to covered are:

  • Determining which specific categories are best suited for exclusive AI applicability
  • Comprehending the top use cases driving conversational AI adoption
  • Real-world examples from 6 leading companies

The presenters are industry veterans with proven expertise in helping organizations deliver frictionless customer experiences via conversational intelligence. Brian Morin, CMO, SmartAction has been instrumental in helping the company achieve its status as the top-rated Virtual Customer Assistant solution on Gartner Peer Insight and distinction as “The Leader in AI-Enhanced Self-Service” by Frost & Sullivan. Mark Landry, SmartAction’s VP of Product, began his career as a Lucasfilm intern  and become an award-winning screenwriter for Nickelodeon, The Disney Channel, and Amazon Studios. He is a CX designer who has designed human-to-AI interactions for more than 100 brands including DSW, AAA, Electrolux, Choice Hotels, and others. They will be joined by Marilyn Cassedy, Director of Customer Success, SmartAction who oversees the relationships with high-level clients to ensure they are receiving full value.

Register now for this eye-opening webcast. If you are unable to attend the live presentation, a link to the recording will be posted within 24 hours after the presentation.

Make Sure that Customers, Agents and Managers Can Navigate the New Normal… and Beyond

At first, it seemed like a sudden squall, roiling every channel in which companies do business. Customer service leaders hung on to the till for dear life to weather what they thought to be a temporary tempest that would soon take them to calmer waters. As time continues to go by, some elements have stabilized a bit, but it is clear we are dealing with a sea change in the way businesses of all sizes need to deliver a consistently superior customer experience.

While successful organizations will navigate the wave of transformation in the workplace, those that continue to do business as usual will flounder along the way. But what defines the demarcation line between simply treading water and charting an informed course? It involves leveraging strategies and CX solutions that enable their workforce to adapt, their customers to have their needs met, and their businesses to thrive.

It has become more critical than ever to listen more carefully to what customers are saying. Updating the contact center by taking advantage of AI and automation capabilities which provide a powerful resource to uncover insights and opportunities for optimizing customer service. Intelligent use of these technologies enables on-the-fly research to better comprehend changing dynamics and new pain points as well as determine innovative approaches to address them. CX leaders who effectively apply AI and automation will create value for consumers. Companies that can create seamless   interactions between assisted self-service and a hybrid workforce will have a distinct competitive   advantage in an environment where customers often struggle to reach businesses.

A study last year in the Harvard Business Review found that the average American consumer spends 13 hours a year stuck on hold trying to resolve problems. The study also revealed that disgruntled customers who need to make two or more calls to resolve their issue, often simply just give up. More than three-quarters of consumers come away “less than satisfied” with a company’s customer service. In many cases, companies set up their customer service operations to make it more difficult for irate customers to gain satisfaction.

One vital way to diminish growing frustration levels is to ensure that front-line personnel are fully engaged and empowered to effectively answer customer calls. This entails both giving them the right knowledge management tools to do their jobs as well as providing employees and supplemental remote workers the real-time assistance necessary to collaborate with each other from multiple locations.

Maintaining compliance in the face of rapidly changing regulations and diverse team locations is also an important element in staying afloat. But how can managers ensure the proper procedures are being followed in a time when they have far less oversight into the daily activities of their agents?

Improved capabilities to listen to customer conversations via AI and automation…engaging and empowering the workforce to optimize productivity and responsiveness…being vigilant about keeping compliance with a staff situated in diverse locations These are the three cornerstones of navigating the new normal and thriving in the time beyond the pandemic.  Customer engagement and cyber intelligence specialists Verint will present a series of three in-depth webcasts on these crucial areas spaced over a one-month period on CrmXchange.

Entitled “Modern Solutions and Best Practices to Make Life Easier for Agents, Managers, and Customers,” the series will kick off on Tuesday, September 29th at 1:00 PM ET with a session on “AI Powered Analytics Drive Exceptional CX with Human and Digital Channels” which will examine such vital issues as:

  • Determining what types of issues cause the most customer frustration, and how to fix them
  • How businesses can see a unified view of their customer service across channels
  • How can you understand your customer and user intents to drive a successful self-service strategy?

It will be presented by Daniel Ziv, VP, Speech and Text Analytics – Global Product Strategy, Verint and Tracy Malingo, SVP of Product Strategy, Verint.  Daniel has extensive expertise in helping companies achieve significant ROI by improving performance and quality, while enhancing customer engagement. Tracy has an extensive background in strategic and operational vision on conversational AI, having also served as president of NextAI, where she was instrumental in guiding the technology into the mainstream. Register now

The second presentation, “Empowering the Workforce and Maximizing Productivity” will take place on Tuesday, October 13 at 1:oo PM ET. It will focus on making sure that both remote and in-person representatives have everything they need to fulfill their roles as the face of an organization. Among the topics covered will be

  • How to keep employees engaged by giving them the right tools to effectively do their jobs
  • Ensuring that employees have the opportunity to collaborate with each other from multiple locations
  • Providing real-time assistance to help the growing number of work-from-home agents answer customer calls effectively.

The speakers are consummate professionals: John Chmaj, Sr. Practice Director, Knowledge Management, Verint Global Consulting Services, is a seasoned veteran in the KM field. He has worked in all phases of the customer support process, including telephone and online support, technical writing, applications development, and worldwide knowledge systems design. He will be joined by Jon Allen, VP & GM, Communities & Web Self-Service, Verint. Register now for this session.

The final webcast in the series “Ensuring Compliance in the New Normal” is set for Tuesday, October 27 at 1:00PM ET. It will examine the emerging disciplines involved in effectively maintaining compliance with teams now scattered across diverse locations where it is often more difficult to keep track of what agents are doing on a day-to-day basis. Attendees will learn how to:

  • Take a proactive approach by making it easy for a company’s agents to consistently follow the correct processes
  • Monitor employees’ activities and productivity even when they are working remotely
  • Ensure the company can capture, store, and analyze the interaction data necessary to prove compliance and investigate issues

This important how-to presentation will be delivered by Verint’s Directors of Content Marketing, Kelly Koellicker and Iain Dawes. Kelly’s focus on contact center workforce engagement solutions, coupled with Iain’s extensive expertise on compliance and ability to tell comprehensible, engaging stories covering a wider variety of subject matter will make for an entertaining and informative session. Register now for this session

Register for all three for this transformational webcast series. If you are unable to attend any of the live webcasts, a link to the recording will be posted within 24 hours after the presentation.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Strategies for an Enhanced Customer Experience

Customers don’t hesitate to talk about a negative experience with a brand ­– they tell their friends and, more importantly, post critiques online for the rest of your customers to see. Even one bad experience can spoil a customer to a company forever. Customer experience has to be a top priority for contact centers in order to promote satisfaction and loyalty.

  1. Treat all interactions with the same care.

There isn’t one type of feedback that’s more important than another ­– they’re all valuable and important. If you’re going to have various communication paths set up – Twitter, email surveys, live chat – you need to be available and responsive on all of them with the same amount of attention. Otherwise, consider if that channel is important enough to keep.

  1. Invest in cognitive computing.

Cognitive computing technology takes natural language processing a step further ­– it can tell how a person is feeling by analyzing the sentiment behind what they’re saying. The agent can then adjust their responses in order to improve the customer’s mood to either neutral or happy before the call is over.

  1. Allow all employees to make decisions.

Unless there’s a legitimate reason why an employee can’t resolve a situation on their own, give your agents the power to make key decisions. For example, if discounts or refunds are usually offered to customers who meet certain criteria, allow your agents to present the offer without having to transfer the customer to a supervisor.

  1. Offer excellent advice for the individual customer.

If you have advice to give, give it! The customer experience is largely based on building relationships. Customers will trust you if you give them valuable advice even when it’s not directly promoting one of your products or services. Creating a loyal customer can be more important than getting another sale right this second.

  1. Make self-service obvious and easy.

You can build a solid relationship with a customer without speaking with them one-on-one. Remember, the company overall is developing the relationship; the relationship isn’t between the agent and the customer, necessarily. Many customers want the option of self-service. Knowing they can accomplish a task on their own can boost the sentiment they have for your company.

When you put customers at the center of your business goals, you’ll be in a better position to deliver the quality experiences they demand.

5 Trends in the Customer Service Industry

Every year sees new changes to the customer service industry, and 2018 has been no different. This year, the focus has been on improving customer service in order to meet growing expectations. Here are 5 trends that are influencing the industry right now, and they’ll likely continue – and be built upon – in 2019.

  1. Chatbots are providing customer care.

According to IBM, by the year 2020 as much as 85% of customer interactions will not be handled by a human. For the contact center, this means making sure chatbots are providing a great experience for the customer – poor technology or chatbots that are used incorrectly can seriously impact your bottom line.

  1. Cloud-based customer service software is the norm.

Contact centers that rely on cloud-based solutions can have remote agents located around the world. This means that different time zones and extended hours can be covered, offering customer service practically any time and from anywhere. This software can give a complete history of customer interaction, including past communication and notes that agents make about a customer.

  1. Success of the team has become a priority.

If individuals can provide great service, then teams of excellent agents can do even more. Teammate success is now a priority and contact centers are investing more in educating and training their teams. One way of making customer service teams more successful is by hiring agile agents who can handle more than one type of job.

  1. Increased reliance on self-service.

Self-service has been trending for a long time, but now companies are taking self-service to the next level by personalizing it. For example, customers may be shown only certain self-service options based on the products or services they have. This means that customers can get quicker access to the information they need without having to weed through an entire knowledge base.

  1. Software will seamlessly integrate.

Contact center technology systems are a big expense and they carry out integral jobs, like analyzing data and storing all sorts of customer information. Since software is so essential to the contact center, it’s important for different software and tools to integrate with one another. We’ll continue to see software that’s specifically designed to work seamlessly with complementary software so that you can piece together the best system for your contact center.

Have you noticed trends in the customer service world? Tell us about them in the comments.

6 Contact Center Technologies to Delight the Customer

Sometimes you have to rethink how you service clients in order to continue improving the customer experience. These six contact center technologies are sure to enhance each customer’s journey, which helps retain them, improves word-of-mouth marketing and elevates your reputation.

  1. Call-Back

If a caller wants to speak with a live agent even though there’s a long wait time, let them opt to get a call back when an agent is available. Allowing the customer to continue with whatever they were doing, instead of having to hang on the phone for several minutes, will keep them happy and let both the customer and the agent deal with the issue efficiently.

  1. Contact Routing Software

Contact routing software passes customers along to the right agent quickly. This technology encompasses all communication routes, including chat, email and voice. Instead of speaking with an agent and then being put on hold to be transferred, the software gets the customer to the correct agent the first time

  1. Interactive Video

When customers call to speak with a live agent via their mobile device, interactive videos play ads, entertainment or promotions during hold time. Not only does this keep the customer’s attention, but it may answer one of their questions or tell them about a product or service they might want.

  1. Two-Way Social Media Conversations

Brands have known for a while that they need a presence on social media, but now customers want a two-way conversation. It’s no longer acceptable to give customers a place to go just so they can provide feedback or learn more about you. Your agents have to actually respond now, quickly and in a personalized way.

  1. Unified Communications

“Omnichannel” has been a buzzword for a long time, but not enough companies are truly embracing it yet. The best customer experience is when the agent can be reached on any device and access up-to-date purchase, service and communication history. Going into a conversation and already having context is imperative.

  1. Voice Response Software

The days of having to listen to lengthy menus and submenus, trying to remember the different numbers to punch in your phone, are gone. With integrated voice response software, the customer can access the right self-service selection by speaking in a natural way.

Contact centers that want to compete need to embrace digital transformation and modern technology.