Customer Service

The 5 Latest Customer Service Trends You Need To Know In 2022

Contributed article by Wanda Lafond

Customer service has been changing rapidly in the past few years mostly due to the changing business landscape. This, of course, is the direct result of the global pandemic that forced some companies to shut down completely while others transitioned to hybrid or completely remote models of work.

Nevertheless, no matter what changes in the business world, companies need to keep up with these shifts in the industry and implement the necessary changes within their own organizations. Hence, here are the five latest customer service trends you need to know in 2022.

#1 Customer Support Delivered Through Social Media

With the rise of social media during the last decade, more and more companies started joining popular social media platforms to deliver content directly to their audiences. No doubt, social media makes it much easier to make important announcements, have product launches, and so on. Moreover, social media also provides many options for brands to go viral with their content while also establishing closer connections with dedicated customers.

Considering all of this, it was just a matter of time for social media platforms to become one of the primary channels for delivering customer support. Just a few years ago, there were still not that many businesses offering customer support on social media, but this has definitely changed. More and more businesses are offering customer support through multiple channels, both traditional and new ones such as social media.

The best part about offering customer support through social media is that it is clearly much easier to manage than some other channels. In fact, according to BrandWatch, the customer support offered through social media can be up to 12x cheaper than customer support via phone. It’s no wonder that more and more businesses are realizing that it’s a great opportunity to reduce their customer support costs and satisfy clients at the same time.

#2 Shorter Response Time and Round-The-Clock Availability

Nowadays, brands are increasingly focused on their customers. Many business decisions (including those related to customer support) directly depend on the data companies collect about their customers in an attempt to please customers in every way possible. This is probably why more and more customers now expect a much shorter response time when they send a request to customer support. On the other hand, businesses themselves are now prioritizing round-the-clock customer support availability to handle these requests.

For instance, according to Statista, 48% of consumers expect to get a response to their questions and complaints on social media within just 24 hours. This is probably why there are so many brands replying to tweets as fast as they can, especially if they see a customer complaining about something. It’s not just a way to handle the situation correctly when it’s already exposed to the public, but it’s also a way to show that they are proactive.

Another reason why round-the-clock availability is so important today is that globalization has expanded conventional notions of a target audience even for small businesses. Your customers could be located in a different time zone, so if their request needs to be processed quickly, your customer support will have to be available during irregular hours to do so. With 24/7 customer support, “irregular” hours are not even a thing because support can be delivered anytime.

#3 More Self-Service Options for Independent Customers

Even though customers have now become more demanding and expect businesses to deliver high-quality service to them, a lot of people are also quite independent in their own right and willing to take action themselves. This is why more businesses are now offering a wider variety of self-service options for customers who want to handle their own problems themselves.

On one hand, this is great for customers who want such autonomy. On the other hand, it’s also good for companies because they now have to handle fewer customer support requests with so many people doing the work themselves. For instance, one popular way to offer such self-service options is by having a knowledge base on your website rather than a simple FAQ section. A conventional FAQ section is quite limited in the amount of information it can provide, but a knowledge base with categories and good search and filtering features is perfect for customers who want to find questions to their answers themselves.

The only downside is that not every business has the time or resources to create a knowledge base like that. That’s why you can hire a professional writer from the custom writing reviews site Best Writers Online. This writer will create all the content for you after you provide them with all the necessary guidelines.

#4 Increased Personalization in Customer Interactions

As explained earlier, businesses are hyper-focused on their customers nowadays and always aim to deliver the best experiences no matter what. This is why most customers nowadays expect to see a fair amount of personalization in all the interactions they have with the brand. Not only does it show that the company values them, but it also makes the handling of requests faster.

Unfortunately, many businesses still don’t know how to create such personalized experiences which can result in customers leaving. In fact, according to Accenture, 33% of customers who cut short their relationship with a business in 2016 did so because personalization was lacking. Though this statistic is a few years old, many customers still stop purchasing from certain brands specifically for this reason even today.

So, how can businesses solve this problem? You can hire an expert writer from the writing services reviews site Writing Judge to create personalized content for your customers (e.g. emails). However, it’s your customer support team that needs to be trained to deliver better experiences to your customers when they make requests.

#5 An Automated Workflow with Increased Communication

Last but not least, one more trend evident in customer service is automation. Thanks to the newest technologies, businesses are able to use the newest digital tools to automate their workflows and increase communication with their customers. Chatbots can instantly respond to messages, automated emails can be triggered by certain customer actions, and the day-to-day activities of your customer support team can be done by programs entirely.

According to Microsoft, 30% of American consumers said chatbot interactions were “very effective” in dealing with customer support issues. That being said, chatbots still have a long way to go. Fortunately, the AI sector is rapidly developing which is why chatbots are being perfected every year and will likely be able to deliver high-quality customers support in the nearest future.

Final Thoughts  

To sum up, customer service is perhaps one of the most essential aspects of any business which is why paying attention to this department in your company is so important. Use the trends listed in this article to help you create your customer service strategy for the year and deliver high-quality experiences to your audience.

2 Out of 3 Agents Want to Change Their Script

Contributed by Balto

At their best, call scripts provide agents with a way to guide their call in a consistent and clear way to achieve optimal call outcomes. Scripts or talk tracks are meant to provide avenues for agents to respond to objections and provide a top-notch customer experience. At their worst, however, they can be prescriptive, clunky, and impersonal.

That being said, scripts remain one of the widely used tools in today’s contact centers, so how can we make them better? Balto, for example, reimagines scripts as dynamic, data-driven Playbooks that only surface talking points to agents when they need them — no memorization needed.

But what about the remainder of the contact center industry that still relies on traditional scripts? The Conversation Excellence Lab conducted a survey of 568 agents to discover what they thought about their script, how often they adhered to it, and more.

We asked agents: What, if anything, would you change about your script? 

Approximately 64% of agents wanted to change their script, whether with something as specific as changing the phrases they use to open a call, or as broad as the general tone and vocabulary throughout. 34% of these respondents wanted to change the length of their script, followed by 17% who wanted to improve the overall naturalness and tone, and 17% who wanted their script to be more flexible and dynamic.

These numbers are telling on their own, but an analysis of agent script-writing involvement, agent tenure, and industry differences better illustrates novel trends within these answers.

Agent Involvement with Script Writing 

While the majority of agents want to change something about their script, 36% do not. That is not a low number. More than one third of agents would not make a change to their script if given the opportunity.

Agent involvement is a major mediator in this number. We asked agents how involved they are on a scale of 1-5 in writing or updating their script, and agents who reported the lowest involvement in writing their company’s script (2.19) were the most likely to want to change everything about it. Those agents who reported wanting to change nothing at all about their script had the highest rate of involvement (3.53).

Interestingly, the next highest category in terms of script involvement belonged to those who said they wanted more ownership over their company’s script (3.5). This suggests that involvement begets more involvement. Once agents are given the opportunity to provide feedback on their script, they want to keep doing so, perhaps in increasing amounts.

This is a good thing. It shows initiative, buy-in, and an ownership mentality, all of which lend themselves to better performance and retention outcomes. To better understand other factors that impact agent attrition, check out our 2022 Attrition Report.

The Effect of Agent Tenure 

Those agents who had been at their contact center the longest were most likely to want to make their script more flexible or dynamic, followed by making the tone more natural. This makes logical sense: The longer that an agent has worked for a company, the more they’ve internalized the call script. But more than that, they’ve also had opportunities to uncover their own best practices and objection responses.

Giving more tenured agents flexibility to sway from their script or respond dynamically to customer objections is, then, an apt method to increase agent satisfaction with their script and otherwise. Read more about agent tenure and satisfaction in our recent report.

Those agents who had been at their job for the least amount of time were most concerned with changing the length of their script, perhaps because they were in the mindset of learning or memorizing it rather than evaluating its contents.

After script length, agents with lower tenure were most likely to list “everything” as a response to what they would change about their script. They may resent the presence of the script to begin with, both as an aspect of their training and as something they are evaluated on in their new role, or they may not understand the reasoning yet behind different aspects of it.

Industry Differences in Sentiment Towards Script 

In terms of industry, which agents thought their scripts were the best-suited? 50% of our respondents in the Home Improvement industry reported wanting to change nothing in their script, followed by 42% of those in Collections and 39% in Constructions.

On the other end, only 9% of respondents in Travel & Hospitality reported that there was nothing to change about their script, followed by 20% in Utilities and Healthcare, and 21% in Professional Services, Financial Services, and Insurance.

This is just a sample of the population and scripts vary widely both within industries and across them. However, there are still insights to be gleaned from these numbers.

Industries like Home Improvement, Collections, and Construction lend themselves to more predictable calls, and therefore more straightforward scripts. Home Improvement and Construction calls generally seek to either provide customer support or set up appointments, while Collections is concerned with collecting funds.

On the other hand, Travel & Hospitality contact centers may see a plethora of call types: bookings or reservations, cancellations, service issues and other complaints, sales, concierge-type services, general questions, and more.

It may be more difficult to align a script with all of these disparate scenarios, leaving more room for improvement from the agent’s point of view. This variety can be found in Utilities, Healthcare, Professional Services, Financial Services, and Insurance as well.

As our surveyed agents pointed out, there are a lot of areas where a script can go wrong, from being too lengthy and prescriptive to being too narrow and not relevant to the caller’s concerns.

Although we have our own take on scripting at Balto, there is no denying that traditional scripts remain widely used across the industry. While it’s true that the majority of agents want to change their script, this number varies depending on their involvement in writing or editing it, their tenure, and the industry within which they operate.

How do managers adjust accordingly?

If you employ a script, take into account agent feedback about its length, tone and naturalness, and how flexible or dynamic it allows agents to be. Make sure to check in with agents — especially those who have been at your contact center for multiple years — and involve them in the script-creation process. Regularly source feedback and refine your script based on the measures above (Figure 1) to ensure that your agents are not among those who express discontent.

Subscribe to Conversation Excellence Lab reports here.

Is Customer Experience The Ultimate Marketing Tool?

Contributed article by Frank Hamilton

Advertising surrounds us everywhere. Companies have to try hard to stand out from the crowd and prove that their product or service is trustworthy to customers. Improving marketing customer experience is one of the top opportunities to turn customers into brand ambassadors, win more clients, raise brand awareness and get a competitive edge. But is customer experience the ultimate marketing tool in 2022? Let’s find it out.

What Is Customer Experience?

To put it simply, customer experience in marketing is a general term that covers all the impressions the customers have when interacting with a brand. In response to digital marketing development, customer experience has become one of the strongest digital trends of recent years.

This marketing tool creates the conditions for interacting with customers to meet or exceed their expectations. Customers go through many points of interaction with a company. And it is very important that at each of these points your customer is satisfied.

Modern marketing is customer-centric so the customers are the only ones to decide what kind of products to buy, and what level of service to choose.  In a couple of clicks, customers can view product features, reviews, and ratings, and decide “To buy or not to buy?” They can quickly change brands without compromising themselves if a competitor offers a better product, or service or anticipates their desires.

In such an abundance of choice, when the customer experience is far from being enjoyable, 32% of modern users are willing to give up on their favorite brand. At the same time, one unsatisfied customer will tell about their negative experience to 16  friends and damage the company’s reputation with the word of mouth.

Why Is Customer Experience So Important?

Let’s be honest with each other – there is no perfect marketing tool that will fit every company and every brand. But improving customer experience day after day is a must-follow strategy for every company. Firstly, a positive customer experience is a confirmation that your core business processes are set up right. After all, if at any point of interaction your customer isn’t happy, you need to make adjustments to your team or your marketing strategy. What’s more, the customer experience is directly dependent on employees being competent, responsible, and proactive.

Here are a few more reasons why companies should care even more about a successful modern customer experience:

 1. Increase the Check

Modern customers will never be satisfied with little. Today, they want the most from brands and companies at every stage of interaction. Studies show that 86% of customers are willing to pay more for good service. This means that companies with a customer-centric marketing strategy will be able to earn even more and grow their company faster.

 2. Win More Customers

Customers want a personalized approach that will cater to personal wishes and requests. Targeted advertising, smart content marketing and blogging increase customer trust and loyalty, allowing you to stand out from other similar brands. And as a result, grow the number of leads and customers. Surveys show that 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase if a company offers a personalized approach.

 3. Stand Out From the Competition

Customers today have a wide range of services and products to choose from, so companies should try hard to stand out. A positive customer experience is one effective way to stand out from the competition, and most importantly, to build loyalty and retain customers for a long time.

 4. Lower the Cost per Lead

Word of mouth is free advertising for your company. And it’s worth noting that it’s very effective. According to studies, more than 92% of consumers use reviews to make a purchase decision. Therefore, every satisfied customer can become an ambassador for your brand in the future and help you attract new leads with the power of social proof. Here is how you won’t have to spend any extra money to acquire new customers.

 5. Create a Recognizable Brand

Loyal customers help take a brand to the next level. After all, globally popular brands have become popular because of the consistent digital consumer experience they delivered for years. One of the ways to create a recognizable brand is to tell your potential customers about it as much as possible through highly qualified content since to date, content importance for blog is growing. This is the tool to build loyalty and improve your SEO performance at once.

How To Improve Customer Experience? 

Customer experience is one of the most important marketing tools that determine how successful your company or brand will be. So here are some important tips that can help you stand out with the best customer experience.  

  • Develop an omnichannel strategy to enhance the customer experience. Always be accessible to your customers. For example, if the customer feels more comfortable contacting you through social media, you should be ready to support them via social channels. If the user likes to find information on their own, run a meaningful blog. If the customer wants to contact you after business hours, it would be nice to offer them a chatbot. It will stay in touch with your customers 24 hours a day, which will allow for a better customer experience. Look here for more insights into omnichannel customer experience and the benefits it drives.
  • Train your employees. At certain stages of interacting with the brand, your customers will work with your employees. Be sure that they correctly communicate the company’s values and culture, and have perfect knowledge of the product and the algorithm for dealing with various atypical situations. Regular training sessions can help your sales, customer support, and marketing teams provide impeccable assistance.
  • Provide feedback on time. Listen to and read feedback from your customers. Use this information wisely to improve your service and product. Once you have worked out the weaknesses, try to keep your customers informed about the work done, the troubleshooting, or the improvement of the service.
  • Optimize the customer journey. Identify all stages of the customer’s interaction with your company. Think about how you can make customers’ experience of choosing, buying, using, and committing to your brand stronger and more positive. Use analytics and Big Data to keep up to date with your customers’ preferences and desires.
  • Collect feedback and ratings. Monitor the feedback and ratings you get from customers. If some of these are negative, respond immediately and try to rectify the situation by offering an alternative, a discount, or a personal offer. This will help to retain the customer and save your reputation. Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive feedback as well.
  • Implement loyalty programs. The main aim of a loyalty program is to build long-term relationships. Only sincere attention and a personalized approach will persuade customers to stay with you for the long term. A good loyalty program helps increase lifetime customer value (LTV), the loyalty index (NPS), and grow brand advocates, who are particularly useful in attracting new leads at no extra cost. 

Conclusion

Customer experience is the ultimate marketing tool. If consumers like you, they will happily spend money on your product and recommend it to others. In a world where competition between brands is huge, the one who manages to make more people fall in love with you wins.

Prioritizing Customer Experience in Every Aspect of Your Business

“Who’s your boss?”

You might immediately think of your manager or the CEO. Or, if you own the company, you might proudly say, “Me!” However, there is someone else who is above you in the chain of command — your customers!

You might not think of your customers as the boss, but they are the reason you make money and are successful. So while you don’t necessarily have to cater to every customer’s whim, you do need to build your business around the customer experience (CX).

How do you prioritize customer experience in every aspect of your business? Let’s take a look.

Marketing

Marketing is the beginning of your relationship with any customer. The goal is to focus all of your marketing messages on the customer’s needs and how you can be the solution to those.

Donald Miller of StoryBrand takes it a step further. He says that every aspect of your marketing should be focused on telling the story of how your customer is the hero. Your business is the sidekick that will help them achieve their mission.

No matter how you go about it, it’s essential to ensure that your customers feel they are the center of your marketing message. Start with fully understanding your target market, and then speak directly to them. Otherwise, you won’t be able to connect with them and bring them into your circle of influence.

Your Website

Your website is part of your marketing, but we’re listing it separately because people often won’t come to your website unless you’ve already connected to them in another way.

Once your marketing brings someone to your website, what do they experience there? Having excellent UX design is an important part of not only keeping visitors engaged on your website but also ranking well in search results.

Google wants to deliver the most relevant, high-quality content available each time a user enters a query. When you have a great user experience on your website, your site will be in sync with what Google is trying to offer. As a result, you’ll rank more highly.

Review your website. Are the menus easy to read and understand? Can you navigate the website on a mobile device? Are your message and offer clear within the first few seconds? If so, you’re on the right track.

Product or Service Design

Every product or service should be designed to solve a specific problem that the customer has. The more precisely you target your product or service, the more successful you will be at selling it.

Unfortunately, some folks get tied up in what they want the design to be, rather than what the customer is looking for. They can add too many features, too little training, or create an unattractive behemoth.

Both services and products face another question. Should it be a subscription or a one-time delivery? Many businesses love subscription-based services for the consistent cash flow and retention rates. You can also offer a lower price point, which is attractive to many consumers.

However, some customers want to own what they pay for rather than feeling like they’re renting it. Only by doing the right market research will you know if your customers would prefer a subscription or ownership model.

Customer Service

You’d think that an excellent CX in customer service would be a no-brainer, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. In fact, so many consumers have a poor customer service experience that excellent service is a selling point and can retain customers for years.

Is your customer service department an afterthought or a focus for your business? How do you treat, train, and pay customer service staff? Is the culture of your company that customers calling in are “complainers,” or do your staff focus on delighting everyone?

A lot of major corporations handsomely reward salespeople but almost ignore customer service departments. But, as it has been said, “Sales without service is like stuffing money into a pocket full of holes.”

Don’t make that mistake. After the sale, your relationship with the customer has only just begun. Excellent customer service can retain them, turn them into customer advocates, and boost repeat sales.

Prioritize Employees

We’ve been talking about customer experience up until now, so why mention prioritizing your employees?

Very simply, the employees you have will define the customer experience you’re able to offer. Happy, satisfied, and engaged employees will work hard to delight customers and create a world-class experience. Disengaged, unhappy, and disgruntled employees will drive customers away.

You have a great deal of control over how your company culture and how employees experience work every day. Do you add meaning to daily tasks by explaining how they fit with the mission and make a difference in others’ lives? Do you pay appropriately and have benefits that employees look for? Do you encourage career advancement and continuing education?

The better you take care of your employees, the better they will take care of your customers. That’s why the employee experience is at the center of the customer experience.

Focus on Customer Experience Today

Making customer experience a priority in every aspect of your business doesn’t happen automatically. It takes research of relevant data, focus, and a commitment to your real boss — your target market!

If you want a truly successful business, it’s essential to focus on CX. Targeted marketing will bring in the right audience, and a website focused on your customers’ needs will convert them into buyers.

Of course, to sell well you need product or service design on par with what customers expect and enjoy. Finally, excellent customer service will turn buyers into repeat customers and brand advocates.

Which of these areas needs the most attention in your company? Today’s the day to make a difference.

Why the Customer Service Industry Needs to Embrace Virtual Reality

When it comes to customer service, the industry is in a major shift to more digital tools and features. While you can still hop on the phone and call someone for help, the customer service industry is embracing technology and new channels of enhanced experience unlike ever before.

One of the most promising areas of expansion for customer service companies is virtual reality. While the exciting technology might not sound like it’s a natural fit for the world of customer service, utilizing a VR app to provide an expanded customer service experience is proving to be a major boost for companies coming out of the pandemic and planning for the future. Here’s why the industry needs to embrace virtual reality as a new norm. 

The Future of Customer Service is Contactless

When we think of exceptional customer service, our minds tend to go to a begotten time of face-to-face specialized and personalized experiences. While the personal touch is certainly an influential aspect of customer service in 2021, the in-person experience is no longer a necessary element to a great interaction. Much of customer service is going contactless. Thanks to things like chat features and in-browser phone service, most of our experiences take place virtually nowadays. 

Still, the chat boxes and phone calls lack the certain personalized experience we still crave. This is where virtual reality fits in quite nicely for the needs of the customer service industry. A large number of industries that rely on customer service elements can benefit from embracing VR. By using virtual rooms to interact with customers, companies are able to build a more meaningful connection in these interactions and arrive at conclusions or solutions more quickly. 

WIth virtual spaces, we don’t feel like we’re missing out on anything as a consumer. You’re still able to get a face-to-face experience that is embedded in a digital environment that offers easy access to tools and resources that might be related to the inquiry or question at hand. Likewise, VR provides companies an option for proactive customer service that can enhance shopping and searching interactions in a big way.

Offering More Options to Users for Proactive Customer Service

Customer service in the digital world is more than just fielding complaints and questions. VR offers companies the option to enhance the customer experience as a means of providing better service. Everything from virtual reality spaces for digital showrooms to using VR to interact with products from home can help make customers feel more knowledgeable and prepared to make a purchase. 

Believe it or not, the brick and mortar experience we value for being a superior standard for customer interactions can be recreated to great effect in the virtual reality space. Customers love VR peripherals for shopping. New options like Walmart’s VR shopping experience can mimic the best parts of in-person interactions between customers and a business but provide the additional benefits of digital technology.

The best of both worlds is possible for customers thanks to VR customer enhancements. The same goes for employees who also play a vital role in the customer service process. 

Building a Better Customer Experience By Enhancing Employee Satisfaction with VR

Lastly, it’s worth noting that great customer service is only possible when employees are satisfied and fulfilled with their working experience. VR’s impact on employee satisfaction within customer service can be just as impactful as focusing on what the customer needs. 

When it comes to using VR to focus on employees, things like putting these advanced tools in their hands can increase their effectiveness. These resources help to give employees more solutions at their disposal to ensure they’re set up for success. By doing this, you’re not only taking advantage of the points listed above that focus on the customer experience. Employees that have access to VR for their roles in the customer engagement process are better suited to uphold a company’s values and vision for great service. 

Utilizing VR in customer service is a vital step in the evolution of what the industry is capable of accomplishing. Making steps now to embrace the technology means putting a new standard on the treatment and service of industries that spread across all of the working and professional world. 

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.

How Can Businesses Ensure They’ll Reach Customers When So Many Don’t Answer Their Phones?

It happens to nearly all of us every single day: the mobile phone buzzes and we encounter an   unrecognized number and simply don’t answer. It could be an 800 number, an out-of-state exchange or a spoofed number that seems recognizable but is often just one that has been created to seem as though it’s local.

Phone scams are far from a new phenomenon. They have plagued landline customers for years. But with the increase in smartphones, just about everybody has their device on them just about all the time — creating a plethora of opportunities for fraudsters to attempt to con them with false claims, bogus pleas for help, phony free vacations, and frightening assertions that the recipient is about to have their social security account cut off or is facing imminent arrest.

It’s widely assumed that it is exclusively the elderly who fall for these ploys. But these scams are growing more and more elaborate, and nearly anyone can be victimized. In fact, according to the Federal Trade Commission’s recent annual data summary of consumer complaints, 40% of Americans in their 20s reported frauds that cost them money, while 18% of fraud victims aged 70 or older reported they’d been fleeced our funds by a scam.

Another growing issue is the preponderance of robocalls. Over the past several years, the rise of these frustrating recorded pitches has been the focus of lawmakers and consumers alike. In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission prioritized their initiative to stem the spread of illegal robocalls, adopting a new set of rules designed to protect consumers from unwanted robocalls, allowing phone companies to proactively block calls that are likely fraudulent because they originate from certain types of phone numbers. But even with these updated regulations, robocalls continue to be a major problem. It is simply too easy and inexpensive for rogue overseas companies to use them as a tool to get their foot in the door without fear of prosecution.

With all of this going on, is it any wonder that more consumers than ever seldom swipe their mobile phones to answer? A 2019 Zipwhip survey and report (n=520 U.S. adults) found that 87% of respondents said they ignore phone calls from unknown numbers “often” or “very often.” However, this burgeoning rate of call avoidance can be a double-edged sword for consumers and legitimate businesses alike.

In this environment, people often ignore important calls for reasons such as confirming deliveries or medical appointments, miss out on receiving critical information from financial institutions, or learning about legitimate offers from companies with which they already have a relationship.

The problem has only grown worse since the onset of the pandemic. An April 2020 survey of 1000 U.S. mobile phone users by communications transparency provider First Orion revealed that 75% of people said they’d missed an urgent call; nearly a third of those reported they’re missing more important calls now than before the crisis. Eighty five percent tried to return crucial missed calls, only to find it challenging to get someone on the line. First Orion also found that 5% gave up altogether and went to the physical location to resolve their problem – ultimately putting them at a greater risk of contracting the virus.

Is there a way for businesses to verify their identity on each call and allow consumers to be confident that it is a legitimate communication? Learn about an elegantly simple solution in a complimentary webinar on CrmXchange. On Thursday, July 9 at 2:00 pm ET, First Orion will present The Empowered Caller – How to Build Contact Center Success with Call Enhancement, Matt Rateliff, VP of Sales Enablement for First Orion will host the webcast, accompanied by Chris Lindsey, Division VP, Marketing Information Systems, Globe Life Direct to Consumer. It will examine the real-world benefits experienced by Globe Life in using the Call Enhancement solution to make it clear there’s a trusted business on the other end of the line. Among the topics to be explored are:

  • How branding outgoing calls with the company’s business name and logo can increase answer rates and sales
  • How to build customer loyalty and trust with enhanced calls
  • How call enhancement helps call center agents complete more actions and drive revenue

Find out how easy it is to set up call centers for success from the moment the call is made. Register now: if you cannot attend the live webcast, a link will be sent to all registrants 24 hours after it is completed.

Adapting Workforce Optimization to Meet the Rapidly Changing Priorities of Contact Center Operations

In normal times, workforce optimization is a business approach that utilizes advanced contact center technologies to improve customer experience while boosting overall operational efficiency. WFO includes…but is not limited to…automating processes, creating greater data visibility, ensuring compliance, performance management, recording, surveying, eLearning, speech analytics and solving staff-related business problems.

Now, businesses and government agencies are either requiring employees to work from home or redirecting call traffic to employees in less affected regions to handle spikes in interaction volume during the COVID-19 outbreak. Of course, this has led to additional considerations in terms of people and priorities, such as:

  • Increasing the focus on risk assessment and controls
  • Greater emphasis on employee communications, policies, and messaging to ensure that front-line personnel are kept abreast of all pertinent facts
  • Updating QA monitoring and reporting procedures to incorporate the activities of an elevated number of remote workers
  • Improving agility and flexibility while enhancing agent empathy

With the non-stop changes everyone is currently experiencing—constant uncertainty about what might happen in the immediate future, shifting schedules for work and school, caring for family members and overriding concerns about ongoing health risks—employees are often exhausted by the effort required to simply maintain a sense of consistency in their lives.

This rapidly evolving scenario is spurring a greater sense of urgency for businesses to promote employee engagement and prevent morale from cratering among both remote and premise-based agents. Companies are creating policies on the fly to make necessary adjustments during the transition. Among the strategies to be addressed are minimizing uncertainty by more meticulous tracking of outcomes to better predict results. Agents also need to be given higher degree of empowerment. This can be abetted by ensuring they are equipped with the tools and information necessary to do their jobs.

Taking the necessary steps to stabilize and improve workforce performance during the current crisis will be outlined on Tuesday, July 7th at 1:00 pm ET. CrmXchange offers a complimentary roundtable webcast on Best Practices for Workforce Optimization. It will highlight proven approaches and actionable insights to help optimize efficiency in contact center environments.  Among the topics to be discussed are:

  • Using WFO tools to help agents safely make the return to the office
  • Managing hybrid workforce of remote and onsite workers
  • Incorporating regional COVID-19 related safety regulations into business practices
  • Spending time wisely – Establishing more frequent touchpoints to ensure agents continue to feel connected
  • Keeping agents motivated by sharing successes and reward achievements

The roundtable will feature presentations from two experts from leading WFO solution providers. Rich Correia, Director of Product Marketing, NICE will share his expertise in deploying the right products to meet changing need. Kelly Koelliker, Director, Content Marketing for Verint will provide insight on adapting the most effective contact center workforce engagement solutions.

Register now for this targeted and topical roundtable discussion. For those who can’t attend the live session, a link to the webcast will be posted 24 hours after it has been completed.

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.