Customer Service

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

 

Finding an Easy Formula to Do the Math is a Challenge for Contact Centers

When you google “contact center metrics,” there’s no shortage of suggestions to peruse. Lists of varying numbers of suggested metrics to be monitored pop up on the screen: 7, 13, 20, 27.  But which are the right ones for a company’s specific environment? The across-the-board metric cited is First Contact Resolution (FCR), which is a standard that just about every contact center views as critical to maintain and improve.  Similarly, Customer Satisfaction ratings, while not always quite as simple to define, are also a universal target to be monitored.

But it gets murkier from there. Many other commonly cited metrics, such as service level or average handle time, are not always directly comparable across channels; and evaluating teams that share some — but not all — queues is not always a precise process.  An ICMI study revealed that 39% of contact center leaders struggle to identify and measure key performance indicators.

A deeper understanding of metrics and how to calculate them helps a business set the right targets and reach goals to support its mission and vision. Each measure used to help determine how teams are performing needs to be understandable and actionable to individual agents, supervisors and management alike.  When all parties agree on what is important, a company can consistently track performance and see where to improve processes and training to help its agents do better.

Having this level of clarity on goals and metrics and knowing how they’re tracking towards those goals, creates employees who are more engaged with their work and empowered in their roles. A Dale Carnegie infographic shows that companies with more engaged employees outperform companies without engaged employees by 202%, and have customer retention rates that are 18% higher, according to loyalty strategy research by Colloquy.

Setting goals to measure performance can be somewhat tricky. Targets should not be so difficult to attain as to make them daunting for agents. There must be flexibility and compromise in determining how to balance between goals that appear to compete with one another, such as average handle time – where saving and time and reducing cost is paramount – and customer satisfaction, especially in cases that involve more complex interactions. When creating scoreboards to measure agent performance, businesses need to ensure that goals are instantly comprehensible and ready to act upon. They also need to make sense mathematically in tracking drivers across all contact channels including traditional, social, and mobile.  It’s helpful to use the same classification system across all interactions and equip agents to use it consistently.

Of course, simply knowing which metrics to use and how to score them is not the be-all, end-all for optimizing agent happiness. Going back to Google, one would find an astounding 147,000+ results for “benefits of a happy contact center agent”. The major areas of focus in these listings range from the obvious: “why agent satisfaction is important,” to the ubiquitous “fun things to do to keep agents happy” and the more specific evaluations of software and services to promote agent satisfaction.

Companies must be proactive in their approach to building models that are consistently accurate in predicting probabilities and outcomes in their contact centers. Models that are less than precise lead to failure to maintain desired service levels and result in cost overages. Businesses need to find innovative but proven methods to calculate the proper variables and the right things to look for in developing analyses that result in accurate forecasts.

Data abundance and complex operations make it challenging to develop, implement, and present clean, clear reports and on-target analyses. Over the next several months, agent-first solution provider Sharpen Technologies, developers of an always-on contact center platform built for the enterprise, will present a comprehensive series of complimentary webcasts on CrmXchange.

The four sessions are designed to demystify the process of determining the right metrics, show businesses how to measure and accurately analyzing contact center performance, and to implement those analyses across the operation so the entire organization stays focused on excellence. It will culminate in a discussion of how to put together the most efficacious math models for contact center executives and managers to glean actionable insights.

The first webcast in the series, “Attributes of Solid Contact Center Performance Metrics – and Attributes of Poor Ones”  will take place on Thursday, March 5.

The second,” Learn How to be Great: Helping Agents, Supervisors, and Execs Perform,” will be presented on Tuesday April 21.

The third session, “Setting Performance Goals and Scorecards,” comes up on Thursday, August 13.

The final presentation “Building Great “What-If” Models and the Resulting Analyses for the CEO” will be delivered on Tuesday, October 20.

All webcasts will be jointly presented by Ric Kosiba, Chief Data Scientist and Adam Settle. Chief Product Officer, Sharpen Technologies. Ric’s vast background of expertise goes back two decades to Bay Bridge Decisions Technologies which he co-founded in 2000. In that role, he developed the contact center industry’s first “what if” decision engine, a complex set of algorithms designed to forecast proper staffing levels. Adam is an experienced education professional skilled in Sales, Coaching, Team Building, and Training. He combines his extensive knowledge with hands-on experience as a trainer at Apple and Angie’s List.

Register now at no cost for the individual presentations or the complete series. Each webcast is at 1:00PM ET. If you cannot attend the live presentation, a link to the recorded session will be available within 24 hours.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

70% of U.S. Employees Hold Positive View of Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace Today

Despite recent doom-and-gloom anecdotal reporting, a nationwide survey of 1,001 workers in the United States (U.S.) finds that 70% have an upbeat attitude toward new workplace technologies involving artificial intelligence (AI), such as chatbots, robots and augmented reality. Only 5% say they dislike new technology for putting their jobs at risk today. In fact, 32% of U.S. respondents feel AI will have a positive impact on their job in the next five years, increasing from 26% today. Just 19% of those surveyed express fear that AI/bots could swallow their jobs within the next decade.

These findings stem from new research by Genesys® (www.genesys.com) into the attitudes of employed Americans regarding the rising adoption of AI in the workplace. Genesys conducted an identical survey in six countries — the U.S., Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand — for a total of 4,207 participants.

The picture isn’t all rosy, however. While 75% of Americans surveyed say they are “rarely” or “never” threatened by new technology at work, one quarter do feel unsettled by it. Happily, only 4% “always” feel threatened. This is fairly similar to respondents in Germany, the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand, but in Japan that figure jumps to 12%.

Is AI a Friend or Future “Frenemy”?

While 52% of U.S. workers surveyed say AI has not yet affected their jobs, that number falls to 29% when asked about a five-year timeframe, with expectations for an increase in both positive and negative effects. Part of the reason for the low percentage of AI’s current impact? It’s not as ubiquitous in the workplace as many people would believe. Among U.S. respondents, 68% say they are not yet using tools that leverage AI; surprisingly, there is not a noteworthy difference between large and small companies.

Survey results also shed light on AI’s influence on employee social interaction, ethics and upskilling, with worker attitudes varying according to age, company size, job status and job function. The overall impression? Employees have a generally positive view of technology now, but are less certain if technology enabled with AI will be their friendly co-worker in the future, or a “frenemy.”

“The survey findings substantiate a long-held Genesys belief that a blended approach to AI is best in customer contact centers as well as the workplace in general,” said Merijn te Booij, chief marketing officer for Genesys.

“Some jobs will evolve as human work combines with the capabilities of AI. The key for organizations adopting this intelligent technology is to help employees understand its potential to make their jobs more fulfilling by taking the mundane, easily automated tasks off their plates. This opens the door for more employees to apply skills AI just can’t replace – like creativity, leadership and empathy.”

Considering 27% of Americans say they simply cannot predict the impact of AI on their jobs five years down the road, and only half feel they have the skills to compete effectively, it’s increasingly important for companies to closely monitor the pace of AI adoption and employee training programs to address it.

A few additional U.S. findings related to overall attitudes toward AI include:

  • Two-thirds (66%) of the U.S. cohort say technology makes them more efficient in their jobs. This response is exactly the same across the three age ranges surveyed.
  • 8% of U.S. employees say they dislike new workplace technology such as AI and bots because it takes away their easy tasks.
  • More part-time U.S. employees (25%) fear AI will take their jobs within 10 years than do full-time workers (18%).
  • Surprisingly, exactly twice as many (26%) of the U.S. employees in the youngest cohort (ages 18-38) fear replacement by AI within the next decade as do their over-55 co-workers (13%).
  • Nearly 70% of U.S. employees trust their employers to use AI in an ethical way.

Survey Methodology and Participants

Within the U.S., a total of 1,001 adults completed the online survey in April. Respondents were evenly divided into three age ranges: 18-38, 39-54, 55-73, with women accounting for 65% and men 35%; less than 1% did not categorize by gender.

Approximately 80% of those surveyed have full-time employee status with the remaining 20% working part-time. Respondents came from seven categories of company sizes, with a total of 42% employed in companies of fewer than 250 employees.

While U.S. survey respondents work in a wide variety of industries, 77% fell into one of 11 functional job categories: Administrative, Assembly Line/Manufacturing, Customer Service/Retail, Doctor/Nurse/Caregiver, Education/Training, Finance/Accounting, Food Service, Human Resources, Marketing/Inside Sales, Media, and Driver/Transportation Provider. The remaining 23% fell into an “Other” job category.

For a copy of the full survey data, please contact genesys@sterlingpr.com

Seven “Must Have” Capabilities for Customer Service Applications

Written by Basabdutta Chakraborty

In the era of technological advancement, customers have endless choices of what products and services to purchase. To capture and maintain a higher market share require companies to create a meaningful corporate distinction. One way to accomplish this goal is by delivering a superior customer experience—one that capitalizes on the first impression about the brand and carries through on every interaction thereafter. To bring the best customer experience to life, consider these seven essential features:

  1. Omni-channel – Most customers seek the ability to engage from any channel of their choice from any device—email, telephone, chat, SMS, web, social or mobile app. To support a consistent experience across all the channels in the user’s journey, agents need to be able to respond to any inbound voice/text inquiries seamlessly. Therefore, to increase the productivity of an agent, a call center software needs to include a single user interface, where all inbound messages are tracked as tickets with contexts.
  2. Efficient ticket management – In order to resolve customers’ issues and queries efficiently and effectively, there are several factors to address:
    • Context and History. For each ticket, customer information and past ticket history should be available to the agent with relevant context.
    • Categorizing. Based on the ticket type, agents need to capture specific information, and perform grouping, merging, linking, cloning, and filtering.
    • Intelligent routing. Automated workflow can be configured to assign and route inbound tickets based on the agent’s skill, knowledge and workload.
    • Knowledgebase support. Depending on the issue type, relevant knowledge articles should be automatically shared with agents to provide better assistance.
    • Timely alerts. Based on Service Level Agreements (SLA) priority, agents and their supervisors should be notified on time.
    • Collaboration. Often complex issues require inputs from multiple agents. A live discussion forum can help them to collaborate instantly.
  3. Unified interface – While engaged in an interaction with a customer, an agent might require navigating through multiple systems. To minimize the screen switches, a unified user interface brings relevant applications to a single desktop. In this way, the agent can focus on the customer as opposed to the complexity of multiple systems.
  4. Self-service and chat-bots – In many cases, today’s customers prefer to resolve their issues themselves. Self-service options and capabilities empower customers by providing them with online searchable knowledge articles, FAQs, and discussion forums. Chatbots, on the other hand, help customers with informational and transactional inquires in a personalized fashion. Customers, however, should still have the ability to escalate to a live agent seamlessly in case of a complex inquiry.
  5. Personalized recommendations – Customers really appreciate it when they feel a representative is interested in them. The system should be capable of displaying personalized, targeted messages to the CSRs to assist them to develop a deeper bond. For example, while engaged in a conversation with a customer, if a CSR proactively says, “Ms. Smith, your credit card is going to expire in a month” or “your renewal is pending,” these personalized outreaches help build appreciative customers and long-term relationships.
  6. Predictive analytics – Knowing the next move of customers, ahead of time, is becoming increasingly more critical. Predictive analytics is the tool that measures customer satisfaction and determines future trends by analyzing past transactions and call history. Thus, businesses can identify potential threats in a customer’s journey and can take appropriate corrective actions. Similarly, the huge amount of call center data, such as average call handle time, ticket volume, etc. can predict if any agent’s performance needs to be improved or any additional staffing is needed or if the system’s performance should be enhanced.
  7. Cloud based application – Given there is a steady internet connection, a cloud-based customer service platform is undeniably a smarter choice than an on-site one for the following reasons:
    • It is easy to scale. Adding agents is just a matter of subscription, and so is spinning a new instance. It’s just a few clicks, and no infrastructure changes are required.
    • It is flexible. Agents can assist customers remotely, from any internet-connected device. Admins can make configuration changes and publish real-time.
    • It performs well and is stable. Most of the cloud providers ensures 99 percent+ uptime.
    • It saves infrastructure and maintenance costs. No hardware equipment is required. Patch, data backup-recovery are taken care of by the provider. It is secure. Dealing with personalized information of customers requires stronger data security and privacy, which is safeguarded by cloud applications.

    Key contributor to business growth – Customer experience is an important contributor to business growth. When done well, companies earn the trust and loyalty of their customers. Technology can provide the features that enable CSRs to do their job efficiently and effectively. The real success, however, comes from the commitment of the top executives to make customer experience excellence a key corporate initiative. When this happens, business and IT teams align on the strategy while defining the unique business and technical needs of their organizations. Continuous feedback from CSRs is a critical input in this process. Together they can build a better customer experience—one that enables them to stand out in the marketplace.

In the era of technological advancement, customers have endless choices of what products and services to purchase. To capture and maintain a higher market share require companies to create a meaningful corporate distinction. One way to accomplish this goal is by delivering a superior customer experience—one that capitalizes on the first impression about the brand and carries through on every interaction thereafter. To bring the best customer experience to life, consider these seven essential features:

  1. Omni-channel – Most customers seek the ability to engage from any channel of their choice from any device—email, telephone, chat, SMS, web, social or mobile app. To support a consistent experience across all the channels in the user’s journey, agents need to be able to respond to any inbound voice/text inquiries seamlessly. Therefore, to increase the productivity of an agent, a call center software needs to include a single user interface, where all inbound messages are tracked as tickets with contexts.
  2. Efficient ticket management – In order to resolve customers’ issues and queries efficiently and effectively, there are several factors to address:
    • Context and History. For each ticket, customer information and past ticket history should be available to the agent with relevant context.
    • Categorizing. Based on the ticket type, agents need to capture specific information, and perform grouping, merging, linking, cloning, and filtering.
    • Intelligent routing. Automated workflow can be configured to assign and route inbound tickets based on the agent’s skill, knowledge and workload.
    • Knowledgebase support. Depending on the issue type, relevant knowledge articles should be automatically shared with agents to provide better assistance.
    • Timely alerts. Based on Service Level Agreements (SLA) priority, agents and their supervisors should be notified on time.
    • Collaboration. Often complex issues require inputs from multiple agents. A live discussion forum can help them to collaborate instantly.
  3. Unified interface – While engaged in an interaction with a customer, an agent might require navigating through multiple systems. To minimize the screen switches, a unified user interface brings relevant applications to a single desktop. In this way, the agent can focus on the customer as opposed to the complexity of multiple systems.
  4. Self-service and chat-bots – In many cases, today’s customers prefer to resolve their issues themselves. Self-service options and capabilities empower customers by providing them with online searchable knowledge articles, FAQs, and discussion forums. Chatbots, on the other hand, help customers with informational and transactional inquires in a personalized fashion. Customers, however, should still have the ability to escalate to a live agent seamlessly in case of a complex inquiry.
  5. Personalized recommendations – Customers really appreciate it when they feel a representative is interested in them. The system should be capable of displaying personalized, targeted messages to the CSRs to assist them to develop a deeper bond. For example, while engaged in a conversation with a customer, if a CSR proactively says, “Ms. Smith, your credit card is going to expire in a month” or “your renewal is pending,” these personalized outreaches help build appreciative customers and long-term relationships.
  6. Predictive analytics – Knowing the next move of customers, ahead of time, is becoming increasingly more critical. Predictive analytics is the tool that measures customer satisfaction and determines future trends by analyzing past transactions and call history. Thus, businesses can identify potential threats in a customer’s journey and can take appropriate corrective actions. Similarly, the huge amount of call center data, such as average call handle time, ticket volume, etc. can predict if any agent’s performance needs to be improved or any additional staffing is needed or if the system’s performance should be enhanced.
  7. Cloud based application – Given there is a steady internet connection, a cloud-based customer service platform is undeniably a smarter choice than an on-site one for the following reasons:
    • It is easy to scale. Adding agents is just a matter of subscription, and so is spinning a new instance. It’s just a few clicks, and no infrastructure changes are required.
    • It is flexible. Agents can assist customers remotely, from any internet-connected device. Admins can make configuration changes and publish real-time.
    • It performs well and is stable. Most of the cloud providers ensures 99 percent+ uptime.
    • It saves infrastructure and maintenance costs. No hardware equipment is required. Patch, data backup-recovery are taken care of by the provider. It is secure. Dealing with personalized information of customers requires stronger data security and privacy, which is safeguarded by cloud applications.

    Key contributor to business growth – Customer experience is an important contributor to business growth. When done well, companies earn the trust and loyalty of their customers. Technology can provide the features that enable CSRs to do their job efficiently and effectively. The real success, however, comes from the commitment of the top executives to make customer experience excellence a key corporate initiative. When this happens, business and IT teams align on the strategy while defining the unique business and technical needs of their organizations. Continuous feedback from CSRs is a critical input in this process. Together they can build a better customer experience—one that enables them to stand out in the marketplace.

CX Transformation Benchmark Study from NICE inContact

The 2019 NICE inContact Customer Experience (CX) Transformation Benchmark gauges the changing attitudes of business contact center leaders and consumers in key areas of customer experience. The report compares global findings to the 2018 consumer wave of the study, and includes year-over-year findings for the US. Results reveal that businesses are confident in artificial intelligence’s (AI’s) role in delivering exceptional customer service experiences, but they overrate their own CX performance. Compared to consumers, businesses overreach when estimating their own net promoter scores (NPS), overrate their own CX success, and underperform when it comes to delivering seamless omnichannel experiences.

The results reveal that businesses are confident in artificial intelligence’s (AI’s) role in delivering exceptional customer service experiences, but they overrate their own CX performance. A few of the core findings from NICE inContact’s CX Transformation Benchmark include:

  1. Significantly more US businesses now offer automated assistants / chatbots online, at 54% compared to 44% the prior year.
  2. 63% of contact center leaders agree that chatbots and virtual assistants make it easier for consumers to get their issues resolved
  3. While 93% of businesses agree that consumers expect companies to provide a seamless experience when moving between channels, only 24% of businesses globally give themselves an excellent rating on allowing consumers to switch seamlessly between methods of communication.

To read more: http://get.niceincontact.com/Q219-CX-Transformation-Benchmark-Business-Wave.html

 

How Will Contact Center Channels Change in 2019?

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

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

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

inbound calls 2019

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