Big Data

How Technology is Redefining the Connection between Businesses and Consumers

The world of customer relations is constantly changing. New tech gives businesses better insights into consumer behavior and shifting preferences redefine the way marketers approach potential clients.

Emergent technology gives consumers greater control over their experience, too. This is particularly important today, as 66% of customers expect companies to understand their needs while a further 82% say they expect retailers to accommodate their needs.

Clearly, consumers show a strong preference for authentic connections and personalization. This means that consumer-oriented businesses must get up to speed with the latest tech like AI-powered chatbots, metaverse branded experiences, and predictive analytics programs.

AI and Customer Service

The recent rise of artificial intelligence has been heralded as the start of a new era for customer service. Programs like ChatGPT boasted a 100 million active monthly user base just two months after launching and competitors like Google Bard are quickly catching up.

Natural language processing (NLP) models are not just for public use, either. Advanced large language models transform the connection between consumers and businesses by significantly improving customer service. Modern businesses use AI to provide prompt, accurate support to folks who log on to their websites.

AI analytics can improve the in-store experience, too. Smart retail is revolutionizing the consumer experience by improving product research and streamlining operations. Over 50% of stores say they soon use some form of “smart” inventory management and 38% are adopting AI in-store. This can build cohesion between brands’ digital and physical points of sale.


Advanced Chatbots can be programmed to understand tone and brand expectations, too. For example, subscription services like GPT4 have been used to mimic human-like interactions on popular applications like DuoLingo and the Khan Academy. These same NLPs can be trained using pre-existing conversations by real agents to better address consumer’s needs.

Firms who do decide to proceed with AI-enhanced customer relations can free up time for customer service agents. This is particularly helpful if agents spend most of their day responding to FAQs, but could better spend their time answering more complex queries.

Marketing

Artificial intelligence can be used to better understand consumer trends and predict fluctuations in the market. For example, companies that measure consumer engagement can garner data-driven that help them measure and track the efficacy of their marketing campaigns.

The data businesses collect can also be used to optimize future campaigns. For example, companies that track consumer acquisition cost (CQC) in real-time can tell when exactly their marketing spend pays off. Using this insight, firms can find ways to improve their ROI and produce more profitable marketing campaigns.


High-tech businesses can also use social listening tools to detect conversations about the brand online. This is particularly important for businesses that are concerned about protecting their brand reputation as a swift response can curtail costly customer complaints. Advanced social listening tools trawl the web in search of brand mentions and notify marketers whenever someone mentions their brand.

Metaverse

The metaverse currently has 400 million active users and a global market value of $82 billion. However, many businesses and brands are still unsure of how to interact with consumers in the virtual world.

Event-based marketing in the metaverse can be particularly powerful for progressive brands who want to connect with young consumers. Digital events give businesses a chance to interact with potential consumers and can give folks personalized attention. 

Some brands, like Nike, are even using the space to sell their wares directly. The athletic-wear titan uses augmented reality (AR) tech to make shopping that much easier. Folks who visit their virtual store can “try on” clothes to see how they would fit before actually making the purchase. This gives folks more time to find products that suit their style.

Personalization

Modern consumers demand personalized brand experiences. Put simply, folks don’t want to feel like a cog in the wheel and are looking for businesses that make them feel important. Until recently, however, most brands could not authentically claim to provide personalized marketing.

Today, advanced data analytics empowers personalization efforts. High-tech data collection programs allow brands to wield big data and refine their approach to customer engagement. This means that marketers can create more accurate consumer personas while tracking metrics like conversion rates and customer satisfaction scores.

Ideally, personalization should be part of a wider Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategy. This ensures that everyone understands their role and increases data utilization. Using the right CRM can make importing data easier, too, meaning all departments can contribute to producing an accurate understanding of consumer needs.

Conclusion

Emergent technology is redefining the connection between businesses and consumers. No matter the technology, businesses can personalize the consumer experience and garner brand loyalty. In the future, we can expect even more enhanced customer experiences as these same businesses figure out which technologies and tactics work best for customers and how to adapt.

Improving Marketing Experiences With Customer Data

Presented By: Amanda Winstead

What’s one practice your 21st-century business can’t do without?

Our answer is data collection.

Gathering customer data, in particular, can help you hone your customer service strategy, better your sales techniques, and improve the marketing experience you’re providing to your customers.

We’ll talk specifically about the connection between customer data and the marketing experience in this article. When you collect data about your customers, you can make huge strides in your marketing strategy.

For example, you can create content that resonates with them and drives conversions. You can tailor your digital channel experiences to guide them to the next step of the customer journey. You can also learn about your repeat customers and create a specific marketing strategy for customer retention. 

Read on for more about improving your customers’ marketing experiences with data. 

Grow What You Know About Your Customers

Better marketing experiences come when you know your customers. In addition, because their needs, wants, and desires will evolve, you must continue learning about your customers to make effective changes to your marketing strategy. 

For instance, let’s say you collected data on your customers’ content consumption today. You learn they’re educating themselves on sustainability more and interacting with brands that highlight this value.

You can then start showcasing your business’s commitments to sustainability in your marketing content. You could also send your customers sustainable marketing swag, sweatshirts made from ethically-sourced materials, or notebooks created from recycled products to show the depth of your sustainability commitments.

Use your analytics tools to collect the following data to learn about your audience continually: 

  • What are my target audience’s current values? Have they changed since the last set of data?
  • Which digital channels are my target audience using the most?
  • How has their engagement on social media evolved?
  • Which media and content types are my target audience consuming regularly?
  • How many visitors are interacting with my brand for the first time? How many visitors are recurring?
  • How does my target audience make purchases today?
  • Are there any noteworthy changes to the customer journey?
  • Is there any new demographic information about my target audience? 

Customer data can also help you ensure your marketing efforts spread throughout the entire customer journey.

Ensure Your Marketing Efforts Extend to the Entire Customer Journey

Each of your customers will experience their relationship with your business differently. However, generally, they’ll move through the following stages with your business: 

  • Connection- how they’re introduced to your business
  • Cultivation- the relationship starts to develop between you and the potential customer
  • Consideration- they’re considering all solutions to their challenge, including your business 
  • Conversion- they choose your business’s product/service as their solution
  • Continuation- how the relationship continues after the first purchase  

For your customers to have the best experience with your business, you must ensure your marketing efforts extend to the entire customer journey. By collecting customer data on how various people move through their buyer’s journey with your business, you can learn what’s necessary marketing-wise to aid the journey.

Be sure to implement a data collection strategy that uses artificial intelligence tools. You’ll be able to collect vast data sets better and accurately filter the data. From there, you can analyze the information, extract valuable insights from it, and use those insights to improve how you market to your customers at each stage of the buyer’s journey.

You can also create better content and learn the best ways to share it with your particular audience with customer data.

Create Better Content and Learn Best Practices for Sharing it

One of the best ways to boost your marketing efforts is to create original content and share it with your target audience in their favorite places.

By collecting customer data on the kind of content your customer consumes, the platforms they consume it on, and how they best absorb the information, your content creation and distribution methods will work with your target audience more often.   

Use your data collection tools to gather the following information about your customers and content and improve the content marketing experience: 

  • Comments left and the quality of them 
  • What content is attracting new customers
  • Which CTAs are driving the most conversions
  • What content is resonating with current customers
  • If re-purposing content is working with your target audience
  • If your visuals and videos are a factor in driving conversions
  • How often your content is shared over various digital channels
  • Which digital channels your customers engage with your content the most on  

Improve Customer Retention

So many marketers focus most of their strategy on attracting new customers. This is a mistake because most of your business will come from current customers. Gathering data on repeat customers can help you create a marketing strategy specific to customer retention efforts.

Use your data analytics tools to collect information on repeat customers, like: 

  • Why repeat customers love your brand
  • How repeat customers make purchases
  • How the buyer’s journey differs for repeat customers
  • What the most popular products are among repeat customers
  • Demographics that are different from the rest of your customers
  • Which marketing strategies and tactics attract repeat customers
  • How repeat customers prefer to be rewarded for continuous purchases   

You can create marketing content that speaks directly to your repeat customers with data like the above. You can also make better use of the digital marketing channels they frequent. Furthermore, you can create a loyalty program that rewards customers in the ways you’ve learned they like to be rewarded and use this as an additional platform to drive customer retention.

Conclusion  

The fastest and most efficient way to improve marketing experiences is to collect customer data and use what you learn to make productive adjustments to your strategies, techniques, and tactics. Use the tips above to help you collect accurate data about your customers and modify your marketing to favor them. 

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.

Unearthing the Most Important CX Initiatives for 2021 Requires Going Far Beneath the Surface

It’s always been a tried and true topic for seminars and webcasts to divine the most significant changes and new directions in a specific industry. Until now, when someone set out to predict what the major trends might be in the following year, they could often just look at what was being forecast in the previous year and update the syllabus of such educational offerings by integrating any new ideas that may have been introduced in the interim.

Of course, viewed through the prism of the world we are now living in, that notion seems like a quaint anachronism, as irrelevant as the Jetson’s 1960s vision of a future of flying cars that fold into briefcases. The clichés used to describe the current situation in the CX/contact center world are mounting …the world has been turned upside down, the way we do business has changed forever, we are living in a new normal, etc. But however tired we may be of seeing these aphorisms, they reflect an undeniable reality. Organizations of all types must find and implement innovative methods to address customers’ momentous needs today to build enduring relationships in the era when Covid-19 is just a jarring memory.

Simply stated, the pandemic has triggered a re-evaluation of the meaning and purpose of customer care. Over the past few months, the emphasis on complex examinations of customer journeys and satisfaction metrics have been supplanted by a focus on the gravity of ensuring that consumers can get the information they need when they need it. Consequently, businesses are now changing the way they will measure and deliver the customer experience in 2021. The sudden transition calls for a new perspective that extends beyond familiar metrics, existing processes, and technology silos.

With the disruption in the workforce due to the lockdowns and furloughs, can businesses be counted on to provide service which makes empathy, understanding and concern integral elements of every interaction? Can CX leaders rapidly reposition themselves to react to the likely long-term alterations in consumer behavior that will undoubtedly come about from this crisis? The challenge is to pivot, innovate and transform operations in a way that enables organizations to not only stand out from the competition, but create new standards of service that truly address the evolving needs of the customer.

In this environment, any educational program that attempts to identify the most critical developments in the next year of the customer experience universe must take a totally fresh approach. On Tuesday, August 11th at 1:00 PM ET, CrmXchange offers a complimentary Best Practices Roundtable discussion that will provide an in-depth examination of the elements that have now become front and center in importance. “CX Megatrends to Watch in 2021” will be presented jointly by experts from two solution providers with demonstrated expertise in revamping contact center operations. Steve Chirokas, Director, Product and Channel Marketing, CallMiner, and Laura Bassett, Senior Director, Product Marketing, NICE inContact, will team up and tap their extensive backgrounds in providing guidance and strategic direction to industry leaders.

The topics to be discussed include:

  • Why Work-from-Home affects the customers’ perception of a brand and the ways that getting it right can positively influence loyalty
  • How to manage remote workers for increases in productivity and enhanced CX
  • In what ways can customer insight, using emotional metrics combined with AI agility, aid agents in taking the next best compelling action
  • How to build momentum toward in-the-moment voice of your customer insight and ensure that responses make for dynamic personalization
  • How to recognize and prioritize digital strategy
  • Specific reasons why moving to the cloud decreases uncertainty during a pandemic

Register now for this enlightening roundtable discussion that will give you updated guidance on what lies ahead. If you can’t attend the live presentation, a link to the recorded webcast will be provided 24 hours after it has been completed.

Can we build machines that understand us?

Tobias Goebel,  Mar 2020

The question of whether we can build machines that truly think is a fascinating one. It has both practical and philosophical implications, and both perspectives answer a key question very differently: how close to the real thing (human thinking) do we need to get?” In fact – does rebuilding the exact human ways even matter? And are we too easily impressed with anyone claiming they have accomplished this Franksteinian feat?

From a purely practical perspective, any machine that improves a human task on some level (speed, quality, effort) is a good machine. When it comes to cognitive” tasks, such as reasoning, or predicting what comes next based on previous data points, we appreciate the help of computer systems that produce the right outcome either faster, better, or more easily than we can. We do not really care how they do it. It is perfectly acceptable if they simulate” how we think, as long as they produce a result. They do not actually have to think like we do.

The question of whether machines can truly think has become more relevant again in recent years, thanks to the rise of voice assistants on our phones and in our homes, as well as chatbots on company websites and elsewhere. Now, we want machines to understand — arguably a different, more comprehensive form of thinking. More specifically, we want machines to understand human language. Again we can consider this question from two different angles: the practical, and the philosophical one.

John Searle, an American professor of philosophy and language, introduced a widely discussed thought experiment in 1980, called The Chinese Room. It made the argument that no program can be written that, merely by virtue of being run on a computer, creates something that truly is thinking, or understanding. Computer programs are merely manipulating symbols, which means operating on a syntactical level. Understanding, however, is a semantical process.

Searle concedes that computers are powerful tools that can help us study certain aspects of human thought processes. He calls that weak AI”. In his 1980 paper, he contrasts that with “strong AI”: But according to strong AI, the computer is not merely a tool in the study of the mind; rather, the appropriately programmed computer really is a mind, in the sense that computers given the right programs can be literally said to understand and have other cognitive states.

Cognitive states are states of mind such as hoping, wanting, believing, hating. Think (sic!) about it: proponents of strong AI, and they do exist, claim that as soon as you run an appropriately written computer program (and only while it is running), these computers literally are hoping, are wanting, etc. That surely must be a stretch?

Searles thought experiment is summarized by him as follows:

Imagine a native English speaker who knows no Chinese locked in a room full of boxes of Chinese symbols (a data base) together with a book of instructions for manipulating the symbols (the program). Imagine that people outside the room send in other Chinese symbols which, unknown to the person in the room, are questions in Chinese (the input). And imagine that by following the instructions in the program the man in the room is able to pass out Chinese symbols which are correct answers to the questions (the output). The program enables the person in the room to pass the Turing Test for understanding Chinese but he does not understand a word of Chinese.

This is a simple but powerful thought experiment. For decades now, other philosophers have attempted to shoot holes into the argument, e.g. claiming that while the operator him- or herself might not understand Chinese, the room as a whole actually does. Yet all of these replies are eventually refutable, at least according to Searle, so the argument is being discussed and studied to this day.

Strong AI is of course not necessary for practical systems. As an excellent example of that, consider the social chatbot Mitsuku. (A “social bot” has no purpose other than to chat with you, as opposed to what you could call functional or transactional chatbots, such as customer service bots.) Mitsuku is a five-time winner (and now a Guinness World Record holder) of the Loebner Prize, an annual competition for social bots. She is entirely built on fairly simple “IF-THEN” rules. No machine learning, no neural networks, no fancy mathematics or programming whatsoever. Just a myriad of pre-written answers and some basic contextual memory. Her creator is Steven Worswick, who has been adding answers to Mitsuku since 2005. The chatbot, who you can chat with yourself, easily beats Alexa, Siri, Google, Cortana, and any other computer system that claims it can have conversations with us. (Granted: none of the commercially available systems do claim that social banter is their main feature.)

Certainly, Mitsuku by no means aims to be an example of strong AI. It produces something that on the surface looks like a human-to-human conversation, but a computer running the IF-THEN rules is of course nowhere near a thinking machine. This example, however, shows that it neither requires a machine that “truly thinks”, nor a corporation with the purchasing power of an Amazon, Apple, or Google, to build something that serves a meaningful purpose: a single individual with a nighttime and weekend passion can accomplish just that. And Mitsuku, with its impressive ability to chitchat for long stretches of time, is meaningful to many, according to the creator.

 

It is easy to get distracted by technological advancements and accomplishments, and the continuous hype cycles we find ourselves in will never cease to inspire us. But let’s make an attempt to not let them distract us from what fundamentally matters: that the tools we build actually work, and perform a given task. For chatbots, that means that they first and foremost need to be able to have a meaningful conversation in a given context. Whether they are built on simple rules or the latest generation of neural network algorithms shouldn’t matter. Despite that concession, it will probably remain forever human to marvel at advances towards solving what might be the biggest philosophical question of all: can we ever build a machine that can truly understand?

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.

What New Paths Will Companies Take to Shape the Customer Journey in the Years to Come?

As the time-honored adage puts it, ‘a journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.’ These days, the journey a customer takes when engaging with a company may be far more geographically limited but usually starts with a lot more steps. The ever-evolving customer journey incorporates varying interactions and experiences that take place on different touchpoints: a website visit for research, a call with a sales rep or chat with an agent, a conversation on social media or online review site, an inbound call, and even an in-store retail encounter.

It has become more important than ever for a business to take advantage of every possible resource to understand its customers: their wants, needs, and expectations, their thoughts and opinions and feedback and expectations. Building this knowledge will enable companies to deliver the highly personalized customer experiences that are becoming more crucial all the time in an increasingly competitive marketplace where consumers are offered a constantly growing array of options.

Given access to vast resources of data and technology, the customer journey today has morphed dramatically from where it was even five or ten years ago. And every company’s success depends upon combining the right technologies with the agility needed to effectively manage all the interactions that take place on every channel along the way.

Gazing into the future, which often-predicted developments will come to pass? Will the migration to the cloud finally encompass all businesses and make service more responsive? Will messaging ultimately surpass voice as the communication channel that is most compelling for businesses and consumers alike? Will digital transformation extend its reach deeper into the contact center environment to better leverage profile data, more closely examine customer feedback, and measure sentiment? Will customers expect greater availability of agent support that involves the use of screenshots, photos and video? And how will the growing use of AI-powered solutions progress, both in terms of those that provide more effective self-service options and those that support the development of more highly specialized agents?

Of course, no one can foresee every possible path the customer journey will take in the coming years, but CX and contact center executives and managers have an opportunity to get a cogent vision of many of the most important changes in an upcoming complimentary roundtable webcast on CrmXchange. On Thursday, December 5, at 1:00PM ET, NICE Nexidia and RingCentral will team up to explore “Smooth Customer Journey- Predictions for 2020 and Beyond.

Ken Brisco, Senior Product Marketing Manager, NICE Nexidia, who is responsible for establishing the scope and message as well as the competitive advantages of NICE’s Customer Journey Optimization Solutions within the CX space will be joined by RingCentral’s John Finch, AVP PMM, Customer Engagement, an executive with an extensive background in developing strategy for global customer engagement. Among the topics they will cover are:

  • How AI-driven analytics can boost customer loyalty and retention
  • The importance of measuring quality across all channels
  • In what ways bots are best able to collaborate with humans
  • How macro to micro-level journey analysis drives deeper insights into customer engagement

Register now for this insightful look into which near-future developments may change the way your organization helps to orchestrate the customer experience. If you are unable to attend on December 5, you can access the recorded version approximately 24 hours after the live presentation.

 

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

How AI Impacts the Future of Contact Center Agents

For the past few years, artificial intelligence (AI) has been a major topic in business. Right now, one of the best uses for AI algorithms is to process data and then make recommendations or predictions related to the customer. There are more advanced ways to employ AI too, though, many of which interact directly with the customer. By adding newer types of AI to the contact center, another question arises: what does this mean for live agent support?

Invisible vs. Visible AI

Much of AI runs in the background, making it invisible to customers. For example, AI can analyze history and trends to make customized recommendations. While customers may not know how, they certainly know that their experience is improving. Visible AI, on the other hand, interacts directly with the customer. An example of this is Siri for iOS, a digital assistant that you can interact with relatively naturally and without looking at your device.

The invisible types of AI have been around for a long time. They’re mature, and they effectively improve and streamline processes. Visible AI, though, isn’t nearly as mature. There’s more room for error, and since customers are dealing with it directly, problems need to be swiftly addressed by live agents.

AI Accuracy and Live Support

There’s often a question of how much AI will replace humans in the workplace. It’s unlikely that AI will ever be 100% accurate, which is why a live support team is still integral to the contact center. Any AI that’s customer-facing requires a support team behind it that can quickly jump in if a mistake is made. Live agents are the only ones able to handle tasks that require empathy, in-depth decision-making skills, and high-level understanding.

Furthermore, some experts think that it’s best to keep AI and human-ness separate. They feel that no matter how much tech advances, AI is never going to be truly human – and maybe it shouldn’t try to be.

Smarter Hiring with AI in Mind

As modern contact centers integrate AI into their routine processes, there should be more of a focus on communication, creativity and empathy skills when hiring agents. Once you know which tasks you’ll automate using AI, you can hire people who match the skills needed for the tasks you can’t or won’t automate.

How do you use artificial intelligence in your contact center?

 

 

 

 

Using Big Data to Enhance the Customer Experience

Customers are happy to stay with brands that provide excellent service, and that includes knowing what they want and offering it to them when they want it. To the customer, this seems like uncanny intuition, but smart brands know this doesn’t have anything to do with a sixth sense. Analyzing customer data is the only “magic” needed.

Collecting and storing customer data is doing nothing for you if you’re not actually putting that data to use, though. Here’s how to make customer data work for you.

  1. Personalize the customer experience.

Today, simply having an app or website that works isn’t enough. A personalized customer experience results in better engagement, conversions and revenue. The customer should have their interests and preferences catered to when they log in. For example, customers who always pay online ­– and who don’t usually log in for other reasons ­– can be taken directly to the payment page.

  1. Fix problems quickly.

Real-time analytics show what’s happening now, giving you the chance to solve problems before they become catastrophes. For example, if a customer is having a problem with the support agent, you can jump in to solve the issue before the customer gets off the phone. If you end the call on a positive note, they won’t be tempted to bash your business on social media. You can also collect data from different social media platforms to discover when customers are talking about you online, and then get in on the conversation to solve issues fast.

  1. Figure out what you’re doing wrong.

Customer data can show you where visitors are getting stuck or at what point they’re abandoning your app or website. This can help you hone in on areas that aren’t working so well, giving you the opportunity to streamline processes even more. For example, do you notice that customers who try to engage in a live chat via the app often end up calling for phone support? Maybe the chat freezes or agents are too slow to respond.

User data can be turned into reports for all sorts of information, and customers can be segmented in a variety of ways, giving contact center agents the chance to provide excellent, targeted service. The best approach is to figure out which data you need so that you spend more time using it than you do collecting it.