Self-Service

Crafting Authentic Customer Experiences: Uniting AI, Virtual Agents, and Live Agents

In the age of rapid digital transformation, businesses find themselves in a race to provide customers with seamless experiences that transcend the boundaries of traditional support methods. The upcoming webcast roundtable on “Seamless Customer Experience – Combining AI, Virtual Agents, and Live Agents” promises to delve into the exciting realm where AI, virtual agents, and human touch converge to create truly authentic customer interactions. Mark your calendars for September 12th at 1pm Eastern,

https://bit.ly/441c4WL as we embark on a journey to demystify the fusion of technology and human ingenuity. 

The Imperative of Seamless Customer Experience

In the ever-evolving landscape of consumer expectations, the significance of a seamless customer experience cannot be overstated. Today’s customers demand quick, personalized, and efficient interactions across multiple channels. This webcast roundtable recognizes that customer engagement is the bedrock of brand strategy, and to succeed, businesses must harmonize AI, digital tools, and human agents to create an integrated customer journey.

Navigating the Confluence of AI and Human Support

While the potential of AI and conversational bots is undeniable, the challenge lies in ensuring a harmonious coexistence between automated systems and human agents. The roundtable promises to shed light on this delicate balance, offering insights into how businesses can align their self-service and agent-assisted support for maximum efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Empowering Customer Support with AI and Virtual Assistants

Modern businesses are leveraging AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants to deliver personalized and prompt customer support. The webcast will explore how these tools not only streamline routine inquiries but also enable businesses to capitalize on intent data. By understanding customer needs and preferences, companies can strategically automate common inquiries and optimize agent workflows to enhance overall team productivity.

Data-Driven Strategies for Exceptional Customer Service

Harnessing the power of historical and real-time customer engagement data is pivotal in constructing a modern customer service strategy. This roundtable aims to equip participants with the know-how to leverage this data goldmine effectively. By analyzing past interactions, businesses can identify automation opportunities, fine-tune self-service strategies, and enhance their overall approach to customer engagement.

Consistency Across Every Channel, Every Time

Customers no longer perceive brands through a single channel; they expect a consistent experience across every touchpoint. This roundtable will dive into the techniques for ensuring a uniform customer journey, regardless of the channel. From social media to email, the discussion will encompass strategies to create a unified brand presence that resonates authentically with customers.

The Pursuit of “Authentic Intelligence”

As AI becomes more prevalent in customer interactions, there’s a growing need to infuse authenticity into these exchanges. The webcast will explore how to transcend the “Artificial” in AI and deliver what customers truly desire—genuine, meaningful interactions. Additionally, it emphasizes the indispensable role of empowered human agents in creating exceptional customer experiences.In a world where technological advancements and human creativity intersect, the webcast on September 12th holds the promise of unraveling the complexities of modern customer engagement. By merging AI’s capabilities, virtual agents’ efficiency, and the empathy of human agents, businesses can etch their names in the annals of customer delight. Join us at 1pm Eastern for an illuminating discussion that will reshape your approach to customer experience. After all, in the pursuit of seamless interactions, innovation and authenticity are the guiding stars.  https://bit.ly/441c4WL

6 Customer Service Trends to Lookout for in 2023

Contributed Article by Manpreet Singh Chawla

The customer service industry is constantly evolving and looking for the best way to serve customers efficiently. With customer experience becoming more critical to today’s business, new technologies are emerging to help customer service stay ahead of the latest trends. 

According to research from the Temkin Group, firms with annual revenue of $1 billion are expected to generate an additional $700 million within three years if they invest in customer experience. The revenue of SaaS companies is expected to increase by $1 billion.

These numbers make it abundantly clear that providing a positive experience for consumers leads to increased revenue from those customers. In fact, research shows that 86% of purchasers are prepared to spend extra money for an exceptional client experience. Let’s explore new customer service trends in 2023.

Top Customer Service Trends to Lookout for in 2023

Omnichannel support 

Omnichannel customer support is an integral part of delivering superior CX in today’s digital world. The days of contacting brands through telephone and fax are long gone. The most recent trends in customer care enable you to select your preferred method of reaching a support representative – phone, email, live chat, SMS, social media, etc.

Following the trend of omnichannel customer care, businesses can build a seamless customer experience and achieve the highest levels of customer satisfaction.

Benefits  

  1. Omnichannel support ensures a consistent customer experience across all touchpoints.
  2. Improved customer engagement can be achieved through real-time support options such as voice and video chat.
  3. Personalized experiences can increase customer loyalty.
  4. Centralized management of interactions streamlines operations and increases efficiency.
  5. Seamless communication between customers and support leads to increased customer satisfaction. 

Real-time co-browsing and video chat support

Advanced technology and new marketing methods give opportunities to engage with people and make goods and services visible. What if clients browse your website’s services or price page before buying?

Video chat or live chat is the best technique to assist a client through services and give real-time support. Real-time support for your company’s customer service trends is beneficial.

Benefits  

  • Instant customer service
  • Agent and customer save time
  • Increases sales possibility
  • User-friendliness
  • Increases customer satisfaction 

Automated AI chatbot support 

One of the most noteworthy service marketing techniques is the increasing usage of bots to manage large-scale customer care without human intervention. The advent and continued growth of customer service bots or chatbots enable businesses to offer round-the-clock support through automated responses that immediately aid the customer in diagnosing the technical issue.

The most prominent benefit is that they relieve agents of some of the incoming support tickets so that they can focus on more critical, complex tasks. 

Bot-driven automation can surely close the gap in the customer service hierarchy and guarantee value since 50% of consumers no longer care whether they are speaking with people or AI-enabled assistants. These easy-to-use chatbots are a cost-effective way to answer customers’ typical questions. Given their current growth report, CNBC  predicts that chatbots will reduce company costs by $8 billion by 2023.

Self-service support 

As opposed to engaging with a customer support agent, 69% of consumers want to address as many problems as possible via customer self-service techniques. By providing customers with solutions to their concerns, banks and credit unions may simplify interactions and enhance the entire experience.

As customers seek more immersive ways to connect with companies, augmented reality (AR) may become an increasingly important component of self-service alternatives. More than 90% of consumers want businesses to give self-service options, such as a call center knowledge base, product FAQs, tutorials, AI-powered chat and messaging, and automated contact centers.

Automation helps consumers discover relevant information without ever having to communicate with a person, thanks to natural language processing and conversational intelligence improvements. 

More personalized customer service 

Given the quantity of personal data collected by companies, it would be irresponsible not to use it. 71% of consumers expect personalized interactions with companies after providing them with personal data. It involves providing customers with the help options they find most convenient, replying to their mail on an individual basis, and giving tailored recommendations. In addition, it may include recognizing their noteworthy accomplishments, distributing content pertinent to their needs, and enhancing the usability of self-service portals.

Every channel in your service mix, such as the website, social media platforms, email marketing, and help desk software, provides a vast array of choices for personalizing the customer experience. The optimum level of customization increases long-term customer loyalty and accelerates growth.

Proactive support

Consumers have enjoyed proactive support for decades. With automation on the horizon, team members proactively contact customers and give assistance, which is why it will be a robust 2023 customer service trend.

Research conducted in the United States by InContact reveals that 87% of people stated they welcome proactive business contact.

Proactive support helps avoid problems before they happen. It also deals with any concerns before they get worse. This shows that the company cares about its customers and helps keep them loyal. It is important for a company to ask about any issues their customers may have and address them proactively.

Facts at a glance   

  • 59% of consumers are more concerned about customer service in the post-pandemic era.
  • 79% of organizations reported an increase in customer loyalty, sales, and income after using automated chat.
  • 61% of consumers would now switch to a rival after a single negative experience. 

Takeaways

Managing customer experience is a difficult endeavor that requires a thorough understanding of the client’s wants and expectations. In recent years, it is not surprising that there has been a significant shift in the behavior of both consumers and companies. If companies want to succeed, they must invest in the right technology to deliver customer-focused solutions.  

In 2023, CX will undergo significant changes. To meet the ever-rising customer expectations, a number of companies need to implement new technology, such as artificial intelligence, automated procedures, and a multichannel strategy.

What They Say When They Think You’re Not Listening

GlassesUSA, when it comes to customer service, you get whatever is worse than F. You don’t get a B for Bi**h or a C for C**t, which are two names I was called by your agents on the phone.

When it comes to customer service, I am no stranger.

I have moderated and produced hundreds, if not thousands of webinars even before webcast software existed. Yes, we actually had to fax directions to audience members.

When we started CrmXchange almost 30 years ago and discussed best practices for the contact center, three items were nonnegotiable:  

  1. Treat customer with respect and the way you would want to be treated
  2. Teach agents how to use technology correctly
  3. Try, if possible, to solve the customer issue on the first contact 

Sounds simple enough, right? For some, yes. Recently I had very positive experiences with three companies: Spectrum, Verizon and Cablevision.  Each issue was handled on a phone professionally and quickly.  The phone was answered within 1 minute, and agents from each company solved my issue within 10 minutes. 

Enter: GlassesUSA

I have ordered many glasses from GlassesUSA over the past 5 years with no issue. Their costs are reasonable, and their customer service is typically good, that is, until last month.

I ordered two pairs of glasses; one came in wrong (both the frames and the prescription) and one pair was returned to sender. Ok, we all make mistakes. Surely, I can just get in touch with the company to get it resolved, right?

Wrong. So very wrong.

Chapter 1: 1-800-Unavailable

“1-844-244-1186 All Day Every Day 24/7” is what it says on the website, but when called, you’re referred to chat. Okay… I guess I’ll chat.

I had to chat in multiple times, each less successful than the previous attempt. Finally, exasperated, I called and talked to a sales agent, who is the only person I could reach on the phone (is anyone surprised that the revenue-generated stream is the only one that could be reached?).

The sales agent promised he would take care of the issue. He didn’t. Back to chat.

While on chat, I let them know I was an unhappy customer and had no one to talk to. The agent let me know that they no longer have agents to talk on the phone because “the chat resolves most of our issues”. Well, it didn’t.

Each chat led to an agent telling me that a different department would be “sending me an email” in a few days.

So, I took to twitter. As companies have trained us so well, when we can’t get satisfaction, we tweet.


Finally that evening, I got a call from a GlassesUSA customer service agent. Rejoice! I told the agent the issue, and he profusely apologized and ask to put me on hold.

He put me on hold.

Or so he thought.

Chapter 2: Am I being punked?

The conversation I overheard went like this:

Representative: “I have a bi**h on the phone.  She’s tweeting about us all over the internet. Can you talk to this bi**h?”

Supervisor: “I was getting ready to leave but if you need me to talk to this fu****g c**t, then I will.”

Now, I was ready to forgive “bi***h”. Let’s face it, I was frustrated, and I suppose I can be less than favorable when I get upset. But as someone in the customer service in industry for well over 20 years, I thought this had to be a prank.

I hung up.

The original rep called back to see if everything was “taken care of”.  When I told him no, that the issue has gotten worse, he said he would put me through to the supervisor’s manager.

He put me on hold.

Or so he thought. Again.

Chapter 3: Oops, I Did it Again.

The conversation went like this.

Representative: “I have a bi**h on the phone”

Manager: “It’s the person [agent] told me about. Don’t worry, I erased the recording. There is no proof of the conversation.”

Representative: “I erased my recording too”

I have since tried to link it to GlassesUSA CMO and placed a call to the CEO.  As of this time I have not heard  back.

If there are any takeaways from this story, they are these: 

  1. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to hear – you never know who is listening.
  2. While it may be (very) challenging at times, treat customers with respect.
  3. Learn the technology.
  4. Provide a channel that the customer wants; not just what is saving costs for your company.
  5. It is easier to resell a customer than to sell a new customer.  Not only will I never purchase from them again, I tell everyone of my experience (here!).
  6. As a CEO, you are not too big to hear what a customer has to say.  Fish smells from the head down.  

GlassesUSA, when it comes to customer service, you get whatever is worse than F. You don’t get a B for Bi**h or a C for C**t, which are two names I was called by your agents on the phone.

When it comes to customer service, I am no stranger.

I have moderated and produced hundreds, if not thousands of webinars even before webcast software existed. Yes, we actually had to fax directions to audience members.

When we started CrmXchange almost 30 years ago and discussed best practices for the contact center, three items were non-negatable:  

  1. Treat customer with respect and the way you would want to be treated
  2. Teach agents how to use technology correctly
  3. Try, if possible, to solve the customer issue on the first contact 

Sounds simple enough, right? For some, yes. Recently I had very positive experiences with three companies: Spectrum, Verizon and Cablevision.  Each issue was handled on a phone professionally and quickly.  The phone was answered within 1 minute, and agents from each company solved my issue within 10 minutes. 

Enter: GlassesUSA

I have ordered many glasses from GlassesUSA over the past 5 years with no issue. Their costs are reasonable, and their customer service is typically good, that is, until last month.

I ordered two pairs of glasses; one came in wrong (both the frames and the prescription) and one pair was returned to sender. Ok, we all make mistakes. Surely, I can just get in touch with the company to get it resolved, right?

Wrong. So very wrong.

Chapter 1: 1-800-Unavailable

“1-844-244-1186 All Day Every Day 24/7” is what it says on the website, but when called, you’re referred to chat. Okay… I guess I’ll chat.

I had to chat in multiple times, each less successful than the previous attempt. Finally, exasperated, I called and talked to a sales agent, who is the only person I could reach on the phone (is anyone surprised that the revenue-generated stream is the only one that could be reached?).

The sales agent promised he would take care of the issue. He didn’t. Back to chat.

While on chat, I let them know I was an unhappy customer and had no one to talk to. The agent let me know that they no longer have agents to talk on the phone because “the chat resolves most of our issues”. Well, it didn’t.

Each chat led to an agent telling me that a different department would be “sending me an email” in a few days.

So, I took to twitter. As companies have trained us so well, when we can’t get satisfaction, we tweet.


Finally that evening, I got a call from a GlassesUSA customer service agent. Rejoice! I told the agent the issue, and he profusely apologized and ask to put me on hold.

He put me on hold.

Or so he thought.

Chapter 2: Am I being punked?

The conversation I overheard went like this:

Representative: “I have a bi**h on the phone.  She’s tweeting about us all over the internet. Can you talk to this bi**h?”

Supervisor: “I was getting ready to leave but if you need me to talk to this fu****g c**t, then I will.”

Now, I was ready to forgive “bi***h”. Let’s face it, I was frustrated, and I suppose I can be less than favorable when I get upset. But as someone in the customer service in industry for well over 20 years, I thought this had to be a prank.

I hung up.

The original rep called back to see if everything was “taken care of”.  When I told him no, that the issue has gotten worse, he said he would put me through to the supervisor’s manager.

He put me on hold.

Or so he thought. Again.

Chapter 3: Oops, I Did it Again.

The conversation went like this.

Representative: “I have a bi**h on the phone”

Manager: “It’s the person [agent] told me about. Don’t worry, I erased the recording. There is no proof of the conversation.”

Representative: “I erased my recording too”

I have since tried to link it to GlassesUSA CMO and placed a call to the CEO.  As of this time I have not heard  back.

If there are any takeaways from this story, they are these: 

  1. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to hear – you never know who is listening.
  2. While it may be (very) challenging at times, treat customers with respect.
  3. Learn the technology.
  4. Provide a channel that the customer wants; not just what is saving costs for your company.
  5. It is easier to resell a customer than to sell a new customer.  Not only will I never purchase from them again, I tell everyone of my experience (here!).
  6. As a CEO, you are not too big to hear what a customer has to say.  Fish smells from the head down.  

While I can’t know, I can image the type of culture at GlassesUSA that lets people think its ok to talk the way they do – then cover it up is pervasive.

While I can’t know, I can image the type of culture at GlassesUSA that lets people think its ok to talk the way they do – then cover it up is pervasive.

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

Contributed article by Wanda Lafond

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

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

#1 Customer Support Delivered Through Social Media

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#3 More Self-Service Options for Independent Customers

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

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

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

#4 Increased Personalization in Customer Interactions

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

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

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

#5 An Automated Workflow with Increased Communication

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

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

Final Thoughts  

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

Companies That Are Serious About CX Need to Up their Mobile Customer Support Game

It is no secret that customer experience (CX) has become perhaps the most compelling influence in the consumer’s decisions to initially do business—and build an ongoing relationship  –with a company. CX can be defined as the sum of all experiences a customer has in their interactions with a company and its products or services. Understanding these interactions, specifically what makes them positive or negative, is central to making improvements. Effective CX is determined by the quality of the experience customers have when they seek product information and seek support—tasks they now mostly use mobile devices to accomplish.

Engaging mobile consumers requires businesses to become more creative. Mobile devices are more than just hand-held web browsers. People have long since become accustomed to using mobile devices for a very wide range of activities, beyond calls: social media, taking/viewing photos, GPS navigation, downloading music and videos or watching live entertainment

SMS, or mobile text messaging is also a long-term primary use case, in social and now increasingly in business contexts. In fact, with the rise in mobile device usage, messaging is the default user behavior. But it goes beyond SMS texting alone. Mobile phone users throughout the world are sending messages back and forth, using Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat, and other emerging channels of mobile chat messaging. However, in the US where most of us are text messages, companies are just starting to learn more about these emerging channels and how they can use them to improve communications with their customers. These are developments that are taking hold and it’s becoming more critical for businesses to be knowledgeable about them. This particularly true for organizations that wish to expand their global presence.

According to research by Forrester, people don’t wish to go out of their way for support. This   put companies in the position of having to keep up when their customers are blazing new trails. As Forrester put it in a recent report, “Customers will explore emerging channels to reduce friction. Customers want to move between channels without having to repeat their situation every time. They want to get service at any point in their pre- or post-purchase journey.” This need for flexibility and responsiveness becomes a serious problem when customers are unable to reach a company’s agents as quickly as they would like to. Then, once connected, customer frustration ramps up rapidly when they can’t adequately resolve their issue through a voice-only conversation. So, the undermined customer loyalty and increased cost becomes a lose-lose scenario for businesses.

Of course, there are more effective methods to deliver mobile customer service that enhance as opposed to detract from the customer experience., Mobile service specialist UJET will share detailed information on how organizations can to transition from voice-only interactions to engaging their customers on a variety of rich and responsive messaging channels. On Thursday, May 27 at 1:00pm, UJET will present a complimentary webinar on CrmXchange entitled “Mobile Support For Cost-Effective and Enhanced Customer Experience.”

Josh Mazgelis, Solutions Consultant, UJET, will draw on his 25 years of contact center experience. He will discuss how to cost-effectively deploy the company’s cloud-based mobile-focused customer satisfaction platform to enable customers and reps to share photos and videos, take screenshots, and even combine voice and text together. Among the topics to be covered are:

  • Enabling end-users to easily share multimedia with agents
  • Elevating the customer experience with Rich Communications Services
  • Using data intelligence to customize and improve support channels

Register now to see how your company can upgrade its mobile service. If you can’t attend the live webinar, a link to it will posted 24 hours after it is presented.

Infusing Digital CX With Human Intelligence

In today’s contact centers, there are plenty of avenues for using technology to provide a great customer experience. How can we make sure to maintain a personal touch? In the live Virtual Conference webcast, Dave Hoekstra from Calabrio demonstrated how to infuse digital CX with human intelligence to create a meaningful customer experience for not only your customers, but for your agents as well.

In today’s contact centers, we are constantly hearing the terms “AI” and “machine learning”. What does all of that mean? Really, we are talking about the ability for machines to display human-like intelligence; a concept that CX has fully embraced in recent years. Years ago, customer service was strictly face-to-face. Over time, the customer experience has evolved into omnichannel experiences for the customer such as e-mail, chat boxes, and SMS messaging. In 2020, IoT data will grow at 50 times the rate of other data. CX must keep up with this trend, however, it is vital to maintain humanity in these exchanges.

Customer expectations for CX are increasingly rising, demanding instant responses, personalized services, and omnichannel experience. With these rising expectations, maintaining customer loyalty is more complicated than ever.

The problem is that most businesses don’t know what their customers want. Why? Because they are simply not listening. Only one in four companies actively use their customer feedback, while only one in three actively use their customer interaction analytics. Ninety-eight percent of invaluable customer intelligence is sitting on the shelf. Businesses must turn this information into actionable intelligence to push them toward their goals.

Here is what we know: customers prefer human contact. Eighty-six percent of customers claim they prefer human contact to chat bots. Seventy-one percent of customers said they would be less likely to use a brand if it didn’t have customer service representatives available. While many believe phone contact is dying, calls to businesses are expected to exceed 169 billion per year by 2020. In response, businesses must humanize their customer relationship.

As previously mentioned, businesses are sitting on a goldmine of information. Using sentiment analysis, businesses can take information such as recordings from phone calls to identify human emotion in order to really understand what is going on in the day-to-day processing of our customers.

Another focus area is employee and agent empowerment. By empowering human intelligence in the contact center, businesses can drive an agent-centric approach while giving their employees the flexibility and balance they need. The integration of AI in this equation provides a personal assistant to your employees rather than taking their place. Thus, improving work-life balance, allowing for flexible planning and scheduling, and happier agents. That’s the key: happy agents lead to happy customers.

AI Assistance may also improve training and development. This can include VoC (Voice of the Customer) training, automated quality monitoring, a more intelligent way to schedule training opportunities, and cross-functional job training. Businesses are still living in an environment where operations are siloed because agents’ skills are very specific. Enter: training across job functions. Here, businesses can get ahead of the curve by recognizing where their employees’ strengths and weaknesses are before they are out in the field.

All of this leads to more empowered employees. Employees that are more engaged are:

  • 8.5x more likely to stay than leave within the year.
  • 4x more likely to stay than dissatisfied colleagues
  • 3.3x more likely to feel empowered to resolve customer issues

It’s time to hear your customers out. First. audit your technology stack. Take a look at all of the different ways your customers can get in touch with you and figure out what works best. Second, tap into the conversation to gain a comprehensive view of the customer. Finally, focus on your people. Customers matter but so do your agents. It’s time for companies to focus on the people who are engaging customers on a day to day basis. CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE WEBCAST

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Strategies for an Enhanced Customer Experience

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

  1. Treat all interactions with the same care.

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

  1. Invest in cognitive computing.

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

  1. Allow all employees to make decisions.

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

  1. Offer excellent advice for the individual customer.

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

  1. Make self-service obvious and easy.

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

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