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2018 Predictions for the Service Leader: Part 4 – Technology

We surveyed a number of customer service/experience leaders, from many of today’s leading brands, in our community to get their predictions for 2018. Over the coming weeks we will be releasing their thoughts on specific CX topics including customer expectations, channels, operations, technology, use case studies/data, and security/risk.

Click here to catch up on Part 1 – Customer ExpectationsPart 2 – Channels, and Part 3 – Operations.

The fourth installment of this series focuses on thoughts on technology.

• AI will begin to automate tasks for the agent and the customer – however AI will take longer to mature than previously thought, due to data infrastructure not mature enough to fully leverage.
• Companies will begin to shift from handling transaction to personalizing service.
• Digital will continue to experience strong growth, powered by mobile usage.
• Messaging channels will continue to grow social volumes.
• More conversations around the “social ethics” of AI deployment.
• Continued push on technology – moving infrastructure to the cloud.
• Deep/machine learning will play a role in 2018 for brands to meet customers where they are. I think brands are starting to get on board with the concept of machine learning and using data to predict behavior. But deep learning can extend beyond things like chatbots. If a brand can predict what a customer might be looking for, it can tailor content to the customer that allows the customer to self-service, send push notifications, etc.
• Thinking about AI secondarily to the types of use cases and outcomes desired that require it.
• Companies will have to address AI and ML in their strategies for customer acquisition and engagement. 2017 may be seen as a year of hype as lots of new vendors emerge on the scene. Expect consolidation and actual AI/ML deployments to increase in 2018.
• Interest in – and deployment of – customer journey analytics tools will increase, as companies try to identify and solve problems upstream before they occur.
• Strategic enterprise automation (front to back office) will help businesses begin to improve the customer experience, while optimizing back office operations, leading to stronger sales and a better bottom line. Examples include automated machine learning/AI, self help, chatbots/avatars, to RPA and beyond. Continue reading

2018 Predictions for the Service Leader: Part 2 – Channels

We surveyed a number of customer service/experience leaders, from many of today’s leading brands, in our community to get their predictions for 2018. Over the coming weeks we will be releasing their thoughts on specific CX topics including customer expectations, channels, operations, technology, use case studies/data, and security/risk.

Click here to catch up on Part 1 – Customer Expectations. 

The second installment of this series focuses on thoughts on channel choice and omnichannel digital transformation.

• The continued shift to “social channels” and the need to be adept at serving customers who reach out for help in social media.
• A key word is “predictive service”. Next era CX – what AI will enable?
• C-Suite will begin to see the potential for revenue generation on the service side of the house with new channels and old channel improvement.
• Companies must be more agile in testing and deploying new solutions and channels due to increasing competition from new market forces (e.g. Amazon).
• Businesses who do not embrace omni-channel digital transformation will lose customer loyalty, their share of wallet and overall market share, to those that do.
• The volume of calls will continue to grow even with the continued introduction of alternative channels of support.
• Amazon will disrupt the ACD market.
• IoT pervasiveness will increase call volume.
• Phone channel continues to be the dominant channel for “complex” client care issues.
• Many companies focusing on “demand management” initiatives to help clients self-serve, improve CSAT and reduce call volume.
• Mobile Messaging/SMS and MMS. More interesting and efficient use cases for text will emerge. Companies realizing that leveraging instant photos or videos sent can help reduce conversation time.
• Companies look for more true omnichannel platforms and adoption for these grow. Not just a single platform that can hook into all kinds of other technologies, but a single platform that can tie all of the conversations together, no matter what channel.
• Phone channel continues to be dominant for overall customer resolution.
• Companies will continue to add more channels and favor “cheaper” asynchronous (can respond at the same time) channels, like chat and text, in exchange for “more expensive ones”, like phone and email. Volumes of total communication will stay the same, but allow for brands to save money.
• Two way SMS continues to lag with some brands testing specific use cases.

Stay tuned next week for Part 3 – Operations.

The Contact Center of the Future: Everything Old is New Again

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The following is a guest blog written by Evan Dobkin, Marketing Manager at Aspect Software.  

I entered the contact center market five years ago, working on self-service interaction and the potential for personalized, customized experiences made possible by smartphones. At the time, the industry was planning for a multi-channel world. The domination of the “archaic” voice channel was starting to give way to native apps, social channels and SMS as the tides that would lift all customer service ships. It was very easy for businesses to get caught up in the hype of what was on the horizon and become paralyzed, wondering what changes they needed to make to their business to become part of this modern customer service world.

However, over these last five years, I’ve come to understand that despite the bells and whistles of sleek, up-and-coming communication channels, brands looking to add self-service interaction must begin by perfecting their IVR. A modernized IVR can help to improve the customer experience while providing a solid foundation for additional contact channels.

IVR has been, and will continue to be, the workhorse of your customer service offering. Often regarded by consumers as “the channel of last resort,” because they expect resolution when taking the time to call directly, it’s actually critical for resolving many customer issues. Not convinced? Consider these modern IVR realities:

– IVR is one of many contact points

– Improved speech recognition and dynamic personalization have made navigation easier

– New interactive voice solutions (Amazon Echo, Siri, etc…) emerged that are redefining how we interact with and our expectations of today’s IVR

– It is all about customer experience, ease of use – and containing costs Continue reading

Three Steps for Customer Service Excellence

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The following is a guest blog by Jaime Bailey, Vice President Marketing at Virtual Hold Technology (VHT). For more information on VHT, please visit their website

Putting the customer first is nothing new, but service excellence is becoming more competitive than ever before. While reducing hold time for incoming calls was once a key differentiator for brands, today the growth of digital channels means every touchpoint between consumer and brand is a make or break opportunity.

A recent McKinsey Quarterly, The CEO guide to customer experience, focuses on the importance of molding customer interactions and providing high-level insight to improve customer interactions. But a good piece of advice needs specifics. So we’re taking an in-depth look at three tips for how a brand can start growing loyalty.

Simplify the move from touchpoints to a journey

According to McKinsey, customer loyalty isn’t created through individual touchpoints, but “the complete, end-to-end experience customers have with a company from their perspective.” We agree. It’s all about the customer journey!

Why? Well many times, touchpoints are the responsibility of a business silo. The focus is on providing the best experience on that channel, without communicating with the other channels.

If a consumer starts on social media and then jumps to a phone, they have to start the interaction from the beginning. After all, when a brand’s channels aren’t connected, the customer’s information doesn’t travel with them. So even when satisfaction with individual touchpoints is high, the overall satisfaction can be quite low. This is because the customer perceives a company as not centered on their interests or concerns.

Knowing key pieces of information about the customer helps transform disparate touchpoints into a connected journey. As outlined in our e-book, Navigating the Customer Journey, the following four questions are central to the transformation.

– How long have they been a customer?

– Through which channels has the customer navigated?

– What are the customers’ previous brand interactions?

– Is there additional contact information to piece a customer identity together?

The move from individual touchpoints to a customer journey is an important one. When responding to each question, including data and customer commentary will enhance your ability to navigate the customer journey seamlessly and effectively. Continue reading

8 Great Questions Answered on Providing Text Message Customer Service

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The following is a guest blog written by Lauren Kindzierski, VP of Solutions & Capabilities | Global Growth Strategy & Marketing Team, at Hinduja Global Solutions. Learn more about HGS by visiting their website.

Your customers are texting. Do you know how many are already texting to your company toll free line? At our March 23 webinar, How to Launch Text Message Customer Service, we provided some key insights into how to provide this customer service channel to meet, and exceed, the raised bar on today’s CX expectations.

For our poll regarding “What is the status of your brand launching text as a customer service channel,” we noted that 64% are thinking about launching text as a service channel.

The second poll, “How are you currently using text for your customer service?” revealed that 79% of respondents are considering options. A total of 15% of attendees are using one-way notification and alerts, while 3% are using two-way text to interact with customers and resolve issues, and 3% are using both.

According to our webinar attendees, a good sampling of companies across verticals, today’s businesses are increasingly turning to text as a channel to reduce customer effort and meet the demand for optimized CX. Here are some of the questions brand leaders from across North America had regarding launching a text solution:

Q1: What should the average response time for text be?

A: When a customer is texting a business, they are definitely going to want a response within seconds, if not faster. When texting friends and family, the average response time for a text message is 90 seconds. Therefore 90 seconds is a really good starting point, because that’s what consumers have come to expect.

Q2: If a customer is in the CRM and is marked as “opted-out,” can a rep still text the customer? Is there anything that stops the rep from texting an opted-out customer?

A: In our system, if a customer has opted-out, the rep cannot text the customer. The customer would have to re opt-in through the legal disclosure process. Continue reading

Mobile Customer Support and Engagement – Where to Start?

The following is a guest blog written by Jill Soley, VP Marketing at Freshdesk. Learn more about Freshdesk by visiting their website.

Today, our customers have everything they need to communicate in the palm of their hand. Mobile brings about a unique and powerful convergence of communication channels — voice, email, chat, social, SMS — in one very portable device. This has a profound impact on how our customers communicate with each other, with the world, and with brands. It creates new challenges for brands to adjust to the protocols, cadence and sheer scale for customer support.

We’ve learned, in the digital age, that it’s no longer enough to publish a toll free number and staff a call center during business hours to provide for the needs of our customers. There are many new communication channels we’ve had to embrace and new skills we’ve had to learn to provide for the needs of our customers, in a social, mobile, 24×7 global marketplace.

At Freshdesk, we look at customer engagement through the lens of what we call The Great Pyramid of Customer Support.

Freshdesk Support Pyamid

This framework, based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, provides a structure to help organizations assess their support capabilities and determine what to prioritize. It can be particularly useful for determining how to address a new channel. Here we will apply it to mobile support and engagement: Continue reading

One-on-One Text Conversations Make Customer Support Easier (And Cheaper)

 

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This is a guest blog written by Dan Gordon, SVP Strategy & Development, West Interactive Services. Learn more about West on their website. To hear more about this topic and others like it, join us at Customer Response Summit Seattle, September 28-30th.

Picture this: You’re a frequent flyer, going from city to city every week, and spending hours in airports. You have your routine down to the letter and any substantial hitch has a domino effect on your schedule – not to mention work/life balance.

You roll with inevitable delays and gate changes better than most, but you have to be in-the-know. You don’t demand flawlessness, but you do expect communication at a rate that keeps up with the countless voice messages from your colleagues, emails from your boss, texts from your spouse, in-app bill-pay alerts, etc., that are hopefully punctuated by a few moments to catch your breath.

So, you opt-in to SMS/text alerts from your airline. When you land, your phone dings with a notification that your connecting flight is delayed due to plane maintenance. “Ok. Is there a gate change?” you naturally reply, knowing that it takes 20 minutes to trek from point A to point B.

The response: Radio silence or, perhaps worse, a plain old “Thank you for flying with us.” (Why? Because that alert was sent by a machine and there’s nobody manning it on the other end.) Continue reading