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chatbots

Top mistakes businesses make with AI in the Contact Centre – And how to avoid them

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By Enghouse Interactive

There is a great deal of discussion in the marketplace regarding robots and artificial intelligence (AI) and their future role in the contact centre. Much of this is hype.

A lot of people are talking hypothetically about what robots might do in a customer service context. Fewer are using a truly AI-driven approach to engage with customers today.

There is no one-size fits all answer here. Some organisations will continue to use human service as a key part of their value proposition and differentiation, but most are bringing in a growing element of AI and automation as they move to a more self-service-based approach.

As early as 2011, analyst, Gartner was predicting that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human.

But, as they implement chatbots and other types of AI, there are a range of pitfalls businesses need to watch out for. Here, we outline some of the biggest and how businesses can best avoid them.

Click here to download our resources to help you on your journey with ChatBots and AI strategy into the contact centre.

UK insurance contact centres ‘battle 60% rise in call duration’

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UK insurance companies expect to make significant investments in AI-enabled web chat, automated customer identification and interaction analytics technology within the next two years.

A survey of over 200 UK contact centres undertaken by ContactBabel shows that insurance operations expect their use of web chat to grow from 44% today to 94% by the beginning of 2020.

The use of interaction analytics is expected to rise to 43%, as is automated speech recognition, with much of the latter being used to reduce fraud and the time required to take phone customers through security.

In 2012, only 7% of inbound interactions with insurers were through email, but this has risen sharply to over 15% today.

Due in part to increased automation, the sector will see a drop in contact centre employment of around 5,500 jobs by 2020.

The report’s author, Steve Morrell, Principal Analyst, ContactBabel, said: “With average call lengths in UK insurance contact centres having risen by over 60% since 2010, the industry has embraced the opportunities that digital channels can bring, especially in terms of automating simpler interactions.

“AI-enabled web chat can handle a large proportion of straightforward customer requests, while automating the customer identity process will shorten call times and reduces fraud. The insurance sector has also seen very significant rises in the average time taken to answer calls, as well as the length of calls. The significant growth in digital activity, particularly email, shows that insurers are understanding how their customers wish to contact them, while managing the cost of service.”

The report is downloadable free of charge from www.contactbabel.com/reports.cfm.

Digital channel use gaining ground – and it’s not because of AI Chatbots

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Use of digital channels by consumers to contact brands is gaining ground on more traditional methods, with email doubling and chat tripling among US consumers in 2018, according to a new study.

However, the research by NICE inContact also found that use of “automated assistants” or chatbots by consumers for recent service interactions is still limited at only 8 per cent globally.

The second annual NICE inContact Customer Experience (CX) Transformation Benchmark includes consumers from three countries – United States, United Kingdom and Australia – with year-over-year results for US (2018 vs 2017), and new benchmark data for UK and Australia.

Key findings include:

  • Agent-assisted Digital Channels Gain Ground, Chat Reigns for Satisfaction

The CX Transformation Benchmark year-over-year results among US consumers show growth of digital channels for service – use of email doubled and chat tripled. Consumers in all regions are most satisfied with online chat with a live agent, compared to ten other channels evaluated. At 56 percent, more than half of US consumers surveyed are highly satisfied with chat interactions; 47 and 44 percent of UK and Australia consumers, respectively, report being highly satisfied with their most recent chat experience.

  • Consumers Want True Omnichannel Customer Service

Consumers want true omnichannel customer service, and service that’s seamless, convenient and quick. If a conversation needs to move from chat to a phone call, nine out of 10 consumers say they expect a seamless transition when moving from one communication method to another. Chat and phone are each viewed as convenient and quick, requiring a minimal amount of effort.

  • Consumers Reward Companies Who Deliver Exceptional Customers Service

Today’s consumers are vocal about the brands they love, and aren’t afraid to share negative experiences through their network. The study found that, overwhelmingly, customers who have exceptional experiences are more willing to: recommend that company on social media (83 percent), buy more products and services from that company (89 percent), and go out of their way to purchase from that brand (82 percent). But, one-time exceptional service is not enough to cement loyalty as 81 percent of consumers reported that they are very likely to switch to another company if they’ve had a bad customer service experience.

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) Has Room for Improvement, Consumers Skeptical

While businesses continue to experiment with AI applications within customer experience channels, only eight percent of global consumers interviewed had used an AI enabled service channel like chatbots or a home electronic virtual assistant for their most recent customer service interaction. The study found that nine out of 10 consumers prefer to talk to a live agent rather than a chatbot or virtual assistant. And, consumer satisfaction with automated assistants is low, with only 27 percent of users giving a 9 or 10 rating out of 10. AI has yet to mature, and consumers agree. Seventy-nine percent of respondents said chatbots and virtual assistants need to get smarter before they are willing to use them regularly, and 66 percent disagree that chatbots and virtual assistants make it easier to get issues resolved.

“Businesses are no longer just being measured against their direct competitors – they are being measured against every positive customer experience a consumer has ever had,” said Paul Jarman, CEO of NICE inContact. “The global CX Transformation Benchmark Study findings highlight that to deliver exceptional customer experiences that drive growth, businesses must continue their digital transformations to power smart and seamless omnichannel interactions. Despite widespread interest in AI, the research shows that its application is still finding its way in delivering exceptional customer experiences. Investing in an open, native cloud contact center platform can help businesses meet evolving and demanding customer expectations highlighted in the study.”

NICE inContact surveyed more than 2,400 consumers across the globe on their most recent customer service experience across 11 different channels – both agent-assisted and self-service – on over 4,600 total interactions.

To download the full research report, click here.

GUEST BLOG: Most customers hate AI & chatbots for this reason…

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By IFS | mplsystems

There’s no doubt that artificial intelligence is going to be more and more common in customer service and support interactions. Its versatility in expanding self-service options across channels, ability to capture robust customer insights, and efficiency in handling contacts make it a very attractive investment for contact centre leaders.  Customers realise this and are tolerant of the increased use of AI technologies, but they fear that organisations will abuse and misuse the automation.

Research by pwc1found that 78% of UK customers (and 75% across all other countries) “want to interact with a real person more as technology improves.” Additionally, 59% of all consumers feel companies have lost touch with the human element of the customer experience. Most customers hate AI because organisations are using it to replace the human touch, instead of augmenting it. This is not a sustainable solution for companies who want to stand apart from their competition. The customer experience is increasing in importance as a competitive differentiator and a bad AI implementation puts revenues, customer satisfaction, and even employee engagement at risk.

With how customers feel about AI, and all that is on the line, what can contact centre and customer service leaders do to find the balance between creating exceptional experiences and delivering efficient service through chatbots or virtual assistance?

One of the best ways to get started is by leaning into the natural advantages of each method for delivering service.  Artificial intelligence carries certain distinct advantages in efficiency that aren’t easily duplicated by humans. In the same respect, humans provide advantages in handling emotional, volatile, or complex interactions that technology cannot. If organisations want to deliver a service experience that their customers won’t hate, they need to play each platform to its advantages and seamlessly integrate them together.

This poses two fundamental challenges for contact centre leaders:

  1. They need to thoroughly understand their customer’s expectations and the moments of truth within the typical customer journey.
  2. They must leverage technology that enables immediate self-service, provides seamless transitions to agents, and delivers access to the full context of each interaction.

The first challenge can’t be overcome by the contact centre alone. It takes a cross-functional group of stakeholders, ranging from the contact centre to marketing, product development, and more, to fully understand and map customer expectations and moments of truth in their journeys. Along the way, customers should be interviewed – using methods like focus groups and surveys – to test and affirm any assumptions about their preferences and previous experiences.

From the perspective of technology, contact centre and IT leaders should not underestimate the importance of using an integrated platform that balances self and assisted service. For example, the highly repetitive and transactional tasks should be easily automated; contacts needing a degree of triage should employ chatbots or virtual assistance solutions as a first line of defense, and the platform should quickly and seamlessly escalate to an agent when necessary. If the customers need is resolved quickly and easily, they’ll be satisfied, and they won’t care how a company gets it done.

The reality is that customers don’t hate AI & chatbots, they hate organisations who don’t know how to provide great service.

1 PwC Future of Customer Experience Survey 2017/18

GUEST BLOG: Chatbots – should we believe the hype?

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

By James Rein, Senior Account Manager, Adexchange

Probably, yes. If you’re responsible for a contact centre and find your advisors listlessly answering the same, simple, non-specific questions every day then read on – a chat bot is likely to have a big impact on the efficiency of your operation.

‘In 2015, Swedbank achieved a 78% first contact resolution rate using a text based assistant which resulted in a 60% deflection from live assistance’ (issuu.com)

Impressive!

Let’s flip the perspective for a moment and think about things from the customer’s point of view. How many times have you sifted through pages and pages of FAQs, got bored, and thought ‘Nope, I’ll just call them’? How would it be if you could just type your question and get the answer straight away? Pretty nice, huh?

Chatbots aren’t infallible but it’s not the technology that could trip up your bot – that side of things is straightforward – it’s the effectiveness of the content.

Let’s dig a bit deeper.

What is a chatbot?

Think of a chatbot as the guardian of your FAQs and knowledgebase. It has access to all non-specific information any customer could possibly want and can deliver it to that customer instantly.

No need for any agent interaction, no need for customers to wait on hold for twenty minutes to get an answer and no lost business. That’s right – aside from improved efficiency generally, 53% of people are actually more likely to shop with a business they can message online. (Sproutsocial.com).

Just like advisors, chatbots evolve too. They might start life on your website and be set up to deal with your 30 most frequently asked questions. Within the first month of use a couple of trickier questions get asked and, at the same time, you get 5000 new ‘likes’ on Facebook.

You decide to add new questions and answers to your bot’s database and launch it in Facebook Messenger too. Then WhatsApp. Then you launch a new product and add FAQs about that as well. It’s easy to get all kinds of data relating to your bot’s performance and every reincarnation reduces the number of calls to your contact centre. This frees up your agents to deal with specific, more complex questions from customers.

So should I get one?

If your advisors are mostly occupied with intricate, customer specific questions then a chatbot probably isn’t going to be for you. However, if you’re inundated with calls from people asking questions they could easily have found the answer to online then yes, it’s definitely worth exploring the option of a chatbot.

The technology is only one part of the set up and, isn’t difficult or necessarily time consuming to get in place. The crucial element is making sure you get the content right.

In such a distracted world it’s time to ditch the corporate waffle and formal tone and really engage your customers by writing in a clear, informal and friendly way that they’ll find effective and refreshing.

Forget paragraphs of text – use white space, bullets, short sentences – and make your communication to the point and succinct.

A chatbot is only as good as the content powering it.

If you want to get more out of your Chatbot get in touch to see how we can help.

WHITEPAPER: Robots replace advisors – Fact or fiction?

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80% of the cost in a contact centre is its unhappy agents. So if the burden can be reduced on them with AI, then you will also be able to reduce attrition costs, while boosting employee engagement and tenure.

Unsure how to deploy chatbots and AI in the contact centre and of how they fit best alongside your customer service agents?

This paper from IFS-mplsystems explores the adoption of AI in customer service to date and also where it offers the most benefits. It provides practical guidance for customer service leaders to understand how to best progress your AI projects.

This paper will provide the answers that you are looking for before it’s too late. Download here.

Puzzel announces new chat bot functionality and GDPR readiness

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Puzzel has announced new functionality in the latest release of its cloud-based contact centre solution, designed to extend the system’s multi-channel capabilities and help organisations to meet important changes in EU data protection legislation.

Users are now able to integrate third party or Puzzel’s own Chat bots directly into their core contact centre solution to improve first contacts with customers and save valuable live agent time. Furthermore, Puzzel has made several adjustments to its platform in preparation for the advent of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May this year.

Christian Thorsrud, Product Manager at Puzzel, said: “Chat bots and GDPR are hot topics in the contact centre world today. On the one hand, innovations based on Artificial Intelligence such as Chat bots are creating new opportunities to expand and improve customer interactions and Puzzel’s latest release is designed to make them a reality. On the other hand, the imminent arrival of GDPR is putting pressure on contact centres to review how they collect and store their own and third party data. The latest version of our cloud-based software brings renewed assurance that contact centres can rely on Puzzel to provide them with a secure and auditable framework to help meet critical new legislative requirements.”

The key features of the latest version of Puzzel include:

• Chat bots – bring your own or buy from Puzzel – contact centres are able to connect directly to a variety of Chat bots from the core Puzzel platform. Users now have the option to bring their own bot and simplify the integration using Puzzel’s standard integration modules or to buy a bot direct from Puzzel. Whichever approach you take you will be able to ensure a smooth handover from the bot to live agents in the Puzzel Contact Centre. Importantly, this keeps humans in the loop for more complex enquiries as the bot technologies are evolving.

• GDPR readiness – to prepare contact centres for the arrival of GDPR, Puzzel has introduced new functionality that will simplify the compliance process. It will enable organisations to identify end user data quickly; delete data when requested to do so and easily collect and document any approvals given by end customers calling into the organisation.
Already, Puzzel allows the encryption of call recording files which can only be listened to by downloading them to devices with the correct private key to decrypt the file. Today’s announcement underlines Puzzel’s commitment to protecting customer data and aiding compliance with external GDPR requirements.

The latest release of Puzzel’s cloud contact centre solution is available now.

Chatbots

Quarter of all customer service operations will use virtual assistants by 2020

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Twenty-five percent of customer service and support operations will integrate virtual customer assistant (VCA) or chatbot technology across engagement channels by 2020, up from less than two percent in 2017, according to Gartner.

Speaking at of the Gartner Customer Experience Summit in Tokyo, Gene Alvarez, the company’s managing vice president, said more than half of organisations have already invested in VCAs, as they realise the advantages of automated self-service, together with the ability to escalate to a human agent in complex situations.

“As more customers engage on digital channels, VCAs are being implemented for handling customer requests on websites, mobile apps, consumer messaging apps and social networks,” Alvarez said. “This is underpinned by improvements in natural-language processing, machine learning and intent-matching capabilities.”

Gartner says organisations report a reduction of up to 70 per cent in call, chat and/or email inquiries after implementing a VCA. They also report increased customer satisfaction and a 33 per cent saving per voice engagement.

This follows a 2017 Gartner survey that found that 84 per cent of organisations expected to increase investments in customer experience (CX) technology in the year ahead. Other Gartner predictions include:

  • By 2019, 20 percent of brands will abandon their mobile apps.
  • By 2022, two-thirds of all customer experience projects will make use of IT, up from 50 percent in 2017.
  • By 2020, 30 percent of all B2B companies will employ artificial intelligence (AI) to augment at least one of their primary sales processes.
  • By 2020, more than 40 percent of all data analytics projects will relate to an aspect of customer experience.
  • By 2020, augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality immersive solutions will be evaluated and adopted in 20 percent of large enterprises as part of their digital transformation strategy.

 

Dynamics 365 AI

Microsoft launches Dynamics 365 AI Solutions for customer care

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Microsoft has used its Ignite conference to unveil several products aimed at making Artificial Intelligence (AI) more accessible to organisations, developers and individuals.

The company has been using its chatbot solution for its own customer care in the US since earlier this year, with the virtual agent handling 650,000 sessions per week.

Now Microsoft is making the service available to 3rd parties via its Dynamics 365 AI platform, with HP and Macy’s confirmed as adopters via its Early Access Program.

The company says the Dynamics 365 AI solutions are designed to tackle high-value, complex enterprise scenarios and are tailored to existing processes, systems and data.

The first solution includes an intelligent virtual agent for customer care, an intelligent assistant for customer service staff and conversation management tools, all powered by Microsoft AI.

Microsoft claims the Australian Government Department of Human Services, HP, Macy’s and its own teams are already using the technology to improve overall customer satisfaction and handle more requests, in a shorter amount of time.

Steve Guggenheimer, Corporate Vice President of Developer Platform & Evangelism and Chief Evangelist at Microsoft, said:The promise of AI has always been to make lives better and to enhance the things we are doing today in a much more efficient and more powerful way. [Dynamics 365 AI] is focused on applying AI to transform the customer service function. We have seen that today’s customer care can be costly, painful and inefficient.

“Customers generally do not enjoy needing to engage with support, agents can have low job satisfaction working with frustrated customers, and support leaders are always under CFO scrutiny leaving few dollars for innovation. We envision an AI powered future where customers get immediate, accurate and 24/7 support. Customer interactions become a source of insight for innovation and drive upsell and loyalty. A future where support agents focus on richer, more valuable interactions. That’s the future we demonstrated at Ignite.”