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Gartner

Puzzel improves position as a Challenger in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Puzzel has been positioned by Gartner as a Challenger in the Magic Quadrant for Contact Center as a Service, Western Europe report, for the fourth consecutive year.

The firm’s omni-channel, cloud-based contact centre solution is designed to support smaller enterprises with contact centre operations as well as global corporations with thousands of agents.

In 2017 the company re-branded to Puzzel raising its awareness amongst contact centre professionals and expanded its operations in Finland and Bulgaria, both supporting factors in strengthening its position as a key contender in the contact centre software as a service market.

“We are encouraged by our improved position as a Challenger and feel we are getting closer to the Leader’s quadrant each year,” said Børge Astrup, Chief Executive Officer of Puzzel. “We believe this reflects our growth and is recognition of our continued efforts to improve the product year-on-year. The flexibility and efficiency of the cloud business model allows Puzzel to be commercially competitive and innovative while offering strong functional capabilities to our customers regardless of their size.”

Thomas Rødseth, Chief Technology Officer of Puzzel, added: “In a changing world channels such as webchat and social media are gaining momentum. As a company we are dedicated to solving customer interactions whatever the channel. It is especially rewarding to see this being recognized this year as our reference customers were all multi-channel deployments. Also, we are committed to self-service and organisations are benefitting from our new Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions. Customers see the value of being empowered by visual design tools to manage their omni-channel customer experience.”

Astrup, concluded: “Puzzel’s strength lies in the solution’s functionality, particularly in meeting required standards and compliance regulations. Our support operations combined with our understanding of customers’ business needs and the ability to demonstrate how Puzzel delivers value, have fuelled the growth in our customer base and we believe this in turn has strengthened our position in the Magic Quadrant of Contact Center as a Service, Western Europe.”

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.

 

mplsystems

IFS-mplsystems named a Visionary in the Gartner 2017 Magic Quadrant

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IFS-mplsystems has been named by Gartner as a Visionary in its October 2017 Magic Quadrant for Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS), Western Europe, for the third consecutive year.

This recognition follows the inclusion in the 2017 Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center (CEC) in May, which makes IFS-mplsystems one of only two vendors to appear in both these Magic Quadrants, which the company believes  illustrates its ability to deliver effective omni-channel service through it’s unique combination of CCaaS, CRM Customer Service and AI enabled automation.

“Making complex customer service simple has been central to our customer proposition, and we are delighted that Gartner has yet again recognized us as a Visionary,” said Paul White, Director of Customer Engagement, at IFS-mplsystems. “From our unique Omni-Channel grouping functions, to embedding AI and automation within our agent applications, we have led innovation in the contact centre market over the past three years, and we are honoured that Gartner has recognized us once again. Our configurability and ease of integration of the solution, as well as the high level of support offered is confirmed by our clients through their loyalty and satisfaction levels. We look forward to continuing our positive influence on the global contact centre market through the IFS family, which gives us immediate access to a worldwide sales, delivery and support network.”

The report recognizes that the market is maturing and this is reflected within the market overview section, which discusses how the drive to develop the contact center into the ‘customer experience center’ is adding new dynamics to the CCaaS market.

Companies are revising their evaluations and selections of vendors to provide nonvoice channels (email, web chat, video chat, social and so on) to their customer service environments. During the past 5 to 10 years, many have looked to either their CRM vendors or best-of-breed specialists to provide these customer interaction channels.

“However, voice-based interactions continue to make up a significant portion of interactions in contact centers,” said White. “As such, as companies look to evolve their customer support to become more customer-centric across all interaction channels, some are recognizing the benefits of acquiring both their voice and nonvoice channels as a package from a single vendor — and very few CRM vendors support phone-based assisted customer service. Benefits include the use of a consistent business rule management capability for routing, queuing and escalating interactions across channels; this enables the company to prioritize handling of the best customers, regardless of customers’ chosen channels. Obtaining all interaction applications from a single vendor also makes it easier for companies to manage reporting and staffing across channels, rather than having to integrate operational performance data across separate systems.

“Customer interaction desktops are a CEC-related subject that has attracted a notable increase in client inquiries. A ’single view of the customer‘ through multiple digital channels is something that most organizations recognize would improve the customer experience. However, with multiple touchpoints for customer contact across disparate application platforms, it is difficult to achieve without significant development effort by the customer service organization.”

IFS-mplsystems’ vision is to ‘make complex customer service simple’, which is achieved through their unique combination of Omni-Channel communications, CRM Customer Service and AI enabled automation providing service and support staff with pioneering intelligent desktop applications. Bringing together calls, email, chat, mobile and social messaging with contextual customer data in a single unified CRM Agent Desktop, these applications gudie agents through complex processes and  transactions.

The data mash-up concept takes data from multiple sources across an enterprise and intelligently adapts to present agents with the precise data they require to resolve a customer request, rather than forcing them to search multiple tabs and menus. Alongside this, simple to configure workflow delivers automated processing and prompts. The impact is a dramatic improvement in agent efficiency combined with transformed customer experience because agents can deliver rapid, informed omni-channel service.

www.mplsystems.co.uk

 

 

mplsystems

MPL Systems in Gartner’s May 2017 Magic Quadrant

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

mplsystems, a leading provider of contact centre and field service technologies, has announced its inclusion in Gartner’s May 2017 “Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Centre (CEC)” for the third consecutive year.

This follows their inclusion as a Visionary in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Contact Centre as a Service, making them one of only two vendors to appear in both Magic Quadrants.

This unique combination of contact handling plus Customer Service CRM in a single intelligent Agent desktop means you can slash the times agent spend dealing with requests whilst delivering clients a seamless Omni-Channel service.

www.mplsystems.co.uk

Guest Blog, Heather Richards: The ‘crystal ball’ of customer service…

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If the US election result tells us anything, it’s that the ability to predict results is neither easy nor guaranteed. Any pollster or political commentator can now tell you that there’s a world of difference between what someone says and what they actually mean. It’s something that centre agents instinctively know to be true; customers can ask the same question in thousands of ways, sometimes skirting around the subject or simply not having the technical terms they need to address it.

Deciphering what the customer wants and resolving the query efficiently and effectively is compounded by the pressures of accessing the right information against a backdrop of having to handle an increasingly diverse range of issues, which could potentially affect almost every aspect of a customer’s experience with a business. As larger businesses use consolidated contact centres that support multiple products and services, heavier burdens fall on a fewer number of agents who, in most cases, have difficulty finding the information appropriate for each enquiry. 

Despite the best efforts – and investments – in CRM over the years, it can still make a centre agent or customer service rep feel like what they really need is a crystal ball if they’re ever going to reach customer satisfaction.

Sadly, no crystal ball exists. So to be successful in consistently delivering outstanding customer experience, contact centres need provide instant access to information by supporting the complete customer journey. In essence, giving agents the tools. 

In any customer interaction, the agent is essentially being asked to follow a three-step process:  

  1. Understand the intent and context of the inquiry to eliminate time consuming research and get to the answer quicker.
  2. Anticipate the answers needed and predict what the customer might ask next.
  3. Learn from the conversation to improve future interactions, giving better customer service and less admin. 

The certainty and consistency in customer service interactions, reducing , and satisfaction on both sides. Gartner’s ‘Knowledge Management Will Transform CRM Customer Service‘ report supports this, noting that “the use of tools such as semantic search engines tied to well-curated knowledge repositories can accelerate time to answer queries by 80 per cent” and increase customer satisfaction by 12 per cent. 

Transversal has worked with some of the largest and most customer-service focused and busiest organisations in the UK, from John Lewis to Mothercare, to the BBC, RAC and more. Transversal’s Prescience platform works in much the same way as the human mind works, to understand, then predict, and finally improve customer interactions by continually learning and improving knowledge as it goes.

Armed with CRM data and case detail, Prescience work by anticipating what agents need from the moment they begin entering text into a service request form, or by contextually understanding information in a chat or email response. Bringing in elements of artificial intelligence and cognitive knowledge management, the platform begins to process what people are asking before they have even finished their sentence. This simple but intuitive function eliminates unnecessary research, increases knowledge usage, and naturally reduces the effort for everyday agent tasks.

Independent  research has found this leads to a 28 per cent increase in customer service rep productivity and reduces call times by 40 per cent. 

But customers usually ask more than one question. It uses ‘smart links’ to mimic a person’s train of thought to identify what they are likely to ask next, enabling the agent to provide a better service and increasing first contact closures by 18 per cent, according to the same research.  

 

Heather Richards, CEO, joined Transversal in 2001 and has been instrumental in the company’s growth from a Cambridge technology start-up into the successful business it is today. Heather holds BA degrees in English and Philosophy from Westminster College in the US, and an M.Phil. in European Literature from the University of Cambridge.

Industry Spotlight: CCA International’s 6 steps to ‘keeping it real’…

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I recently watched a brilliant comedy routine involving a man with a thick Scottish accent trying to purchase cinema tickets from an automated phone line. “I began to encounter some difficulties,” he joked, as the machine blankly responded that it didn’t quite catch what he was saying. The comedian suggested that the Glasgow cinema must have been empty because the booking system was unable to understand anyone.

The lesson for businesses is that too much automation can have a negative effect on customer service; therefore, a hybrid approach must be adopted. Of course machines and digital solutions are transforming retailers and the customer service landscape. However, as analyst firm Gartner warned last year, we need to maintain an objective understanding of what machines are capable of achieving, and stay in control.

For example, with retail garnering an ever-growing digital presence, it’s important to retain human support and service, particularly in areas that could prove problematic for machines. The human touch brings personality, providing customers with meaningful interactions and more rewarding experiences.

Keep it real

There are some basic details technology might overlook which are second nature to humans, such as understanding customer accents. Businesses must create a happy medium between artificial intelligence (AI) and human insight. Here are some areas they can work on to create this ‘hybrid intelligence’:

 

1)   User-centred design:  Place the end user at the heart of the gathering, design and development processes. The design should be regularly reviewed and updated in line with advances in technology, consumer behaviour and trends, adoption of best practices and lessons learned.

2)   Live updates and real-time engagement: Flag service updates to customers, and listen to feedback. Provide live updates on availability via platforms such as SMS and email; if you’re aware of a system-wide problem, for example, keep your customers in the know.

3)   Two-way interactions on social media: Foster two-way communication by engaging with your audience and inviting people to comment, share and interact. By directly engaging with consumers and answering their queries and questions, it’s possible to create a genuine rapport as well as a communal feeling.

4)   Offer channel-specific promotions: When emailing offers, for example, it can be a positive personal touch to explain it has been sent because you value that customer. Providing a unique discount code such as ‘DISCOUNT125JOHN’ will go a long way to showing that you appreciate their custom and take notice whenever they shop.

5)   Make live/video chat available: Calls and video chat represent an opportunity to retain the human element of a brand’s personality even online. It will demand investment in staff, and information being made available to agents without delay. Otherwise you risk presenting a service that is little better than a robotic one would have been anyway.    

6)   Scrap the scripts: Underestimate casual conversation at your peril. Small talk is very important as it can calm and reassure an irritated customer. Give the customer the human interaction they were expecting when picking up the phone, rather than just an automated response.
By addressing these six points, both retailers and customer service agencies/providers will be in a position to enjoy the benefits of hybrid intelligence, using both man and machine. With a strong combination of the best elements of artificial intelligence and human insight in place, the quality of customer service can only improve.

 

Words by Matthieu Clauzure, brand and marketing manager, CCA International