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Omnichannel

4 reasons you need live chat today

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The implementation of live chat, chatbots and virtual assistants has grown exponentially.

In fact, it has become the most popular channel for adults, with 75% saying they prefer queries to be handled via live chat.

We, at giosg, have put together a few key reasons why you should implement live chat today:

Efficiency!

Live chat enables operators to deal with many customers at one time – with agents handling up to 7 chat conversations at one time. This not only increases the amount of tickets processed simultaneously, but also cuts down customer waiting time, a win-win situation for agents and customers. Using pre-written answers or canned answers based on most commonly asked questions help Using live chat gives you an additional channel that is five times more efficient than traditional customer service channels, which leads us to our next point…

Boost sales and reduce costs

By making operators more efficient (as mentioned above), live chat minimises variable costs. Also, as a contact centre, adding this new channel to your offering means the possibility to provide another service for your clients – creating a new revenue stream for you and subsequently keeping your clients happy. Not to mention, providing a true omnichannel experiencewill help boost your clients’ revenue and in turn your contribution margin.

Cater to the customer

AI is the talk of the town and when it comes to live chat, it’s the thing ensuring that you deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. In particular, AI-powered chat such as giosg Target, optimises the actions you take when interacting with customers by analysing online behavioural patterns. This means, that live chat would only pop-up for customers who actually need it and benefit from it. 

Easily integrable 

Integrating a new system can feel like a daunting project – we know it’s no fun! However, with giosg integration into your current infrastructure is done seamlessly. In most cases, we can have live chat up and running on your website within a day. Still concerned that once in place, you or your business won’t have the know-how or internal resources to manage it? That needn’t be a worry – the interface is intuitive and very easy to use. More importantly, we offer training and support to help your team.

Get more insight about expanding customer service channels and why to implement an omnichannel strategy here. 

CX and contact centres: What will change in 2019?

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By Peter Tetlow, Client Solutions Director at Ventrica

In 2018 it was predicted that voice would soon be dead and that the only sounds heard in contact centres would be keyboards – or chatbots controlling the customer experience (CX).

However, this prediction missed one critical factor: the customer. With this in mind, Peter Tetlow, Client Solutions Director, Ventrica, outlines 10 top trends for contact centres and the customer experience in 2019.

Brands will start going back to basics

Artificial Intelligence (AI), chatbots and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are the current vogue, with everyone wanting a piece of the new technologies. However, these same organisations frequently have no CRM or data management capability and don’t understand the customer journey or the desired customer experience. Without these basic building blocks, AI, chatbots and RPA may add little benefit or indeed may damage the CX, so in 2019 we will see many organisations returning to the basics to get the foundations right before exploring the new toys in the toolbox.

Innovating for the CX, not focusing on metrics

This prediction has made an appearance in one form or another over past years, but it’s time to get it off the shelf and dust it off again. There are increasing numbers of brands focusing on the CX rather than basic contact centre metrics, which is a positive move for the industry as a whole. This year, more companies will place weight on CSAT, NPS or customer effort rather than service levels and AHT. If, and when, they do, customers will feel the benefit.

Messaging is the new way to chat

Some companies have already taken the plunge into messaging. Most consumers use messaging apps almost on a daily basis, and so it makes sense to use them to contact companies they interact with; additionally, messenger will enable conversations to flow and companies to engage with their customers proactively.

Natural language bots will grow

Many organisations aren’t at this stage yet, but the use of natural language bots will continue to grow in 2019, allowing customers to use voice but in an automated way, that may well be linked to some form of machine learning to predict what the customer may want. This will allow multiple and more complex issues to be resolved quickly.

Bot coaching

In the same way that human advisors should be coached to refine and enhance their skills, the industry will need to start doing the same with bots. As processes or customer expectations change, bots need to be coached to refine them and enhance their skills. As a result, we will see the rise of ‘Bot Coaches’ within the contact centre.

Data management will be central

This is not just because of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the potential fines associated with it, although these tend to focus attention, but data management is becoming more critical to running a successful business. The more companies that use data to understand their customers and to predict behaviours and requirements, the more the customer experience will grow and improve. Because of this, we will see a greater focus on the importance of data within all organisations.

Omnichannel was so ‘last year’ – it is now about the CX

So many predictions over past few years have focused on omnichannel and proudly boasted that the contact centre can handle any channel a customer may want to communicate in. However, this fails to take the customer into consideration: there is no point in encouraging a customer to get in contact with a brand, using the most convenient channel, if the service is bad. The brands that thrive this year will be those that understand CX will drive the channels, not the other way around.

CX: digital or non-digital?

Another false prediction from yesteryear. Organisations have wanted to somehow separate the digital CX from non-digital CX. Once again, another example of completely misunderstanding the customer. They do not think a company is brilliant because they can converse with chatbots. They simply want their issue resolved. CX covers everything and you cannot separate digital from non-digital.

The brand promise will tie in closer with CX

Brand image has always been important to organisations, but this has rarely been transferred to the customer experience. This year, companies will start to combine brand image and promise with CX, recognising CX as a key component of the brand.

Analytics will continue to be important

Contact centres are differentiated by many things – a key one being analytics. Understanding the customer and being able to predict future behaviours is key to growing the business. Many organisations only have basic insight from contact centre MI, but this will change as voice and text analytics become more widely adopted. At the other end of the scale, companies who have already adopted complex analytics functions will move more to machine learning and predictive analytics.

Twelve months to go

We don’t have a crystal ball, but the path is clear for these predictions to come true this year. It will certainly be interesting to reflect at the end of the year to see what changes the industry makes, and what part brands and their customers have played along the way.

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: The foundational pillars of omnichannel success

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By IFS | mplsystems

Many organisations want to provide an omnichannel experience, but few are actually doing it well consistently.

If you’re a contact centre leader who’s been challenged with leading the omnichannel charge, you’re probably wondering what it takes to make, or break, a successful program.  More importantly, what are the components necessary for getting it right?

Achieving true omnichannel success will require a combined focus to people, processes, and technology that’s driving toward a unified management of the customer experience.  Fundamentally, omnichannel service is about creating a unified experience that ensures context and clarity on a customer’s past, present, and future.

From the perspective of process improvement, organisations must tear down any silos amongst business units which prevent making connections between things like customer feedback and agent performance.

Additionally, the development of a holistic view of each customer should be accessible and consistent across the organisation, along with being integrated through systems that ensure true omnichannel routing and handling of all contacts. The most important part of being capable of improving the customer experience is having access to a robust set of data for decision-making on all customer-focused initiatives.

It’s not acceptable for a contact centre or other business unit leader to make these important decisions on assumption or half-truths. If contact centres want to deliver omnichannel success, and great customer experiences, they need to connect the dots between the many touchpoints of the customer journey.

To connect these touchpoints in the omnichannel customer experience, there are four sets of systems that are necessary for organisations to utilise:

  • Systems of Engagement

These systems manage the contact channels for both self and assisted interactions and include omnichannel interaction routing that’s based on a single set of rules.

  • Systems of Operation

These systems ensure the operational side of interactions run smoothly and include workforce optimisation, agent desktop, and robot process automation.

  • Systems of Record

These systems manage the transactional data related to customer engagement which includes Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), knowledge management, and customer feedback.

  • Analytics

These systems process large volumes of structured (CRM, ERP) and unstructured (call recordings, text, scripts, social posts) data. Analytics systems can provide root-cause analysis so that organisations can understand why customers engage. Additionally, they are able to identify interactions that are handled well and those that are not. These systems should also include predictive capabilities that use historical data to forecast likely customer actions.

While it sounds (and is) incredibly complicated to orchestrate an omnichannel customer experience, by implementing an advanced agent desktop system, organisations can place these complex systems beneath the surface and deliver only the most relevant data to an agent’s fingertips. The result is an experience that is delivered to the customer with ease and fluency yet powered by complexity and sophistication.

It’s important to realise, however, that improvements to the agent’s desktop could be difficult to track and justify based exclusively on numbers.

That doesn’t make the impact any less real. The intangible benefits, such as, “improved agent experience”, can be found in reduced operational costs that are the result of agents using more efficient processes, or decreased employee engagement because of improved system function.

Beyond this, the customer experience is also improved and can lead to improved customer retention, up-sales and increases to customer lifetime value.

Let’s talk about Omnichannel and… UNICORNS

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Sesui’s CTO Manveer Mangat discusses omnichannel strategies – and unicorns…

Yes, that’s correct… unicorns. Or better still… mermaids and centaurs. Or for that matter, omniagents. Yes, omniagents; the most mythical creature of all. That one contact centre agent with the linguistic ability to be a gifted email writer, snappy Tweeter, capable call agent and vibrant video agent – all at the same time. You’d be correct in thinking they’re not just rare; they’re fictitious. And I’m afraid we’d have to agree.

Omnichannel has been a buzzword for a few years now, but in asking agents to do it all, we’re asking for the impossible – omniagents. We’re seeking unicorns. The reality is that contact centres need to evolve into customer experience hubs where no one agent is expected to do it all. Instead, specialised agents work together sharing data and insights, often remotely, to provide a more personalised 24-7 customer experience.

Here are our top five tips to ensure you’re not relying on a mythical workforce to deliver your omnichannel strategy:

Know your customers
Pursuing omnichannel isn’t as simple as adding more channels. You need to understand the profile of your customers and their communications preference; this will change depending on the type of interaction. Too few, or digital only channels, and you risk isolating segments of your customer base. Too many channels and you create confusion, not just in the customer journey, but for your teams trying to manage the many and varied complex interactions. It pays to get the balance right.

Know your business
This isn’t about offering the longest list of ‘contact us’ options – it’s about offering channels that are a practical fit for the nature of your business. Don’t feel pressured into introducing channels that you don’t need, or that don’t make sense to your operation. For instance, in healthcare, patients aren’t going to contact you to discuss their concerns over Facebook, but webchat or a video call provide secure alternatives

Know your agents
Customer service agents are your brand representatives; their job revolves around that vital first contact resolution. But that doesn’t translate as getting the customer off the phone as quickly as possible. Understanding where your agents shine – their skills or specialism – is a great way to build those personalised, positive customer interactions. Skills-based routing means that calls are split by agent skills so you can safeguard the customer experience. That way your agents won’t find themselves managing things they haven’t been trained to, or handling queries outside their specialism.

Be flexible
The words contact centre make you think of a large, centralised building. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Our Virtual Contact Centres in the cloud not only offers greater workforce flexibility, but greater flexibility in the operational design of your business. With a distributed approach, your agents can deliver the same level of service from home or elsewhere; securely using any device they choose. By not tethering your people to a fixed location, it means you operate in a more flexible 24/7 way, accessing specialist agents outside office hours. It also increases the likelihood of finding agents willing to work nights, or split shifts as you can draw from a wider talent pool.

See the big picture
For omnichannel to work you need a holistic view of the customer experience. While the customer journey might begin on one channel, valuable insight and feedback from the customer is likely taking place on a completely different channel. Help your team to work better together using shared data and insights. Our Virtual Contact Centre provides that holistic view – all of your customer conversations in a single stream. Channel tabs show the client/customer interaction for voice, email, SMS and video. And we’re one of just a handful of cloud communications providers able to provide LIVE reporting, so you can see what’s working well (or isn’t) at any given moment.

So remember…
Forcing your team to be omniagents is tantamount to chasing unicorns. Instead match your channels with the agent – your customers will thank you. And above all else, remember, if your customers are calling, it’s probably important. Make sure that call gets through.

Sesui creates contact management software. This year is the company’s 15th birthday, and to celebrate, it is offering a free consultation to anyone who’s read this article and wants to talk. You can contact Manveer Mangat on 03445 600 600.

Ventrica expands contact centre to meet omnichannel service demands…

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Continuing an ‘impressive growth period’, Ventrica will be introducing a new contact centre ‘penthouse suite’ due to the increased demand for its omnichannel customer service offerings. 

The Southend-on-Sea based outsourced centre will open a roof-top wing, 19,000 sq ft site in 2017, expanding its current workforce of 280 agents to 480 full and part-time staff within the next year, and plans for an additional site at another location is part of the company’s future strategy for the next 12-18 months. 

Dino Forte, managing director and founder of Ventrica said: “We have attracted a number of new high profile B2C and B2B brands this year who are part of a wider trend of organisations that are looking to outsource non-core services. The investment in our new penthouse suite is to meet both the increased demand from existing clients but also to accommodate our future expansion.  

“The whole area of customer experience and sales is becoming more complex and companies now recognise that using a specialist third party makes perfect sense, as they often do not have the expertise, capacity or infrastructure in-house.”  

Ventrica has been shortlisted twice in the upcoming European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards 2016 (ECCCSA) in the categories of ‘Best Outsourcing Partnership’ and ‘Medium Contact Centre of the Year’, with winners to be announced at a ceremony held at the Hilton Park Lane Hotel in London on November 21.  

Capstone: Building sophisticated systems to provide maximum results…

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Capstone Intelligent Solutions specialise in contact centre optimisation across all channels including managing your workforce. Our solutions are designed to help your contact centres accelerate business impact, deliver consistent outcomes and innovate the customer and agent experience.

The Challenge

The technology sector is fast-paced, with many businesses expanding rapidly. Add to that, the complex nature of many technology companies’ product or service and providing customer support in this sector can be a challenge. The biggest challenge the organisations are facing today within the contact centre world is the transition from your ordinary voice channel to a multichannel/omnichannel environment. Managing the customer experience across multiple channels is a key challenge for contact centre managers, and our recent research flagged just how vital this experience is when it comes to converting customer experience into sales.

Given the number of ways that we use to communicate with one another these days, it’s not all that surprising that we have high expectations when it comes to dealing with companies across multiple channels, be it via instant chat, telephone, email or social media.

The solution

We build and support sophisticated communication systems that deliver results for our clients.  By creating fast and effective communications we increase your customer interaction, productivity and business performance. Capstone Intelligent Solutions acts as your single systems integrator.  We provide physical and virtual client support across three continents, meaning you have direct and local contact with a Capstone engineer at all times.

If you or your organisation are facing any challenges then, please do get in touch for a free consultation with one of our contact centre experts.          

 

Contact Bobby Rampal
e: bobby.rampal@capstoneconnects.com
w: www.capstoneconnects.com
t: +44 7568 108 131 / d: +44 203 727 3343 

Guest Blog, Steven Robertson: Using omnichannel as a direct route to customer engagement success…

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It’s no secret that smart use of the right contact channel and judicious use of customer data is the foundation of the sort of responsive customer service today’s digital consumer demands. Let’s look at the best ways of getting to that destination and how you can ensure you are rightly supporting your customer base…

Being smart on timing

Our company has a database of millions of UK mobile users and their pick-up patterns. In fact, we’ve touched 75 per cent of the UK population through all our client work. And we’ve seen a big pattern emerge; one of the oversights companies are guilty of is running an expensive contact centre that doesn’t make phone calls at the right times during the day. That is a missed opportunity. I’m personally a blur of motion in the morning as I get to work, but I have a couple of calmer times in the day, and by 8pm, I’m halfway through a new episode of GBBO. In other words, work with me and my schedule and don’t expect me to take a sales call before I get to the office, or try and conduct a market research questionnaire for 30 minutes while my favourite programme is on. Sounds simple, but it’s amazing how many companies get this wrong – the data is out there.

One size does not fit all

Too often, the contact centre relies on one contact channel, albeit calling or emailing, web chat or dialler and so on, which is just too inflexible. It turns out that how you engage matters as much as timing. That means brands need to apply thought to what will work for different customer demographics. For people in arrears and younger people in general, voice calls don’t appeal. But switching to SMS (and two-way SMS conversations in particular) means response rates can be phenomenally high. Making contact through a channel that customers are not comfortable with means they will block you, but if the initial outreach is via a channel they prefer, there may be a wide-open door.

Don’t just blast out the company propaganda endlessly via different communication mediums. Instead be proactive, as proactive is what all good customer contact centres should be practicing right now. A great place to start is using proactive outbound communications that notify customers of key relevant events, such as delivery schedule changes; in-store or online promotions; or the availability of their latest bills. These interactions will be a requisite to further useful conversations you then need to go on and have. According to Forrester, “Proactive engagements anticipate the what, when, where, and how for customers, and prioritise information and functionality to speed customer time-to-completion.”

To navigate our complex world as a brand, you have to work with the reality of how people are operating, so you need to keep abreast of all the communication channels. You also need to offer choice; people like choice, different channels, and you need to ensure the transition between them is seamless.

Creating an effective engagement strategy is a question of using the right blend of communications technology at the right time in a helpful and conversational way, to help you and your customers achieve omnichannel success.

 

Steven brings over 25 years’ of strategic sales and management experience to the role of sales and marketing director at VoiceSage, including 15 years in leadership roles in the contact centre, telephony and professional services space. His track record includes success at market leaders BT, Cable & Wireless, PSS Help, Empirix Inc. and Protocall One, where he spearheaded successful growth programmes, as well as building complete sales ecosystems across Europe and beyond.

VoiceSage improves its SMS messaging service to overcome ‘channel complexity’…

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The customer contact services provider VoiceSage, has announced the launch of the latest improved version of its SMS messaging and cloud-based voice suite.
The company claims that improved solution will help organisations across multiple sectors to meet customer communications challenges; as well as optimising the potential to incorporate ‘smart’ ways to connect with the modern digital customer.

Sales and marketing director at VoiceSage, Steven Robertson, said: “We have implemented a large number of improvements to the core VoiceSage platform. The main theme of the new version is scalability, and that means it will help our customers better meet the challenges of the modern B2C comms world, where large scale, complex customer data requirements are now the norm.”

He continued: “The omnichannel contact challenge is to meet channel complexity and huge volumes of customer data. Our new re-architected solution is continuously expandable, so will help bridge from where customers are to where they need to be when it comes to omnichannel innovation. We think our new suite is the essential messaging service to meet any enterprise’s omnichannel and big data demands.”

Find out more about the improvements here

Report highlights ‘telephony’ self-service status in the UK market…

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In the ninth installment of its ‘Inner Circle’ series focusing on subjects including; cloud-based contact centres, self-service, outbound & call blending, customer interaction analytics and PCI DSS compliance, findings of ContactBabel‘s The Inner Circle Guide to Omnichannel Customer Contact’ report indicated that 32 per cent are currently offering a full ‘telephony’ self-service channel in the UK; with the platform becoming more prevalent in the utilities and finance sectors.

Retail & distribution and insurance sectors were least likely to be doing so, and the report found a distinct pattern in full self-service regarding contact centre size, with 63 per cent of respondents from large contact centre operations (200+ agents) implementing this; compared with 27 per cent in the mid-sized sector (51-200 agents); and only 15 per cent of small contact centres (50 or less agents).

Download the full report here

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