Revolutionary Trends Shift the Customer Experience, Increasing Brand Loyalty for 2016

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED TO TMCNET’S INSURANCE TECHNOLOGY SITE

As the year ended, multiple technologies and integrations signified that this is a great time to be a tech or customer service professional. We are now living in a time when you can read social media posts on the sides of your shoes, while simulating a walk on the moon. As a tech professional, you might be striding through your day, because in our lifetime, we have seen technology evolve from prehistoric to futuristic – and it isn’t anywhere close to stopping.

As businesses adopt newer technologies and are able to increase quality and productivity they are learning that, just like in traditional business models, the customer experience is everything. We now have a host of new innovations making our day just a little bit better. Think of how far AI and mobile has come in just the last five years – and little over a year ago, there were a lot of people still confused over what IoT actually was.

According to the Interactive Intelligence (NewsAlert) Group, Inc. There are five trends that we need to look out for in 2016. This cloud services group, diligently works to improve customer engagement, communications and collaboration for its many global clientele. They have done their research, and we’re here to give you the breakdown.

“It’s clear that companies are making customer interaction experiences a priority, and the trends we’ve identified will be critical if businesses want to stay competitive,” said Dr. Donald E. Brown, Interactive Intelligence founder and CEO. “Of note is that all these trends rely heavily on the cloud, analytics and big data. These now form the underpinnings of nearly all things customer experience-related and will continue to be key components of any successful customer engagement strategy.”

  • Customer-Centricity Breaks the Ice and Creates Unity

Focused on an optimized customer experience, there is no one department instrumental in the success of customer relations. In fact, everyone — from the contact center to the external stakeholder — is to be held accountable for the experience and satisfaction of each customer, individually. Customers need to find ease in using a product, and if they can’t they need to be able to find someone, who can explain it to them.

How customers interact with the brand is extremely important. Whichever method they choose for interaction will stand as the mouthpiece for that brand. For this, digital workstreams powered by integrated user engagement, communications and collaboration – most communications platforms will also be powered by cloud technologies.

This will encourage better cross-department and multidisciplinary communications – both inside the workplace and externally. Everyone will be brought up to speed at once; and everyone can gauge needs for improvement – immediately.

  • IoT will Continue to Expand the Omnichannel Experience

One-third of companies are reporting to use IoT within their 2016 operations planning. Using always-connected wireless technologies has brought a ton of efficiency to the workforce. But, in 2016, organizations are using them as an additional means to interact with customers, internal groups and partners.

Companies are using this technology, as coexisting with locational-based prompts. Many of these prompts will direct customers to one-on-one interaction with a live person, social media, documentation and exclusive offers. The customer will continue to the forefront of office place efficiency and continue to improve the customer experience in 2016.

  • We Will See Artificial Intelligence Like Never Before

As every day objects begin to take life, we are literally seeing teddy bear’s learning our every move and having full-blown conversations with a non-existent person. But, how can this help the customer experience? As machine learning hits its prime, advanced speech analytics are able to trigger alerts and specific messaging. Companies can further identify patterns and predict customer behavior.

Engaging with machines directly, the customer will experience better self service options than in the past, as AI can intelligently identify a customer’s need and break down methods of utilization, repair or expansion. Algorithms are leading AI to understand not just what a customer is saying – but also what they are not saying. In cases where after-hours leave no customer service agent available and where customer service agents are unnecessary, AI is becoming increasingly prominent. Many times, customers do not know the difference.

  • Sophisticated Do-It-Yourself Customer Service Empowers Customers

While this goes hand in hand with all other methods, “do-it-yourself “ customer service is becoming more convenient, timesaving and preferred, especially amongst the tech savvy millennial crowd. Brands are also learning that providing DIY methods saves the company on staffing costs and keeping wait times down in the contact or call centers… also benefiting traditional customer service methods in keeping customers satisfied, who do not want to be on hold for longer than average periods of time. Customers are empowered when they feel good about their ability to use your product effectively and save time  and money on repairs.

 Brand loyalty and niche networks are actually being built upon DIY platforms, this would obviously attract more finance to the company, as well. Web, mobile and SMS platforms are excellent ways to reach millennials, as they regularly search for content based on their direct needs. Not only will this be a larger trend in 2016, but it will also be a great tactic for many companies, who are including it into their overall marketing plan.

  • Every “Take-Out” Ready Through Mobile

With the traditional business structure broken and many more professionals are entering the work-from-home revolution, remote access to company infrastructures is proving more beneficial to the business structure than previous methods. Millennials, leading this movement, are always on the go. They want to spend more time traveling and with family.

Mobile technologies have allowed a complete office space to travel with us; cloud technologies allow us to access the office. Collaboration, communication and productivity, are again, improving. Mobile apps are going to be more mandatory in the past. Not having an app for your business may actually leave your organization in the dust.

Allowing customers to interact with the brand, especially live, is extremely beneficial to every organization, which instituted into their 2016 operations action plan. In fact, conference calling, white boards, tech support and other forms of customer and client interactions are at the forefront of 2016 and one of the most integrated technologies of the year.

In wrapping up the list, improving customer engagement and experiences should absolutely be at the forefront of concern this year. Restructuring the face of your customer service methods can be life or death for many companies. Interactive Intelligence holds a weekly live webinar that can help your organization gauge your current customer service methods, as well as show you how to integrate these growing customer engagement trends into your own business plan. Find out how to attend by visiting this page.

Continue Reading

Time for an SaaS Update?

Cloud Contact Center | TMC Net

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED TO TMCNET’S CUSTOMER SUPPORT SOFTWARE

It’s no secret – and definitely nothing new – a good help desk is necessary in allowing the corporate world to flourish, one business professional at a time.

At smaller companies, Help Desk Support and IT may, in fact, be the same department. But, at larger firms, they are as much the same as night and day. Help Desks are responsible for serving their own internal clientele in the best way possible. They also may serve as the company’s Tech Support department for external customers with incoming concerns with a company’s product lines, services or website functionality. They are often the first point of contact with tech concerns – and many times the only point of contact.

Susan J. Campbell recently discussed how your days are numbered if your differentiation isn’t based on quality service. No matter which audience you’re serving, if you are the first point of contact or the last – your focus better be on quality and maximized performance.

But, how can you do this when your desk isn’t organized and files are thrown all over the place? How can you do this when your own team isn’t on the same page, or when it takes 20 steps to complete just one task? How can better communication take place with your customers if support tickets are continually getting lost?

This most recent shift in cloud technologies and integrations has been teaching us that there are so many new and amazing tech options, helping us do our jobs better and with greater efficiency. Productivity is key. If your time behind that desk is not maximized, you are wasting your own potential.

In a Help Desk setting, we are also able to benefit from the potential that clouds bring to our communications and collaboration activity. Not to mention, cloud technologies are cutting costs to department budgets and are improving speed within the organizations over all infrastructure. Using software environments from 1999 is not going to cut it. In order to evolve your business model, you must evolve the way you are handling business.

If your team hasn’t yet discussed the need for a new direction in Help Desk SaaS (News – Alert), perhaps it’s the right time to start that conversation. Continued improvements to processes are what make a business run more effortlessly and with greater productivity. As the first line of defense, it is your responsibility to provide the company with better support to the outside world.

Everyone’s input is important and everyone on the team makes a difference. Include your team in the discussion for department needs in improving the Help Desk environment. Together, you will want to discuss whether the company needs new customer support software, integration or a whole new environment altogether. Discussing department needs will bring awareness to issues that have been avoided for a long time. Notes should be taken. Processes will be improved. Perhaps solutions such as TeamSupport would actually be an option in helping teams to continue this necessary dialog and eliminate miscommunication. Find out. Start the conversation. 

All stakeholders should feel a sense of ownership. Give everyone the chance to list their needs and which features they would most benefit from in their day-to-day work routine.

Prioritize the items on the list. Eliminate what is not important. Vote on which are the most important and why. These are all tips shared by Information-Age.

Help Desks can consist of both expert and intermediate abilities. What may have been mastered by you 10 years ago may be something new to someone else. Communicate these differences. You may find compromise to be an important factor in this part of process. You may find communication to be an even larger part of that process.

Come to the meeting armed with options. This will allow the team to weigh out benefits and costs of these technologies. Encourage everyone to research solutions beforehand.

In some cases, a business SaaS with a great reputation of updates and integrations is a better solution than a do-it-all platform. Then again, the opposite can be true. What are your needs? Do not pay for what you aren’t going to use.  Focus on the services you need to provide better service to your own customers.

Discuss a minimum feature set and select a solution that will provide you with a better feature-to-budget ratio. Factor in whether or not there is compliance or licensure necessary in using each option. Are there security requirements? What security is included?

Preparing your case to decision-makers will often allow your department to go outside of their budget if the external decision makers find it a good investment.

Always know what you want to do and why you want to do it. Continuous monitoring of system performance will help to validate adoption down the road. It will allow you to enrich the support off your clientele, both internal and external. Process improvements will strengthen this ability and allow your team to better succeed in support. Customers will continue to be satisfied; and your support team will, too.

Continue Reading

Business VoIP Enhances the Customer Experience

business voip, fax to email, online faxing, services, free trial, fax, internet, virtual, online, vfax, nextiva, computer, iphone, cell phone, blackberry, mobile

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED TO TMCNET’S BUSINESS VOIP

Cutting costs for businesses, while allowing flexibility to the professional world, cloud contact centers have been becoming increasingly beneficial to enterprises all over the planet.  Not only has cloud collaboration pushed regional boundaries, but it has also cut expenses for travel that otherwise would have meant lost time of department heads and leaders, who are instrumental in leading various teams around the country.

Cloud contact centers allow innovative moves towards conference calling and unified communications directly from the cloud. Business VoIP is made possible through these systems, often saving call centers and business operations up to 60% in costs of traditional phone systems. Additionally, calls can be recorded and save within the system, voicemail accessible directly through a centralized e-mail platform.

Because of cloud efficiency, it has been predicted that 25% of most IT budgets will be set aside for cloud-based systems. Growing from a storage-based technology, professionals have been learning to increase productivity by working within the cloud directly. Because these systems can be accessed across a variety of devices, many professionals are opting to work “on the go,” utilizing tools and communications platforms within the cloud system, where they are also able to store confidential documents and proprietary information.

Quickly connecting consumers with answers to their questions and solutions to their problems, cloud centers are saving the business valuable time, which also translates to money. This also leads to greater profits, as brand trust is adopted with loyalty and tenure.

As time passes, the business model is transformed and continuously upgraded. Business VoIP and IT systems integrating into these cloud-based models are finding that depreciation is almost nonexistent. While integrations will continue to improve systems, outdated equipment is no longer an issue.

With the ability to disseminate valuable information throughout the system at once and because most interactions can now be accessed on demand, there is less of a need to hire multiple trainers to bring employees up-to-speed on new programs and procedures. Increased controls ensure efficiency through shareable content on internal servers.

Again, with a centralized system, valuable information, knowledge bases and case studies can be accessed while communicating with clients, partners and customers, improving the overall experience and quality of interaction.

While more than 13% of all major corporations are still skittish when it comes to trusting the security of cloud-based systems, security is actually increased and customer data is more protected than ever. Not only is it safe from corruption during migrations and depreciating databases, data can be wiped from the devices of employees, who are no longer with the company. 

Continue Reading

The Difference Between Enterprise and Mid-Size Customer Service Solutions and Why Aspect is a Big Deal

Omni-Channel Customer Engagement, Omni-Channel, omnichannel, omni channel, customer engagement, self service, multichannel, mobile customer care

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED TO TMCNET’S OMNI-CHANNEL CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT

As decent-sized business, expanding services to overseas clientele, you might wonder how you fit into “the mix.” Is your company considered a mid-sized business? Or, is it an enterprise? Both come with distinctive needs, and yet it always comes down to whatever it is that the business is looking to achieve.

When understanding which grade of solutions your business requires, take a step back and analyze your business. Identify your direct needs – and what solutions would best help your business to excel. The same is no different from customer service solutions.

What you will find out is quite surprising, really. In a time of productivity and meeting clients where they “hang out” the most, enterprise customer service centers are still primarily phone-based, with agents numbering in the thousands.

While services are scalable, they are usually meant to serve agent populations of over 10K or more. Because many of these call centers are specialized in their line of expertise, they are often preferred in providing vertical customer service solutions.

Enterprise vendors are, slowly but surely, moving away from on-premise solutions and are starting to adopt cloud-based systems. In a way, they seem old-fashioned compared to the mid-sized services that tend to appeal to the more millennial generation. They do provide a plethora of services, including CTI (NewsAlert) integrations, allowing client computers and telephones to interconnect, and agent guidance through the system.

Enterprise customer service solutions also include reporting and analytics, data management and additional case management. Businesses that have been grandfathered into existence or have carved a major chunk out of the marketplace may deem this type of customer service more efficient and cost-effective for their brand. They may feel no need to connect via online platforms with Marketing already controlling a persona amongst audiences online.

While enterprise solutions tend to be more affordable, because they are based on prepackaged pricing, they cost more upfront, as mid-size solutions cost more on the backend. Mid-sized businesses work off of a time-to-value model. Solutions are enabled based on budget, quote or need. Businesses will pay for servicing based on time period for servicing, an outline of scope, a price quote for resources used, upkeep and maintenance, storage and even how large internal teams would become.

Mid-sized customer service solutions, however, tend to get the biggest bang for the buck, serving multiple customers simultaneously in a cloud contact center or work-at-home environment. Dedicated agents number only in the 100s and are available to service customers around the clock and via multiple service platforms, such as social media, mobile delivery and e-mail correspondence, in addition to traditional call center options.

Mid-sized vendors tend to target specific divisions within the organization. Dedicated teams will engage in specific tasks, while much of the solution-based servicing is self-initiated. Cloud solutions allow for internal help desks to access knowledge bases, omni-channel usability and integrated controls. Mid-sized solutions tend to involve more platforms and more automation than enterprise customer service solutions.

Why have all the bells and whistles but no clue how to use them?

Will learning these tools save time and investment in the long run? Or, will they be unnecessary to your organization even if learned? Will it cost a pretty penny to train internal teams to use these tools, or would the company excel having someone else handle your customer service externally? These are the differences between enterprise and mid-sized solutions.

Whether an enterprise customer service experience is taking place or a mid-sized solution, Aspect (NewsAlert) Software has been recently making a name for itself as a business that does more than monitor call center activity.

Aspect combines solutions from both types of servicing to connect agents to solutions, immediately, and better serve customers on the first call. With enhanced customer service features, this suite of enterprise solutions supports high interactivity, automated controls, video and audio integrations, while promoting productivity.

Aspect allows key relationships to be documented and maintained, ensuring each customer receives personalize treatment, where they feel appreciated for their continued business. While enterprise solutions normally aren’t focused on contact center options, the integration will allow for future utilization, as call centers are becoming more focused on how to best serve our millennial generation, who now comprises over $2.45 trillion of our annual marketplace.

Enterprise customer service solutions may find that keeping their current model is not enough, and Aspect helps them stay with the times in caring for audiences of all shapes and sizes. Like mid-sized solutions, enterprise service solutions will need dedication teams for both social and digital customer service needs through larger, more focused contact center systems. 

Continue Reading

Resolve to Keep Your Customers Happy in 2016

Omni-Channel Customer Engagement, Omni-Channel, omnichannel, omni channel, customer engagement, self service, multichannel, mobile customer care

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED TO TMCNET’S OMNI-CHANNEL CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT

As productivity literally falls into our hands, and technologies allow for better integration of our most precious business tools, cloud contact centers are working hard to plan their roadmap for 2016. While some of us have been working diligently through the holiday season, many of are returning to the control boards for the first time since last year!

As we enter 2016, many of us are ambitious and excited about what is rumored to come. We have set goals through resolutions of things we are inspired to achieve – and we will. Aspect (NewsAlert), a developer of omni-channel customer engagement solutions, did their homework. And, they offer us a list of 6 common denominators for contact center resolutions in the New Year:

Reinvent “Cool.” + Become More Available = Enhance the Customer Experience.

These three resolutions play a major part in the potential of one another. In fact, becoming more available on mobile and through social media, the customer experience will be enhanced, improved and more gratifying to the brand enthusiasts.

We are living amongst millennials – those young professionals who never sleep and hate living within the confines of tradition and “normalcy.” For them, it is normal to pick up a phone at 3 a.m. and call customer service. But, customer service isn’t usually available past 8 p.m. on a regular business day. Allowing customers to connect to work-at-home individuals at these hours, however, is not just cool – But, man, is it convenient!

Cloud contact centers are resolving to become part of the conversation. They are building their “cred” in social media, while adjusting to the needs of their most valued customers – even acquiring a few strays in the process. In 2016, if you aren’t listening to your customers, you’re already #failing!

Instill Confidence.

Build brand advocates. Brands that include do-it-yourself tutorials, troubleshooting tips, videos, easy-to-read user manuals and customer portals for live group discussion will notice an uptick in the way their brands are consumed by those who matter most.

Take Apple (NewsAlert) for example. Each new MacBook Pro comes with paperwork that the average customer would never read. This material breaks down care and handling of the new device. It also includes installations with picture and diagram, highlight with easy-to-read directions.

Users can find their way to a support page and be addressed by a customer service agent directly, or can find additional help by brand enthusiasts sharing similar experiences of the past. Thanks to search engines, these tips can be “Google’ (NewsAlert)d” and brand loyalty continues.

Apple finds that many loyalists have created their own help forums in dedication to the brand, often selling Apple products, as a third-party carrier. On the other hand, for a subscription fee or onetime payment in store, customers can be serviced over the phone or at a live store.

Apple has instilled the “do-it-yourself” mentality by allowing consumers to learn their products inside out and provide tips to better maintenance and repair of their complex machinery.

Because consumers feel they know their product, they are most likely to accessorize, tell a friend how “easy” a product is to use and how they should be using that brand, while upgrading their products and purchasing surplus repair parts – directly from the brand. Customers will also be able to better voice concern with a product, knowing exactly what is wrong with their item – and feeling more confident that their issue will be handled immediately.

Retain More Customers. Bring the Old Ones Back!

Probably one of the more difficult of industries, the Tech World finds innovation, trends and the evolution of technology can sometimes shift response by consumers in support of your brand. So, how do you keep those consumers? It’s simple!

Be their lifeline. Advocate on their behalf. Listen.

When it comes to customer service and often experienced when work is outsourced to individuals with frequent turnover ratios, customers aren’t being heard and call center agents are often treating customers as if they know not what they are talking about. This is a huge problem, especially if a customer knows exactly what they are talking about and where the root of the problem occurs. Not only does this lead to escalations after almost an hour into the call, but it leads customers to lose patience and trust in a brand. They go elsewhere…

Believe it or not, there are many loyalists that love a brand so much, that they stick around based on the customer experience and familiarity with the product. There are others, who simply are content with the product at hand and do not have the time to switch platforms or learn a new one. But if they are experiencing horrible customer service, they are also the first to “jump ship” and leave your brand in the dust!

Cloud contact centers are resolving to integrate features more often, saving time and complexity of resolving the customer’s needs – allowing for more time to be spent on listening to the customer, engaging in short, memorable chit chat and improving customer service. They retain their current customer base, while bringing back former clientele thanks to viral experiences that are shared over and over again.

Eliminate Escalations. Improve Service.

We really should consider our customers as people and stop playing “hot potato” with their issues. Making them call back over and over, dropping their calls, not solving their issues on the first point of contact is only pushing them away – and millennials, as social as they are, will let it be known!

Improving serving impacts the bottom line. Period! Aspect points out – and it’s no laughing matter – that “a third of consumers would rather clean a toilet, than talk to customer service.” Now, isn’t that just crappy? Seriously, though, how can we expect customers to trust our brand when they can’t even trust us to help them in a time of crisis? Furthermore, if they have issues with our products and services, do you think they will return for more – and at such a high cost to their pockets?

Continue Reading

Vidyo, Inc. Teams up with Genesys AppFoundry for Interactive Video Service Experience

Omni-Channel Experience | TMC Net

Previously Published to TMC Net’s Omni-Channel Experience

Vidyo recently announced that its patented video conferencing technology will become part of a new marketplace, Genesys AppFoundry, which is poised to provide brands with innovative customer experience solutions. This partnership will allow businesses to enter face-to-face conversation with Genesys contact center agents, providing live human interaction to the customer service experience.

“Today, 75 percent of customer journeys start on mobile, web or social and this trend is only accelerating,” said Merijn te Booij, Executive Vice President of Product and Solution Strategy at Genesys. “Response to this digital imperative is increasingly important for companies competing on the battleground of customer experience.”

Most businesses are starting to realize that in a mobile world, most people despise typing long, drawn out conversations on a small mobile device. They find that touch screens and autocorrect often become their worst enemy – especially with “fat thumbs.” When people are frustrated, the last thing they want to do is type out their problem, especially if they don’t know what that problem even is!

Vidyo is catering to this problem.  Through their Vidyo Adapter for Genesys, contact center agents will directly connect to customers all over the world. As they began working with healthcare and financial sectors, during preliminary testing, they found that customers actually prefer this type of interaction. Some clients even reported a 200 percent increase in their Net Promoter Score, while others found that calls are becoming shorter and satisfaction is increasing across borders.

Sometimes, its better to see someone face to face at a time when frustration ad chaos is at its highest. Sometimes, this is the calming mechanism that shows a customer that the agent is sincerely interested in finding a solution. While in videoconference with a customer, the omnichannel experience is heightened whilst Genesys operators will gain access to connected apps and help to solve the problem. The agent is able to show the customer how to do something “hands on.” Not only does this decrease call times, but it eliminates repeat calls for the same problem.

Last week, omni-channel customers reported on how video conferencing empowers millenials in the workplace. Adding direct video calling and device sharing features to contact centers may just become a standard of the future. It is quite possible that Vidyo has started a trend in mobile and that other partnerships will adopt similar technologies that skirt around Vidyo’s patent.

While Vidyo holds a patent on this technology, we are seeing integrated partnerships amongst many tech companies during the wrap up of 2015. Omnichannel integrations are already combining video conferencing with cloud platforms to enhance productivity in the workplace. Will we see more businesses providing customer support features that include video chat on mobile?  It’s possible.

Appery.io is predicting that based on the current trends of over 300,000 developers, 2016 will see many mobile technology companies merging to deliver omnichannel solutions that embrace collaboration. If they don’t, many are predicted to simply close doors and become defunct.

Appery.io also discussed how a majority of mobile users prefer using one central app in meeting all of their business needs. They hate sending apps to the background, while they attempt to execute yet another necessary task. This same would be concerning with customer service. Allowing them to see what you are having issue with is only the cherry on top!

Continue Reading