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GUIDE: How to use AI to personalise customer service

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You may be looking to scale your customer service with AI, but hesitant about how AI may present your organisation to your customers and prospects. As a result, we wanted to share this guide from Freshworks, to investigate how you can adopt the right AI workflows to make teams more productive, reduce wait times for customers and also communicate with customers in the right way, the first time of asking.

The guide explores how you can use AI-powered omnichannel solutions to deliver personalised support by:

  • Supporting customers across channels of their choice with chatbots
  • Ensuring that your customers have a conversational experience, even with automated responses, using generative AI
  • Empowering agents with the necessary AI-powered tools and resources for contextual support

Furthermore, the link from Freshworks contains a great kit for Customer Support leaders who are looking at their planning and priority investment areas in 2024. Use the navigation on the left hand side to review the materials.

Take a look at the insights, here!

Want to hear more? Freshworks will be exhibiting at the Contact Centre & Customer Services Summit on the 29th and 30th April, 2024.

Thank you,

Team Freshworks

3 tips for contact centres in 2024

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It’s no secret that customers want to use their preferred platforms when communicating with customer service professionals, as well as being given a personalised experience when doing so. This is why contact centres are massively important from a strategic perspective, and particularly, contact centres that operate efficiently.

With this in mind, Rob Mead, Head of Strategic Marketing at Gnatta, is sharing three tips for contact centres in 2024…

  1. Lean into the shift towards greater flexibility 

Like most other industries, customer service can benefit from providing staff with flexibility. But while some businesses might still be reluctant to introduce a flexible working style into their contact centres, there are ways to create a mutually beneficial way of working that offers the work-life balance that employees are looking for while maintaining effective operations. In 2024, contact centre managers should begin to take advantage of technology that supports flexible working. From self-service shift changing to WFM software offering valuable insights on productivity, using these tools and technologies can help you keep employee satisfaction high without compromising on customer service.

2. Embrace generative AI

Artificial intelligence is growing and learning at a rapid pace, meaning it can bring more predictive and personalised customer service. Embracing this technology now will help contact centres learn alongside it and gain a better understanding of how it works. The more that contact centres work with generative AI, the more intelligence it can bring to your style of customer support. While we don’t see it replacing physical agents, it’s difficult not to see the major benefits it can have on efficiency and productivity.

3. Replace ticket-based systems with interaction-based customer service

The inefficiency and lack of personalisation that come with ticketed customer support become more apparent as more and more contact centres switch to an interaction-based model. We recommend switching to interaction-based customer service because this allows agents to pull up customer information and past exchanges quickly and easily, making support much more efficient overall.

Photo by BoliviaInteligente on Unsplash

Optimise customer interaction: Effective use of large language models for companies

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By Björn Lorenzen, Regional Vice President EMEA Central at Yext

Linguistic understanding is essential in today’s communication and has a significant influence on our everyday lives. It enables us to exchange information and control processes. In business, language is therefore an essential building block for strengthening customer loyalty and increasing customer satisfaction.

The advanced development of comprehensive language models and their broad application in services such as ChatGPT, Bing Chat and others are creating innovative communication channels and content management options. This enables companies to increase their work efficiency, reduce the workload of their employees and improve customer contact. Artificial intelligence enables an improved user experience and provides customers with direct answers, reducing the need to search FAQ sections or make telephone inquiries.

However, there are also challenges: Large language models can be opaque and contain errors that can affect up to 20 percent of answers. This can undermine trust and impact the customer experience. To avoid this and ensure a pleasant customer experience, companies should optimise their platforms such as websites, intranet or social media with their own data and use it to train artificial intelligence. This not only allows them to retain control over information, but also facilitates the publication of standardised content and streamlines customer service processes. Customers benefit from simpler handling and easier dialog with the company.

But how can this be implemented?

In order to provide targeted information at various contact points such as Google search, website search or chatbots, the following is required:

Large amounts of data (Big Data): This is a collection of all relevant company data. This includes user manuals, FAQs, location information such as address and telephone number as well as product information, company biographies and technical details. It is important that this information base is organised, up-to-date and clear and that sensitive or confidential information is made unrecognisable. The quality of the data directly influences the quality of the derived models and forecasts. In order to be able to make reliable statements, it is necessary to clean the data in advance. This includes finding and completing missing data records, identifying outliers and correcting or removing clearly recognizable erroneous or contradictory data.

A data source: Information can be collected, organised and stored in a knowledge graph or a headless content management system. Here, data is prepared in such a way that it can be related to each other. Artificial intelligence can extract correlations and insights from this data that would otherwise not have been accessible. Even complex queries, such as the search for a Turkish-speaking mortgage consultant in Cologne, can be handled with the help of the system.

In addition, only verified information is included in the system, which gives companies control over the published data. However, before this is possible, the relevant data must be fed into the system. As this often comes from different sources, data transfer via a connected API interface is advisable. This process is not only much more efficient, but also less prone to errors. If the necessary interfaces are not available in the company, the option of manual input remains.

Database technology helps to minimise the risk of data protection violations and adhere to compliance regulations. A headless content management system (CMS) ensures that data is not exchanged directly with AI systems such as ChatGPT. The AI models are only given access to the data they need. In addition, internal training for employees is essential.

Large language models: Language processing models such as GPT-4, LaMDA, PaLM, Gopher, Jurassic-1 and BERT analyse texts depending on the area of application and produce different results. There is no universally superior model, but each is used in different applications according to its strengths. GPT-4, for example, is used to quickly and efficiently create texts such as product descriptions or job advertisements. It can also autonomously generate responses to customer reviews to improve customer service.

Models such as LAMDA and BERT can help to answer user queries directly via a website’s search function. Companies that want to use these technologies need sufficient computing and storage capacity. In addition, the models must be trained regularly in order to gradually increase the quality of the answers and the database must be continuously updated.

Finally, the processed data is made usable for various purposes by the language models and is available for internal and external communication channels. External users receive quick and verified answers in natural language, while internal employees benefit from automatically generated content such as product or personal descriptions and responses to online reviews. With the help of the intranet, internal training resources, such as sales presentations in the finance department, can be accessed quickly. This simplifies work processes and allows specialists to concentrate on more demanding topics.


AI and voice models are more than a trend – they are part of our future working world. Companies should use these technologies to remain competitive. It is important to collect, process and secure data in advance. When integrated into corporate channels, voice models offer great potential for maintaining brand integrity and creating customer-oriented experiences. However, necessary preparations must be made before implementation. Data should be carefully collected, summarised and reviewed to ensure its quality and security.

The integration of GPT-4 and similar advanced language models into your own business processes offers enormous potential to increase brand consistency and create impressive customer experiences. However, these technologies should not be viewed in isolation, as their effectiveness is directly dependent on the quality of the underlying data. They must therefore be continuously fed with company-specific data. Only through a solid data organisation and an adaptable infrastructure can we prevent false information from being disseminated and seamlessly base customer communication on correct information.

About the author:

Björn Lorenzen has been Regional Vice President EMEA Central at Yext, a leading digital experience platform that powers both owned and third-party experiences, since the end of 2020 and in this position is responsible for the company’s strategic new business, among other things. Previously, the IT specialist spent seven years at Facelift, a social media management provider – most recently as Head of Enterprise Sales. His other positions include Actito and Mail Select AG.

Transforming social care: Adopting the right tech

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Pressures already in the system, and projections of rising demand for services from an ageing population, means technology will need to play an increasingly important role in helping to expand capacity in the care system to meet these growing challenges. Gavin Bashar, UK&I MD at Tunstall Healthcare, discusses how technology can help local authorities and social care providers transform adult social care services…

Enabling the right systems and solutions

Using the right digital solutions can enable systems and processes to be streamlined effectively in several areas. This includes access and assessment, data and GDPR, and integration with partner systems.

Technology can enable easy-to-access services, and efficient assessment and referral processes that help citizens receive the support they need quickly and easily. It can also help people to remain more independent for longer, and empower them to manage their health at home.

Considering how technology solutions will operate with those of local strategic partners is important. Integrated Care Systems can play a key role in this coordination and should be at the forefront of strategic planning, together with effective co-commissioning strategies across health and social care alike.

Ensuring the right devices work in citizens’ homes

There is massive potential for infrastructure improvements to enable technology to enhance services. It is important that councils and social care providers are fully cognisant of the possible impact that the ongoing national upgrade of our communications infrastructure may have on local households as the digital rollout reaches their area.

Of significant concern are vulnerable citizens currently receiving technology services that are required to be connected to monitoring centres using their existing phone line. Contingencies should be evaluated and implemented to prevent  citizens experiencing disruption to their service.

Embedding change

Embedding technology in any strategy for change is likely to deliver the best route over time to enhance the capacity of adult social care. As such, we should be thinking now about where technologies could reduce future pressures, and help to address workforce challenges.

For the benefits to be fully realised, it is important that technology suppliers, social care providers and local authorities collaborate effectively and co-creatively, to ensure that we all understand the ultimate aim in using technology. This needs effective communications between all parties, including with citizens and their families.

Customer experience is employee experience – and vice versa

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Contact centres must provide exceptional customer experience (CX) – and technology, such as AI and chatbots, is playing a key role in transforming that experience. The fast-evolving customer journey is, however, also completely changing the employee experience (EX), with agents now tasked primarily with handling the complex and demanding customer interactions that technology cannot resolve.

But how many contact centres are actively assessing the impact on the employee experience  and, critically, measuring the resultant influence on CX? From flexible working to interactions with subject matter experts across the business, call centre agents are working across complex, multi-vendor collaboration environments – and every part of the IT infrastructure needs to work seamlessly if employees are to have the quality of experience required to deliver the new customer journey.

Given the improved business performance associated with engaged employees, the interplay between CX and EX cannot be overlooked. Tony Smith (pictured, above), contact centre and employee experience expert, IR explores the correlation between employee engagement, job satisfaction and customer satisfaction, and the importance of a single view of the truth across the entire customer – and employee – journey.

Engage Everyone

It is increasingly recognised that the delivery of great customer experience (CX) demands a great employee experience (EX), but far too few companies consider the two in tandem. Just as it is highly unlikely that dis-engaged employees would go the extra mile to help customers, contact centre employees faced with unhappy customer after unhappy customer are hardly having a great EX – and that can lead to higher rates of churn, disruption and, as a result, a poor CX.  It cuts both ways.

The challenge is that today’s contact centre environment is hugely complex. Companies have invested heavily in an array of innovative technologies designed to allow customers to interact through a variety of mediums. They are leveraging AI and chatbots to empower customers with 24×7 self-service. And they are encouraging agents to reach out  directly to subject matter experts in a bid to accelerate the resolution of complex customer questions. The problem for both customers and employees is that the experience across this complex environment is rarely seamless.

How many call abandonments are due to employees’ poor video quality when working from home? Are employee churn rates rising because customers are fed up with constantly repeating information from chat bot to web screen and agent? Companies will never achieve the customer journey vision without truly understanding, tracking and managing the interaction between CX and EX.

Complex Environments

The CX journey is often envisaged at corporate level but translating that to reality is not straightforward, especially when departments are using different technology.  It makes perfect sense for customers to self-serve but what happens when an individual needs to transition to an agent? Is the information input by the customer during a webchat automatically captured and shared with the contact centre agent when the interaction moves to a video call? If not, and the customer has to repeat the information every single time, the agent is starting each interaction in a negative situation, causing frustration on both sides, and leading to a quality of EX that is likely to accelerate agent churn.

Plus, of course, employees are often working remotely, which means the CX reaches through the organisation and into people’s homes. How is the business managing the new challenges associated with ISPs, Wi-Fi, laptops, unauthorised cameras and headsets, as well as multiple video conferencing platforms and collaboration tools? If contact centre employees do not have a good digital workplace, and if their tools are not performing as they should, their EX is too poor to enable the delivery of the desired CX.

It is important for the CX and EX teams to come together, to understand the customer journey, where it interacts with employee journey and to determine how, where and when problems are occurring. And that requires an end-to-end view of the entire IT estate: it is simply not possible to achieve the depth of understanding or speed of response required when reliant on disparate data provided by different monitoring tools.

Single Journey View

End-to-end monitoring of the entire contact centre environment, including home working and the different UC tools used across the organisation, can provide the business with invaluable insight into both CX and EX, and how they overlap. With a single view across the organisation, from contact centre tools to voice applications, video platforms, web and collaboration tools, a business can quickly determine whether the current IT estate can support the customer journey vision.

In addition to identifying strategic issues, such as the need to increase capacity at peak hours, a single view can also rapidly flag problems at a granular level to minimise disruption and avoid dissatisfaction. If agents – and customers – are complaining about video quality, for example, is the problem the video platform, the operating system, public internet, router or Wi-Fi? Or has the agent plugged in their own headphones and speakers? Is there a problem in achieving successful interactions between contact centre agents using one UC and subject matter experts using another? A single, cross platform tool can rapidly flag an issue, identify the problem and enable rapid remediation.

A single view of the truth also provides companies with a chance to assess the potential impact of changes that may affect the customer journey. Will, for example, a deployment of a new ERP or CRM system affect any part of the customer journey due to network capacity issues? How will the introduction of a new customer self-service tool work in practice? Using synthetic testing to assess the end-to-end implications for both CX and EX is enormously valuable, ensuring a business never introduces a change without truly understanding the wider business implications.


Investment in technology has become a priority for companies not only to improve CX but also address the challenge of employee recruitment and retention by delivering a better EX. In the process, however, too many have inadvertently created new pressures that need, urgently, to be addressed if the business is to deliver its optimal customer journey.

Bringing together those tasked with CX and EX and providing trusted, cross business insight can be transformational. With a complete understanding of both journeys, where they overlap and are complementary, a company can ensure that every change, and every technology investment is understood and managed to ensure the customer journey vision is realised to the satisfaction of both customers and employees.

Balancing economics with environmental concerns in the world of customer service

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Can businesses react to the current economic landscape and ‘do more with less’, while still minimising environmental impact, accelerating growth and delivering excellent customer service? We asked Tony Lorentzen (pictured), Nuance’s SVP of Intelligent Engagement…

How are modern technologies transforming the customer experience, especially within call centres?

Despite many consumers today preferring to communicate with brands online, we cannot disregard the importance of the ‘human touch’ when it comes to customer experience. As individuals, when we have a problem or even just a question, we all want to feel as if there is somebody listening to and helping us. During face-to-face interactions in the past, this was a given. However, when the interaction becomes digital it can be very easy to feel as if you are on your own. Often, those calling with an enquiry are either concerned or frustrated. The last thing they need is another barrier getting in the way of them accessing the right support quickly.

This is where modern technologies, such as biometric solutions, can help. For example, voice biometrics can use sophisticated algorithms to analyse many voice characteristics – from pronunciation and accent to size and shape of the nasal passage – to authenticate a user. Meanwhile, conversational biometrics can measure how a person uses language during messaging interactions such as live chat or email, analysing vocabulary, spelling, grammar, sentence structure, and other factors to build a model representing each person’s unique pattern of communication.

Both technologies can be used to validate whether someone is who they say they are immediately based on how they sound. This means that any interaction with a brand can be personalised from the offset, enabling individuals to feel as though they are a priority.

And how do these technologies help companies to protect their customers?

Whilst there will never be one single silver bullet for fighting fraud, using biometric technologies is a step in the right direction. This is because, by using them, customers don’t need to remember something specific and worry about that information being stolen. There is no longer even a need to be authenticated using specific passphrase such as ‘my voice is my password’. Instead, biometric technologies enable organisations to validate a person’s identity from the outset.

One company that has already witnessed some of the benefits of biometric technology – and is using it to protect its customers during this time of uncertainty – is HSBC.

In recent years banking interactions have seen a definite shift away from in-person visits. More people are now turning to digital channels and telephone banking. While this modern way of banking is more convenient for customers, it does introduce some additional risks as fraudsters may find it easier to attempt to impersonate customers by stealing or guessing personal information to pass security checks.

It’s much more difficult, however, to replicate someone’s voice, which is where HSBC UK’s voice biometrics come into play. The bank’s Voice ID system detects whether a person is legitimate by comparing their voice to the voiceprint stored for the known customer. HSBC also goes one step further by maintaining a library of fraudsters’ voiceprints to cross check incoming calls. Since the technology was introduced in the UK, over 43,000 fraudulent phone calls have been identified, with over £981 million of customers’ money protected. 

How do you think that businesses can react to the current economic landscape and ‘do more with less’ while still accelerating growth?

As customer-facing businesses start to feel the pinch, the focus will be on streamlining operations whilst still ensuring the highest levels of customer experience. Automation is likely to emerge as a primary strategy for getting this balance right. By automating customer interactions, organisations will be able to scale their services and guide customers toward lower-cost channels.

Take Swedbank as an example. At this retail bank, a virtual assistant now handles more than two million conversations a year and answers around 80% of customer questions. That’s a huge reduction in the number of routine inquiries agents have to handle, leaving them free to focus on higher value, profit making tasks.

For many call centres, automating manual workflows – such as post-call summarisation – is becoming a key part of doing business. This is because it helps to boost agent productivity and enable them to handle an increased number of customers in less time. Equally important is process automation, as organisations continue to use AI to automate backend processes, uncovering new efficiencies.

Moving forward, many contact centres will take it one step further – providing real-time AI coaching, including next best response recommendations and best practice guidance, so that new hires can perform from the outset. Meanwhile, AI-powered sentiment analysis will enable agents to offer more empathetic and efficient interactions, guiding the conversation through the fastest path to resolution.

Ultimately, widespread automation will help organisations identify and eliminate wasteful processes and duplicated effort, and optimise workflows to support greater efficiency – something which becomes even more important during challenging economic times.

Chat GPT has been grabbing media attention in recent months. How do you think this technology – and others like it will power the future of CX?

 The global public attention that greeted the launch of ChatGPT has highlighted that we’re at a pivotal moment in the development of AI. As contact volumes rise and contact centre costs face increasing scrutiny, customer engagement leaders are under pressure to do more with less, without compromising the customer experience. ChatGPT is a technology that, when implemented correctly, might be able to help with this.

This is why, Microsoft and Nuance have recently unveiled our brand new conversation boosters –  exciting GPT-powered capabilities for our contact centre AI solutions. By harnessing the power of Azure OpenAI, these have been designed to help customers to make the most of the latest advances in AI technology and create even more effective conversational experiences in Nuance Mix, our conversational AI tooling platform.

As part of this development, one of the capabilities we’ve introduced is Nuance Mix Builder – a Copilot feature in Nuance Mix – which will make it faster and easier than ever to create intelligent chatbots and voicebots that boost automation and customer satisfaction.

By utilising GPT-3 capabilities, this development will enable teams to build enterprise-grade bots and deliver conversational experiences to customers, without requiring any deep technical skills. All users will need to do is describe in their own words what they want the bot to do and Mix Builder will immediately create something relevant and meaningful. It means that this type of bot creation is no longer limited to those with a technical background. Anyone from citizen developers to speech scientists will share the same toolset, making collaboration simpler and enabling businesses to give their customer experience strategies a powerful boost.

The implications of AI and ChatGPT on customer experience

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The impact of ChatGPT on the business technology world has generated a lot of buzz, but does the reality live up to the hype? And what does it really mean for the future of work, customer experience, and Communications Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS) solutions?

For years, technology experts have been discussing the growing prominence of large language models (LLMs) and deep learning. However, the public launch of ChatGPT has captured the imagination of millions of people. Many technology and business writers are claiming that ChatGPT has the potential to replace jobs, while others suggest that it will fundamentally transform how we work and think. While some of the hype surrounding ChatGPT may be warranted, there are also several areas where it falls short.

Machines and Humans Working Together

LLMs and humans will likely collaborate in the future. The exact form this collaboration will take is difficult to predict, but it is clear that LLMs will bring new levels of productivity to a wide range of employees without completely replacing jobs. Additionally, LLMs will change the types of technology we use and broaden access to them, while also transforming the way companies and developers create new digital solutions as models learn to write their own software.

Leveraging LLMs for Enhanced Customer Experience

LLMs and other generative AI technologies will bring about significant changes across industries. However, the effects will be particularly noticeable in certain sectors and occupations, including customer experience (CX), where ChatGPT and other LLMs are expected to shape the evolution of CPaaS capabilities. There are three key reasons why LLMs are particularly well-suited for CPaaS:

  1. Chatbots, which are frequently used in customer-facing roles, operate within a structured environment where they respond to specific queries about a particular business or product. Chatbots also tend to work in conjunction with human agents and transfer the conversation when a query is too intricate to manage. This CX scenario is an excellent match for ChatGPT’s existing capabilities.
  2. While messaging chatbots have already introduced intelligent automation to CPaaS, the integration of LLMs will take their capabilities to new heights. However, even the best LLMs cannot handle every situation, and human intervention is still necessary so brands will still need CPaaS tools that can help deliver a smooth, contextual handover. Additionally, personalized content is becoming increasingly important, and LLMs and other generative AI tools can rapidly personalize outbound communications in various formats.
  3. ChatGPT’s ability to write and debug conventional coding languages has garnered significant attention, but its potential extends beyond that. LLMs can be instrumental in programming workflows, processes, and customer journeys, providing value for CPaaS developers in terms of speed and efficiency.

Webex: Powering generative AI solutions

Webex by Cisco, known for its award-winning Enterprise CPaaS platform, Webex Connect, is already complementing its in-house AI functionality with Large Language Models (LLM) and other advances in generative AI, including ChatGPT to accelerate response times and boost innovation. Their latest bot-agent chat summarization functionality facilitates a smooth contextual handover between chatbots and human agents enabling agents to resolve problems and address issues quicker. Users of the platform are also able to leverage generative AI to return code making it easy for non-IT specialists to create, update, and iterate journeys. Generative AI is also being used within one of the business’ applications to quickly produce high-quality content with minimal human input. Users can create copy options for email subject lines that marketers and content creators can leverage to test and tune their campaigns.

To learn more about the latest updates and AI innovations to Webex Connect click here. Alternatively get in touch here.

Are you frustrated by the lack of collaboration between the big tech companies and their workplace technology? 

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By Rob Quickenden, CTO, Cisilion

Well, all that is about to change when it comes to workplace collaboration. Microsoft might dominate with Microsoft 365 and Teams, but there are still many companies that have huge investments in other meeting platform technology like Cisco Webex and Zoom.

For years Cisco dominated enterprise video, but since the pandemic, organisations have shifted to Teams in the millions and feel trapped with hardware which won’t work natively with Microsoft Teams, thereby limiting their collaboration strategy decisions.  

Many organisations use Cisco collaboration for their contact centres – technology which works seamlessly with Cisco Webex but again – not with Teams. This again hinders transformation since call centre users are unable to collaborate effectively with their customers on Teams and, worse, with other departments that have shifted to Teams. But all that is changing as Cisco and Microsoft are collaborating to offer complementary solutions across their customer base in two ways: 

  • Cisco Meeting Room technology is now certified for use with Teams 
  • Cisco Webex Contact centre is now certified for Teams 

Why does this matter? Because customers have been asking for a more straightforward way to achieve interoperability between Cisco meeting room technology and Microsoft Teams for years.  

Previously, to shift from Cisco Webex to Microsoft Teams, meant a complete hardware replacement of meeting room technology (or complex, clunky interoperability software). The latter is not a great experience for the user, and the former is not good for budget or from a sustainability perspective.  

Now businesses can keep their Cisco kit and either repurpose these to run Microsoft Teams natively OR, run both Cisco Webex and Microsoft Teams seamlessly together on the same hardware without interoperability apps and services. This means business can have the best of both, or the best of one. Rather than having to dump their hardware or invest in different hardware vendors, refurbish rooms, and incur expensive refit costs, they can continue to use what they have.   

What’s more – regardless of whether they desire to fully move to Teams, retain Cisco Webex or use a blend of both – the fact that Cisco Webex Contact centre is now fully certified for Teams means businesses that run, or want to run, Cisco Webex Contact Centre can now achieve seamless connectivity between both platforms.  

For many businesses, this gives them freedom over their choice of collaboration, voice and meeting technology without worry about integration with their Cisco Contact Centre. Teams now boasts more than 280 million users and is the fastest growing collaboration tool in the world with 20-25% growth year on year. So not being able to service customers who use Teams has been a huge headache for some businesses who had invested in Webex.  

This is also important for customers that have felt unable to move to Teams due to their sunk investment in Cisco meeting room technology. By partnering with Microsoft, businesses, Cisco and Microsoft all win. Cisco retains its loyal customer base (who love the premium Cisco hardware), Microsoft gets more businesses on Teams (as the blockers are down) and businesses can choose the best experience for their users that align to their collaboration strategy.  

Finally, Cisco Webex is a true enterprise class contract centre. Their certification with Microsoft Teams brings more choice to business, removes some of the blockers for Microsoft and allows Cisco to target businesses that use Microsoft Teams, and who are in the market for a new contact centre solution that is certified for Teams. With the big technology companies now collaborating on their workplace technology it’s a win, win for everyone.  

Business Decision Makers: Their CX concerns, and how to resolve them

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By Dan Burkland, President at Five9

As the cost-of-living crisis forces customers to tighten their belts, effective and receptive customer service remains the key to maintaining success. Focusing on customer experience (CX), even through periods of economic instability, can increase a company’s profitability by up to 2% and shareholder return by up to 10%.

Business leaders are now faced with difficult decisions, and CX teams must ensure they are looking at three key goals: reducing expenditure, increasing empathy with customers, and prioritising adaptability in an ever-changing environment.

Businesses are facing waves of resignations as talent teams struggle to source and retain employees. It’s not just the well-being of customers that CX teams need to consider – it is their employees too. When employees are motivated and knowledgeable, they are able to give better customer service, resulting in improved customer experience – but that only comes from improving the employee experience (EX).

Investing in new areas might initially seem counterintuitive during economic turbulence. But compromising on CX directly impacts brand loyalty – nearly a third (32%) of customers stated they would stop doing business with a brand after just one poor experience.

recent study of business decision-makers identified key strategies in helping businesses to transform the experience of their call centre agents, and consequently, customer experiences.

Unlocking the informed and empathetic agent

The CX study found that while 86% of contact centre decision makers report an increase in the volume of interactions, 72% also note an increase in agent turnover. Contact centres are clearly a casualty of the Great Attrition, with employees reevaluating their approach and demanding greater flexibility, more remote working options, and a stronger focus on well-being. In fact, more than half (54%) of contact centre employees are not willing to go back to the office full time.

Therefore, organisations must look to cloud-based technologies to offer a seamless agent experience from home to office. With all customer data and comms in the cloud, agents can securely access the information they need, wherever they choose to work.

However, it is not just a question of making your organisation more attractive to retain and hire agents, but also ensuring that you have the technology in place to cope with this deluge of interactions at speed. Currently, less than half (47%) of contact centres are starting to adopt AI to provide agent assistance, which is essential for giving employees the information they need to drive quality interactions at scale.

Bringing together human empathy and judgment, with the speed and scale of AI offers the best of both worlds for customer service. More than half (53%) of decision-makers reported that agents need emotional intelligence and empathy, with customer issues becoming increasingly complex, so collaborative intelligence technologies should be a key area for both CX and EX investment.

Making every interaction meaningful

Empathy has replaced expediency as customers seek a more human customer experience. Customers want and expect agents to truly listen to their needs, understand and identify with their situation and feelings, solve their issues, and answer their questions effectively. Above all, they want to connect on whatever channel is most convenient for them at that moment. Therefore, businesses must ensure that however customers choose to get in contact, they can resolve these queries simply, quickly and on a variety of channels.

Encouragingly, the majority (95%) of contact centre decision-makers say their organisation provides an omnichannel experience. In fact, 40% of customer interactions now take place via non-voice digital channels, with 69% expecting more than 40% of customer support interactions to be fully self-handled by 2024. Organisations are clearly stepping up with expanded digital and self-service options, to provide options that ‘meet their customers where they are’ and reduce costs.

Yet nearly a third (30%) stated that these channels are not integrated. Organisations must therefore work to bring customer and contextual data together to ensure a seamless experience across every channel. Fortunately, by integrating all data within the cloud, organisations will create a 360-degree view of each customer to enable seamless experiences across any channel or touchpoint. Whether customers opt for ever-growing self-service options or want to chat to an agent over the phone, ensuring that the right data is in the right place to inform interactions is essential.

Looking towards the future, it’s paramount that businesses act decisively to address CX challenges. Self-service, multi-channel and AI offerings are quickly becoming commonplace for customers – organisations must provide their agents with the right software to work as efficiently and reactively as possible. By bringing the focus to both employee experience and customer experience, customer loyalty and satisfaction can be maintained, increasing profit in periods when it is needed the most.

Cybersecurity trends to watch out for in 2023

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Tyler Moffitt, Senior Security Analyst, OpenText Security Solutions, talks about the impact of geopolitical tensions and inflation on cybersecurity and 3 other key trends that will impact the cyber and tech landscape in the coming year…

  1. Small-Medium Sized Businesses (SMBs) will need to do more with less and cyber resiliency will be more important than ever.

“Cybercriminals will increase ransomware attacks on SMBs as prime targets in the wake of heightened geopolitical tensions, such as the War in Ukraine, and rising inflation in the UK and globally. This will force SMBs to do more with less, while already having smaller cybersecurity teams and budgets to defend against attacks, and it will make cyberresiliency more important than ever. Our recent SMB survey found that 46 percent of respondents felt more at risk of a ransomware attack due to heightened geopolitical tensions, and 53 percent were also concerned about their security budgets shrinking due to inflation.”

  1. Search engines will not only blur the lines between paid vs. organic search results, but also from what’s real and fake, increasing phishing attacks.

“Search engines like Google and Bing try to make it as easy as possible for consumers to find the information they request, but it will become increasingly difficult to distinguish between safe and malicious search results. As search engines work to provide a more streamlined experience, they unintentionally open consumers to a greater possibility of being phished. Scammers will purchase top ranking search result ads and use them to drive people to malicious and fraudulent websites to steal their personal and financial information.”

  1. As every home becomes a smart home and more personal data lives on the cloud, the attack surface will expand no matter how “secure” people feel.

“There’s a “Black Swan event” coming as consumers and businesses alike adopt new technologies to make their lives smarter and more convenient, in turn, sharing and storing more of their data in the cloud. Being connected to the internet 24/7 will make everyone who uses smart devices more vulnerable in the coming years. I believe a critical event this year, or merely increasing attacks, will signal a wake-up call to consumers and businesses to think more critically about how smart technology use hinders their security and privacy.”

  1. Cybercriminals will take advantage of consumers’ vulnerable footing to increase attacks as the economy suffers and inflation rises.

“No one is more opportunistic than cybercriminals. They are experts in understanding consumers’ greatest concerns and how to tap into these fears with phishing tactics to steal their money or personal information. Covid-19 was a prime example of leveraging fear into ROI and the more recent Ukraine war only adds fuel to the fire. I anticipate this attack approach will continue to rise as the UK experiences growing inflation, resulting stimulation checks, job losses and a potential recession for more fear tactics.”