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Content Guru

Why 2020 will mark the death of the chatbot (as you know it)

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Martin Taylor, Deputy CEO at Content Guru, explains how the convergence of written and verbal chatbot functionality will bring about an entirely new Conversational User Interface (CUI)…

It’s no secret that 2020 has been an unusual year for customer communication. With international lockdowns limiting person-to-person interactions, many companies have turned to digital channels to continue relationships with their customers. Automation, and the trusty chatbot, have proved invaluable to many companies attempting to field the vast amount of customer queries caused by pandemic-induced uncertainty.

However, increased social isolation has put a premium on human interactions. Businesses that can deliver a joined-up customer journey, where the speed and convenience of automated customer service meets on-demand agent attention, will find themselves profiting from increased customer loyalty in the coming recession

Chatbots are dead. Long live chatbots

Most of us have had the misfortune of interacting with a badly configured chatbot. Whether to return faulty clothes or complain about an incorrect phone bill, we are often left feeling even more frustrated than we were beforehand.

Many businesses viewed these chatbots as a cheap panacea to all customer service problems but, in reality, this idea never came to fruition. In the last year or so, businesses should have realised that the idea of the chatbot as a magical one-size-fits-all solution, is dead.

So, the notion of the all-providing IM chatbot that was once hailed as the answer to all our customer service automation needs, is dead. However, the technology is not gone for good. In fact, the chatbot we will soon come to know is just being born.

The very fabric of the chatbot is evolving alongside the advancements in cloud, AI, and voice technologies to become a valuable part of every wider omni-channel portfolio. The convergence of written and spoken chatbot functionalities should, and likely will, be the driving force behind the rebirth of a new CUI, built on the foundations the humble chatbot began.

The resurgence of voice 

According to recent research, only 9 percent of customers felt that they would be best served by a chatbot for serious enquiries, whereas the figures for a voice call were in excess of 80 percent. But with 80 percent of contact centers wanting to adopt chatbot technology by 2020, what is does this industry know that we don’t?

Well, they are seeing the bright and not-so-distant future of this technology, and it doesn’t look like a thing like your average chatbot. The resurgence of voice-led interactions, driven by home assistants such as Alexa, and the fact that customers still overwhelmingly prefer to speak to another human for important queries, is ushering in a new Golden Age of Voice. This has led to a growing maturity in the consumer base that sees the chatbot becoming a valuable channel led by the latest, cutting-edge voice technology.

A branch of AI called Natural Language Processing (NLP) is one of the most recent developments that is pushing the chatbot to become more than it once was. With 2020 set to be the year that Natural Language Processing (NLP) goes mainstream in contact centres, the new CUI chatbot will benefit from the rich insights produced by this tool.

A necessary evolution

The chatbot has often been defined as just an online text-based engagement portal, but with NLP cementing itself in the last year or so as a tool that opens up unprecedented insight into voice data, especially in customer journey analytics, the chatbot should be the next to follow suit.

Yesterday’s humble V1.0 chatbot will evolve alongside these technological advancements in voice. By building on the chatbot in this way, it stops becoming a one-stop-shop of automated responses, and instead becomes the shop-front to an intelligent customer engagement hub.

In practice this simply means that those customers with more complex enquiries can be transferred to a human agent, and those with simple queries can save time by utilising the CUI alone. All using an automated CUI powered by NLP and sentiment tracking.

Sentiment is king

With NLP, by the time the agent answers a customer they know exactly what their issue is, since the call has already been categorised. Queries can be resolved faster and more accurately, since the agent is more prepared and won’t have to spend time searching for answers in real-time during the call.

There is now a big rush to roll out NLP everywhere, in all sectors. It is set to be a gamechanger in the contact centre industry, since it is manifestly more efficient than a traditional Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and supports agent activity.

Advancements in sentiment analysis will be the next big step for NLP and will continue to pave the way for monumental changes to the chatbot in 2020. This is where a sophisticated mix of keywords, tone of voice, and volume create a much deeper picture of the caller and their needs for the agent. With this information, businesses can ensure that each caller is routed to the agent or department best equipped to deal with their enquiry.

For example, if sentiment analysis during a chatbot interaction detects a customer who is distressed, the call can be routed to an agent who is experienced or trained in handling these types of conversation. This streamlines processes and ensures customers are always served by the most suitable person.

The chatbot in 2020 and beyond

So, while the chatbot as we know it is not destined to take over the world of contact centers, the future of the chatbot is far from doomed. Instead, 2020 is an exciting time for the latest evolution of this cog in the wider machine of all successful customer engagement hubs.

These changes will ultimately lay the foundations for a future where, as a consumer, it will be extremely difficult — if not impossible — to tell the difference between human and chatbot. Advances in sentiment tracking, NLP and machine learning will all drive the chatbot to become the ultimate customer service assistant.

Revolutionise your contact centre with next generation chatbot functionality: https://bit.ly/2GcY06v

COVID-19: A catalyst for change in the contact centre

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By Martin Taylor, Deputy CEO and Co-Founder, Content Guru

When COVID-19 caused mass lockdown across the UK, nearly every single organisation was required to send its employees home to work remotely, or face having to close business operations entirely. There is no escaping the monumental impact that COVID-19 is having and will continue to have on both individuals and businesses on a global scale.

From grandparents using Zoom for the first time, to legacy-reliant organisations modernising in the cloud, there is a huge wave of ‘digital acceleration’ building towards a ‘new-normal’. We are now seeing efficient remote working across industries that previously thought it impossible, as well as the clear environmental benefits resulting from this. Work-life balance may be somewhat strange, but employees are now being trusted more openly by their employers to work from home in an environment that suits their needs.

In light of this monumental shift to remote working and cloud-based technologies, the long-term effects of COVID-19 as a catalyst for change in all aspects of life will be profound, and one particularly strong instance of this can be found in the contact centre industry.

COVID-19 in the Contact Centre

The traditional contact centre environment – often characterised by its low-paid employees packed side-by-side into drab offices or warehouses under strict supervision – could be described as the mill of the modern age. While typically associated with a high employee churn rate, this environment is quite obviously a hotbed for spreading germs. The crowded spaces may make for unappealing working conditions during normal circumstances, but with the battle against COVID-19 firmly on the nation’s mind many contact centre agents now see their traditional working environment as a risky and dangerous place to be.

Social distancing measures have been in place for almost two months now. It is therefore surprising – if not shocking – to learn that research over this period has revealed many non-essential contact centres are still requiring agents to work in their offices on a daily basis. Undertaken by the University of Strathclyde, the research suggests only a third of contact centres now have social distancing measures in place, and half are still working face-to-face. When you consider that the majority (two thirds) of contact centre employees have asked to work from home and yet just four per cent of those requests have been granted, it seems likely that this is an industry not only taking a lackadaisical towards the pandemic, but one that is similarly uninterested in the wellbeing of its employees.

The dangers are real. More than 2,000 contact centre workers have answered the survey so far, reporting insufficient social distancing, multi-occupation workstations, poor sanitisation, and re-used headsets. On top of these poor practices, large on premise contact centres are potentially spreading germs through heating and ventilation systems in multiple open-plan offices. For an industry that employs around four per cent of the UK’s working population, these statistics paint a stark picture.

The time to innovate is now

It should be blatantly obvious that the contact centre of yesterday is not suitable for operation amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. However, looking beyond the pandemic, it is also suppressing the necessary evolution of the contact centre from a reactive centre of cost reduction, to a more proactive, value-driven engagement hub. Lifting these restrictions will provide the catalyst for the same digital acceleration we are now seeing across industries, while also empowering employees with the latest technologies, remote working capabilities, greater responsibilities, and more rewarding careers.

The contact centre industry employs more than a million UK workers, and this typically conservative, on-premise industry has faced a mammoth task of pivoting operations to react quickly and flexibly to the largely unforeseen pandemic. With cloud-based contact centre technologies leading the charge, organisations that have acted quickly to deploy remote working capabilities are now demonstrating to the industry as a whole how they can provide an excellent engagement experience for their customers, even under extremely strained circumstances.

Those organisations that have acted fast to move to a cloud-based technology platform are now breaking away from the pack. These are the architects of a revitalised industry, modernising in a post-pandemic world and rethinking how home agents can work in a liberated yet secure and supervised way – even in sensitive situations such as PCI-DSS-compliant card payments.

Beyond the pandemic

The influx of email notifications from service providers in all industries detailing a drop in contact centre service levels shows that many organisations still have some way to go. However, almost all will be taking action now and this will prove vital in the months and years ahead.

While the ‘new normal’, in which all businesses must operate, is certainly very different to the previous business landscape, the key issues and challenges facing the contact centre are the same. For those comfortably operating in the cloud and supporting secure remote working capabilities, the traditional challenges of reducing agent churn, managing learning and development and ensuring employee wellbeing will be far easier to overcome. COVID-19 has led many contact centre operators into an enforced proof of concept that will deliver them significant operational benefits in the long term. Those that were once scared or unsure about how to make the leap are quickly realising the benefits of a modern, cloud-based contact centre, remote workforce and a more environmentally-friendly industry.

Broken barriers

The pandemic has broken down barriers to innovation that blocked progress in the contact centre industry for decades. Agents across the country are comfortably performing their jobs in the same secure, compliant way as they would have in a physical office. Where there may have been a lack of trust around home working, the capabilities of cloud contact centre technology, such as real-time screen reporting and Quality Management for supervisors, have enabled contact centre managers to maintain complete visibility over their remote agents’ wellbeing and workload. Never has the call to innovate in the contact centre been more clearly heard than now.

This pandemic will change many things. For the contact centre, it will fundamentally alter the landscape forever – and for the better – marking the start of a more caring, efficient, agile and environmentally-responsible industry.

Discover a CCaaS solution built for The New Normal.

Five reasons contact centres are moving to the cloud right now (or should if they aren’t already)

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By Martin Taylor, Deputy CEO at Content Guru

We are on the precipice of another great cloud migration. It’s something we’ve seen with data storage, software and consumer services and over the next few years, we will witness the same journey in the contact centre industry – from the on-premises contact centre of old, to completely cloud-based, omnichannel contact-centre-as-a-service (CCaaS) infrastructure. It’s a move that is long overdue, which has become all too clear in the chaos created by the COVID-19 pandemic, as businesses worldwide scrabble to implement safe and efficient remote-working solutions for their agents.

The contact centre in particular has historically been seen as a place where organisations can save money. This has led to narrow performance metrics and a general desire to reduce headcount. However, with the colossal shift across industries to a focus on customer experience as the key business differentiator, it is time for businesses to realise that a cloud contact centre model is now the only one that makes sense.

Here are my five reasons why, if they haven’t done so already, it is high time for organisations in the contact centre industry – as one of the largest employers in the UK – to make the move to the cloud.

1. Employee health and wellbeing is more important than ever

Among the UK government’s latest guidance on lockdown regulations was the update that those who cannot work from home are now encouraged to return to work if possible. What does this mean for the contact centre industry?

Even throughout the strictest lockdown period, many non-essential contact centres still had employees working in their offices on a daily basis. Research since the outbreak began, undertaken by the University of Strathclyde and conducted among 2,750 UK contact centre workers, suggests only a third of contact centres now have social distancing measures in place. More worrying still, a further three-quarters said that social distancing when moving around the building was either ‘hazardous’ or ‘very hazardous’, and half are still working face-to-face.

The dangers of continuing to allow call agents to work onsite in potentially unsafe premises are evident. Now is the time for contact centres to implement a homeworking strategy that will help to protect the health and wellbeing of their employees. Cloud-based CCaaS technology can enable organisations to quickly deploy remote working capabilities. Organisations who have already made that move are demonstrating to the industry as a whole how they can continue to provide an excellent engagement experience for their customers under extremely strained circumstances, all while keeping employees safe.

2. The workplace is evolving for a modern-day workforce

Even before COVID-19, there was a widespread shifting focus to home working across all industries, which has only been accelerated by the current situation. According to research from the Office of National Statistics published prior to the pandemic, 50 per cent of UK employees were already set to work remotely in 2020. Remote working is a subject bound to divide opinion across small to large organisations in every sector, but nowhere more potently than in the contact centre industry. These concerns are perfectly understandable – the contact centre has always been a very physical workplace, with call agents hooked up to a legacy phone system, answering calls on multiple lines, in-sight of employers. Right now, permitting home working may simply be a case of survival as a business. However, in future, businesses will have a strong case to answer if they do not offer home working in some form.

Cloud-based CCaaS is browser-based so agents can access the system wherever they are, whenever they want. The ability to home work gives employees more flexibility and control over their working hours, making it easier to fit their career around busy schedules in a way that benefits both themselves and the organisation. Their working schedule can coincide more easily around family and home life, as they have the opportunity to log in while the children are at school, for example. This not only delivers something for the reward strategy of a contact centre, but increased satisfaction and happiness for the employee in a more flexible workplace landscape.

3. Omnichannel should now be seamless

In common with many other areas of today’s data-driven economy, solutions provided by cloud-based service providers are disrupting the way technology is applied in customer service environments. Businesses are making a strategic move away from traditional on-premise infrastructure and software platforms in favour of versatile ‘as-a-service’ options which broaden the functionality available while reducing the need for big ticket capex investment. Providers who can offer a holistic omnichannel solution are often better placed to meet the strategic and operational needs of customer service teams. Communications now need to be kept consistent across multiple channels, working together with no disparity, to provide a seamless customer experience. This is easily achieved using cloud-based CCaaS with a one-window view where communications are collated in one space, making it easier to navigate across multiple channels.

4. The need to scale-up and scale-out on demand is clear

Even for contact centres that are used to dealing with high volumes, handling spikes in demand can prove extremely difficult using traditional legacy infrastructure. As we have seen in the current pandemic, those working with cloud-based CCaaS across an omnichannel environment are ideally placed to deal with high levels of enquiries and can ensure strong service levels even when demand jumps. For example, screen-pops bring customer data and information on past interactions directly to agents, reducing customer frustration, as callers don’t have to repeat information they have already provided. Intelligent automation can be used to route enquiries to the most appropriate available agent or chatbot, who are also equipped with the right information to engage with the contact. This ensures that customer service is consistently best-in-class, even for contact centres with thousands of seats.

5. Long term cost savings are achievable

Traditionally, the contact centre has been viewed as an area of business in which to save on costs and resources. However, as a result of this oversight, staff turnover continues to be one of the greatest costs to the contact centre industry, which ‘enjoys’ a relatively low employee satisfaction rate and high churn. This is costly and time consuming for contact centre leads and their management teams, so finding ways of reversing this ratio is imperative. Employers should be researching and investing in technology that will make agents’ jobs more streamlined and more rewarding. Making a short-term investment in a CCaaS platform can massively reduce wider costs in the long term.

For example, the introduction and implementation of AI into the contact centre can have a massive impact on the day-to-day agent experience. Many simple enquiries won’t even reach a human agent thanks to AI-driven self-service, therefore automating tedious and mundane tasks, as well as reducing wait times and speed to resolution for customers. Augmenting agents’ ability with AI while reducing channel complexity with effective omni-channel capabilities will have a significant impact on churn if approached with the goal of empowering agents to better manage service enquiries.

A final word

In the midst of the confusion and upheaval caused by COVID-19, it is understandable that businesses may be hesitant about investing in new technology. However, it is clear to see that moving to the cloud is one step in a company’s digital transformation that makes perfect logical sense right now. For businesses operating in the contact centre space, it may turn out to be the make or break in maintaining relationships with their customers during these challenging times. Migrating to the cloud will help to meet the ever-changing demands of the modern business – and societal – landscape now, and into the future.

Find how to move your contact centre to the cloud, click here.

From Hype To Reality: AI in The Contact Centre

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By Content Guru

It’s no secret that the global pandemic, and subsequent lockdown measures, have forced many companies to compete solely on the basis of the remote customer experiences they deliver. Those companies that keep their customers close, by investing in technology that makes customer engagement their competitive advantage, will be those that survive, and even thrive, during lockdown and beyond.

Martin Taylor, Deputy CEO at Content Guru, explores how AI applications like Natural Language Processing and image recognition are revolutionising the delivery of customer service, and helping organisations to drive customer loyalty.

AI in action

Artificial Intelligence (AI) isn’t a new concept, but conversation around AI is more mature than its actual application. However, key advances in recent years have opened the door for AI to become mainstream, and as a consequence, we are at the tipping point. AI is going to become commonplace, particularly within the contact centre industry.

Advances in big data, machine learning and cloud communications have made AI systems an affordable reality for many organisations around the globe. For these early adopters, making the shift towards AI-based support services across multiple channels means they are now storming ahead with improving Customer Engagement and Experience. Plus, they are reaping the rewards of enhanced productivity through the automation of routine interactions that enable their human agents to focus on more pressing tasks.

These companies have the right idea: businesses scoring in the top quartile of CSAT scores experience 87% less churn from employees and are 44% more profitable.

With future enhancements in AI and machine learning technologies set to boost adoption by mainstream industries, the pressure is on to stay ahead of the curve and deploy this technology to optimise contact centre operations.

Omni-channel consumers expect instant responses

Today’s digitally-connected, always-on consumers expect 24/7 customer service and accurate answers to their queries. AI can play a big role in optimising response times across channels in two ways: utilising personality and behavioural analysis to quickly route callers to the right human agent; and directly responding to commonly asked questions.

Companies of all kinds are now using artificially intelligent chatbots to answer queries, undertake customer authentication, recognise images, or identify whether a caller is happy, annoyed or frustrated. Supplementing trained human agents, these chatbots help out with routine queries and ‘how to’ calls; are on hand to cope with unexpected surges in demand; and provide updates on delivery or service delays.

With Gartner predicting that by 2020 up to 80% of customer service interactions will be handled by AI, organisations that want to stay competitive and relevant will need to future-proof their communications estate fast – or risk being left behind.

Keeping it human

By bringing AI into the contact centre, companies can initiate omni-channel interactions and generate an improved customer experience alongside operational efficiencies. But does taking advantage of new technologies mean organisations risk de-humanising their contact centres?

Rather than replacing agents with automated systems, organisations should instead look to supplement contact centre employees with AI tools that empower them to perform better in their roles. For example, Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology can parse meaning from spoken language and provide on-screen prompts to help agents deliver a faster, more accurate and personalised experience for customers.

Complementing human interactions, NLP ‘listens’ in the background and enhances an agent’s performance by delivering up the data they need to engage in better conversations. At the end of each call, NLP technology automatically provides a wrap summary, which both reduces the reporting burden on agents and enables them to move quickly onto the next call.

So, while AI has a role to play in improving contact centre productivity by automating routine repeated interactions, enabling self-service channels, and optimising response times, it doesn’t take the place of human agents. Complex scenarios or frustrated customers need to be handled by trained representatives of an organisation.

Exploring the possibilities

Using AI to augment human interactions and elevate the customer experience is just part of the story. Organisations are also using tools like NLP to boost the job satisfaction and engagement of their contact centre employees.

High agent churn and absenteeism rates are the bane of call centres everywhere, and replacing talent is expensive. According to the CIPD, the average cost impact of call centre staff turnover is over £6K, rising to £9K for senior positions.

Research shows that the number one source of agent dissatisfaction is workload. Content Guru has successfully used NLP to enable one of our public sector customers to address its 60% contact centre churn. Using intelligent automation to eliminate drudgery for employees, it’s also augmented the ability of teams to seamlessly handle calls. Plus, the use of AI and machine learning now captures and delivers the data insights that reduce employee effort, leading to a reduction in training costs.

Clearly, having AI and human intelligence working hand-in-hand is a win-win scenario.

Improving the customer journey – and keeping people in work

Helping consumers to find a customer service assistant, delivering fast answers to simple questions, and providing personalised product recommendations, are just some of the ways AI is revolutionising how brands engage and serve customers.

But contact centre employees benefit from AI just as much as customers do. Eliminating mind-numbing repetitive tasks means agents are able to focus on more fulfilling and critical work that requires their unique human capacity to be creative and caring. Rather than eliminating jobs, AI is leading to an evolution of roles that will see agents working alongside and training their bots so that customers always get the most helpful and up-to-date responses.

Discover AI for your contact centre here: https://bit.ly/2BMlblR

It’s time to stop talking about AI in the contact centre

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The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way that consumers engage with brands. Lockdown has birthed a new era of digital communication, in which customers expect to interact with companies over the channel of their choice, and receive the same unrivalled service that they do from leading online giants.

How can organisations ensure that they deliver exceptional customer engagement, at a time in which many contact centres are under-resourced, and overwhelmed by new spikes in demand?

Artificial Intelligence can solve this issue. The implementation of automation and intelligent machine learning in the contact centre liberates agents to handle priority contacts, build outstanding customer relationships, and forge customer loyalty in today’s uncertain business environment.

Martin Taylor, Deputy CEO at Content Guru, explains how the contact centre industry is leading the charge in practical AI application…

Old Conversation

AI has started to feel like an old conversation. But the reality is that it’s only just off the starting blocks in many industries. In the last year, contact centres and organisations focused on customer engagement have moved beyond the AI hype into practical implementation. As such, businesses that want to stop talking and start doing should be looking to those organisations as a leading example.

There are tangible examples of AI applications already in full swing in the contact centre industry, ranging from Natural Language Processing (NLP) to image recognition. Research from industry-leading analyst Gartner suggests that in 2020, 80% of customer service interactions will be handled by AI. This is hardly surprising, as around a quarter of customer interactions are already handled through an automated chatbot, and the industry is constantly expanding the very definition of what AI is and what it can do.

The driving force behind the AI revolution is customer experience. As it becomes the key business differentiator, organisations that stay ahead of the curve are seeing happy, loyal and engaged customers and higher profits, by turning AI hype into tangible business success. Moving beyond the hype and towards result-driven applications of AI will be critical to the success of any company wanting to survive in this competitive landscape.

Why the contact centre is embracing the dual interface

AI coupled with real-life human intelligence creates an augmented dual interface that is delivering a competitive advantage to companies wanting to offer a frictionless customer journey. An omni-channel contact centre that deploys AI working hand-in-hand with human agents is becoming critical for any organisation that doesn’t want to be in the bottom quartile for customer satisfaction (CSAT).

Companies in the top quartile experience an impressive 87% less churn from their employees, and are 44% more profitable. Research has shown that the number one reason for agent dissatisfaction is workload. Contact centres are eliminating the mundane tasks for their human agents through intelligent automation, and are supporting the agent’s ability to seamlessly handle calls with AI. This improves job satisfaction, thereby reducing the rate of attrition.

Evolving the role of human agents means less money is spent on training. In the past, data scientists — who possess one of the most sought-after skill-sets — would be required to process, analyse and derive insights from customer data. Now, AI-solutions are programmed to do this automatically, reducing organisations’ dependency on scarce and pricey skill-sets.

Augmented intelligence: working smarter, not harder

Not only is the contact centre industry demystifying practical uses for AI, it is also debunking the rumours about AI replacing humans. Contrary to popular belief, and as the hype may suggest, AI will not cost businesses their human face. Organisations can still leverage automation while maintaining the human touch, by providing intelligently augmented interactions.

This type of intelligent assistance helps employees work more efficiently and deliver better results. The fact is that no new technology in human history has ever created long-term, mass unemployment. There will be a period of adjustment and a need for a different skill-set. But overall, these developments will open up new opportunities for establishing long-term career prospects in contact centres.

NLP is going mainstream

NLP is a form of AI that analyses natural dialogue to draw contextual meaning and understand language the way humans do. NLP registers, deciphers, understands, and makes sense of spoken language, and turns it into actionable data. This technology is a great example of both a tangible and current use of AI to achieve business success, as well as a strong argument against the idea that AI is replacing humans in the workplace.

Having information on the nature of an incoming customer call readily available means that human agents do not have to sift through huge volumes of data to answer the query. This enables them to provide a much faster and more personalised experience to the customer. NLP can also be used to help Machine Agents to parse meaning from spoken language, enabling them to provide more accurate responses.

When a customer reaches a contact centre agent, NLP can work in the background and prompt the agent with automated information on-screen to assist them in resolving the query. Increased automation means companies will need to spend less money on training costs. NLP automatically provides a wrap summary of the conversation on completion of the call so the agent does not have to spend time at the end of the interaction completing this task. This reduces the administrative burden and frees up agents to answer more calls.

Many early adopters of this type of AI are organisations in the public sector. A combination of a tight budget and hefty workloads makes public sector organisations prepared to invest first, but many other industries are now seeing the value in NLP and rolling out the technology en masse.

What’s stopping you from stepping into the future?

In the past, one of the biggest roadblocks of AI deployment was the limited resources available. But today, with hyperscale cloud platforms and vast computing power, the scalability of AI solutions has become much more attainable. We have moved from scarcity, caused by high cost technology, to the abundance of cheap processors.

The combination of extra computing power and new AI-driven processes have really come together in the last few years. This means that organisations can easily and cost-effectively draw on extra computing resources to scale their contact centre capacity accordingly.

This new approach to the contact centre presents businesses across every industry with a scalable opportunity to future-proof their communications estate and keep up with customer expectations of a flawless, omni-channel customer experience. Using the latest cutting-edge tools to complement a company’s existing offering should become second nature to any forward-thinking business. These are exciting times for AI, and, as we move into 2020, it is time to stop talking about AI, and start doing.

Click here to discover AI for your contact centre.

How hyper personalisation can unlock the seamless customer experience

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Companies failing to provide a hyper personalised experience for their customers will quickly find themselves losing business, argues Matthew Chadd, Senior Project Director at Content Guru.

More than two thirds of companies now compete on the basis of customer experience. Customer service is the competitive differentiator, and it is essential now more than ever to maintain brand loyalty and meet business goals. Companies can face losing customers if they don’t keep up with the ever-increasing standard of service expected of them.

Delivering superior service is particularly challenging during spikes in the volume of customer contact. Human agents on their own cannot manage these peaks, let alone deliver a consistent and personalised customer experience. Long call queues and fragmented customer engagement lead to disappointed customers, reputational damage and ultimately financial losses. 

Why does hyper personalisation matter? 

Hyper personalisationis a way for companies to provide a bespoke customer service by using real-time behavioural data from multiple channels to react to consumer decisions and tailor the experience appropriately.

Although many businesses hold a wealth of data, they often lack the tools to use it to provide a tailored customer experience. Artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligent automation technologies can revolutionise the way businesses use data to deliver hyper personalisation across all interfaces and channels.

An example of this is where utility companies use a phone number to identify which customer is contacting them and the location of their property. If there is an outage in their area, they are directed to an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) recording which provides them with instant access to information about the situation. The customer’s enquiry is answered automatically, leaving human agents to focus on dealing with more complex customer queries.

Hyper personalisation requires deep integration

To deliver the best results, AI-driven hyper personalisation requires integrated front-end and back-end IT systems. Businesses often hold customer data across multiple channels and systems. If these systems remain disparate, organisations end up with data siloes and miss out on invaluable insights which can improve customer service. Deep integration means that data can be processed and leveraged to personalise the customer experience throughout every interaction. 

For example, a life insurance company holding records of past customer interactions in its back-end systems will see that a customer calling in might have recently lost a family member. This information will be fed into the front-end with prompts during a customer call. A human agent handling the query will be encouraged to express condolences and demonstrate empathy to help build a relationship.

A blended approach to contact centre transformation

While technology is the driving force behind hyper personalisation, the role of human agents cannot be overlooked. The success of a hyper personalisation strategy relies on a blended approach that maximises the potential of both IT and the human touch.  For instance, sentiment analysis can detect if a person is getting agitated or angry with the machine agent and route the call to a human agent that has specialised skills to deal with calls of that nature. 

AI-driven hyper personalisation enables companies to meet customer demand for a seamless, consistent experience. In order to achieve this successfully, the technology must be deeply integrated into an organisation’s existing data, and function as an extension of the human agent. A blended approach to hyper personalisation is a key ingredient for enhanced customer service. Failing to achieve a personalised experience can cost a business its edge – don’t get left behind. 

Content Guru inks cloud services deal with UK government

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Content Guru has been accepted as a ‘Cloud Software’ supplier to the UK Government as part of the G-Cloud 11 framework.

G-Cloud is an initiative to provide a system for departments and public sector bodies to procure cutting-edge cloud computing solutions.

As a supplier, Content Guru’s storm contact centre platform, its modules and solutions are available on the Digital Marketplace.

Content Guru secured its place on the G-Cloud 11 agreement by meeting a range of inclusion criteria. This included proof of suitability for use in government projects, and the provision of a full list of capabilities and pricing to gain a place in the agreement.

Content Guru has been providing G-Cloud related services since the inception of G-Cloud in 2012, and already has a strong presence in local and central government, the NHS, and the wider public sector worldwide.

Martin Taylor, Deputy CEO and Head of Public Sector at Content Guru, said: “Content Guru has over a decade of experience of providing cloud communications solutions to all levels of government, and is trusted by hundreds of organisations across the globe to deliver the best Customer Engagement and Experience. Through G-Cloud 11, storm’s virtually limitless scalability, unmatched integration and industry leading AI is available for the departments and public sector bodies of the UK Government to support the crucial services that they deliver to more than 66 million people throughout the British Isles.”

Image by Sarah Larkin from Pixabay

Befriending The Robot: How To Build Meaningful Relationships Using AI

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It goes without saying that implementing automation in the contact centre improves customer service efficiency, but how does it affect the quality of your company’s customer relationships?

The depersonalising experience of being funnelled down an automated IVR can leave customers feeling undervalued, especially if they have to repeat information given in the queue when their call is finally connected to an agent.

Eliminating Frustration

By implementing AI within your contact centre, the often frustrating routing process can be transformed into a streamlined system that enhances the level of personalisation that your customers receive.

With Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities integrated into your IVR, customers’ answers to automated questions within the queue can be transcribed using speech-to-text functionality, recorded, and presented to agents before the call is taken. This enables a smoother process, through reducing repetition, and allowing agents to focus on providing exceptional customer service, without having to spend time looking up customer data.

Immediate Satisfaction

We live in a digital world, where information is instantly and readily available online, with most everyday problems being solved with a quick internet search. So, when it comes to answering simple enquiries, it pays to be able to provide a service that can give your customers immediate satisfaction.

Chatbots, NLP and Image Recognition technologies can all be employed to automate requests for information, resolving non-complex issues without the need for an agent, and satisfying customer queries as soon as they are received.

Building Relationships

Automatically resolving simple enquiries through AI frees up your agents to provide a more supported and specialised service to those who need it most. Whether it be priority customers, vulnerable callers or those with more difficult or complex queries, employing AI gives your agents the time to craft meaningful, human relationships that lead to loyalty.

Empowering agents by providing them with more time to focus on the quality of each interaction, and to develop their soft skills, helps to transform complaint-resolution scenarios into positive, relationship-building experiences.

Content Guru’s cutting-edge AI package, brain®, offers NLP, Chatbot and Image Recognition capabilities to help revolutionize your contact centre, and build meaningful customer relationships with every interaction.

Find out more about how Content Guru’s AI offering can enhance your customer experience here: https://bit.ly/2HpT4eF

Find out more about Content Guru here: https://www.contentguru.com/

The Virtual Agent: Finding the balance between man and machine

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It’s no secret that AI technologies are taking the customer service and contact centre industry by storm. After all, the idea of replacing expensive staff with comprehensive automation can represent an all-too-tempting opportunity for contact centre cost-cutting.

Suddenly, a future where customers interact solely with emotionless corporate robots, with no option for compassionate human conversation, doesn’t seem quite so distant as it once did.

However, your human agents are the key to maintaining successful customer relationships, and driving a brand loyalty fuelled by genuine human interaction. It is in enhancing your agents’ ability to form these relationships that AI truly reaches its full potential.

Agents and Automation

By implementing intelligent automation in your contact centre, routine enquiries, repeat calls, and requests for information will be resolved must faster, often without the need for human interaction. This frees up live agents to tackle more complex questions, and serve priority customers.

By shielding live agents from repetitive, low satisfaction tasks and allowing them to use their unique skills and specialist knowledge, their job satisfaction is drastically increased, leading to reduced agent attrition.

Introducing brain® Virtual Agent

Content Guru’s latest AI development, brain Virtual Agent, is a cutting-edge AI toolset, offering Natural Language Processing (NLP), Image Recognition (IR), and Chatbot capabilities.

brain’s NLP technology facilitates speech recognition, allowing simple spoken queries to be automatically resolved, liberating your agents to tackle more complicated issues. Through speech-to-text transcriptions, brain can securely store customer interactions for compliance or data analysis purposes. Agents can access these using a simple keyword search, enabling future customer interactions to be more personalised and streamlined.

brain integrates seamlessly with world-leading IR technology. Through image filtering, brain can automate everyday, image-based queries, order images by importance, and flag up those that require specialist agent attention. Images can also be screened, so that your agents are not exposed to inappropriate content unnecessarily.

By understanding human language and simulating conversation, brain-powered chatbots can be used to provide accurate, live information to customers when prompted.

Find out more about how Content Guru’s AI offering can enhance your agent performance here: https://bit.ly/2HpT4eF

 Find out more about Content Guru here: https://www.contentguru.com/

New Content Guru and Teleopti partnership to optimise customer engagement…

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The communications integration provider, Content Guru and the workforce management solutions company, Teleopti, have announced their ‘best-in-class’ partnership by combining both services to improve customer engagement strategies in contact centres.

A custom-built integration connects Teleopti’s WFM client with the dynamic agent environment within Content Guru’s award-winning storm® CONTACT™ solution, enabling contact centre and workforce managers to continually evaluate and adapt their resourcing and customer engagement strategies.

Chief commercial officer at Content Guru, John Rees, said: “Workforce management (WFM) is an increasingly important element of the customer engagement hub, and plays a vital role in driving staff efficiencies in combination with more traditional contact centre functions. We’re delighted to partner with Teleopti to deliver best-in-class capabilities across both front-end routing and back-end staff distribution, using a cloud model to open up the benefits of converged WFM and contact centre capabilities to any size of organisation.”

The partnership has already welcomed a number of key clients in the UK and is reportedly looking to expand to global markets.