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Omnichannel

INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: Infobip global cloud communications platform

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Infobip is a global cloud communications platform that enables businesses to build connected customer experiences across all stages of the customer journey at scale, with easy and contextualized interactions over customers’ preferred channels.

Accessed through a single platform, Infobip’s omnichannel engagement, identity, user authentication, security and contact center solutions help clients and partners overcome the complexity of consumer communications, grow their business and increase loyalty– all in a fast, secure and reliable way.

For more information, visit www.infobip.com.

INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: Infobip global cloud communications

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Infobip is a global cloud communications platform that enables businesses to build connected customer experiences across all stages of the customer journey at scale, with easy and contextualized interactions over customers’ preferred channels.

Accessed through a single platform, Infobip’s omnichannel engagement, identity, user authentication, security and contact center solutions help clients and partners overcome the complexity of consumer communications, grow their business and increase loyalty– all in a fast, secure and reliable way.

www.infobip.com

INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: Altitude Software omnichannel solutions

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Altitude Software is a global provider of omnichannel solutions that unify all customer interactions whilst providing an exceptional customer and agent experience.

Altitude Xperience is a complete omnichannel cloud contact centre service that powers more effective and efficient multimedia communication between your organisation and your customers, and is applicable to all industries who focus on customer excellence, including: Business Process Outsourcers, Insurance, Banking and Financial Services, Healthcare, Logistics, Retail and others.
Altitude solutions have been included within Gartner’s Magic Quadrants for the sector since 2004. Altitude has ten offices across four continents, a network of 100 solid partnerships, and ISO 9001 certification for outstanding international support.
Major customers include DFS, Ventrica, G4S, Teleperformance, Transcom, Sitel, Allianz and BBVA, . Partners of reference include Altice Group, KIVA, Comways, Warpcom and Xseed.

www.altitude.com

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.

4 reasons you need live chat today

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

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

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

Efficiency!

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

Boost sales and reduce costs

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

Cater to the customer

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

Easily integrable 

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

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

CX and contact centres: What will change in 2019?

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By Peter Tetlow, Client Solutions Director at Ventrica

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

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

Brands will start going back to basics

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

Innovating for the CX, not focusing on metrics

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

Messaging is the new way to chat

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

Natural language bots will grow

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

Bot coaching

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

Data management will be central

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

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

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

CX: digital or non-digital?

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

The brand promise will tie in closer with CX

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

Analytics will continue to be important

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

Twelve months to go

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

Digital channel use gaining ground – and it’s not because of AI Chatbots

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Use of digital channels by consumers to contact brands is gaining ground on more traditional methods, with email doubling and chat tripling among US consumers in 2018, according to a new study.

However, the research by NICE inContact also found that use of “automated assistants” or chatbots by consumers for recent service interactions is still limited at only 8 per cent globally.

The second annual NICE inContact Customer Experience (CX) Transformation Benchmark includes consumers from three countries – United States, United Kingdom and Australia – with year-over-year results for US (2018 vs 2017), and new benchmark data for UK and Australia.

Key findings include:

  • Agent-assisted Digital Channels Gain Ground, Chat Reigns for Satisfaction

The CX Transformation Benchmark year-over-year results among US consumers show growth of digital channels for service – use of email doubled and chat tripled. Consumers in all regions are most satisfied with online chat with a live agent, compared to ten other channels evaluated. At 56 percent, more than half of US consumers surveyed are highly satisfied with chat interactions; 47 and 44 percent of UK and Australia consumers, respectively, report being highly satisfied with their most recent chat experience.

  • Consumers Want True Omnichannel Customer Service

Consumers want true omnichannel customer service, and service that’s seamless, convenient and quick. If a conversation needs to move from chat to a phone call, nine out of 10 consumers say they expect a seamless transition when moving from one communication method to another. Chat and phone are each viewed as convenient and quick, requiring a minimal amount of effort.

  • Consumers Reward Companies Who Deliver Exceptional Customers Service

Today’s consumers are vocal about the brands they love, and aren’t afraid to share negative experiences through their network. The study found that, overwhelmingly, customers who have exceptional experiences are more willing to: recommend that company on social media (83 percent), buy more products and services from that company (89 percent), and go out of their way to purchase from that brand (82 percent). But, one-time exceptional service is not enough to cement loyalty as 81 percent of consumers reported that they are very likely to switch to another company if they’ve had a bad customer service experience.

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) Has Room for Improvement, Consumers Skeptical

While businesses continue to experiment with AI applications within customer experience channels, only eight percent of global consumers interviewed had used an AI enabled service channel like chatbots or a home electronic virtual assistant for their most recent customer service interaction. The study found that nine out of 10 consumers prefer to talk to a live agent rather than a chatbot or virtual assistant. And, consumer satisfaction with automated assistants is low, with only 27 percent of users giving a 9 or 10 rating out of 10. AI has yet to mature, and consumers agree. Seventy-nine percent of respondents said chatbots and virtual assistants need to get smarter before they are willing to use them regularly, and 66 percent disagree that chatbots and virtual assistants make it easier to get issues resolved.

“Businesses are no longer just being measured against their direct competitors – they are being measured against every positive customer experience a consumer has ever had,” said Paul Jarman, CEO of NICE inContact. “The global CX Transformation Benchmark Study findings highlight that to deliver exceptional customer experiences that drive growth, businesses must continue their digital transformations to power smart and seamless omnichannel interactions. Despite widespread interest in AI, the research shows that its application is still finding its way in delivering exceptional customer experiences. Investing in an open, native cloud contact center platform can help businesses meet evolving and demanding customer expectations highlighted in the study.”

NICE inContact surveyed more than 2,400 consumers across the globe on their most recent customer service experience across 11 different channels – both agent-assisted and self-service – on over 4,600 total interactions.

To download the full research report, click here.

GUEST BLOG: The foundational pillars of omnichannel success

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By IFS | mplsystems

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Systems of Engagement

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

  • Systems of Operation

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

  • Systems of Record

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

  • Analytics

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s talk about Omnichannel and… UNICORNS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ventrica expands contact centre to meet omnichannel service demands…

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

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

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

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

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

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