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Self-service

Consumers want more self-service options

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81 percent of consumers say they want more self-service options yet only 15 percent of consumers expressed a high level of satisfaction with the tools provided to them today whereas businesses believe 53 percent of consumers are very satisfied with their self-service.

That’s according to the NICE 2022 Digital-First Customer Experience Report, which highlights significant gaps between company and consumer perceptions of current digital- and self-service channels.

This despite 95 percent of companies reporting a major increase in self-service requests in 2021, indicating a rapid growth in consumer demand for greater speed and convenience.

The 2022 Digital-First Customer Experience Report was designed to compare the perspectives of businesses and consumers regarding self-service and digital channels, drawing on responses from 1320 respondents in the United States and the United Kingdom.

NICE noted that consumer expectations are increasing as digital and self-service channels proliferate and evolve, which has led to companies searching for insights into customer experience and brand loyalty. The NICE report is intended to meet that need, revealing potential blind spots among service providers and helping them improve their digital and self-service options. For example, although 36 percent of consumers say they would like to see companies make their self-service smarter, less than 11 percent of businesses are making that a priority.

More generally, the NICE report indicates that 95 percent of consumers place great importance on customer service which impacts brand loyalty. Online self-service and easy access to their preferred channels are two of the top customer service factors in their decision regarding brand loyalty. The majority of consumers (57%) surveyed said they would abandon a brand after one or two negative digital customer service interactions, yet most businesses tend to underestimate how quickly that could happen. Nonetheless, the survey does show that companies recognize the importance of current digital channels to consumers and are attempting to improve their availability. In 2022, the top digital channels companies are planning to expand significantly are chat (47%), website access (44%), and search options (42%).

Paul Jarman, NICE CXone CEO, said, “Avoiding friction is the key factor today in shaping opinions and differentiating between brands consumers love and those they feel are not worth their time. We undertook the 2022 Digital-First Customer Experience Report in order to provide companies with the consumer’s viewpoint and to help them set priorities that drive frictionless experiences. While focusing on digital-first interactions, our report underscores the importance of both agent-assisted and self-service channels, with businesses primarily wanting the ability to choose whichever option they prefer at any given time. This confirms the need for CXi–Customer Experience Interactions–a new approach that focuses on the end-to-end digital customer journey, requiring a complete customer experience platform that only NICE CXone offers.”

You can download a copy of the report is available here.

Customer self-service is the secret to surviving this year’s holiday shopping season

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By Smart Tribune

E-commerce retailers must offer exceptional customer service experiences to succeed in what’s likely to be the biggest online holiday shopping season ever.

There is no question that 2020 has been a year of unexpected twists and turns. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has turned everything we know about typical consumer habits on its head. But it has also proven just how powerful the e-commerce ecosystem is for keeping the economy humming in spite of all the headwinds that businesses have faced this year.

As we head into the holidays, with fears mounting around COVID-19’s anticipated “second wave,” it’s clear that the upcoming shopping season will be quite different from any in recent memory. In fact, Deloitte anticipates e-commerce holiday retail to grow between 25% to 35% from November 2020 through January 2021. This means one thing: online retailers must be prepared to anticipate a sharp increase in demand. Customer self-service is the best way to ensure that no shopping cart gets abandoned this holiday season.

For both online and brick-and-mortar retailers, the holiday shopping season is one of the most important times of the year. The ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, for better or worse, has added even more pressure for retailers to succeed this year—especially knowing that brick-and-mortar retail sales this year, in the U.S. alone, are predicted to drop by 14%.

This has raised the stakes significantly for online retail to make up for these losses and has changed how both retailers and consumers are approaching the upcoming holiday shopping season. Based on the latest trends data from the National Retail Federation, 74% of retailers believe that consumers will spread out their holiday shopping across several months, making this a longer shopping season than we’ve seen in years past. A study conducted by Radial suggests that 39% of shoppers will begin their holiday shopping as early as October while only 30% will wait until the more traditional Black Friday-Cyber Monday shopping weekend… Continue reading

GUEST BLOG: Elevating the role of self-service – 8 Top Tips

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Self-service has a greater role to play than simply reducing the number of voice calls into contact centres.   Mashud Ahmed of Puzzel explains more…

The role of self-service is in a state of transformation as contact centre leaders look for smarter ways to meet customer demand and corporate business requirements. Research by ContactBabel indicates that 80% of organisations offer some form of self-service with web self-service and telephony self-service or voice IVR being the most widely adopted across contact centres of all sizes.[i]  When it comes to other forms of self-service adoption, by far the most prevalent are FAQs (83%) followed by self-help customer videos at 23% and virtual agents at nearly 10%.[ii]

Self-service is growing but it has a far greater role to play than simply reducing the number of calls coming into the contact centre.   Puzzel’s latest white paper outlines the options and explains how to create an effective self-service strategy supported by the latest cloud-based contact centre technology.

8 Top Tips for Self-Service

An important rule to remember is that self-service shouldn’t be left to chance.  A successful self-service implementation comes down to a clear, carefully thought-out process that puts the customer at the heart of everything.  Puzzel’s white paper offers 8 top tips to maximise self-service in contact centres including:

Have a clear goal

Start by questioning your organisation’s true motives for deploying self-service?  Whatever the reason, make sure the customer is the key motivator.  Give customers what they really want and consider rewarding them for using self-service.

Focus on existing self-service assets

Find out what works and what does not work by focusing on your existing self-service assets while looking for opportunities to improve their value.

Make the experience more engaging

Customer intimacy is the name of the game.  Why not use tools such as speech recognition to bring a human element to voice IVR?  Customers can ‘speak’ with the added bonus of round-the-clock self-service availability for example to look up their bank balance, pay their utility bills, purchase theatre tickets or book flights.

Look beyond IVR

Today’s self-service options are varied and appeal to different senses from automated speech recognition, web self-service including search text and FAQs, bots, virtual agents to the latest Smartphone apps and Visual IVR.

Zero out the “zeroed out to an agent” statistics

It is estimated that typically 17%[iii] of all calls that go into a self-service option are “zeroed-out” when the customer decides they would actually prefer to speak with a live agent. Remember to listen to what customers want and avoid complex IVR functionality.

Consider Visual IVR

Smartphones make it possible to offer visual representations of IVR menus.  Visual IVR can be used to send video presentations such as relevant ‘how to’ YouTube clips, while waiting for an agent.

Bridging the gap with bots

Bots offer a powerful way to build a bridge between the digital and human world.  They are a powerful addition to an organisation’s self-service portfolio.  The secret is to choose the right bot for your contact centre.

Take a closer look at virtual agents

Virtual agents often appear as an embedded widget on support pages, sometimes fronted with an avatar, inviting customers to engage via text in the hunt for answers.  Whether you decide to use bots or virtual agents, be sure to make them an intrinsic part of your self-service offering to deliver far greater levels of personalisation.

Good self-service should be customer-focused and become a part of the customer journey.  Take on board these 8 simple strategies to get it right and you’ll be rewarded with customer loyalty, healthy profits and a distinct competitive advantage.

To download Puzzel’s latest white paper entitled “8 Top Tips to Make Self-Service a Success”, visit www.puzzel.com

[i] The UK Contact Centre Decision-Marker’s Guide 2017-2018
[ii] Call Centre Helper – What Contact Centres are Doing Right Now (2017 edition)
[iii] The UK Contact Centre Decision-Maker’s Guide 2017-2018

GRS predicts five ‘rapid’ trends for call centres in 2017…

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Global Remote Services (GRS) has come up with five trends set to transform the call centre industry next year with the assistance of industry analyst Peter Ryan.

Acknowledging that Brexit and continued digitalisation will potentially bring many new opportunities to the sector, both parties claim:

  1. Self-serve will grow with chatbots, apps and mobile: By 2020, Gartner predicts customers will manage 85 per cent of the relationship without any human interaction. The rise of mobile, apps and chatbots will revolutionise how organisations communicate with customers. Companies need to be clever to capture customers browsing the web on their mobile phones.
  2. Data security will become a top priority: Contact centres and outsourcers will have a strong focus on preventing security breaches and data theft and ensuring safe and easy to use payment options.
  3. Location and languages spoken will become less important: Where your outsourcer or contact centre is based will become less important as a new business model around automation changes established concepts of nearshoring and offshoring.
  4. CEE Region will provide huge opportunity for UK companies: Post-Brexit is providing additional opportunities for outsourcing to Central and Eastern Europe as UK companies look for additional skills. T.Kearney Global Services Index 2016 found Romania and Poland increasing as top outsourcing destinations based on financial attractiveness, people skills and availability and business environment.
  5. Digital will take over from traditional voice: Millennials prefer digital interaction. Call centres will need to leverage more channels such as email, livechat and social media to service broader customer bases. According to the 2016 Global Contact Centre report, contact centres expect to be managing nine different channels within the next 12 months.

For more information about GRS, click here

[24]7 and Amdocs partnership introduces ‘powerful’ self-service support…

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A ‘strategic’ partnership formed by the global customer engagement solutions provider, [24]7 and the customer experience software provider, Amdocs, promises to deliver ‘intelligent, personalised customer support’ across all service channels including email, voice, chat  and web; meanwhile reducing the time and costs associated with setting up consumer self-service.

The combination of both offerings claims to grant customers an ‘enhanced’ customer experience with the integration of Amdocs Customer Care, Omnichannel Experience and Digital Care and Commerce solutions, with [24]7’s Virtual Agent technology, and [24]7 Speech. As a result, this allows customers to easily manage billing needs through phone self-service, including account balance, payment inquiries and customer service.

[24]7’s chief marketing officer, Scott Horn, commented: “In the highly competitive telecom industry, the ability to deliver an effortless customer service experience is a key differentiator. Our partnership with Amdocs enables telecommunications companies to offer powerful self-service options to their customers, and if someone needs to transfer to a live agent, they can do so without losing context. This eliminates the need to repeat information, one of the biggest pain points in customer service.”

According to both parties, the offering has already been snapped up by an undisclosed wireless service provider.

To learn more about [24]7’s customer engagement solutions, click here

New TouchCommerce platform enables ‘intelligent automated conversations’…

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The omnichannel customer engagement solutions leader, TouchCommerce, has unveiled TouchAssist, a new product which claims to enable call centres and brands to provide intelligent automated conversations; leading consumers to effectively self-serve across digital channels.

The new system, which combines virtual assistant technology from Nuance Communications and is available in 20 languages, aims to provide brands and consumers with the ability to have text-based, conversational interactions that blend automated and live assistance solutions, connected within a single web or mobile web interface and includes extensive targeting and analytics capabilities. Therefore, when the virtual agent is not certain of what the answer should be, a live agent can step into the conversation to give the right answer.

President and CEO of TouchCommerce, Bernard Louvat, said: “TouchAssist blends our powerful targeting, routing and agent-to-consumer communication technologies with the industry’s leading virtual assistant technology to help brands target, engage and converse with consumers in a more cost-effective way at the time that customers need assistance with their self-service experience.

He continued: “The power of TouchAssist resides in the fact that the agent and robot collaborate, improving knowledge and accuracy over time. This collaboration will pave the way to a future with fully autonomous chat bots and transform the role of chat agents into that of a Virtual Assistant Trainer. The RightTouch platform is the perfect technology environment to make that happen successfully for brands and consumers.”

To try out a demo, click here

Guest Blog, Stuart Dorman: Placing self-service at the heart of your customer journey

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Historically the customer contact sector has treated self-service as a lower cost alternative to the traditional contact centre model. Now, however, with customers looking for a much more seamless engagement experience – across sessions that might start with an app or a virtual assistant, transition into a webchat and then conclude with an email or voice dialogue – it’s no longer possible for organisations to adopt this simplistic attitude to self-service.

Instead the focus needs to be on creating effective, organisation-wide ‘Digital Front Door’ strategies that deliver exactly the right, contextualised balance between self-service, assisted service and the agent-focused contact centre model.

Fortunately, improving the customer experience and reducing the overall cost of customer engagement doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive concepts. Effective voice self-service can lower costs and reduce ROI – while still providing consumers with automation options that can dramatically simplify or improve the customer journey. Similarly, the latest proven voice biometrics technology – using natural voice patterns, not passwords, questions or PINs – can authenticate your customers naturally and effortlessly, and help provide an important service differentiator for your business.

At the same time, service providers can present customers with speech-enabled self-service solutions that are easy to use, reduce overall interaction times, and also allow you to intelligently route interactions to the right person within your organisation. Core speech recognition capability has improved dramatically with the invention of deep neural networks and continued increases in computing power. This has enabled a level of speech recognition accuracy that’s both of high quality and low latency in terms of responsiveness for everyday users.

We’re also now seeing the rise of high quality conversational interfaces; known variously as virtual assistants, voice assistants or chatbots. Facebook, for example, has its ‘M human-assisted’ chatbot service that sits within Messenger and can help in a variety of ways.

The continued rise of AI-enabled chatbots will of course have its issues. However, there’s no doubt that speech-enabled bots will continue to play an increasing role in future customer service journeys. While many organisations are still working out the best ways to deploy speech-enabled solutions or conversational UIs, their customers are already busy experiencing these technologies in other areas of their lives. Google, for example, estimates that its number of voice queries doubled in 2015 over the previous year. Apple reports that it receives over a billion information requests a week via its Siri assistant, while enterprise speech specialist Nuance says it now processes some 14 billion customer speech interactions each year.

As these innovations become more prevalent, there’s going to be continued consumer pressure for the kind of engagement experience offered by the market’s most innovative self-service technologies. This could present a challenge for the contact centre sector particularly, as many organisations simply don’t have the speech, conversation, customer journey and UX skills that are really needed to keep pace with accelerating industry best practice. It’s also probably going to be more difficult to keep up with best practice as customer service innovators extend self-service solutions with more robust natural language understanding, deeper contextual understanding and appropriate AI-enabled reasoning.

With Silicon Valley starting to really push forward with innovations such as Virtual Assistants, Augmented Reality and Conversational Commerce, the one thing that’s certain is that your carefully crafted customer journeys will require constant optimisation.

To find out more about how you can place self-service at the heart of your customer journey, contact me at sdorman@sabio.co.uk or visit www.sabio.co.uk

 

Stuart has over fifteen years’ experience in the customer service industry and is currently focused on helping contact centres to improve sales, productivity, quality and customer service through better use of technology, process optimisation and a focus on people. Stuart is a recognised as an industry thought leader; regularly producing thought provoking White Papers and speaking at industry events.

Guest Blog, George Skaff: Effectively optimising self-service tools for your call centre…

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Delivering a positive customer experience is paramount to any consumer-facing organisation, yet the way in which consumers today interact with brands is very broad and this can create problems for those aiming to increase satisfaction; meanwhile reducing their cost-per-serve ratios. 

When you look at how consumers are contacting brands, it can be over the phone, via the Internet, on an app, by SMS or even via social media. As such, businesses need to be ready to deliver consistent service levels across all channels to provide exceptional customer service, regardless of the channel used. It is even more important now given that we are in a ‘subscriber’ economy, whereby customers are quick to ‘switch’ providers if they don’t feel they are getting the service they want.

Rather than simply employ more customer agents to manage the influx of inbound queries – which comes at a high cost; not to mention the time and resources it takes to fully train operatives – there are smarter methods that strike a balance between offering the best possible experience and reducing overall ‘cost-per-serve’.

Implementing collaborative digital tools, such as live chat or self-service, has tremendous impact for both the consumer and contact centre agent. Shifting support calls to online self-service, and training consumers to self-serve, increases customer satisfaction, builds greater loyalty and reduces support costs.

For example, if a telecom customer is worried about his mobile data usage but can’t easily find the details on the website, rather than have him call in to the contact centre, he can access self-service guides that offer support. A live chat option could also be served, where an agent can guide the consumer (along with others) and avoid the need to add extra burdens to the contact centre.

We have also found that automated solutions, such as routing guides, prevents 15-50 percent of out-of-scope chats intended for other lines of business; cuts handle times and transfer times; and ultimately delivers a superior user experience as they are able to quickly find what they are looking for.

Self-service offers the convenience and control that greatly appeals to consumers who may be looking for assistance at any time of the day. It eliminates having to wait in a queue to be connected or having to explain what they are training to accomplish, which can be huge frustration factors for consumers.

Truly efficient self-service tools should not only be easy to use and navigate, but also intuitive and proactive in providing only the content that the customer wants; and when the customer has a unique situation that requires further assistance, they should be seamlessly transitioned to a knowledgeable live chat agent who can see the customer’s interaction trail – therefore not burdening the customer with having to repeat the question and context.

Online self-service is only convenient, efficient, and empowering when the self-service tools are optimised to effectively answer common questions, no matter how they are asked, and operate in connection with live chat support when needed. This gives customers the kind of support they need; not only benefitting them, but, in addition, delivers greater ROI for brands.

 

George is responsible for all worldwide marketing activities at TouchCommerce. In that role, he oversees all corporate marketing, customer marketing, demand generation, product marketing, public and industry relations. George has over 25 years of progressive experience in the computer industry, and has demonstrated a proven business expertise in marketing and strategic partnerships.

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

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

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

Download the full report here

Guest Blog, Gail Partridge: Making self-service work for your call centre…

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The idea that customers can manage their own customer queries almost sounds like a contradiction. However, self-service has become a growing trend in the call centre industry for some time now, and is set further increase its status as consumers look to adopt convenient customer experience solutions. Gail Partridge, consultant at PeopleTECH, examines how the introduction of self-service in your call centre will benefit the business and, in time, become commonplace across the industry

When used to its full potential, self-service can result in a win-win situation for both the customer and the agent, allowing customers to proactively find solutions to customer queries and granting agents the opportunity to pin-point the queries that will need to be resolved over the phone. But how can a company effectively introduce the forward-thinking approach of self-service?

Remember your customer demographics

When implementing a self-service strategy, it is crucial to always have the target demographic at the forefront of your thinking. While self-service is portrayed as an invaluable option that allows agents to prioritise and manage their workload, for many customers, however, they will always want to directly speak with an agent to resolve an issue.

If this traditional method is ignored, your call centre could potentially lose a majority of customers. Therefore, it is important to make sure that contact details are easily accessible and clearly displayed alongside your self-service content. You can and should encourage self-service where possible and align self-servicing routes/journeys to call drivers is an important part of this.

Keep it simple

Simplicity and clarity are essential tools to the development of any successful self-service channel. All relevant information, such as what personal or transactional detail is required for a customer to self-serve – or where to go if a query cannot be resolved via self-service –  should be presented in a clear and easy manner to understand; managing customer expectations from the outset with the inclusion of the benefits of self-service.

These benefits include the round-the-clock availability, the speed of resolution, the lack of call queuing times and the sheer convenience to the customer. In addition, some interactions are simply not suitable for self-service – often for reasons of sensitivity and the depth of each query – therefore, a company should identify the queries that can be moved to and successfully handled via a self-service channel.

Self-service and omnichannel

A modern customer experience journey should always be about omnichannel, delivering to consumers a contextual experience. With this said, an organisation’s self-service channels should be completely connected and joined-up, allowing customers to effortlessly move between channels, retaining the context of that particular interaction as well as their prior history with the company.

This means they should be able to start an interaction in one channel and move to another without having to start the whole process again, and even use two or more channels simultaneously, allowing a company to meet customer requirements and not appearing to steer customers from the traditional voice channel. Any agent interaction following a self-service transaction should not require the customer to re-tell the story of their query as this can greatly impact on their choice to return.

 

Gail Partridge is a consultant at PeopleTECH, a customer experience management consultancy that advises organisations on how to deliver the right customer experience via people, processes and technology. Gail has previously worked with brands such as Sky, Standard Life and British Airways, advising on all elements of call centre strategy.