Calling #ServiceTrailblazers For Dreamforce 2018!

Dreamforce 2018 is here! And there’s so much to do and see! To get the most out of the week I’ve put together some notes for #ServiceTrailblazers! Reserve your seat and put these sessions on your calendar! They span the world of customer service and are curated for anyone wanting to learn more about customer service and becoming a #ServiceTrailblazer! If you are Tweeting or want to follow what’s happening please join in the fun, share the info so everyone is included! The hashtags/handles are: #DF18 and #ServiceTrailblazers and @ServiceCloud @Dreamforce!

Have colleagues not attending DF? Watch sessions from your desk: http://bit.ly/ServiceKeynoteLive

Want to know how to get the ROI out of Dreamforce? This is an insider’s view on how two of our #ServiceTrailblazer customers (who attended Dreamforce ‘17) made the most of their experience and got the maximum return on their investment! Here’s the link to the on-demand webinar: https://sforce.co/2wzablw You’ll hear how these customers”

  • Plan with their team before Dreamforce
  • Collaborate at Dreamforce
  • And bring the “best of Dreamforce” back to their teams!

The Service Cloud Keynote: Thursday, September 27th! Arrive at 10:30 AM. Starts at 11:00 AM in Moscone North, Hall D – Add this to your agenda builder to make sure it’s on your calendar! sfdc.co/ServiceKeynote
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Why Artificial Intelligence is an Agent’s New Best Friend

Let’s face it. The job of a customer service agent is not an easy job. In a typical contact center, agents are on the phone or communicating through other channels; email, text, web chat, Facebook Messenger, WeChat… When customers reach out to an agent, they need help and are often upset. They may be asking about a lost bag or debit card, a flight that was canceled or a delayed package.

What’s important to remember is customer service agents dedicate their daily professional career to helping people solve these problems. As a company’s brand ambassadors, they are the guardians of a business’s customer relationships. A customer’s impression of a company is directly related to their experience with the contact center and its agents. And since customer experience directly affects revenue, it’s about time an agent’s job got a little easier and more enjoyable so they can better serve the customer.

Unfortunately, in many contacts centers, customer service agents are asked to do more with less and do without the best technology. Imagine taking a calculator away from an accountant? They couldn’t do their job to the best of their ability. When we don’t provide agents with the best technology, they can’t possibly meet customer expectations. The result? Poor CSAT and agent attrition, which is very costly and part of what gives contact centers the black eye of being a cost center. It’s time things changed for both the agent and Customer Service departments.

Enter Artificial Intelligence (AI.) There’s a lot of hype about how AI is going to shape the future. It’s often portrayed in Hollywood as robots taking over the world and at the very least, replacing jobs. The truth about AI and machine learning is that when it’s implemented responsibly it actually allows humans to focus on the type of work they actually enjoy. Take for instance the factory floor. During the Industrial Revolution, automated machines began doing the repetitive tasks human get bored with. There are still many people working in factories, but with automation, people can focus on performing critical jobs where their intelligence is required.

In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where technologies like AI are driving change, the trend for contact centers is similar. Rather than taking jobs away, AI is blending the best of human intelligence with AI, to provide improved, seamless experiences and at the same time improve agent’s job satisfaction.

How does AI help customer service agents? First, AI bots take the burden off agents with intelligent, satisfying self-service by resolving routine customer requests. And when a customer wants to talk to an agent, the hand-off is easy. The interaction with the bot is transferred into the agent console so the customers don’t have to repeat what they did with the bot. This reduces agent’s average handle time because all the agent has all the customer interaction history. And first contact resolution is increased because the agent can quickly resolve the issue with the proper information and context. All of this adds up to increased agent job satisfaction and morale by off-loading routine, boring requests to the AI bot.

Now let’s say a customer wants to talk directly to an agent without interacting with an AI bot. AI prioritizes and classifies cases to help your agents quickly understand what the customer needs to provide a more effective and efficient experience. AI collects information about the customer and the context of their request resulting in a more connected, personalized experience. And AI increases agent productivity with a world-class, omnichannel service experience with full context to customer’s request.

As a result, agents have a sense of accomplishment by working on more challenging customer issues because the AI bots handle the routine questions. And when agents directly help customers, they are able to build loyal relationships because they are enabled by the best technology possible. And at the end of the day, the customer, their needs and exceeding their expectations is what great customer service is about. That’s all a customer service agent wants to do and it’s time contact centers gave the best possible technology to make this real.

@DrNatalie, Service Cloud, Salesforce

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Five Steps to Strategically Choose AI For Customer Service

AI and customer service; it’s a hot topic! But when I talk to customers, they say, “I get there’s something to AI and customer service, but how do I deliver business results and value with AI?” If you are wondering how AI can move the needle on the metrics you get measured on every day, below is a short guide on how to get the best business results when considering AI as part of your Customer Service strategy.

Step 1: Focus AI on Metrics that Matter
Implementing technology without strategy makes us do the wrong things faster! Or at the very least, spend a lot of money without getting business results. Studies show while 80% of executives want to use AI in their business, only 20% have an actual strategy. (1) First step? List the strategic metrics you are measured on every day and then think about how AI can help you to:

    • Reduce call volume (call deflection via satisfying self-service)
    • Increase First Contact Resolution (FCR)
    • Reduce Average Handle Time (AHT)
    • Increase agent productivity, morale, retention (reduce attrition costs)
    • Improve CSAT, NPS, customer lifetime value (CLV)…

With that information, you can begin to strategically decide how to use AI to transform your customer service operations and KPIs, positively impact customer and agent experiences and directly affect your bottom-line.

Step Two: Closely Compare AI Solutions
Artificial Intelligence isn’t new, so what is? Exponential advances in AI capabilities, as well as, integrated and packaged AI solutions. These new capabilities are allowing AI to become a real business asset, but not all AI solutions are created equal. A classical approach to AI requires specialized teams of:

    • Data Scientists (to sample data, build the models, tune them for accuracy)
    • App Developers (to build it into the customer service application)
    • UX Designers (to make the interface to the AI user-friendly)

These dedicated resources are expensive and difficult to find. And AI development is not the core business focus of a contact center. The result? Wasted time and money and longer time-to-value. When choosing an AI solution, look to see how much work is required on your end to implement a solution. To make AI intelligent, all systems require some work. The question to consider is how business/user-friendly is the application? Do you need to hire a team of AI and UX specialists to get benefits in customer service? Or can you deploy the AI quickly and get back to focusing your efforts on delivering amazing agent/customer engagement?

Step 3: Consider an Integrated Solution
Data. Data. Data. AI is all about the data. So, consider where the data in customer service resides. The customer record data lives inside the CRM platform. And the customer interaction history lives inside the customer service application. Since AI is only as good as the data it interacts with, look for an “AI-inside” solution; one where the AI is built into the CRM platform and the customer service application.

And it’s even better if the same AI solution is also integrated into other applications that Sales, Marketing, E-commerce and other parts of your business. The more contextual, historical information about that customer across all your departments, the more intelligent the AI is and the better business results it can provide. With an integrated AI solution that’s built for business users, there is no need for specialized implementation teams because the:

      • Data is already prepped
      • Models are automatically built and
      • AI is already integrated into the CRM platform and the customer service application.

What does this mean to you? Faster time-to-value. With an integrated solution, AI can easily learn from the customer data to deliver contextual customer/agent answers. So, whether you are delivering self-service or agent-assisted service, intelligent AI service is satisfying service.

Step 4: Select an Agile Solution
How many times have you wanted to change something in your customer service application, but don’t because it’s so difficult — even though it would transform the agent/customer experience? This is where using an agile platform and application leads to faster, better business results.

As you are considering adding AI, ask yourself, “How quickly/easy is it to make changes to the AI solution, as well as to the agent and self-service application?” Look for a drag and drop integration layer that allows for easy configuration of process flows to set up customer service AI. This way AI isn’t some futuristic “ideal” that sounds good when you say it fast but in reality, it takes forever to drive business results. Consider choosing an integrated AI customer service platform/application that is agile – so you can make changes on the fly to quickly deliver on the brand promise of great customer experiences.

Step 5: Use a Solution with a Pre-built UI/UX
And while this step is listed last, it may be one of the most important. Why? New technology often becomes “shelfware,” i.e., technology that is owned or licensed but not utilized because it’s difficult to implement, use or change.

A solution with a prebuilt UI/UX interface makes the customer-facing interaction intuitive, which builds trust, so customers use it. The last thing you want is a throwback to “bots of yesteryear” that didn’t have the advantage of AI or a poor user-interface. If customers can get their answers using a bot, call and email volume will be reduced, while delivering a great experience.

And for the agent? Key to great service is empowering agents with the best possible tools. AI integrated into the agent desktop and console classifies cases and identifies key information needed to serve the customer even before the agent gets the case. And then enables the agent with the best possible next actions. AI is not meant to replace agents, it’s meant to empower them to deliver exceptional customer service.

The most important thing to take away? When considering AI for customer service, focus on what you do best, delivering great experiences. Avoid choosing systems that require you to become or hire a bunch of rocket scientists. Choose a solution designed to allow customers to easily get the answers they need on their own, your agents to intelligently engage with customers and for you to deliver business results that matter.

References:
Is Your Business Ready for Artificial Intelligence? MIT Sloan and BCG Study, 2017
https://www.bcg.com/Images/Reshaping%20Business%20with%20Artificial%20Intelligence_tcm30-177882.pdf

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Guest Post and Infographic: How AI Changed Customer Service

You can make or break your business’s future by how well, or how poorly, you treat your clients. But you have a lot on your plate, too—even more as you manage the endless technology needs that seem to be developing overnight.


    That’s why artificial intelligence (AI) aspects of customer service are so crucial to how well (or how badly) we do business in the future. You may not even realize how many of these AI elements are already in place in your interaction with companies—and that number is only going to increase.


    Right now, about 2 out of 5 enterprises in the United States are already using AI in some form; that number is going to grow to about 3 out of 5 just this year alone. The human touch still matters, but the bots are already here. What does that mean for you and your business? This graphic explains it.

Infographic source: https://www.salesforce.com/hub/service/how-ai-changed-customer-service/

AUTHOR:

Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword research to recovering from Google Algorithm updates and changes. She writes for the nationally recognized SEO Company HigherVisibility that offers online marketing services to a wide range of companies across the country.

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Guest Post: How to Manage Your Remote Customer Service Team

The internet has made it possible for businesses to sell to anyone, anywhere in the world – yet at the same time, the internet has shifted power to consumers as they can get information on any product or service from multiple vendors and compare prices. In order to win business and succeed in this type of competitive environment, you must take a customer-centric approach and support your customers with the best possible customer service possible, even if that team’s scattered around the world.

That brings us to our next point. How do you manage a remote support team? How can you optimize support to cover all 24 hours of the day? Aside from logistics, how can you keep everyone productive and accountable? How can you make sure nothing slips through the cracks? While it may seem like a daunting task, successfully managing your remote customer service can be done well by following the below tips.

 

people-office-group-team

 

1. Hire the Right People

Working remotely first appears to be a great opportunity for most individuals. You get to work from the environment you’re most comfortable in, there’s more flexibility in your work schedule, and you don’t have to deal with hours of commuting, to name a few. Yet working remotely is a skill in itself and it’s important to look for people who don’t just like the idea of working remotely, but can actually work efficiently with limited supervision.

To ensure that you hire the right remote staff, see if they’ve worked remotely before. Perhaps they have experience freelancing or running their own business. These two characteristics can demonstrate the applicant’s level of accountability, and often is an indicator of a hardworking employee you can trust. You’ll also want to make sure to ask the following questions to make sure they’re the right fit for how you like to manage your teams:

  • What kind of work schedule do you prefer?
  • Have you worked from a co-working space before?
  • Can you attend regular meetings via platforms like Skype or Google Hangouts?
  • What are some out-of-the-ordinary things you’ve done to help customers and make them happy?

 

2. Choose the Right Customer Service Software

Along with hiring the right staff, having the right customer service software in place is essential for successfully running a remote customer service team. The right help desk software will automate the way customer inquiries or issues are submitted, handled and followed up on, making it easy for your remote team to support customers efficiently and effectively. Furthermore, your team will be given access to a wealth of data which allows them to track conversations, monitor client relationships, and revisit past communications with a specific customer at-a-glance. Having this type of organized, easy-to-access information makes it possible for your support team to provide the high-quality assistance your customers deserve.

And while giving your team the tools they need to succeed may be important for you as a manager, let’s not forget the value that customer service software provides you. Such software allows you to avoid micromanaging your team (which can be time consuming and counterproductive when your team’s scattered across the globe) because you’re always in the loop. From details like number of calls taken each day and numbers of issues resolved to hours worked by each staff member and any high-priority issues that need addressing, you’ll have a pulse on the health of your team so you can make any necessary adjustments and fix productivity issues as soon as possible.

 

3. Utilize Knowledge Bases

Did you know that 62% of global consumers have stopped doing business with a brand or organization due to a poor customer service experience? Make sure you don’t become a part of this statistic and create engaging customer service experiences that not only assist your customers, but make them comfortable making a repeat purchase with your company.

In order to achieve this level of trust among your customers, your customer support team will need to have access to as much company information as possible. Even your best customer support representative will come across a question that requires a bit more research. And when that representative is a remote worker, getting answers quickly isn’t as easy as walking over to you and asking a question. This problem gets further compounded when you factor in the time differences between you and each of your remote workers.

This is where a robust knowledge base comes in. By having information in one easily-accessible place, your team always has access to the answers they need to best support your customers. You can create private wiki for this type of knowledge share or create your own internal customer service knowledge base. But keep in mind that the creation of this knowledge base shouldn’t just be left to you and other managers and executives.

Utilize your customer service team to help with its creation and encourage them to update it and add answers on an ongoing basis. Thinking of your knowledge base as a living, breathing document that is constantly changing will give you an unparalleled resource to use for years to come.

 

4. Keep Your Team Productive

One of the most common concerns of individuals managing remote teams is how to keep the team productive and accountable. Fortunately, with the many technologies and platforms available for task management, your support team can be just as productive working from home as they would be in the office. Here are a few types of technologies to look into:

  • Messaging apps – Open communication is a must when managing a remote team. You need to be able to easily share questions and feedback so team members can share what they accomplished the day before, what they’re working on, and any roadblocks in their way. This keeps everyone accountable for making progress each day and keeps your team in the loop about what’s going on.
  • Video conferencing apps – While messaging apps can be helpful for quick check-ins, it can be good to have regular face-to-face meetings via video conferencing apps. Being able to talk to your team and see them visually can help to foster feelings of positivity, support, and encouragement.
  • Task management platforms – It can be hard to manage the tasks of one team, let alone one that’s remote and possible scattered around the world. To increase team cohesion and make sure there are no overlapping duties or individuals encroaching on the work of others, task management apps like Trello are a great option for easily identifying and staying on top of short-term activity, long-term goals and overall progress.

Remote work comes with its challenges, but with the right strategies and tools, you can build and grow a productive and effective customer service team that helps your customers – and your business – succeed.

 

About the author

 jill

Jill Phillips is a freelance writer from Buffalo, NY. She is an aspiring entrepreneur and tech enthusiast, who loves to share her insight on various topics. When she is not writing, Jill enjoys taking photos and hiking with her dog. Connect with Jill via Twitter @jillphlps

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Oracle Service Cloud Announces New Releases

Oracle Service Cloud announces new releases for enhanced functionality in Web Customer Service, Contact Center including the Agent Browser User Interface, Knowledge Advanced, Policy Automation, and the Oracle Service Cloud Platform. Included in he release is a new Internet of Things (IoT) Accelerator, which provides a bi-directional integration with Oracle IoT Cloud.

The integration helps customers seamlessly interface with IoT technology so that service events and alerts received from smart devices can be consumed, as well as appropriate action taken by agents, within the Oracle Service Cloud desktop. Field Service seems to be an area where IoT can easily provide true use cases that can quickly garner ROI. It will be interesting to see how vendors incorporate IoT in the customer experience. The Internet of Things (IoT) accelerator will allow internet enabled devices connectivity to Oracle Service Cloud. Accelerators are a collection of sample code, sample workflows, and best practices, documentation, and design guidance to assist customers with seamless updates or integrations with Oracle Service Cloud.Oracle Service Cloud Releases

Oracle Service Cloud also provided a sneak preview of Live Chat. What is the capability really about? Sneak preview allows chat agents to see what a customer is typing before they hit submit. Sneak Preview is designed to enhance agent productivity and bring value to the contact center by decreasing handle times. By allowing the agent to see what the customer is typing ahead of time they can begin to formulate an answer faster, which results in faster responses, and faster conversations. And Live Chat is now a fully supported channel; contacts are automatically matched and the contact and chat workspaces are integrated.

In addition, the release includes analytics performance enhancements with caching for frequent reporting and better notifications for report authors. Modern gauges are added to create much more intuitive and modern reports, allowing users to interpret data quicker, as well as new rendering options, to remove unnecessary components in reports, crisper rendering of charts, and a new modern layout theme. In addition, there is a new dashboard concept—specifically designed for that 5-second-glance overview for busy customer service leaders.

These at-a-glance infolets are available out-of-the-box and contain a number of single metric charts with real-time key performance indicators like open incidents by severity, SLA, First Contact Resolution, new incidents by channel, and so forth. Contact Center Directors can also schedule and send the infolet dashboard by email to key stakeholders at regular intervals. This is key as the more senior stakeholders are more involved, the more they begin to realize the importance of customer experience and customer service to the overall health, stability and revenue generation capabilities of their company.

In addition, the the agent browser UI has gone through a significant performance enhancement to support high interactivity and now supports a much broader range of analytics capabilities. The agent browser user interface is now a single version, meaning it is compatible with versions of Oracle Service Cloud all the way back to May 2015 and upgrades will now happen with zero downtime.  The UI theme has been updated for consistency across all Oracle Cloud portfolio applications. Knowledge authors can now use the Agent Browser User Interface to author and edit knowledge articles with a new HTML editor with HTML5 support.

As the race to provide the best customer experience continues, brands must choose between more single point solutions vs large system platforms. It will be interesting to see the choices of brands and how the customer experience evolves to meet the brand promise.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Covering Customer-Facing Applications that Drive Awesome Customer Experiences

www.constellationr.com

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Genesys & Interactive Intelligence Acquisition Is Complete

Genesys has completed the acquisition of Interactive Intelligence. Why acquire Interactive Intelligence? The idea is that the addition of Interactive Intelligence will enable Genesys to accelerate its mission of powering the best customer experiences in more industries and more countries – over any channel in the cloud and on premises. The acquisition also means that Genesys now has over 10,000 customers in more than 100 countries supporting over 25 billion customer interactions per year. Genesys will continue to offer support and invest in best-in-class solutions, including PureCloud®, Communications as a Service℠ (CaaS) and Customer Interaction Center™ (CIC), in addition to our core Genesys products.

In terms of how the company is run, Paul Segre will continue to serve as CEO, providing leadership that best supports the needs of customers, partners and employees. Genesys will maintain its headquarters in Daly City, as well as key offices in Indianapolis, Indiana and Durham, North Carolina.

This acquisition is one of many that are being seen in the customer service and customer experience world. It gives Genesys a larger customer base and integrates many of the features and functions Interactive Intelligence brought to the table. As customer experience becomes one of the most important differentiators in a brand’s overall experience, choosing the right vendor to deliver on complex customer service and customer experience interactions will be key. While there are vendors that are part of a larger marketing, sales and service suite, there are other vendors who remain focused on the customer service marketplace. Time will tell how organizations see the need to go with solutions that service part of an organization vs having the capability to connect to the back office as well as other lines of business.

Below is a snapshot of Genesys’s capabilities:

Overview of Genesys

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

www.constellationr.com

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Constellation ShortList™ for Field Service Management

Constellation has announced the Constellation ShortList vendors in Field Service Management which provides the best capabilities to help employees serve customers. Field customer service occurs when resources or services are deployed onsite at a client. Field service management software enables companies to be flexible and nimble when providing service. These offerings are great at detecting problems before having to send someone to repair or fix a customer’s issue. In the event they must send someone, they can communicate in real-time with customers, provide on-site information about products and repair issues while offering relevant and timely service.

These offerings help companies improve their operational efficiencies by optimizing work-order routing and technician scheduling, which results in quicker resolution of issues. Analytics used in field services often optimize when services are deployed and how assets are tied to deployment of resources. They have advanced scheduling systems that let the customer know when the technician or field-service employee will arrive within a reasonable window of time. Helping provide an excellent customer experience is the most important aspect of field service management solutions.

The Constellation ShortList presents vendors in different categories of the market relevant to early adopters. In addition, products included in this document meet the threshold criteria for this category as determined by Constellation Research.  This Constellation ShortList of vendors for a market category is compiled through conversations with early adopter clients, independent analysis, and briefings with vendors and partners.

Constellation considers the following criteria for these solutions:

  • Good diagnostics prior to rolling out the truck
  • Resource management
  • Case management
  • Communication with the customer on the status of the technician’s arrival
  • Scheduling
  • Resource allocation
  • Inventory optimization
  • Mobile enablement.

Constellation evaluates over 25 solutions categorized in this market. This Constellation ShortList is determined by client inquiries, partner conversations, vendor selection projects, market share and internal research. These are the best-of-breed vendors that provide applications and services without bundling into another platform:

  • IFS
  • Oracle Field Service Cloud (formerly TOA Technologies)
  •  ServiceMax
  • ClickSoftware
  • PTC
  • SAP
  • Vertical Solutions.

For more information on the short lists, please see the Constellation Research site.

@Drnatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research, Covering Customer-Facing Applications

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Constellation ShortList™ Customer Service and Contact Center Software

Constellation Research is launching a new program, and I’m happy to share that the vendors that have been listed on the Constellation ShortList™ for Customer Service and Contact Center Software. The program offers buyers of technology a list of offerings to consider in their pursuit of digital transformation to provide the best capabilities to drive leading customer service.

The Constellation ShortList presents vendors in different categories of the market relevant to early adopters. In addition, products included in this document meet the threshold criteria for this category as determined by Constellation Research. This Constellation ShortList of vendors for a market category is compiled through conversations with early adopter clients, independent analysis, and briefings with vendors and partners.

Customer service and contact center software helps solve customer challenges faster by offering the right tools and support, regardless of channel or device (e.g., phone, tablet, email, chat, text, website, Facebook, other social networks). These offerings can effectively manage inbound communication for increased first-contact resolution, in addition to providing co-browse capabilities to allow visual communication for quicker query resolution. Additionally, they can support the reduction of cart abandonment and increase customer satisfaction with in-cart assistance. This type of software provides personalized care through the use of analytics, offering insight into customers’ behaviors for relevant, contextualized service that can predict future needs. Companies can identify new opportunities by integrating these customer insights into their companies’ innovation processes.

The software also creates seamless, online experiences with a knowledge base that learns from every interaction, enabling them to match content to consumer intent, which results in higher conversion rates. The top solutions also provide smart customer self-service, allowing customers to help themselves by fostering peer-to-peer support communities and eliminating the need to reach out to the contact center.

Constellation considers the following key criteria for these solutions: Self-service capabilities, case management, natural language processing for knowledge management and search, omni-channel and device customer journeys, mobile customer service and self service, queuing and routing, workforce optimization, predictive and prescriptive rules and advice, next-best action, natural scripting, customer feedback collection capabilities, IVR, visual IVR, inventory optimization, mobile enablement, social and digital engagement simplified user design (UX/UI), reporting and customer analytics, integration to IoT (Internet of Things) platforms and devices, data dashboard and data visualization.

Each Constellation ShortList evaluation will be updated every 90 days as needed. Constellation clients may work with the analyst and research team to conduct a more thorough discussion of this ShortList. Constellation can also provide guidance in vendor selection and contract negotiation.

The ShortList is determined by client inquiries, partner conversations, customer references, vendor selection projects, market share and internal research. The Shortlist includes:

  • Aspect
  • Avaya
  • Cisco
  • Genesys
  • inContact
  • Interactive Intelligence
  • Oracle
  • Salesforce
  • Verint.

For more information about the ShortList, please visit the Constellation Research site.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research, Covering Customer Facing Applications.

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