Help Your Customers Help Themselves

by Tim Dreyer on July 28th, 2015

Tim Dreyer, Director, Public Relations and Analyst Relations, AspectMichael Schrage wrote a great piece yesterday in the Harvard Business Review on the neglected truth about customer self-service. Schrage writes that there is a difference between self-service and self-support. Self-service he notes, centers on outcomes that a customer expects or anticipates when trying to solve a task or problem on their own. But self-support, the forgotten (or neglected) piece of the puzzle, he defines as what occurs during the interaction that is not supposed to

This article sheds some great sunlight on this important distinction. Consumers want to do things on their own, our recent millennial survey, and recent research show this emphatically. And between social media, Google and YouTube they have unprecedented resources at their disposal to do so. It’s important to note however, that consumers have a lower threshold for satisfaction when doing unassisted things. But when they are involved in a company’s self-service environment, their expectations become higher and are the same as if talking to a live agent. Therefore, live assistance, when that ‘helping myself’ customer becomes ‘I need help helping myself’ customer, should be just a click away. Self-service/self-support in isolation has the potential of making a customer both unresolved as well as unhappy.

You can read his full post here.

Workforce Optimization has Evolved. Has Your Contact Center?

by Christine OBrien on July 27th, 2015

Workforce optimization ebookCustomer experience has been called the next battlefield for market share, and on the contact center front this battle is being fought exceptionally hard. It’s an objective that now spans every key area of customer-facing business. In fact, a recent Aberdeen Group report found that businesses are now 84% more likely than they were just a few years ago to consider customer experience a top driver of workforce optimization programs.

Winning customers means delivering on expectations for first-class service, and yesterday’s WFO tools simply don’t have the capabilities that today’s agents need to engage with a new class of consumer.

Read the workforce optimization ebook





From omni-channel service to more proactive, personalized communications, innovations in the contact center mean increased customer satisfaction – which means higher revenue and long-term brand loyalty.

We’ve identified five innovations in WFO that will have a measurable impact on the kind of service your agents deliver. Find out what they are – and how to implement them now – in our ebook, 5 Workforce Optimization Innovations that will Change Your Contact Center.

Get your free copy now>>

Live Web Event – Text: The Silent Channel for Digital Marketing and Customer Care

by Maddy Hubbard on July 23rd, 2015

Maddy HubbardText Messaging (SMS) is the gateway into the wide world of messaging apps that are becoming mainstays for search, comparison-shopping, product selection and all manner of digital commerce.

Join Dan Miller from Opus Research and our very own Tobias Goebel on August 13, 2015 at 1:00 PM EDT, as they describe the organic growth in messaging services from Twitter, WhatsApp, WeChat Facetime, and others who have revolutionized digital commerce, technical support and customer care.

Attend this webinar to: Opus logo1 (00000002)

  • Discover why text-based messaging apps are important for all aspects of digital commerce.
  • Learn real-world use cases across multiple verticals including travel and hospitality, roadside assistance, public transportation and more.
  • Understand the factors to consider when planning or deploying text-based intelligent assistance.
  • Recognize the importance of leveraging existing contact center infrastructure including consistency across channels.

Register today!

Messaging Apps: Customer Service’s Next Frontier

by Tim Dreyer on July 22nd, 2015

Tim Dreyer, Director, Public Relations and Analyst Relations, AspectEvery day, six billion SMS messages are sent in the US, about twice the number of phone calls made and roughly 25 times the number of pieces of first class mail processed and delivered by the U.S. Postal Service daily. Messaging apps is a $251 billion annual business and is forecasted to generate $1.279 trillion in revenues from 2014-2018 according to Portio Research. Messaging Apps

And it is positively ripe for customer service interaction.

Messaging apps, IMs and texts are a standard way of communicating and will soon become a standard method of transacting.  In Asia, you can buy insurance and apply for a mortgage via China’s WeChat. On Magic you can order a pizza and a Pepsi, sushi and some flowers, via SMS. And Tango lets members make purchases from without having to exit the Tango App. Soon everything you can imagine will be just a Snap story away.

Historically, consumers have practically begged brands for better customer experiences and since those pleas have been largely ignored, consumers are going out and creating them themselves.

Customer service is still an issues-based and reactionary ideology: when a customer has a question, comment or need, they have to figure out how to contact the brand they have the question or comment for. With a messaging app, like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Kik or iMessage, consumers feel more in control. Even though users are still technically using another app or platform, consumers are accustomed to using these services every day. When a brand comes to the consumer instead of the reverse, the consumer owns the conversation and can control the experience.

The customer service possibilities in messaging apps are really endless. Bill pay notifications with one-click while still in the app. Sharing a pic of a travel destination with a friend on one chat and making a hotel reservation on another. The Aspect Consumer Experience Index survey showed that making customers feel like you know them promotes loyalty in 7 out of 10 consumers. And since these billion plus messaging-app users are only going to let in the people that know them, the sense of loyalty and long-term customer value is nearly assured.

Customer service has always been a fast follower to marketing when it comes to new channel adoption so it stands to reason that as brands start to see greater marketing engagement and outreach effectiveness on messaging apps that customer service is soon to follow. For example, Aspect Consumer Experience Index also found that text and chat usage with consumers for customer service issues would increase dramatically: 250% for chat, 367% for text.

The messaging movement has the potential to drive a billion-plus person exodus from the traditional customer-company interaction model to a B-to-Me environment where the user has complete permission-control of who they engage, how they engage them and what they engage them about. Brands that have paid attention to where their customers want to go, survive and thrive and for marketing and customer service organizations, the messaging economy is worth the attention.

Get Omni-Channel Smart in Just 10 Minutes a Day at the CX Boot Camp

by Maddy Hubbard on July 21st, 2015

Maddy HubbardYou want to learn how you can better meet the needs of your customers whenever, wherever and on the channel they choose. We get that. But tell that to your inbox. Or to the relentless flood of meeting invites, conference calls and pop-up projects you get every day. (Spoiler alert: they can’t hear you anyway). Boot Camp Blog

Still, you want to get smarter on the customer experience but who has time?

Well, here’s an idea: We took a standard webcast, concentrated it into five super-focused 10-minute sessions, and created a power-packed program that will not just make you smart, it will make you Omni-channel smart.

Here’s all you need to do:

  • Nod your head in agreement
  • Appreciate the guest speakers: VP and Principal Analyst Kate Leggett from Forrester Research with Aspect thought leaders Tony Lama, Tobias Goebel and Joe Gagnon to show you exactly what it takes to provide today’s self-reliant, mobile consumers with a superior omni-channel experience.
  • Register and get one session delivered to your inbox each day for five days. Less time, more intensity and ready to be watched in-between calls or during your lunch!

Get Omni-Channel Smart and Omni-Channel tough by turning your customer experience into a competitive differentiator! Register today!

More Company Transparency Can Lead to Increased Consumer Loyalty

by Tobias Goebel on July 20th, 2015

Tobias GoebelTraditional one-way marketing and collecting consumers’ digital footprints and identities such as phone numbers or email addresses are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Businesses used to be able to dictate their brand image to the market solely through broadcast advertising. Today, with social media and quick & easy access to opinions from peers, trusted review sites or power users, brands are losing control and customers are, for the first time ever, truly in charge.

There is a growing awareness with companies that a memorable customer experience is a new way to differentiate their brands. So with today’s empowered consumers, organizations need to make a dedicated effort to not only win but also keep consumer trust. Businesses need to give customers their attention, versus winning the customer’s attention. It simply isn’t tolerated anymore when companies collect a plethora of personal information and digital identities of their customers without providing any insight into how the information they’ve amassed will be used. Consumers have become increasingly frustrated when their personal information and data is being used, in some respects, against them in the form of spam and over-promotion. So why would they want to provide anything?

More Company Transparency Can Lead to Increased Consumer Loyalty

If a business wants to succeed, they need to explain how they are going to use customer data to improve their experience with them over time. Consumers are more receptive to providing their information if in the process it leads to an improved customer experience such as faster access to account information over SMS or phone calls without complex authentication processes.

And making this happen is not a complicated undertaking. It really just takes adding a link “Why would we like to know all this?” that points to an explanation as to why a customer’s online identities will help improve service – e.g. through a short video. Or, give them a full-fledged preference page where they can tell you what their preferences are. Better still, give them the opportunity to tell you what their terms and conditions are for doing business with them.

Think about it: In the age of the empowered consumer, it seems out of place that a customer has to sign a vendor’s Terms and Conditions, but the vendor never has to sign a customer’s. If a customer can tell a company that they don’t want to be emailed at all, and never called during weekends, and that they prefer short proactive messages for relevant information via Twitter DM, and time-critical information via SMS, then not only will they get annoyed less frequently, they’ll also feel that the company respects and values their time and preferences. And this will ultimately lead to greater loyalty.

Going a step further, what about a consumer version of CRM systems? Call it VRM, Vendor Relationship Management. The idea here is that consumers get centralized dashboards and tools that let them track and manage vendor communication and relationships. Being able to compare vendors side by side in how they provide customer service will immediately value those higher that already provide great service. It could become a way to further differentiate – or simply stay at the top of the list. For the consumer, a concrete example of a VRM use case would be the ability to inform all of your vendors at once about your new credit card. How much time that would save!

The more transparent a business gets, the more likely it will be that customers share information openly. Knowing a customer’s digital identities can also help prevent fraud. Let’s say a business calls a customer for collections. If the customer doesn’t believe they are indeed the company they claim to be, they could read the customer a short security code and tell them “without hanging up, please login on our mobile app or website now and you will immediately get a pop-up telling you this same code”, thereby proving that they are indeed who they say they are. This requires the business to embrace omni-channel techniques, i.e. connecting channels and retaining context across channels.

If it’s not about the consumer not trusting the company, but the company not trusting the consumer, the company could ask the customer to tweet, text or Facebook-message a code, thereby proving that they are indeed who they claim to be. It is harder for a fraudster to steal not just one, but several identities at the same time.

I’m certain that embracing new technologies, and opening up to true customer centricity as explained above, will not only address growing consumer empowerment, it will also improve and prolong company-customer relationships, no matter the age group or demographic.

REPLAY: The Aspect Week that Was on Periscope 7/17/15

by Tim Dreyer on July 17th, 2015

In case you missed it, here is the replay of the Aspect Week that Was on Periscope and the links to the content I covered:

1) Why I Should Share my Digital Identities with my Vendors– Tobias Goebel, MediaPost

2) How Hospitality Professionals  Can Help Customers Help Themselves and Why It’s Important to do so Now – Aspect CMO Jim Freeze, Hotel Online

3) Webinar Replay: 5 Take-Action Strategies to Engage Millennial Consumers – Jason Dorsey, Joe Gagnon

4) Aspect Blog Post: Disrupted Not Destroyed by Technology – Aspect CMO Jim Freeze

Disrupted Not Destroyed by Technology

by Jim Freeze, SVP, CMO on July 17th, 2015

Jim Freeze, SVP & CMOMusic, movies, photography, transportation, communications and publishing are all industries that continue to experience massive disruption brought on by the advent of technology. ITunes made CDs obsolete. Netflix turned Blockbuster into nostalgia. Digital photography created an archaic brand in Kodak. And did you ever hear of Uber? You get the point – innovate or risk obsolesce, no matter how strong your brand. This week Fortune Magazine predicted that the next major industry ripe for disruption is banking. The surprising thing is that this is coming from the inside, from Rob Alexander, CIO at Capital One.

Alexander asserted, “Banking is the most ripe industry for disruption,” he explained at Fortune Brainstorm Tech in Aspen. “The winners will be the ones that become a technology business and not remain as an old school banking company.” Alexander predicts that banks will increasingly utilize customer data to improve customer interaction. Bank Technology Disruption

As a leading cloud-based software company in the consumer engagement space for over 40 years, we know about disruption and we know about customer interaction. From our experience we have a few words of advice for the banking industry to help navigate the coming changes that will be forced upon them.

  1. Enable customers to help themselves. Customer satisfaction is higher in a DIY model. We are much more forgiving of ourselves when we make a mistake than when a customer service representative does. 72 percent of customers prefer self-service over picking up the phone and 91 percent would use self-service if it was available according to IBM Retail Research.
  1. Support experience continuity. Customers hate having to repeat themselves, so don’t force them to do so. Aspect’s “Context Cookies” enables personalized service by allowing customers to pick up an incomplete service transaction at a different time, on a different channel while keeping the context of their interaction intact.
  1. Make service mobile and social. Cell phones have moved from being a convenience to being a part of the consumer. A complete mobile customer experience must leverage all channels all the time, available on any mobile device. The vast majority (70 percent) of consumers would rather text than talk. Social is not the channel for every banking interaction but the attractiveness of social for brands and consumers is in its inherent simplicity as a communication channel and ability to gain interest from a larger audience.
  1. Consider live interactive video technology. Aspect’s Mike Bourke recently wrote a blog on how Video-enabled ATMs and Kiosks are slowly replacing tellers and other bank branch personnel. With web-based video technology such as WebRTC, universal bankers located in any branch office could serve the needs of customers in another branch minimizing the effect of unpredictable variations in traffic, blending labor across the portfolio of all branches.

Not every company can navigate change as effectively and as disruptively as Apple and Netflix have, but a strategy focused on the customer experience will go a long ways to ensuring your brand survives the banking disruption.

Achieving Economies of Scale through Centralization

by Bob Trine on July 15th, 2015

Economies of scale are factors that cause the average cost of producing a product or delivering a service to fall as the volume of its output increases (Economist, 2008). Economies of scale model is most commonly applied to the manufacturing industry — but, what about healthcare?

“It is commonly believed the size of a particular provider of healthcare services can make a significant difference to both the quality and the cost of those services. For example, a health system which delivered 8000 births a year might be expected to have both better quality and lower costs than one that delivered 3000 births a year. Similarly, it is commonly believed that a healthcare provider who delivers a range of services can deliver better quality and cost overall than if those different services had each been delivered by a different provider” (Masters, 2012).o-HEALTH-CARE-COSTS-facebook

Like any other industry, healthcare systems want to reduce operating costs and wasted time in order to achieve economies of scale, ultimately leading to improved patient care, access, satisfaction, and efficiency. Most healthcare organizations are enormous—housing multiple departments, specialties, and thousands of employees. Centralization occurs when a healthcare system focuses its front-end scheduling, access, and communication from multiple departments to a smaller group of specialized agents. Centralized healthcare contact centers are key to achieving these much desired economies of scale.  (O’Farrell, 2015).

Centralized contact centers can create significant benefits for your health system –

  • Cost effective: Centralized contact centers promote efficient appointment scheduling, communication, and access to services. Clinicians and staff can be scheduled more consistently, reducing the expensive peaks in overhead costs.
  • Increased satisfaction: Patients can schedule appointments with greater ease, increasing both patient and physician satisfaction
  • Data access: Create one version of the truth. Data is more efficiently tracked, allowing greater operational precision.

Implementing a centralized contact center at your healthcare system can be a challenge – but it doesn’t have to be. Aspect can help your health system take a holistic approach to improving patient care,  increasing access and satisfaction.

Aspect Healthcare – Workforce Optimization helps health systems maximize staffing requirements and performance, ensuring the right staff is at the right place at the right time to deliver greater patient satisfaction. More easily ensure that there is an optimal staffing mixture of experts and generalists while skills-based routing uses established search criteria to find an available agent who can perform the service that the patient needs.  Greater efficiencies are gained from increased first-time call resolution and more importantly, patient satisfaction.

Aspect Healthcare – Patient Connect improves patient interaction experience with your health system by allowing patients and their families the ability to speak to a live person each time they call into any of your locations. Employees are empowered with a 360-degree patient view, easily guided through the conversation, and able to enter quick notes within the same patient record that is visible on their screen. If the patient needs to be transferred to another clinician or specialist, easily view who is available before transferring the call — without the need to search different directories or lists to find the right person with the right skill set to quickly and efficiently handle the situation. What this means for your patients and their families is that they will no longer be transferred to the wrong person or location by mistake.

Aspect’s healthcare solutions help health systems create greater economies of scale. Aspect Patient Connect skills-based routing capabilities ensure that each patient is connected to the appropriate hospital staff while Aspect Healthcare – Workforce Optimization ensures that the right balance of clinicians and staff are ready to efficiently meet the needs of each and every patient.

More efficient care for individuals, all at a lower cost. Creating economies of scale for your health system – made easier with Aspect.

Learn more!

Dusting off Customer Data

by Rebecca Anderson on July 13th, 2015

Rebecca AndersonIt seems like organizations have been collecting and analyzing vast amounts of complex customer data for ages – there’s a reason we call it ‘Big Data.’ But thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile/digital advances, the amount of customer data has been increasing exponentially. According to a fresh Kinsey Global Institute report, the potential economic impact of IoT could be more than $11 trillion annually by 2025. However organizations have not been able to make the data usable until recently because most of them still don’t have the proper tools to take action based on the data they have.

According to Aberdeen’s new study “Big Data in CEM: The Path to Productive Employees & Happy Customers” only four percent of companies are extremely satisfied with their ability to use customer data within Customer Experience Management (CEM) activities. Four percent. That’s a Big Data disappointment. The Aberdeen study demonstrates how Big Data is an opportunity that can only be leveraged through technology.

Aberdeen identified three activities that best-in-class companies use for capitalizing on big data.

  • Gather customer insights from employees across all parts of the organization to find opportunities to better sell, market and serve customers.
  • Leverage the knowledge in your IT department to streamline technology to a single view of customer data.
  • Take action! The data is only useful if you are able to take action on it. For example, analytical tools such as business intelligence and predictive analytics can help convert data into insights.

In addition there are some common strategy changes that top performers have employed to manage big data in CEM.

Big Data Aberdeen

For all the effort put into collecting data, isn’t it time that the data started working for you?