by Christine OBrien on January 23rd, 2015
The millennials are coming. By 2015, millennials—76 million strong—will have a combined purchasing power of $2.45 trillion worldwide, according to a recent study conducted by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. When millennials are looking to interact with companies/brands online, Facebook is the most popular platform as 62 percent “like” at least one brand on the social media network. Also consider the fact that the majority of Twitter users are between 18-29 years-old.
Born and raised in the golden age of technology, millennials consume information when and how they want to, expect immediate access to information via a number of contact channels, and perceive stellar customer service through an entirely different lens than their preceding generations. But clearly, companies are missing the mark when it comes to servicing millennials’ needs.
There will be severe consequences for companies that fail to adapt their customer engagement strategies to this generation. No longer can companies hang on to the antiquated tactics that worked on less tech-savvy consumers of the past. So here’s the critical question for businesses as the millennials’ purchasing power rises: Is your company’s contact center sophisticated enough to sufficiently cater to this generation? For example, does it boast omni-channel service—SMS, email, live chat—that provides millennials with anytime, anywhere access to information or social media software to enable social customer care that creates real value?
Here are two ways to ensure your existing contact center is measuring up for millennials:
Create Consistent Messaging: Whether it be through social media, mobile Web, text or live chat, millennials want answers. As a result, your company needs to implement consistent messaging across both live and self-service channels to keep prospective customers satisfied. For instance, the service over the phone should mirror the experience over social media. In addition, as consumers move between channels, they want a seamless transition to pick up where they left off. For example, if a millennial at work has to abruptly leave a live chat with a company, the phone call later that night should include the context of the earlier communication.
Social Media Engagement: We’ve all seen countless millennials swiping through their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds numerous times a day. Your company should leverage this power of social media to have meaningful, two-way conversations with your millennial customers.
By providing this next generation with a broad range of ways to contact your company, your millennial customers will feel attended to and noticed, leading to greater bottom line revenue for your company. For example, Aspect’s cutting-edge call center software, Zipwire, brings all contact options together in one place on one unified platform; your agents will be able to keep talking, typing and conversing with customers through the channels that are most convenient for them. By providing more channel choices and self-service features, agents will be empowered with useful, relevant and impactful information to give customers the flexibility, convenience and autonomy, which defines a digitally driven lifestyle that’s fast becoming the global norm.
Interested in learning how a modern contact center can improve your customer experience? Contact an Aspect representative if you’d like to keep the conversation going.
by Rebecca Anderson on January 19th, 2015
You’ve likely heard of, if not tried Siri, Cortana, the Lowes robot (OSHbots) or Amazon’s Echo. These virtual assistants are only becoming more popular and more relied on. Whether it is reporting the traffic or identifying the proper stain for new cabinets, the basic purpose behind each is to help consumers to help themselves. Attempting alternate methods of customer service before contacting a live agent is nothing new. We “Google it,” look up a tutorial on YouTube or crowd source our query through Twitter or Quora. We believe that we can do simple tasks faster and possibly better ourselves than with the assistance of a customer service representative.
Aberdeen’s February 2014 report on self-service, Optimizing the Self-Service Experience: Help Customer Help Themselves, demonstrates that consumers both want to use self-service to solve simple issues and are happy with the results when they do. Companies on board with self-service stand to benefit, they enjoy 85% year-over-year increase in customer retention rates compared to companies without self-service. This means higher customer loyalty with less operating costs. Self-service implementation even has a positive effect on contact center KPIs. New research from help desk reviews and comparisons website Software Advice shows that first-level resolution, call abandonment rates, and speed to answer had the most considerable improvements .
Demand hasn’t exactly kept up with implementation though. According to Aberdeen less than half of companies currently have a self-service portal. However they do recognize the need for self-service with over 75% planning to adopt in the future.
Advances in self-service technology have helped match consumer preferences to reality. A few of Aspect’s newest technologies support self-service on social, SMS, and improve the experience on smartphones. For more details take a look at Aspect InQueue Self-Service, and Aspect Text Self-Service.
by Christine OBrien on January 14th, 2015
If you’ve attended ACE in the past, you probably already know how much value we can pack into three days of networking, keynote speakers, breakouts, workshops, entertainment, product demos and more. But if you need more convincing – or need a head-start on building your business case for the trip to Las Vegas in April – here are a few relevant details.
Networking and Entertainment
Among last year’s ACE Conference attendees, 74% of those attending were Business Decision Makers, including C-level execs, VPs, Directors and Managers. Time spent networking with other professionals during events like ACE can have a wide range of positive effects both personally and professionally. For example, networking benefits you by enabling you to connect with peers in your industry to share the benefit of others’ experience in a given area, or and ask for advice on challenges you might have encountered recently. At ACE, this benefit is multiplied since you’ll have the unique opportunity to engage with other Aspect customers – using the same solutions your teams use everyday, and even solutions you might be considering implementing.
We know the importance of networking, so we’ve packed the schedule for ACE 2015 with opportunities to make connections with peers, industry leaders, and Aspect experts. One such opportunity will be the Networking Party held at the Marquee Nightclub at the Cosmopolitan with food, drinks, music, entertainment, and more.
Breakout Sessions and Workshops
ACE 2014 featured breakouts and workshops on a wide range of topics relevant to contact center and customer experience topics. This year’s agenda is already loaded with topics and explorations that will open new areas of discussion and shed light in new directions where our business is heading. We’ll delve into Cloud, Internet of Things, Mobility, Web Chat, Video, Intelligent Routing, and so much more.
But not only that, we’ll discuss concepts within the context of what’s possible and what’s on the horizon for Aspect product development, giving you first-look insight into our roadmap for delighting customers and keeping ahead of the curve.
EARLY BIRD PRICES are in effect until Feb. 28. REGISTER NOW to receive $50 off standard ACE pricing, which includes all workshops, breakout sessions, networking events and meals.
Don’t wait… space is limited!
by Alyx Kaczuwka on January 12th, 2015
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. It’s as true for customer service as it is anything else in life. There are so many instances these days where you might find yourself wishing you could just point your phone at a device and show a customer service rep what you’re talking about rather than having to explain it in words. For me, this happened most recently as I was trying to describe a series of flashing lights on a router to our Internet technical support. But this kind of visual information-sharing has the capability to enhance what we call “mobile moments” – the micro-level customer experiences that streamline the process of getting customers to a resolution – in any industry, allowing customers to seamlessly complete more complex interactions with your agents.
Most customers, especially those on a mobile device, have already made an attempt at self-service before they pose their question to a live agent. They might have gone through a technical document and found that the instructions don’t apply to their specific case, or they might need an expert opinion to identify or assess an item. To best serve customers who need to continue their dialogue with a live agent, we’ve introduced Aspect Augmented Chat.
With Aspect Augmented Chat, Aspect first connects the customer to a live agent via voice or text chat, using the context of their inquiry to route them to the appropriate agent. Then, both the customer and agent have the capability to enhance their interaction with rich media, like photos, documents, or peer-to-peer video interaction.
For an example of how Aspect Augmented Chat looks in practice for both the customer and an agent, take a look at the following exchange:
Our customer has recently added a fabulous original photo, “Cat on a Hot Air Balloon,” to his art collection. After making the purchase, he wants to notify his insurance company of the addition to his collection to ensure he is properly covered. He visits ABC Insurance’s mobile app to make the addition, but it’s ABC’s policy to inspect all artwork and jewelry to ensure its original condition is good before it’s added to a customer’s insurance rider. With one click, he can engage with a live agent, who immediately receives the context of Mike’s inquiry. Mike and the agent start their conversation via text chat, then engage via video so that she can verify his artwork is in insurable condition.
Aspect Augmented Chat is designed to complement your existing mobile solutions, and integrates with Aspect Unified IP and Zipwire contact center environments, making it available both in the cloud and on-premise. The solution makes it easy to empower your agents to respond to complex inquiries, deliver a seamless customer journey from self-service to agent assistance, and improve cost efficiencies via reduced 800 calls, increased first-contact resolution, decreased duration of agent interactions and expedited business documentation processes.
by Tobias Goebel on January 9th, 2015
You might not think of it that way, but Apple Watch, judging from the specs unveiled back in September, is probably the ultimate communication device. And as such, it should be on any customer care technologist’s radar. Let me explain by starting with a brief history of human language.
The study of language
Social communication is everything. It’s the essence of mankind. No other “man-made” system is more complex than that of the human language. If you deal with language as a system, you will soon realize the intricacies that lie in our combination of sounds, gestures, mimics that all make up this system. The sound structure alone is more than just ABC, the magic lies in what linguists call the suprasegmentals, such as melody, intonation, tone, stress, pitch, even volume.
When we added to spoken communication a system of written language some hundreds of years BC, we did just enough to carry the most basic suprasegmental traits over with punctuation and diacritics. Since written language was not primarily meant to represent everyday dialog but rather thoughts, facts and argumentation, the set of expressions of suprasegmentals available was just enough to avoid too many misunderstandings that a richer system of cues would help avoid almost completely.
The advent of the Internet soon allowed quicker forms of communication than the basic postal letter, such as email, and we started realizing the need for written representation of nuances such as a wink or sadness that could easily convey the same tone or color of sound in spoken communication. We invented the smileys, emoticons. They let us represent irony or other basic sentiment, which we could only do before through more words, or “meta” statements.
Soon after, communication got even faster with the introduction of instant messaging. Suddenly, we found ourselves representing gestures or facial expressions with acronyms such as LOL, or quite recently, SMH (“shaking my head”). We also went from using two asterisks surrounding a gestural expression (*sigh*) to the infamous “hashtag” – thanks to a few folks who came up with the idea of a “micro blog” in 2006 (technically speaking it wasn’t the founders of Twitter who came up with the hashtag, but the users). I am tempted to #SMH at that, but as a linguist by education I am just seeing (written) language evolve again, which is something that it has always done. There is also no need to despair over alleged degradation of our intricate system of language – if anything, the system is only growing in complexity, never shrinking.
Very recently, a new form of communication was again “invented” with the creation of the “Yo” app. Or was it? The app can do one thing, and one thing only: send someone a “yo.” It attracted venture capital of $1.5m. Now you might be throwing another #SMH at that at first sight, but think about it. When is the last time you sent a simple nod of your head someone’s way? Probably today. Since context is key in understanding human language, i.e. knowing what a conversation is about and knowing what has already been said (linguists call the study of context pragmatics), a nod can be all that’s needed in a certain context that both communicating parties share. Yo has seen over a million downloads after only a few days. People love these simple forms of communication! Sometimes it can’t be simple enough.
In parts of India, Africa, and other areas of the so-called third world, people have agreed on ringing patterns to communicate, the so-called “flashing” or “beeping.” Rather than calling a phone with the intention to talk, they let the other party’s phone ring, having agreed on patterns beforehand. Ringing once might mean yes, twice might mean no, thrice “I’m downstairs, come out,” etc. (I think I’ve used the latter meaning myself in the past…) As long as the context is known, that might be all you need to convey sometimes. And guess what, it’s free! Ringing does not incur a charge. Something the carriers in those markets do not love at all.
Apple’s Digital Touch
With the recent introduction of the Watch, Apple presented a number of new ways to communicate, which they call Digital Touch. Here is a list of what comprises this new communication vehicle:
Since the Watch can measure your heartbeat thanks to its built-in sensors, you can literally send your current heartbeat onto somebody else’s wrist. The Watch cannot only vibrate one way, it has an elaborate vibration system that can generate tangible sensations of different durations, at different areas, of different intensities. What on Earth would I use that for I hear you ask. Maybe to share my heartbeat with my girlfriend. Maybe to share it with a friend after a run (“hey, here’s my pulse, not bad after 5 miles right?”), or while watching a horror movie (“oh man this flick is intense, check out my heartbeat”) or riding a roller-coaster. Or to communicate boredom to a presenter, or relaxedness to my mom before an exam. Or… you’re next with ideas.
The Watch lets me draw on screen and then re-draws that pattern following my exact movements on the recipient’s screen. An effect that made the game Blek successful and addictive a while ago. What I draw gets re-drawn and then disappears – something that made Snapchat famous and worth $10 billion. Yes, billion. I can draw a quick check mark to send a “yes” or a “got it” to a friend. Or a house to tell dad I’m home. Or a question mark to tell my colleague I have no idea what our boss just meant with that remark on the phone call we’re both on. Or a heart to tell my girlfriend that I’m thinking of her…
I can touch the screen at different places. The touches will be shown as “drops” appearing and vanishing on the recipient’s wrist at the same rhythm that I generated them. I can imagine teenagers coming up with an elaborate “language” of touch patterns that only they can decipher. We will witness the birth of micro-languages that small groups agree on and use for communication. Something that I loved doing with friends when I was a kid. This is just a modern day version of the same.
We all loved doing this as kids, and guess what: the walkie-talkie is seeing a renaissance with apps such as Whatsapp that have been offering it for a while. You tap to record a snippet of voice or your surroundings, then let go to send. As simple as that. Apple added this feature rather late in their recent iOS 8 release, but well, they added it. And it completes the Digital Touch framework.
New ways of instant customer care communication
Customers love convenience and simplicity. They also love speed and ease of use. The Apple Watch combines all that. The growth of new customer care channels such as Twitter also point to the need (or acceptance) of to-the-point and concise or brief communication methods. While I gave you a number of examples of what people might use Digital Touch for in personal communication, you might already have started to think about applications for customer care.
Rather than sending me an email saying that my package has arrived, wouldn’t a simple sketch of a package dropped at my doorstep do the same without cluttering my inbox?
How about drawing a dollar note on my wrist if my salary got transferred to my bank account, which I might be checking today by constantly calling into the IVR on pay day?
If I get a heartbeat delivered to my wrist with my clinic as the sender, shouldn’t that be enough information to inform me that my test results are there?
Given that Apple will offer an API to Digital Touch, which will be the prerequisite to all of this, who knows: Maybe businesses will soon let me configure which “Tap” patterns to use for which predefined standard announcements so I don’t have to read lengthy email… Ultimately, doing something as advanced as this as a business just continues delivering on the promise of “being where the customers are.” I wouldn’t be surprised to see those companies that are known for great service today embrace these new possibilities in a heartbeat. (Pun intended).
by Christine OBrien on January 7th, 2015
Throughout the last year, many of the events at Aspect have been captured and chronicled on our blog in the form of new product releases and updates, industry events and interviews (thanks, Erica!), trendspotting, infographics, case studies, analyst reports, and visionary statements from executive leadership. We hope you’re making us part of your daily routine and keeping up with all our blog has to offer.
With so much activity already underway from our regular mobility, cloud, WebRTC and self-service bloggers, I have a feeling these pages are going to be anything but business as usual in 2015. Stay tuned!
Top 10 Most-Viewed Blogs in 2014:
by Yin Warren on January 5th, 2015
Hold times and redundancy can be easily avoided with the right callback solution. Businesses no longer have to suffer from negative customer perceptions and consumers no longer have to struggle with inefficient and disjointed customer service. Studies have found that consumers prefer convenient callback options rather than be put on hold. A survey by call center technology evaluation and analysis firm Software Advice uncovered that 52% of consumers would wait no more than five minutes before choosing a callback option and 63% preferred a callback instead of waiting on hold. Companies investing in callback solutions that leverage current technology and provide the most positive customer experience will differentiate their business and maximize their return.
When implementing a callback solution, companies ought to consider the following:
- Callback technology that allows pre-callback questions that are dynamically generated based on the customer journey. When the callback comes from an agent, they are equipped with the right information to more effectively serve the customer. Consumers will appreciate how much a company values their time and experience. Dynamic prequalification will improve first call resolution and eliminate the need to go through an IVR.
- Callback technology that offers a mobile friendly experience. Consumers turn to their smartphones for everything these days. This is an opportunity for businesses to create and exploit micro customer experiences and “mobile moments” serving the customer at the moment of need with an in-app callback feature. Read more on micro customer experiences and mobile moments in our recent blog Disposable Apps and Their Place in Your Mobile
Customer Care Strategy
- Callback technology that integrates easily with existing contact center infrastructure. Why rip and replace or deal with difficult integrations when there are solutions that can easily fit into your existing investment in mobile apps and mobile development platforms.
Aspect Callback Mobile, one of the solutions available in the Aspect Mobility suite, is designed with the above in mind. The solution offers in-app callback request with prior prequalification for skills-based routing and complements any mobile application development framework. See diagram below on how the solution works.
Contact us to learn how simple implementation such in-app callback functionality and prequalifying before a callback can save costs while delighting your customers.
by Super Agent Erica on December 29th, 2014
If you’ve been following me on Twitter or Facebook this past year, you know how much of a blast I’ve had giving shout-outs to my fellow agents and businesses who are going above and beyond to deliver remarkable customer service. Not only is it motivating and inspiring to know we’re making customers happy, it’s great for the bottom line as well. Positive experiences help build relationships, which drives long-term loyalty. An Aspect-sponsored study conducted by GfK Custom Research, LLC found that nine out of ten businesses (90%) and nearly all customers (97%) agree that good customer service helps build relationships, which is what fuels repeat buying behavior. Hello, higher profit margins!
I was looking over recent stats like these on customer service trends, and it hit me – we should be looking ahead for ways to drive even BETTER customer experiences in 2015! That’s how my New Year’s Resolutions were born. Take a look, and feel free to share them with your team!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
by Christine OBrien on December 24th, 2014
by Tim Dreyer on December 19th, 2014
The Customer Service Personas study, commissioned by Aspect and conducted by GfK Custom Research, LLC, is a two-part qualitative (17 respondents) and quantitative (629 respondents) survey of customer service decision makers at the senior manager level and across the retail, travel/hospitality, healthcare, financial services and telecommunications industries. From this data, we uncovered five main groups that companies fall into based on their investment, approach and attitudes towards delivering customer service. Are you supremely slow on giving your customers digital channels like chat and social? Your company might be a Traditionalist. Do you prefer your customers avoid agent contact in favor of self-service channels? You might be a Selfie. Armed with this insight, you’ll have the capability to identify potential business impacts of your preferred approach, including where to spot opportunities for improving your overall customer experience.
Take a look at the infographic below, and then click to explore our Customer Service Personas pages for details on each persona and the research behind them!