Connected Customer Service: Let the Apple and Google Standards War Begin

by Tim Dreyer on May 29th, 2015

Tim Dreyer, Director, Public Relations and Analyst Relations, AspectBeta or VHS? GSM or CDMA? Apple or Android?

The battle for competing tech standards goes back centuries. Just ask Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla who famously and by some reports unscrupulously competed to have their standard for an electric power distribution selected during the early days of commercial and residential wiring. At stake were investment dollars, patent royalties and egos.

Now that it looks like the Internet of Things (IoT) is finally starting to gain real traction, a standard scrum looks to be forming.

This week Google announced Brillo, an internet of things operating system that will standardize the connectivity of smart devises to create the fully connected home.Tesla

Brillo will run on and connect multiple low-power devices, networking anything from an oven to a garage door opener while connecting them to existing Google technologies and communication devices. Brillo (running on Google’s standard Weave) is designed to be a simple system that allows for easy connection between devices and would give Google a head start in ecosystem.

However, as you might expect Apple has their own plans. Apple’s HomeKit (set to be available later this year), is a common language that smart devices from any manufacturer can understand and support. HomeKit also deploys Siri, Apple’s voice assistance, letting you control smart devices with just your voice.

We’ve been talking about the impact IoT will have on customer service for some time. Now that things are really starting to heat up, the connectivity between contact center technologies and CRM platforms is all the more critical. Gartner predicts that CRM will be at the heart of IoT communications in coming years as organizations look to create more intelligent and targeted interactions across channels and in this case across appliances. Varying predictions have anywhere from 26 to 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020.

Customers will no longer be faced with product fails as devices like cars, printers and microwave ovens will let them or the manufacturer know when an issue is about to happen, before it happens. Then an alternator will be scheduled to be replaced or a faulty bulb will be delivered before we even experience a problem thanks to the ability of these devices to communicate to us and to the people who built them.

The battle for IoT standardization is just getting started and we may one day soon have to decide between an Apple or an Android bread maker. Until then, at stake in the IoT market are investment dollars, patent royalties and egos. Some things never change.

 

Consumer Engagement in the Self-Service Economy

by Joe Gagnon, SVP & General Manager, Cloud Solutions on May 26th, 2015

Joe GagnonIf prompted, the vast majority of us can all share a personal story about a recent customer service experience. And I’m guessing the vast majority of those stories involve some level of dissatisfaction, lack of resolution and frustration. I know I can. The story I’ve been telling in a recent blog post involves an un-named hotel that I frequently visit that greets me as a new guest on every visit – not recognizing that I’ve been there at least a dozen times. Brands should be troubled that even despite all the new consumer interaction technology, customer service is actually worse today than in years past. Even scarier is that consumers are not standing still. In a recent survey by the Center for Generational Kinetics and Aspect, we found that 55% of consumers say that their customer service expectations have increased over the past three years. And the same number said that they have moved from at least one company in the past year due to poor customer service. This should be alarming to any consumer-facing brand…and my hotel chain of choice.

The survey, that we conducted, of consumer engagement of all adult demographics examined each generation’s preferences and expectations for customer service. When we looked at what consumers want when they contact service, we found that consumers would prefer to conduct service related transactions and interactions on their own rather than talk to a customer service representative. In fact over 70% of people want the ability to solve most product and service issues by themselves. The problem is that most of them can’t. Not effectively anyway. Is this a new development or an artifact of generations past? Well actually, consumers have always wanted to be independent and autonomous and now technology has finally caught up and is enabling us to do more than we could before.

Between crowdsourcing, video tutorials, and online communities, consumers arguably know more, by the time they speak to their customer service representative, than they do. It would only be fitting then, that consumers would rather conduct and complete an interaction on their own. The self-service economy is here and the only way for brands to achieve success is to ensure that every technology investment or process change supports these new consumer expectations:

Know me. Carry the context and data from every interaction seamlessly to the next interaction even if the customer switches channels or switches from self-service to live assistance.

Make it mobile. A complete mobile customer experience must leverage all channels available on a mobile device. In fact, the vast majority (70 percent) of consumers would rather text than talk.

Let me do it. The reality is that customer satisfaction is higher in a DIY model largely because we are much more forgiving of ourselves when it comes to service. According to IBM Retail Research, 72% of customers prefer self-service over picking up the phone and 91% would use self-service if it was available.

Make it social. Consumers use social media to crowdsource for help, speak to a company representative, and publically vent. Brands and consumers are drawn to social media for its inherent simplicity as a communication channel.

Fit it into my life. Consumers don’t feel they should be constrained by business hours of operation anymore. They are on the go and conducting their business at every hour of the day. As a result, brands should enable their customers to contact them at any hour of the day and on any medium they prefer.

Save me time. Advances in mobile technology has lessened consumers’ patience for waiting. No one is willing to tolerate a three day wait for an email reply or a hold time longer than a minute. They also have little patience for having to go through a contact center for simple queries that they could have solved themselves.

Make me smarter. Consumers expect that they’ll be informed ahead of time if there is going to be a known change in service. Brands can proactively communicate with customers to inform them of order status messages, appointment and prescription reminders, service outage notifications, and other messages depending on business needs.

The consumer-company relationship has forever changed. Self-service consumer engagement does not have to be lackluster and unfulfilling. With the proper technology we can help consumers as they aspire to do more, have more, be more and at the same time create greater loyalty and longer-term customer value by engaging with them differently and on their terms. It represents an exciting opportunity for both brands and customers and it will be fun to be part of this shift in consumer engagement and the opportunities afforded those who get it right!

Tobias Goebel On Domino’s Self-Service Offering

by Tim Dreyer on May 22nd, 2015

Aspect’s Director of Emerging Technologies, Tobias Goebel, explains the importance and impact of Domino’s decision to offer pizza ordering on social media via self-service and utilizing Twitter’s broader direct message capability.

Tobias Dominos 2

Domino’s CEO Patrick Doyle “It’s the epitome of convenience. We’ve got this down to a 5 second exchange.”

See Us At Call Center Week

by Maddy Hubbard on May 20th, 2015

Maddy HubbardWe’re taking our vision for Consumer Engagement 20/20 on the road! Visit us at Call Center Week June 17th – 18th at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Visit us at Booth 302 to talk about strategies and solutions for meeting the expectations of the “now” customer. And, while you’re there, don’t miss your chance to enter our Apple Watch giveaway!

If you’re not already registered for Call Center Week, you can get a free expo hall pass here.

We’d love to see you at the show! If you’d like to schedule a 1:1 demo in advance, please email Samantha.Johansen@Aspect.com to request a meeting.

Plus, while you’re at our booth, register for your chance to win a brand-new Apple Watch!

We’re looking forward to seeing you there.

What Marketers Can Learn From the Customer Experience

by Jim Freeze, SVP, CMO on May 18th, 2015

Jim Freeze, SVP & CMOCustomer service experiences are a universal frustration. Chances are most of us can rattle off a bad customer service experience without a moment’s hesitation. According to the results of a new consumer survey from Aspect, our customer service expectations have increased in the past three years and they’re likely to continue increasing.

Most brand’s today place far more budget and attention into getting customer attention versus giving consumers attention, even when it is becoming more and more apparent that the customer experience can make or break a brand. This is remarkable considering it costs 6-7 times more to acquire a new customer than keep a current one [i]. So with this in mind, here are some important issues marketers need to consider about the customer experience.

  1. People Love to Share Bad Customer Service

Thanks to the rise of social media and the always-on experience, consumers today are empowered to be brand evangelists or antagonists to their legions of friends, families and professional contacts. Our survey found that 55% of consumers stop doing business with at least one company during the past year because of bad customer experience [iii]. A bad experience can instantaneously ignite like wildfire via a social network and potentially spread to mainstream media  – creating a new negative hurdle  for marketers to overcome. Good customer service not only minimizes the existence of brand antagonists, it creates advocates that make marketers’ jobs a helluva lot easier.

  1. Exceptional Customer Service Can Make a Bigger Financial Impact on Your Business Than You Think

Consumers overwhelming show appreciation for great customer service with their wallets. In fact, consumers say they would pay more just to ensure a superior customer experience [ii]. The Aspect study found that 76% of consumers said that customer service is a ‘true test’ of how much a company values its customers [iii]. This runs counter to the perception five to six years ago where customer service was seen as an expense and not as an investment in growing the business. Customer service is critical touch point l for facilitating engagement with customers and, the result is increased loyalty and customer spend.

In many ways exceptional customer experiences can be exceptional marketing. The service touch-point provides another opportunity to reinforce the brand message. A great experience can become an organic and viral response that the customer will evangelize on behalf of the brand.

  1. Personalize the Customer Experience and Your Business Will Attract and Sustain Customers

Consumers want to engage with the companies they do business with, but on their own terms. No longer are customers reaching out directly to agents via phone – they are looking to contact companies via websites, live chat social media and text.  In fact, 4 in 10 of millennials (people born between 1980 and 2000)   prefer purely online customer service versus talking to a live agent [iii]. Marketers who recognize this can take advantage of the opportunity to build customer loyalty by giving customers personalized care, including the channels of communications they want. We’ve found that personalization is so important to consumers that they are willing to provide more data in exchange for enhanced personalization.

  1. Customer Interactions Provide Invaluable Insight and Fuel New Feature Development

Through personalization of the customer experience, marketers are provided critical data for developing new insights. Whenever customers contact customer service, companies are hearing what the brand perception is and what challenges they are facing. Marketers can use this knowledge to draft new insights for future marketing efforts and tailor existing offers to better meet customers’ needs. 7 in 10 people say that they feel more loyal to a company when that company shows them that they know them [iii]. People today, especially millennials,  value customer experience more than the functions and features in a product and as a result experience can engender brand loyalty.

  1. Understand, Learn and Drive Action From the Customer Journey

It is time for marketers to recognize the insight the customer journey can provide. If you follow your customers’ experiences across all touch points you’ll be amazed at the wealth of information you’ll acquire. Do they have a satisfactory experience on each channel and are able to move effortlessly between them? Understanding the journey can give insight into how their experience effects their loyalty to you and their future business with you. Pick up the phone and call, tweet or text customer your service. You’ll be surprised what you learn.

[i] White House Office of Consumer Affairs

[ii]Customer Experience Impact Report by Harris Interactive/RightNow, 2010

[iii] The Aspect Consumer Experience Index: Millennial Research on Customer Service Expectations

 

Are Your Customers Calling a Place That Always Knows Their Name?

by Joe Gagnon, SVP & General Manager, Cloud Solutions on May 14th, 2015

Joe GagnonI’m not much of a TV watcher. These days I consume most of my video from the 25 or so YouTube channels I subscribe to. But there are a few television programs that stick with me. Cheers, the 80s sitcom set in Boston, is one of those shows. I spent a part of my early career in Boston so it was hard to avoid the notoriety the show brought the city. Cheers also had one of the most memorable theme songs of any show in its day, sitcom or drama. You know how it goes:

“Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.”

And for the past ten years, or so, I used the song as the inspiration for how we should think about the consumer experience. Think about it for a minute  – don’t we love it when people know who we are and treat us like we matter?  Of course we do  – but alas it seems that this feeling of “know me” is fleeting and I dare say that the Cheers song is the last one you sung (in your head of course) after your most recent customer service experience.  Case in point, we at Aspect conducted a consumer survey and found that 68% of the consumers we asked said that their top customer service frustration was repeating themselves multiple times to multiple people. That means two out of every three of you weren’t doing much of any singing.

I am sure that this “situation” comes up in your life all too often.  For me, I think about the song nearly every time I check into the hotel I stay in every time I go to Phoenix.IMG_3400

I’m a bit of a workout enthusiastic. Some may say fanatic. Let’s compromise and just say I’m a very disciplined fitness routine practitioner. Because of this I stay at the same hotel every time I’m in Phoenix, primarily because they have my favorite piece of equipment, a pull up bar, and since I do a lot of pull ups, I stay at this hotel a lot.  (We won’t divulge their name because they are a customer of ours).

But as much as I stay there, every time I check-in they ask “Is this your first stay with us?” I am tempted to reply, “Well if you don’t count the two nights I was here last week or the couple of times I stayed here the month before that or the ten or so other times I was here, then yes, this is my first stay with you.”

It’s amazing how something as small as a personal greeting (or lack thereof) can make such a positive or negative impression. If we simply acknowledge the customers who we service and show them that we not only “know them” but we use their history with us to personalize the experience it would make their service interaction a whole lot better. In this case, my “favorite” hotel has what I want so they will get me back there soon enough but boy would it be nice if they did recognize me next time I came there.  I might even refer others to the hotel if this happened. :)

Think about your own customer service delivery.  Would your customers say they are calling a place that always knows their name? When your service representatives answer a chat or respond to a tweet, do they give your customers the sense that you are glad they came?  I think we all have a bit of work to do – the good news is that it is not really that hard, and the opportunity to improve customer satisfaction and business performance are high and what could be better than that?

Breezing Through Allergy Season

by Kathleen Schroeder on May 14th, 2015

Kathleen SchroederBy Aspect Software and Healthcare Intelligence

March 20th marked the first day of spring.  According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, for an estimated 40 million people living within the United States, this also marks the start of allergy season.

Streamline Access to Information

Allergies are common, affecting about 10%-30% of adults in the United States annually.(New York Daily News, March 2015) Click to tweet this!

Finding accurate information and navigating through healthcare systems can be a daunting task. Aspect’s patient-focused network connects patients to the appropriate resources in a timely manner, where clinical questions, appointment scheduling, or other concerns can be addressed with the most accurate information.

Aspect streamlines patient access by:

  • Easing navigation within healthcare organizations
  • Connecting the patient to multiple departments and locations
  • Strengthening the patient-physician relationship through direct access to appointments

The education, prevention, and treatment of allergies doesn’t have to be an overwhelming and complicated task. With the help of Aspect, navigating through a healthcare system is a simple task of connecting patients to the right information or staff when in-need.

Build Proactive Patient-Doctor Relationships

Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month focuses on educating patients who are affected by allergies.

Proactive spring allergy sufferers stay one step ahead of symptoms. (Healthy Living News) Click to tweet this!

Understanding the causes behind asthma and allergies is key to the proactive prevention and treatment. Allergy symptoms can range from mild to severe and with proper treatment, are rarely dangerous.  Identifying symptoms and triggering substances is key to helping doctors and patients collaborate to create effective treatment plans. Aspect can help both patients and doctors manage through this difficult time with a purpose built suite of proactive healthcare solutions.

Aspect Healthcare Proactive Engagement solutions provide proactive patient care by using information about your patients collected through surveys, interaction quality monitoring, social monitoring, patient histories and other tools and resources to accurately anticipate needs and interests of patients. Drive the best patient and business outcomes from proactive outreach and care efforts with the ability to: optimize provider schedules and revenues by reminding patients of upcoming appointments Maximize patient engagement in their own care Enhance the management of chronic and preventative care Strengthen the patient-provider relationship Knowing where your patients are helps you determine the best contact methods to use for proactive communication and when to use them, so you save time and resources.

Ensure Superior Patient Experiences

Whether a patient is experiencing minor or severe allergic symptoms, they need to connect to their physician in a manner that is convenient to their needs and lifestyle.  When patients are sick, they need answers not wait time on hold trying to schedule an appointment.

Patients are customers who desire, pay for, and deserve the best possible care and experience during what is often a challenging time in their lives. (Teletech, November 2014) Click to tweet this!

Aspect Patient Connect improves your patient interaction experience with your health system by allowing them 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. When allergy season strikes, your patients have enough to worry about without being put on hold.

Help your patients get through allergy season with proactive outreach, creating superior patient experiences by leveraging intelligent technology to proactively identify patients who need allergy care and initiating customizable notifications regarding visits, tests, procedures or other follow-up care.

Aspect Healthcare can help you make allergy season a breeze for your patients. Isn’t that what healthcare should be all about?

Learn more about Aspect’s healthcare solutions

The Faces of ACE : A Photographic Retelling of Aspect ACE 2015

by Tim Dreyer on May 12th, 2015

Last week, we were all about that ACE, the Aspect Customer Experience event where we spent 3 ½ days in Las Vegas with our customers collaborating, discovering and networking on industry issues, best practices and innovation around the customer experience. ACE offered an unparalleled opportunity for our partners, customers and employees to converse and connect. Here is a photo story of the time we had:

All of our customers are awesome and many of them are OmniAwesome but there are only a few who can hashtag their OmniAwesomeness or just a few who chose to anyway.

 

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To break the ice on the first day of ACE we started a selfie contest complete with Aspect Chat windows. Everybody was a winner…except for a few of our tech-challenged employees.

 

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But ACE wasn’t all about funny pics and selfie sticks.

CMO Jim Freeze Kicked things off with what we were going to do over the next several days including some attendance stats. Aside from our core verticals of financial services, healthcare and telecom, there were 23 total verticals represented this year. And our attendance was up by over 40% from last year.

VerticalsDo our customers love us or Las Vegas? Don’t answer that.

Next came our CEO Stew Bloom, who after giving a very positive overview of our corporate performance, presented the three seismic shifts affecting the consumer engagement space today: radical business model  disruption brought on by companies like Uber and Lending Club, Cloud Domination and how it is accelerating technology development and adoption and lastly the Internet of Things and how in 10 years, IoT applications could generate over $6 trillion in economic impact per year.

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Stew wrapped up by sharing that Aspect’s mindset continues to be to Re-engage, Re-think, Re-plan and Re-work everything in order to continue to deliver value to our partners and customers.


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Next Aspect Cloud GM Joe Gagnon talked about Consumer Engagment 20/20 and how companies must embrace a new model for Consumer Engagement to achieve sustainable growth in an emerging “Flat and Frictionless World.”

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His main points: Consumer self-service is the most compelling long-term solution for meeting today’s elevated customer expectations, excellence in Customer Service enhances traditional Marketing and finally the Collaborative/Sharing economy challenges conventional consumer engagement models and traditional views on consumer loyalty.

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Executives Ken Ewell (Professional Services), Mike Regan (Engineering) and Spence Mallder (Chief Technology Officer) rounded out the morning to frame the thinking, the discussion and the Aspect solutions for what we are calling the New Consumer Engagement.

Combo

We even had a graphic artist capture the morning in an infographic.

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Tuesday began with the Gen Y Guy himself, Jason Dorsey, who wowed the crowd with an eye-opening presentation and data on why Millennials are changing the customer experience dynamic. They are demanding greater independence (self-service) and more digital interaction options (chat, social).

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But between the keynotes and the breakouts we did get a chance to catch our collective breath and connect. We had a fabulous night at the Marquee where we talked, had some great food, watched performance painter David Garibaldi and watched illuminated beach balls with Aspect Logos float around the pool. Seeing as those were the only things in the pool that night, the event was a sound success.

ACE Party

We ended things with the ACE Awards which recognize and celebrate our customer organizations that are achieving outstanding success with Aspect technologies. In each award category, winners are chosen for their ability to provide amazing customer experiences or realize substantial organizational efficiencies in the deployment and application of their Aspect solution.

Award Winners

Aspect President Chris Koziol presented the awards in the categories of: Best Use of WFO Technology Most Innovative Application of CXP Best Omni-Channel Solution Most Comprehensive Cloud Solution Best Customer Experience Vision. Thanks to all of you who made it out. And for those of you who didn’t, drop us a line. We’d be happy to start a conversation, share the content, even hook you up with your own hashtag. #AspectACE2016 work for you?

Infographic: Making it Through the Millennial Customer Service Maze

by Rebecca Anderson on May 11th, 2015

Entitled. Tech-dependent. Social media-obsessed. When you read these words are you picturing a Millennial? This group of 80 million strong may have gotten itself a bad reputation from the older generations, but really, which older generation doesn’t think the younger ones are slackers? But Millennials are also passionate, risk takers, and very experience loyal. Stereotypes aside, with Millennials estimated to outspend Boomers by 2017, companies can’t ignore the spending power and influence of the Millennials for much longer without risking going out of business.

At Aspect we took a look at how this generation is impacting the customer experience. Along with Millennial expert, Jason Dorsey from the Center of Generational Kinetics we surveyed adults of all ages and examined the generational and technological divergence between consumer groups and their perceptions and preferences towards customer service. Through analysis we developed The Aspect Consumer Experience Index: Millennial Research on Customer Service Expectations that provides analysis on how companies can adapt to this shifting consumer challenge.

Take a look at the infographic for insights that will help you address Millennials’ evolving needs and expectations when engaging with your brand — before they take their business elsewhere.

Millennial Maze hi-resFINAL

Making it Through the Millennial Customer Service Maze

Aspect ACE 2015 (April 26-29) Live Broadcast Schedule

by Tim Dreyer on April 24th, 2015

ACE 2020

Can’t make it to this year’s ACE event? No problem. You can follow along in a number of ways.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram for live feeds at @AspectSoftware and follow the event hashtag #AspectACE15.

Or, check in with us on our live broadcasts on Periscope. Just look for the link on our Aspect Twitter feed when we’re getting ready to broadcast.

Click the link from your desk or phone and see us live in Las Vegas!

Here is the Periscope Schedule (all times EST):

Sunday April 26

4:00 PM      Kim Martin, Director of North American Marketing & Jim Freeze, Aspect Chief Marketing Officer– What ACE is All About

Monday April 27

11:20 AM    Walk-in for General Session

3:05 PM     Aspect Exec Interview – Aspect CEO Stew Bloom

5:30 PM     Aspect Customer Check-in

9:00 PM     ACE Showcase – Interviews

Tuesday April 28

8:30 AM     Cloud Crowd Run with Aspect SVP Joe Gagnon

11:20 AM    Michael Kropidlowski – What about Consumer Engagement?

1:20 PM      Check-in with ACE Keynoter Jason Dorsey, “The Gen Y Guy”

3:05 PM     Aspect Customer Check-in

7:10 PM     ACE Showcase – Interviews

Wednesday April 29

1:10 PM     ACE Awards – Aspect President and General Manager, Interaction Management Chris Koziol