Innovation and Connecting the Unconnected

by Tobias Goebel on August 28th, 2015

Tobias GoebelTrue breakthroughs are rare in any industry. So is true innovation. But what does innovation even mean?

Wikipedia, our crowd-sourced and most accessible pool of human knowledge, says: “Innovation is a new idea, more effective device or process. Innovation can be viewed as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, inarticulated needs, or existing market needs. […] a process that brings together various novel ideas in a way that they have an impact on society.”

I like to define it for myself like this: Innovation is when you connect the previously unconnected. It takes certain experience and fresh thinking to come up with new ways of doing things. And often, these new ways use existing means, just re-arrange or connect them differently, to create something new that has value.

We believe we have done that with our ideas around leveraging age-old technologies in new ways to improve the mobile customer experience, increase customer touchpoints, while saving cost for the enterprise.

What are the technologies that we are re-connecting?

  • SMS: Over 20 years old, this “by-product” of mobile network communication is being discovered by businesses across all verticals and across the world for customer (and internal) communication. “If our customers are talking to each other over this channel, why can’t WE talk to our customers over this channel?” is an epiphany that is currently spawning a renaissance of a channel that was presumed to be dying not too long ago.
  • (Mobile) Web: The Web was built with openness in mind. Standardized access to information with no barriers. The return to the “software download” model with native apps was a step backward of sorts, but we are seeing new signs of the re-emergence of “Web” models lately…
  • Telephony: Oh the good old telephony network! Being able to reach any and every endpoint on this planet to me still ranks among the most impressive technological achievements of the last century. Mobile networks have not dropped the ball. The extent of our connectedness is simply amazing.
    • Interactive Voice Response (IVR): To take something uniquely human – communication through purely acoustic signals – and teaching it a computer to improve accessibility of information is something that has fascinated me for a long time. So much that I decided to study it way back when, a field called computational linguistics.
    • Call/Contact Center: Technology to centrally manage the experts of a company and give them access to knowledge bases (see below) and let them communicate with customers on the channel of their (the customers’) choice is still the foundation for any business that deems customer service important for their success.
  • Natural Language Understanding (NLU): When I alluded to “new signs of the re-emergence of Web models” above, I partly meant the ability to communicate with machines using natural language (say, English). Articles like Futures of Text or When One App Rules Them All: The Case of WeChat and Mobile in China describe this exciting new world much more eloquently than I could. Other, and way more predominant use cases for NLU today, are text and sentiment analysis as well as machine translation.
  • Knowledge Bases: If knowledge is only in the brains of your employees, you have a problem. That is, until someone invents (sic!) an API to people’s brains. Since that’s most likely still some time out, you need software to manage and maintain your company’s knowledge.

So now the big question: HOW exactly are we re-connecting these existing technologies to create something new? And why do we think this is innovative? Well, see for yourself:

As a consumer myself, I have yet to see any of my vendors offer me service and support the way we show here. But let me tell you that I would LOVE it. And our research tells us that I wouldn’t be the only one.




What do you think? Like what you’re seeing? Let us know by commenting below!

The Number I Dialed Is No Longer In Service…and That’s Ok

by Tim Dreyer on August 27th, 2015

Tim Dreyer, Director, Public Relations and Analyst Relations, AspectRecently, the U.S. Department of Transportation released a report that ravaged domestic airline carriers for the dramatic rise in customer complaints during the first half of 2015. Apparently complaints about airlines soared more than 20 percent during the period. What irked the agency was the fact that U.S. airlines are making record profits this year due to full planes and low fuel prices. Cancellations, delays andNo Longer In Service misconnections were the most common complaints, followed by gripes about baggage, reservations and ticketing, and yes, good ‘ol fashioned customer service.

Then, in what can be simply categorized as unfortunate timing, Frontier Airlines announced that they were doing away with their toll-free customer service number. And even though the discount Airline said they were going to pass the $160,000 a month they’ll be saving on to customers, Frontier got blistered in the press. Yes, timing was not in their corner but was the criticism really merited?

Frontier isn’t the first big brand to eliminate its toll-free number, and they certainly won’t be the last. Consumer demand for self-service and chat and mobile interaction are slowly rendering traditional customer support models such as 1-800 numbers, even voice, obsolete. The use of automated self-service customer support programs that heavily leverage text messaging, social media, and customized Web portals is on the rise and consumers strongly prefer them. In the Aspect Consumer Index research we did earlier this year, we found that if all channels were equal in terms of privacy and ease of use, the use of chat and SMS would increase 250% and 367% respectively. That’s saying, if a brand provides the right experience on those channels, there won’t be anyone talking on the phone. Well, hardly anyone.



Tapping into Twitter for Customer Self-Service – Podcast

by Rebecca Anderson on August 25th, 2015

Saddletree Research Podcast Series

On his latest Podcast Series installment, Paul Stockford shares recent research that over half of U.S. based contact centers use some form of social media for customer service. And while Twitter continues to grow in use, Facebook for customer service is in decline. Tobias and Paul discuss why that is and what the opportunism are for self-service applications on Twitter.

The Aspect Week that Was: 8/21/15

by Tim Dreyer on August 21st, 2015

Here are the links to what I covered in this week’s #AWW on Periscope:

AWW 8-21-15

1) Please Continue to Hold…and hold…and Text, and Facebook Us – AdAge article on a better IVR experience featuring Joe Gagnon

2) Aspect Nabs Avaya Channel Duo for Partner Drive – CRN UK Article on our recent channel reps across the pond.

3) Aspect’s CMO Jim Freeze in the Philippines – see what he was up to!

4) NEW Infographic: Customer Service Investment Currently Experiencing Travel Delays?  Aspect Blog

Infographic: Customer Service Investment Currently Experiencing Travel Delays

by Tim Dreyer on August 21st, 2015

You might have one or two last minute getaways planned but for the most part summer travel is winding down. I’d like you to think back on your recent travel experiences. Were you able to get the assistance you needed on the communication channels you preferred to use? Or did you find yourself having to repeat your requests to multiple people?

We recently surveyed customer service decision makers in the travel and hospitality industry. We discovered that the industry as a whole values customer service but they’ve been slow to adapt to changing consumer communication preferences. Take a look at the infographic for more details on our findings and to see the greatest areas for improvement.

Infographic - Travel Industry - June 2015_4-01 (2)

Analyst Report: Mapping the Mobile Customer Decision Journey

by Maddy Hubbard on August 19th, 2015

Maddy HubbardA study conducted by International Data Corporation found that 79% of smartphone users have their phone with them for all but two hours of their waking day. And a full quarter of respondents couldn’t recall a time when their phone wasn’t in the same room with them.

I don’t know about you, but I am guilty as charged. iStock_000022818508_Large

Improve the Mobile Customer Experience

As mobile marketing emerges as a critical component to the customer experience, a mobile strategy is becoming essential to maintain the bottom line. And when you consider a recent Gartner survey found that 89% of marketers expect that by 2016 their companies will be competing primarily on customer experience, understanding the mobile customer journey is more important than ever.

The Gartner Report, Mapping the Mobile Customer Decision Journey shares how mobile makes a compelling contribution to improved customer experiences and much more.

Get your copy now!

Spotlighting the Benefits of Adopting Centralization to Alleviate Provider Fear

by Bob Trine on August 17th, 2015

Bob TrineAdvances in information technology software and telephony systems have led to a transformation in how hospital systems deliver patient care and increase patient satisfaction. Similar to many other industries, changes in healthcare can trigger fear in patients, front-end staff, and clinical providers. Change can be defined as:

“A modification to a person’s environment, situation, or physical-mental condition that results in circumstances that challenge their existing paradigms. What our definition implies is that humans have a tendency to define how their world is supposed to work. Whenever something happens in our personaliStock_000018939372Small world or to our own being that is inconsistent with the way we feel the world should be, we encounter change” (Dachis, 2013).

Healthcare is evolving at a rapid pace. With the increased amount of affordable healthcare plans, the number of patients seeking access to clinical care has grown. This creates a higher demand for patient-centric scheduling, and the need for providers to offer greater access to their patient populations. To meet the needs of their patients, hospital systems are switching from volume-based care to value-based care, and patient-centered models are being implemented.

For many hospital systems, increasing patients’ access to providers and resources is becoming more challenging. In order to manage the increasing number of patient demands, several hospital systems are implementing a centralized scheduling, contact center model. Centralized scheduling increases appropriate patient access, and creates visibility into multiple departments at once; this combination makes leveraging network-wide capacity possible (Datamark, 2014).

Implementing centralized scheduling within a hospital system has several valuable benefits; however, for some front-end staff and clinical providers, centralization can generate fear and uncertainty. Prior to the implementation of a centralized scheduling model, clinical providers may be concerned that a separation between contact center agents and clinical staff could form.

Additional fears include: a loss of touch points with contact center personnel, and the weakening of the relationships between their offices and their patient populations. Clinical providers may also be concerned that they will have less influence or involvement in determining their scheduling preferences, and how other patient scenarios should be addressed.  Many providers also have a personal connection with their staff and have a difficult time imagining the day to day work life without them.

Creating a culture of provider confidence and patient satisfaction is what Aspect’s innovative software aims to accomplish. Aspect offers several software solutions that will help with accomplishing these goals.

In smaller practices with decentralized call hubs, calls may take much longer to be answered.  Front end staff often have to split their focus between checking patients in and answering incoming calls. Aspect Patient Connect improves patients’ experience and increases satisfaction by allowing each patient to speak with a live person when they call into your contact center. Patient abandonment rates can decrease exponentially when a friendly voice picks up in an expedient time frame.  This new level of accountability creates confidence in the efficiency of the practice.

Smaller offices are often understaffed and are unable to organize and handle the influx of calls during peak times. Aspect Healthcare—Workforce Management ensures that the appropriate number of front-end staff are readily available to respond to any incoming patient scheduling requests.  Centralization allows for cross training and better management of the call volume.  Aspect’s Workforce Management provides staffing recommendations and leveling options to divide the distribution of calls evenly amongst available agents.

Providers often fear that they will lose the personal touch with their patients. Aspects Healthcare—Proactive Engagement connects patients to their providers or providers’ clinical staff to answer critical medical questions in a timely manner. Proactive Engagement streamlines patient-provider communication so that all patients receive their medical information through optimized access to front-end or clinical personnel. This software also encourages patients to consistently work with their healthcare providers to create personalized treatment plans.

Implementing a centralized scheduling model within your healthcare system doesn’t have to create fear for your front-end staff or clinical providers. Aspect offers several software solutions that will help increase patient satisfaction and access, while also optimizing and meeting each clinical providers’ unique scheduling preferences and needs. By implementing Aspect’s software solutions, you will ensure that your healthcare system’s transition to a centralized scheduling model will be smooth, easy, and beneficial for your front-end staff, clinical providers, and patients.


The Aspect Week that Was – 8/14/15

by Tim Dreyer on August 14th, 2015

Here are the links of the Aspect highlights mentioned on this week’s Periscope broadcast:

1) LinguaSys Announcement

2) WebRTC Infographic

3) Aspect at Customer Contact Expo – London

4) Aspect Customer Experience Vision video



AWW 8-14-15





Happy Lefthanders Day! Here are 3 Ways You Can Get the Most out of Your Left-Handed Call Center Agents

by Tim Dreyer on August 13th, 2015

Tim Dreyer, Director, Public Relations and Analyst Relations, AspectLeft-handed people make up 10-12% of the population and yet historically, the world around them has been designed for the other 90% – the right handers. Which is great…if you’re right handed. If you aren’t, you no doubt you struggled in school with writing on right handed desks, dealt with the ink -stained hands left-to-right writing can cause, or failed miserably using scissors. As a right hander, I apologize for the lifetime of inconvenience.

But if you are in the contact center business, fear not. We’ve taken some of the best features of Aspect’s award-winning Workforce Management solution and have created a helpful guide to maximize productivity and optimize efficiently for your left-handed agent population:Desks 

Forecasting and scheduling

If you manage a contact center, you know a big difference between good and great performance can be effectively forecasting and scheduling your agent population. Well, in addition to being more likely to have allergies, lefthanders are apparently more prone to being insomniacs. Kinda makes you want to have some schedule flexibility huh? Maybe those non-sleepers are available and ready to work when you have a staffing crisis on your hands.

Multiple simultaneous chat and email sessions with inbound and outbound voice

Did you know left-handers are better at multi-tasking? Getting a single view of your agent skill sets might tell you that your left-handers are able to handle multiple channels. Like resolving a billing issuing with one customer on the phone while adding an account feature for another customer in a chat.

Track historical performance, real-time performance and schedule adherence with pre-configured reports and dashboards

Did you know of the seven most recent U.S Presidents, 4 have been left handed? It’s true. And left handed college graduates go on to become 26% richer than right handed graduates. Maybe left-handed people as a whole are more successful and make better leaders. Using real-time performance will help you track and analyze their performance and you’ll find out for sure.

Right or left handed, the beauty of a great workforce is being able maximize the skills of all your agents but perhaps on this Lefthanders Day, it will also help you uncover the unique talents of the southpaws among you.

Infographic: WebRTC Technology Makes Web-Based Calling a Reality

by Christine OBrien on August 10th, 2015

WebRTC Infographic