Best Practices to Stop Irritating Your Customers

by Michael Kropidlowski on August 4th, 2015

Michael Kropidlowski, Senior Manager, Product Marketing, AspectThe latest issue of Consumer Reports published a study on the top irritants consumers have with customer service. While the findings were not exactly surprising, they are disappointing. At least 10 of the 17 items listed can be addressed with simple technology updates. The question we keep asking ourselves is ‘Why are brands using antiquated systems when we know that these practices are exasperating customers?’ I find it mind-boggling that 74% of consumers have been disconnected when attempting to contact customer service and 66% have experienced long hold times and have repeatedly been asked for the same information– no wonder they are irritated! Top Irritants of Customer Service

Transforming the contact center from a siloed multi-channel environment to a self-service friendly omni-channel environment would address the majority of issues that annoy consumers. My advice is to brands that are serious about transformation is to ensure that the following functionality is enabled:

Self-service. The first thing many consumers do when they want to interact with a company is try to complete the transaction themselves. They might look on your website for answers or ‘Google’ it or browse through video tutorials. Make it easy for them to find the information they are seeking in the self-service channel that they prefer i.e. Text, social or mobile self-service.

Experience continuity. It’s clear that repeating information annoys consumers. Aspect’s “Context Cookies” enables customers to pick up an incomplete transaction at any time, on any channel while keeping the context of their interaction intact.

Expert Agents. With self-service options available for simple and repeatable tasks (updated account information, bill payments, and FAQs etc.) elevate your agents role to experts and maximize agent value for you and your customers  Agents become subject matter experts and problem solvers for your customers to assist with complex inquiries and because the simple tasks will be handled via self-service, your agents will be available for more complex inquiries when your customers need them most.

The Consumer Reports survey indicates several areas where brands can improve their customer service. The good news is that a few technology enhancements can address the majority of irritants on the list.

REPLAY: The Aspect Week that Was on Periscope 7/31/15

by Tim Dreyer on July 31st, 2015

In case you missed the live Periscope broadcast, here are the links to what we covered:

1) How Messaging Impacts Customer Communications, VentureBeat

2) Customer Service Delayed in Hospitality and Travel Sectors, Hospitality Technology

3) Customer Experience Boot Camp: How to Get Omni-Channel Smart in Just 10 Minutes a Day

4) Help Your Customers Help Themselves, Aspect Blog

How to Prevent a Customer Experience Blackout

by Rebecca Anderson on July 31st, 2015

Rebecca AndersonSummer storms have been particularly strong across the United States. During the month of May tornadoes and have wreaked havoc on much of the South and Midwest with the most tornadoes seen in one month in the last twenty years. The impact of these storms is further reaching than just the destruction they leave behind. According to a 2014 report by Climate Central 147 million customers lost power for at least an hour and often far longer in the last ten years and that number grew each year studied. The report also noted that 80 percent of all power outages can be attributed to severe weather.

As we head out of tornado season and into hurricane season it is important to look at how outbound proactive notifications can provide warnings during Power linesemergencies and help people prepare for the worst. Here’s a few tips for any company but especially utilities to communicate with customers during a crisis:

  • Get permission from customers to contact them. Regulations limit how companies can communicate with customers without first opting-in.
  • Allow customers to control the channel and types of communication they receive. Some might only want to know about outages via outbound communications while others might want bill pay reminders as well. Some might want text reminders while others prefer to be called.
  • Design your proactive communication program with the customer experience in mind. A customer will be less agitated and more understanding if they receive proactive notifications instead of having to reach out to the provider. Ideally, these notifications would include an approximate estimate for service to be restored and updates would be given as service is restored or unfortunately, if complications arise.

Any proactive engagement program can be customized to your business needs. While the ultimate goal is to increase customer satisfaction, there can be other benefits as well including decreased inbound communications resulting in less stress on the workforce. Take a look at how Aspect can help you achieve your proactive communication goals:



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