3 Strategies to Achieve Growth with Customer Satisfaction

3 Strategies to Achieve Growth with Customer Satisfaction

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In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe and Vikas are joined by CMO of Unbabel, Sophie Vu. Sophie has years of experience in the CX realm and shares her secrets to keeping up with the modern customer by moving beyond language barriers. Listen to the full podcast to learn more.

Navigating the New Economy and the New Customer

Now that the world’s returning to a somewhat normal state, many leaders are scrambling to relate to their customers in this new economy. Customers from all across the globe are opting for the digital experience for shopping and communicating with brands, and with this high demand comes a rich diversity of languages – this is where Unbabel shines. Unbabel is a translation platform powered by AI, for the benefit of agents and users. Having an understanding of your customer is key, and what better way to do that than speaking their native language? Tools like Unbabel help propel companies ahead of their competitors, giving them a language optimization edge. Sophie’s goal is to help CX leaders understand that just because your customer doesn’t speak your language, doesn’t mean that you can’t help them. “One thing I think that’s really exciting…is that you no longer have to hire agents based on their language skill. You can basically hire them on their expertise.” Teaming a seasoned agent with the power of AI creates the ultimate experience.

Speak in Your Customer’s Language with the Help of AI

Imagine the surprise when a non-English speaking customer contacts your company and is greeted in their native language, full of nuances and terms that are familiar to them in their region. This is all possible through AI, which can be extremely useful across the entire customer journey, not just at the point of first interaction. The way that AI helps in these situations is it detects the customer’s preferred language and connects them with an agent who speaks that language or helps to translate the customer’s words into the language of the agent. AI’s certainly a hot topic in the CX realm that leaders were initially apprehensive to include, but the more it’s integrated into everyday business, the more leaders and consumers become comfortable utilizing this modern technology. The brands that do it right have AI as well as a team of qualified people working together to provide the best experience possible. “Humans will always need to be involved, especially in language translation. AI machine translation is not perfect.” As technology advances and more leaders integrate AI, the more efficient agents will be.

Want to be Global? Try Language Translation

Translation software is an amazing tool because it adds that human element back into CX. It allows your company to expand on a global scale, which is so important for leaders trying to make their brand accessible. If your brand only caters to those who are English speakers for example, then your brand cannot truly be deemed global. It’s so important for leaders to understand their customers across the map and to make an effort to relate to them on every level. AI isn’t always going to be the magic pill that fixes everything, but it can streamline the process and make things much easier for the customer and agent. Best of all, AI’s approachable and manageable, meaning that the leaders who are considering using this tool should absolutely take that next step and do it! Find a way to integrate AI into your CX team where they work together to make your company more accessible for the global customer.

Sophie leaves listeners with one last piece of advice: “It’s really about thinking about people as a whole and their skillset and their values and less about where they come from and what language they speak.” By focusing on the customer and recognizing them as a human being, it makes them feel more valued and connected to the brand. Add AI translation software to the mix and you’re absolutely going to see successful results and better scores.

To learn more about how you can benefit from AI-driven software to remove language barriers, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.

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Full Episode Transcript:

3 Strategies to Achieve Growth with Customer Satisfaction

TRANSCRIPT
Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer.

Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
All right. Welcome everybody to today’s show. We’re back. You’ve got Gabe Larsen here with Kustomer, my colleague, Vikas Bhambri, who runs Success and Sales over here at Kustomer, and we have a very special guest joining us today, and we’ll be talking about a really fun topic. Sophie Vu is joining us from Unbabel. Sophie, thanks for joining and how the heck are you?

Sophie Vu: (00:35)
I’m great. Thanks for having me Gabe. I’m excited to be joining and using this platform. I’m going to self-limit newbie to this platform, so excited to be here. Thank you.

Gabe Larsen: (00:46)
I love it. So maybe tell us just a little bit real quick about yourself and Unbabel, if you can, Sophie.

Sophie Vu: (00:54)
Sure. So I’m based in San Francisco, Unbabel and I’m the CMO. So I lead go to market and operations for the company and specifically, what we do is we get to work with some global, very customer-focused brands, like Booking, Logitech, Microsoft, and really enable them to interact with their customers in any language. And Unbabel is an AI powered solution combined with human editors. So we have a global community of professional and casual translators who obviously passed certification to enable us to provide great quality translations in near real time. So enabling companies that promise a customer-centric vision and brand and by creating empathy by speaking your customer’s language. That’s Unbabel in a nutshell.

Gabe Larsen: (01:46)
Love it, love it. Yeah. And we’re going to be talking a little bit more about that. So let’s dive into the topic. I want to click into kind of just what you were talking about. You guys play in a little bit of an interesting space, this idea of kind of language operations. Could you give Vikas and I a little bit of an overview of what that is, why you think it’s important, what’s going on in that space?

Sophie Vu: (02:08)
Sure. So self-admittedly, we are creating a space, a category, what we call Language Operations. And so you can think about it as a holistic approach to enabling organizations, to leverage people, processes, and technology, to enable this multilingual communication. So think of Language Operations as a way to roll out, centralize, and scale multilingual capabilities across every function in an enterprise, right? We’re starting with customer service, but eventually we want to obviously enable marketing, sales, product, HR, legal, or what have you, to be able to function in this global world that we live in. So language operations are technology, people, and processes the entire concept.

Gabe Larsen: (02:54)
Yeah. I want to just flash this, as you kind of talked a little bit about that for the audience. It’s kind of a different concept, but it definitely seems like it’s something that as companies scale, it’s becoming extremely important. I wanted to throw it out to Vikas. I mean, Vikas, as you interact with all these different companies, everybody seems to want to go global or come to the US or go Europe, what role do you feel like language is playing in that? I mean, it seems like it’s been a barrier for a long time.

Vikas Bhambri: (03:21)
It has. And I think this is an exciting time and I think Unbabel is the right place, right time. Allowing brands and companies of various operations, we’re obviously looking at it from a customer experience perspective, but the think globally and act locally. And I think that is something that if you look at what has challenged brands in the past of really scaling, was that, I now need to have people in local region that speak local language and with a platform like Unbabel, that’s no longer the case. So just, let’s look at it from a customer experience perspective, having an English speaking agent sitting in the US who can now engage a Spanish speaking customer in Spain or Columbia or Mexico in the language in the local tone that’s required, is truly unique.

Vikas Bhambri: (04:25)
And that allows somebody that, like I said, can think globally act locally, but also look bigger than they actually are, because you might only have a team of, 50, a hundred, 200 sitting here in the US or actually sitting in Ireland or wherever it might be, but then being able to engage a global audience of customers. And as Sophie said, that’s the first wave, but then you think about other use cases where you can have that. Do I need an HR professional in every single geo that I operate in when I can have an HR team sitting in England? Let me not just be US-centric, but sitting in England or sitting in France, but then communicating with employees that are global. So I think that’s kind of the exciting thing about what Sophie and her team are doing.

Gabe Larsen: (05:20)
Yeah. Yeah. It’s so funny. I had this experience the other day, I was chatting with somebody and he kind of walked through what you just talked about, Vikas. It sounds almost futuristic. He’s like, “Look, I’m sitting in London, but I’m, I speak Chinese.” And he’s talking with a restaurant chain on chat. And somehow that person actually, he was then speaking with the Chinese person, although he was in London, I was just like, it was just really cool that it could, his location was different, but the chatbot could recognize the language. And then he was routed to a person that could speak it. That sounds amazing. So to see it in action, I think, is pretty cool. So Sophie, kudos to you and the team. I want to, we’re going to come back to this language thing in just a minute, but I do want to back up a little bit more and tie it into some of the things going on in the market. So many interesting things are going on in the state of customer service. Language is one of them. And we’ll talk again a little bit about that in a minute, but Sophie, you guys have recently done a study. Want to talk and hear a little bit about some of those big picture trends you’re finding and hearing, and then let’s dive into a couple of them and talk about what we’re seeing people do to win as those trends appear.

Sophie Vu: (06:32)
Sure. Yeah. So we did a recent study focused on customer service and customer support, and it covered about 600 leaders across US, the UK and Germany. And we just wanted to understand what was keeping them up at night and what were their goals. So some of the findings were, you would think customer service departments usually are all about cost optimization, but they’re actually looking to spend more this year. And I think that’s due to just the demand during COVID. Demand for digital interactions, certain industries had higher demand than others, as you can imagine. And it was really about how they can reorganize and rethink their offering. And make it more digital, more self-service. And so that was one of the big trends. The other one was, everyone talks about AI and AI as a way to help augment and really scale these operations. So you have limited people, but how do you make these people be more, do more with less?

Gabe Larsen: (07:41)
Right. So, yeah. I can’t argue with AI. Maybe we can start there and then circle back. What is it, do you feel like that is, with this AI thing, obviously it’s a buzzword. Why is it becoming more adopted? Where is it becoming more adopted? How do you see it playing out in customer service organizations?

Sophie Vu: (08:01)
Sure. So I think AI has come in different ways, right? It started out as this grand thing. “Oh my god! Robots are taking the world!” To them, “Oh, we don’t need humans anymore.” And I think everything kind of calmed down a little bit to understand that AI can actually help augment and supplement the things that we’re doing. And humans will always need to be involved, especially in language translation. AI machine translation is not perfect. They’re going to miss the context, the nuances, the cultural differences in tone. And so it’s really that combination. But I think, for example, it’s about incorporating AI in processes to help optimize and streamline it. And people are doing that in very strategic ways. It’s not all or nothing. It’s applying AI where it matters most.

Gabe Larsen: (08:51)
Yeah. I like that. I feel like it’s something that is still being talked about, but it does feel like people are getting the hang of it. Like we’re starting to see it actually not just be talk, but there’s a little bit of walking going on. Vikas, what’s your take on how people are playing this game of actually getting it into play and seeing a difference in their business?

Vikas Bhambri: (09:08)
Yeah. I think what we’re seeing in the customer service side is, there are three key areas. One is on that point of interaction with the customer, being able to automate the suggestions that we give them, the help articles, being able to help them troubleshoot their own issue or challenge. Because reality is, I think you’ve got more and more customers who don’t actually want to engage a live human agent if they don’t have to. The second piece is then how do you use AI? If the person basically raises their hand and says, “You know what? I tried, but I can’t do it.” Or, “I need further assistance.” To identify who they are and what their challenges are, and some of the areas where you can do that, right? You can look for obviously anything that they share with the bot or the automation, you can look at the sentiment of any free-form text that they deliver.

Vikas Bhambri: (10:07)
You can look at the language of what they’re, what language they’re speaking in. You can look at all of that detail. And of course, if you have any data about who they are, then make sure that you route them to the right individual or team that can service them most effectively. And then lastly, I think Sophia alluded to this, which is how do we empower that human being with AI? So how do we give the agent who’s sitting there now trying to help this individual who tried to troubleshoot themselves and couldn’t, how do we recommend suggestions or solutions to them so that they can be most effective and efficient? So really using technology and AI across that entire journey of that particular conversation.

Gabe Larsen: (10:54)
Yeah. I feel like it’s, I love the analogy. My nine-year-old actually made me watch the Robert Downey Jr. Now I’m forgetting –

Sophie Vu: (11:04)
Iron Man?

Vikas Bhambri: (11:04)
Iron Man?

Gabe Larsen: (11:06)
Is there a movie called Rocket Man? For some reason, I said, oh, was that rocket man, rocket man? I don’t know. Anyways, I thought, I was thinking what a cool analogy of that. And as you were talking, Vikas, it’s like, at some point you will be, you’ll take this regular kind of customer service agent and you encompass them around, it’s not just in chat bot, but it’s this, you encompass them with almost like a JARVIS-type experience where it’s recommending or it’s telling them or feeding them or guiding them. And I was like, wouldn’t that be cool? I think we can actually get there in customer service. I don’t think we’re there yet, but I thought that was a fun analogy. And it’s not Rocket Man. It’s Iron Man. Sophie, what do you, on the language side of things, do AI play a role in that in some form or fashion? How are you guys thinking about that specifically around this language offsite then?

Sophie Vu: (11:53)
Yeah. Absolutely. So, I am guilty as a marketer. I think a lot of companies have said they do AI and actually made it worse for people to understand what AI actually is and how it’s applied. But am I kind of, I guess BS neater is like, if you remove the AI from the product, is that company still around. Does that product exist? And I think if we remove the AI from Unbabel, we don’t have a solution and technology, we are truly AI powered in the sense that the entire process of translating involves AI to automate and create better efficiency across our translation pipeline as we call it. So it starts even with viewing the incoming message, right? Like we can, like sentiment, language, those nuances to even anonymizing the data, because obviously we do care about respecting PII compliance to then obviously machine translation as well.

Sophie Vu: (12:54)
So obviously AI is a big part of that and then just routing to our translators, if needed, based on the quality. So we also have a proprietary quality estimation system and then just thinking about not only writing, but then also thinking about how do we improve those systems? So frequently asked questions, there’s going to be things that are going to recur and reoccur. And then I think, Vikas, you mentioned about optimizing the agent’s experience, right? So predictive things like, okay, anticipating what that answer will be. Rounding them to the right answers, figuring out who has that expertise within the agent pool as well. So one thing I think that’s really exciting is that with language operations, tying it back there, is that you no longer have to hire agents based on their language skill. You can basically hire them based on their expertise and who doesn’t want to have the right answer and hear it from a knowledgeable person when you have a problem with a product or a service?

Gabe Larsen: (13:55)
I know, I love that. That’s interesting to hear how that can kind of play a role in the language piece. One other thing I want to hit on, when I look through the study, I love this concept of channels. It’s something obviously near and dear to our heart here at Kustomer. When we think of the customer service world, more of an omni-channel experience, just want to throw that out there. Some of the things I was reading in the report around people’s preference of channel, how channels continue to expand. I wanted to get your guys’ take on, obviously people, the omni-channel thing is, it’s there, and I think people are experiencing it. Where do you think we go from here when it comes to channels? What is the next field, green field? Is it more channels? Is it a better combination of synergistic movement of the channel? Vikas, maybe I can start with you on this one. Thoughts on channels and where we’re going there?

Vikas Bhambri: (14:45)
I don’t think there’s any real stopping the number of channels. I think that’s the real challenge for anybody, which is saying, where are my customers and where do they need to be served? And unfortunately you don’t find out until the customer starts knocking on a door in some universe that you then need to answer. And I think a great example of that is TikTok. I remember as much as, you both got a chuckle out of that one, but funny enough, about, probably going back just before I think it was my last trip before the pandemic, and I was sitting down with a CEO of a fashion brand who was really pushing for TikTok as a channel and kind of had the, we had the reaction that you did, which was who you going to talk to on TikTok?

Vikas Bhambri: (15:38)
Now, a year later you’re seeing brands engage consumers, not only for marketing purposes, but for customer service on TikTok. That’s just one example. So what’s the next TikTok? What’s the next messaging platform? What’s the next tool that somebody is going to use where you’re going to have to exist for you to effectively communicate with your consumer? And I think that’s a really interesting challenge for any new CX leader is identifying that. And I remember, I’m not going to age myself here, but I remember when we started talking about chat, people had that same reaction. Nobody’s going to want to chat with us. The phone 1-800-NUMBERS where it’s at. And obviously, chat is now the default channel, right? You kind of get out of the gate and chat and email. And by the way, we talked about things like email and even the phone at one point dying as channels, and they’re not, they still exist. And if anything, they’re growing. So the challenge is you have to exist everywhere. You can pick and choose which ultimately your consumer will be there and there’ll be there before you are.

Gabe Larsen: (16:45)
You know, I have this funny, I had a sit down with our, we’ve been talking about how to expand our marketing center. I sat down with our preferred agency and we were talking about different channels, further international, et cetera. They did. They brought up TikTok, they’re like, “Have you thought about going deeper into TikTok?” And I was like, “I haven’t even thought about TikTok.” And then truthfully, they brought up this kind of new platform club, near clubhouse, if you guys, I’m on one. You can tell, I’m not an expert at clubhouse either.

Vikas Bhambri: (17:19)
You’re doing it, Gabe. All you do is talk.

Gabe Larsen: (17:23)
I’m on it, but they’re like, “Hey, are you active there?” And I’m like, yeah, like you said, Vikas. I’m getting old. I’m just like, “Can we just talk about Google?” But it’s like new channels coming on, coming online. And are you where your customers are? Sophie, thoughts on that?

Sophie Vu: (17:39)
Yeah, I mean, I came from the social customer service space. I was trying to make that happen 6, 7, 8 years ago. And, well, I’m not the reason. So like I wasn’t learning brands like, hey. They weren’t getting anywhere in these email labyrinths and they’re going to go on Twitter and tell the whole world the problems they’re having with your brand. And, you know, they had a voice. Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp from a global perspective. So I mean, customer service teams need to be prepared. They, it’s just going to be continuing when it’s an existing platform, that’s going to keep continuing and staying there and then adding additional new ones.

Gabe Larsen: (18:20)
Yeah. I can’t argue that. I got two more questions than we can wrap on this. You guys, one is, we’re obviously coming out of, I want to move just a little bit away from the research for a second and get your opinion and then maybe closing arguments here. How do you think people can adapt to the changes coming out of the pandemic? Do people need to be doubling down on AI? Do they need to be refocusing on omni or is it just kind of business as usual? Anything you guys are thinking about seeing clients do as they maybe need to adjust to the, I mean, they had to adjust to kind of the pandemic world and now, is it the post pandemic world? And if so, what do they need to do? Thoughts on that Vikas?

Vikas Bhambri: (18:59)
Yeah. I actually heard this term the other day, so I’ll steal it. Somebody was alluding to this as the vaccine economy, the next phase. So I’ll steal that one. And so here’s what I would say there. I think what customer experience leaders are going to have to identify, they certainly went through and we talked about this, Gabe, you and I, 12 months ago, the biggest kind of stress test that the customer experience industry has faced in forever. Which was this high volume, this surge of inquiries, the staff being in disarray, going to remote work, et cetera. So they really got the crap kicked out of them. And I, fortunately, so many people were able to make smart decisions, partnering with different technology providers and really being able to address it and come out of it.

Vikas Bhambri: (19:54)
The question then is now, what learnings do you take from that experience and continue to invest in and adopt? And like I said, AI slash chat bots might be one area, right? Also the agent infrastructure, right? Oh, wait a minute. Remote from, remote work worked in some cases. In some cases, it didn’t. There were certain policy decisions. I think brands were much more forgiving of consumers. Does that continue to stay? So I think there’s a lot of those things that people are going to take, a lot of experiences. And then the question is going forward, because what is the consumer mindset now, coming out of it? And what are they going to expect of brands, is going to be extremely interesting to watch and observe, and actually be a part of, because I think consumers and particularly depending on where you are in the globe. So as much as I think it’s a very US-centric world to talk about the vaccine economy, because there’s large parts of the global population that are still knee-deep in it. So I think brands are going to also have to be very sensitive to that and also how they go out there and talk about their services and offerings, especially global brands. If you’re an Uber as an example, or somebody like that, you have to be, once again, think globally – act locally. And I think that’s going to be very important as they move forward.

Gabe Larsen: (21:20)
Yeah. There is a lot to learn. I think people, I mean, it was long enough. If it would’ve just been a couple of months, I think maybe we wouldn’t have been forced to kind of change to adopt and learn. But I think a lot of us were forced to learn and there are hopefully some good things coming out. Sophie, thoughts on this? How are you kind of seeing this play out?

Sophie Vu: (21:36)
Yeah. I mean, I had a different perspective. I agree, it’s the vaccine economy, but I like to say there’s also, re-entry anxiety that’s happening. How do you operate in this world? Like, what are the rules? People are still debating whether mask or no mask. And, but I think one thing that’s accelerated is globalization of companies and of people, and you have people moving everywhere in the world that you can live anywhere and be able to interact with brands, people, your company, your employers. And so I think it’s really about thinking about people as a whole and their skillset and their values and less about where they come from and what language they speak. Focusing on that expertise, and I think that’s something that is encouraging, I think. Honestly.

Gabe Larsen: (22:28)
That’s a valid point. Yeah. That re-entry, what’d you call it re-entry –

Sophie Vu: (22:34)
Anxiety.

Gabe Larsen: (22:36)
I think it’s interesting. This is, I’ll try not to go into any political realm here.

Vikas Bhambri: (22:46)
We’d rather you didn’t, Gabe.

Gabe Larsen: (22:46)
Politics, but yeah. There are a lot of different perspectives, I think on how this is going to move forward. Some people want the vaccine, some people don’t, some people have the vaccine and don’t want to come in unless this is in and they don’t, some people want to stay home. And I mean, I’ve been hearing a lot. I know some people are very comfortable talking about their medical, like they’re getting vaccine. Some people are like, I don’t want to actually be asked that. So do they, are they going to shop more or are we still going to still see the online stuff? Being able to adjust to that and for your business to adapt to it quickly, I think is probably right. I think here, I think you’re definitely on to something Sophie.

Sophie Vu: (23:23)
Hybrid. Like the same thing, you’re gonna, you got an offer to go, not just in the room and dining anymore. You got to, your customer has evolved. It’s very multifaceted, right? And so you get one channel, even physical and digital now. You got to navigate these new environments that we’re in.

Gabe Larsen: (23:46)
Yeah. And I think that I like that word hybrid. I think people, companies, and this is across the gamut, I think going extreme in one way, like pushing all your people back to work or trying to just be an in-person restaurant, like, how do you do that hybrid? How do you match the world where they are, almost like the conversation we had about channels? I think the people who go extremes are probably going to run into some, they may run into some problems. So, awesome. Well, let’s wrap. Talked about a lot of different concepts, loved language ops. Thanks for introducing that, Sophie. I think you guys are onto something very special there. Sounds like an interesting study. And I want to hear, I want to see if we can end with that maybe as a call to action and get a link out to people. And then we talked a little bit about the current state of the market. What’s that one piece of advice you’d leave for CX leaders just trying to make it now? Summarize or one thing you’d leave with them. Sophie, can I start with you? Thoughts on that?

Sophie Vu: (24:40)
Sure. I think it’s not, I think it’s, understanding that AI is not Rocket Man or Iron Man, sorry Gabe. But it is approachable. It is something that can be applied very concretely. And that is what we’re trying to do with Language Operations and the Unbabel platform. But I think it’s trying new things, being comfortable that you’re not going to solve everything right away and that you can take incremental steps. And then you have a lot of people thinking about these things. And so for me, it’s about exploring these things and thinking about the customer. And when you think about the customer, it’s that you want to be open to new ideas because they’re ever changing. There’s not one monolith of a customer. So –

Gabe Larsen: (25:26)
I like that. That’s definitely coming out more and more of this kind of customer that they’re going to be different. Vikas, what’s your kind of closing take?

Vikas Bhambri: (25:33)
I think one of the things that we’ve experienced over the last 12, 15 months at various stages across the globe as this pandemic has kind of gone all over the place is the shifting in different economies. And I think any CEO or VP of e-commerce is going to really want to put the foot on their gas in terms of globalization sooner rather than later. So it doesn’t matter if you’re a two-year-old cosmetics brand that’s just coming into market or a retailer, or if you’re somebody who’s been around for ten years or older, right? Somebody’s going to really want to expedite that global penetration from a consumer acquisition standpoint. What obviously that creates for a CX leader is you have to be able to move fast and moving fast no longer has to be about bodies.

Vikas Bhambri: (26:26)
It doesn’t mean that you then need to go and scale your operations up exponentially. You don’t need to go and bring in BPO’s all over the globe to support that global alignment. And it doesn’t mean you need to serve people in your language and your local language, right? Whether that be English, French, Spanish, et cetera. So to me, that’s where my kind of take away is, language is no longer a barrier to entry. And I think, with technologies and Unbabel kind of leading the way here, I think that creates exciting opportunities for CX leaders to be able to focus on the business process and the customer experience and not worry about getting resources in different locales. And that’s pretty exciting because, you know this Gabe, we’ve built a scaling company over the last four years. We spend a lot of time just hiring people and as a CX leader, not having to do that and focusing on the process and the experience, it is a dramatic game changer from how we previously operated.

Gabe Larsen: (27:29)
No, I think that’s going to be the globalization of all companies – that the playing field has been so much leveled with the kind of the e-commerce movement, et cetera. I think you’re going to continue to see that. So, Sophie, if we can kind of end, again, you touched on a little bit of this research report, and I wanted to flash this just real quick. Because I liked your answer as you were ending there on this AI and how Unbabel is thinking through some of that. If somebody wanted to learn just a little more about this, your view on AI, a little more about this research, is there a place you could direct them or where would we go to find that?

Sophie Vu: (28:06)
Yeah. So I hope there’s some type of digital linkage and in posting comments, but I always want to show a visual because I think we always speak in platitudes and generalizations around AI. And I just wanted to be really detailed and concrete about how we use AI in the sense that it’s again, not rocket science, but close to it. But applied in a very concrete and applicable way. And so wherever you see those red arrows, it’s kind of where we think about where we’re applying AI, right? So pre-processing anonymization of the data that we’re getting, cleaning it and sorting it. We apply that there, obviously with machine translation, the quality estimation, which is basically this message, a certain quality to then be sent and shared, and then incorporating that into working with our humans. The translator community. And so this loop is basically the core of what Unbabel does to enable near real-time translations. But yeah, we have a lot of documentation and research about it, but I think it’s just helping people get over the fear of what AI is and how they can use it is what, is one of my –

Gabe Larsen: (29:19)
It makes a big difference. Absolutely. So we will. I’d like this, it’s nice sometimes to just break it down a little more simply to your point. So we’ll get the link. And the LinkedIn here, you guys, so you can access that research study. Some real great material as Sophie alluded to at the beginning. So we’ll wrap with that. So Sophie, thanks so much for joining. Vikas, thanks so much for joining as always. And for the audience, we’ll let you have a fantastic day. Have a great one, everybody.

Vikas Bhambri: (30:04)
Thank you all.

Sophie Vu: (30:05)
Thank you.

Vikas Bhambri: (30:05)
Pleasure meeting you, Sophie.

Sophie Vu: (30:05)
Likewise Vikas. Bye Gabe.

Exit Voice: (30:13)
Thank you for listening. Make sure you’re subscribed to hear more customer service secrets.

Why Quality Customer Service in Healthcare Is Needed More Than Ever

What Consumers Expect From the Patient Experience TW
 

Healthcare is a sensitive topic for a lot of Americans. It’s become top of mind for many who have seen loved ones sick. We all want to be healthier and have a better quality of life, but unfortunately customer service in healthcare has one of the worst reputations, and people want to veto the experience all-together.

While doctors, nurses, and all healthcare support staff are busy trying to save lives, it’s no secret they are overworked, and the priority in the patient experience can fall to the bottom of their priorities. It is often a thankless job, but fortunately, there is an opportunity to serve the community in an outstanding way that your competitors are lacking.

Why Customer Service in Healthcare Is Important

Keeping up-to-date with the latest medical advances has always been a priority for the healthcare industry, but this means new technology and the opportunity to improve the administration and patient experience can fall behind. With lives on the line, it’s almost a no-brainer where to invest when trying to allocate limited resources.

However, latest consumer trends and research make the lack of customer experience impossible to ignore. Healthcare is contending with evolving patient demands. People want more out of their experiences. Personalized experiences have become the norm in industries like retail and hospitality. According to research conducted by SalesForce, 69% of consumers say one extraordinary customer experience raises their expectations of other companies, and 57% of Americans say the healthcare industry cares more about their own needs than the patient needs.

Younger generations are prioritizing a better quality of life and they’re not afraid to go elsewhere to get treated the best. In the same Salesforce survey, 83% of millennials wanted a mobile app for health coaching and 79% wanted 24/7 text messaging abilities. Compared with other generations, they are especially accustomed to having their needs met in a personalized way and their customer experience in healthcare has been incredibly jarring.

Common Patient Complaints

Healthcare administration staff might be surprised to know that patients dealing with unfriendly staff is not the number one complaint. Although a rude receptionist can sway their entire experience at the clinic or hospital, the biggest complaints are scheduling difficulties, waiting too long, and confusion with insurance and billing. Unsatisfied patients did rank high in feeling like they weren’t heard and did not think they had enough time with the doctor, but it wasn’t the most outstanding problem.

This provides some good news for those in healthcare. A lot of the problems can be fixed with automation and technology. By hiring additional chat support staff, which tends to be cheaper than hiring in-person personnel, you can also quickly address issues and customer scheduling concerns that can be done outside of the office and in the comfort of the patient’s home.

How to Provide Excellent Customer Service in Healthcare

A patient-centric approach is critical to transforming the overall customer experience. People want a seamless experience and this can be provided to patients by offering various communication touchpoints. You might think good service begins with the people, and you’re not wrong. However, setting up good tools and efficient systems will only make the training process easier and more scalable.

People in the end want to feel like they matter and that their concerns are heard. Doctors have limited time, so this offers an excellent opportunity for customer service staff to thrive. By having the right systems and processes in place, you can collect patient feedback and address it in a timely manner.

Kustomer: The Healthcare Customer Service Solution for You

There are a number of ways Kustomer helps the healthcare industry and their patients. First and foremost is keeping up-to-date with HIPAA compliance so that patient data is safe and secure.

Additionally, through the use of AI, Kustomer automates manual tasks, routes conversations, and answers commonly asked patient questions to help people self-serve before talking to customer service.

Kustomer has developed a handy guide that outlines what consumers expect from the patient experience here. With a survey of over 550 US-based participants, Kustomer uncovered that 79% of individuals say service is extremely important when deciding where to do business. In the guide, you’ll learn how to drive more revenue through prioritizing the patient experience.

If you’re interested in requesting a demo or would like to know more about how Kustomer helps those in the healthcare industry, find more information here.

 

Upgrade Your Contact Center Using AI with Darryl Addington

Upgrade Your Contact Center Using AI with Darryl Addington

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In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe and Vikas are joined by Darryl Addington from Five9 to learn about integrating cloud support and AI into the CX space. Darryl has been involved with AI for years and is an expert at teaching leaders how to fully integrate these new systems into everyday operations. Tune into the episode to learn more.

Hot Take: How Artificial Intelligence Promotes Human Interaction

What would the world be like if AI were to be completely integrated into business practices? Would the human race be eradicated? Would there be lasting world peace? Or would there simply be streamlined customer journeys? The answer is: most likely the third option. It’s fun to fantasize about an AI-driven world, but that future is probably beyond our reach at this point in time, regardless of the advancements being made in the industry. The AI used in most businesses today is there simply to help the customer and the agent.

You might be wondering how AI drives human connection when artificial intelligence is, well, artificial. The purpose of AI is to support agents in a way that allows them to further personalize customer experiences by supplying them with the right information necessary for success. Even though a person might be dealing with a bot when they first contact the CX team, that bot can collect information from the customer to help the agent learn more about what exactly the customer needs. Interactions like this help the customer to feel listened to. They feel like their needs are being taken care of promptly and accurately when the agent is already aware of their purpose for calling in. Personalization is key to adding in that extra layer of humanity to CX and AI is one sure way to get that.

The Benefits are Endless and Profitable

Some of the most evident benefits of integrating AI to CX are the time and money such software can save a company. For example, customers are habitually upset when they have to constantly repeat their purpose for calling every single time they’re transferred from one department to another. With the help of AI, these situations can be entirely avoided because the software along with cloud systems contains all of the information departments need about their customers to make the journey just that much smoother. Darryl recognizes that as a leader in the contact center world, it can be difficult to fully buy into the idea of AI services when some existing processes are alright as is. Many leaders question why they should even buy into AI when innovation is already happening within their contact centers. As Vikas says, “The cloud has matured significantly. In the early days, people had fear about data security, data privacy, up time, and things of that nature…Those are no longer or less of an issue now with the maturity of the contact center space in the cloud.” With the combination of AI and the cloud in CX, teams are better equipped to serve the customer.

A Future Where Agents and AI Collide

With the endless possibilities facing the world of CX, one can’t help but imagine a time where agents and AI work together to handle customer situations. Darryl believes that this could be the future of contact centers because AI software has the capability to suggest next steps during interactions based on an analysis of what the customer is saying at the moment. It doesn’t just stop there though. AI can analyze tone and situation through a customer’s phone call to suggest potential products that meet their needs as well as suggest articles that answer any questions the consumer may have during the call – further personalizing the experience. Darryl then explains how AI is an awesome investment for the agent side of CX because it shortens after call work and takes notes for the rep, so they can give their undivided attention to the customer. “It’s practical. You can find vendors that are using that technology in ways that are allowing you to solve business problems you have today.” So while leaders anxiously await the development of CX technology to something as grand as in the movies, they would be wise to look into integrating AI. Innovation awaits.

To learn more about artificial intelligence in the workspace, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.

Listen Now:

Listen to “Secrets to Practical AI in the Contact Center | with Darryl Addington” on Spreaker.

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Full Episode Transcript:

Upgrade Your Contact Center Using AI with Darryl Addington

TRANSCRIPT
Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer.

Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
Welcome everybody. We’re excited to get going today. We’re actually joining Facebook. Kustomer’s joining Facebook. So if you haven’t heard real exciting news for the Kustomer crew, go check it out on our blog, pending regulatory review. Some real fun synergies that I think will continue to push forward client services, client success, and the overall customer experience. I’m so excited about that news. But today we’re going to be talking about five secrets to practical AI in the contact center. And to do that, we’re going to bring on a couple of special guests. You know Vikas, Head of CX and SVP of Sales over here at Kustomer. Who you probably don’t know is Darryl Addington. He’s the Director of Product Marketing at Five9. So Darryl, thanks for joining and how the heck are ya?

Darryl Addington: (01:14)
I’m doing great. Thanks for having me. It’s super exciting to be here. I love AI. AI in the contact centers, this new technology. So I’m stoked to talk about it today.

Gabe Larsen: (01:23)
Yeah. Yeah. Well, let’s jump in, but before we do, you got to tell us a little bit about yourself and then how do you know Vikas? You guys seem to have something in your history, nothing inappropriate. I want to keep this above the belt please. Above the belt.

Darryl Addington: (01:37)
Yeah. So I’ve been in the contact center industry for most of my career, which is I lose count because it changes every year, but it’s somewhere around 25 years. I started at a company called Edify, which was a self service company. So they had one of the first 4GL development environments. And it’s actually not too dissimilar from some of the stuff that’s out there today. I spent some, I spent quite a bit of time at Genesys and then Vikas and I met when we were at 8×8.

Gabe Larsen: (02:02)
You were at 8×8? They’re still doing well aren’t they? 8×8’s still doing well.

Darryl Addington: (02:08)
Yeah, they are. They do seem to be doing well there. From what I’ve seen, they’re attaching quite a bit of contact center to their UC sale, which is a big part of their businesses is unified communications. Yeah. They had a little bit of news today about a new CEO. That’s going to join the company and take them on to the next part of their journey.

Gabe Larsen: (02:28)
Oh, I didn’t see that. Interesting. And then it was 8×8 to Five9, or was there a step in between that?

Darryl Addington: (02:34)
That was it for me. Yeah. I came over here, I guess getting close to four years ago and that’s been a super, super interesting ride. Five9 has a great cloud contact center. And the market is certainly looking towards the cloud for their contact center technology. And so it’s been great. I mean, it changes every single quarter, as I like to say. What happened? What did we do last year? Well, it doesn’t really matter what we did last year because things are changing so fast, but it’s great to be in a market where people are using the technology and at a company that’s so great like Five9, the people there are really great, and we have really good processes and things, and our customers love us, which is a spectacular position to be in.

Gabe Larsen: (03:11)
Interesting. You want to add anything to that, Vikas? Did you guys actually work together?

Vikas Bhambri: (03:16)
We did, we did. Obviously I led an enterprise and mid-market sales at 8×8, and Darryl was in product marketing. And we worked very closely together in terms of a lot of our rollout, particularly around our contact center solution there. And I’m glad to get reacquainted with Darryl, obviously Five9 being a key partner for us here at Kustomer. So excited to have the discussion around AI and what’s going on in the market.

Gabe Larsen: (03:42)
So you guys didn’t have any of the typical sales and marketing fights then, huh? It was all rosy.

Vikas Bhambri: (03:47)
I mean, it was just like you and me, Gabe. There’s never any fights between sales and marketing when it comes to me. I know how heavily dependent I am on both you guys in individual lives for success. So trust me, there’s no fighting here.

Gabe Larsen: (04:02)
That’s fair. It’s been fun to partner with Vikas. And truthfully Darryl, Five9, I got to admit, it sounds like you’ve been there for awhile, it’s just a great story. How many employees are you guys up to? I don’t want to go into anything.

Darryl Addington: (04:13)
Yeah, I believe we’re at around 1300, I think that’s correct. Yeah, when I joined it was seven or eight, something like that. So, yeah.

Gabe Larsen: (04:23)
Yeah. Right. I mean it is a growth story. If you haven’t heard about Five9, the innovation they brought to the contact center, the dialing solutions, I remember we actually used you guys in a couple of places in some, in more of a sales area. Maybe five, I don’t know.

Darryl Addington: (04:41)
Yeah, that’s right. That’s actually been around since 2001 and for the first eight to ten years of its existence, we did quite a bit of outbound, which was who was buying cloud0-based solutions at that time. And then, six years ago, the contact center said, “Okay, I’m ready for the cloud from my inbound contact center.” And that’s most of what we do today.

Gabe Larsen: (05:02)
And that was such a, I don’t know if you call it a pivot but I remember when you guys started to kind of go that direction and it’s obviously turned out really well. So a lot of cool stuff in the contact center. Let’s jump into AI. Maybe just start with a super big picture. I mean, obviously a buzzword. What does that mean to you? What is AI? Give us kind of why people should even care about it, what it is.

Darryl Addington: (05:22)
Yeah. You know, AI is interesting because like a lot of industry trends it’s, people have gotten a hold of a term and they’re using it whether it’s appropriate to use or not. The other thing about AI is because there’ve been so many movies and TV shows about AI, people’s first inclination when they hear it is, “Well, this must be something magical.” And there may be a point where we have some voice in the cloud that we talk to and it knows everything about us and it knows everything about the business that we’re communicating with and can magically solve all of our problems for us. And if that happens in the future, that’ll be interesting. It’ll probably change every aspect of lives, but it’s not something that businesses can invest in today. It doesn’t exist today. And so what they can invest in now is technology using this idea of machine learning, which we can talk a little bit about. They can invest in that to solve the types of problems that they’re suffering from today, which there’s lots of them. And especially if you look in the contact center, tons of room for improvement in customer experience, as we all know, and tons of room for improvement in terms of operations and improving efficiency and things like that.

Gabe Larsen: (06:22)
Interesting. Yeah. I’ve got a nine-year-old boy and I’ve let him do a couple of things with the Avengers, Ironman, and he did ask not long ago, he’s like, “When can we get this Jarvis?” Like, “When does Jarvis come to our house?” And you can just –

Darryl Addington: (06:38)
He walks around, right?

Gabe Larsen: (06:40)
He changes everything, cleans the house, and makes everything great. I’m like, “Well, that’s probably not going to happen anytime soon.” So when you think about artificial intelligence, I’m really trying to lay the foundation, is there certain things you need to be or have in place to make sure we’re actually set up to implement this in a structured manner?

Darryl Addington: (07:00)
Yeah. There are a few steps that you can take. There’s actually a lot of low-hanging fruit for a lot of the contact centers out there to help them with customer experience and efficiency, and the first one is moving to the cloud and there’s a few reasons to do that. It sounds a little self-serving, but the reality is that all the innovation that’s going on in the contact center in terms of software is happening in the cloud. You might’ve seen a couple of years ago that Gartner ended their MQ for on premises contact center. And they said that the technology had reached its peak point and it wasn’t evolving anymore. So there was no reason to have an MQ. And that’s because all that innovation is now going towards the cloud. So that’s one good reason.

Darryl Addington: (07:39)
The second big reason is that the cloud is where the data’s at. So if you look at what machine learning is, and if I can just jump into that for a second. So machine learning is basically, it’s not magical. It’s basically an algorithm – it’s just math. And what it does is it allows machines, but the really cheap compute power that we have today to be able to go through a whole bunch of data. So in the example of text-to-speech, right, machines being able to have natural sounding voices, Wavenet, which is Google’s text to speech, they sample voices, millions and millions and millions of hours of voices at up to 24,000 samples per second. So if you think of all the data points that you’ve got along that human voice, and then you multiply that times all the needs of hours that the computer has gone through, it has so much data about the way that we articulate, the way that our voices sound. Just what we’ve been, I’ve been talking about this for a minute, right? Like how many samples do you have in there? And what that’s done is it’s generated these really super realistic, like, you can still tell it’s a machine if you’re listening closely, but it sounds so good that it doesn’t get in the way of the communication between a machine and a human anymore. And so that’s just one example of how machine learning is adding to this technology. And anyway, the data is in the cloud, right? And in an on premises world, all those voice conversations are trapped in servers somewhere in an enterprise, and you can’t get to them. And so you can’t really improve the AI with that data.

Gabe Larsen: (09:08)
It seems like Vikas, you’re out there on the front lines a lot with people and the move to cloud has obviously been accelerated with the pandemic. I mean, why is somebody even, no offense if you’re on premise at the moment, but why is someone, are there actually people who are on premise still? And if so, why?

Vikas Bhambri: (09:26)
There are. Obviously the legacy vendors are still in existence and making a lot of money off of the maintenance revenue from people being on-prem. I think the key thing is, look, change is hard, right? And I think it’s A, the fear of uncertainty. Two, it’s the effort to actually go through that migration process. And then there’s a lot of unknowns and hearsay in the market and look, as Darryl said, the cloud has matured significantly. In the early days, people had fear about data security, data, privacy, up time and things of that nature, right? Those are no longer or less of an issue now with the maturity of the contact center space in the cloud. So I think those are some things where businesses have a lot on their plate obviously, and so this becomes a matter of where does this fall on your priority list? The challenge, I think most people don’t see is all the upside that Darryl alluded to by moving to the cloud because that’s where the innovation is. So at some point, yes, you need to bite the bullet, but it’s not just about doing as is, right? And like, “Oh, I can run my contact center on-prem today and I’m going to,”

Darryl Addington: (10:44)
That’s right.

Vikas Bhambri: (10:44)
“What are all the additional things that I can take advantage of once I move to the cloud?” I think that’s what a business should really be thinking about.

Darryl Addington: (10:52)
I completely agree, Vikas, and actually the integration to Kustomer that you guys have created using our SDK is an example of something that’s completely different in the cloud than it is on premises. And anybody that’s been on premises and is connected their CRM or customer information system to their contact center, knows that you own that integration, regardless of who did that work when it breaks, it’s, you’re the one that’s responsible for that breakage. And Gartner calls it fragile infrastructure. It’s this connection between all the different systems in an on-premises world. And basically what it does is horrible for the contact center, but it causes people to not make changes to what they’re doing. So they can’t iterate. They can’t transform. They do changes every three months or six months, or over years sometimes because in the past, they’ve made a change and it’s broken and what the worst thing you can possibly do is roll out a change to all your agents and have it break. Your phone’s going to light up. You might do it twice. You’re not going to do it three times. And all that’s super, super stable on the cloud, like that has gone away because the cloud vendors, like yourselves and ourselves, we own that. We have thousands of customers using these integrations and using the software. So it behooves us to make sure that it works because now our desk is, our phones are lighting up when it doesn’t work, not the person that was responsible for the context of your integration in the first place.

Gabe Larsen: (12:14)
Yeah, that’s so interesting that Gartner and I didn’t realize they’d gotten rid of that on-prem, that’s interesting. I didn’t realize that, Darryl. That’s funny. Well, let’s talk about some of the practical uses. You gave kind of the general idea and the foundational, but how did that translate for the agent and the customer? Maybe you can just start at a high level, where do you feel like people are seeing some of those benefits from moving to the cloud, and then the data, the machine learning, and ultimately the artificial intelligence?

Darryl Addington: (12:37)
Yeah, so the net result of machine learning and AI, and there’s a couple of use cases that I think we could talk about here. So one is automation. How can you take some of the things that people are currently doing with agents and automate them? And then the second is agent’s assistance. How can you make the agent’s job easier? And there’s lots of benefits that you get in terms of what the customer experience is like, but also some benefits around agent training and things like that. So if you take that first example, automation, there’s a lot of things that you might try and do in an IVR, but as we all know, using, pushing buttons on the DTMF is not a lot of fun. Most customers won’t do it. Later, we can touch on a customer case study that had a DTMF auto-attendant replaced with an AI-based auto-attendant and saw some awesome results.

Gabe Larsen: (13:25)
Really? Interesting.

Darryl Addington: (13:27)
And then the other element is you might, speech reco exists today, but it’s so expensive and hard to put in and it takes so much energy to maintain over time that it’s only been available to the high end of the market. So if you call Southwest Airlines and you call your bank, and it’s a big bank, you’ve probably interacted with a speech recognition system to automate some of the things you do, transfer funds from checking to savings, et cetera. But those are expensive and so the average business can’t really adopt them, but with this AI stuff, it is actually a lot easier to implement. We put in that auto attendant that I referenced in about two weeks, two weeks of PS, like one person for two weeks, which is crazy different from what the old speech reco was.

Darryl Addington: (14:10)
It was six months to nine months just to get the thing up and running. In some cases for the larger companies, like two years before you could actually put the thing into production. Really, really amazing. Anyway, so automation is like the first one and in any business, and you can kind of break down automation versus assistant, right? So customers know when they need to, when they need some automation versus when they need some assistance from a human being. So for example, if I’m going to go into a business and I’m going to, I want to know, is your store open? Right. Very, super common for COVID right now, is the store open? When is it open? Like, what hours are it open? These are all like things that you know you can just figure out, you should be able to figure it out from our website or from an IVA.

Darryl Addington: (14:51)
What’s the status of my order? I need to change my address. These are all things that you would expect to be able to do without a human being. But, “Hey, I ordered a piano bench 20 weeks ago and for the last 20 weeks, every two weeks, you’ve said it’s coming, but it’s not here yet.” So like, let’s have a conversation because I know I’m not going to get this resolved on self-service. And so that’s sort of, if you think about it from that perspective as a business, you can kind of think about what do I want to automate versus what I want that has something to do with the human experience that you’ve got. It has something to do with the relationship that you have with the business. You want to get to a human being because they’re going to be able to smooth all that over and make it better.

Gabe Larsen: (15:30)
So in a lot of ways, you’ve been able to take that complex voice recognition and be able to simplify it so that you can automate some of those more mundane tasks via phone if they want to. It’s just a [inaudible].

Darryl Addington: (15:42)
Yeah. Speech reco is a good example. And then I guess, let me just talk about IQVIA which is one of our customers. They did the auto attendant. What they found was that their customers weren’t willing to hit the tones. They weren’t willing to hit the buttons on the phone. And what that resulted in was that they got to agents that weren’t necessarily skilled to solve their problem. And then, like they probably had access to a CRM, like the great one that you guys have, but they maybe didn’t know how to navigate through it in order to find what they needed, et cetera. So when they implemented the flat menu, essentially, right, just tell me what it is that you’re calling about, customers were willing to give that a shot. And what they found was after those two weeks that I talked about, 87% on the first utterance, the first time that they just said, “Hey, I’m calling about this issue,” they were able to identify that and transfer that to the right agent and 93% after the second utterance. So if it didn’t get it the first time they were able to get to 93. They reduced their agent transfer down to less than 1% from agent to agent, meaning it got routed correctly to the agent. And then the other big stat for that one that was amazing to me was their average handle time decreased by 15% because the agents were actually trained on the issue of the customer. Yeah. So like really cool stuff. And the fact that a medium size and not these big organizations could implement something like that to me is, that’s like wow, right? Like that’s okay. It’s not quite magic like Jarvis, but it has such a big impact on the business. It’s super compelling and interesting and it solves the problems that the businesses have today.

Gabe Larsen: (17:18)
Interesting. Thoughts on that Vikas?

Vikas Bhambri: (17:21)
No, I think the key thing is that it opened up the opportunity for all types of businesses to deliver that optimal experience. You know what Darryl said, if you look at speech recognition, something that was primarily kind of started by, primary adoption was large financial services institutions. So the flagship banks, and as Darryl said, it took the number of years to roll it out. And frankly, the effectiveness of it, I would still debate, right? So now being able to offer that up to a medium size, small businesses I think is fantastic because as consumers we don’t only want to have a great experience, we used to joke that everybody talks about Apple delivering this amazing experience and everybody said, “Yeah, sure. It’s Apple,” right? Trillion dollar company. Of course they can afford to. So now I think of an opportunity for every business owner or every leader in every business, to think that they have the capabilities within their budget to go deliver an Apple-like experience, which I think is great because as a consumer, I think that’s the ideal that we’re all looking for.

Gabe Larsen: (18:30)
Yeah. It’s interesting. And I assume Darryl, that found that often the touch tone versus the speaking, it’s that big of a difference. We’re that lazy.

Darryl Addington: (18:43)
Yeah. Well, most people don’t understand why they’re doing it. You know there’s actually a website and it’s been around for forever, it’s called Get Human. And it tells you how to bypass the IVR so you can talk to a person, but what the consumer doesn’t realize, generally speaking, is that they’re then going to get to an agent that isn’t skilled to help them and so they’re going to get transferred around after that in order to solve their problem. But whatever. Speech reco is much, much better now with this AI. And even saying they don’t even call it speech reco anymore but it does recognize what you’re saying. Potentially yeah, to just be easy and usable which is great.

Gabe Larsen: (19:19)
I didn’t realize that was such a difference. And then you mentioned a little bit about agent assist-type capabilities. Do you want to talk a little bit about that? Or what does that look like?

Darryl Addington: (19:27)
Yeah, so agent assist is now, so now we know the consumer knows and the business knows that an agent needs to be involved. You’ve got something that is relational. So you’re onboarding a customer, for example, you don’t want to do that really in self-service. Some businesses can do it just because of the nature of their business, but a lot of businesses want you human beings involved. Or it’s something that is going to break the relationship. Hey, it’s been, like I said with the piano bench or travel-wise, I called Southwest Airlines recently. I was going to go to Kauai over the break and they closed the island and Southwest canceled my flights. So I wanted to talk to somebody about that. So you know you need a human, okay. So now you get to the agent now, how can you help the agent? And there’s a number of ways that AI can do that really easily today. So one is around call summarization and dispositions. So dispositions is this funny word, right? A disposition is essentially like, what was the call about? It’s a pretty simple thing. And the agent typically in a contact center has got, it’s easy to do. They just click on one, except that the list is usually a hundred items or longe. They have to scroll through the list at the end, right, and figure out what was the call about? And with a hundred items and the fact that most calls, not all calls, but most calls have multiple things that they were about, the agent does something called satisfaction. They just pick the first one that looks pretty good and their management doesn’t want them on after call work. They don’t want them sitting there for 10 minutes optimizing that disposition, right?

Darryl Addington: (20:50)
They want him to get onto the next phone call. So they just pick whatever. So that just totally ruins the reporting. Like you don’t actually know what that call is about. You know what the agent saw, the first thing the agent saw that looked close is what you know about that call. So AI can help with that because it listens to the whole call, listens to the conversation between the customer and the agent, and then they can pick multiple dispositions based on what that call was actually about. Now, you got this awesome reporting that’s more accurate and can actually tell you and let you fix problems around what your customers are calling about. So that’s number one.

Darryl Addington: (21:20)
Number two is call summaries. A lot of time gets spent by agents trying to capture what’s happening in the call and write down notes. With AI I can just capture all of that. And one of the things that Five9 is doing that’s interesting is that we actually summarize the call based on the dictation. The AI is not perfect, but it gives us enough details that we can then use NLP to summarize what that call was about. And at the end of the call, the agent just goes, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, let me crack that one real quick. I’ll be cool.” And they hit the button and it automatically gets written into Kustomer, into the CRMso that they don’t have to do all that. So shorten, it does two things. Shortens the after-call work, but then it also allows them to focus more on the customer because they’re not busy trying to capture all the notes during that.

Darryl Addington: (22:05)
Darryl, are you seeing an ability in the voice world to whisper to the agent and obviously prompt them based on the conversation that is taking place on potential solutions? So as you said, the AI is listening to the conversation going back and forth between the consumer and the agent and actually recommending, “Hey, maybe you want to say this. This is the solution to that problem. Like they should reset their cable box,” whatever it is. Do you see, is that something that exists or is that something that is still in flight?

Darryl Addington: (22:42)
Yeah, no, that’s something that you can do today and a great example. So there’s a whole bunch of different things that you can do around, like, so you might have legal statements that you need the agent to say, so you can watch for those. You can actually watch to see if they didn’t say them and then you can prompt them to say it, and then you can see if they actually said it like, so it’s like so awesome using the technology. And then there might be the next best action type of things. Like what should they be doing? So for example, it might be an example of if you’re in a business where the usage is important to the customer using the product, there might be examples, “Oh, have you tried using it like this?” Or it could be cross sell up sell-type opportunities where it’s saying, “Hey, customers that purchase that product that you’re talking about now, 85% of them purchased this product next.”

Darryl Addington: (23:25)
So talk to them about that product. So yeah, lots of examples there. The other thing that is happening is knowledge base. So being able to go on a knowledge base and pull up articles and present those to the agent, and man, talk about it being easier for the agent to your point, Vikas. You’ve got, and now you’ve got an AI that’s right there saying, “Hey, here’s what to do next.” Or, “Here’s an article that you can use to solve this problem.” It helps the agent because they’re not distracted with, and as you know, as you guys both know, one of the big problems with agents is they’ve got stuff everywhere, right? So they spend a lot of time putting the customer on hold and looking for things and with the AI just suggesting –

Vikas Bhambri: (24:03)
Not if they’re using Kustomer, but that’s a different discussion.

Darryl Addington: (24:07)
No, you’re right. But the you’re replacing environments that are like that with –

Gabe Larsen: (24:12)
Yeah, i’s funny. As I look at that, Darryl, I’m like, how did the agent ever function without these things? Like, what were they doing? They must’ve been, I guess they were –

Vikas Bhambri: (24:22)
Going back to what Gabe’s son was saying about Jarvis, right? We often, when we think about AI, it’s always still today, it’s very much a handoff conversation. It’s like, “Okay. The bot tries to solve the issue if it can. It hands off to human agent.” And yeah. I mean, we suggest things too. Do you envision a world where, especially in the voice world, it’s slightly different in the digital world where we’re talking about chat or social or whatever, where bot and agent are actually solving the problem for the customer together? And what I mean, I’m just thinking out loud, right? So from the perspective of I’ve got a generalist agent or, and maybe we have, but the bot is the expert in mortgages and we’re trying to solve the problem, but for the consumer, it’s seamless. Like a consumer feels like they’re talking to two people, but reality it’s one human agent and a bot who maybe is a specialist bot around mortgages if I was to look at financial services.

Darryl Addington: (25:24)
Yeah. So absolutely. I think the way that that’s manifesting today in the market is that you are able to get agents out on the floor faster. So they’re not a mortgage expert and maybe they don’t have to take the month long training in order to get them out on the floor because the AI is going to support them. They’re going to support them visually, not necessarily communicating directly to the customer while the agent’s communicating with the customer. But one of the things that we’ve focused on since the very beginning and the integration of the customer helps with this, is that context level between the automation, because it always exists, that’s what consumers know like we talked about, right? They know if it’s self service or automation, they’re probably going to start with self service if they can, even if they know they need an agent, they’re going to have to pass through the self service to get to an agent.

Darryl Addington: (26:13)
And during that time we can gather this word’s intentions, right? Like what is the customer trying to do? And the identity of the customer and the intent of the customer and any context about what the customer was doing recently can be passed to the agent and that agent then can make that a seamless bridge. And that’s a super, super, super critical part because in survey, after survey, after survey shows that customers do not like starting over when they switch channels and whether that’s from self service to an agent or from text to voice, whatever the case might be, they don’t like that.

Vikas Bhambri: (26:44)
Yeah. And I think when you live in our world and we’re so used to the technology side of it, we take it for granted. And then I think it’s quite often when I put my consumer hat on and I’m engaging all these different brands that I’m almost in disbelief as to the percentage of brands, that very basic nuance that you talked about there, the handoff, is still fundamentally broken I would say for 90% plus of most businesses.

Darryl Addington: (27:08)
Yeah. Well, and that’s solvable today without AI. I mean, that’s a problem that if you get a good pre-built integration between, to cloud vendors like us, you can solve that today and it’s actually relatively easy. You just implement the solutions, which is great. So I recommend businesses go do that.

Gabe Larsen: (27:24)
You’ve got to find that way. Well, let’s wrap up. But Darryl, I’d like to let you kind of finish and maybe pose this question to you. A lot of people out there trying to start this journey, figure out the best way to kind of optimize each part of the customer journey, where would you kind of leave the audience with, how do you start? Like where do I go to kind of get my feet wet and crawl, walk, run, if you will?

Darryl Addington: (27:48)
Yeah. I mean, so move to the cloud for one, because of all the reasons we’ve talked about, stability, better reporting, better UI, as you can control, and you can iterate on your contact center. That helps a ton. Integrate into your CRM, like with a pre built integration. Prebuilt, it’s important. There are great SDKs. We have one, but if you can get a pre built integration into a CRM like Kustomer, awesome. Like, that’s going to help so much in terms of the experience, the agent training, the environment looks seamless across that whole thing, and they can get all that context we just talked about. Three is enabling the agent. Super important for work from home these days, and that’s agent stats. How am I doing during the day? Am I meeting the customer and the company’s objectives for me? Am I not? Gamification and workforce management or another key one so that you can manage your schedule really effectively. That empowers the agent in a way that they haven’t been empowered previously.

Darryl Addington: (28:39)
So those three steps, and then like, that’s just low hanging fruit. Like you can go do that today and really easily, within three months, depending on the complexity of your contact center, could be a week. It could be really fast, might be a bit longer, three months if you were super big, if you got 30,000 agents or something, but you can go do that today. And so those are the first three steps. And then AI, AI is absolutely there. It’s practical. You can find vendors that are using that technology in ways that are allowing you to solve business problems you have today while we all wait for Jarvis to come around and –

Gabe Larsen: (29:14)
Awesome. Awesome. Well, Vikas always appreciate you joining. Darryl, thanks so much for having me. If someone wants to get in touch with you or learn a little bit more about Five9, what’s the best way to do that?

Darryl Addington: (29:22)
Well, the website’s a good spot to start. It’s got a lot of good information. There’s numbers that you can call out there, et cetera. And, uh, yeah.

Gabe Larsen: (29:32)
Love it. Alrighty, man. Well hey, appreciate your time, and for the audience, have a fantastic day.

Darryl Addington: (29:36)
Yeah, you too.

Exit Voice: (29:43)
Thank you for listening. Make sure you’re subscribed to hear more customer service secrets.

3 Reasons Why Customer Complaints Can Help Your Business Grow

How to Decrease CX Costs by Improving Agent Productivity TW

A business could be doing everything right, but at some point they will receive a customer complaint. It can be easy to place blame on the customer. They might be rude or have unrealistic expectations. But businesses should see the unsatisfied customer as a growth opportunity. Very few businesses actually know how to handle customer complaints in a manner that is both respectful to the customer and shows them that you care about their business. Interested in knowing more? In this article, you will uncover three ways customer complaints are actually a blessing.

How to Handle Customer Complaints

If a customer is unhappy with your service or their purchase, they will likely complain. And it’s more critical than ever to address these complaints. According to Ruby Newell-Legner’s Understanding Customers research, it takes roughly 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience. The same research reveals that 70% of unhappy customers whose issues were resolved in their favor said they would be willing to come back. Not only is it critical for businesses to solve a customer complaint the first time, it can truly sway a customer’s lifelong experience with that brand.

According to an American Express survey, U.S. consumers were willing to spend more when companies provided exceptional customer service. In fact, they were willing to spend about 13% more. However, in that same study, 42% of shoppers said that companies were helpful but didn’t do anything extra to keep their business while 20% thought companies took their business for granted. Furthermore, 59% of respondents said they would try a new brand just for the better customer service experience.

While there’s always room for improvement, customer service provides a huge opportunity for your business to shine. If you can deliver an exceptional customer experience, your business will be able to steal market share from the competition.

A Personalized Touch Counts

The next step to navigating customer complaints is to train your customer service team to handle customer complaints empathetically, ensuring the customer feels valued and important. Businesses must capture customer feedback and respond to the dissatisfied ones immediately.

When a business ignores an unhappy customer, it makes them feel like their voice and opinion does not matter. Writing any wrong shows that the business cares and wants to continuously improve by addressing customer feedback instantaneously.

Active Communication Is Key

Customers are turned off by being kept in the dark. If you’ve received their complaint, acknowledge it and act quickly. The best way to handle customer complaints is actively communicating with your customer and letting them know you’re working on the problem right away. Your customer is already frustrated that things aren’t going their way. Don’t add to the frustration!

It’s important to apologize and listen carefully to what their needs might be. If the problem looks like it may take a few days to resolve, be sure to list out the next action steps and what a resolution would look like. Customers don’t want to wait four days to see if they’re eligible for something as simple as a refund. If you can answer some of these questions right off the bat, it’s going to make your customer feel better about the situation.

Empower Your Support Team to Go Above and Beyond

Support teams have a tough job and their hands are often tied when it comes to how to handle customer complaints. Additional positive touches can be critical, especially when a customer has complained. Can your support team give the customer a gift without having to escalate to a manager? How can you empower your support team to go above and beyond while they are in active communication with an unhappy customer?

For example, The Ritz-Carlton is known for its high-end customer service. The tourism and hospitality company has been able to create a loyal fan base. One of the many reasons they are known for their impeccable service is because they have empowered every employee to provide additional touches to make their guests’ experience exceptional.

If the bellhop, for example, overhears a complaint, he or she is able to take it into their own hands and offer free dessert, or another positive touch point, to that client. They do not have to go to the manager for permission or to escalate the issue. This gives power to the employee to quickly react to a customer’s complaint, and they are not held back by company processes in order to make a customer feel valued.

Connect With Kustomer:

Interested in knowing more about how you can deliver excellent customer service in the modern era? Feel free to download our free ebook about four key ways to deliver on customer needs. You can also check out our free report, What Consumers Expect From the Customer Experience, so that you and your business can begin implementing a great customer experience that goes beyond what your competitors are able to provide.

 

4 Elements of E-Commerce Customer Service

How Consumer Behavior Is Fueling the Future of Retail CX TW

The world is rapidly changing and that’s good news for businesses in the e-commerce space. In a study conducted by The Global Consumer, more than one-third of global consumers purchased products online at least once per week. This means it’s more crucial than ever to focus on the e-commerce customer service experience.

There’s been a huge bump in online purchases ever since the pandemic began. As more consumers practiced social distancing and stayed at home, their online shopping habits increased. In fact, on a global level, 49% of consumers shop online more than they did pre-COVID-19 and the amount spent online with U.S. retailers alone in Q2 of 2020 was 44% higher than the same period in 2019.

These new statistics mean there’s a lot of room for growth in the e-commerce sector. If you’re a retailer, one of the most important points of contact for new customers is your customer service team, which means it’s imperative that they’re trained and up-to-date with the latest knowledge and know how to go above and beyond for your customers.

What Is E-Commerce Customer Service?

E-commerce customer service is the act of assisting new or existing online customers when they encounter questions or challenges they may have throughout the customer journey. It is the goal for an e-commerce customer service team to provide a pain-free, digital shopping experience for consumers.

An e-commerce business should look at all the ways a customer would interact with their brand and provide assistance for them throughout the digital customer journey. This could mean answering their questions directly on the brand’s website, via social media, or by telephone calls and emails.

The ideal e-commerce customer service experience means customers are never left hanging — no matter what. If you’d like to improve your customers’ experience throughout the buyer journey, here are four important elements you should be incorporating in your e-commerce customer service strategy.

1. Reduce Redundancies and Customer Friction

According to HubSpot Research, the most frustrating thing about interacting with an e-commerce brand is having to repeat their problem to more than one customer service representative. You can prevent this from happening by incorporating an omnichannel communication strategy that allows a customer service agent to see all the ways a customer has connected and interacted with your brand. Don’t take their problem for granted. If a customer doesn’t feel like you’re able to accurately, and consistently solve their problem, they will look elsewhere for a brand that does.

2. Provide Self-Service Options

Customers often dread having to reach out to a customer service agent. They prefer to find the solution to their problem on their own before having to interact with someone. Some of the cheapest ways to improve the customer experience is by providing more self-help and FAQ documentation for that customer.

If you’re noticing a pattern within your e-commerce customer service channels where customers are asking the same questions over and over, you might benefit from creating additional documentation on the website to help customers get what they need quickly without having to ask for help.

3. Replace the Sales Rep with E-Commerce Customer Service Agents

Customer service agents are wearing a lot of hats in today’s market. They’re not only expected to solve tough customer problems, but they’re also an extension of the brand’s image. They need to know how to best service their customers’ unique  needs and personal tastes.

Today’s consumers are turned off by pushy sales reps, but they do love someone who is in their corner and recommending products that are relevant to them. However, it’s a fine balance to juggle these two worlds. It’s important to provide training for your customer service team so they can understand the difference, and learn how to recommend the best products in a way that’s authentic to the brand. Consumers want a personalized experience and you can deliver by having your support team lead them down a path that’s unique and relevant without being seen as salesy.

4. Take Customer Reviews Seriously

Many customers feel like they’re shouting into a void when it comes to delivering feedback to a brand. They’ve taken their time to answer a customer satisfaction survey and, if their feedback was especially negative, often don’t see changes in how the company handles the shopping experience. This is an area where you can really stand out from your competitors.

If you notice a customer has had a bad experience, don’t let their feedback go unnoticed. Reach out to them, offer to make it right, and let them know you value their opinion no matter what. Some of your harshest critics can turn into your biggest supporters if they see first-hand that you value their business and will do anything to make sure they’re satisfied.

Connect With Kustomer:

It can be hard to stand out from the crowd and grab a bigger piece of the pie in the e-commerce market. However, Kustomer is here to help! If you’d like to know more about how to differentiate yourself in the market and improve the agent experience for the customer, you can watch our ondemand webinar here. Delivering exceptional customer service requires companies to empower their team with the tools they need to succeed. Feel free to request a free demo right here and start creating stellar customer experiences today.

 

How To Turn Your CX Organization Into a Revenue Generator by Engaging Customers in the Digital Age

How To Turn Your CX Organization Into a Revenue Generator by Engaging Customers in the Digital Age TW

To facilitate more meaningful, long-term customer relationships, companies must focus on implementing solutions that offer both valuable and seamless support. With customers relying on agents to support their entire pre- and post-purchasing journey, there is a clear opportunity to optimize the customer experience by leveraging critical insight and assistive technology.

By equipping agents to support complex interactions and promote more proactive communication, companies can secure loyal customers that drive bottom-line results and prompt consistent growth in revenue.

Focus on Omnichannel Support

To operate in the digital era, companies must be equipped to support an omnichannel experience. With customers spending more of their personal time validating their purchases with pre-transaction support, they require access to agents who can effectively understand their entire contextual journey. By focusing on an omnichannel approach, companies can work to better understand their customers intentions and adapt support as needed.

According to Gabe Larsen, VP of Marketing at Kustomer, “Omnichannel support can often seem intimidating to businesses because they think they need separate teams to manage these separate channels through separate systems. Your customer data is powerful, but it often lives in other disparate systems making it a challenge to provide a complete picture of your customers. You need to implement a support solution that unifies that data and makes it easily available and actionable for your support team. And since your omnichannel strategy connects all your channels, data on customer interactions travels with the customer and moves as easily between channels as they do.”

As customers continue to utilize different channels, switching between self-service options, live chat, and traditional phone service, it becomes necessary to gain a line of sight into every aspect of the overall journey.

Additionally, when customers increase touch points by requesting support pre-transaction, companies must work to identify these moments to piece together a 360-degree view of the customer later on.

To achieve a more seamless approach, companies must implement Al solutions that ensure flawless escalation and increased efficiency. With modern Al technology, customers using a chatbot service can be swiftly routed to the most qualified agent to receive individual support. By pinpointing the exact moment of frustration or inefficiency, Al works to seamlessly adapt to the customers’ momentary needs, while providing the agent with the necessary contextual information to adequately handle the case.

Once agents gain access to this in-depth customer insight they can more effectively handle the unique influx of questions and services they are currently expected to provide. Companies can then work to provide a simplified experience as customers effortlessly switch between channels without ever having to repeat their inquiries.

Says Ryan Patchitt, Customer Experience Manager at Waldo, “Having that 360-degree customer view, it allows the agents in one click to have an understanding of, from the beginning, from that first order that the customers had with us, has there been any pros or cons throughout their journey? When looking at that, it allows the agents to say, ‘you’ve been with us for X amount of time, we can see that you needed your contact lenses now, a month ago, you seem to be running out at this time of the month, why don’t we change your plan to this?’ and it really helps the agents get a more personalized experience for our customers and it also saves a lot of time which is great for us.”

Leverage Personalization

Once agents can effectively handle a more seamless flow of interactions, they can work to provide the more personalized and empathetic version of support customers are currently seeking.

We know customers do not want to be treated like a ticket number; they want agents to consistently recognize them on every platform and actually understand their intentions and goals. Identifying the customer is one thing, but providing meaningful and personalized support at every touchpoint takes a more comprehensive approach.

This level of support requires access to detailed customer data to go beyond simple recognition and support complex, meaningful interactions. Additionally, it demands streamlined back-end processes to allow agents to direct their focus on the most substantial cases.

“There’s no need to waste the customer’s or agent’s time by asking for repeat information Instead, that information is available at the click of a button, allowing the agent to personalize the customer’s experience by giving fine-tuned advice, addressing problems proactively, and suggesting other products or services the customer might enjoy. The result? An efficient but personal interaction that builds a lifelong customer relationship,” says Gabe Larsen, VP of Marketing at Kustomer.

To leverage comprehensive customer data, empower agents with Al tools like customizable insight cards that curate the context and tools needed to facilitate an interaction. With this technology, agents can process returns, issue credits, or rebook reservations all in a single platform. This keeps the most critical information in one place, allowing agents to focus on each interaction by avoiding distracting searches and inefficiencies. Additionally, it allows agents to more effectively act in an advisory role, recommending new products and services that may align with their value-driven mentality — increasing potential revenue opportunities.

To learn more about how to transform your contact center into a profit center, download our latest report produced in conjunction with CCW, right here.

 

Your Help Center Software Could Use a Facelift. Here’s How.

Two people discuss selecting a new help center software while working on a computer. Modern help center software aims to streamline customer service professional workflows.

Growth creates growing pains. And often, high-growth brands struggle to scale their contact centers while also managing an influx of shopper queries, such as returns or locating an item. Balancing these forces — scale and volume — often starts with reviewing your help center software and removing manual, time-consuming tasks, including sifting through queues, escalating issues and processing transactions.

What Is Help Center Software?

Simply put, help center or support software enables conversations between customer service professionals and shoppers, who submit support inquiries. The software fields, stores and organizes these queries and displays them to the agent. Within this interface, staff have access to a variety of customer communications and data, allowing them to make more informed decisions. Perhaps most importantly, help center software powered by AI and machine learning can automate agent work and process inquiries without agent intervention, freeing up agent time to tackle more complex requests.

As DTC markets grow — and with them, consumer expectations and inquiry volume — technology must keep up. Modern help center software eliminates low level tasks and deflects repetitive questions, empowering customer service professionals to be more focused and reducing per-contact costs. What makes great software? Read more below.

Why Focus on Help Center Software?

Few business facets are more important than customer service. Speaking about 2021 customer service trends, Allegra Ubbes, a senior advisory specialist at Gartner, summarized the market this way:

“Customer service and support leaders face increased pressure from leadership on the role of the service function in improving operational excellence and growing the business. Given this environment, it’s unsurprising that customer service and support leaders’ top 2020 priorities are rooted in customer experience (CX), managing talent and data.”

Adding to their analysis, Gartner surveyed service executives about their priorities. Topping their lists: digital channels and functions. “Customer service leaders feel a distinct pressure to meet customers’ expectations for digital service channels and keep pace with competitors’ service offerings,” analysts write. “As a result, service leaders spend a disproportionate amount of time adding or integrating channels.”

However, research finds this creates a “costlier, more complex network of channels to manage without improving the customer experience and insufficient reduction in live volume.” Put another way: not every help center software – and the channels they facilitate – can power the sleek shopping experience that buyers want. On the contrary, that software may damage customer relations and the company’s bottom line.

Make Friends With Customer Experience (CX)

Simply sidestepping help center software all together isn’t going to solve this issue. Indicators suggest brands can anticipate a sustained surge of digital customer queries. And the National Retail Federation (NRF) found there’s a good chance 2020-based forces have permanently altered the CX industry. As such, brands should take notice.

Training their sights on the November-December holiday season, NRF found retail sales rose to $789.4 billion, an 8.3% increase over 2019. Online and other sales outside of traditional brick-and-mortar stores grew 23.9% over the previous year as well.

Greater sales activity creates a cascade effect on business operations: starting with increased urgency placed on customer service professionals and their tools, such as help desk software. How great a spike in activity? Just under 70% of respondents said they fielded more customer queries in 2020 when compared to the previous holiday season.

And there’s a price tag attached to excellent CX. Researchers found an overwhelming 86% of buyers said they’d pay more for a product when that shopping experience comes with superior customer service. When there’s demand for — and more money to be made — with great customer service, avoiding help center software isn’t an option.

Help Center Software of Your Dreams

Alright, so those are the stakes. But what factors should a customer service professional weigh when evaluating different help center software? Look no further than software that leverages the latest technology to make agents more efficient and effective.

Additionally, there are five pillars of every modern support software:

Holistic Customer View. See the whole picture. Often answers are found by combining information from different sources. Opt for a software that uses a holistic customer view, and displays every item of internal and external data into one actionable interface.

Powerful Automation. Give your agents more bandwidth to focus their energy on pressing tasks with AI and machine learning, which completes small, easy tasks that don’t require a human touch.

True Omnichannel. Endlessly toggling between engagement channels burns valuable time and energy, which could be spent delving into customer queries. Choose a help center software with omnichannel features that empower agents to switch between channels without ever leaving the conversation.

Sentiment Fluency. Customer service can be a huge source of data. Let AI do the hard work. Software with sentiment fluency interprets shoppers’ feelings and turns them into actionable insights.

Customization. It’s a bad idea to add tools that aren’t a good fit for your operation. Cumbersome solutions burn resources, and can ultimately harm a customer’s shopping experience. Choose a software that seamlessly integrates with your existing operation.

Help Center Software Solutions

Want to see these fives pillars in action? Check out Kustomer’s customer service CRM platform for managing high support volume. When there’s a surge of customer queries, not just any help center software will do. Delve deeper into this topic, and discover how artificial intelligence can reduce time spent on minor tasks and create a more enjoyable shopping experience for customers.

 

Video: How to Deliver Stellar CX Remotely

Woman engages with customer service queries at home on laptop.

Have you and your teams struggled with the transition to remote customer service, and want more control on how you’re delivering a stellar experience to your customers? The Kustomer Platform bridges the gap between addressing accountability problems (are my agents really working?), giving you a seamless way to track important data points about your customer.

What is Remote Customer Service?

With an uptick in people working from home and being online more than ever before, consumers need and expect customer support 24/7. Your remote customer service agents should do everything an in-house CS rep can do: take calls, process high-level customer questions, and be attentive to your customer’s unique needs. The good news is, your brand can offer a completely remote customer service experience and you don’t need to rent costly office space to deliver an exceptional experience.


Here Are 4 Simple Ways To Deliver Stellar Remote Customer Service:


1. Easy Access

  • All you need is an internet browser and standard wifi, and you’re good to go!

2. Seamless Collaboration

  • Through easy integrations, you can loop in cross functional teams and use tools like Notes, @mentions, followers, and more.

3. Easy Oversight

  • Remotely manage your CX tool with confidence.
  • Quickly get a bird’s eye view of customer service agent availability & capacity.
  • Jump into active conversations and manage queue assignments easily.

4. Stay Efficient & Effective

  • Finally! You can leverage a true omnichannel CRM to create a detailed picture of every customer and help them stay engaged on any platform.
  • Easy automation of repetitive tasks.
  • Access all the data you need in just one place!

Want To See What Effortless Remote Customer Service Looks Like?

You can request a 15-minute live intro call with one of our representatives here, or you can see the Kustomer platform in action by getting a behind-the-scenes look here.

 

Get to Know These Common Customer Service Problems and Solutions

Benchmarks: What We’re Seeing For Average Handle Time and First Resolution Time in Q2 & Q3 2020 TW

As the direct-to-customer market grows, many brands continue to adopt traditional approaches to customer service and stumble over the same obstacles again and again. How should customer service professionals rethink client care? And where should brands even begin this process? Let’s unpack some common customer service problems and solutions.

Below, we outline common obstacles, such as adapting to new customer preferences and gauging success, and cover modern solutions.

Customer Service Basics: What’s the Problem?

Despite popular wisdom, a majority of buyers do not want to speak to a support agent. That’s according to a survey by market research company Forrester. Analysts found most customers simply want accurate, relevant and complete answers to their queries. Why does this matter?

Returning to the study, more than 50% of U.S. adults said they’re likely to abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question.

Speaking to only those one-in-two shoppers for whom speed is a factor, whether or not a brand closes a sale depends on how quickly customers can locate answers related to a product.

Delving deeper into this topic, 70% of adults said valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service.

Customers are increasingly using self-service and agent-assisted digital communication channels for customer service, which apply less friction to the shopping experience, Forrester researchers write.

Examples of these channels include:

  • Web or mobile self-service.
  • Online forums or communities.
  • Live chat.

Of course, now’s not the time to unplug and retire the landlines. What this report points to is a more nuanced, tech-forward approach to our customer service problems and solutions — an approach that is more vital now than ever.

How Did COVID-19 Shift Customer Service

COVID-19. Social distancing. Virtual connections. With an eye on the upcoming year, Forrester suggests customer service centers will adapt to a shifting market, one shaped by the pandemic. There’s a “need for a more empathetic service experience,” analysts write. Additionally, customer service will become a lifeline for an estimated 33 million consumers.

“With U.S. unemployment peaking in April [2020],” they write, “millions of individuals found themselves struggling to pay for food, bills, and other necessities.” They suggest responsible organizations provide high-quality, emotionally sensitive customer support in a form that meets customers’ needs.

Concurring with the above trend, Forrester predicts a sharp, 40% spike in virtual customer support cases, placing greater scrutiny on brands and greater urgency on their support agents to meet shoppers’ preferences: namely a demand for self-service and agent-assisted digital communication channels.

Finally, Forrester projects the creation of hybrid store/contact center roles. While brick-and-mortar stores have been hurt by the pandemic and subsequent social distancing guidelines, they haven’t been erased. Assuming a hybrid posture towards customer service problems and solutions creates the greatest opportunity for brands to meet shoppers’ needs.

Tackling Customer Service Problems and Solutions

As we covered in a previous blog post, customer service agents who aim to improve their care face a unique challenge. So often, the starting points for new solutions are major issues that may be intangible and tricky to define, such as:

  • Inefficiency.
  • Feeling ineffective.
  • Immediate need to deflect conversations.

Equally challenging is gauging the benefits of your customer service. Of course, a five-star review on a public forum is a clear sign. Generally speaking, these kinds of signals can be few and far between, creating gaps of time without concrete feedback to indicate how well a service center is performing. Where should you look to get a sense of how your service is affecting consumers?

First, look within. Everyone benefits from excellent customer service, not just shoppers. When buyers are happy, that can radiate to an entire organization, boosting morale and — potentially — translating to sales. And in that way, a company’s bottom line becomes a clear, tangible gauge of customer service efforts.

And second, check your workloads. Customer service takes time to perform, especially when done well. As such, professionals may find themselves overburdened when fielding a large volume of easy to answer conversations, and unable to attend to more serious cases. Often, giving agents the freedom to deflect avoidable queries is a matter of implementing tech solutions, such as self-service and agent-assisted digital communication channels.

Customer Service Solutions

Here are just a few options that are available to customer service professionals:

  • Providing shoppers with resources, such an easily accessible FAQ section.
  • Installing an AI chatbot.
  • Implementing a proactive outreach strategy, allowing agents to address customer concerns before they arise.

Learning how to tackle customer service problems and solutions doesn’t have to stop with this blog post. Trust Kustomer as a source of invaluable tactics for honing your custom service center strategy. Learn more.

Scaling Customer Service as your Business Grows

Scaling Customer Service as your Business Grows TW

There’s nothing quite as exciting as growing — and scaling — your business. Along with the excitement comes an all-important need to stay focused on scaling your customer service offerings to meet the needs and expectations of your ever-growing customer base. As your business grows, it’s essential to prioritize providing the best possible service that aligns with your organization’s core competencies, without breaking the bank.

Utilizing a CX CRM platform, such as Kustomer, allows you to focus on three key areas: communication, automation and documentation. By prioritizing these three tenets, you’ll be able to successfully scale your customer service offerings as your business continues to grow.

Communicate

As with any organization that prioritizes the customer above all else, accurate and instant communication is essential to ensuring that you’re able to provide an exceptional customer experience. A true omnichannel CRM aggregates all channels into one single view, so customers are able to communicate seamlessly on their preferred platform, and agents have all the information they need to provide a personalized experience. With access to a knowledge base, agents have up-to-date information at their fingertips to ensure they’re providing accurate answers to customers’ concerns.

Automate

Automation can be leveraged in many ways in intelligent platforms like Kustomer. Businesses are able to tap into the power of queues and routing to automatically route specific conversations to the most appropriate agent. Utilizing business rules ensures proper actions are taken on conversations automatically, and when combined with documentation, CX organizations can ensure that all conversations are properly tagged and ready for a thorough review at a later time.

With AI, businesses now have the opportunity to provide more self-service opportunities. Think about chatbots. They are growing in popularity with both businesses and consumers, and can be used to collect initial information, and solve low level inquiries like business hours, policy questions and “where is my order” (WISMO) inquiries. While there is always fear of losing personalization when using AI and automation, with the right data, businesses can actually do the opposite. For instance, if a business leverages customer data properly, chatbots could ask personalized questions based on an individual’s purchase or browsing history. These interventions save time for both the customer and agent, and increase the time spent on the actual issue rather than information gathering and low-level support.

Document

Documentation is performed in a few ways within CRM platforms like Kustomer. First, you are automatically documenting your correspondence with your customers. This allows you to see past engagements and find areas where your team can improve while you scale. A solid QA program of past conversations is imperative for any organization scaling their customer service organization. Second, this documentation allows you to search across your interactions to find trends. Are you answering the same question(s)? If so, you can uncover those insights through reporting functionality, and then you can update your knowledge base to get that answer into your customer’s hands quicker, or adopt chatbots to automate those conversations. Lastly, utilizing pre-built messages for common inquiries allows agents to engage with customers quickly, accurately, consistently and efficiently.

Scaling a customer service organization doesn’t need to be a scary task. Business growth means you are succeeding, but you must remain focused on delivering the customer service experience that your customers expect. Prioritizing communication, automation, and documentation will allow you to succeed in this endeavor.

Want to learn more about how to scale your CX org? Download our definitive guide to scaling your customer service, without losing the human touch.

 

How to Eliminate Guesswork and Accelerate Triage With Kustomer’s Agent Suggestions

How to Eliminate Guesswork and Accelerate Triage With Kustomer’s Agent Suggestions TW

Great customer experiences depend on great agent experiences. Giving agents the right tools and knowledge is critical to empowering agents and facilitating customer-centric, empathetic support. And as studies have shown, good customer experiences have a direct impact on topline revenue, driving retention, loyalty, and word-of-mouth marketing.

However, according to Forrester, agents on average spend 35% of their time searching for information, and another 15% performing repetitive, manual tasks. They struggle with a complex toolset that gets in the way, rather than supports them in their moment of need.

That’s why I’m excited to introduce Agent Suggestions, predictive intelligence that supercharges agents. Available with Kustomer IQ for Agents, Agent Suggestions leverages the power of AI to streamline the agent experience, surfacing the answers they need right at their fingertips. By reducing friction and minimizing the effort agents put forth to find the right information, Agent Suggestions frees up agents’ time to do their most important work: engaging with the customer and delivering a best-in-class customer experience.

What is Agent Suggestions?

Self-learning AI models that predict agent responses based on historical conversation data

  • Use historical data mixed with Natural Language Processing techniques and smart filtering to suggest the three most recommended shortcuts to be used.
  • Learn from your organization’s usage. Based on how shortcuts are being applied, recommendations will change over time, without any manual training needed.
  • Show only the shortcuts that each agent has access to. Don’t worry, agents will only see suggested shortcuts that they either publicly or privately have access to.
  • Allow agents to choose how the preview will look. If an agent wants to check all the details in a brand new modal, or just use the existing preview, it’s up to each individual. We made the new modal skippable, just in case it’s not the right fit for everyone.
  • Are easy to activate. With just one click, the admin will be able to enable this functionality for all agents.

 

Here’s how it works.

 

 

  • STEP ONE: An admin will enable the Agent Suggestions toggle.
  • STEP TWO: An agent opens a message. Note: the message must come from the email channel and be the first inbound interaction.
  • STEP THREE: The agent sees the suggestions. On hover, they’ll see the details of the shortcut.
  • STEP FOUR: The first time an agent clicks on any of the suggestions, they’ll see a brand new modal with all the details and actions included in the shortcut. This new modal is skippable, so if you don’t need to see a detailed view and choose to skip this step, all you have to do is check a box. The next time you see a suggestion, just hover it to see the shortcut information or click to apply it.
  • STEP FIVE: The agent clicks to apply the shortcut.

 

How will Agent Suggestions evolve?

Customer service teams are constantly trying to be as effective and productive as they can, and Agent Suggestions can help organizations achieve that mission. A good first step for this feature is shortcut suggestions, because shortcuts are already a great productivity tool that allows agents to do multiple actions with a simple click.

However, our plans go beyond shortcut suggestions. In the future we plan to expand the functionality with knowledge base article suggestions, similar/related conversations, or even custom actions such as returns, refunds or discounts that could be initiated from the suggestions view.

All these capabilities, tailored to each of the agents and leveraging our self-learning models and smart filtering techniques, will become an essential tool for agents, helping them be more efficient and effective.
 

How to Decrease CX Costs by Improving Agent Productivity

How to Decrease CX Costs by Improving Agent Productivity TW

In today’s economy, external pressures demand that customer experience departments service more customers and solve more problems than ever before. In fact, during the 2020 holiday season, 68% of CX organizations dealt with far more issues than they did the previous year, speaking to this overwhelming new normal for service professionals around the globe. CX teams often spend immense amounts of time sorting through tickets and routing them to the correct agent, or hunting for information in disparate systems. This can be both time consuming and brain-numbing work, and takes away time that would otherwise be spent building relationships with valuable customers. A CX organization must develop a productive environment, with a proper CRM system, to make agents more effective and efficient.

Step One

The first step to lowering your CX costs is to make your agents more effective. Effectiveness means your agents do a better job of servicing your customers, delivering on ever-growing consumer expectations. Providing your agents with a CRM system that intelligently routes issues to the right person ensures that problems are resolved based on the skillset of the agent. As the agent learns news skills, routing rules can be updated based on their capabilities. Productivity improves because those issues are resolved accurately.

How to Decrease CX Costs by Improving Agent Productivity Inline 1

It’s also essential to arm your team with the information they need to instantaneously service customers. This means aggregating all information about a customer’s history into one single view, so agents can treat customers like people and not tickets. Additionally, make sure your CRM can intelligently surface relevant information from a knowledge base, so all agents are delivering consistent and high-value service.

AI support technology can also suggest messages to send to customers based off of historical conversations and customer attributes, which can become more accurate and personalized over time in conjunction with a machine learning model. Sentiment analysis is another benefit of AI technology. By looking at the words and tone in a customers’ messages, the technology can identify how satisfied, or dissatisfied, a customer is, and escalate the issue accordingly.

Step Two

The second step to lowering your CX costs is to make your agents more efficient. Efficiency means ensuring your agents have the tools in place to service more customers, in the same amount of time. Providing your agents with a CRM system that has all information in one place eliminates the need for multiple browsers and hunting for information in disparate systems. It can also provide an instantaneous view of all past conversations and the complete customer history. This means the agents have all of the information they need in one screen to resolve issues, leading to an increase in productivity.

How to Decrease CX Costs by Improving Agent Productivity Inline 2

Average Handle Time (AHT) is the average duration of the customer conversation, from the time the conversation is initiated to the time it concludes, including all hold times and transfers, as well as after-conversation work. Wall Street, investors and even corporate executives look at AHT as a productivity measurement, and organizations are often measured on handle time, against industry standards and competitors. The directive from above — more often than not — is to improve productivity, lower costs and improve the average handle time.

Imagine a CX organization with 50 agents paid at a fully burdened rate of $50,000 annually for a total payroll cost of $2,500,000. A simple twenty percent productivity improvement from more effective and efficient agents would add $500,000 in business impact OR ten additional agents! As agent handle times improve, so does the business’ bottom line.

Want to learn how Kustomer can help your business lower CX costs? Request a demo here.
 

Kustomer Debuts Next Generation Chat Platform, Enabling Businesses to Deliver AI-Powered, Personalized Customer Service at Fraction of the Cost of Phone Support

Kustomer Debuts Next Generation Chat Platform, Enabling Businesses to Deliver AI-Powered, Personalized Customer Service at Fraction of the Cost of Phone Support TW

Businesses Can Now Resolve the High-Frequency Needs of Digital Shoppers Faster and More Efficiently, Providing Personal, Empathetic & Helpful Chat-Based Support to More Customers

 

New York, NY – January 19, 2021Kustomer, the top-rated CRM platform for omnichannel customer experiences, today launched its next-generation Kustomer Chat platform. The intelligent, easy-to-deploy conversational messaging platform leverages AI and historical customer data to enable secure, personalized engagement from websites and mobile devices throughout their buyer journey. This reduces shopping cart abandonment, empowers customers to resolve their own issues and inspires customer loyalty with a smarter, more convenient and cost-effective support option that helps businesses stay on top of support volume triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. It also helps businesses scale cost-effectively by replacing phone-based support that can cost over $8 per contact, with an AI-powered messaging experience at 1/10th the cost.

“Customer service has become a lifeline for consumers struggling to adapt in the post-COVID era. They need personal, informed support throughout their buying journey, and they need it on their own schedule. Unfortunately, the crushing volume and complexity of requests has left businesses struggling to keep up and searching for smarter, digital solutions to address customer demands,” said Brad Birnbaum, founder and CEO of Kustomer. “As one of the most popular and efficient support channels, chat is the answer, but it must be smarter, more personalized, and less frustrating than legacy chat experiences. That’s why we are so excited to introduce our newest version of the Kustomer Chat platform with AI chatbots powered by rich customer data to help businesses deliver highly-responsive, smart, and personalized support at a fraction of the cost of traditional channels. By allowing customers to easily resolve problems on their own and engage with CX at their convenience, Kustomer Chat provides businesses the tools to deliver on customers’ expectations and grow their business. Using AI-powered advanced triage and recommended agent actions, CX organizations can deliver faster answers to their customers’ needs.”

Brand New Kustomer Chat Platform Packed With Features

The new version of Kustomer Chat delivers benefits for both consumers and businesses by making chat-based support interactions smarter, faster, and frictionless. Businesses can now automate, deflect, or instantly resolve customer issues using chatbots powered by machine learning and customer data from the built-in CRM platform. Businesses can also improve agent productivity by using AI and the customer’s full history to eliminate guesswork, accelerate triage, and recommend or automate actions. The platform features an extensive set of capabilities, Kustomer Chat empowers businesses to deliver seamless support around the clock, dramatically improve the customer experience quality, and reduce the costs and complexity of their service operations.

  • Embedded Knowledge Base: Enable quick access to FAQs and deliver instant resolution with AI-Powered Knowledge Base that can be accessed from within the chat widget.
  • Persistent Conversation History: Keep conversations continuous even if the customer has momentarily left, with a persistent interaction history that allows anywhere, anytime engagement, without losing context or needing to repeat themselves.
  • CRM-Powered Chatbots: Powered by machine learning and CRM data, deploy powerful bots across the entire journey to automate routine agent interactions, deliver personalized experiences, and drive faster resolution.
  • In-App & Push Notifications: Reduce abandonment and churn, and eliminate frustrating waiting on hold by using in-app and push notifications to instantly notify customers when there is a response from an agent.
  • Multi-Brand Customization: Deliver customized experience across multiple brands. Manage unique settings to create brand-specific experiences including branding, styles, language, conversational assistant, automations, SLAs, reporting, and more.
  • Build Your Own Chat Widget: Create your own conversational interface and experience using turnkey tools and developer configurations.
  • Targeted CSAT Surveys: Collect meaningful, in-the-moment feedback by targeting CSAT surveys based on customer data.
  • Enhanced Performance and Reliability: Completely rewritten in industry-leading modern programming languages Swift and Kotlin, along with simplified implementation, and super-light SDKs, the new chat platform delivers top speed and reliability.
  • Support for the popular Dark Mode and Landscape mode.
  • Intelligent Agent Suggestions (Coming Soon): Using AI and entire ticket history, brands can eliminate overhead manual triage, accelerate response times, and recommend or automate actions for agents.

“Chat is the most cost-effective and fastest way to support and win over our customers,” said Becky Leader, VP of Customer Experience at Rent The Runway. “Kustomer’s chat platform is a critical part of our omnichannel support strategy. Agents can efficiently deliver seamless web and in-app chat support, quickly switch to another channel if needed, and follow up on any missed messages.”

New Research Shows Customers Want Chat-Based CX

Kustomer recently conducted a study of consumer chat preferences that can be downloaded for free at www.kustomer.com. The research showed consumers aged 18-24 rate customer service today as slower, more difficult, less personal, and less convenient than all other age groups, meaning that current customer service strategies are falling short when it comes to this generation. But their appetite for self-service via chat reveals an easy way to improve upon these negative feelings: 61% of consumers 24 and younger prefer self-service, compared with only 23% of those 65 and above.

About Kustomer
Kustomer is the top-rated CRM platform for omnichannel customer experience, helping leading businesses create customers for life. With an advanced, AI-powered, omnichannel customer experience platform, Kustomer delivers a unified single view of the customer, automates manual tasks, and scales easily to deliver the efficient and effortless CX that businesses, agents and consumers love. Today, Kustomer is the core platform of top customer-centric brands like Ring, Glovo, Glossier, Sweetgreen. Headquartered in NYC, Kustomer was founded in 2015 by serial entrepreneurs Brad Birnbaum and Jeremy Suriel, has raised over $174M in venture funding, and is backed by leading VCs including: Coatue, Tiger Global Management, Battery Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Cisco Investments, Canaan Partners, Boldstart Ventures and Social Leverage.

Media Contact:
Cari Sommer
Raise Communications
cari@raisecg.com

Join us for our webinar on January 26th, 2021: Servicing the Modern Consumer With Chat.

Register Now

 

Using Data to Personalize the Customer Experience with Steven Maskell

Using Data to Personalize the Customer Experience with Steven Maskell TW

Listen and subscribe to our podcast:

In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe Larsen is joined by Steven Maskell, Vice President of Customer Experience at Zones, to discuss how to create a personalized, data-driven customer experience. Learn how Steven does so by listening to the podcast below.

Creating a Data-Driven Customer Experience

Steven Maskell has successfully led service teams for nearly 30 years. Throughout his time in the CX industry, he has figured out how to integrate data into providing the most excellent customer service possible. He says, “I see the people have a very high expectation and a short fuse. And so what that means is that they will give you the data or they accept that you’re going to take the data, but by golly, you had better make it worthwhile.” In discussing tips in which data can be attained, Steven mentions knowing your customer, who they are, what they’re doing, and how they interact with the brand have all proven to be greatly effective when building brand loyalty and curating to the customer persona.

Data can also be used as a helpful tool when advertising to the customer. Customer data shows shopping interests and purchases. Based on this, the company can decide how to advertise to the customer in the most effective way. Rather than advertising the product a customer has already purchased, a brand could advertise a warranty on that product, ideas for how to use that product, etc. Proactively using data to shape the customer experience can ultimately lead to brand loyalty.

Starting Small Makes a Big Impact

The next step to personalizing the customer experience after finding the data is figuring out an infrastructure to store that data and to organize it to be more useful. Steven knows that it can be overwhelming and difficult for companies to change their current methodologies to becoming more data driven. He mentions, “I wouldn’t say start an Excel spreadsheet, but start somewhere small where you can just get the literal basics structured. There’s great relational databases out there. There are some really good tools out there. As I mentioned, there’s off the shelf sort of relationship management products that are out there.” The easiest way to implement this change is to start small and to invest into the basic essentials of data storage and framework. Starting small to get the basics structured into a system is highly recommended by Steven to allow for more structural growth as new data is added. Once the company figures out what they really want to gain from each customer interaction, they will be better able to configure their databases to become more data driven for a more personalized experience.

Integration of AI into CX Operations

Artificial intelligence has become somewhat of a controversial topic in the CX realm. Becoming more normalized, AI can be found in a lot of customer service organizations as an implemented aspect of daily customer interaction. On this topic, Steven notes:

You’ve got to be very flexible in my opinion about how you react to the data and what you have and really what you’re trying to achieve. So… have very realistic expectations. Please don’t think you’re going to double the company’s revenue because you’ve done AI implementations or some nonsense like that. But please know that you can have a significant impact on it.

AI, while certainly helpful, is not without flaws. At its current state of development, AI is not a perfect system, nor is it a valid replacement for human intelligence. AI can be helpful in guiding customers to finding answers to their simple questions, similarly to questions answered on FAQ pages. However, nothing can replace the genuine human connection between a customer and a CX agent. It’s this connection that ultimately builds a sense of trust between the customer and the brand.

Steven urges CX leaders to take an honest look at themselves and to reevaluate how they amplify their brand and its products. He believes that in doing so, leaders will produce better CX outcomes.

To learn more about the secrets to personalizing the customer experience, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.

Listen Now:

Listen to “How to Personalize the Customer Experience | Using the Data with Steven Maskell” on Spreaker.

You can also listen and subscribe to our podcast here:

Full Episode Transcript:

Using Data to Personalize the Customer Experience | Steven Maskell

TRANSCRIPT
Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer.

Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
Welcome everybody. We’re excited to get going today. We’re going to be talking about how you can take the customer experience, personalize it, all using data to do that. And got a special guest, Steven Maskell. He’s joining us as the Vice President Customer Experience from Zone. Steven, thanks for joining. How the heck are ya?

Steven Maskell: (00:32)
Absolutely wonderful to be here. Happy days to everyone so it’s a joy to be here.

Gabe Larsen: (00:37)
We just got Steven before he’s going on vacation so I appreciate him jumping on and doing it quick before he jumps on the week long vacation. Before we jump in Steven, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, maybe your background? Give us that quick overview.

Steven Maskell: (00:53)
Background is that I’ve been in the customer experience space for about 25 to 30 years and have spent a lot of time both on the research side, on the consulting side, and now on the implementation side. So I’ve spent my career both learning what customers want and then helping other organizations better understand how to deliver on that. Then actually being a consultant and helping organizations implement that. And now as the Vice President of Customer Experience, I am on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Designing, building, implementing and measuring against KPIs.

Gabe Larsen: (01:27)
Yeah, such a fun background. I think it’ll be a fun talk track today. So let’s dive in, big picture as you think about this. Personalization is obviously an important word that people are using a lot more. Data is something that I think people want to use more. AI is a buzz word that people haven’t figured out. How do you start this journey? How do you start to think about using data to personalize? Because I think we all want it, but we don’t know how to do it.

Steven Maskell: (01:54)
Yeah. It’s a great place to actually start this conversation. Here’s the thing about personalization and about customer experiences as a data-driven methodology or practice, you have to, first of all, have the data. You have to know who that person is. You have to be capturing the data. You need to be in a place that they want to give you their data because there’s value in giving it to them, by giving it to you. So, where do you all start with it is what do you know about your customer? Are you able to actually see how they are interacting with you or is it anonymized? Are they sharing with you information that’s important that you can use? We can talk a lot about that in a little bit, but all of us are doing our level best to understand how to really drive a customer experience and make their lives a whole lot easier. And customers are doing their level best to say, “I don’t want you to know too much about me.” So it’s balancing that and making sure that they understand what they’re giving up and what they’re getting, but then you also have to have a robust set of data so that you don’t recommend the completely wrong product service, a path to someone just because you’re trying to put them in a persona that doesn’t make any sense.

Gabe Larsen: (03:05)
But this collision, right? Where do you typically stand? Do you feel like people are more open to give you more data nowadays, or you feel like you’re seeing kind of this tightening up where people are saying, “I don’t even care if you give me value, I don’t want to get the data to you?” What’s the trend you’re kind of seeing there?

Steven Maskell: (03:25)
I see the people have a very high expectation and a short fuse. And so what that means is that they will give you the data or they accept that you’re going to take the data, but by golly, you had better make it worthwhile.

Gabe Larsen: (03:42)
I love that.

Steven Maskell: (03:42)
If you go on a website, you do something and then you start seeing an advertisement for the item that you were looking for. Yeah, I kind of expect that. But then you show that to me six months later, no. I’ve moved on. You look really, really ridiculous. Or the next step on that will be, let’s say there’s a product that you purchased and really, stop advertising it. Start telling me what a warranty is or how to use it, or really taking it to the next step. You’re using my data, make it worthwhile. Inspire me. I bought something, now give me a recipe to make with this unusual ingredient that I might’ve purchased off of an obscure website. So people have a short fuse and then if you don’t do it right once, they can be bothered with you. You’ve lost credibility pretty quickly.

Gabe Larsen: (04:33)
Isn’t that true? I can’t argue that point. And maybe I’m acting the same way. I just, short view’s a good way to say it. It’s like people don’t, we just don’t tolerate. It’s that effort word? I just don’t deal with high effort anymore. You’ve got one chance and if it was hard, I’ll go to somewhere else. I don’t care if you’re a big brand name like Nike, I’ll go somewhere else to get my shoes. When you look at the different data sources and trying to create a customer experience that does matter, are there certain things you feel like they’re either the basics or they’re the must haves? It’s kind of like, look, if you’re going to start to take advantage of that one opportunity, that short fuse, it’s this or that type of data to really start to build that personalized experience.

Steven Maskell: (05:21)
Yeah. There’s a lot that goes into it and they fall into, I would start with two large buckets. Bucket number one is who is the person? And bucket number two is what are they doing? What’s the intersectionality of those two things? So is this person a procurement person? Are they a legal professional? Where do they sit within their profession? Where do they, who are they overall? We’re not talking about highly granular, but if you have a procurement person they’re looking for X. Generally, they’re looking to get the best deal and the best whatever. If they might be a lawyer, they might have something specific, a highly unique need that they want. So now you have an understanding of who they are a little bit about what their drivers are. The second would be then, what are they actually doing? How are they actually purchasing things? How are they actually interacting with your brand? Are they looking at your advertising? Are they responding to your blog posts? Are they actually making purchases? Are they open to conversations? What are their actual behaviors so that you can start building a good understanding of who they are? So you also want to keep testing your hypothesis. This person is A, and so this is what’s important. Their data suggests that that’s what they’re going down. That then would drive you as a deliverer of consumer or customer experience to follow that path. But the second you start seeing them doing something different, now’s the time that you have to pivot. You have to understand what’s going on. And so the two areas where I would say the best understanding is, is frame it around, who are they? And then what are they doing? And then how are they influencing each other?

Gabe Larsen: (07:01)
Yeah, I think those are great big buckets that you can kind of build around. I think as soon as you start talking about data though, the word technology kind of comes into play and you start to think about, “Okay, that makes sense.” Behavior, who they are. I don’t know how to store that stuff. I don’t know where to store it, or it’s stored in so many disparate systems that I don’t think I can bring it together to make a difference. I don’t necessarily want you to be, sell some technology with this question but, quick thoughts on building that infrastructure to actually do something with it or capture it from a technology standpoint? Because it seems like once you know what data to get then you’re going to say, “Well, how do I get it? Where do I store it?”

Steven Maskell: (07:48)
Let’s just take a deep breath on that one, because there’s so much that happens. There’s some great off the shelf products. There are bespoke products. There’s custom work that people do. The thing that is most intimidating is there’s just so much data. And it comes down to a point of taking a deep breath, in my opinion, and saying, “What do I really want to drive with this? There’s so much that I can and so many interactions.” Well, there’s these silly things like, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. You boil it, you can’t boil there. So we all have these things. The exact same thing applies. You know, I wouldn’t say start an Excel spreadsheet, but start somewhere small where you can just get the literal basics structured. There’s great relational databases out there. There are some really good tools out there. As I mentioned, there’s off the shelf sort of relationship management products that are out there. But once you start actually figuring out what it is that you want to learn about, someone build that and feed it and keep it going. Then something will come along where you want to add a new entity or a new attribute, or something that’s a little bit different that’s associated about that person. Grow with them and only them, don’t try and build this behemoth of, “I want to know everything about everyone and everything.” You’re never going to succeed. Rather, just get the basics. Who are my top customers? Why are they my top customers? What do my top customers look like? What do my top customers buy? What do my top customers not buy? That’s enough. That really is enough because now you can start saying, “Okay, these seem to be my large product central services. Now I can look at my other customers that look like my top customers, maybe from two years ago, are these the same things that I should be sending to them? Should I be nurturing them in the exact same way?” Let me tell you something, that’s more than enough.

Gabe Larsen: (09:38)
Yeah. Yeah. I really appreciate the crawl, walk, run strategy. I’ve often referred to it as it does get overwhelming fast and narrow it down to some of those key points and to start to manually capture. I’ve always found if I can build it and get it in an Excel spreadsheet first, or you’d mentioned that, that’s just, I got it. I’ve kind of felt it. I’ve tasted it. I’ve touched it and may only be three data points then it’s like, “Okay, how do we automate this?” And then pretty soon I’m moving on to kind of phase two. I think that’s really important. So you kind of frame that, but I’m curious as people go down this journey, what are some of the other gotchas? We know it intuitively the data, we need it. Personalization, do it. We’re not, a lot of us aren’t doing it very successfully. Is there a couple of gotchas that, and maybe one of them is, it’s that crawl, walk, run, you don’t try to boil the ocean to start with the day. Anything else you’re seeing where people are kind of stumbling on this journey?

Steven Maskell: (10:36)
That’s like a two year podcast to have conversations around that. And I’ll just hold –

Gabe Larsen: (10:43)
Of course you’re going on a vacation tomorrow, so we don’t have to –

Steven Maskell: (10:47)
Yeah. Look, there’s so much that the people botch. I think some of the things are expectations and it’s having very realistic expectations. We hear a lot of mumbo-jumbo around machine learning and AI and all these sorts of things. And it took IBM a really long time to build Watson and Watson still screws up. And what I would say is this, don’t expect that it’s going to solve everything. Really what it’s going to do is it’s going to help you understand a little bit better, a little bit better. That’s what you’re trying to do each and every time. There’s also going to be some gotchas especially in a B2B sort of environment where the user or the person you’re trying to interact with is anonymized. And so you then have to switch your mindset around, “Okay. I was trying to do a one-on-one between me and you, Mary the buyer, or Jane the seller, but now it’s just a buyer. And how do I understand that?” That’s a bit of like, “Oh wow, I can’t succeed.” Actually, you really can. You’ve got to understand that someone’s making a purchase, and you have to switch your mindset. You’ve got to be very flexible in my opinion about how you react to the data and what you have and really what you’re trying to achieve. So the gotchas would be, have very realistic expectations. Please don’t think you’re going to double the company’s revenue because you’ve done AI implementations or some nonsense like that. But please know that you can have a significant impact on it. Two is also making sure that you have a lot of people on board with you on this data amalgamation and centralization and then pushing out of insights and, or next steps is fantastic. Yay. But really what it comes down to is you’ve got to have everybody understanding how to use that. How are you actual sellers? What is your salesforce using this information for? The wisdom for them, you’re going to make more money by knowing more about your customer, which means you have to get more so that I can help you and all that sort of thing, would be some of the other things to really consider in the entire equation. And it is an equation where one plus one plus one, there’s a lot that goes into the chain versus, “Okay, pull a lever and then suddenly something will happen,” but that’s human interaction. And my data also may suggest something, but then I’m having a bad day and I completely throw a fly net on them. So I would just keep the realistic expectations. Know that you’re not always going to get the data and that you also need to make sure that everyone’s, there are a lot of people are on board with the entire process of getting it. And please don’t think that AI is going to be the solution. Please don’t think that machine learning is going to be the solution. We’re a ways off on that. There’s some great stuff that’s being done, but it’s not perfect. And it’s never going to get rid of, never’s a strong word. It’s never going to get rid of people actually understanding someone else.

Gabe Larsen: (13:45)
Yeah. I mean, I’m guilty. I actually was one of those people who was like, “Oh, I’ll just deploy a chat bot and it’ll run itself.” And it didn’t require a full-time person to program and integrate. So I’m smiling you bring up kind of like the AI thing. So I’m guilty on that one. You’ve talked about it a lot. We hit a bunch of different topics on the data front. If you had to kind of simple it down and just mentioned starting on this journey, where or how would you recommend a CX or CX leader start?

Steven Maskell: (14:25)
When would I start? When would I recommend the CX leaders start? I would recommend that a steep CX leader needs to have a good, honest assessment of where they’re at. The function that I had the delight of being in is the result of that assessment. Where there was a goal, there was a big, hairy, audacious goal. And the bottom line is the infrastructure, the platform, the knowledge, it just wasn’t there. And that’s okay. And you know, so the first thing is the CX leader is what’s there, is there a CRM solution in place? Is there a, is there some way that it’s being fed? Is there a mechanism to better understand, are we engaging with customers? Do we have a way of solutioning and being standardized and how we try and solve for things? It’s looking at your landscape and wondering like, “Okay, what do I know about my customers?” And if it’s sitting on the backs of napkins at the end of the long night of drinking, then it’s not going to do a whole lot of good. But if it’s codified and solidified, and if I use the right nomenclature and no matter how many times I say a certain word, everyone understands exactly what that word means, now that we’re heading in the right direction. And so those would be the things that that would happen. I would also argue that you have to understand that a business, the CX leader is in a place to amplify what a business is doing well. So businesses are the results of delivering of services, goods, and products and they do that really well. So please don’t think that customer experience is going to change your product. You have to remember what your product is and you’re there to amplify it. So, I’m not going to change how airlines fly. I am going to make the whole process of engaging with, in this case an airline, as delightful as possible. I’m going to leave the wings and all that to them. And so that would be the other thing as a CX leader is I am responsible for amplifying what my business does and understanding you also have to be able to really, this is one of the hard things, you got to be able to suck it up when someone says you suck. And understand that they’re right.

Gabe Larsen: (16:37)
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Sometimes those are hard words to swallow. Sometimes those are hard words to swallow, but well said. Well Steven, appreciate you taking the time. I know you got fun stuff coming up ahead over the next couple of days. If someone wants to get in touch with you or continue the dialogue, what’s the best way to do that?

Steven Maskell: (16:56)
Find me on LinkedIn. Steven Maskell. Happy to have a conversation.

Gabe Larsen: (17:01)
Awesome. Awesome. Well again, Steven, really appreciate the time. Fun talk track on thinking through how to use data to personalize that customer experience. So thank you again and for the audience, have a fantastic day.

Exit Voice: (17:18)
Thank you for listening. Make sure you subscribe to hear more Customer Service Secrets.

How Kustomer Accelerated Digital Transformation in a New Era

How Kustomer Accelerated Digital Transformation in a New Era TW

The pandemic essentially caused a meteor storm of change, crisis, chaos, and challenges that created unprecedented customer service issues. Consumers sought out new, more convenient ways to connect with brands. Brands were forced to keep up to maintain trust, earn a reputation for excellence, and serve customers in the ways they now expect.

At Kustomer, we strive to help brands effortlessly keep up with quickly shifting trends, and work to deliver products and features that have helped them orchestrate an intimate, effortless connection with customers.

We launched more than 80 products and features in 2020 — here are some highlights of what we’ve launched this year, followed by an introduction to our product team that made this possible.
 

New Channels To Meet Customers Where They Are

  • Instagram Support: With the rapid growth in social commerce, we launched support for Instagram Messaging that allowed you to respond to @replies, Direct Messages, Stories and Comments directly from the Kustomer platform.
  • Turnkey Integrations for Voice Apps: With voice still being the top channel for support, we launched turnkey integrations with various voice contact centers such as Aircall and UJET, to help you deliver hyper-personalized support for those users.
  • Spam Filters: To keep spammers at bay and your teams productive, we released spam filters to block emails from certain addresses or domains.

 

Pair Humans With AI to Enhance Efficiency

 

Optimize Support Operations with Improved Automation

  • New Business Rules Triggers: Eliminate routine processes with asynchronous automations that can be triggered when an attribute changes using Business Rules.
  • Insight Card Builder: Enable fast, personalized support by using the drag-and-drop Insight Card Builder to customize the customer data agents see when answering inquiries.
  • New Permission Sets: Keep agents focused by defining what users or teams can see and do by granting access to actions on an object level.
  • Audit Log Improvements: Speed up troubleshooting by tracking routing events at a more granular level.

 

Discover Trends, Evaluate Performance and Optimize Service With Enhanced Reporting

  • Agent Performance Report: Keep agents motivated and informed of their progress with a personalized performance report.
  • Multi-Query Charts: Understand how different metrics correlate with one another with the ability to add a second query in the Chart Editor.
  • Schedule Custom Reports: Keep key stakeholders and members of your organization up to date by scheduling custom reports on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
  • Team Pulse Enhancements: Monitor agent productivity and identify agents who need assistance in real-time with new and improved Team Pulse.
  • Deflection Report: Quickly measure the success of your deflection, see popular search queries, and identify articles that need improvement.

 

Top-Requested Feature of 2020: Dark Mode

We welcome your ideas for new features, so we can make the Kustomer platform even more useful to you. By popular request, we’ve released Dark Mode for Kustomer to help reduce eye strain and screen fatigue. To submit your idea, head to Feature Requests in Settings.
 

Top Stories of 2020

  • Kustomer to Join Facebook: Kustomer has signed an agreement to join Facebook, pending regulatory review. Both Kustomer and Facebook are committed to helping brands extend the value of the Kustomer platform as part of their omnichannel customer service strategy. Learn More
  • Kustomer Acquired Automation Technology Company Reply.ai: We believe artificial intelligence is essential to helping today’s enterprises scale customer service and efficiently deliver exceptional results. We rolled out Kustomer IQ to meet the growing need for companies to have access to the power of AI, and continued our investment by acquiring Reply.ai to bring self-service tools and intelligence capabilities to our clients. Learn More
  • Kustomer Joined the Shopify Plus Certified App Program: The only enterprise customer service CRM platform in the program, Kustomer seamlessly integrates with Shopify in one click, empowering e-commerce businesses to efficiently resolve conversations across all digital channels in a single platform. Learn More

 

Meet Our Product Managers

Kustomer’s Look Back at 2020

Kustomer’s Look Back at 2020 TW

I would say that 2020 has been unprecedented, but let’s face it — we all want to permanently retire that word. From both a personal and professional perspective, it is undeniable that the past year has brought immense challenges, and you wouldn’t be alone to wish it was all just a fever dream.

While we are literally counting down the seconds until the clock strikes midnight on January 1st, 2021, it goes without saying that there are some permanent lessons that can be learned from the hurdles we faced in 2020. It was a year of success for Kustomer, with immense product developments, award wins and acquisitions, but customer service was also more important than ever before.

Without further ado, here is Kustomer’s look back at 2020.

Lessons From a Challenging Year

Many organizations are struggling to understand when they’ll go back to “business as usual”. And the fact of the matter is, they likely never will. The new way of working that 2020 forced upon CX teams will have lingering effects, and consumers are now used to doing business in a whole new way.

Changing Consumer Attitudes Means More Digital Commerce

While it is inevitable that commerce will partially shift back to brick and mortar once things go back to “normal”, there is now a massive new pool of consumers that are comfortable shopping online, and you can expect this increased volume of e-commerce and digital inquiries to continue. Consumers that perhaps would walk into a store to ask a question, or call a customer service number for assistance, now may find it more convenient to click on a chat widget while they browse your site online, or reach out to you on social after seeing your ads.

In fact, according to recent consumer research conducted by Kustomer, live chat continues to grow in popularity with consumers, now ranking as the second most popular channel to get customer service problems solved. Consumers are also more open to self-service options, with 53% of consumers preferring to self-serve versus speaking with a company representative. The same percentage of consumers also think that chatbots improve the customer experience, with that cohort growing to 62% among consumers aged 18-24. It’s therefore important to consider new, digital-first service options for 2021 and beyond.

Speed and Efficiency Beat All

Many CX teams were forced to do more with less during the global pandemic. An unfortunate result of forced closures meant that the economy shot into a depression, and organizations needed to be scrappier than ever. Kustomer research revealed that 63% of CX organizations needed to cut costs during the global pandemic, and 46% reported a need to reduce staff. At the same time, the volume of customer inquiries was rising (by 17% on average), and 57% reported needing to deal with more complex problems than usual. Sixty-four percent of respondents reported an urgency for more efficiency, and 59% reported the need to adopt more automation to achieve efficiency.

While it is true that some organizations have seen digital inquiries somewhat normalize after a spike earlier in the year, the pandemic has revealed significant gaps in CX strategies. What seemed like a nonurgent need—adopting new technology to increase efficiency—is now staring CX organizations directly in the face and preventing them from being successful. Whether it’s a similar unthinkable event that shakes the economy to its core, or simply a busy holiday shopping season overwhelming agents, organizations must be prepared to scale efficiently, at lightning speed.

Customers Are People Too

As AI and automation take on more of the busy work in the CX space, and more consumers shift to online vs. in-store shopping, customer service agents will take on a much more important — and challenging — role. They will become the face of the company, reflecting it’s values and building lifelong relationships. Think of all of the DTC disruptor brands with cult-like followings— yes they have chic branding, but they’ve also built a community of advocates based on how they treat (and value) their customer base. We could all take a page out of their book.

To personalize a customer’s experience, you have to know the customer—and that requires data. A platform that brings all the data about a customer into one place helps customer service agents understand the context of a customer’s conversations and enables them to deliver more efficient, proactive and relevant service. There’s no need to waste the customer’s or agent’s time by asking for repeat information. Instead, that information is available at the click of a button, allowing the agent to personalize the customer’s experience by giving fine-tuned advice, addressing problems proactively, and suggesting other products or services the customer might enjoy. The result? An efficient but personal interaction that builds a lifelong customer relationship.

Kustomer’s 2020 in Review

This wasn’t just an important year for the customer service space, it was also a momentous year for Kustomer as an organization.

January – Kustomer kicked off the year at NRF, where we not only rubbed (pre-COVID) elbows with CX retail experts, but also learned about the importance of delivering an exceptional experience to create customers for life.

February – Kustomer launched our first ever podcast — Customer Service Secrets — to help leaders transform their customer service, with practical information from thought leaders and practitioners who share their secrets to delivering exceptional customer service.

March – COVID-19 transformed business as we know it in March 2020, and as a result Kustomer began offering our Unlimited Package to customers for free, to enable seamless cross-functional communication and dynamic team oversight in a remote environment.

April – In April Kustomer officially launched Kustomer IQ, the artificial intelligence engine embedded across the Kustomer CRM platform. Kustomer IQ leverages advanced artificial intelligence to help agents more efficiently analyze and take action on customer requests, which was even more impactful during a time when agents were being asked to do more with less.

May – Kustomer kept the momentum going in May by acquiring Reply.ai — a top-rated customer service automation company — and began offering enhanced chatbot and deflection capabilities in the Kustomer platform.

June – For the first time, Kustomer was recognized in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center. We believe this recognition underscores Kustomer’s important role in the space, where we are paving the way for the next generation of customer service CRM, driving intelligent and scalable experiences.

July – In July, Kustomer kicked off a new and exciting partnership, after being selected as the only enterprise customer service CRM platform in the Shopify Plus Certified App Program. Our enhanced integration with Shopify Plus helps brands and customer service agents optimize and personalize their experience, all within the Kustomer platform.

August – Kustomer was honored to be named the fastest growing SaaS company by SaaS magazine. Driven by the move to digital-only experiences, changing consumer behavior, and demand for omnichannel service, businesses in many industries turned to Kustomer in record numbers in 2020.

September – Kustomer released powerful new consumer research in September, breaking down what modern consumers expect from the customer experience. The research revealed that consumers rank customer service as the second most important attribute they consider when shopping, right below price, speaking to the importance of delivering on consumer expectations.

October – While we couldn’t get together in person, that didn’t stop Kustomer from hosting our premiere event of the year — Kustomer NOW. Attendees were able to gather insights from the brightest minds in the CX space, like Drybar founder Alli Webb who spoke about how her business was built from the ground up with the customer experience in mind.

November – In November we took the next step in the “Kustomer Journey” and announced that we signed an agreement to be acquired by Facebook subject to customary regulatory review. Once the acquisition closes, we will be able to help more people benefit from customer service that is faster, richer and available whenever and however customers need it.

December – Close on the heels of the announcement, Kustomer hosted Social Commerce Live, an action-packed, free digital event showcasing the power of social channels to build lifelong relationships with your customers. You can still watch on demand and gather insights from brands like Glossier and Bravo.

Kustomer Top Content

In case you missed it, check out some of Kustomer’s top content from the past year, where we explore break down the current state of affairs in CX:

E-Book: How to Leverage Artificial Intelligence for Competitive Customer Service
Report: What Consumers Expect From the Customer Experience
Guide: The 2021 CX Prep Guide
Webinar: How the Global Pandemic Is Affecting Customer Service Organizations
Blog Post: Top Metrics and Strategies for How to Measure Customer Service Performance

 

How Smart Technology Can Power Efficient, Digital-First Experiences

How Smart Technology Can Power Efficient, Digital-First Experiences TW

In 2020, the whole world went digital at a rapid pace. While it is inevitable that commerce and customer service will partially shift back to brick and mortar once things go back to “normal”, there is now a massive new pool of consumers that are comfortable shopping online, and you can expect this increased volume of e-commerce and digital inquiries to continue. Many organizations are tapping into the power of technology to deliver on this digital shift, and scale without sacrificing their quality of support.

Artificial intelligence still sparks some suspicion or nervousness that robots will take all of our jobs. But instead, AI in customer service can truly enable businesses to be more efficient and productive by eliminating menial work. International delivery company Glovo knows this first hand. After implementing Kustomer IQ, the artificial intelligence tools embedded throughout the Kustomer platform, Glovo was able to instantly solve 84% of their inquiries through pure self-service and chatbots, versus contacting an agent.

 

Beyond AI-driven efficiency tools, leveraging a true customer service CRM, where all information is unified and actionable, is the only way to deliver a modern experience. Legacy CRMs were built to manage cases, not customers. Many digital disruptors, who put the customer at the center of their business models, realized this early on and put a CX CRM in place to deliver a seamless, customer-first experience. Says Lauren Panken, Senior Systems Manager at UNTUCKit, “For us, the CRM is the place that we get a full view of our customer in regards to customer service. It’s honestly just been such a great addition to the way that our team functions… and has improved the way that we’ve been serving our customers.”

 

More “old school” organizations are also quickly realizing that in order to service their customers effectively, they need to move into the twenty-first century, with modern technology. Ernest Chrappah, Director of the DC Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs, chose to work with Kustomer to ensure they were putting their best foot forward. “It was simply about finding a way to respond to our customers by elevating the services that we provide to meet the needs of customers in the digital age,” said Chrappah.

 

Before switching to Kustomer, Ritual was using a system that didn’t allow them to scale. Instead of logging into half a dozen different systems in order to solve a single ticket, Ritual found a modern CRM that would allow them to be both efficient and effective. “Having everything under one roof was really the driving factor,” said Andrew Rickards, Director of Customer Experience at Ritual.

 

A modern CRM like Kustomer can not only allow businesses to scale by unifying all data and making it actionable in a single screen, but it can also surface data points that can make your business better. By understanding data-driven trends, shortcomings, issues and wins, and putting technology solutions in place to better your operations, a true customer service CRM can transform a business from a cost center into a profit center, says Amy Coleman, Director of CX at Lulus.com:

 

Want to learn more about how switching to Kustomer can power both efficient and exceptional experiences? Explore how we stack up to Zendesk here.

 

Consumers Love Live Chat, but Businesses Aren’t Adopting It. Here’s Why.

Consumers Love Chat, but Businesses Aren’t Adopting It. Here’s Why. TW

One of the biggest shifts over the past few years? A digital-first mindset. While phone support isn’t going anywhere, when you force consumers to switch platforms in order to get their questions answered, you give them a reason to abandon their purchase or generate negative feelings. The less effort, the better — and with the digital-first consumer, chat is often better.

In an effort to understand how brands are currently using live chat for business, why some have not yet done so, and whether there is a disconnect between customer needs and brand expectations, Kustomer went out and surveyed over 100 CX professionals and compared these findings with our recent consumer research.

What is Live Chat for Business?

Live chat is a customer service widget that allows your questions to be answered effortlessly within the web browser. Live chat allows customers to effortlessly communicate with customer service representatives in real time, without having to leave the platform they are already doing business on. The live chat allows customers to communicate with customer service at stores or brands in real time without having to talk with a customer service representative.

Why Consumers Love Chat

Think about the online shopping experience. You find the perfect Christmas present for your son, but have a question about whether batteries are included. So, instead of picking up the phone or searching for an e-mail address to contact the business, there is a chat window right there on the page that can allow your questions to be answered effortlessly. While switching channels may not sound like a deal breaker, the data says otherwise.

According to recent consumer research conducted by Kustomer, 79% of consumers get frustrated when they can’t contact customer service on their preferred medium or platform, and 81% of consumers would abandon a purchase due to a poor service experience.

Chat, as well as social media messaging, allows you to instantly meet your customers where they are, whether that is browsing online for products, checking their shipping status, or perusing your social channels. Research from Matt Dixon revealed that only 9% of customers who have low effort experiences display any kind of disloyal attitude or behavior, compared to 96% of those customers with high effort, difficult experiences. And chat does a great job of delivering this effortless quality customer service experience.

The Business Disconnect

Curiously, businesses are not aligned with these consumer preferences and wants. Only 25% of surveyed customer service organizations are currently using chat, and 18% report they currently use chatbots. When taking into consideration the effortless, fast service that modern customers demand, the vast majority of businesses are missing a huge opportunity and leaving themselves open to competitors.

The top two reasons that companies have not yet adopted chat software, speak to a lack of time, resources or strategy internally: the organization does not know where to start, or they have staffing constraints when it comes to managing more channels. However, the third most popular reason speaks to the massive disconnect between CX organizations and consumers: businesses report that they don’t think their customers want or like it. However, according to Kustomer’s recent consumer research, customers rank live chat as the second most popular channel or tactic for contacting customer service, right below phone.

Top Reasons CX Organizations Haven’t Adopted Chat
  1. Don’t know where to start
  2. Staffing constraints
  3. Customers don’t want / like it
  4. Lack of customizable solutions
  5. No budget
  6. Lack of executive buy-in

Additionally, many organizations report that they are prevented from adopting chat because of the lack of customizable solutions. Seventy-five percent of CX teams say that matching the chat experience to the overall brand experience is important, so slapping any old chat widget on your site just won’t do. Make sure that your customer service CRM can allow your business to build or integrate chat widgets seamlessly, ensuring that all customer data and history is integrated within the chat experience, while maintaining brand guidelines.

When it comes to chatbots, the reasons for lack of adoption differ slightly from live chat:

Top Reasons CX Organizations Haven’t Adopted Chatbots
  1. Not sure of the benefits
  2. No budget
  3. Lack of resources to manage chatbots
  4. Customers don’t want / like it
  5. Tried, isn’t effective
  6. Lack of executive buy-in

As chatbots are quite new, and often involve buying a pricey solution or building one with an internal team, the top reasons for lack of adoption make sense. But 61% of the younger generation prefer self-service over talking to a company representative, meaning that the benefits are clear: your customers now expect chatbots as an option.

Additionally, chatbots free up agent time for more complex and proactive support. They can be used to collect initial information, provide responses to simple questions, and even complete standard tasks like initiating a return or answering an order status question. While there is always fear of losing personalization when using AI and automation, with the right platform, businesses can actually do the opposite. For instance, if a business leverages customer data properly, chatbots could ask personalized questions based on an individual’s purchase or browsing history. These interventions save time for both the customer and agent, and increase the time spent on the actual issue rather than information gathering and low-level support.

Look for a platform that leverages chatbots and AI-enabled deflection to act as a first line of defense, optimizing a customer’s ability to self-serve so agents can focus on the most important cases and deliver the highest impact.

Want the complete findings from our research on chat? Download the report here.
 

The Chatbot Cheatsheet: 7 Tips for Building a Chatbot Program

Chatbot Cheatsheet: 7 Tips for Building a Chatbot Program TW

So, you think you’re ready to invest in conversational automation, but you want to avoid the hype and nonsense? Great, then we are here to help! Keep these seven points top-of-mind as you build out your chatbot program, and you’re sure to see value in no time.

1. Understand Your Metrics

“Containment rate” (the percentage of total conversations fully handled by the bot), or its alternative name, “deflection rate”, is a key metric to track when trying to figure out how well your bot is performing. Customer satisfaction is also important. Keep in mind how the introduction of a digital assistant could alter existing performance indicators. For example, will average handle time increase now that agents are only handling more complex inquiries? Ultimately, a well-defined bot program will be able to communicate increased agent efficiency and customer satisfaction, which equals a reduction in the cost of care.

2. Start With Hello

Your first bot does not need to be elaborate. In fact, we recommend against it. When you are first getting started, pick one or two simple, but useful, use cases to automate. Then, you can learn and iterate as you discover how your customers prefer to interact with a chatbot. No one gets it totally right out of the gate, so avoid wasting time by trying to build something “perfect”.

3. Leverage the Agent

We have seen countless chatbot programs fail to engage the existing front-line customer service team when designing an automated conversational experience. It’s great to learn from data and prevailing user experience research, but your agents are the ones who know how your customers are interacting with the bot. Treat the bot like another agent: when you need performance feedback, use its peers.

4. Templates, Rules, and Machine Learning

Not all chatbots are “conversational AI”, because not all use cases require machine learning. Very effective bots can leverage rules and simple conditional logic, it all depends on the use case. Similarly, natural language processing is great when you have a bot with many different skills and a large corpus of knowledge — why make your customers trudge through structured flows when all they should do is ask the question directly? In both cases, we recommend leveraging buttons, quick replies, and other conversational templates that help the user move through the conversation quickly and efficiently.

5. Know When to Handover

A chatbot is not a replacement for a human agent. Often you need to give the user a way to bail out of tough conversations and difficult questions, and that’s alright. Chatbots are excellent at fully resolving low level queries. However, just because an issue is complicated does not mean a chatbot cannot be helpful. Consider how you can use the bot for information gathering and light triage before routing to the right agent. In these cases, the chatbot helps reduce handle time and expedites the customer’s support request.

6. Automation Happens Elsewhere, Too

Chatbots get a lot of attention when it comes to automation. Often it’s the mental model in our heads for intelligent customer service. Consider other ways you can streamline the customer support experience with a bot, and leverage additional intelligent services: automatic tagging, routing, and prioritization for the agent, just to name a few.

7. Be Customer-Centric

At the end of the day, the success of your chatbot comes down to how well it fits into the support journey and cadence strategy you have outlined for your customers. Consider different segments of customers that might prefer automation to that “direct human” connection. Perhaps automation can be more helpful at the end of an interaction than at the beginning. Take a good look at your customers, and we’ll help you find out the right size that fits.

Want to learn how to get started with intelligent chatbots? Find out more here.
 

Leverage the Power of Customer Service Chatbots

The Undeniable Power of Chatbots TW

Since the dawn of the computer age, engineers and designers have had to consider how humans can, and should, interact with new technology. They designed and implemented interfaces that altered our mental models for exchanging information and we had to learn novel symbols, workflows and behaviors in order to interact with these new platforms. Basically, we conformed to the computer, not the other way around. Yet over the last few years, a new service has emerged that represents a departure from this norm: the chatbot, a digital experience that replicates and automates the medium of human conversation.

What Are Chatbots?

If you’ve interacted with an online chat popup, there is a high probability you messaged with a chatbot first, and conversed with a human second. Conversational chatbots are not as complex as you might think. These digital customer service assistants can tap into customer data and knowledge bases stored in their database to help answer common user questions based on the user’s needs or inquiries.

For example, if a customer wants to know what the store operating hours are, they can reap some of the customer service chatbot benefits by getting an automated response with your store’s intelligent chatbot and human customer service agents are now free to focus on more high-level or specific inquiries, conducted through live chat, that might be a bit too complex or nuanced for the chatbot to answer.

The Three Customer Service Chatbot Benefits You Need to Know

Text-based support and conversations are the new interface, but it can get repetitive and it’s difficult to scale a one-to-one communication operation. This is where conversational chatbots come into the picture. Smart businesses use automation to help support more customers who prefer digital communication. 

As automated interactions, conversational AI chatbots can essentially exist wherever human-to-human dialogue is used to change information and accomplish an assignment. The best way to experience the benefits of this kind of automation is to focus on the conversations that you are already having with your customers. Here is where you’ll see an immediate impact:

  1. Faster Response Times: Chat and messaging work best when someone can immediately respond, not when customers are waiting in a queue because agents are tied up. With a chatbot, each message is seen and responded to, and your most common questions are quickly addressed. Further, by allowing chatbots to handle initial information gathering, agents are able to join and resolve conversations faster if escalation is needed.
  2. Better Agent Utilization: No one wants to answer the same question over and over again. Chatbots remove basic, low-level questions from the workload. By reducing the number of messages your agents receive, you will increase the efficiency of your support operations and be able to focus on the more complicated questions and tasks.
  3. Data on What Customers Need: Chatbots automatically collect and analyze your customers’ questions and issues. Instead of manually reviewing conversations or asking agents for anecdotal insights, you can review organized and aggregated intent data.

Implementing a Chatbot for Superior Customer Service

If you’re ready to automate and streamline the interactions you’re already having with your customers, start with these skills to experience the core customer service chatbot benefits:

  1. Five to Ten One-Touch FAQ Answers: Focus on supporting your most common questions that can be addressed with one response. You can direct customers to an FAQ article, or deliver a conversational answer directly.
  2. One Common Workflow: Similar to the above, there are certainly interactions that require authentication or simple lookups from another data source; these aren’t hard to tackle, just usually require manual attention. Verify, authenticate, and pull in data to automate simple workflows. If you’re an e-commerce business, “Where is My Order” or “Return Status” are great, universal examples.
  3. Easy Agent Takeover with Routing: Once a chatbot cannot answer a question or resolve an issue, make the handover process to human support quick and painless. Better yet, ask a few questions just prior to the handover to give agents context for the conversation and route to specialized teams.
  4. Natural Language Processing: Natural language processing and machine learning — the “AI” of conversational AI — make it possible for your bot to understand and respond to customer intent, not specific keywords. This allows the bot to keep up with the way each customer thinks, communicates, and switches topics, ultimately leading to higher understanding and better resolution rates across all conversations.

 

Want to learn more about how chatbots can transform your customer experience? Check out how Kustomer powers intelligent self-service here.

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