3 Ways Customer Service Teams Must Adjust During COVID-19

3 Ways Customer Service Teams Must Adjust During COVID-19 TW

Life has become a series of trade-offs and workarounds in light of the pandemic. Curbside pick-ups are my new norm. My inbox is a litany of order confirmations and estimated delivery times. Last weekend, I drove to a local hardware store and found the following handwritten message on a sign at their front door: “Know what you want. Get in and get out.” At times, my interactions with people feel purely transactional.

The world has changed, and customer service is changing right along with it. Businesses are being challenged with a paradoxical conundrum: how do we retain our humanness? How do we maintain trust in a time of uncertainty? Below are three ways customer service teams must adjust in light of the global pandemic.

Empathy Is #1.

Companies who approach customer service with a deeper level of empathy are more likely to maintain loyalty and win new business. This concept is not a newfound revelation. In fact, The Empathy Business has studied the efficacy of empathy in business for years. And what have they found? Organizations that focus on the “emotional impact” they have on employees, customers, and society are valued higher and earn more than their counterparts.

In the world of COVID-19, empathy is even more desperately needed. Quarantine measures and social isolation mean a rise in loneliness and other mental health issues. Think about it this way: what if your organization delivers the only social interaction an individual will experience for a full day? Armed with that information, how should you change your customer journey?

Start small. Use your data. Study the way your customers use your tools and services. Where are they running into roadblocks? Where are you making your customers’ lives easier? Take note and adjust. Document your FAQs in an accessible location, like a Knowledge Base. Have the patience to clearly explain the nuances of your business and policies. Above all else, practice kindness in all of your communication.

“One-Size-Fits-All” Won’t Succeed.

As the pandemic spreads, we’ve seen a spike in conversations for many of our clients. And according to a recent survey by Kustomer, there has been a 17% increase in inquiries across industries. With this influx in communication, it no longer makes sense to force every customer to call the same number to contact your company. Instead, it’s time to get smart about the channels you employ to manage customer interactions, and it’s time to invest in a fully-fledged omnichannel experience.

But beware: you should avoid blindly adding new service channels without a strategy in place. Dig deep into your customer personas and understand their respective beliefs and behaviors. McKinsey notes that “not all customers are the same, and it’s how they differ in their behavior and preferences—particularly on digital—that should have an outsize influence on how service journeys are designed.” Keep this in mind, too: a small percentage of customers — classified as the “offline society” -— may suddenly be forced into adopting digital communication in light of shelter-in-place orders. Take these different customers into account when adapting your customer service strategies.

Automation Is a Necessity, Not a Luxury.

As we’ve seen an increase in the number of inquiries, we’ve also seen an increase in the need for artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. Agents can become easily overwhelmed by an onslaught of new messages. AI can automate some of the more tedious tasks that those agents might encounter, thereby freeing their time for more important work.

Consider how you can deflect commonly asked questions and save your agents valuable time. Let’s say you’re an airline in today’s world. With the rise of the pandemic, you’re being flooded with requests for information about your refund policy. Instead of directing your team to answer each inquiry individually, you could use automation to serve up pre-written articles that align with the inquiry’s keywords. Not only do you protect your team’s time, but you also deliver a better customer experience as customers receive near-instant answers to their questions. Beyond that, unsuccessful deflections can provide a treasure trove of data to guide your future content.

Those who adapt and adjust their strategies now can influence their fate in the post-pandemic world. The opportunity is there. We have to be good stewards of our time and resources to capitalize on it.

Predict Customer Needs with Kustomer IQ

 

Save your team time and money with AI for Customer Service

Customer service teams are being asked to do way more with much less, and here at Kustomer we want to ensure that your team has all the tools to be as efficient and effective as possible. It’s impossible for teams to achieve this without eliminating manual, time-consuming work, like sifting through queues, escalating issues, or processing transactions.

Identifying the intent of every conversation might be step one in a service interaction, but automating this process transforms how you operationalize support, driving efficient customer service that keeps customers and agents happy.

Conversation Classification, the newest and most powerful feature of Kustomer IQ, analyzes and classifies inbound conversations, and uses those new attributes to trigger process automation that takes work off your team’s plate. In other words, machine learning analyzes your historical data to predict a customer’s intent for contacting customer service. It can also tag spam conversations, as well as automatically flag urgent conversations that need to be prioritized.

Here’s how it works.

  • STEP ONE: First, users select what they want to predict.
  • STEP TWO: Once you select what you want to predict, the tool checks to see if there is enough data that can be used to accurately make a prediction.
  • STEP THREE: If everything checks out, the system is trained to detect specific language in messages.
  • STEP FOUR: Users review the model for expected accuracy.
  • STEP FIVE: Once the training is complete, the model is ready for use and deployed. Conversation Classification will tag inbound messages which can then trigger process automation.

Emily Marcogliese, Head of Customer Service from our partner at thredUp recently shared, “Kustomer IQ has had a tremendous impact on my team’s efficiency. Machine learning instantly identifies the purpose of every inbound conversation, then intelligently routes each customer to a specific team based on their contact reason, such as orders, returns, or clean out. Rather than spend time manually routing conversations, my team can focus on delivering personalized service and resolving issues quickly to decrease customer effort.”

Conversation Classification in action.

Once conversations are analyzed and classified, Conversation Classification can unlock powerful automation. Here are a few of the ways it can be put into action:

  • Automate Rules: Our rules engines can automate any process, like escalating unhappy customers to more knowledgeable teams, or execute transactional interactions like refunds, returns or status updates.
  • Route Conversations: Instantly and accurately route conversations to specialized teams based on how you classify customer outreach, such as by contact reason or product line.
  • Send Auto-Responses: Responses to your most common questions can be automated, freeing up valuable time and energy.

Read more about Conversation Classification in our Help Center, and check out our pricing page to view our Kustomer IQ packages.

 

Kustomer Launches Kustomer IQ, Leveraging Intelligence Throughout Its Customer Service Platform

Kustomer IQ leverages advanced artificial intelligence to help agents more efficiently analyze and take action on customer requests. Machine learning models are deployed to allow support experiences to be more rapid and accurate.

NEW YORK, April 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Kustomer, the SaaS platform reimagining enterprise customer service, announced the broad rollout of Kustomer IQ, its artificial intelligence engine embedded across the Kustomer CRM platform. Kustomer IQ is empowering companies to do more with less, and operate as efficiently as possible in the face of a reduction of resources. The solution leverages the power of machine learning to get to the root of customer needs, helping achieve effective customer experiences by eliminating manual guesswork and arming agents with the tools and insights that drive results across responses, routing, and analytics. Kustomer IQ also offers customer deflection tools across web, chat, and email channels, which automate the communication of initial and routine customer inquiries.

“Kustomer IQ delivers quicker and more accurate results to customer service inquiries by leveraging sophisticated machine learning models. Our intelligence tools help companies efficiently automate and scale communication without compromising accuracy, whether it’s routing inbound requests to the right team or measuring a customer’s sentiment,” said Brad Birnbaum, CEO and Co-Founder of Kustomer. “This increase in speed and overall quality experiences translates into more satisfied and loyal customers, which every business needs right now.”

With Kustomer IQ, companies can access AI-powered tools to contextualize every conversation and leverage that data to save valuable agent time for more meaningful and essential customer service. Its highly accurate machine learning models are easily trained with a few simple clicks allowing any company to harness the power of modern AI.

“Kustomer IQ has had a tremendous impact on my team’s efficiency. Machine learning instantly identifies the purpose of every inbound conversation, then intelligently routes each customer to a specific team based on their contact reason, such as orders, returns, or clean out. Rather than spend time manually routing conversations, my team can focus on delivering personalized service and resolving issues quickly to decrease customer effort,” says Emily Marcogliese, Head of Customer Service at ThredUp.

Kustomer IQ includes new features such as:

  • Automated Self-Service: Native omnichannel deflection capabilities provide relevant and accurate content to customers from an organization’s Knowledge Base prior to agent intervention.
  • Conversation Classification: Machine learning analyzes and classifies inbound conversations, triggering smarter processes that expedite customer experiences.
  • Agent Recommendations: Machine learning analyzes customer messages and suggests relevant help articles and policy content to resolve issues faster.
  • Global Language Detection: Featuring natural language processing and powered by Amazon Comprehend, language detection helps companies deliver consistent experiences to all customers.
  • Sentiment Analysis: Machine learning analyzes messages and recognizes exactly how customers are feeling, assigning a sentiment score to help agents mirror emotions, and calm frustrations.
  • NLP (Natural Language Processing) Chatbot (coming soon): By leveraging NLP and the advanced CRM data model in the Kustomer platform, its chatbot will be able to offer automated information gathering and human-like levels of customer service to company conversations

Kustomer IQ is being offered in three tiers: Kustomer IQ Lite, Kustomer IQ and Kustomer IQ+. Kustomer IQ includes all of the features above, enabling companies to provide more efficient experiences through sophisticated automation and accurate predictive insights. Kustomer IQ+, coming soon, will provide end-customers a new way to interact with brands, featuring an AI-powered chatbot functionality. The chatbot will be capable of conducting two-way dialogue via live chat and be able to recognize customers based on custom object data, helping brands accurately deflect inquiries around orders, shipping and tracking.

To provide all customers with powerful AI capabilities, Kustomer has included a complimentary Lite version of Kustomer IQ as part of their existing pricing plans. Kustomer IQ Lite includes global language detection and sentiment analysis, so all customers can provide empathetic service and support around the world.

“We’re proud to announce Kustomer IQ Lite includes automated self-service, so all companies can take advantage of deflection and conversational assistant support capabilities,” adds Birnbaum. “Now, more than ever, when companies are struggling to do more with less, we believe that deflection will serve as an added leg up in delivering an exceptional support experience. We are committed to our client’s success and are proud to offer the enhanced AI capabilities that we believe are crucial.”

For more information about Kustomer, visit www.kustomer.com

About Kustomer
Kustomer is the omnichannel SaaS platform reimagining enterprise customer service to deliver standout experiences – not resolve tickets. Built with intelligent automation, Kustomer scales to meet the needs of any contact center and business by unifying data from multiple sources and enabling companies to deliver effortless, consistent and personalized service and support through a single timeline view. Today, Kustomer is the core platform of some of the leading customer service brands like Ring, Glossier, Away, Glovo, Slice and UNTUCKit. Headquartered in NYC, Kustomer was founded in 2015 by serial entrepreneurs Brad Birnbaum and Jeremy Suriel, has raised over $173M 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
 

What Kustomer IQ Can Do For You

Announcing AI for Customer Service in your CRM Platform

While these are extraordinary times, your organization’s top priority is unwavering—to provide customers with exceptional, convenient customer service. For many, customer conversations are only increasing, and Kustomer has stuck its course to build a CRM platform packed with the tools and capabilities that help you connect with customers, keep them engaged, and manage processes to perform at max capacity and grow.

We also think our platform should eliminate any barriers between your agents and your customers because time is of the essence—now more than ever. That’s where we think AI comes in, not to take on the role of the agent, but to act as a partner in getting to the root of customer needs in order to handle simple responses or immediately place them in touch with their best, most expedient resource.

We’re excited to announce our suite of AI-enabled capabilities is now available to customers. Called Kustomer IQ, it enables smarter processes that eliminate busywork and help teams better understand what customers need.

“Customer service is one of the first touch points that a consumer has with a brand, and modern companies need the tools to scale automation without compromising the exceptional brand experience customers have come to expect,” said Brad Birnbaum, CEO and Co-Founder of Kustomer. “Kustomer IQ will help companies further serve the needs of their customers by providing self-service tools to bring even more efficiencies to customer service. We are especially proud to broadly roll this out right now.”

AI Makes Every Conversation More Convenient

Kustomer IQ Lite is available to all customers on our Enterprise and Ultimate plans, and features self-service tools and predictive capabilities that help gauge emotions and equip agents with knowledge, content, and empathy to get the job done quickly.

We See Automated Self-Service Differently

Kustomer IQ works alongside your team to tackle easy questions, and elicit details from your customers so agents can get a head start, or possibly deflect simple inquiries.

Kustomer IQ is omnichannel, using content from an organization’s knowledge base to suggest relevant articles when customers reach out via email, live chat, or form submission. Watch our tutorial below on how to get started with deflection in chat today.


We’ve added deflection to our reporting stack, providing real-time analysis so you can verify success, quantify time saved for customers and agents, and understand how content is performing, with insights into what customers are seeking to help plan future articles and deflect more conversations.

Our smart Conversational Assistant prompts customers to provide additional information around their needs, and in the coming weeks, we plan on adding branchable logic to the Kustomer IQ suite, which will extend your ability to gather finer details and help decide the most appropriate service path.

Deliver Empathetic Global Support

Kustomer is proud to partner with organizations representing six continents around the world—we’re a global solution available in more than 60 languages.

For those managing global customer service, Kustomer IQ leverages Amazon Comprehend machine learning capabilities to detect language upon contact, then route conversations to native-speaking agents or enable multilingual translated content if needed. It also analyzes messages to understand how customers are feeling, and assigns a sentiment score to help agents get on even footing as soon as they respond.

 

Get to the Root of Every Conversation

Our basic Kustomer IQ package features more sophisticated predictive and automation capabilities powered by machine learning, which work by analyzing data and content to accurately assess customer needs and activate smarter processes in the Kustomer platform. Check out our pricing page for more information.

Impeccable Customer Service, Fast

Intent Identification, the newest, most powerful feature of Kustomer IQ, analyzes and classifies inbound conversations, and uses those new attributes or conversation tags to trigger process automation that takes work off your team’s plate. This includes intelligent conversation routing, all based on how you classify customer outreach, such as by contact reason or product line. In addition, automated workflows can be triggered to manage communications, initiate greetings, or provide temporary air cover.

Emily Marcogliese, Head of Customer Service from our partner at thredUp recently shared, “Kustomer IQ has had a tremendous impact on my team’s efficiency. Machine learning instantly identifies the purpose of every inbound conversation, then intelligently routes each customer to a specific team based on their contact reason, such as orders, returns, or clean out. Rather than spend time manually routing conversations, my team can focus on delivering personalized service and resolving issues quickly to decrease customer effort.”

 

 

Agent Recommendations (coming soon to Kustomer IQ) use internal and external content to generate content suggestions in real time, which will come in handy for agents-in-training who may be new to policies and brand knowledge. Machine learning analyzes customer messages to accurately offer information for faster conversations and precise resolution.

 

Get Started Now

We’re excited to announce that Enterprise and Ultimate plans come equipped with a Lite version of Kustomer IQ, so all our customers can take advantage of these awesome capabilities. Kustomer IQ Lite includes Automated Self-Service with our Conversational Assistant, Global Language Detection, and Sentiment Analysis.

Our base package for Kustomer IQ will be available on April 30, featuring enhanced AI capabilities to automate more conversations, including conversation classification, agent recommendations, and a more advanced Conversational Assistant.

And coming later this year, Kustomer IQ+ will open up new ways for customers to interact with brands. Featuring enhanced AI functionality, Kustomer IQ+ will automate simple, contextualized two-way dialogue on live chat with custom object recognition, so you can leverage and update information regarding orders, purchases, shipping, tracking, and much more.

Learn more about Kustomer IQ at our live webinar on April 22nd at 1pm ET, and contact us if you have any questions.

 

4 Easy Ways to Maintain a Strong Culture While Transitioning to Remote Work

4 Easy Ways to Maintain a Strong Culture While Transitioning to Remote Work TW

The global work environment is undergoing a massive shift, and with recent events forcing the acceleration of remote work, leaders everywhere are scrambling to find ways to maintain and continue building a strong team culture within their organizations during this abrupt transition. Luckily, thanks to modern technology, there are many ways to create an environment of positive behavior, togetherness and productivity even in a remote team.

Of course, with any types of changes, there are a few adjustments that need to be made. Here are some of the ways to not only maintain, but to build a strong culture while transitioning to a remote team:

1. Ensure that your team is equipped with the right tools that match your culture and encourage collaboration

The concept of “the path of least resistance” comes into play in all aspects of life, and building a strong team culture in a remote environment is no different. When I think about some of the work friendships I’ve made in my career, many of those friendships were forged with people who were in the same “new-hire onboarding” class as I was. Those friendships were strengthened if they happened to be on the same team, and even more so if we became deskmates. The same concept applies to remote work. Work relationships are built with those we communicate with often.

When it comes to building culture in the context of a remote environment, the easier it is to communicate and collaborate, the more those behaviors will be reinforced. It is especially important in a remote setting to err on the side of over-communication as opposed to under-communication, as rampant miscommunication and missing information can dismantle trust and culture fast. With a wide variety of instant messaging and video conferencing platforms, along with the internal notes and comments sections of your customer management platform, an environment of open communication and collaboration in remote teams is no longer just a dream, it is a very achievable reality.

2. Create opportunities for remote social interactions

In a remote work environment it can feel as if you should only reach out to a colleague when problems arise or help is needed. During those times, stress levels are high and there can be a buildup of negative emotions towards an individual, especially when all interactions with them are stressful, demanding and require deep thought. Without a foundation of trust and camaraderie, it’s much easier to misinterpret the intention of an e-mail or message.

This problem is often alleviated in an in-office environment since colleagues will inevitably bump into each other during coffee or lunch breaks. In a remote work environment, not so much. This is why it’s smart to have fully optional, but regularly scheduled, virtual coffee and lunch breaks. By encouraging remote team members to bond virtually, and foster a “remote office social life”, teammates can feel much more comfortable asking each other questions and giving honest feedback when it comes to business.

3. Setting clear goals and expectations

While setting clear goals and expectations is important in any environment, dysfunction from a lack of direction becomes more apparent in a remote team. While some remote employees may disappear into the abyss when there is a lack of direction, others may overcompensate and overwork to appear productive, which could potentially lead to burnout. Neither of these scenarios are beneficial for the employee or the employer. It is up to leadership and the managers to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time Bound) and hold employees accountable, giving direct feedback if expectations aren’t being met. This allows remote employees to stay connected to the overall mission and goals of the company as well as empower the employee to engage in their work. The happiest employees have a deeper sense of meaning to their work than to simply clock in and clock out for a paycheck.

4. Foster an environment that celebrates wins

While it is important to see reality for what it is and to find gaps and weaknesses in the business, it is equally, if not more important, to find strengths and reasons to celebrate. In an in-office environment, it’s easy to celebrate all sorts of “wins”. Whether you just brought a promising new hire on board, ran a smooth implementation of new software, or helped turn an angry customer into a happy one, news will get around. In a remote environment, employees may often feel isolated and lonely. Negative and urgent news may travel faster than the small wins, but it is crucial to to emphasize the wins. By fostering an environment that celebrates all the wins and allows the cheers to reverberate across communication channels, you encourage a culture of positivity that lifts employees up.

Want more practical tips for working remotely? Check out our latest infographic on how to stay sane and productive while working from home.

 

7 Ways Busy Teams Can Best Leverage the Kustomer Platform While Working Remotely

7 Ways Busy Teams Can Best Leverage the Kustomer Platform While Working Remotely TW

As much as we may not want to admit it, we are living in a whole new world, and customer service leaders are having to learn new ways of being successful, from the way they treat their customers to the way they manage their employees.

As your organization makes necessary changes to stay connected and responsive during this trying time, here are some additional ways you can leverage capabilities within Kustomer to stay productive and collaborative:

1. Tap Into Unlimited Collaboration

As part of Kustomer’s Ultimate Package, now available to all customers, Unlimited Collaboration allows you to loop in anyone from any department within your organization to help resolve inquiries more efficiently in a remote environment. Features like Notes, Following and @Mentions let cross-functional teams conduct internal communications and ensure customers get the expedited service they need right now, no matter where they are in the world.

2. Manage With Team Pulse

Another Ultimate Package tool, Team Pulse allows you to see what your agents are working on in real time, enabling teams to manage performance and effectiveness seamlessly. Supervisors can quickly jump to the customers and searches that agents are viewing in real-time as well as adjust queue assignments and availability, all from the Team Pulse dashboard.

3. Expand Your Shortcut Library

Companies are updating policies to accommodate for the coronavirus, and your agents should be armed with the correct information to share with customers. Add in any new policies or FAQs to your shortcut library to ensure your agents have everything they need at their fingertips.

4. Introduce Users to their Performance Dashboard

Your teams may be experiencing an influx of conversations due to customer concerns. Ensure your agents understand their traffic volume, performance, satisfaction, and peak times of interaction, so they can anticipate busier times of day and easily keep tabs on how customers are feeling.

5. Activate Your Social Media Channels

As customers contact you across an array of channels, make sure you’re ensuring seamless communication by having all channels in one holistic view. You can quickly install Facebook or Twitter DMs directly from the Kustomer App Directory, and customers can get consistent attention if they reach out over social media.

6. Set up These Useful Business Rules

Your team doesn’t have to get bogged down trying to keep conversation traffic organized. Business Rules are a great way to automate routine tasks. Here are a few you can set up right now to drive more efficiency:

  • Send Messages: Watch our video and start sending automated messages whenever you need.
  • Auto-Mark Auto Responses ‘Done’: A single rule can cover a lot of ground. These conversations may contain a variety of subject lines that all mean the same thing. Create a rule that can automatically mark any conversation that’s titled: automatic response, automated response, auto response, etc. as ‘Done’.
  • Assign a Specific Team to Multiple Channels: During these rapidly changing times, you may need to shift priorities quickly. Create a business rule that automatically assigns any conversation from specific channels to a designated team, to make sure all customers are covered.
  • Automatically Tag Conversations: Business Rules can automatically tag conversations based on context, such as any conversations related to the novel coronavirus. Just make sure you’ve added any tags you need to your library, and build rules to apply them.

7. Route Conversations based on Customer Attributes

Cut down on unnecessary busy work by intelligently and automatically routing customers to the most appropriate agent, based on information like language, sentiment or customer history.

Remember, the Kustomer platform is accessible from anywhere—requiring nothing more than standard WiFi and an internet browser. No downloads. No plugins. No premium internet connection needed.

Want more practical tips for working remotely? Check out our latest infographic on how to stay sane and productive while working from home.

 

Four Ways to Work Smarter with Business Rules In Kustomer

Four Ways to Work Smarter with Business Rules In Kustomer TW

Here at Kustomer, we are hard at work alleviating customer service teams from the manual busywork that can overwhelm agents, especially when traffic and call volumes are high. Even the simplest request or question can be a distraction from conversations that require more thoughtful attention.

That’s why intelligence is baked into everything we do. Our platform is built to automate menial tasks so organizations can scale and teams can provide personalized, high-quality care that keeps customers happy.

With Kustomer’s Business Rules, anyone can implement automation to free teams from time-consuming tasks. Our easy-to-use rules builder can process simple to complex actions, like sending transactional messages, categorizing conversations, and escalating issues.

We’re breaking down some of the most useful ways your team can work smarter with Business Rules to keep operations running smoothly.

1. Send Automated Messages

There are plenty of reasons to send automated messages—like letting customers know an agent will be right with them, or perhaps you have a specific note or promo you’d like to share.

Automating these communications keeps customers informed, and agents less distracted. Also, an ability to easily implement automated messages lets you build and run them at a moment’s notice.

Business Rules in Kustomer let you control exactly when an automated message is sent and who receives it, so you can provide customers an optimal experience by communicating effectively.

Watch our video to see how easy it is to create automated messages with Business Rules.



2. Add Tags to Conversations

Tagging conversations isn’t just a great way to stay organized—tags work as actionable triggers to automate processes in Kustomer.

Business Rules can be used to add tags to conversations, then those tags can be used to automatically route conversations or escalate issues to specialized teams.

3. Mark Auto Responses ‘Done’ Automatically

A single Business Rule can cover a lot of ground. Auto responses can clog agent queues, and cause SLAs to breach if they aren’t marked ‘Done’. Since auto responses occur with various subject lines, you can create a single rule that automatically marks auto responses complete by identifying possible subject line containing keywords like ‘automatic response’, ‘automated response’, ‘auto response’, etc.

4. Assign Multiple Channels to a Specific Team

It’s hard to anticipate peak interaction times or periods of high conversation volume, so you may need to shift team priorities quickly. You can create a Business Rule that automatically assigns channel-specific conversations to a designated team, making sure all customers are covered during your busiest times.

You can learn more about Business Rules in our Help Center, or get in touch with us to learn how Kustomer improves customer service experiences with AI and automation.

 

A Look Back at Customer Service During the 2019 Holiday Season

The holiday season has only just wrapped, and it was arguably the most important season for any retail customer service organization. When there are issues with holiday orders, you encounter the very real possibility of unhappy customers who are angry and embarrassed by missing or incorrect gifts. Customer expectations are at an all time high, and organization must over-deliver during their greatest times of need. Whether it’s handling simple product questions in real time, proactively alerting customers when there is an issue with their order, or rectifying any subsequent issues upon delivery, customer service during the holiday season could be the difference between a lifelong customer and one lost to the competition.

How Peak Season Customer Service Has Changed

The digital and direct-to-consumer shifts have had a huge impact on retail customer service. While customers now expect instantaneous service on a multitude of channels, they also expect personal and helpful interactions, similar to face-to-face interactions with in-store associates. In fact, according to a recent Kustomer survey, 75% of consumers aged 25-34 said they expected personalized communications from retailers. And that is 15% higher than those 65 and older, meaning personalization is becoming increasingly expected with younger generations.

2019 Holiday Season Developments

Last year there was a drastic increase in multichannel shopping (both online and in-store), and multichannel support inquiries are also on the rise. That means consumers may start an inquiry on one channel, and finish it on another. Whether the channel switch is because they are on the go, or they didn’t get a prompt response on their original channel, multichannel inquiries can cause duplicative work resulting in agent collision as well as the unfortunate need for customers to repeat information. It is important that retailers have a strong omnichannel support solution in place for any peak shopping period. A true omnichannel support solution can integrate your combination of communication channels in order to capture the free flow of conversations across channels and display the data in a single screen. This ensures seamless transitions and consistent experiences from one channel to the next.

Peak Season Challenges

The constant struggle for customer service organizations during peak shopping periods is sheer volume. With more shopping comes more support inquiries, and businesses that don’t have a scalable strategy in place, supported by the right technology, may not be able to deliver on customer expectations. Additionally, many businesses hire “seasonal employees” to help with the busy periods that they must heavily train to ensure they provide a consistent brand experience. With software that does the heavy lifting for them, providing unified customer history in a single screen and delivering standardized responses via dynamic content, the onboarding burden during an already busy time will be lessened.

Additionally, with a high volume of inquiries, customer service organizations often have trouble prioritizing the most urgent or pressing issues, and simply stick everyone in a queue, which is often unbearably long. Retailers can use AI and automation to intelligently route the most pressing issues to the most appropriate agents, or even prioritize loyal customers.

Overwhelmed customer service organizations often fall into the unfortunate habit of delivering bare minimum support in order to complete inquiries as quickly as possible. It’s important to realize that during peak shopping seasons, your customers are also stressed out, and expect retailers to deliver on their usually stellar service just as thoroughly as they would on the slowest day of the year. That means delivering real-time support, on any channel they choose, in a personalized manner.

Overcoming Peak Season Challenges

Whether it’s Cyber Monday, Valentine’s Day or Back to School season, brands should not only have a scalable strategy in place, but also technology that enables them to be more efficient and effective. AI and automation can improve the precision and speed of service by automating repetitive, manual tasks. 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, AI 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.

To learn more about the results from the 2019 holiday shopping season, and how to properly prepare for future peak shopping periods, download the full report.

Download the Report


What Does the Future Hold for Contact Centers?

It’s undeniable that customer experience is only becoming more central to business success. But being thought of as an “icon” in the customer service space is challenging. A surefire way to succeed? Prepare for the future now. According to a CCW Digital survey of contact center professionals, the future of customer service is already within grasp. Read on to learn what pros in the industry think, and how to prepare for the future.

Channels of the Future

Just fifteen years ago, the iPhone didn’t exist. Neither did Twitter. In five years, the landscape of customer service channels may be dramatically different. According to the CCW study, the phone will not disappear as a dominant support channel, with only 17% of respondents expecting its relevance to decline, however a digital transformation may come to fruition.

A whopping 84% of respondents believe chat and messaging bots will become more central to support functions in the next five years, showing the importance of AI to the future of customer service. But instant agent channels will also become more popular, with 81% expecting messaging to rise and 76% saying live chat will be imperative. Lastly, social media and connected devices will have a place in the future, with 68% of respondents saying social will become more important, and 60% saying connected devices are on the rise.

The Customer Service Intelligence Challenge

Did you know only 11% of consumers believe that organizations take their feedback seriously? It’s true, and it’s an issue that businesses are trying to solve.

Collecting great insights from customers is the leading contact center objective that companies want to achieve by 2025. Unfortunately, only 1% of organizations currently believe that their customer intelligence strategy is perfect. Why? Almost half (47%) of organizations have data scattered across various systems, showcasing the importance of a unified data environment to gather meaningful and actionable insights.

Other customer intelligence issues reported by businesses were: not collecting enough data (43%), not using data to personalize the experience (43%) and not doing enough to understand customer sentiment (40%). An additional 40% believe that they don’t even HAVE sufficient data to fully understand their customers.

The contact center of the future will have to leverage systems that unify data and give businesses a seamless way to analyze customer intelligence and take action on that intelligence.

Establishing Customer Service Objectives

Many of the “objectives of the future” are the ones we strive to currently measure, but may have difficulty achieving. In order of importance, customer service experts think the following will be the biggest objectives by 2025: reducing effort, consistency across touch points, proactively resolving customer needs, and collecting great insights.

These objectives highlight the importance of a true omnichannel experience, as opposed to a disjointed multichannel experience, and proactive support.

On the other hand, contact center professionals will not be prioritizing some of the traditional success metrics of days past, such as reducing call volume and reducing handle times. Instead agents will be empowered to focus on providing the best possible experience for customers, no matter how much time that interaction takes.

To read the full report, which includes a plethora of additional data, download here.

Download CCW Market Study


What to Look for in a Modern Day Customer Service Software Solution

Consumer expectations are growing. In fact, 66% of consumers aged 25 to 44 believe that the customer is always right, almost 35% higher than those over 65. That means the younger generation is expecting more from the brands they choose to shop with, and companies must keep up. But how do you accomplish that?

Without endless resources, delivering seamless and personalized service, on every channel, can be an intimidating challenge. Luckily, technology can help. But just as consumer expectations have shifted rapidly, so has the way we do business. Finding a software solution that is built for the modern age is of the utmost importance.

Customer-Centric, Not Ticket-Centric

Think of it this way. Just fifteen years ago, the iPhone didn’t exist. Twitter didn’t exist. And customer service software wasn’t built to accommodate the expectations and channels of today’s customers. A modern day customer service solution treats customers like people, not tickets.

Many customer service solutions on the market today are ticket-based, meaning they identify the customer as an attribute of an inbound or outbound message and build the communication around that ticket. These systems prioritize the metric of a “done ticket” over a customer relationship.

In contrast, modern day customer service solutions focus on the customer at the center of each interaction. By tying existing applications, business processes, and performance to the experience of the customer, companies are able to deliver more human interactions, as they know the full context and history of that customer and how they’ve interacted with the brand in the past.

Focusing on the customer may also inspire changes in your business beyond the changes in your CX process. Building a customer-centric mindset increases the chance of evolving your business in response to customer feedback, not theories.

What Makes a Modern Day Customer Service Platform

Holistic Customer View ✓
Every customer has a timeline unique to their history of purchases, omnichannel interactions, orders and returns – combining all internal and external data into one actionable view.

Powerful Automation ✓
AI and machine learning enhances agent productivity and assesses the needs of your customers in real time to deliver the best outcome in the shortest time.

Truly Omnichannel ✓
Agents can seamlessly switch engagement channels in real time within the same conversation, easily toggling between channels.

Understands Sentiment ✓
Know how your customers actually feel and gain actionable insights across every support channel and interaction.

Customizable To Your Business ✓
Fully actionable integrations with any existing system – internal or external. Let your customer service software match your business.

Download Kustomer’s full Buyer’s Guide to learn what you should be looking for in a customer service software solution, how to evaluate potential partners and how to measure success.

Download Buyer’s Guide


Kustomer Introduces KustomerIQ, Bringing Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to Enterprise Customer Service

NEW YORK, NY — October 3, 2019 — Kustomer, the SaaS platform that is reimagining enterprise customer service, today introduced KustomerIQ, embedding Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning across the Kustomer platform to enhance the customer service experience of companies competing in today’s on-demand world. KustomerIQ uniquely integrates Machine Learning models and other advanced AI capabilities with the Kustomer platform’s powerful data, workflow, and rules engines to enable companies to provide smarter, automated customer experiences that are more personalized, efficient, and effortless. The Kustomer platform stands out among customer service solutions for the comprehensiveness of available customer data and its business process automation that is driven by branchable, multi-step workflows and custom business logic.

“In today’s crowded market, excellent customer service is often the differentiator that builds loyalty and trust between one brand to another,” said Brad Birnbaum, Co-Founder and CEO of Kustomer. “With KustomerIQ and the inclusion of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning into our omnichannel platform, Kustomer will now go even further in helping brands automate their business processes, while making it easier for their agents to take action on customer information, ultimately developing a stronger and more profitable customer relationship.”

KustomerIQ brings together a wide breadth of Artificial Intelligence methods such as Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing (NLP), Predictive Analytics, Deep Learning, and Multi-dimensional Neural Network Mappings. Companies adopting KustomerIQ use their own data to train the predictive Machine Learning models, automatically customizing them to address their own business needs. With each new interaction and piece of data, these models learn and self-tune increasing their predictive accuracy and improving the decision making of both the models themselves and the customer service organizations using Kustomer.

Through KustomerIQ, companies will be able to automate manual, repetitive tasks and essential processes of their customer service experiences. In addition, KustomerIQ changes the way companies manage knowledge during a service inquiry by surfacing relevant insights and predicting future outcomes to enhance customer self-service, facilitate real time intervention through recommendations, and streamline proactive outreach. By automating everything and providing the right information at the right time, KustomerIQ frees up agents to focus on more complex and emotional customer interactions, resulting in reduced costs and faster resolution of calls.

KustomerIQ is bringing new smart customer service features to the Kustomer platform, including:

  • Automated Conversation Classification: Intelligently categorizes and classifies conversations using Machine Learning and attributes of the conversation and customer. 
  • Queues and Routing: Routes customers to the most appropriate agent using conversation classification, agent skills, and overall team capacity to drive the machine learning model. As a result, KustomerIQ helps companies improve customer satisfaction, increase first call resolution, and reduce wait and handle times.
  • Customer Sentiment Analysis: Using Natural Language Processing, the Kustomer platform can read messages between customers and agents and quantify how a customer feels about a brand in real-time. Seeing customers’ sentiment helps agents empathize with customers in a digital medium, and thus determine the best way to communicate with them. 
  • Automatic Language Detection: Using Natural Language Processing, the Kustomer platform can automatically identify the language being used in a conversation and then route the customer to an agent that speaks the language. In addition, if a company has pre-written responses (shortcuts) set up in multiple languages, those responses will automatically switch to the language used by the customer to ensure a better experience for both customer and agent. 
  • Suggested Agent Shortcuts: Provide recommended pre-written responses to agents based on conversation and customer attributes to help agents immediately access the knowledge they need to resolve customer issues faster.
  • Customer Self-Service: Automatically suggests help articles from a company’s knowledge base providing an immediate answer to a simple customer questions without interacting with an agent, so customers get answers faster and agents can focus time on more complex customer inquiries. By giving a customer more self-service options it also lowers agent volumes and improves resolution and handle times.
  • Workforce Management: Helps to predict future conversation volume and staffing needs based on historical and trend data of items, such as SLA attainment and seasonality. Can also assist in identifying training needs by providing insights into areas where an agent or agents are deficient. 

To further increase its rapid pace of innovation, Kustomer will triple the size of its development team in 2020. The team will focus on ensuring the continuous improvement of KustomerIQ’s machine learning models and further expansion and integration of innovative Artificial Intelligence capabilities throughout the platform.

About Kustomer

Kustomer is the omnichannel SaaS platform reimagining enterprise customer service to deliver standout experiences – not resolve tickets. Built with intelligent automation, Kustomer scales to meet the needs of any contact center and business by unifying data from multiple sources and enabling companies to deliver effortless, consistent and personalized service and support through a single timeline view. Today, Kustomer is the core platform of some of the leading customer service brands like Ring, Rent the Runway, Glossier, Away, Glovo, Slice and UNTUCKit. Headquartered in NYC, Kustomer was founded in 2015 by serial entrepreneurs Brad Birnbaum and Jeremy Suriel, has raised over $113.5M in venture funding, and is backed by leading VCs including: Tiger Global Management, Battery Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Cisco Investments, Canaan Partners, Boldstart Ventures and Social Leverage.

To learn more about Kustomer visit www.kustomer.com or reach out by email to info@kustomer.com.

Get the Most Out of Your Kustomer Contact Data with PieSync

Cloud-based technology has revolutionized the way small businesses work. Nowadays, entrepreneurs can access top platforms without spending a fortune or hiring a team of developers. Next to the dozens of benefits cloud applications offer, there comes a challenge: Not all apps “talk” to each other.

Most business tools collect valuable customer and prospect information in different stages of a customer’s journey. But when the apps you use across the sales process are not communicating, you’re left with the inevitable data silos.

To prevent this problem, Kustomer offers several integrations with leading applications, including PieSync (who by the way is connected with 180+ other business tools).

What’s PieSync?

PieSync is a contact synchronization solution for business tools that works 2-way and in real time. Wait… What? Let’s break it down: PieSync consolidates contacts from multiple cloud-based applications in sync. The “2-Way” means that whenever you add or modify a contact in one app, that update is synced back to the other app, and vice versa. The value of bidirectional syncing is that your data will be accurate across all your apps.

Translation: no more out-of-date contact data and no more import/export!

PieSync in Action

With PieSync, you can enrich Kustomer to create a 360º view with data from your CRM, Marketing Automation, Payment processing platform, etc. PieSync allows you to automatically translate all types of data attributes into Kustomer, providing you with the most up-to-date information. This data can be used in different ways to automate, personalize and prioritize your Kustomer conversations and keep your ticket management organized.

By enabling seamless access to rich data, PieSync allows you to exponentially increase your customers and lead engagement rates. Thanks to its Intelligent Rules, you are able to set up more intuitive and complex conditions to automatically create and update your best-of-breed cloud applications. PieSync also supports field mapping to help you associate information fields, including custom fields.

 

Kustomer in Action

Many businesses around the world are working with more than one business application. Wouldn’t it be nice to create your own ecosystem of best-in-class applications?

By leveraging valuable data from many different data sources, you can create a highly personalized experience for your current and new customers. Not only will you be able to create a more dynamic user experience, but you will also be able to define more efficient Business Rules, conditional branching and multi-step workflows that will allow your team to be more productive.

Some examples:

  • Assigning conversations to specific users or teams based on CRM ownership
  • Prioritizing customers accordingly based on billing information
  • Assigning conversations to the right agent based on language
  • Sending automated responses based on the Contact Type of the CRM
  • Updating customer attributes based on conversation attributes and syncing them to your other applications

Top syncs for Kustomer users

Accounting Apps:

  • Kustomer and Quickbooks
  • Kustomer and Xero
  • Kustomer and Chargebee

 

CRMs:

  • Kustomer and Salesforce
  • Kustomer and HubSpot
  • Kustomer and Copper
  • Kustomer and Pipedrive

 

VoIP apps:

  • Kustomer and RingCentral

 

Check all the apps you can sync with!

Configure a connection between Kustomer and another app

 

Need help configuring your sync? Visit PieSync’s Support Center!

About the Author:

Claudia Martinez is a Digital Content Marketer at PieSync. This tech-savvy communicator and marketing expert, creates awesome content and shares on social media what’s going on in PieSync.

Keep AI From Feeling Like Sci-Fi With Our Terminology Guide

When the conversation turns to AI, there’s often a Sci-Fi novel’s worth of terminology and jargon that the uninitiated reader has to decode. If you’re looking at using automation for service, then here’s a quick guide to the difference between AI, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning.

Watch Our Webinar with Solvvy here – The Truth About Bots and Intelligent Automation

Artificial Intelligence as a concept has been around since at least the ancient Greeks, who designed some mechanical devices that could be loosely-termed as intelligent. However the term itself is around 60 years old, and the first applicable AI technologies have only just started coming to market in the last few years.

Machine Learning is a more specific subset of AI. It describes machines’ ability to learn from their mistakes and improve over time. A good example of Machine Learning in practice example is the recent Google AI that beat a world champion at Go. The more the AI plays, the better it becomes at spotting patterns and predicting its opponents’ moves.

Deep Learning is a further iteration of machine learning. It describes machine learning algorithms that run on multiple layers, mirroring how our own neurons function. A now common example of deep learning is the way that smart assistants like Alexa or Siri process speech.

Also important is Natural Language Processing. NLP is the ability for a computer program to understand human speech, regardless of slang or dialect. By being able to make sense of written or spoken language in the messy and error-filled ways humans normally express it, AI capabilities become much more applicable to everyday life.

What does this mean for service? Artificial intelligence and intelligent automation can take over existing tasks and create new efficiencies that your organization couldn’t dream of previously. Machine Learning is just one example. By suggesting responses agents can use to common customer queries, a partially-automated system could learn the most effective replies and language for your customer base. Deep learning capabilities should extend to IVR trees, and put an end to the common “Sorry, I didn’t get” response from many systems that currently rely on processing speech. And NLP is crucial for chatbots, and for analytics that look at all of the conversations your agents have across chat, social, and any other text-driven medium.

It’s important to build a solid understanding of these exciting technologies as they become more prevalent and relevant to the service and customer experience sphere. To learn more, listen to our webinar with Solvvy: The Truth About Bots and Intelligent Automation.

To Bot or Not to Bot? Neither, Start with a Strategy

By Mark Kersteen from Kustomer and Maggie Lin from Solvvy.

Customer service automation is the hot topic of conversation these days, and more specifically, how bots fit into the mix. While intelligent automation is core to both Solvvy and Kustomer, we encourage our customers to not simply take an automation-centric or bot-centric approach, but to first take a step back and identify what your key goals are.

We’ve seen companies jump the gun and add a bot because they felt like everyone else was doing it, only to find it delivered sub-optimal/disappointing results.

In reality, not everyone is using a bot—but many are experiencing mixed results. In our recent webinar, 67% of participants shared that they aren’t using any bot technology today and 72% of participants who have tried a bot have experienced issues.

So, what can we take away from this? It’s important to see the big picture and identify where automation can add value, rather than implementing point solutions like bots and hoping they make an impact. We’ve all been there–it’s easy to get swept up into adding a piece of technology just because it’s what everyone else is doing.

In this post, we’ll tackle a key goal we’ve frequently seen from our customers: how do we increase agent productivity to improve our overall customer experience? We’ll share how intelligent automation can effectively support this goal in two ways by 1. increasing efficiency for customers and 2. increasing efficiency for agents.

Increasing Efficiency for Customers

Empowering customers to resolve questions on their own means agents handle less repetitive questions (and less tickets). This translates into getting back to customers faster and focusing on high-value questions that require the human touch. Increasing efficiency doesn’t have to be complicated. Depending on where you are in your support team maturity, ways to improve include investing in content, intelligent self-service, and end-to-end automation.

Content
While it seems obvious, when companies are scaling quickly, a lot of focus is given on agent enablement versus customer enablement. But, at the end of the day, customer enablement helps agents at scale. In an organization where customer interactions are often 1:1, investing in content is 1:many and scales with the business. Taking the time to create help center articles can save your support team hours of copy-pasting a macro that should be public to customers. Publishing content that helps customers find answers on their own frees up your agents to deal with more complex questions.

Intelligent Self-Service
Investing in content is step one. Intelligent self-service is the next step to making it easy for customers to discover this information. With intelligent self-service, it’s important to understand the underlying technology used to determine user intent. A lot of bots fall short here because they are keyword-reliant or rules-based and ultimately aren’t able to understand the context of a question and the relationship of words unique to a specific business. Self-service eases the workload for agents, but if a bot is falling short of expectations, it can create friction when a customer reaches an agent and has to repeat their question.

End-to-End Automation
The ability to fully automate repetitive transactions is a huge opportunity in customer service. These could be questions around order lookups, returns, refunds, and subscription changes. By handling these types of questions without an agent, support teams can direct attention to complex questions and take on proactive initiatives that scale. The interface for end-to-end automation can be guided steps, or it could be a bot in a chat window. Whichever way you deem the best customer experience, it should be clear that it’s not a human and that it is an automated experience.

Increasing Efficiency for Agents

We’ve spoken with agents who have expressed anxiety about chatbots or other technologies taking over their roles. It’s totally natural to be wary of new technology, but our answer has always been clear: We don’t think there’s anything to worry about. In fact, there’s a whole list of ways that bots and automation can assist agents and make their lives easier. Bots can take over the boring, repetitive, and mechanical tasks that drive agents up the wall, freeing up their time to focus on the interpersonal connections and more emotionally complex tasks that likely attracted them to the profession in the first place.

Conversational Forms
Just because it looks like a bot and acts like a bot, doesn’t always mean it’s a bot. Conversational forms are robots in disguise. When a customer opens the chat window, they’ll feel like they’re chatting to an immediately available agent. The conversational form will start asking the customer questions. These include important queries for identification—name, email address, phone number, shipping info, and whatever else is necessary—as well as more quantitative questions, like asking them to describe the issue they’re having. This way the customer gets the instant feedback they expect on chat, and the agent can jump into the conversation with all the info they need.

Suggested Responses
The scariest thing about pursuing a chatbot strategy is the lack of control. Once you switch on that feature, there’s nothing standing in between your customers and an algorithm that may not always provide the best experience. Enter suggested responses. This system works like the suggested text feature on your phone, but just for service. A computer processes the conversation and generates answers, but instead of sending them straight to a customer, the agent gets them first. This speeds up their reply time, and the system can also learn from the agent’s choices to become smarter. The more agents use the system, the better it gets at helping them, so you can be certain that automation is helping your experience, not holding it back.

Further Uses for Automation
There is a whole world of automation-enhanced solutions to everyday problems for your organization—and the majority of them work behind the scenes. Using an automated system to suggest tags, categorization, macros, and helpbase articles for your agents can save tons of time, and can be much simpler to set up and operate than a customer-facing chatbot. Assisting your agents’ everyday workflows and reporting may not be glamorous, but it can have a massive knock-on effect towards streamlining your experience and increasing efficiency. As Peter Johnson, Kustomer’s VP of Product, summarized in our recent webinar: “Automation is not just about helping the customer, it’s about helping your support organization scale, and identifying areas the product team can improve.”

Final Thoughts

If we can leave you with one bit of advice to take away, it’s this: before pursuing a bot or automation strategy, do your homework and consider your options. It’s crucial to have a strategy, and that you don’t just jump right in. As Kaan Ersun, Solvvy’s SVP of Marketing, advised on our webinar: “Number one, define a strategy, and figure out where the bot can be useful to you, where it won’t work, then pursue new opportunities. Start with the big picture, then move towards implementation.”

Look at the data available to you, and use that to define your strategy going forward. Take some time with your reporting, and see what the most common issues are and where customers are asking for support. Once you start spotting patterns, those can dictate where you’ll go next. Maybe something as simple as an updated help page or self-service tool can cut your service volume in half? If your agents are constantly doing the same things over and over again, solve for those issues first. If your goal is to increase efficiency, then you should be focusing on finding the best method, not using chatbots for their own sake. By looking at the patterns within your support organization, you can start identifying issues that are holding back your experience to dictate your strategy, which is great practice as a whole. That’s the best way to figure out how automation will fit in.

With the right groundwork, you can be certain that when you do start to explore and use new technologies, your efforts will be a success—and will make a meaningful difference for your customers.

The Truth About Bots and Intelligent Automation

84% of the attendees of our recent webinar, The Truth About Bots and Intelligent Automation, consider Customer Experience Automation a priority for their strategy going forward. What options are available for the automation-minded company, and will a bot deliver amazing service AND make you breakfast? Well, not quite. We got to the bottom of these questions on air, and you can too from the recap below.

Watch the recording here.

Peter Johnson, Kustomer’s VP of Product, and Kaan Ersun, Solvvy’s SVP of Marketing, are both authorities on bots, automation, and using intelligent technologies for better service and support. They discussed the pros and cons of the solutions out there, and made some suggestions for picking and enabling more intelligent service.

Is Automation a Priority?

To kick things off, we started with a poll to take the temperature of the audience. We asked, “Is adopting a customer experience automation solution, such as bots, a priority for you / your organization?” The results were surprising—the majority of respondents were actively pursuing an automation strategy. Here’s the breakdown:

Yes, this year: 40%

Yes, next year: 32%

Yes, within 2 years: 12%

Not a priority: 16%

Terms You Need to Know

To level-set, PJ and Kaan laid out an overview of the terminology they’ll be using when discussing this complicated technology.

While “intelligent” technologies have existed since Roman times, the term “Artificial Intelligence” came into use in the 1950s—though truly intelligent products just started becoming widely available over the last handful of years. Machine Learning is a more specific application, referring to the ability of machines to advance their program and “learn” from their mistakes without additional programming. A good example is the recent Google AI that beat a world champion at Go. Deep Learning is an even more advanced subset, describing computers that use algorithms that mimic the neural networks of the human brain—meaning they can learn on multiple levels without human supervision.

Bots—Are They All They’re Cracked Up to Be?

But how are these advancements being used on a practical level today? Bots are already taking on a variety of service and service-adjacent tasks within the enterprise, from Digital Marketing and DIY Service, to use cases involving virtual assistants. However, these experiments are still in their early stages. While they may help scale your service, they require a lot of effort to build, and lack customer understanding and the ability to deliver a quality, memorable experience. When you look at the cost and effort to build one versus the level of experience they provide, the math is a bit off.

As PJ put it:

“You’ve probably contacted or been contacted by a support system that tried to act like a human being, but clearly is not. One of our best practices is not to try to seem human, because it can really hurt your brand image and experience.”

On top of that, they aren’t exactly plug-and-play. Service teams have to create replies for every possible input, and they need to be customized for the relevant terminology and details of your business. Actually integrating them with your existing data systems can be a headache, plus they need ongoing maintenance every time you add a new feature or product.

Who’s Using Bots?

Bots may not be the tech overlords they’ve been billed as (yet), but other applications of automation and intelligent systems can supe up your support. And, it’s probably not too late. In our second poll, we learned that most attendees haven’t started using bots yet:

We asked, “What has been your experience with traditional bot technology in your CX operations?” and these were the results:

We use a bot today and love it: 9%

We use a bot today and have encountered some issues: 12%

We use a bot today and have encountered many issues: 12%

I don’t use any bot technology today: 67%

From Bots to Conversational Experience

Before you start experimenting with bots, it’s good to know your options. As Kaan recommended:

“It’s key to have an overarching, holistic automation strategy first—then you can deploy bots as point solutions.”

Bots are a part of this strategy, but not the only focus. Instead, you can also use automation in conjunction with other integrations and platforms to create a stronger experience. Conversational forms look like a chat, but can be used to gather customer info and issues before handing off to a more capable agent to handle the issue. A system that automatically suggests responses to agents works the same as a bot, but uses the added layer of human oversight to learn the right way to respond by tracking your agents’ decisions. And automation is useful for suggesting tags, categorization, macros, helpbase articles, and assisting workflow and reporting—all things that can speed up your experience and make it more efficient, without directly interacting with customers.

As PJ summarized: “Automation is not just about helping the customer, it’s about helping your support organization scale, and identifying areas the product team can improve.”

Kutomer and Solvvy work together to make conversational experience a reality. If you submit a question to Solvvy and can’t find the answer, you can choose to instantly open up a chat in Kustomer and get the answer. Kustomer’s conversational form then collects your personal information, then connects you with an agent who knows your whole customer history.

Where to Begin?

Where do you start the process of using automation or bots strategy if you haven’t already? Kaan had some advice: “Number one, define a strategy, and figure out where the bot can be useful to you, where it won’t work, then pursue new opportunities. Start with the big picture, then move towards implementation.”

Adding to Kaan’s advice, PJ suggested going straight to the data: “First thing: Look at your reporting, and see where you have the highest level of support volume. Look for patterns, see which questions your customers are asking, and what the most repetitive tasks are for your agents?”

If you’re taking a wide-angle approach and carefully planning your strategy, instead of leaping head first into messing around with a bot, your initiatives are much more likely to be a success.

You can always watch the recording HERE, and for more great insights into service, experience, and technology, follow Solvvy and Kustomer.

Why Companies Are Switching from Ticketing Systems to Kustomer

Ticketing systems have been around for decades. Ticket numbers, formal emails (“don’t reply below this line”), isolated data (“what is your order number?”), have been a part of our lives as customers and customer support professionals. It’s hard to believe a better world is possible. Kustomer, built by industry veterans, was created with a different vision in mind—a customer-centric platform that ties together all the conversations and business information about a customer into a single timeline, together with powerful workflows that enable customer-first companies to execute their customer experience vision. In the past year, a number of customers have successfully migrated from ticket-based solutions to Kustomer. Here are a few items that CX agents and executives who made the switch have highlighted about making the move:

1) From Isolated Tickets to a Single Timeline View of the Customer

How many platforms does your team use to communicate with customers? Is your team in constant need to merge tickets? Because tickets from different channels are often disconnected, it’s easy to run into a customer who is chatting with another agent while you’re in the middle of replying to their email. Or worse, you might reply without knowing that they’re already being helped.

In Kustomer, you can see all the communications with your customer in one place. That means that real omnichannel communication is possible. You can go from emailing with a customer to chatting with them, to calling them on the phone, and see all those records in one conversation. That’s because the customer is the atomic unit of our platform—everything revolves around them.

2) From Disconnected Solutions to Actionable Integrations

How many tabs does your team need to keep open at the same time? When your customer support platform is disconnected from the rest of your platforms, agents need to keep copying and pasting customers’ email addresses into your admin systems to get even basic information about the history of their interactions with your company—past orders, delivery status, etc. Kustomer pulls data from all your platforms and tools and arranges it in a way that makes sense for your business.

With Kustomer’s single timeline view, the customer is the focal point, not individual conversations. Not only does Kustomer merge every interaction into the same conversation automatically, it also integrates with your other systems—like Shopify or JIRA, just to name a few. That means you can see when orders are dispatched and delivered, or previous items that customers have added to their carts or subscribed to on your site. All of this is displayed in that same timeline, so you have a deeper context whenever they reach out. Everything is completely customizable, so it’s easy to create a view that empowers your team to tackle your specific business challenges.

With this level of integration, tasks like returns or reimbursements can be completely automated (as we’ll discuss in the next section). No matter if your business is pizza, shoes, or software, Kustomer can be customized to show your agents everything they need to know in a single window. Orders, shipping info, product or version number, buyer and seller information, and social interactions can all appear beside each customer in bespoke “K Objects”. This makes it easy for agents to get the whole picture and take the next best action, or communicate with the right parties while staying on one platform.

3) From Repetitive Tasks to Intuitive Automation

Kustomer makes it easy to automate commonly-used workflows so that your agents can focus on connecting with customers rather than rote tasks. Don’t be limited by basic workflow functionality that won’t simplify your agents’ day-to-day work. Now you can define intelligent, branched workflows and reports encompassing all customer-related systems in your business.

Because Kustomer integrates with your other platforms, it’s way more powerful than just showing your customer history—it allows you to act on it. These branched, multi-step workflows make it easy to efficiently scale your team and automate simple tasks. Sending instant follow-up emails or processing a return is now only a click away and no longer has to take your agents’ attention away from the customer.

4) From Reactive Support to a Proactive Experience

Proactive service solves for what your customers need. That means it may be something they haven’t even asked for, like a faster delivery to avoid an incoming storm that might cause delays. It’s one of the best ways to build stronger relationships and deliver meaningful experiences. Ticketing systems are inherently reactive, as agents only respond when customers have a problem or a question. Because Kustomer keeps all of your customer information in one place, you can create granular searches for customers around specific behaviors or qualities, all on the same platform. That means your service isn’t just efficient—it’s smart.

If you want to build customer loyalty, you can search for customers that may have bought a product that could give them an issue, then send them all a message proactively. Let’s say your new mascara is mislabeled as “Vegan”—you can look up all the customers who have preordered it, then send them an email letting them know the mistake and offering a free refund or exchange if they don’t want it—all before their orders have arrived. Or if there’s going to be a storm that affects customers in a certain geographic area, you can notify all the customers with orders going to that region with a list of options before their shipment is delayed. With all your customers’ information in one place, it’s easier to surprise and delight them than ever.

When you combine this robust search capability with automated workflows, intelligent and proactive outreach can become a reality.

By putting all the information about your customers in a single view and making it easier than ever to act on it, Kustomer is winning over companies across industries. To try our powerful platform for yourself, schedule your demo today.

3 Examples of Conversational Experience

It’s good to have a conversation with your customers, but talking alone isn’t enough. Encouraging customers to contact you over their preferred channels means you need to be ready to respond just as fast as their closest friends. Often, conversations can go in different directions. Sometimes customers may be trying to make a return when what they really need is an exchange. Or they may decide to buy a new product in the middle of asking about a different one. That means that conversational commerce and conversational service are two sides of the same coin. If you want to engage your customers on a 1-1 basis and in real time, then your entire customer experience needs to be part of the conversation. A truly conversational experience is hard to find, but we’ve shared some examples from Brad Birnbaum’s latest piece in Forbes to give you a better idea:

Example 1: IoT

Problem: Your customer’s smart speakers aren’t connecting to WiFi.

Conversational Solution:

  • Your proprietary app brings up an FAQ article when it detects that your customer is not connecting to WiFi.
  • Your automated customer service platform sends an email with an instructional video and support desk information if it detects that your customer has reset their device three times or more.
  • You assign customers who have had multiple problems with high-priority when they call your customer service number so they connect to an agent quickly.
  • Your agent knows that they’ve already received the FAQ and video because your platform gives them a single view of the customer. With that, they can skip ahead to advanced troubleshooting so the customer doesn’t have to repeat the same steps.

Example 2: Meal Delivery Subscription

Problem: Your customer needs to change their subscription and delivery dates.

Conversational Solution:

  • If the customer has to change their delivery location or date, a chatbot or automated solution should instantly handle these simple tasks.
  • If the request is more logistically complicated, like pausing for a week then delivering to a different location, the request should be elevated to an agent.
  • If the request is more complex than that, like changing dietary requirements, agents should get on the phone and consult with them 1-1 to deliver the best possible experience.

Example 3: Clothing Subscription

Problem: Your customer needs a more consultative experience.

Conversational Solution:

  • If customers are asking for a simple request like changing the date of the delivery, agents should ask questions and get more information.
  • If there is a bigger reason, like they’re getting a new job, then an agent should be empowered to step up and act like a stylist to pick more formal options.
  • This more hands-on experience encourages customers to upgrade to a higher subscription tier in the future.

Read the full Forbes article here.

To see how can deliver a truly conversational experience with Kustomer, request a demo today!

Kustomer Localization is made for Global Teams

Many customer service teams today have to support a global customer base. Kustomer has launched Localization, a suite of features that allow you to easily detect, respond, and provide help to a multilingual customer base. Customers and support teams deserve an seamless experience in their respective language, across any channel.

Whether you service customers around the world, or have a team that communicates in multiple languages, our localization features will help you provide personalized customer support. We focused on developing features that make teams more efficient as well as automating tedious tasks associated with providing multilingual support.

Automating Language Detection

 

When your customers contact you, Kustomer is now able to automatically detect the language of the message using Amazon Comprehend dominant language detection. Oftentimes a new message will require your team to have to identify the language, and then assign it to another team or agent. This manual triaging by language is time consuming and ineffective. Automating the language detection for inbound messages allows you to route conversations to the correct team or agent, providing quick reply times. When language detection is enabled, you’ll also be able to get sentiment analysis in multiple languages, helping you to better understand your customer. Language detection will allow agents to work more efficiently by automatically sending messages and displaying Knowledge Base articles in the customer’s’ own language.

Making Translation Easy

We focused on making processes as time-efficient as possible. One of the Localization features that enables this is Snippets. Teams can easily insert translated content into messages, email templates, and Knowledge Base articles. Let’s say you want to provide your agents with an automatic response to questions about returns. You can quickly create a snippet for “return policy” with corresponding translations for languages you want to support. Then, when your agent uses a shortcut with the “return policy” Snippet, it’s automatically translated based on the customer’s language. Adding in personalization is easy too, just combine Snippets, Shortcuts, and Dynamic text and your agent is fully empowered to provide quick personalized support in the correct language.

Enabling Agent Adoption

It’s not just your customers that are global. Many support teams are based all over the world, and it’s important that users can access and use Kustomer in their native language. Unlike other tools where translations are limited to certain features and interfaces, in Kustomer you’ll have full access to language translations across all our features and the user interface. The user interface can be used in over 51 languages (both Right to Left and Left to Right). See a list of all available languages in Kustomer.

For more information about Localization and its included features, check out this article.

How to Turn One-Time Shoppers Into Repeat Customers

What we learned from our webinar with DSTLD and Optimove

How do you keep customers coming back? Our latest webinar answers just that question, and features DSTLD Customer Experience Manager Laura Gramlich (read our guest post from Laura here) and Optimove Solutions Engineer Leigh Noy, hosted by our own Senior Manager of Marketing Programs Stacey Dolchin. We discussed how to build loyalty with the rush of customers that companies acquire during a busy period. Whether that’s holidays, product launches, or special events, you need to prioritize loyalty and retention to be successful.

Our conversation with DSTLD and Optimove brought up an array of useful insights for dealing with these issues, perfect for any brands looking to build a stronger relationship with first-time buyers.

DSTLD is a brand that prioritizes their end-to-end experience to turn their customers into diehard fans. By selling high-quality denim and basics directly to consumers at a fraction of the price of bigger brands, they’ve struck a chord with fashion-enthusiasts. Their unique offering drives interest, but it’s important to keep these shoppers coming back for more. DSTLD has a few strategies for this:

Individualized and Personal Customer Service: By integrating their existing shopping platforms with Kustomer, they can view orders and customer conversations together. By having this information in one timeline, it’s easy to deliver fast, intuitive assistance.

Real-time Chat: One of the highest rates of drop-off for an ecommerce site occurs when a customer has issues prior to and at checkout. After launching chat on their site, DSTLD was able to respond immediately to their customers and answer their questions, resulting in a higher conversion rate at checkout.

Post-Purchase Automation: If deliveries are delayed due to a weather event, DSTLD’s goal is to identify customers who may be affected by using Kustomer, and then reach out to those who have been affected with an automated message that allows them to easily pick the next course of action.

Improved Returns Experience: DSTLD has made their returns experience a priority, constantly innovating and scaling up in the offseason to deliver the best possible experience when demand is high. Their new process for exchanges makes completing them even easier, meaning customers receive their item even faster than before.

Optimove picked up where DSTLD left off, sharing how to retain customers and build engagement after a high-demand period. They suggest following 3 key steps to make a difference in your experience to build a bond for life with customers.

1. Detect and Reward Your VIPs: VIP’s (the top 5% of customers) are responsible for 60% of your revenue according to Optimove, so it’s crucial to find them and treat them right. Look at the journey of your current VIPs to identify future candidates, then give them early access and special offers — but don’t take your current VIPs for granted, either.

2. Create a Plan for Post-Holiday Retention: The average transaction amount during the holiday season is 30% higher for repeat customers than new customers, but newly acquired customers during the holiday are 90% less likely to return for repeat business — making it all the more crucial to have a retention plan ready.

3. Strategize for The Long Game: The chances of making another transaction increases as the number of initial transactions increase — that means there’s a real incentive and knock-on effect to converting first-time shoppers. Analyze them, and apply what you’ve learned from your multi-time shoppers to convert more first-timers into repeat customers.

Clearly there’s real value in focusing on a long-term strategy for getting customers to buy from you again and again, beyond simply making more sales. Repeat customers are more loyal and enthusiastic for your brand, and buy far more than the shoppers who just stop in when demand is high. A solid strategy, top-notch experience, and a commitment to finding and encouraging the customers who are most likely to keep coming back is what will make the difference for your business — and knowing everything about your customers makes it that much easier.

View all our webinars here.

Know Everything About Every Customer

I am unique. You are unique. We differ in many ways, including how we behave, shop, engage, talk, and react.

We are also creatures of habit and prefer to leverage a trusted vendor who has provided us with a consistent, good experience. For example, most people have a favorite local barista at the cofee shop we buy our large coffee from on the way to work. When we have consistent, good experiences, we return to the same trusted vendors or brands that serve our diverse daily needs like clothes, cosmetics, jewelry, housing items, pet food, travel and food.

These businesses also have an identity of their own, a unique approach and well defined processes for treating and serving special customers like me and you. However, there is often a disconnect between businesses’ approach to the customer experience and customer expectations.

The chasm between the needs of today’s customers and what experience brands truly provide, is referred to as the CX Expectations Gap. Meeting these needs requires a lot of work: time, money, effort, and resources.

There are places and companies who have been successful at addressing specific expectation and personalization needs. They are usually local vendors who have intimate knowledge and recurring facetime with their customer base. You interact with these local vendors every day, from your regular bar’s bartender, local diner manager, barista at the coffee shop on your way to work, or my local fruit vendor. They are all different in many ways but have one critical aspect in common. A process that helps them know everything about every customer.

My local fruit vendor works hard. He recognizes me and knows my preferences. If there are great, slightly green bananas and it’s Monday he knows to save me these as I pick up fruit on way back from work. When he gets an order of figs (one of my favorites) and sees me exit the subway, he lets me know. He knows I like the extra hard cucumbers and the plums my kids make me buy everytime they come with me to buy fruit.He offers these as upsell and perhaps caters to people like me with a special offer.

He knows there is another vendor three blocks away, so after a bad experience with sour, bad grapes, he immediately refunded me and offered fresh grapes. And he now knows that everyone who bought these batches of grapes that day may have experienced the same displeasure and are at risk of moving to another vendor, risking a loss of repeat business and clientele. So he asks those he remembers if the grapes were ok and offers similar replacements.

But does this process scale? What if it could? What if you could make every customer a priority, just like my local fruit vendor, by knowing everything about them?

For that you need to ensure every system, app, and data point is integrated the right way as to portray your unique business processes, focusing on driving superior CX and enabling you to drive the right, informed action by agent, marketing, automation and knowledge workers in the company.

This requires the following:

  • Incorporating every customer’s entire buying history, from self service, online, offline and every relevant action into as single repository that drives the right action for the appropriate customer facing employee.
  • Understanding your customer’s engagement preferences, to be able to respond to them when needed and proactively reach out when appropriate.
  • Analyzing sentiment changes, trends, and patterns, as to drive informed decisions for a segment of customers, who may have received the wrong or damaged product.
  • Enabling inventory demand vs supply shifts to notify the right person through their preferred channel of interaction and to offer alternate products now vs waiting for the restock.

Automating your business processes to drive great CX, enabling a full view of every customer’s unique story, and knowing everything about every customer as to drive informed actions — that’s the vision and future we all dream about.

Stop dreaming. And start today with Kustomer.

About Alon Waks: Alon Waks is the VP of Marketing at Kustomer. Previously Alon was VP of Marketing at 8×8, leading segment and demand globally, including all Go-to-market, content and sales development. Alon has a vast experience in B2B Marketing, Product Management, GTM and consulting. Prior to 8×8, Alon was VP, Global Head of Marketing at LivePerson, where he led all content, demand generation, field marketing and global operations, and also served as the head of product marketing for many years. Prior to that, Alon led Product Go-To-Market for Avaya. He has a rich background in IT consulting, Business Intelligence, Product and working worldwide with enterprise customer’s Line of Business, IT and marketing. Alon holds a dual degree from Tel Aviv University and a MBA from Duke University.

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