Kustomer + Jeannie Walters: How to Create an Omnichannel Journey

On the latest Conversations with Kustomer Podcast, we discuss creating an emotionally impactful omnichannel customer journey in an increasingly fragmented service and support landscape.

We sat down with Jeannie Walters to learn the ins and outs of building a memorable customer journey. Jeannie is the CEO and Chief Customer Experience Investigator of 360Connext. 360Connext specializes in qualitative, human evaluations of the real customer experience through a process called Customer Experience Investigation (CXI). Jeannie is also a Co-Host on the Crack the Customer Code Podcast.

Emotion colors every experience we have—whether we realize it or not. Is there a place you shop just because the people who work there are really nice? Or because you’ve had a positive experience in the past with the brand? Maybe there’s a coffee shop or a bookstore where you end up spending way more than you set out to just because of their warm, friendly experience.

How can customer service and support teams spread that positive feeling when customers are contacting them over the phone, over email, over chat, and across all of these channels and more? It definitely isn’t easy, but it is very possible.

Listen to hear our answers to these questions:

  • What is the process of mapping the customer journey?
  • How do you retain your customers’ trust?
  • How can customer experience professionals use empathy while designing the customer experience?
  • When should you rely on data to design your journey, and when should the process be more intuitive?
  • How can you deliver a personalized experience for each customer?
  • How can customer support organizations improve the experience more proactively?
  • How is this process of mapping the customer journey different for B2B versus B2C brands?

For the latest from Kustomer, follow us at @Kustomer on Twitter.

3 Reasons Kustomer’s Amazon Connect Integration Will Revolutionize Your Contact Center

Kustomer has just announced it’s newest integration with Amazon Web Services’ Amazon Connect to deliver next-level omnichannel support and experience for enterprises and contact centers.

Amazon Connect is the cloud-based contact center voice solution created by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and based on the same technology used by over 70,000 Amazon customer service associates around the world. Kustomer’s integration with Amazon Connect seamlessly pulls AWS’s robust technology into a single convenient timeline view.

Not only will this help contact centers and support teams deliver a more personal and memorable experience over all of their channels, but agents can stay in a single screen uninterrupted while answering calls.

The integrated solution is already live in enterprise-level contact centers in companies such as Ring, the global home security provider. As COO Jon Irwin noted, “Moving forward with Kustomer’s Amazon Connect integration was one of the best decisions we have made for our community support team as well as our end customers, or ‘neighbors’.”

“We’re excited to be using Kustomer’s robust platform, which is not only reliable, but increases service efficiency, giving us an edge in providing unparalleled neighbor experience.”

You can see our native Amazon Connect integration in the video below. To see more of our integration in action, register for our webinar on November 15th.

Personalized IVR Experience

 Customers expect more personal and convenient experiences, even when they get an automated response after calling your customer service number. With Kustomer’s Amazon Connect integration, IVR can become more responsive and personalized than your customers ever imagined. Because Amazon Connect’s IVR data-dips directly into Kustomer’s CRM database, contact centers of any size can easily customize their phone trees based on customer information. You can route customers based on their interaction history or previous issues, create a shortcut for VIPs or those affected by a specific outage, present different options for customers with open orders, and more.

Everything in a Single Screen

Consolidating all your platforms into one intuitive interface massively increases agent efficiency and improves the experience for your customers, because agents have all the information they need at their fingertips. Once agents accept a call from a customer, they can see the full timeline and history of whoever is calling in. Then the call recording and relevant data is automatically saved as part of the conversation, along with the agent’s notes, and agents can easily follow up over SMS, Email, Phone, Chat, and more.

Streamline Service with Multichannel Routing

Kustomer and Amazon Connect provide the modern features omnichannel team managers expect. Amazon Connect is the only voice integration that syncs with the Kustomer router, giving managers the utmost flexibility in building and monitoring their queues. Kustomer includes reports and live dashboards, providing managers with a real, live look into the performance of their contact centers. That makes it easy to ensure the right agents are handling the right customers at the right time based on your needs over every channel. Our integration even takes into account whether blended agents are or are not on a call, pausing incoming messages when they’re on the phone so that your workloads are always properly managed.

The Amazon Connect Enterprise Application is available today. For more information, visit our dedicated Amazon Connect integrations page, or sign up for our webinar on November 15th for a live demo with our product team.

Kustomer Queues Make Routing Painless for Contact Centers

Kustomer is happy to announce our brand new, enterprise-grade queueing and routing feature. Queues are essential to managing high-volume contact centers, and for good reason. Queues enable contact centers to monitor their inbound traffic in real-time and optimize customer wait times. Kustomer has adopted this model for the omnichannel world. Now organizations can create queues according to their business priorities across channels, assign queues to teams, and have full visibility into the real-time status of queues and agents.

Unique benefits to using Kustomer Queues are:

  • Queues work in real-time so managers can identify peaks in traffic and reassign agents accordingly.
  • Queues are set up so that every conversation can be in a single queue, so conversations are viewed and handled by a single agent.
  • Wait time, handle time, and wrap time are well-defined so are easier to track and optimize through reports and live dashboards.
  • Agents’ status is connected to the Kustomer Router, thus agents will not get assigned with new conversations when unavailable or during a call.

Queues that work for you

Queues can be defined in any way that makes sense for your business. You can create queues as simple as channel queues (like chat or email) or create more sophisticated queues like “Customers with Lifetime Value of more than $10K”, or for “Conversations with a ‘Return’ tag”. Each queue is assigned to a team, so the Kustomer Router will route new conversations to an available agent with that team. As conversations can only exist in one queue, view collisions between agents are eliminated and productivity increases.

Availability-based Routing and Reassigning

When agents start their shift they switch their status to Available to start getting conversations from the queues assigned to their team. If agents go on a break or finish a shift, they can toggle the status to the relevant unavailable status (e.g., Lunch, Break, or anything else). That will indicate the Kustomer Router to automatically stop sending new conversations to these agents.

The agent status is clearly indicated in the platform, so fellow agents can reassign conversations and managers can monitor and reassign agents, based on their availability. This is especially useful when managing remote teams.

 

Multichannel Routing for the Omnichannel Contact Center

As an omnichannel platform, Kustomer Router includes a multichannel routing capability ensuring that when an agent is on a call, the router automatically stops assigning new conversations to this agent (either voice, email or chat), and resume once wrap-up is done. This capability is available, for example, via the Amazon Connect integration.

Real-time Contact Center Insights

Live dashboards provide managers with real-time information on the status of different aspects of the contact center. This is especially useful when managing remote teams. Such aspects include:

  • Agent status – How many agents are available, what agents are working on (overall and down to the conversation), and what their workload is.
  • Queues – How many conversations are waiting in different queues, and are some queues more busy than others.
  • Customer experience – The average wait time for customers on different queues and channels, and the average handle time once they interact with an agent.

Dashboards are updated as frequently as every 15 seconds, managers can even display them on a big screen in the office.

For more information about Queues and Routing and how to implement them in your own organization, check out this article or request a demo below.

 

What Is It Like to Work on the Product Team at Kustomer?

If you’re interested in joining the Kustomer team, check out our Careers Page.

What is it actually like to work here at Kustomer? We’re going to help answer this question in a series of interviews with folks from every department to tell you about their unique experience, and how it applies to anyone looking to join our team.

Here’s Peter Johnson, VP of Product at Kustomer, to share what it’s like to build our powerful platform for customer experience:

Q: What is unique about working on and building the Kustomer platform?

PJ: We get the chance to totally challenge the status-quo in the support space and re-imagine what a modern CRM should look like. We get to ask questions like, “Could ticketing be done better?” or “How can we improve on legacy routing models?” These are old problems being reimagined in modern tech, and we’re at the forefront of them.

Q: What skills and programming languages do we recommend applicants know and use on our team?

PJ: Project Managers and Designers don’t need to be able to code at Kustomer! Though it doesn’t hurt to know HTML/CSS or Javascript. I think the most important skill is being able to learn quickly. Yes, having previous experience leading a dev team, designing in Sketch, working in Agile, etc. are all helpful traits. However, the best PMs/Designers are open-minded, data-driven, curious, and genuinely give a shit about the products they design.

Q: What features are the product team most proud of?

PJ: Many come to mind: Obviously the Customer timeline, Synchronous and Asynchronous Chat Product, and Chat Conversation Assistant are highlights. Though I’d say that I’m even more amazed at what we were able to ship considering how quickly we shipped it, with such a small team, and in such a short timeframe.

Q: How does Kustomer set up its Product team for growth and success?

PJ: We try to inject data into the decision-making process as much as possible—both qualitatively and quantitatively. Existing customer feature usage metrics, as well as feedback, are extremely important in our future feature decision-making. There’s a quote I love that says “If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.”

Q: If you had to describe the Product team in one word, what would it be?

PJ: Kustomer. We commonly use the phrase “Don’t just talk about it, be about it.” At the end of the day, no phrase or one word sums up our team better. The results our team’s hard work and output can be seen in the Kustomer product.

Q: What kinds of things does the Product team do as a team outside of work?

PJ: A few recent events we’ve done: a ping-pong outing at Fat Cat, lunches in Bryant Park, drinks at the Pennsy—we definitely have a lot of fun as a team.

Q: Where have other members of the Product team worked in the past?

PJ: Social networks, CRM software companies, real estate management software, health startups, video chat software, and more.

Q: What are some of the benefits of working at Kustomer?

PJ: Beyond things like great health insurance and snacks, I’d have to say ownership. You have the chance to design and be a part of launching a totally original product that has your fingerprints on it, and is used by thousands of people every day. It’s a really satisfying feeling to own a product end-to-end.

If all of this sounds makes you think, “Wow, Kustomer sounds like the kind of place I want to work,” then we have some good news. We’re growing fast, and are hiring for our Product team in our NY office RIGHT NOW! If you’re interested in joining our team, apply directly here.

Live Chat: What Does a Modern Solution Look Like?

When organizations are considering a chat strategy, there’s a common debate over whether live chat or a messenger app is the right method to use for client communication. Both models have pros and cons, but technologies have evolved to make a hybrid approach not just possible, but effective. By blending both models together, you can test, collect feedback, and grow—and new tools make it easier than ever to take the best from each approach.

Read about Kustomer Chat’s new features here.

But before we define the benefits and drawbacks of each, it’s important to define the difference between “Synchronous” and “Asynchronous” messaging.

Synchronous Messaging:

This is commonly associated with “Live Chat”, where a customer can only maintain one chat “session” at a time with an Agent. These conversations only exist for as long as the customer is active or at least one agent is online.

Asynchronous Messaging:

This is commonly associated with email, social media, or SMS messaging. Within these channels, neither the customer nor the agent communicate in real time. This means customers can start a chat and come back to it an hour later without worrying about ending “sessions”.

What’s wrong with Live Chat?

Chat used to be confined to a website, where customers would wait for an agent to become available. If they got disconnected or refreshed the page, the session would end. To keep customers from waiting after sending their chat message, many organizations would disable the chat experience on their site whenever agents weren’t available. Once connected to an agent, customers would have to stay confined to their desk chairs chatting back and forth until they resolved their issue.

The Old Version of Live Chat: Pros and Cons

  • PRO: Customers get instant replies and immediate feedback, which sets that expectation going forward.
  • CON: The “session” philosophy means a customer can’t message you from their computer, and then respond to you from their mobile phone.
  • CON: Normally works based on “agent availability” meaning that if agents are maxed out or not available chat is removed, and you are asked to leave a message or worse, the website hides chat completely.
  • CON: Missed/Dropped Chats immediately stop a conversation and require everyone to start over.

Why Have Messaging Apps Replaced Live Chat?

With the introduction of smartphones, app-based communication shifted customer expectations. They could open an app, click “contact support”, and start a conversation, but didn’t have to wait around for a reply. When a reply did come, they’d get a notification to check it and keep the conversation going. This allowed customers to move freely from a desktop to their mobile app if they needed to get up and grab a coffee, for example. The ease of use across any device lead to a natural shift from the need to be “live” to customers becoming accustomed to asynchronous messaging within third-party apps.

Asynchronous Messaging App: Pros and Cons

  • PRO: Customers can start a chat from their computer and finish it from their smartphone.
  • PRO: The app is always available as a means to collect and store customer issues while “offline”, which agents can follow up on later.
  • PRO: Past chat conversations can be stored and replied to for context.
  • PRO: Customers don’t expect instant replies.
  • CON: Conversations are never “closed”, making it hard to measure agents on that metric.
  • CON: Conversations with customers are dragged out over a longer period of time, slowing down resolution times.
  • CON: Customer can always reply to old conversations, which can make it harder to follow up and provide timely or quality support.

While asynchronous messaging has become more popular, there are some great concepts that underlie Live Chat functionality, like using Agent Availability to set expectations. Instead of completely removing the experience of chat from your site when agents aren’t available, you can collect customers’ info and issue, and then pass them to another channel for follow-up—setting the expectation that a reply will not be live.

Modern Chat Gives You the Best of Both Worlds

Ideally, you can bridge the gap between these kinds of synchronous and asynchronous messaging by providing a customer the ability to chat live with an agent, but maintain an asynchronous state when agents are not available or over-capacity by shifting the conversation to channels like email or text messaging or setting expectations about your reply times.

Customers need a fast response to get an answer or complete a sale—like asking about clothing sizes on a retail site—but you can’t always provide 24/7 communication. That’s why your chat tool needs to evolve to combine the best features of synchronous Live Chat and an asynchronous Messaging App. Kustomer chat is always on, allowing you to set business hours so that customers have the right expectations. That makes it easy to provide synchronous chat when agents are available, and asynchronous when they’re not. The history of every conversation is saved across platforms, so it’s easy for agents and customers to move from platform to platform for a fully omnichannel chat experience. The option to close conversations makes chat support more efficient and easier to manage and measure, and because everything is tied to the customer, agents have all the necessary conversation when they start a new one. Modern chat solutions meet the expectations of your customers and the needs of your business—and with Kustomer Chat, you can deliver the best possible chat and messaging experience.

Kustomer’s Chat makes it easy to deliver the experience that’s right for your team and organization. To learn more about our latest additions to our chat offering, read our product update here.

Product Update: Making Live Chat Scalable

Online chat is everywhere these days, but many companies are still figuring out how best to manage chat conversations at scale. This is why Kustomer’s Chat function—available over both web and mobile—now includes a few features that makes life easier for support teams.

End Chats

Kustomer Chat now includes the option to “End Chats”. Now agents can permanently close a chat conversation once it’s over. This will happen when an agent marks a conversation as Done—locking the ability for a customer to type a reply back to the chat (they can always open a new chat, of course).

This also adds an “end chat” button to the customer experience, allowing the customer to end a conversation when they are done communicating and notifying the agent. In addition, it sets customer expectations regarding agent availability, so customers aren’t replying to chat messages when agents are not available.

Single Chat Sessions

Another option available to companies is to allow only one chat conversation from a customer at a time. This feature ensures that every customer is matched with one agent, and limits the number of teams the customer may work with at once.

Chat Reporting

Support teams that choose to activate the above feature will also be able to better track open and closed conversations and more accurately analyze their chat volume. For example, if you collect the contact reason, every conversation will (usually) have a single reason for contact (unlike chat conversations that are opened again and again, for a different reason each time), so you can look at a definitive number of closed chat conversations per specific topics.

Kustomer Chat is always evolving. Our latest updates to Kustomer Chat include:

  • Conversational Assistant: a pre-conversational feature that helps your team collect information from customers automatically, before reaching the agent.
  • Chat Availability: a feature that incorporates Business Hours into the chat experience, allowing admins to determine what the after-hours experience will be for chat users.
  • Chat Deflection: helps to set proper expectations for your customers with estimated reply times, and diverts traffic when your Chat team doesn’t respond by directing your customers to other channels.

Kustomer Chat is used by online marketplaces and direct-to-consumer brands like Slice, Zeal, UNTUCKit, LOLA, PetcareRX and more. Schedule a demo below to see how Kustomer Chat can work for your business:

Product Updates: Platform Improvements, Channel Updates, Integrations, and More

Our engineering and product teams have been busy launching new features, adding new integrations, and making your top requests a reality. Here are the highlights of what we’ve added in this past quarter, in case you missed any.

Localization

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 a seamless experience in their respective language, across any channel. Read more in our blog post.

Channel Updates

Internal Knowledgebase

We’ve launched our Internal Knowledgebase, to let users access their public and internal content from anywhere within our platform. Public Content includes the categories and articles available to customers via your public KB, with agents being able to share links to specific articles with your customers. Internal Content are the categories and articles that are only accessible within Kustomer, and cannot be shared publicly. To learn more, check out our help article.

For example, use Internal KB to document support escalation processes, making it easy for agents to find when the time is needed.

Chat iOS and Android SDK

We’ve added many new features to Chat iOS and Android SDKs.

Both Chat SDKs have Localization features enabled. The Kustomer mobile SDK will automatically change the text strings to match the language of the device your customers are using. The SDK supports both right-to-left (RTL) and left-to-right (LTR) formatted languages. There are over 50 languages translated out of the box.

Additionally, we’ve added iOS SDK support for many important Chat features:

  • Conversational Assistant: a pre-conversational feature that helps your team collect information from customers automatically, before reaching the agent.
  • Chat Availability: a feature that incorporates Business Hours into the chat experience, allowing admins to determine what the after-hours experience will be for chat users.
  • Chat Deflection: helps to set proper expectations for your customers with estimated reply times, and diverts traffic when your Chat team doesn’t respond, by directing your customers to other channels.

 

Platform Improvements

Custom Object Search

Searches aren’t just for customers or conversations anymore. Now you can create a search where the results are your custom objects (Kobjects). The possibilities are endless: you can find the most expensive orders, look through all of negative CSAT ratings from the past week, and more. You’ll understand your business in a manner far more advanced than a traditional ticketing system. Read more in our blog post.

Custom Roles and Permissions

We’ve launched new custom roles and permissions for Kustomer users. Now, admins can create custom roles to match the way they’d like users to interact with Kustomer. You can define roles based on job responsibilities or access levels, whatever matches your team structure. For example, create a “Reporting” Role that has Read Only access to Conversations, Customers, and Searches, but full access to Custom and Standard Reporting.

Delete Customer

For those of you who receive GDPR Right To Be Forgotten requests, we’ve added a feature to permanently delete all of a specific customer’s data. Customer Delete is a hard delete that loops through all the items related to the customer (conversations, custom objects, messages, etc) and permanently deletes it.

New Integrations

Twitter

Customer service interactions over Twitter have increased 250% in the last two years. This is why we added Twitter to our platform. Now, teams can connect Twitter with all their existing support channels, to leverage omnichannel support and provide a great customer experience. Read more about it in our blog post here.

Magento

You get the most out of Kustomer once you’ve connected all of your customer information and data. As an official technology partner, our Magento integration allows you to personalize your support based on your Magento customer profiles, including your customers’ online behavior, their purchases, and their return history. Read more about it in our blog post here.

That’s it for product updates this quarter, follow @Kustomer on social media for to-the-minute updates of our new features and integrations!

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