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Issue #17, January 12, 2018
The leading newsletter about customer experience and call centers
Market insights, trends and news about customer experience, BPO, and call centers.
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Happy New Year everybody! With everything going on in 2017, the new year is supposed to be the year of AI and chatbots. With that said, there are more articles than ever about these subjects. For us, we’re trying to focus mainly on ones that relate to customer service and experience. For a more purely AI based newsletter, check out TopBots! Meanwhile, let’s jump in…

Optimizing Call Center Customer Support for Increased Revenue

Like some of the previous articles we shared, this article talks about how customer experience is becoming an increasingly important differentiating factor for customers when evaluating brands. Citing a NewVoiceMedia study, this article talks about how US companies are losing $62 billion a year from poor customer service, and the necessary steps to take to improve from a staffing, tech, and data perspective.
Some of their recommendations are:

  • Staffing:
    • Accurately forecasting the demand for workforce
    • Reducing excessive agent idle time
    • Reducing agent turnover
    • Improving agent productivity
    • Providing additional training to boost agent confidence
  • Tech:
    • Omnichannel support
    • Chatbots
    • Behavioral routing software
    • Artificial-intelligence agents
    • Visualization technologies

We certainly agree with how important customer retention through great customer experiences are – it’s also proven to be cheaper to retain an existing customer than to acquire a brand new one. We already do most of what this article suggests / have the tech they recommend. If you’re interested in learning more about our solutions, or how we keep our teams efficient, reach out!

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4 things I learned building chatbots for major brands in 2017

Written by Jonathan Shriftman at Snaps which focuses on using conversational tools for marketing purposes, he uses their experience developing solutions for companies like Nike, Vice, Jameson, and more to come up with the following tips:

  1. Personalization drives engagement – customizing conversations to users can increase click-through up to 74%
  2. Get to the point quickly – point of sale should be within five clicks (most actions should be!)
  3. Chatbots go beyond mobile devices – chatbots can drive real-world activities, such as restaurant visits, or even workouts (in the case of the Jordan Brand), think Starbucks app and how it ties in to their physical shops
  4. Truly understand your users – Build for a use-case, and gauge satisfaction through sentiment analysis and NPS surveying

Building for marketing is certainly a little different compared to for customer service purposes; we’ve done both, but the focus for our existing clients has been more on the support side. With that said, I agree 100% with their points.

Additionally, I’d like to add that building to take advantage of specific channels is very important as well. While a lot of messenger platforms now have their own chatbot building features, they are all implemented a little differently. Facebook’s carousel is great for visual selections, while WeChat’s text/number based runs a little more old school.

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Chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov on what happens when machines ‘reach the level that is impossible for humans to compete’

This is somewhat of a throwback to the 90’s, when Chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov lost to IBM’s Deep Blue. Through an interview, this article talks to him about his experience competing with AI, and what is next for humanity with the upcoming AI boom.

In the interview, Kasparov talks about humanity’s limitation in games (or “closed systems”) where there is a set objective, and how machines will always outperform us, because machines can forcibly calculate all potential outcomes, and consistently choose the most accurate moves to get there. While machines have the advantage of being able to forcibly solve for an outcome over people, Kasparov sees deep learning as limited, due to the inability for AI to identify or set a goal on its own. AI “don’t know what questions are relevant,” which is perhaps where people come in.

This whole interview is fascinating, but to bring it back to customer experience, with all the new AI and conversational tools out there, it is more and more important to realize what you are solving for with the implementation of new technology. What do you want your chatbot to be able to do? What happens if what the customer is looking for is beyond the capabilities of the chatbot? How do you measure success? By addressing these questions, we can try to turn an open system into a closed system to make outcomes more predictable, and separate the tasks that are to be solved via automation, and those that need human creativity and bonds.

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Taking on a virtual agent helps mint new wine connoisseurs

This article reads a little like an endorsement of a software solution. It talks about the conceptualization of Vivino, the most popular crowdsourcing review and ordering app (like Yelp), for wine. One of the largest issues they faced, were with customer service. With 30 agents, it was difficult to accommodate for all the customer inquiries they were getting, especially when all the different contact centers they used were using different tools, speaking different languages, and were using nontraditional channels to communicate.

In an effort to improve their support, they consolidated all call centers to a single software, and started using virtual agents to address easy, repeatable tasks such as:

  • Password help
  • Recommendations
  • Account questions
  • Following up on sales leads

As a result, Vivino reduced response time by 90%, and boosted its ticket deflection rate to 95%, so that agents could focus on more complex tickets. According to Vivino VP of Sales and Success, Tushar Makhija, “We are not replacing agents. The agents are what make the customers happy. This is all about making the agents efficient so they’re not wasting time with busy work. They’re always busy solving the problem.”

We love this two-pronged approach to customer service. Allowing virtual agents to handle basic requests that take up 90% of an agent’s time, and allowing human agents to handle the more nuanced issues. Not only is this more efficient and cost-effective, in our experience, this also makes agents happier, as they get to flex their problem-solving muscles, and can challenge themselves mentally.

Interested in implementing a chatbot? Reach out for a free consultation, or try out ours here!

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Discover Recognized for Customer Service Innovation

We love it when solutions similar to the ones we offer our clients are awarded! This article is more of a press release, announcing the success of the Discover App, which has been named a 2018 Digital Edge 50 award winner. Specifically, the award looks at the app’s in-app messaging functionality, that leverages AI to provide a responsive and intuitive messaging experience for customers.

According to the article, the feature “gives customers the flexibility to jump in and out of conversations with service representatives… at their convenience. Agents are always ready to respond with helpful support with the assistance of chatbots in the background utilizing natural language processing and machine learning.”

We haven’t had a chance to try it out for ourselves (I don’t currently use any Discover services), but from what it sounds like, customers can switch between virtual and live agents, and agents are potentially supported by chatbots with NLP processing. The ability to switch smoothly between chatbot and live agent is too often taken for granted. Even just a year ago, many enterprise level bots had trouble switching, leaving customers getting 2 different responses (from the live agent and chatbot) every time they sent a single message.

Interested in chatbots? Send us a note asking for a case study!

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Curated from Sacramento by Tom Coshow and the transcosmos OmniConnect team.


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The fundamental concept of transcosmos’ business lies in uniting people and technology to offer high-valued services. With our headquarters in Japan, and our US offices in the tech capital of the world, we combine a tradition of excellent service with the newest innovations to build on our company’s founding ideals.
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