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LivePerson - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog

Thousands of sexist AI bots could be coming. Here’s how we can stop them.

I recently overheard my 2-year-old daughter talking to Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa, and two things struck me. First, she doesn’t distinguish the disembodied voice from that of a regular human. Second, she barks orders at Alexa in a way that would be considered rude by any social convention.

Read more at Fortune.

Source: http://www.liveperson.com/connected-customer/posts/thousands-sexist-ai-bots-could-be-coming-here%E2%80%99s-how-we-can-stop-them

Publish Date: May 11, 2018


LivePerson in the news: the death of websites, women in tech, and bots for banks

There’s been a lot of buzz around bots, AI, and messaging lately. Here’s a roundup of recent press from LivePerson about conversational commerce, the technology industry’s gender gap, and how major banks are deploying bots.

Conversational commerce could spell death of websites

On Wednesday, LivePerson global head of conversational strategy Rurik Bradbury spoke with Bloomberg Asia on the death of the website and how major brands have already started placing big bets on conversational commerce. Listen here.

People were asked to name women tech leaders. They said “Alexa” and “Siri”

In response to our survey on gender and AI, Fast Company expounded on the data collected and Americans’ inability to correctly name a women leader in the tech industry. Read it here.

Read more about this issue on Moneyish, CIO, The Telegraph, and Sanvada.

Liberty Global project says telcos might have got the customer service memo

LivePerson is helping the telecommunications industry offer better customer service. Our customer Liberty Global is moving to messaging and conversational commerce to reach consumers in a more natural, convenient way. See what this means. For more, check out the press release.

Bank of America launches Erica chatbot

It may surprise you to hear that banks are ahead of the curve in terms of bot adoption. Bankrate dives into how some of the world’s largest, most innovative banks are doing just that — including LivePerson customer buddybank: the world’s first truly conversational bank. Read more here.

Source: http://www.liveperson.com/connected-customer/posts/liveperson-news-death-websites-women-tech-and-bots-banks

Publish Date: March 23, 2018


What the F*ck: How Polite Are U.S. Consumers to Customer Care Professionals?

Customer service professionals undoubtedly deal with difficult people and situations daily. As they work to help customers solve issues, they might be met with a sincere “thank you” or what could constitute as verbal harassment.

To get to the bottom of how consumers act toward customer care professionals, LivePerson analyzed millions of conversations across more than 500 brands, studying both “hard” and “soft” curse words and phrases and breaking out data points across demographics. Unsurprisingly, customers were better behaved when their names were attached to the exchange and ruder when protected by a mask of anonymity — 76% polite vs. 72% polite, respectively.

Key findings include:

  • “Stupid” is the top soft curse while “sh*t” is the top hard curse used in customer care chats.
  • Men curse 16.5% more frequently than women in their customer care conversations.
  • Consumers in Virginia curse the most during their conversations with customer care agents while Hawaiians curse the least.
  • Consumers in Iowa are most prone to use hard curses while Virginia is top in soft curses.
  • Idaho is ranked as the most polite state, but Alaska is at the bottom of the list as least polite.

 

What we call “soft curses” are the non-curse expressions — like “shoot,” “shucks,” and “heck” — that often act as polite stand-ins for more inflammatory remarks. “Hard curses” are those that would get your mouth washed out with soap.

See the good, the bad, and the ugly below.  

U.S. Consumers’ Favorite Curses

Overall, soft curse words were used more frequently across the country: “Stupid,” “shoot,” and “goodness” nabbed the top three spots. Things quickly devolved, with “sh*t” and “f*ck” landing at #4 and #5, respectively, for the top hard and soft curses used.

Top 5 soft curses:

  1. Stupid
  2. Shoot
  3. Goodness
  4. Suck
  5. Crap

Top 5 hard curses:

  1. Sh*t
  2. F*ck
  3. Hell
  4. Damn
  5. Ass

“Ps and Qs” across state lines

States that cursed the most were Virginia, New Mexico, Alaska, Iowa, and Utah — with Iowa and Washington leading the states in hard curses. Idaho, Ohio, and Nevada followed as the states more likely to use hard curse words. Leading the states in soft curses were Virginia, New Mexico, Alaska, Utah, and North Dakota.

Conversely, the most used polite terms, in order of frequency, were “thank you,” “please,” “no problem,” “appreciate,” and “kindly.” The least polite states were Alaska, Wyoming, South Dakota, Colorado, and Iowa.

Idaho was found to be a very expressive state, as it was ranked #3 among the states that would use hard curses the most and #1 as the most polite state. Maine, North Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin followed as the politest states in the nation.

New Mexico, Iowa, Oregon, Colorado, and Louisiana had a high ration of saying both “please” and “thank you” in their conversations with customer care professionals while South Carolina, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Alabama ran low in this area.

Industry breakdown
Customers interacting with the pharmaceutical, consulting, banking, energy, and financial services landed on the list of most polite. Surprisingly, the least polite customers were interacting with charities, foundations, and nonprofits as well as the telco, transportation, consumer products, and hospitality industries.
 

Source: http://www.liveperson.com/connected-customer/posts/what-fck-how-polite-are-us-consumers-customer-care-professionals

Publish Date: July 20, 2017


The Key To Leveraging Hybrid Chatbots

Traditionally, most brands’ customer service is done via phone, with a small shift in recent years towards email and live chat. These new options have allowed customer care agents to operate more efficiently, helping multiple customers at once -- as opposed to one at a time with traditional voice. 

Messaging

In 2016, customer care started the shift into the messaging world, where conversations don’t disappear like web chats, but stay in place even when the customer or agent steps away. This continuous conversation, which occurs over time and even across devices, allows agents to better use their time and be more efficient when handling customers. It also allows agents to be more effective in solving issues, because they have the option to consult with colleagues to get the right answer for customers, rather than hurriedly providing any answer in the heat of the moment, causing repeat inquires and customer annoyance.

The messaging world also opens up the possibility of chatbots, which are the next frontier in customer care efficiency. Chatbots have been attempted before for customer care, with “virtual assistants," but the problem was that they were usually standalone experiences, disconnected from the contact center and human agents. This new wave of bots that’s starting to roll out for retail customer service is what we call “hybrid bots” - human and bots in a single thread, sharing the workload.

What are hybrid bots?

Think of them as work-sharing between bots and human agents: bots tackle some of the around 50% of customer care inquires at large retailers that are simple and routine -- easier to automate -- and the human staff answer the more complex questions, to keep the service level high and bot-frustration low.

To make it work, bot conversations need to be measured in real time and flipped to a human if a customer is frustrated. Hybrid bots must also do what we call the “tango,” where bots and human agents are part of the same conversation thread, and hand off to each other, back and forth, depending on the questions asked. It’s not a one-way escalation. For instance, you could start with a human agent, who then moves you to a bot to complete a simple task: updating a shipping address or payment card, for example.

Executing a successful bot strategy

To accomplish these two key attributes of a successful bot strategy, retailers need to remember that bots are agents, and need the same management as humans: escalations, quality control, measurement and so on.

Retailers should also be transparent about bots vs humans to customers. Our consumer research shows that 80% of consumers want to be told clearly if they are speaking with a bot. They do not want to be tricked. The same research also told us that consumers don’t give bots a pass just because they’re bots. They hold bots to the same standards a human customer support agents. If the bot is frustrating, they will blame the retailer, not the technology.

By measuring bots the same way they do humans, retailers can leverage hybrid bots increase customer care efficiency and reduce costs, but without a hit to customer satisfaction.

This post was originally published on RISNews.com

Source: http://www.liveperson.com/connected-customer/posts/key-leveraging-hybrid-chatbots

Publish Date: June 27, 2017


How Messaging Is Transforming the Customer Experience

When you’re trying to get in touch with a friend to make plans, how do you do it? E-mail, text, Facebook? What you probably don’t do nowadays is call them. Why, then, are we still forced to communicate with brands through an 800 number? At one time, call centers were the only interactive connection between consumers and brands, aside from the in-store experience, and often, in-store sales associates would not have the resources to solve customer issues.

The computer and smartphone changed all that and, today, pixels and not voice are the main way we connect with brands. So why are voice-based call centers, which employ nearly 10 million people globally and are incredibly expensive and inefficient to run, still the primary way to get customer service from most companies? Are they really the best retail and fashion brands can do for their customers?

Years ago, consumers were (grudgingly) willing to wait on hold for long stretches of time because voice calls were the only option for communication. Since the dawn of messaging services like iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, consumers have been using messaging as a primary mode of communication — spending four times longer in messaging apps each day than voice calls, according to a recent Nielsen study. Now that messaging is clearly changing the way consumers choose to interact with each other, it’s time for brands to follow suit.

So what?

First, we need to understand what is so wrong with call centers on a business level. Consumers have to wait for a few minutes to talk to a representative — big deal, right? Call centers create millions of jobs all over the world. Shouldn’t we tough it out? Ultimately, it all leads back to the consumer.

The customer experience is the most important aspect of any brand interaction. Apparel and luxury companies, especially, place a particularly high value on “delightful” customer interactions, and calling an 800 number — which now feels a little archaic — is the opposite of delight. It not only wastes time, but is frustrating, impersonal and ineffective to the customer, leading to a negative brand experience.

Voice-based support diverts people away from engagement on digital channels. For example, if a customer is looking at a handbag in a brand’s app, they can’t press a button and ask about this specific bag by voice. If the app uses messaging, however, that specific bag can appear in the message thread, so the customer stays in the app and the brand representative knows exactly which bag they are looking for, rather than making a customer explain the style verbally.

Finally, call centers are staggeringly expensive, costing businesses around $350 billion every year to run. For our clients, customer service calls cost a company nearly $7 each. Messaging? Around $1 per conversation, bringing the cost per interaction down by 75 percent.

What about the representatives?

While it’d be necessary to train employees on a new platform, the shift in workflow provided by messaging would not only streamline workflow but lead to more efficiencies among sales associates, enabling employees to tend to more customers at one time. For example, an associate at a call center can only help one or two customers at a time via voice. With messaging, a customer service representative can help up to 10 customers at a time, because consumers and representatives are no longer beholden to a schedule.

With voice calls, the amount of interactions ebbs and flows throughout the day: spikes at lunch and in the evening are fairly common, with lulls in between. With those spikes, coupled with the inability to handle multiple customers at a time, service representatives can get overwhelmed and burn out quickly, attributing to the notoriously high turnover within call centers. Often, this inflamed level of communication results in miscommunications. According to research conducted by LivePerson, 40 percent of customers make a second call within 24 hours because their issues remain unresolved.

With messaging, the workflow is much more steady — the “curve is flatter,” in industry parlance — because there is no fixed time that customers have to set aside (usually at lunchtime or just after work) to call, wait on hold, and hopefully fix their issue. This flatter curve keeps associates calm, with fewer high-pressure rush periods, and customers happy. Messaging is also less stressful for customer-service people than voice calls, because they can talk to each other and collaborate — hard to do when all your coworkers around you are on live voice calls. The result is annual attrition down from 35 percent or higher for call-center staff to less than 10 percent when staffers are messaging.

The permanent, text-based messaging structure creates a historical record that can be referenced by both customer and agent — just scroll back in the thread to see the history of that customer — so questions and informative details don’t have to be repeated. The customer-unfriendly time spent re-explaining an issue (often multiple times, to different reps!) goes down, which is a significant factor in reducing care costs, which go down by an average of 48 percent.

Saks Fifth Avenue is taking a progressive approach to messaging, connecting customers to specific shop floor staff at the location nearest to them, putting associates at that customer’s disposal using their phones, via text messages, to assist and advise the customer on store inventory. This builds a connection between those associates and the Saks.com online presence, creating a positive experience for the customers.

What about the stores?

Not only could messaging change the form and function of the call center, but SMS could completely shift the retail floor offering, unlocking new productivity from in-store associates.

Retail stores and call centers mirror each other, following the same demand curve of business — waves of traffic in the early morning, at lunch and evenings post-work. Between rush hours, retail floor associates are often bored and find themselves either doing nothing or filling their time with menial tasks. If retail associates were trained to field customer-service inquiries via messaging, not only would their productivity increase, but they would become better acquainted with the brand. This makes associates more valuable to customers in-store and on mobile, enabling them to perform their jobs more efficiently. Knowledge is power, after all.

Ultimately, satisfied and knowledgeable employees do more efficient work. Efficient work breeds solutions-driven thinking. And solutions breed a positive brand experience and satisfied customers, which is always the goal. Recognizing the need for a shift in tasks as integral as communication and enabling associates to operate quickly and efficiently is the first step in pivoting to a streamlined future.

This post was originally published in Women's Wear Daily

Source: http://www.liveperson.com/connected-customer/posts/how-messaging-transforming-customer-experience

Publish Date: May 9, 2017


How to Choose the Best Customer Care Technology

When it comes to technology, change is constant and rapid. However, while consumers adopt new gadgets, platforms, and services quickly, why do established brands scramble to keep up?

With fast consumer adoption comes rapidly growing consumer expectations, and greater punishment for companies that lag behind. Take Twitter as one recent example. In 2007, the platform tipped into the mainstream, but brands wouldn’t join consumers there for two more years, realizing that they could either let consumers complain publicly about them, or show up and deliver service. By today’s standards, early attempts were rough at best, and brands had a steep learning curve to developing robust — and profitable — social media strategies.

The next frontier after social media is messaging. Apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, iMessage and others superseded social platforms as the primary activity on smartphones in early 2015, according to research.

Two years later, messaging is consumers’ preferred communication channel, but most brands still rely on 1-800 numbers for customer care. This is becoming unacceptable, as the on-demand economy and “Uberization of everything” has led to impatient consumers who (rightfully) refuse to waste their time on hold and want service on their terms.

Intelligent execs have thought ahead, and their companies have already deployed the latest and best tech available to reach customers. Below, I’ve outlined the five steps to finding the right solutions for any organization.

The technology breakdown: 5 steps to getting it right.

The market is oversaturated with solutions making claims on customer care. How do you parse through the offerings to determine what you need and where you need to use it?

Know your weaknesses

Brands that don’t recognize flaws in their customer service damage their potential. Identifying your strengths and weaknesses is the first step to developing a better approach to customer care — whether you need to build one from the ground up or simply refurbish a current strategy. It isn’t always easy to spot the places that need repair. This is particularly true if you’re using a legacy solution or expensive technology.

Phone-based support, in particular, is especially vulnerable to blind spots, as very few customers give feedback — and then only as edge cases who are especially angry or happy — with some not even calling at all (it’s too much hassle) and letting their dissatisfaction fester. In the absence of good analytics, have a team deeply scour online reviews and closely monitor social media during peak times to uncover the areas that need improvement.

Determine quantifiable goals

How will you define success? Without establishing a clear definition, you’ll be unable to measure the true ROI of your investment. Having a firm grasp on your end goals can help direct and narrow down your search.

Are shoppers abandoning their carts before checkout? Explore content banners that offer deals to nudge them toward purchase. Looking to improve your customer service response time? See how integrating bots can automate routine tasks and conversations. Don’t determine the goals too narrowly either. Just because a conversation with a supposed resolution is “short” does not mean it was good. Frame things in terms of customer happiness, such as CSAT and NPS, or a more modern method, rather than problem resolution.

Stick strictly to mobile-first, the “super-channel”

At this point, smartphone adoption is nearing saturation point, especially among more affluent retail consumers. This means, for the first time, that there is a “super channel” that trumps all others: the mobile screen which sits in the pocket or bag of every single customer. This tipping point is very important, because it allows you to deprioritize legacy investments (which consumers mostly dislike anyway) and double down on new approaches like in-app messaging, or connection and real-time messaging via Facebook, which more than likely sits on the customer’s home screen already. This is a continuous, asynchronous connection to the pocket of every person — far more powerful than adding another email blast to their overcrowded inboxes.

Gain buy-in from Leadership

Before signing a contract, involve other team members in the decision. Encourage the individuals whose jobs will depend on the technology to first take it for a test-drive. Also lay out a roadmap: where do we go from here? The shift to messaging in customer care is just step one of a broader strategy, which you might call “digital transformation”, and which presents many other options right afterwards, like digitized voice and video connections. Which ways to connect with customers make sense for you, as a retailer? Think in terms of how high-touch or low-touch you want your CX to be, and how you can foster brand engagement with your buyers, without putting them off.

Encourage user adoption

Finally, user adoption is fundamental to a successful tech implementation. Whether you need day-long training sessions or a simple introductory email, do whatever it takes to get employees first excited about the new resource and then fully onboarded. The follow-up is equally important: For those that successfully adopt the new tech, create testimonials and case studies to showcase the impact and gain even more internal advocates and evangelists for the tech. If your employees aren’t on board, how can you expect your customers to be?

Combing through the crowded tech landscape is no easy task. But the right technology can transform your CX and, ultimately, your bottom line.

This post was originally published on MultiChannelMerchant.com

Source: http://www.liveperson.com/connected-customer/posts/how-choose-best-customer-care-technology

Publish Date: March 8, 2017

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