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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.
Publish Date: May 11, 2018 5:00 AM
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.
Publish Date: March 23, 2018 5:00 AM
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:
Top 5 hard curses:
“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.
Publish Date: July 20, 2017 5:00 AM
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.
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
Publish Date: June 27, 2017 5:00 AM
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.
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
Publish Date: May 9, 2017 5:00 AM
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
Publish Date: March 8, 2017 5:00 AM
Leading brands understand the importance of providing top-quality customer service. A bad experience is often as much of a deal breaker as an inferior product. The most successful brands make deep investments in their customer relationships, and, in turn, their customers remain loyal.
It’s up to those on the front lines of customer care to make meaningful connections, differentiate a brand, and boost revenue through improved service. So, how can executives, directors, and managers grasp the effectiveness of their teams? Below are five steps to rate and improve their performance and evolve your own strategy.
1. Monitor adoption and usage of smart technologies. The best team is an empowered one. Provide a robust workspace and easy access to intelligent tools. For example, our agent workspace has features that drive a seamless user experience — like cobrowsing, visitor profiles, and CRM integrations to pull in third-party data as needed. But don't assume all customer care professionals (CCPs) will take advantage of new technologies. Track metrics like average time logged in, total number of engagements, and average resolution time to measure agent adoption rates.
2. Track average response time. A slow response time can be detrimental to an existing customer relationship. After all, with more and more channel options, brands are increasingly at customers’ fingertips. According to a survey from The Social Habit, 32% of consumers that complain on social media expect a response within 30 minutes, and another 42% expect a reply within the hour. And that’s just on social platforms — customer care also fields daily inquiries via phone, email, web chat, and mobile messaging.
A telltale indicator of a well-oiled customer care team is real-time (or just-in-time) responses. Interestingly, however, time to resolution is becoming an increasingly less important factor depending on the urgency of the issue at hand. As long as an inquiry has been acknowledged and customers know their time isn’t being wasted, they’re content to let the matter sit for hours — even days.
3. Watch for spikes in contact requests. According to Buffer, the best customer care teams “pay close attention to the most frequently called times and prepare for it.” Document the number of daily and monthly contact requests, segmented by channel, and make sure you’re staffed to handle them. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, make the proper adjustments — whether it’s to your approach to customer care, the product itself, or your service. While you can expect customer care requests to peak around the holidays, for example, you might see a regular influx during more surprising times. The best teams are flexible enough to make adjustments easily.
4. Rate consumer sentiment. A meaningful connection with consumers is a key differentiator for brands. An automated voice on the other end of the phone instructing us to press one, two, or three is just a barrier between brand and consumer and developing an important relationship. We crave authentic engagement with another human who can empathize with us.
Thanks to new technology, there is a way to assign an unbiased measurement to the consumer–brand relationship. We rely on the Meaningful Connection Score (MCS), which is determined through a powerful text-analytics system based on advanced natural language processing techniques, customized specifically to live chat conversations. Every exchange between the brand and consumer is given a positive or negative score in real time. If a conversation starts going downhill, your customer care team can quickly address the issue and turn the sentiment around.
5. Count the number of returning customers. Loyal customers have a significant impact on brand reputation and the bottom line. They tell their friends and family; they broadcast their experiences on social media; they share the pieces of content they find truly engaging. Not to mention that it’s cheaper to keep a customer than attain a new one. The number of returning customers is a key metric tracked by savvy brands. If consumers drop off after one or two purchases, it might be time to rethink your approach to support and the customer experience. Customers are usually looking for something to go back for.
The most successful brands are also the most agile, and they use hard data to inform decisive action. Is your customer care lackluster? Revitalize it with LiveEngage — and take the first step toward developing the meaningful relationships that will help grow your business.
Publish Date: December 9, 2016 5:00 AM
In the hyper-connected world we live in, a great customer experience (CX) has never been more crucial. Why? Because 86% of consumers would actually pay more for a better one.
So it’s no surprise brands across industries are disrupting CX with everything from dynamic website journeys to mobile apps that make our lives easier. Below we’ve rounded up 13 brands that offer cutting-edge customer experiences.
1. Warby Parker
Warby Parker knows what consumers want: a seamless and convenient experience that fits into their busy schedules. With easy online ordering, access to customer service online, and a wide variety of glasses to choose from, consumers never have to set foot in an eyeglass showroom again. Plus, you can feel good while doing it: Like the popular shoe brand TOMS, Warby Parker follows the buy-one-give-one model — for every pair of glasses you purchase, they produce a pair for the nonprofit VisionSpring.
Pinterest takes the convenience of shopping to a whole new level. With shoppable pins, consumers can seamlessly switch from casually browsing to actively purchasing with a single click. Plus, the image-driven UI is a marketer’s dream.
3. Stitch Fix
Collecting preferences through a quick quiz and scanning Pinterest boards, Stitch Fix combines data with the human touch for individual style curation. The most convenient part? Clothing items chosen for each person are delivered right to his or her front doors. And, as your pin style changes, so do your clothes. Genius.
Amazon isn’t just an online store with low prices and endless selection options. It’s also an experience in itself. Consider the Amazon Prime program: It gets merchandise shipped to consumers without the associated charges in two days or less. Convenient, quick, and seamless — just what today’s consumer demands!
Macy’s takes its CX to the next level by pairing the ease of mobile browsing with the experience of in-store shopping. Consumers can use their smartphones to ask questions when visiting a Macy’s location to streamline their trip. Need help getting around? The retail giant is test-driving a “Macy’s on Call” program, which uses IBM Watson to navigate customers around the store.But don’t think AI will replace the need for sales associate — who else will assure you that outfit looks cute?
6. The Limited
The Limited extends its customer service across all digital assets with online and mobile messaging to stay connected with its savvy, on-the-go audience. The result: a 20% uptick in conversions and a 25% increase in average order value ($133 compared to $106) from those who were assisted through LiveEngage.
7. Home Depot
Home Depot believes every experience — physical, online, and in app — should feel consistent. The bottom line: It meets consumer demands with convenience and consistency to improve customer satisfaction and build loyalty. Home Depot transformed its digital experience to take place whenever and wherever it’s convenient to consumers. Whether at home, on the go, or in a store, shoppers can access inventory information (for up to 35,000 products!), in-depth product information, and store maps.
9. Royal Bank of Scotland
Committed to giving consumers what they want, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) offers consumers 24/7 banking service from anywhere and everywhere with online messaging. By providing bank support when and where it’s most convenient for consumers, RBS builds more meaningful conversations and lasting relationships. As a result, more than 90% of consumers return to use its messaging service.
9. Fairhaven Health
Fairhaven Health increased its messaging capabilities both online and via mobile to create more meaningful connections and help customers reach their health and wellness goals. Because its business is also about educating users, it monitors visitor behavior to deliver highly personalized and relevant content while shoppers are browsing its site.
10. Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic differentiates its brand with CX. How? By catching website visitors who drop off before completing the booking process and helping those most in need of assistance. Chat enables Virgin Atlantic to connect with consumers, boost engagement, and, ultimately, add revenue to the bottom line.
When guests staying at a Hyatt hotel needs something, they pick up their smartphones. With just a few taps on the screen, guests can requests towels, make reservations, log complaints, or chat with a concierge.
With Airbnb, travel has never been more convenient. Reservations can be made online or in app, reviews are provided by both hosts and guests, and its customer service is excellent. Put simply, the company successfully embraces technology to disrupt the travel industry and help travelers experience a new (or familiar) destination without the hastle.
The days of hailing a cab may soon be behind us — thanks to Uber. The app makes it easy to catch a ride with a simple tap on the screen. It also stores payment information for seamless transactions and offers in-app texting, so your driver can let you know when he or she arrives at your location.
Companies around the world are learning that to create loyal customers, they must first create extraordinary experiences. More than ever, this means turning to the technology people already know, use, and love. Disrupting CX does anything but disrupt the customer. Instead, it eschews traditional methods and prioritizes seamless, integrated experiences.
Want to stay up to date on CX (and more)? Subscribe to the Connected Customer blog.
Publish Date: September 8, 2016 5:00 AM
How well do you really know your customers? For Sage One, the answer was “not enough.” The company, which offers an online accounting and invoicing solution used by more than 230,000 small businesses worldwide, entered a partnership with LivePerson to enhance its customer care strategy and create more meaningful connections. In March, it upgraded to our all-new LiveEngage platform and has since been delighted with the results.
Sage One customer success manager Lawton Ursry, and our very own content marketing manager Aphrodite Brinsmead, presented a webinar last week detailing how the company completed this migration and how it’s benefited so far. “It’s been a great experience, and it’s really empowered our team tremendously,” Lawton begins. He outlines how Sage One’s customer care professionals (CCPs) and managers alike have immediate access to real-time, actionable metrics, consumer sentiment, and insight into each unique customer as well as their problem or need.
Real-time access to more robust metrics was a key factor in this decision — as well as a game-changer: “We’re absolutely obsessed with metrics,” Lawton says. “Every move we make is by the numbers. Fortunately, LiveEngage has made it easy for us to do that.”
He continues to explain how the platform eliminates the guesswork in dealings with customers. “LiveEngage has created a by-the-minute view of how you're doing,” he adds. “It really puts the team in the driver's seat to keep their success metrics at the end of the year very predictable. They know exactly how they’re doing and how they’re going to do at the end of the year. This has been really huge for empowering them to choose their own destiny.”
On top of this, the LiveEngage mobile app makes CCPs available to customers even when they’re not at their desk and gives them more flexibility in how they work. This has helped them drastically reduce customer wait time — from an “atrocious” (as Lawton puts it) five minutes down to seven seconds. The platform is so easy to use and intuitive, none of Sage One’s CCPs needed to go through LivePerson training; they were up and running with LiveEngage from day one.
“LivePerson is our absolute favorite, and there’s a reason for it. They’re always reachable, they know the solution backward and forward, and they get super excited about seeing us be successful,” Lawton says. “This is a true partnership.” We feel the same way.
Change can be hard, but, for Sage, migrating to the new platform was a no-brainer. Watch the full, 30-minute webinar for more on how the team achieved great success through LiveEngage and find out what they’re planning for the future.
Interested in deploying a more engaging customer care strategy of your own? Discover the power of LiveEngage and try it free for 30 days.
Publish Date: August 23, 2016 5:00 AM
The digitally minded, always-connected consumer has made it clear: They need a positive experience when interacting with brands. Often, experience even trumps the product itself. They won’t just buckle down and suffer through another frustrating journey to purchase. They want to do business with brands that leave them happy and satisfied, with a smile on their faces.
That’s where customer care professionals (CCPs) step in. A great CCP can make an experience exceptional every time (and even cause negative sentiment to do a 180). Read on for eight tips you can share with your customer service teams and your own CCPs that will turn customer service frowns upside down.
1. Start with introductions. Consumers want to know with whom they’re speaking. Offer your first name, ask them how their day’s going, and don’t skip over the pleasantries. Your first impression sets the tone for the duration of the conversation. Using the customer’s name throughout will also make the experience seem more personal.
2. Get to the point quickly. When consumers need support they don’t want to chitchat. They want a timely and effective resolution. LivePerson research found that 82% of consumers believe getting their issue resolved quickly is the most important factor in a great customer service experience. Be friendly and polite without wasting their time.
3. Listen carefully. Make sure you get the full story up front by asking relevant questions and paying attention to the details. Not all customers are able to articulate their issues well, so a good CCP will put on his or her investigator hat to understand what they need. To make someone feel heard, repeat (or retype) what they’ve said back to them. This trick shows you’re really listening.
4. Demonstrate your expertise. Consumers want to know they’re in the hands of a professional. Use proper grammar and spelling, positive language, and thoughtful sentences to build credibility. You need to be able to read between the lines, anticipate questions, share relevant resources, and resolve issues as thoroughly as possible. And the occasional emoji never hurts.
5. Connect through mobile messaging. Mobile messaging apps are bigger than ever. In fact, the user base of the top four messaging apps is bigger than that of the top four social networks. You need to consider how to translate the messaging experience customers have with their friends and family into how they connect with your business. The brands that utilize messaging to reach consumers when and where it’s convenient for them will stand out in a crowd.
>> Related read: How Mobile Killed Omni…and Why We Love It
6. Stay in-channel. Mobile, desktop, social, apps, websites — there are so many places the customer journey can take place today. Consumers want a seamless experience in their #1 channel of choice — that’s mobile — not a disjointed one that requires they jump from their smartphone to desktop and back into an app. On the flip side, if the customer needs to put down his or her mobile device to continue from a computer, the conversation should carry over without disruption.
7. Be able to multitask. To address issues efficiently and assist the most people possible, CCPs must be multitasking pros! Successful brands will train CCPs to conduct multiple conversations with several customers at the same time. You’ll also need to know how to navigate CRM, product manuals, knowledge bases, company websites, etc. to provide thorough support.
8. Above all, be human. Eighty-three percent of US consumers prefer chatting with a human through digital channels to resolve customer services issues. Make sure you don’t sound like a robot! Chatbots may be on the rise, but they’ll never replace the power of the human touch. Humans can convey emotions, patience, understanding, and empathy in ways a chatbot never could. That alone can reassure consumers they’re in the hands of a calm and caring human being who takes their concerns to heart.
>> Related read: Lasting Digital Transformation Is Tech-Powered but Human-Led
They say smile, and the world smiles with you. A customer will often reflect a CCP’s friendly and measured tone and exit the conversation with a more positive outlook. Add these eight tips to your approach, and you’ll be on your way to creating a happy and loyal customer for the long run.
For more, check out my dos and don’ts for customer care professionals. Did I miss anything? Please share your tips in the comments below!
Publish Date: July 27, 2016 5:00 AM
We’re excited to announce that Maala, an Israeli nonprofit membership organization that encourages corporate social responsibility (CSR) in business, awarded LivePerson the high-ranking platinum distinction in its 2016 CSR Index. This index, which has been produced since 2003, judges companies on their performance in six pillars: environment, business ethics, human rights and work environment, community involvement, corporate governance, and social and environmental reporting.
LivePerson was given a perfect score (10/10) for employee volunteering and contribution. LivePerson Cares, our community relations program, is dedicated to making a positive impact on our community. To this end, we empower employees around the world to help others — one of our core values. Volunteers plan or participate in activities that impact a wide and varied audience base but, at the end of the day, support a shared goal of creating meaningful connections. Chat for Charity is one arm of LivePerson Cares. It donates our platform, LiveEngage, to various charities and NGOs, giving those most in need an easy-to-access service and direct line to assistance.
Additionally, LivePerson received high marks for ethics, employee health and well-being, supply chain management, diversity and inclusion, donations, and environmental management.
“We’re thrilled to receive this platinum distinction,” says Eran Vanounou, chief technology officer and LivePerson Israel CEO. “We work together to ensure we are a positive value-add to the community around us. Corporate social responsibility is a major pillar of how we do business at LivePerson. We’re proud of our program and employees.”
This was the first year LivePerson has participated in the rankings, which give special consideration to issues of transparency, philanthropic policy, and CSR reporting. The application process spanned six months and culminated in a ceremony held Wednesday, June 29 — the opening day of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
In LivePerson offices around the world, each and every employee strives to live up to the high standards expected of them as well as give back to their communities in a meaningful way. Congratulations to our team in Ra’anana on this honor! We look forward to surpassing our ranking next year.
Publish Date: July 26, 2016 5:00 AM
Consumers demand a connected experience, and brands are scrambling to deliver.
While some have done well to implement cutting-edge apps and bots, even the best tech falls short without a well-planned, strategic implementation. Before deploying any technology, brands must gain a true understanding of consumer motivations and frustrations. An engagement strategy backed with data and psychology fosters better connections and, ultimately, wins more loyal consumers.
How well do you really know your consumer? More than 20 years of helping brands and consumers connect have given our team the quantitative and qualitative insights to know it requires a balance of left-brain science and right-brain emotional intelligence.
The impact of right- and left-brain function.
The left part of the brain powers linear and analytical thought. The typical left-brained buyer enjoys handling finances and organizational structure. They make purchasing decisions based on hard facts, like data points or historical factors. Conversely, a right-brained buyer values creativity and relationship building, as the right side of the brain affects the imagination and emotions. This buyer often goes with their gut and reacts according to their instincts, whether or not any supporting evidence is present.
So, how can brands create a customer experience that appeals to both sides?
Three tips to appealing to the logical left brain.
The left-brained buyer looks toward empirical proof in making decisions. By leading with facts, data points, and relevant information, you make the strongest case to compel action.
- Be a realist. Emphasize the practicality of your product or service in all marketing collateral and explain the tangible impact at key points in the purchasing journey. Nissan, for example, proves to potential customers that it’s in it for the long haul. A primary customer concern was the impracticality of owning an electric car. To debunk that perception, Nissan offers them a free 24-hour test-drive of the Leaf and, upon purchase, free charging at dealerships and select service stations, free roadside assistance, and a five-year battery warranty, among other perks.
- Prove your point with data. Left-brained consumers are motivated by tangible results. Highlighting case studies and new customer savings will demonstrate exactly what the consumer stands to gain. As HubSpot finds, “companies that put data at the center of marketing/sales decisions improve marketing ROI by 15%-20%.” T-Mobile breaks it down by the numbers, comparing its service to top competitors Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. (Spoiler alert: T-Mobile outperforms all three.)
- A/B test the results. Like a scientist in the lab, always adjust your experiment based on results. If something isn’t resonating with your customers, change your approach and try again with a different angle. It’s important to recognize what’s not working early on and double-down on what does. This “do-or-die” mentality cuts down on time wasted as well as cost and sets you on a path to success much more quickly.
Three tips to appealing to the emotional right brain.
The right-brained buyer acts on intuition or how he or she feels about a product or service. Accordingly, a holistic, altruistic, and more personal approach has the best chance of winning over right-brain personalities.
- Have a vision for a better world. Customers aren’t loyal to companies. They’re loyal to what those companies stand for. So contends CEB and is evidenced in the success of brands like TOMS and Warby Parker. And it’s why LivePerson CEO Rob LoCascio founded his company more than 20 years ago: to change the face of customer service and make it easier for people everywhere to connect with a human being. He was trying to buy a Dell computer, but his emails went unanswered and his calls were put on hold. He wondered why he couldn’t just chat with a representative online to get quick answers to his questions. Hence the creation of LivePerson messaging.
- Develop your “brand personality.” Neil Patel and Ritika Puri note, “A brand personality is the set of attributes that give an organization a distinct character.” Like people, we often create opinions of brands based on the characteristics they exhibit. It’s why one of the first exercises an ad agency puts a brand through is to establish its archetypes and reveal the pillars of the brand identity. You need to know who you are before your customers do.
- Be human. Technology (like bots) can guide the left-brained buyer along a logical path toward purchase. It can also empower customer care professionals (CCPs) with the insights to offer a better, personalized experience when the customer seeks a thoughtful relationship with a live person. Messaging displays behavioral history on hand, so CCPs have a more complete picture of the customer they’re dealing with. They can see what’s worked or not in the past and tailor the conversation to their individual preferences.
The complex psychology behind loyal consumers.
Now you know how to deal with both your left- and right-brained buyers. Of course, your customer base isn’t made up of just one type, and a strong customer experience appeals to both functions — offering a smooth, sequential user experience while also appealing to emotion.
Research shows that it’s the emotional connection that keeps consumers coming back time and time again. The Harvard Business Review reports, “Given the enormous opportunity to create new value, companies should pursue emotional connections as a science — and a strategy.” Brands can (and should!) pinpoint key emotional motivators as they develop their messaging strategy to appeal to their consumers’ instincts. Emotion is intrinsically linked to decision-making. According to Big Think, “even with what we believe are logical decisions, the very point of choice is arguably always based on emotion.” Marry the data-supported value-add of your product or service to how the consumer feels about it, and you’ve created a loyal customer for the long term.
How does your brand use psychology to compel consumer action? Any tips you’d add? Leave them in the comments!
Publish Date: July 20, 2016 5:00 AM
Congratulations — you got the interview! Now’s the part where you’ll really shine. Your portfolio is ready to go, you’ve done your research and prepped your answers, and you’re looking — and feeling — sharp. But what people all too often forget is that an interview is a two-way street. As much as the company is evaluating your character and competencies, you need to use this critical time to decide if the company’s the right fit for you.
At LivePerson, it’s imperative that candidates fit into our unique culture and new employees are ready to embody our core values of be an owner and help others, both with their colleagues and with the customers they touch. We know the traits that our most successful LivePersons possess — something we call our “Success Formula” — and base our interview questions around uncovering whether or not someone has what it takes to excel here.
Employers might have it figured out. But what should candidates be asking in return? We recently hosted a few experts at LivePerson’s New York headquarters to discuss the current state of the tech scene and best practices for not just companies but those looking for their dream job, too.
In this video, listen to LivePerson’s chief of staff and global head of people Kristy Sundjaja; Zady.com cofounder, serial entrepreneur, and investor Soraya Darabi; and WeWork’s chief people officer John Reid Dodick discuss what potential employees need to look for during the job search to ensure they fit into the company culture. According to Soraya, “What am I learning? What am I teaching? What do I want to learn next?” should always be top of mind. “In these three questions, you’re going to learn so much about the organization and the person interviewing you,” she explains.
Watch the video below for more advice.
I often find the last 15 minutes of an interview to be the most revealing. When your interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions for me?” remember, the wrong answer is “no.” Just because the tables are turned doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Often employers use this time to determine how serious a candidate is about a job and the company as well as evaluate his or her ability to think critically.
You should feel like an interview is a thoughtful conversation — not an hour in the hot seat. Below are some of the best questions I’ve heard when it was the candidate’s turn.
- Where do you see the company in five years?
- What does a person need to be successful in this position?
- What are the challenges of this role?
- How do employees grow in this company?
- What was your favorite day or fondest memory working here?
I always find it clever to end an interview with this last question, because, no matter what, you’ll part ways on a pleasant note.
Now, go forth and rock that interview!
Looking for a career, not “just a job”? You’ll fit right in! Join our fun and fast-paced team of creatives, innovators, and entrepreneurs. Find your spot at LivePerson.
Publish Date: July 12, 2016 5:00 AM
It’s all about expectations when it comes to bots. Should you dive in? Yes…but with the right mindset. For brands, this means employing a strategic, human-led approach.
With the rise of bots (like many a trend) comes endless information, opinions, and dialogues. To cut through the noise, we’ve rounded up the best of bot articles below. Enjoy!
Bot basics: consumers, brands, and the chatbot revolution.
Consumers chose messaging as the primary communication channel. In fact, the combined user base of the top four chat apps is larger than that of the top four social networks.
So, where do chatbots fit into the social/messaging mix? In a nutshell: Chatbots enable brands to connect with consumers through platforms like Facebook Messenger, where they're already communicating with family and friends. When Facebook empowered brands to connect with its 900 million active users on Messenger, it forever changed the brand-to-consumer relationship.
HubSpot breaks down the Facebook bot basics and explains the implications for both consumer and brand.
Source: HubSpot’s Facebook Bots Guide
Today, consumers don’t need to find and download a new app to chat with their favorite brands, as DestinationCRM points out. In familiar platforms, chatbots automate answers to basic questions, process orders, and send shipping updates. The result: a more efficient, satisfying user experience.
From the DestinationCRM article, “Brands Bet on Bots”: “Through bots, software developers will be able to circumvent app stores and reach consumers more directly by making the basic email and messaging tools people use every day smarter.”
Dubbed the next big trend, the opportunities bots promise brands to seamlessly connect with and please consumers are endless.
LivePerson’s general manager and SVP of global small business Tom Byun explains why bots are a tech trend to watch on The Garage from GoDaddy. As he notes, it’s crucial that companies big and small understand when and how to use bots to build more meaningful relationships.
“When consumers reach out to a brand, they want it fast and easy, but they also want to feel heard and valued.”
– Tom Byun for The Garage
The human side of bots.
Bots can handle simple tasks (think: ordering flowers or booking flights) but depend on humans to carry out more complex requests. While the potential for what can be automated is great, the risk of a poor experience when bots cannot handle customer requests is even greater. That’s why bots will never replace the human touch.
In an L2 article, “The Chatbots Aren't Invading — Yet”, LivePerson CEO Rob LoCascio explains the risk of diving all in on bots without the backing of more strategic customer care.
“When consumers try to use a bot or virtual agent, there is a high error rate, which drives low customer satisfaction and ultimately a very expensive phone call.”
– Rob Locascio for L2
There’s no doubt that the potential of bots is enormous, but brands shouldn’t sacrifice the customer experience for convenience. In most cases, emotional intelligence trumps artificial intelligence. As Rob asks on VentureBeat: “Would you trust a bot? Conversational commerce depends on it.”
“Conversational commerce and mobile messaging have the potential to radically transform the relationship between people and brands, but the main focus should be on making the experience a satisfying and engaging one for the consumer.”
– Rob Locascio for VentureBeat
People can’t form real relationships with bots, and, in the experience economy, relationships are the golden ticket to lasting success. For quick questions or self-serve consumers, chatbot technology serves its purpose, but for those more complex conversations or opportunities to create lasting consumer relationships, make room for a human connection. In a recent Inc. article discussing why the bot evolution must be human led, Rob cautions brands that without the human-to-human connection, they’ll lose consumers to competition.
“Empathy is key in building a connection with customers, and that's something only a human can offer. Brands that don't show their empathetic side will see customers go elsewhere.”
– Rob Locascio for Inc.
The risk of chatbots.
It’s clear bots have great potential, but they also come with enormous risk. In a TechCrunch article on the bot backlash, Rob explains the limits of bots and why they’ll never supersede humans.
“Conversational interfaces are only as good as the communicator on the other end. If bots are only serving as text-based substitutes for automated phone systems, then we’re just providing consumers with another channel for frustration.”
– Rob Locascio for TechCrunch
When bots take on too much, the customer experience suffers (that’s just one of the reasons why TechCrunch thinks chatbots suck). The bottom line: Chatbots aren’t as intelligent as humans, so stick to the simple FAQs for now and let human-led strategy and conversation take your brand’s consumer engagements to the next level.
Join the chatbot revolution! And do it with the scale, security, and engagement of LivePerson: LiveEngage lets you escalate your conversations from a bot to a human being to establish more meaningful connections in your customer relationships.
Want to stay up to date on bots (and more)? Subscribe to the Connected Customer blog.
Publish Date: June 28, 2016 5:00 AM
We all want to save a penny. And no matter the size of your business or budget behind your customer care, the cheapest option for any solution will always appear with a gold star.
When it comes to messaging and chat solutions, not only are the options unending, the price range can be even more extensive. But are the savings really worth customer relationships and brand reputation? What is the real value of industry-leading consumer chat and messaging software? And what might a free solution be costing you?
The crowded (free) messaging market.
Type “free chat” in Google, and almost 230 million results come up, roughly the same number you’ll find if Googling “President Obama.” There are so many free options for a couple of reasons: one, they’re easy to make. Any skilled developer will tell you how quickly they could create chat software if it’s simple enough. But that’s just it — simple isn’t always smart. Just because something works doesn’t mean it works for business. And two, they don’t last. Free is rarely free forever.
Chat and messaging solutions for enterprise businesses need to do so much more than relay information from one person to another. Sophisticated software has to take in the needs of the end user. In this case, both ends.
The dangers of the quick fix.
What most free solutions offer is an unintelligent, one-size-fits-all approach to customer engagement. “Exactly what everyone wants”...said no CMO ever. Sure, simple and free may work for some, but it’s important to weigh the associated risks.
The latest solution that has brands sticking their neck out is, you guessed it, bots. Bots are a great example of what can happen when the proper time and investment needed isn’t put in place. According to Sarah Perez from TechCrunch, this is why bots fail to live up to the hype. “Trying to use the bots for simple tasks — like finding out if it would rain or buying a black shirt — was frustrating, disappointing, and ultimately far less efficient than simply visiting the company’s website itself.”
I tried to chat with the famous feline weatherman myself, and the results were telling.
Not what I asked, Poncho.
Still not what I asked.
At this point, some of the interactions are laughable. But customers won’t be laughing for long when they reach out to brands for answers and are met with more questions. Free, entry-level tools, bots, and automated responses represent demand and potential promise. But when your brand’s reputation and relationships are on the line, you’ll want a live person leading the charge. With the right balance of human-led and AI intelligence, brands can create a stand-out customer experience that’s not only memorable for the consumer but impactful to the business, too.
Great customer support experience = bottom-line impact.
According to Forrester Research, consumers cite customer experience as more important than price when it comes to fostering their loyalty, especially in the financial and retail industries. Another survey from Medallia finds that customers who have great customer service experiences spend approximately 140% more than those with poor experiences. The results also show that those customers with great experiences remain loyal six times longer.
Chat solutions aren’t always looked at as demand-generation tools. And until recently, customer service was more a cost center than anything else. But with the right tools, chat and messaging can be extremely impactful. On average, LiveEngage users see a 20% lift in conversion rates, 35% increase in average order value, and 25% reduction in support costs.
Here’s why it works.
- With the latest in-channel, mobile support — consumers can connect with brands in the same way they connect with friends and family, opening the door for more meaningful, convenient interactions.
- Predictive intelligent targeting lets brands identify and prioritize top prospects and which customers to engage. This means you’re getting the best use of your resources.
- Cobrowsing features let you guide customers to and through conversion, developing your customer journey along the way.
- LiveEngage also equips your customer care team with the resources to be successful, including insights into customer intent, history, and live sentiment analysis.
- The platform brings best-of-breed security and service team support into the latest consumer networks, like LivePerson’s Facebook Messenger integration.
- As an award-winning mobile product, LiveEngage is built for SMS, in-app, and mobile web connections.
Are you happy with your current chat solution, or are there opportunities for more intelligent and meaningful consumer conversations? We’d like to invite you to try LiveEngage free for 30 days and see what a difference it can make for your business.
Publish Date: June 17, 2016 5:00 AM