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Nuance - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog Page 3

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Predicting the Emmys is hard; predicting customer engagement shouldn’t be

The Emmys are upon us again! The past few weeks have been a boon for those in the prediction business. Every entertainment show and website takes a stab at who will take home OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES (!). It’s not like the old days when a bet on Bryan Cranston or “Breaking Bad” was as close to a lock as there could be.

Some will accurately predict winners and then confidently shout “I told you so…” on air the next night. For those that get it wrong, there are no consequences as it’s likely nobody will remember their predictions.

But what if getting a prediction right could mean real financial gain? It’s possible.

Using the power of prediction isn’t just reserved for TV pundits. In fact, prediction, built with artificial intelligence, will be used more and more in customer service in the years ahead. Imagine being able to predict with 80% accuracy why someone calls your company for help? Or what if you could determine with 90% confidence why a customer moves from your website to your social media page and then calls in to your IVR?

Delighting your customers

Emerging AI technology combined with existing customer service best practices make this possible today. Highly accurate prediction opens a world of benefits for customer service:

  1. Reduce call waiting time or menu confusion – If your IVR greets a caller by predicting why they are calling – “Are you calling to re-order your prescription?” – that short-circuits the typical IVR menu mazes that frustrate many callers. Instead your customers speed through calls in less time and leave delighted.
  2. Speed up issue resolution – The ability to see where a customer searches on your website and then to identify their phone number in your IVR allows you to predict with extremely high accuracy that they are likely calling about the information they just read. Put this to use and you can resolve the issue faster on that call, either with automation in the IVR or by ensuring the live agent knows where the customer visited.
  3. Create a personal touch – Achieving pure operational metrics like automation rates and average call handle time are wonderful, but in the end satisfied customers keep the business running. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have customers receive such a personal touch that they finish their engagement smiling? Prediction that knows who they are and correctly guesses why they are calling will help them know you appreciate them and their time.

And these are only the benefits oriented around the customer. Let’s not forget how organizations will see improvement from fewer calls to live agents, improved customer satisfaction scores, and the ability to build a continuous learning machine that will get smarter – and better – over time.

And the good thing about prediction is it’s a low risk addition to the customer service experience. Getting a prediction wrong doesn’t hurt the customer’s journey; instead, each response – right or wrong – further refines the system for more successful future engagements. How about that? Trying a prediction and getting it wrong with no consequence? You’ll be an Emmy prognosticator in no time!

How… and where to start?

You don’t need fancy machinery or Melisandre the Red Priestess from annual Emmy favorite Game of Thrones to start using prediction. (I know GOT isn’t nominated this year but I needed an analogy so please go with me).

Basic prediction can be started in the IVR with a few pieces of customer information, including their phone number. If you can connect your IVR to your CRM system, then there is much you can do today to use simple prediction techniques to streamline the experience.

More advanced use of AI combined with data from multiple channels allows for increased accuracy rates and the ability to predict what your customers may do next or why they are engaging your organization.

It all starts with a conversation with your IT or customer service vendors to ask how to add prediction to your customer service plans. Getting prediction up and running will pay off in customer service improvements and improved automation rates. It’s as close to a 100% accurate prediction as HBO winning an Emmy each year!

Source: http://whatsnext.nuance.com/customer-experience/predicting-customer-engagement/

Publish Date: September 15, 2017 5:00 AM


Have your people call my people ….or my car

Imagine a world in which you enter your car, and it knows exactly what you want simply by hearing your voice. No, it’s not some sci-fi movie – it’s here and now.

Picture this. It’s 7:06 a.m. on Monday morning. Michele has just finished packing her kids’ lunches and backpacks. She’s gathered what she needs for work that day and is headed out the door to drop the kids at school on her way to the office. She enters the car and says, “Hi Dragon” .… and the car greets her back. Then, voila – the car proceeds to adjust the seat position to her preference, reads out the news highlights from the past 12 hours, and tunes the radio to her favorite station (with the right volume setting, of course). During the drive, Michele’s newly turned teenager, Jen, wants to play her favorite music and asks the car, ”Hi Dragon, play my Beast playlist.” The system stops the radio to play the requested music, and the ride continues (assuming everyone else in the car likes the music being played).

Believe it or not, this isn’t a scene out of a sci-fi movie. The scenario I’ve described highlights some of the technologies that we have been working with auto manufacturers to deliver seamless, personalized experiences that maximize productivity while driving.

So how does it work?

The scenario that was introduced earlier employs a multitude of technologies:

  • Continual listening system that awaits the driver keyword/phrase (Wake-Up Word) and activates the rest of the system for further processing.
  • Voice Biometrics: Once a Wake-Up Word is heard, the system compares the voice print against a pre-registered set of voices, verifying the speaker and adjusting to their preferences.
  • Personalized settings, like seat position, favorite radio stations, and temperature settings, can be stored either in the car infotainment unit or in the cloud and are activated once the system identifies the driver.
  • Cloud Integration: Dragon Drive enables a curated, customized set of top news from content partners for sports, world news, politics and more.
  • After the personalized content is read, the system tunes the onboard radio to the driver’s favorite radio station to get her going on her commute.
  • Barge-In: The system can hear the Wake-Up Word spoken by the passenger, even while the music is playing. The system recognizes the passenger and uses previously configured information to start the playlist (on the corresponding music streaming provider).

Tell me more about Voice Biometrics

Nuance Voice Biometrics employs complex algorithms to create a unique signature based on driver’s voice.

Voice Biometrics combines physical traits of an individual’s vocal tract such as length, shape and size along with behavioral characteristics like accent, speed of speech and word pronunciation to create a unique voiceprint. And such voiceprint is unique to the specific driver.

The technology can be run locally inside the car or in the cloud. And the technology can be enabled with existing microphones (which are ubiquitous these days) inside the car.

So where else can I use Voice Biometrics?

The possibilities are endless. Auto manufacturers can employ Voice Biometrics in any scenario where they want to identify and authenticate a driver. Potential use cases include:

  1. Access to sensitive data (PII information like home address, previously visited places or contacts) inside the car can be restricted and only accessible to the driver when they authenticate themselves. This could be useful in new programs like ride-sharing services.
  2. With cars that are expected to be connected, there’s potential for a digital wallet inside the car that can be used to pay tolls and other such driving services. Voice Biometrics can provide an additional layer for identifying the driver before any such payment is initiated.
  3. Personalization inside the car, be it seat position or favorite radio station, can be delivered by identification of the driver using Voice Biometrics.
  4. In addition to these present-day use cases, we at Nuance are hard at work applying these technologies to future innovations.

Source: http://whatsnext.nuance.com/connected-living/personalized-car-settings-with-voice-biometrics/

Publish Date: September 8, 2017 5:00 AM


Don’t settle: Looking past your own industry is often the key to great customer experience

Earlier this year, the 2017 Temkin Experience Ratings were published, and as a person that is tasked with looking at the market with an industry-specific eye, I always find these annual rankings fascinating. To generate these ratings, the Temkin Group asks 10,000 US consumers to rate their recent interactions with 331 companies across 20 industries. Temkin then evaluates their experiences across three dimensions: success, effort and emotion.

When I first came across the ratings several years ago, I have to admit that those three elements shifted my thinking a bit. Most days I had been working with metrics like engagement rate, first contact resolution and conversion rate, and those components reminded me that what matters in the end is how individual consumers view their interaction with your company.

It’s reassuring to see so many Nuance customers doing well in the ratings and consistently leading their industries in customer experience – sometimes by a wide margin. What interests me most though, are the variations by vertical. Supermarkets (78% rating) and fast food chains (76%) lead the way in the rankings, with retailers (74%), delivery services (73%) and banks (72%) just behind – these are all industries that we essentially choose to do business with, or at least we have a significant amount of choice. We’ve decided to visit a particular grocery store, or maybe have them deliver to us. Perhaps we became fed up (emotion) with a bank that didn’t make it easy for us to transfer money on our mobile app or easily get answers through a virtual assistant or live chat on their website. The choice is ours and we’re tending to choose those companies that make it easy for us to interact with them (effort) and accomplish what we wanted to do (success).

At the other end of the ratings, we see TV and internet service (54%) at the very bottom, with health plans (57%) just ahead of them. As opposed to those at the top, these are industries where the consumer often has little or no choice in who they patronize. With a health plan, you’re often limited to an option or two through your employer, or as an individual, you may have several choices if you live in an urban area, but only one in less-populated areas. So, are companies in these industries not investing in the people and technology necessary to elevate the customer experience? There may be some truth to that for some companies, but Kaiser Permanente and AOL lead their respective verticals in customer experience by a fair amount – it’s clear that their leadership is devoting resources to this area – in fact, Kaiser outperforms its competitors by more than any company in the survey.

What’s the takeaway for me? Kaiser and AOL didn’t settle. Neither should you.

Be a leader in your category – there are gains to be made in customer conversion, care and retention by looking past your own industry norms for such things as customer self-service and automation. So, borrow ideas and innovation from other industries. Make your IVR easy to navigate and accomplish tasks in with speech recognition that enables customers to interact with the system naturally as many retailers have (success).  Remember that 47% of customers will stop doing business with a company if they have a bad IVR experience. Implement a virtual assistant and/or live chat on your website like many banks – remember that 90% of customers expect a consistent experience across channels. Engage with vendors that have had success across industries so that you can leverage their expertise to outdistance your own industry competitors.

The bottom line? Customer experiences in other industries are shaping their expectations of yours.

Don’t settle.

Source: http://whatsnext.nuance.com/customer-experience/temkin-industry-ratings-customer-experience/

Publish Date: September 5, 2017 5:00 AM


Nuance supports Apple’s newly announced Business Chat Developer Preview

The Nuance Digital Engagement Platform supports Apple’s newly announced Business Chat Developer Preview feature in the iOS 11 beta Messages app. When Business Chat becomes publicly available in 2018, your business can use our platform to connect with customers on Apple devices to have personalized conversations, schedule appointments, and even complete purchases with Apple Pay. Businesses can start developing and testing Business Chat use-cases now with Nuance and our supporting services.

Nuance Customer Service Messaging

Over 6,500 enterprises worldwide, including many of today’s leading brands, have selected Nuance to enhance and automate customer service – with an estimated 14 billion customer engagements flowing through Nuance solutions each year.

Nearly two years ago Nuance introduced Customer Service Messaging, supporting chat within popular messaging apps, SMS and more, as well as messaging within enterprise apps. By supporting automated and human-assisted engagements within our platform, Nuance gives enterprises everything they need to “turn on” Customer Service Messaging for a modern customer engagement that is convenient, timely, and what consumers want. Here’s how:

Messaging is ubiquitous and always “on.”  Enterprises will get millions of chats a day, every day, and it simply isn’t affordable to hire thousands of contact center agents to handle the volume – nor to expect that the contact center can be staffed 24 hours a day, every day.

Combining real-time and asynchronous messaging ensures that customers get answers even when agents are not available. Messages can automatically be sent to the customer to share an estimated time for a response to let the customer know that progress is being made on their request.

The solution is to use the Nina Virtual Assistant to be the “always on” virtual agent. Nina delivers first contact resolution of 80% and more – indicating that the consumer gets all the information they wanted from the Nina virtual agent. This means that 20% or less of incoming messages will need to be routed to a contact center agent.

Human assistance is made possible by the Nuance Digital Engagement Platform, which leverages NLU routing to automatically detect the customer request and route to the agent or agent pool who is best able to service the customer for that specific request.

This shortens the time that it takes to engage with the customer and speeds up the process of getting the customer the answer they need.

Read more about Nuance Customer Service Messaging for Apple Business Chat.

Source: http://whatsnext.nuance.com/customer-experience/apple-imessage-business-chat-customer-service/

Publish Date: August 30, 2017 5:00 AM


Your voice is the key to transforming the smart home

The Smart Home is officially becoming ‘smart.’ We’re entering an era where in-home hubs, systems and services can do more than just take a simple command – they can now engage in a thoughtful dialogue to accommodate our needs. So, what’s changed in just these last few years?

While less of a change and more an evolution, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being applied in new ways that advance both an assistant or a system’s ability to understand and meet your needs in a way that is incredibly personalized by knowing who you are – and learning your preferences over time. So, whether its knowing what playlist to queue up for Friday night pizza night, or that you’re typically home around 7 p.m. to turn the lights on, it’s all being coordinated by just the sound of your voice.

We spend an average of 37.1 hours at home each week – which is why the AI-enabled smart home is the next frontier for not only the mega-techs, but also communications service providers. Service providers own the living room and any other space where you watch TV or consume content. Voice is already quite pervasive across the TV and content market, with popular voice-enabled cable services and remotes that make finding and accessing shows and music easier than ever. That experience coupled with greater personalization and interoperability will transform the smart home experience. The key is creating a system that in fact knows you and your preferences in an environment that is often shared with other people – who also will want a personalized experience just like you.

This is where AI combined with voice biometrics is becoming a game changer for the smart home experience.

Everyone has a unique voiceprint that can be used as an incredibly intuitive and simple way for today’s intelligent systems to know exactly who’s speaking to them. From the moment your voiceprint is recognized, a personalized experience begins. In fact, over 150 million consumers already experience the simplicity of voice biometrics for authentication with banking systems and other applications, where your voice is literally your password. In the smart home, this simplicity of engagement means from the moment you say “hello,” your assistant is ready to, well, assist.

According to Opus Research, there will be more than a half billion voiceprints authenticating consumers across multiple applications and scenarios by 2020. Voice biometrics provides a powerful interface for users to a whole range of services and industries and requires minimal hardware investment. The study “Securing a Smart Home Network using Voice Biometric” by Oinam Joymala and Neha Khare proposes voice as the best choice for authentication above all other biometric options for its hands-free and frictionless experience.

Traditional use cases for voice biometrics include waking up an assistant for content and music on a smart home hub, or for quick access to a mobile app connected to an appliance. But your voiceprint can also be the key to your home. Imagine that you are walking to your front door, your hands full with grocery bags and struggling to get the keys out of your pocket. With a smart security system, you could just say, “my voice is my password” – and your home will authenticate you and unlock the door. From there, lights turn on, temperature adjusts to your preferred level of comfort, and the local news comes on to bring you up to speed on your day.

Authentication is also important for purchasing goods and services, where voice biometrics can ensure that you’re the only one placing a retail order, and quickly verify credit card information. This is where service providers have a great opportunity to make it easier than ever to manage and order subscription content and movies – where a simple voice command verified by a voiceprint can confirm that yes, you do want to pay $20 for that new action hero movie just released OnDemand.

Just get a text message that your kids are coming home – with the rest of the soccer team? “Home, order four large Barbecue pizzas from my favourite pizza joint.” Then just complete the order with “my voice is my password” when it’s time to pay.

Voice biometrics integrated as part of a holistic conversational IoT experience will make it incredibly simple to access home security and control services, secure connected devices and data access, and personalize music, retail, content and more. This level of personalization creates the next frontier of the Intelligent home, where people can simply interact every “thing.” Now that’s smart.

Source: http://whatsnext.nuance.com/connected-living/voice-biometrics-key-to-smart-home/

Publish Date: August 17, 2017 5:00 AM


A day in the life of better workflow management

Lending – whether to businesses, prospective homeowners, personal loan borrowers or others – is a vital profit center for banks and other financial-service companies. So, these organizations have a strong incentive to make the process of creating a loan as swift and efficient as possible.

Why, then, does the experience of moving a loan from origination to close remain so time-consuming, error-prone and frustrating, for both the lender’s employees and the borrower?

Mortgage origination is a good case in point. This process typically involves many participants (including loan officers, underwriters, closers, attorneys, notaries, real-estate agents and borrowers); dozens of documents in different formats (such as applications, credit reports, internal requests, third-party reports, underwriting and notary exceptions); and multiple dependencies – such as signatures, approvals and filings – any one of which can grind progress to a halt.

Given all that complexity, perhaps it’s not surprising that it takes up to 49 days to process a mortgage loan! (To see how this can be improved, download our Mortgage Processing white paper.)

Yet in another sense, it’s not surprising, when you consider that even in 2017, a sizable portion of the steps that make up the mortgage-origination process are being performed manually, or with paper-based systems. Lenders’ employees devote untold hours to transcribing information from borrowers; searching for essential documents that someone else holds; and retyping, reformatting, photocopying, or manually processing data that is essential to the loan.

As a result, errors and delays inescapably creep in, which lengthens the cycle and frustrates the borrower; and the reliance on manual execution increases the likelihood that either PII (personally identifiable information) will be exposed, or regulations will not be complied with, thus creating risk for the lender. (To learn more about these challenges – and possible solutions – watch the new video now.)

A single source for continuity in lending

Today, forward-thinking lenders are using document capture and workflow solutions to eliminate many of the lapses, disconnects, and inefficiencies that accompany manual or paper-based execution of loan processes. These products provide a single technology solution to the challenges of:

  • Capturing essential documents and data, from a wide spectrum of sources
  • Processing the documents and data, to make them more usable throughout the loan process
  • Securing the documents and data against unauthorized access or use
  • Distributing the documents and data to the next step of the workflow, or to other systems used in mortgage lending

In the capture phase, these solutions gather documents – paper-based or electronic, from a diverse array of hardware and software – into a single repository, and convert them into a suitable electronic format.

In the processing phase, business intelligence – such as indexing, barcodes, or automatically pre-fetching useful data – is applied to documents or data that require it later in the cycle.

For security, these solutions provide password- or smartcard-based authentication, verification of user credentials, and encryption of data when it’s communicated.

In the distribution phase, documents and data are automatically routed to the next destination in a mortgage-processing workflow (prebuilt or custom including file, fax and email), or to documentmanagement systems (DMS) that support mortgage lending, such as imaging, storage, archiving, retention, and output management.

Shorter time-to-close, greater satisfaction

The net effect of applying document capture and workflow solutions to mortgage origination is that lenders, and their borrowers, enjoy benefits that were not previously available. These include:

  • Minimized manual data entry
  • A consistent real-time view of loan status, for lender employees
  • Increased efficiency of all participants in the loan process – employees, trusted third parties, and borrowers
  • Reduced operating costs
  • Enhanced customer service (including transparency of the loan process)
  • Tighter security for all loan-related documents
  • Audit traceability

By replacing the manual and paper-based parts of the loan process with automated document capture and workflow solutions, lenders are shortening the time from loan origination to approval, improving the customer experience, and gaining a new competitive advantage. As a result, any day in the life of these employees – and their organizations – is dramatically improved.

For more insights, check out our new eBook, “The New World of Lending.”

Source: http://whatsnext.nuance.com/office-productivity/day-life-better-workflow-management/

Publish Date: August 17, 2017 5:00 AM


J.D. Power warns mortgage servicers not to lose focus on the customer experience

Each spring, J.D. Power surveys customers of U.S. based mortgage servicers to measure their satisfaction in six factors: new customer orientation; billing and payment process; escrow account administration; interaction; mortgage fees; and communications. The results of the 2017 study are out and the findings are a tough pill for the industry to swallow. After several years of steady improvement, satisfaction has plateaued, with a significant number of customers of the opinion their servicer cares more about profits.

That’s disappointing given the tremendous efforts most servicers have made to rebuild their business following the subprime mortgage meltdown. Much of this work involved complying with a dizzying array of new rules, regulations and regulators at the state and federal level which required a significant investment in staffing and increased cost per performing loan by an estimated 300%. That hardly suggests a focus on profits at the expense of customers.

No matter – perception is reality, and that means servicers must up their game when it comes to customer engagement. What would that look like? In reviewing the findings of the study, Craig Martin, senior director, mortgage practice at J.D. Power says:

“Mortgage servicers have three very clear areas of opportunity to help drive success: effective onboarding, high-functioning self-service tools and call center best practices that optimize customer contact in step with changing customer demographics and needs.”

While addressing those satisfaction opportunities could raise servicer costs even further, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s my take on how servicers could best address each of these three customer pleasing imperatives while improving profitability at the same time.

Effective onboarding

The study found that when onboarding satisfaction is high, customers are more likely to use the servicer’s website as their primary communications channel and submit payment via the web. They are less likely to have used a call center, experienced a problem, or paid their bill via check.

To create a better onboarding experience, in addition to sending a welcome packet, consider delivering an interactive voice message to welcome to new borrowers. Automated welcome calls have been shown to be 30 percent less costly than using agents to verify loan details, drive enrollment in automatic payments and gain consent for even lower-cost text communications in the future.

High-functioning self-service

The average satisfaction among borrowers who do not use the servicer’s website is 43 points lower than among those who visited their website in the last 12 months. But in a complex business such as mortgage, finding the right answer is often a challenge.

Implementing an intelligent virtual assistant will improve the self-service capabilities of your website. Virtual assistants can work like a digital persona that delivers personalized, effortless customer service via a human-like conversational interface. When utilizing a natural language interface, virtual assistants can engage with your customers efficiently, consistently and as conversationally as a human employee would to answer questions and assist in using relevant self-service features at a significantly lower cost.

Call center best practices

Among all mortgage customers, 10 percent say their time was wasted during their most recent interaction with their mortgage servicer. Overall satisfaction drops 285 points when customers believe their time is being wasted. Among those who believe their time was wasted, 66 percent indicated having waited five minutes or more to speak with a customer service representative.

Since most servicers use an IVR to initially answer calls, it makes sense start there when addressing this issue. If more borrower’s problems can be resolved in the IVR, fewer callers will experience a long wait for an agent. I recently published an article in Servicing Management offering a “crawl, walk, run” strategy for IVR modernization that helped one large servicer improve call containment by 27 percent and save a projected $1.5 million annually.

If you are looking to improve the borrower experience, put these technologies to work. Then when the 2018 J.D. Power study is published next summer, you’ll not only move up the satisfaction rankings, you’ll have saved enough money in your operational budget to celebrate the achievement.

Source: http://whatsnext.nuance.com/customer-experience/jd-power-advises-mortgage-servicers-to-focus-on-customer-experience/

Publish Date: August 8, 2017 5:00 AM


Better together: The optimal partnership between virtual and human-powered customer service

“Human interactions are declining with the rise of digital channels and will become a rarity and more valuable. Therefore, if you can apply human interaction at a defining moment for a customer, it will have a far greater impact.” (Gartner)

The new generation of smart virtual assistants is redefining digital commerce and customer care as enterprises seek to provide an engaging customer experience using natural language understanding, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to reduce the workload for brands. This new hype regarding conversational commerce enables brands to let the virtual assistant answer the load of repetitive and fairly simple inquiries from the user, thus leading to lower contact center costs and higher revenue as customers reach a purchase decision more quickly or develop a stronger loyalty to the brand.

Bots have the potential for driving a real-time, one-to-one interaction that is highly intelligent and conversational, thus delivering a more efficient experience for customers. (Mobile Marketer) But what if the bot can’t help us and the user is stuck in an endless loop of “I don’t understand the question. Please rephrase it so I can answer it.”?

If we want virtual assistance to succeed, the technology needs to be combined with real human knowledge in order to deliver an experience that balances self-service with empathy

Nuance blends the powerful targeting, NLU routing and agent-to-consumer communication technologies with the industry’s leading virtual assistant technology (Nina) to help brands target, engage and converse with consumers in a more cost-effective way at the time that customers need assistance with their self-service experience. The virtual assistant engine utilizes existing live chat transcripts to create the human-like dialogue with a “smart” virtual assistant that’s able to understand the intent of an inquiry and provide answers quickly and accurately to guide the consumer the right way. The power of Nina resides in the fact that the live chat agent and bot collaborate, improving knowledge and accuracy over time. Furthermore, if the virtual assistant is not certain of what the answer should be, a live agent can take over to continue the conversation and provide the right answers.

In addition to breathing life into traditional virtual assistance by empowering it with features that bring the human side of customer assistance into the self-service experience, Nina leverages the Nuance omni-channel customer engagement platform to provide the best in virtual assistance:

Serving the right digital interaction to the right visitor at the right time

Nuance targeting engine chooses between live agent, guides or virtual assistant, based on user behavior, profile and page, on a per conversation basis to serve the right digital interaction to the right visitor at the right time.

Integrated interaction design

Nina & live chat integrate into the same elegant, floating, engagement window and are supported across multiple devices such as desktop, tablet, mobile browsers, and messaging apps.

Seamless escalation to chat without losing context of the conversation

If the consumer or Nina itself want to escalate to a live chat agent, the transfer happens seamlessly inside the same engagement window for the consumer, including a data pass of the transcript and all important information to the live agent.

Higher agent productivity

Nina is trained based on existing live chat transcripts and is set up to answer simple questions reducing the overall agent handle time and boosting agent productivity. And over time, the live chat agent becomes a robot trainer and makes the virtual agent better at answering questions and understanding content.

Integrated reporting dashboard

Analytics from live chat and virtual assistant conversations can be used to measure and continuously optimize key metrics along the funnel - from the business rules to the automated conversation to the live chat engagement - to provide interactions leading to increased revenue, reduced costs and higher customer satisfaction.

The ultimate goal of Nina is to deliver intelligent automated conversations leading consumers to self-serve. But Nuance understands the need for human involvement to reach that goal or to give the customer what he needs when self-service doesn’t.

Source: http://whatsnext.nuance.com/customer-experience/optimal-partnership-virtual-human-powered-customer-service/

Publish Date: August 4, 2017 5:00 AM


How do brands find the needle in a haystack full of chatbots? Learn and grow smarter, Part II

Chatbot - what a buzzword! They are everywhere, and it’s getting harder and harder to understand what they really are and what they are not. The lines are getting blurry as the media uses this word to describe simple scripts, intelligent and conversational versions; even “messaging” and “chatbot” are intertwined for some. That’s why it’s difficult to explain the actual differences between a bot, chatbot, virtual assistant, and messaging and to understand what customers really want.

Everybody uses the word chatbot, so it allows vendors to sell something very simple and narrow in function; but the brand, buying into the vendor’s claims, expects something more sophisticated and, when everything is deployed, is disappointed in what they get. How do brands find the needle in a haystack full of chatbots?

Let’s talk about the difference between a bot and a virtual assistant

  • “A bot (short for “robot”) is an automated program that runs over the Internet. Some bots run automatically, while others only execute commands when they receive specific input. […] Chat bots were one of the first types of automated programs to be called “bots” and became popular in the 1990s, with the rise of online chatrooms. These bots are scripts that look for certain text patterns submitted by chat room participants and respond with automated actions.”
  • Chatbots have evolved since then. Some say that “virtual assistant” and “chatbot” are the same; some disagree. At the end of the day the name doesn’t matter; it’s the function that is important.
  • Both chatbots and virtual assistants are more intelligent than a simple bot. When a bot only follows the script, the chatbot and virtual assistant have more options to interpret the command. Supported by artificial intelligence they understand the meaning of what was said or typed. They can look at the phrases but also understand what specific words mean in a certain context. They can utilize information from other sources, like a CRM, real-time insights and more.

The problem is that there are a lot of scripted bots out there that are sold as something bigger. Enterprises can start with a simple, scripted version and can evolve over time. But they need to make sure that the vendor they choose allows them to grow. Thus, they should look for:

  • Strong Natural Language Understanding (NLU) capabilities
  • Capability to work with human agents, either by seamlessly escalating to live chat or secretly asking a human for help
  • Learning capabilities based on machine learning algorithms, for example:
    • Train the base model – the first version of the VA – based on existing chat and/ or call transcripts
    • While deployed, ask humans for help, observe them and learn from this interaction
    • Utilize actionable Voice of the Customer insights to optimize and enhance the dialog
  • Enterprise scalability during training, deployment and conversations

Join us for more insights on smarter learning for virtual assistants in the upcoming blog articles.

Read Part I of the series “Meet the new generation of virtual assistants” here.

Source: http://whatsnext.nuance.com/customer-experience/the-difference-between-bots-and-virtual-assistants/

Publish Date: July 27, 2017 5:00 AM


Bridge the phone and digital experiences for superior service

It’s human nature to seek ways to get things done in the easiest or most convenient manner possible. We search for the shortest line at the grocery store and the fastest way to get products delivered. And while this has increasingly been happening due to a rise in cool new apps or an online experience, more organizations are extending this further by connecting the digital and physical worlds. Today we can order a TV on the web and pick it up in store the same day. Or you can try on clothes in a store and get the exact right color or size shipped direct to your home from the company website.

This bridging of physical and digital worlds applies to customer service, too. Consumers engage organizations digitally through the web or mobile apps and, when needed, use the “physical” world and call the contact center for more complex issues. When they engage, they want the freedom to move between channels to best suit their needs. But guess what? Many times they can’t move efficiently between each channel, which creates a poor customer service experience.

Forward thinking organizations must find ways to allow customers to move between channels without complexity, while at the same time reducing costs by moving callers from higher cost channels like the contact center to less expensive channels such as the web. Today this is difficult to achieve, and it typically results in someone hanging up and starting over.

IVR to Digital to the rescue

Good news! The Nuance IVR to Digital offering can help. IVR to Digital helps callers move seamlessly from traditional phone calls to digital experiences such as a virtual assistant or live chat.

Imagine that someone calls your contact center only to find the wait times longer than normal. This might normally involve waiting on hold or a call-back option, but with IVR to Digital companies can offer callers the choice to get immediate help from a virtual assistant or chat. And the decision is up to the customer. Callers remain in control and choose the channel that best suits their situation. The result is a more satisfied caller who gets their issue resolved faster and an organization that reduces call center volumes.

And there’s more. Besides moving people due to long queue times, IVR to Digital also enhances information delivery by allowing agents to better assist callers with more complicated transactions in a simplified manner. Imagine if someone calls trying to re-set their password. Contact center agents can use the automated guides feature to set up a co-browsing session on the web and visually show customers how to both re-set their password and learn where the steps are for the future. Teaching callers to solve issues directly provides a better overall customer experience and reduces the need for future calls on the same issue.

Implementing an IVR to Digital solution allows organizations to both offer their customers a better experience and optimize channel use. Targeting features mean that only selected customers are presented the option to move out of the call center – keeping organizations in charge of the channels and allowing them to best optimize their channel engagement.

Physical + Digital = Omni-channel

Today’s service channels are disconnected and IVR to Digital makes it possible for organizations to successfully pair the digital experience with the “physical” phone and offer true connected, omni-channel experiences. This approach benefits callers and companies alike with improved customer satisfaction and optimized channel engagement.

Source: http://whatsnext.nuance.com/customer-experience/nuance-ivr-to-digital-improves-customer-experiences/

Publish Date: July 24, 2017 5:00 AM


In a world filled with chatbots, this virtual assistant rises to the top

How can a virtual assistant win in a ranking of top chatbots? According to the new Forrester report, The Top 10 Chatbots for Enterprise Customer Service, “To truly meet a need for enterprise-grade customer service, chatbots (also called virtual assistants and cognitive agents) must be able to understand what a customer speaks or types, discern their intent, respond in a conversational manner, and act on the customer’s behalf.”

The word “chatbot” is used interchangeably with AI, virtual assistant, personal assistant and messaging, but essentially a chatbot has very limited functionality and can answer questions according to a set script. Intelligent chatbots can recognize customer intent and can evolve through machine learning.

A virtual assistant, on the other hand, has a distinction that makes a huge difference. The industry definition of a virtual (customer) assistant is a business application that simulates a conversation in order to deliver information and, if advanced, takes action on behalf of the customer to perform transactions.

So, although chatbots and virtual assistants are on two very different levels, they’re put into the same category of customer service technology because enterprises need to evaluate both according to their individual needs.

Announced in today’s report by Forrester Research, Nuance Nina is cited as a Recommended Product, receiving the number one ranking amongst the 10 most significant chatbot/virtual assistant vendors in the market.

It’s not a surprise to us that Nina topped the charts. Nina is conversational, recognizes intent, and learns from historical transcripts. Live agents assist Nina in some of its conversations- a new functionality called Nina Coach. In some cases, the best resolution is for the VA to seamlessly transfer the customer to a live chat agent within the same window. This interaction and partnership between virtual and live agents help Nina to learn, also known as the “learning loop,” by feeding in conversations and actions so Nina knows the answer moving forward.

Yet, the human touch is only part of the reason that Nuance Nina was named the Top Chatbot for Enterprise Customer Service by Forrester Research. Nina differentiates itself from other “chatbots” in that it can be implemented into an omni-channel framework on multiple channels, from desktop to mobile app, from SMS to voice (IVR). It uses natural language understanding (NLU), multimodal biometric security, and robust analytics capabilities. Not only is Nuance a technological leader in the chatbot/virtual assistant arena, but it also shines in producing proven results of increased revenue and customer satisfaction.

To get the full story of this impressive win, read more here or download the full report here.

Source: http://whatsnext.nuance.com/customer-experience/nuance-ranked-number-one-virtual-assistant-chatbot/

Publish Date: June 29, 2017 5:00 AM


Is your customer service relevant?

What does it mean to be relevant to your customers? “Relevant” means applicable to, pertinent to, connected with the matter at hand. Your matter at hand is obviously your customers, and your offering should be applicable to them. If your brand claims to be customer-focused, then your offering should provide what is trending with customers at the present moment, not what they liked a year ago.

Customer trend ignorers

Some of the most prosperous brands found themselves in self-destruct mode during the recession – not because people stopped spending money, but because they stopped paying attention to how their market was changing. They grew complacent and wouldn’t change as their customers changed. They lost their relevance. (e.g., Circuit City or Blockbuster)

Customer trend watchers

So how did other companies rise to power during that time of financial strain? They became relevant. They watched the trends and gave the market what they hungered for. They even saw into the future and influenced the coming trends. (e.g., Amazon)

Relevant customer service

The next wave in customer service is brought to us by AI (artificial intelligence). Robots can be taught and can learn on their own the needs of customers and how to answer their questions. Yet, a brand who thinks they’re staying relevant just by putting chatbots on their site is sorely misunderstanding today’s customer. Not only do we like the latest techy gadget out there, but we cling to human connection – quite the opposite of the former. Our addiction to social media alone should tell brands that society needs to be acknowledged (or liked) and they want people to interact with them. Granted, it’s not necessarily face-to-face, but it’s connection.

Hey, your robot is in my human! No, your human is in my robot!

A smart brand will take those two vastly different trends and combine them to meet both ends of the market – artificially intelligent self-service and live, human interaction. (e.g., virtual assistance and live chat) It is possible to keep cutting-edge customer experience technology relevant to what customers want - by using intelligent self-service with the option to connect with a real person. Adding advanced technology to human interaction does not take away from the customer focus; rather, adding experienced human interaction to highly advanced technology intensifies the customer focus. That is why Nuance caught the attention of top industry analysts in 2017 CRM Service Leader awards. We stay relevant to the customer by giving them the sophisticated technology they seek and the human touch they crave.

What trend could your brand leverage to be relevant and become the brand of choice?

As you think about that, I’ll leave you with the following list written by Leigh Buchanan of Inc. magazine:

Ten ways companies remain relevant

  1. They see their past, present and future as a continuous arc and understand what made them successful at each juncture.
  2. They are shrewd consumers of technology, adopting and customizing new platforms as applications for customers become apparent.
  3. They pay attention and respond to societal changes.
  4. They study new entrants closely but avoid knee-jerk reactions; some of those new players might become partners rather than competitors.
  5. They practice a kind of perpetual beta with customers, working together closely so that both sides learn from each other.
  6. They seek new partnerships and the perspective of outsiders.
  7. They become thought leaders in their fields.
  8. They listen to their young employees.
  9. They improvise and innovate on core strengths, rather than blow up everything and start again.
  10. They remain true to foundational values.

Source: http://whatsnext.nuance.com/customer-experience/leveraging-trends-to-enhance-customer-service/

Publish Date: June 23, 2017 5:00 AM


Meet the new generation of virtual assistants: Learn and grow smarter, Part I

What do consumers want out of the customer experience? According to eMarketer, technology drives up consumer expectations, as customers increasingly expect fast, consistent and reliable experiences across all devices. They expect your brand to be all-knowing and always-available when it comes to serving them.

But customers get frustrated with technology when they can’t find the answers they want in a timely manner. Virtual assistants can be a fantastic solution to this problem, but not all are created equal.

 

Addressing the need for capable customer service virtual assistants

In both the consumer and enterprise space, the word “chatbot” is becoming a buzzword. Though often used interchangeably with “virtual assistant,” the two terms are different, in that a virtual assistant is more humanlike, contextually aware, and consistent across channels. But at a base level, both terms describe a conversational interface designed to help customers solve problems.

Consumer expectations for this type of technology are high, with AYTM data showing that 73% of consumers agree that interacting with an automated system that they could converse with would significantly improve their experience. The problem is, much of the chatbot technology on the market is simply missing the mark. Further AYTM surveys seeking to understand current consumer perceptions of chatbots have revealed that fewer than one in three (30%) consumers today are confident in a chatbot’s ability to successfully help them when it comes to customer service. For instance, the majority of consumers (71%) who are using chatbots today are primarily searching for news or information, playing music, or playing games. But few consumers are confident in a chatbot’s ability to assist with more complex and domain-specific activities.

Closing the gap between what customers want and what they get

So how can brands close the gap between customer expectations and customer experience? By increasing a virtual assistant’s confidence. When deploying a virtual assistant, brands often start from scratch, meaning the virtual assistant isn’t even able to understand questions at first. Over time, the more someone interacts with the virtual assistant, the smarter it gets, thereby increasing its confidence.

But why start with a virtual assistant from scratch? Wouldn’t you rather start with one that already understands consumer questions?

The beginning of a virtual assistant’s journey to optimization

The ideal virtual assistant would be designed with pre-loaded, industry and business-specific knowledge and expertise. It would leverage past experiences to deliver answers with a wide range of knowledge upon deployment. Your company would be able to start with a virtual assistant that can understand customers’ questions, and then you could personalize its answers. This ready-made virtual assistant would be available faster versus 90 days of set-up and training.

With this kind of virtual assistant, businesses would be able to give customers the self-service experience they expect with efficiency and accuracy, and receive a faster ROI. A virtual assistant that can quickly and accurately respond to questions with understanding of the customer’s intent from the get-go – that’s what both enterprises and their customers want.

The rest of the story…

OK, so companies should start with a virtual assistant that comes with a preset library of knowledge on which to build more customer answers. Check. It should also have an innate understanding of customer intent. Check. What’s the next step in “educating” a virtual assistant to be smarter and smarter? Stay tuned for future installments of Learn and grow smarter!

In the meantime, you can find at Nuance just such a virtual assistant that is designed with business and industry-specific knowledge to get you started with quick and accurate responses to your customer’s common questions. Learn about Nuance virtual assistant, Nina.

Source: http://whatsnext.nuance.com/customer-experience/virtual-assistant-learn-and-grow-smarter/

Publish Date: June 20, 2017 5:00 AM


Nuance is working with Apple to bring AI-powered customer service to iMessage

Have you watched today’s Developer Preview Session at Apple WWDC?

We did, and with all the new products and features coming out we were thrilled to see Nuance, in the middle of all the excitement. Apple introduced Business Chat and with it a new opportunity for brands to connect with millions of consumers using Apple Messages (iMessage).

Nuance Customer Service Messaging allows brands to connect with their customers via iMessage, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and others, to solve customer issues immediately and in context. With the Nuance Digital Engagement Platform, brands are able to initiate direct conversations for efficient, conversational customer service or sales engagements.

Apple’s new Business Chat will allow millions of consumers to add enterprises as contacts within Messages, and then securely chat with their bank, telco, airline and more. With Business Chat, enterprises will now be able to chat with their customers automatically using either Nina virtual assistant, or Live and Asynchronous chat using the Nuance Agent Desktop in the contact center.

Read more about what today’s news means for Enterprises – and consumers – below.

Customer service messaging – the next big thing

Messaging is ubiquitous, easy to use, always available, and supports both real time and asynchronous messaging – features that make chat a hugely popular way for family, friends and co-workers to connect every day.

It is those same features that will one day make customer service messaging mainstream. And with Apple’s announcement of Business Chat, coupled with Nuance unique messaging technology that day is getting very close indeed.

The addition of Business Chat to iMessage will provide millions of users with the ability to connect with businesses - iMessage is the #1 Apple app and iMessage users send an estimated 200,000 iMessages a second. But this volume of messages also presents a challenge in terms of how businesses and enterprises will handle the potentially millions of messages they are likely to get each day – even when the contact center is closed.  How can an Enterprise “turn on” customer service messaging and affordably deliver customer service that meets consumer expectations?

Nuance Customer Service Messaging

Over 6,500 Enterprises worldwide, including many of today’s leading brands, have selected Nuance to enhance and automate customer service – with an estimated 14 billion customer engagements flowing through Nuance solutions each year.

Nearly two years ago Nuance introduced Customer Service Messaging, supporting chat within messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WeChat, SMS and more, as well as messaging within enterprise apps.  By supporting virtual, live and asynchronous messaging within our platform, Nuance gives enterprises everything they need to “turn on” Customer Service Messaging for iMessage, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and more.  Here’s how:

Messaging is ubiquitous and always “on.”  Enterprises will get millions of chats a day, every day and it simply isn’t affordable to hire thousands of contact center agents to handle the volume – and to expect that the contact center can be staffed 24 hours a day, every day.

The solution is to use the Nina Virtual Assistant to be the “always on” virtual agent.  Nina delivers first contact resolution of 80% and more – meaning that the consumer gets all the information they wanted from the Nina virtual chat.  This means that 20% or less of incoming messages will need to be routed to a contact center agent.

Real time chat is made possible by Nuance connecting to contact center live chat agents when they are available, using natural language understanding (NLU) that intelligently routes chats to the Nuance Agent Desktop.  Nuance’s NLU routing automatically detects the customer request from the chat message and routes to the agent or agent pool who best able to service the customer for that specific request.  This shortens the time that it takes to engage with the customer, and also speeds getting the customer the answer they need.

And make sure that customers get answers when agents are not available by using Asynchronous messaging and NLU routing to intelligently send customer messages to specific agents and agent pools who will work on the customer requests when they become available.  Messages can automatically be sent to the customer to share estimated time for a response, or by using micro-bots, can let the customer know that progress is being made on their request.

To read more about Nuance Customer Service Messaging, please go here.

Source: http://whatsnext.nuance.com/customer-experience/apple-imessage-business-chat-customer-service/

Publish Date: June 9, 2017 5:00 AM


Want to offer great customer service? Be like Steph and LeBron

The NBA Finals are in full swing! It’s Golden State vs. Cleveland for the third time in a row. That’s remarkable and a testament to both teams’ talent and hard work. But there’s more to it. The two team leaders Steph Curry (Golden State) and LeBron James (Cleveland) take their games and their teams to higher levels by utilizing three principles critical for NBA success. These principles also apply to customer service leaders looking to take their game – particularly their IVR game - to the top.

Know your opponent

Think LeBron James doesn’t know which way Steph prefers to dribble off a pick? No chance. Both players know the strengths and weaknesses of the other in detail and use that insight to put them in the best position to score or defend. Good customer service leaders must do the same. They must know as many customer details as possible to set themselves up for success. Does a particular customer prefer to call each week on Monday? Does your IVR know they are calling from a mobile phone? It all starts with data, analysis, and reporting. Strong IVR reporting capabilities create opportunities to understand who’s calling, why, and where the IVR is underperforming. Deep knowledge puts companies in the best position possible to offer the most personalized customer experience.

Create a plan

How can Steph and the Warriors stop LeBron? Even knowing which side of the floor he prefers and his 3-point shooting range, he’s still an excellent player. He won’t do things exactly the same each time. The coaches must devise a game plan to be ready for whatever he brings.

Can your company’s IVR handle whatever comes its way? What’s the plan to handle complicated questions? Can it understand someone speaking in a foreign language? Or what if they just keep pressing ‘0’ every time to get to the agent? If the plan is to make someone “Press 1 for Sales, 2 for Service,” then callers will increasingly skip it and you won’t be winning any awards. Plan a thoughtful approach to why people call and consider implementing a natural language based conversational IVR that helps meet customer needs – no matter what they bring. A conversational IVR with natural language understanding allows your callers to say whatever they want and the system is intelligent enough to understand and take the right next step.

Execute efficiently

At tip-off everything changes. Now it’s time to execute. When the ball is stolen from the Cavaliers, plans are great, but Kevin Durant needs to run the floor fast and make a precision pass to Steph Curry for the shot. This is the payoff to the preparation and planning.

Today, right now, is your IVR executing efficiently? Are your customers getting the service they expect?  Are you hitting your containment and automation rates? If not, what will it take to raise the bar? There are so many IVR innovations available today. If you’ve already moved to a natural language based IVR then it starts simply with tuning the existing experience to deliver the right performance. Or consider enhancing your customer’s call with biometric based greeting that authenticates callers based purely on their voice. It’s a solution that promises to delight callers while greatly improving security and reducing fraud. Or take it to the ultimate level and create a transition as smooth as a Durant to Curry bounce pass by handing off IVR calls to your digital channels. Sometimes shifting callers to the web or virtual assistant is better for them and less expensive for the organization.

Whatever situation your IVR is in, adopting the principles that make Steph Curry and LeBron James great will also elevate your service game. And be a slam dunk with your customers.

Source: http://whatsnext.nuance.com/customer-experience/nba-finals-up-your-ivr-game/

Publish Date: June 8, 2017 5:00 AM

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