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RDI Corporation - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog

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Superior Customer Care Creates True Customer Loyalty

If you provide great customer care, you can generate true, long-lasting customer loyalty. They'll be with you til the end. 

If you own a car, you know that there is no better feeling than finding the right mechanic. Sure, getting on the open road with the wind whipping through your hair, blasting your tunes and feeling the freedom that comes with seeing the asphalt miles unspool beneath your unburdened feet is ok.

But finding a mechanic you can trust to do a great job, be honest with you, and give you a fair price? That’s perfection.

The reason it is so noteworthy is because it is so rare. That isn’t to fall back on the haory old trope “all mechanics are liars”; they aren’t. But like in any profession, there are some people who aren’t good at communicating the problem. There are some people who aren’t good at diagnosing the problem. There are some people who just aren’t good at fixing the problem. And yes, there are a few rotten apples who tell you that “these tires just won’t be properly inflated until you overhaul your transmission.”

OK, well, you're gonna need like 40 or 50 spark plugs

So when you find someone who gives you good service that you can depend on, you stick with them. You know you don’t have to worry. You become loyal to them.

That’s the thing about loyalty: it isn’t given. It’s earned. And you earn your customer loyalty not just due to the quality of your product or service, but through excellent customer care.

Call centers and customer care can increase your revenue if they help to develop loyal, repeat customers. Those are the best kinds of customers. They stick with you when they need something repaired, upgraded, or brand new. They’re with you all along the road.

Incredible Statistics About Customer Loyalty

Being loyal to your customer means taking care of them

You know that customer loyalty is important, but do you know how important it is?

Accenture lets us know that when customers are displeased, they act upon it.

  • 50% of customers quit doing business with a company after a bad sales/customer care experience.
  • 54% of customers started engaging with another company after the bad experience.
  • 25% of customer used social media to voice their displeasure

Social media is a pretty big deal too. Just as great customer care creates new customers through word of mouth, it can also create loyalty. You don’t want to be the company that has to deal with PR problems. You want to be the one that people are happy to talk about. When they start going public, they are ready to be loyal.

How do you get this loyalty? What does great customer care look like?

Understanding that means understanding what loyalty really means. Here’s something surprising, given the numbers above: 82% of customers consider themselves loyal to brands. So what explains the discrepancy?

Well, my theory is that customers want to be loyal to brands for a couple of reasons.

  1. We feel loyalty is a virtue, and something aspirational. Loyalty, we feel, speaks well of our character, and our ability to stick things out through thick and thin.
  2. It’s way easier.

Think about it. We’ve talked about how it costs more to find a new customer than it does to keep one (which is why you want to use great customer care to decrease customer dissatisfaction). But there is also a cost in time and energy for customers to find a new provider.

It’s not fun, which is why customers will be loyal if you give them the incentive to be. 82% will be loyal to a company that they are satisfied with even if it messes up sometimes. They say they are willing to give it another chance.

That’s huge. That can’t be overestimated.

How To Develop Loyalty Through Customer Care

Here’s what we’ve said a few times: you develop loyalty if your customer care is good. So...you want good customer care.

You're welcome! 

But what does that mean, really? Great customer care obviously means compassion, understanding, and training. It means integrating technology, and if possible, partnering with a third-party vendor who truly understands your business. That way they can competently answer any questions a customer might have.

It’s not just about answering questions of course. It is about steering them to the right products and services. Often, this means increasing revenue through upselling and cross-selling. But that’s not just the mechanic’s trick of insisting that you “check engine” light means you need a new chassis. It means understanding their needs, both now and in the future, and helping to set them up for success.

That’s true customer care, because it demonstrates that you care about your customers. It is just that simple. You know what they need (even before they do) and help them get there.

That’s why we emphasize the importance of employee retention in customer care. Working with a vendor that employs comprehensive and continual training and retains employees means that your customers interact with experts. It means they get their problems solved.

It’s that simple.

Customer care is not a means to an end. It is a goal in itself. It is a service. It is a way to make revenue. Make sure your customer care is in good hands, and customers will put their business in yours.


RDI-Connect is your full-service call center and customer care partner. We combine cutting-edge technology with superior hiring and training procedures to give your organization the support it needs. Your success is ours. To learn more about how we can partner with you, please connect with us today.

Source: http://blog.rdi-connect.com/superior-customer-care-creates-true-customer-loyalty

Publish Date: September 19, 2017 5:00 AM


Great Customer Care Creates New Customers Through Word of Mouth

What do your customers say when they are talking about you? Great customer care ensures good word of mouth, increasing your revenue.

Anyone who even vaguely pays attention to movie box-office earnings (which is sort of like a sport) is familiar with how they use the common phrase “word of mouth.” You’ve heard it before: a movie opens well, with good numbers, before “word of mouth” hurts it the next weekend. Suddenly, it is pretty much a flop.

What they are saying, politely, is that a bunch of people went to see a movie, hoping it would be good, and then it wasn’t, and they started telling everyone about it. That used to happen by literal word of mouth.

Granted, not every negative review makes sense

Now, of course, it is amplified by social media. Any message can reverberate around the world nearly instantly, and messages can start piling on themselves, creating a snowball effect.

But it isn’t only for bad news. Good word of mouth can help a movie, and it can help your business. Positive word of mouth about your product, and especially about your customer care, can increase revenue by creating new customers. It does this because we’re used to negativity. Finding something positive--hearing good word of mouth--causes people to pay attention.

And paying attention is the first step in getting new customers.

But First the Bad News

Here are a few stats that will shine some light on the power of negative word of mouth. But don’t worry! This is just to get to the good stuff.

  • Negative news reaches 100% more people than positive news. 
  • Americans tell 9 people about positive customer care experiences, but 16 about negative ones
  • 80% of tweets about customer service are negative.

So what do you need to do to stand out? Be in that positive 20%

Hope is A Good Thing

You ever hear of a movie called The Shawshank Redemption? Of course you have.

This is how you feel when you get positive tweets

But you might not have heard of it when it came out, assuming you are old enough to have been seeing movies in 1994. It made a paltry $28 million at the box office, which even in 1994 was a bit of a flop. It didn’t get much marketing hype, and could have came and went.

But here’s the thing. The people who saw it loved it. They told everyone. So by the time it came out on (sigh) VHS, it started to sell. It made $80 million in sales, nearly unheard of for a flop. It flew off the (sigh) shelves at (sigh) Blockbuster. It was a flop that became a hit, because people loved it.

And why did they love it? Because it gave them what they want. So they started talking about it, and more people got interested. In the year of Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction, it became a word-of-mouth hit.

So why does this work? Because it is unusual.

The Power of Positive Word of Mouth

Think of how many bad movies you have seen. There have been roughly 37,000 Transformers movies, I think. So when Shawshank started getting talked about, it brought in more eyeballs. People wanted to know what this movie was.

That’s what your company has to do. Great customer care can generate more revenue by maintaining your connection to current customers by decreasing dissatisfaction, but it can also bring in new customers by generating positive word of mouth.

When you hear something good, you want to try it. It is natural. If you are looking for a new product or service, and looks it up online (as 90% of Americans do first) and see positive reviews and glowing Tweets, you’ll be intrigued. It’s worth looking into of course.

Now, a lot of this depends on your product. If you have a bad product, the best customer care can’t fix it. But the reverse isn’t true. You can have a great product, and bad customer care can bury it in a sea of negativity. But great customer care can help it rise above the negativity everyone else is floating in, and let the product stand for itself.

That’s why so many companies are turning to trusted third-party vendors to be their customer care partner. That way, they can focus on what they do best, while letting customer care professionals answer questions, resolve problems, upsell services, maintain client relations, and generate positive word-of-mouth to create new customers.

That’s how customer care generates revenue. While hope might be a good thing, even the best of things, the link between good customer care and increased customers and revenues isn’t a hope. It’s a sure thing.


RDI-Connect is your full-service call center and customer care partner. We combine cutting-edge technology with superior hiring and training procedures to give your organization the support it needs. Your success is ours. To learn more about how we can partner with you, please connect with us today.

Source: http://blog.rdi-connect.com/great-customer-care-creates-new-customers-through-word-of-mouth

Publish Date: September 12, 2017 5:00 AM


Using Social Media, Bots, and Well-Trained Reps To Create A Customer-Care-as-a-Service Platform

Potential and current customers come from all directions and all platforms at all hours. Customer-care-as-a-service means taking care of all of them.

A friend of mine recently told me that he just bought a new vacuum cleaner. Now, this wasn’t exactly a promising start to a scintillating story--there are very, very few movies about vacuum cleaner purchases--but I listened politely. He said he was up late, thumbing through Twitter, and saw a link about a certain kind of vacuum. He followed it, read a bunch of posts, chatted with a representative, and ended up making a purchase, all between 1:30 and 2:30 in the morning.

That’s how we shop now. That’s how we interact with commerce now. That’s how we live now.

In our last article, we discussed how to use portals and apps to create an always-on customer-care-as-a-service platform. You have to be always on. After all, the dictates of the modern economy almost demand the assumption of a global customer base whose hours don’t always match yours.

This could be any time!

 

At the very least, you have to imagine that customers, or potential customers, might always interact with you. A night owl like my friend might be scrolling through Twitter and come across a post of yours, follow the links, read a great blog, and start to become interested in your products. If your site or app isn’t immediately helpful, you might have lost a customer.

And that’s exactly the point. Customers are going to come from all directions and all platforms at all hours. It’s the nature of the beast right now. You will need a system in place to make sure they are all catered to, and aren’t kept waiting. You need to make sure that no matter where they are coming from, they reach their destination.

In this article we’re going to talk about how...

  • Bots and automation;
  • Social media excellence; and
  • Customer care partners

...can help you create a platform of total, comprehensive, and always-on customer care. As the saying goes, if someone wants a vacuum at two in the morning, they should get a vacuum at two in the morning.

Starting With Social Media

This is the gateway to buying vacuums at all hours

 

There are three aspects of social media excellence. These are:

  1. Getting your message and content out
  2. Interacting with other leaders and influencers in your field to establish your brand
  3. Responding to complaints, praise, and questions from your customers.

All of these are part of customer care, even if they seem like marketing. After all, customers want to learn as much as they can before making a decision. That’s the heart of inbound marketing. So customers will use Google, obviously, but will also scour Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, finding what people are talking about and why.

That’s why you need a strong social media presence. You need to be able to get people talking about your product, so that if a potential customer is interested, they can find you. They can find out stuff about you. And they can come to your site or app, and enjoy value-producing content.

Content is customer care. It shows that you value them, and want them to know as much as possible. It shows you aren’t trying to pull a fast one on anybody. And having a social media presence and valuable content gives them a form a care at all hours. It encourages them to move forward, and that’s where bots can come it.

Bots and Automation

Bots can help you reach your customer care GOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLS

When my buddy went to buy a late-night vacuum cleaner, chances are he wasn’t talking to a real live customer service representative. He did say his questions weren’t very complicated, after all, and there is only so much bandwidth at 24 hours a day. He most likely started with a chatbot, though he wasn’t sure.

And how cool is it that he wasn’t sure? After all, if the chatbot is indistinguishable from a person, then it is doing its job.

This is doing its job.

As we’ve discussed, chatbots aren’t going to replace human beings. They are just going to augment them, and free them up for the difficult questions. As we said: But it isn’t just about being put on hold. As we said then:

But do people always want to talk to bots? Well,  interestingly, bots can help with humanization, with their human mimicry. But it is more than that. I think people are fine interacting with bots on the easy stuff. “My cable is out, why?” can be met with a quick “service in your area” rather than waiting on hold.

But it isn’t just about being put on hold. It is about being always on. Your business, with a sophisticated chat algorithm, can cater to customers at any time during the day. If they come to your site through social media, an email link, or anything else, they’ll be able to have questions answered.

After all, the whole goal is for them to read your content, study your product or service, and make a purchase (or at least move down the funnel). Be there to answer questions at all hours, even if you are just doing so through a bot. That way, you never lose someone because of bad timing.

The Human Touch: Establishing True Customer Care Partners

At the end of the day, though, it comes down to humans. Even when creating algorithms for bots and automation, those are based on the best practices of your best reps. They are based on treating every customer, every client, and every potential buyer as unique and important. It is about walking them through the sales and marketing funnel, helping answer questions, and building true customer loyalty.

The only way to build loyalty is through the excellence of your products and the compassion and intelligence of your customer care. Most businesses are really good at what they do best, but that doesn’t always include customer care. That’s why so many more businesses are partnering with third-party customer care professionals, who will learn everything about your business, provide customer care that combines the human touch with cutting-edge technology, and free you to focus on your core competencies.

The right customer care partner understands your portals, apps, social media tools, and automation. They understand your products and services. They know how to put all of those together. They know how you can build a true base from all of that, one that your business can stand and grow on. It’s a base from which you can really see your future. It’s your customer-care-as-a-service platform.

RDI-Connect is your full-service call center and customer care partner. We combine cutting-edge technology with superior hiring and training procedures to give your organization the support it needs. Your success is ours. To learn more about how we can partner with you, please connect with us today.

Source: http://blog.rdi-connect.com/using-social-media-bots-and-well-trained-reps-to-create-a-customer-care-as-a-service-platform

Publish Date: August 1, 2017 5:00 AM


Become a Service Maester: 5 Customer Care Lessons From Game of Thrones

Everyone is excited for Game of Thrones to be back. Can you draw some customer service lessons from it? It's no spoiler to say yes. 

This Sunday, after a punishingly long wait (though not as long as it has been for book readers), HBO’s genre-defying superhit Game of Thrones is coming back. We’re all ready to catch up on the (remaining) Starks, the (remaining) Lannisters, the (remaining) Targaryen, the dragons, and everyone else. Even Sam. Especially Sam.

If you’re like us, it’s been capturing your mind, and you find yourself humming the theme song and imagining how you’d do in Westeros (spoiler: poorly). Perhaps more than that, you’re wondering if Game of Thrones has any lessons for your day-to-day life, other than “side with the person who has dragons”. 

We can’t claim there is an exact parallel between a song of fire and ice and a song of customer care, but there are some lessons to be drawn from how the characters relate to and communicate with each other. Customer care mistakes can be extremely costly. They might not get you booted from the Iron Throne, but they will damage your reputation and your business. So play to win.

(This post obviously contains some spoilers)

 

Lesson #1: Don’t think you’ve got it all under control. Things happen.

 

 

In Game of Thrones, most of the events are set in motion by the devious machinations of Petyr Baelish, aka Littlefinger. He came from a minor family, but wants the crown, and is willing to let the whole world burn and millions die just to get it. The problem is, things spiral out of control, and even though he still seems to be playing the game, it doesn’t seem like he has a handle on it. People he thought he was controlling are showing a lot of independence. It’s awesome.

The Lesson: Let your customer care representatives know it is ok to ask for help. We all get into situations where we want to believe that we have it under control, and that if we just talk for a little bit we can get a handle on it. Customers want the right answer. Don’t just get things done quickly A recent Gallup poll showed that customers are 9 times as likely to be happy when a representative is engaged, and not just trying to speed through things. Your employees should know that while speed and efficiency are important, it is more important to satisfy the needs of the customer, and if that means asking for help, they should. Chaos in customer care is never actually a ladder.

 

Lesson #2: Knowledge is the most important weapon of all.

This is actually super heroic

 

OK, you might think swords or dragons are the most important weapon, and so far, you’d be right. But Sam Tarly, who is not a knight but is braver than most, knows he has to learn how to kill the White Walkers. He know that all the swords in the world won’t do good against these snow zombies, and that going through the books to find ancient ways will be mankind’s only hope.

The Lesson: Training is key. You want your representative to be as prepared as possible before heading into the field, which of course is the call center. That might not be as dramatic, but it makes a real impact on the lives of your customers and clients. So give them the right training. Consult your subject matter experts. Learn from previous experiences, good and bad. Have older employees share their wisdom. There is incredible knowledge in your team and company. Use it.

Lesson #3: Bad behavior can poison your reputation

Don’t do this.

 

Nobody really liked Kong Joffrey, and for good reason. He was super unlikable. Even at his own wedding, he belittled people, taunted the girl whose father he killed, and generally acted like the sniveling sadistic brat he was. And he got poisoned at his wedding, and most people seemed generally relieved.

The Lesson: People remember bad customer service far more than they remember good service. 45% of people share bad experiences on social media, as opposed to 30% who share good experiences. And honestly, bad experiences tend to be fuller stories, with more drama (if Joffrey was a good king no one would care about the story). They are more memorable. You remember someone’s bad story about terrible customer care far more than you remember someone saying “I called and they solved my problem.” Word of mouth can poison your reputation, so make sure that every call and every interaction is treated with the respect it deserves.

Lesson #4: Keep your promises

This is not a great wedding

 

OK, there is a serious spoiler here if you aren’t familiar. If you’re about to start the books or the show, skip this section. Robb Stark is engaged in a political marriage to the daughter of the vile Walder Frey, but Robb falls in love with someone else, so has a cousin marry the daughter. At the wedding, Robb and his entire family are murdered by Frey, who turned to Robb’s enemies on account of the betrayal (also because he was awful).

The Lesson: Don’t make promises you can’t, or won’t, keep. That’s part of the customer service and marketing loop. Marketing shouldn’t oversell, or portray one of your products or services in a way that isn’t correct. That’s usually an innocent mistake, which is why customer care and marketing should be in communication. Make sure they are on the same page, and that marketing understands what customer are thinking. That way, there won’t be promises left unmet. I’m not saying it will be Red Wedding bad, but it’s pretty close. On a business level.

 

Lesson #5: Get help from the best

Spoiler: this is awesome

 

So, Daenerys Targaryen needed a few things: ships to get to Westeros, an army to help her take back the Seven Kingdoms, and political advisors who knew how to rule. So she got ships from the Greyjoys, the Unsullied and the Dothraki as soldiers, and Tyrion and Varys as advisors. That’s pretty good! She couldn’t do it all herself, and she certainly wasn’t going to get scrubs, so the Mother of Dragons went with the best. Now we’ll see what happens.

The Lesson: You can’t do everything on your own, which is why a lot of companies are partnering with third-party customer care experts. Using these vendors is a great way to share expertise: yours in your business and theirs in every aspect of customer care. It is important to find a team that embraces technology, employs industry-best training practices, has incredible employee retention rates, and truly works with you as a partner.  

Winter is coming, as they say. But it doesn’t have to be for your business. Working with the right customer care partners can make sure that if you play the Game of Thrones, you win.

 

RDI-Connect is your full-service call center and customer care partner. We combine cutting-edge technology with superior hiring and training procedures to give your organization the support it needs. Your success is ours. To learn more about how we can partner with you, please connect with us today.

Source: http://blog.rdi-connect.com/5-customer-service-lessons-from-game-of-thrones

Publish Date: July 11, 2017 5:00 AM


The Importance of Employee Retention in Customer Care Centers

You don't want an empty call center. Preventing employee attrition will save you time, money, and show your customers you value them. 

Everyone has had a first day on the job. You go in, not totally sure where you’ll be sitting, or what the protocol is for lunch. Can you just put something in the fridge, or is that presumptuous? You don’t know if you should go to that 9:30 meeting or if you should be doing something else. You aren’t totally sure where to get pens. And is there a bathroom key? Who do I ask?

But the worst part is not being sure of what to do. Sure, you’re good at your job, but there are always quirks and tricks about your new gig that force you to ask questions. There’s a learning curve. And that’s fine. What makes it difficult is when you’re the one who is being asked questions. That’s where inexperience really shows.

That’s the problem with customer care. It is a job where the representative is being asked questions at all times, and is tasked with solving problems. And no matter how much they are trained, there is always a first real day, a first sink or swim moment. That’s why the most crucial part of any customer care team is agent retention. You want to minimize those first real days.

Customer care agent retention is the difference between successful customer service and PR disasters. It’s the difference between good buzz and going viral for all the wrong reasons. So when contracting with a third-party customer care partner, make sure you look for someone who combines technology, training, and retention. Otherwise, you’ll have people constantly looking for the fridge instead of helping customers.

The Cost of Call Center Turnover

Quality Assurance and Training Connection recently went over some of the numbers when it came to call center turnover. They are pretty shocking.

  • It costs $10-15000 to replace a frontline employee.
  • It costs $6000 to replace an employee making $12 an hour
  • It costs $36,000 to replace a management-level employee.

This comes from the costs of recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and training people. Every time you need a new person, you have to do background checks, which cost money. You have to spend time training them. You have to move resources that could be spent elsewhere.

That’s why hiring right matters, and part of that comes with age. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a pretty clear breakdown when it comes to retention and average job duration.

  • Ages 20-24: 1.1 Years
  • Age 25-37: 2.7 Years

What this means, roughly, is that if your call center employees people mostly on the first job, young people under 24, you’ll be replacing the entire staff every year or so. And as we saw above, that adds up. A company could spend literally tens or hundreds of thousands of dollar a year hiring, training, and replacing.

But it isn’t just about the numbers. It is about continuity.

Planks on a Boat: The Importance of Continuity

There’s an old philosophical question--one of the earliest recorded, actually-- about replacing planks on a boat. If you replace half of them one year, and the other half the next, is it still the same boat? Or is it a completely different boat?

I don’t have a really good answer to that, but I do know that constant turnover and call center attrition means worse customer care, because it isn’t the same staff. You lose experience. You lose continuity. You lose the sort of institutional knowledge and break-room wisdom that comes from having longtime staff members.

That means worse service, by definition. It means more people having to say “I don’t know--let me check”, which drives customers crazy. Why? Because they think it means you don’t value them. 70% of customers say that customer service is the true test of whether or not a company values them. So despite your best intentions, you could be turning people away because a new employee doesn’t know how to handle a tricky question. 77% say the most important test of that is whether the company values their time. Endlessly being placed on hold is a great way of being told that your time doesn’t matter.

Poor customer service leads to $41 billion in losses per year. Think about that. Think about your share of that, combined with the costs spent training and hiring. How much money are you losing?

That’s why so many companies are turning to third-party customer care specialists. The right company has a track record of employee retention that combines with excellent training and cutting-edge technology. They create the right atmosphere for a difficult job, rewarding employees and promoting from within.

But most importantly, the right company gives them a chance to succeed. The biggest cause of attrition is demoralization. But by truly partnering with a company, and learning everything about them, and turning that into industry-leading training, they can avoid attrition. They can give them a chance to succeed, by making it more about getting it right than about avoiding mistakes.

Everyone has a first day. The trick is to never let the customer know it. The best call centers are where everyone can locate the frid

 

RDI-Connect is your full-service call center and customer care partner. We combine cutting-edge technology with superior hiring and training procedures to give your organization the support it needs. Your success is ours. To learn more about how we can partner with you, please connect with us today.

Source: http://blog.rdi-connect.com/the-importance-of-employee-retention-in-customer-care-centers

Publish Date: July 6, 2017 5:00 AM


The Emotional Intuition Factor: Why Humans are More Important Than AI in Customer Care

Artificial intelligence will revolutionize customer care, but it will never fully replace the emotional intuition of humans. 

Are you familiar with the Turing Test? It’s a question about AI and robotics which seems very simple, but which contains within it incredible depths and truly boggling philosophical implications. It’s defined as this:

“A test for intelligence in a computer, requiring that a human being should be unable to distinguish the machine from another human being by using the replies to questions put to both.”

In other words, if the AI program is so realistic that it can pass as human, if you aren’t sure if the answer is coming from a person or machine, it passes the Turing Test. And that’s amazing to think about, because that leads to some rather big questions, of the sort explored in shows like Westworld and Humans and movies like AI. If there is a point where there is no real difference in how machines and humans act, is there a difference in them overall?

I’d say yes. And more to the point, I think that the Turing Test is a little misleading. Because there will always be a point where humans have something that no artificial intelligence program can. Humans have emotional intelligence, and intuition that can’t be replaced by an algorithm.

That’s why there will be no way, and nor should there be a way, to replace humans in customer care. Whether your customer care is in-house or you work with a trusted third-party customer-care partner employing cutting-edge technology, your people will continue your most valuable asset. There is no test that can overcome that.

Augmented Intelligence

AI is going to be a wonderful tool for customer care, and it is already being implemented. As it grows, it will have more and more of an impact. We’ve been talking for the last couple of weeks about the importance of artificial intelligence, including how it can analyze the speech of both employees and customers while analyzing data to provide real-time coaching and advice. We’ve talked about the use of predictive analytics to prepare your team for customer issues, both broadly and specifically. And we’ve talked about how increasingly-sophisticated bots will free up your team to answer the more difficult questions.

To me, that’s the most important one. Because while bots are amazing, and getting even more impressive, there is a hard limit to what they can accomplish. The reason why shows like Westworld are so far-fetched is because the robots are able to understand subtle nuances in human behavior.

This is maybe most true when a human is lying, or not being honest about what they want. They might even be being dishonest with themselves. You know, it is a dramatic TV show, and people are complex. So a man who says he doesn’t want something might actually want it, and the robot can suss that out, no matter how convincing he is. Even if he has convinced himself.

Imagine a bot doing that. If a human says “no, I don’t want this upsell” then the bot will react a certain way. Maybe it will try again, but there is no way for it to differentiate the degrees of intention behind each response. More sophisticated bots have emotional intelligence, but they don’t really have emotional intuition. They just have an algorithm which can make assumptions based on prior interactions.

And that’s amazing. At some point, it becomes difficult to differentiate. But there will always be that next step that robots and AI won’t be able to cross. That’s the human factor.

Customers might be scared, uncertain, hesitant. They might not know their problems, or know what they want. But they aren’t programs. They never are. And so a program can never have a true interaction, or a true understanding.

Customer will never be robots. Customers will never be artificially intelligent. They’ll always be people, with real intelligence, and real complexity. That’s why customer care will always need people. AI can do wonders, but it can never replicate the mystery of how humans collide with each other in this whirring roller rink of life.

 

RDI-Connect is your full-service call center and customer care partner. We combine cutting-edge technology with superior hiring and training procedures to give your organization the support it needs. Your success is ours. To learn more about how Artificial Intelligence will impact your business, please download our white paper, “Artificial Intelligence, Real Results: How AI Will Improve Your Call Center Experience”. To learn more about how we can partner with you, please connect with us today

Source: http://blog.rdi-connect.com/the-emotional-intuition-factor-why-humans-are-more-important-than-ai-in-customer-care

Publish Date: June 29, 2017 5:00 AM


AI and Customer Care Bots: Freeing Your People For the Tough Questions

Customer service bots powered by AI algorithms are going to be a game-changer. But there are many things only humans can do. The two can work together. 

Not too long ago, a friend of mine pulled out his phone to stream from the cloud the hoverboard scene from Back to the Future 2. He said “We should have had these in 2015! Why aren’t they here. What kind of future is this?”  It was sort of a weird conversation, since he was using remarkable, jaw-dropping, world-changing technology to complain about not having a pretty useless gadget.

But that’s pretty normal. Once we have technology, we quickly accept it as “the present” instead of an amazing future. It’s the same with robots. They don’t seem to be everywhere, but just because we aren’t in Westworld doesn’t mean we’re not pretty consistently interacting with robots. When it comes to customer care, robots are already becoming your best friend.

Bots are able to interact with customer and clients in realistic, seamless ways. They are working through apps and chatboxes in order to streamline your customer service. But they aren’t replacing your employees. Rather, bots are able to handle the easier questions and more simple problems so that your employees can deal with the tough ones.

Bots will free time to handle the delicate and unexpected problems. They free people to take care of issues that an algorithm couldn’t ever understand, no matter its power. By handling the predictable, AI-driven bots improve your call center. That’s a future I’m glad to be present for.

What Chatbots Are

 

The sophisticated Sephora chatbot is run by the messaging app Kik

Chatbots are AI algorithms designed to interact with customers in a way that mimics human intelligence. This doesn’t just mean a robotic voice clanging out “He-LLO Miss-us SM-ith”. The bots are able to actually communicate, answering questions, providing guidance, and making sugesstions. They can do everything from pick out makeup to plan trips to walk a customer through a sales or service issue.

These algorithms are incredibly effective, too. Look at the Sephora example above. It’s the human who is giving one-word, almost robotic answers. The AI is actually acting warm and friendly. And that’s not a critique of the customer. They are able to save time by talking to a system that truly understands them.

Here’s just a partial list of what bots are doing and will be able to do:

  • Marketing tool to increase engagement. If a bot can respond intelligently to a tweet with a personalized message, is it really a bot?
  • Provide content. We’ve talked about using content to enhance customer service. A bot can have every video, graphic, blog post, and white paper memorized. It can steer customer the right way.
  • Handle purchases. A customer’s online and in-app purchases can be handled by a bot, who can answer questions, steer them toward products, give recommendations, and facilitate every aspect.
  • Streamline interactions. Should you be on hold for 10 minutes to talk to someone who is going to tell you to reboot your system, when a bot could do that instantly (and reboot the system automatically themselves)? Of course not. Nor should you tie up customer service to do something that can be done nearly autonomously. That’s where chatbots come in.

There are going to be more and more uses of bots in customer care, as they become more sophisticated and more part of the app ecosystem. But will they replace customer service? Of course not.

 

Taco Bell uses Slack to place orders. That’s great for a food joint, but what happens with bigger issues?
 

Empathy over Algorithm: How Bots Will Create Better Customer Service

We’ve talke a lot on this blog about how customer service needs to be more human, and we mean that. That doesn’t mean being afraid of technology, though. Technology is extremely helpful, which is why your third-party call center partner needs to be on the cutting edge of technology. We know the future is bots. Look at some of these numbers.

  • Facebook saved TWO BILLION DOLLARS using machine learning over 5 years (Source)
  • 10,000 UK Companies are using chatbots to augment their service teams (Source)
  • By 2020, 85% of customer interactions could be algorithm-powered (Source)
  • 60% of chatbot users are between 13 and 19. (Source)
  • Kik users have sent branded chatbots more than 2,000,000,000 messages (Source)

 

So it is growing. But do peopl always want to talk to bots? Well,  interestingly, bots can help with humanization, with their human mimicry. But it is more than that. I think people are fine interacting with bots on the easy stuff. “My cable is out, why?” can be met with a quick “service in your area” rather than waiting on hold.

But there are always more complicated items. There are problems that are unique to the caller that an algorithm can’t fix. There are issues that require empathy and creativity. There are customer issues that only someone who has been a customer, who has been on the other side, and who can walk a mile in their shoes, can handle. That is to say, a person.

With chats, though, that person won’t be overtired from dealing with 100 minor, easily fixable problems. They’ll be able to focus on the difficult problems, devoting more time to people, engaging in more hand-holding, being able to interact over multiple channels. There can be more training, and more guidance.

All of this, from the bots to the people, will make customer care better. That will make for a better experience for everyone, driving customer loyalty and improving employee morale.

The future isn’t what we always wanted. It can be even better.

RDI-Connect is your full-service call center and customer care partner. We combine cutting-edge technology with superior hiring and training procedures to give your organization the support it needs. Your success is ours. To learn more about how Artificial Intelligence will impact your business, please download our white paper, “Artificial Intelligence, Real Results: How AI Will Improve Your Call Center Experience”. To learn more about how we can partner with you, please connect with us today.

Source: http://blog.rdi-connect.com/ai-and-customer-care-bots-freeing-your-people-for-the-tough-questions

Publish Date: June 27, 2017 5:00 AM


Memory and Human Emotions: How AI Turns Big Data Into Customer Insights

Can Artificial Intelligence actually mimic the paths of human memory to create a better customer service experience? Yes- by leveraging Big Data analysis 

When we contrast artificial intelligence with human intelligence, we generally point to one aspect that computers can’t really replicate: emotional intelligence. That’s a facet of our makeup that it doesn’t seem computers can actually replace, for the simple reason that reading people takes a combination of memory and intuition. We’ve interacted with countless people, and through life we learn how to read behavior and social cues, even ones that are being hidden. That’s a quintessential part of being a human.

But what if computers can do that? What if Big Data can generate and analyze enough information to give AI programs the ability to actually read people? How will that impact customer care?

 As we’ve been saying for the last couple of weeks, this will improve, and not replace, your customer care employees. AI will be able to hone in on key insights in every interaction, instantly judging the mood of a customer, and able to pick up key phrases, intonations, and even pauses, to understand when to upsell, when to back off, and what to say.

Giving instant analysis to your representatives will be the great gift of AI. It will augment human intelligence, and it will do so in a human way: be converting data into memory and intuition, to create a real personality.

Memory as the Font of Personality

As some psychologists argue, memory is one of the key facets of personality. At a TED talk, one of the founders of behavioral economics, Nobel Prize-winner Daniel Kahneman, argued that, when we think of how to behave “we actually don't choose between experiences, we choose between memories of experiences,” meaning that our memory of an experience is more responsible for how we act than what actually happened. In other words, memory drives our actions, shaping the reality in which we act.

We know how important this is, instinctively. When a person suffers from Alzheimer’s, we do not just talk about their memory fading in terms of the ability to conjure names and dates. We talk about the patient losing a sense of who they are. And while some joyful research shows it is still there somewhere, we’ve accepted that when memory leaves us, we leave ourselves.

So that is why memory plays such a crucial role in decision-making and in reading people. There will be many customer service situations that an employee has never encountered before. No two calls are alike, and they’ll be faced with unexpected situations. But they’ve been with people before. They’ve been in similar situations. The way something happened before can influence their decisions.

 But how can AI do the same? From what well does it draw?

 Memory and Big Data 

This is exactly where big data comes in. Big data is, at its essence, a collected memory, a capturing of experience from all connected devices. And, unlike with human memory, the experience is not clouded by shame or pride or the usual fog of time. It is captured perfectly.

Big data collection actually mimics memory in some very important ways. As Emily Trinh at Bryn Mawr explains it, “(m)emory is also defined as the ability to retain information, and it is influenced by three important stages. The first stage is encoding and processing the information, the second stage is the storing of the memory, and the third stage is memory retrieval.”

Let us break that down and apply it to data:

  • Encoding and processing information. AI systems are already receiving a flood of information from each customer interaction. and that flood will continue to grow. That data needs to be understood and processed accurately. One of the most innovative ways to do so is with graph databases, which mimic the mind by making quick connections between similar pieces of information.
  • Storing of the memory. Vast clouds worth of data need to be stored in a way that can allow the central algorithms powering customer service AIs to access them immediately. This means that the data cannot just to be dumped away—it must remain easily accessible.
  • Memory retrieval. This is key. Memory retrieval is not about sitting on the porch and reminiscing. It is about the AI calling on a vast database to understand why customers are saying what they are saying and behaving the way they are. It means needing to pull in words and tones to ascertain mood. More than that, it must be able to find similar situations if there is no exact match and decide from there. All of this must happen instantly. It is real-time data.

So the AI systems will be able to tell your third-party customer service partners exactly what it thinks is happening on any given customer service interaction. If a customer seems like they will be amenable to an upsell, the AI can flash on your CSR’s screen the right script. If there is the hint of frustration or anger, the AI can reach into its database to find the right path toward a solution.

There will still need to be human intuition. AI databases will revolutionize customer care, but they are not infallible. Still, with their mimicry of human memory, and even human moral judgments, they can boost the performance of your customer care team in a very real way.

RDI-Connect is your full-service call center and customer care partner. We combine cutting-edge technology with superior hiring and training procedures to give your organization the support it needs. Your success is ours. To learn more about how Artificial Intelligence will impact your business, please download our white paper, “Artificial Intelligence, Real Results: How AI Will Improve Your Call Center Experience”. To learn more about how we can partner with you, please connect with us today.

Source: http://blog.rdi-connect.com/memory-and-human-emotions-how-ai-turns-big-data-into-customer-insights

Publish Date: June 20, 2017 5:00 AM


Using  Customer Speech Analysis  With AI To Improve Call Center Performance


What are your customers really feeling? Artificial intelligence can detect frustrations and analyze problems to improve your employee call center performance. 

I was recently reading an article about how to inject humanity into health care performance, particularly in call centers. The AI was much like the one we discussed on Tuesday, that could analyze the emotional state of representatives for performance review, but this one was talking about offering real-time coaching.

Cogito's algorithms parse each nanosecond of a caller's speech over the phone and simultaneously flash recommendations and feedback to the customer service center worker mid-call. As in, "you're speaking too much," "frequent overlaps," "breathe, pause between phrases," or "you're tense."

This is really interesting because the AI is actually listening to an analyzing the unique rhythm of each individual call, and is able to discern whether or not there are interruptions, and how the tone of the representative sounds. But it isn’t just focused on the rep. It does so by focusing on the caller as well.

Not all callers are the same. And AI which can detect the moods and emotions of each caller can judge how a contact should go, can judge what the customer might want, and can understand how to guide each interaction. It’s another way that AI will improve, and not replace, your customer service.

What the Customer Knows

The Harvard Business Review recently did a survey about customer service and the frustrations people had with it. A few of the statistics might stand out.

  1. 56% of people have had to re-explain their problems to customer service
  2. 59% have to use “moderate-to-high” effort to resolve a problem
  3. 35% say that they have “lost their temper” when speaking to customer service, presumably at least in part because of the above numbers. (Source)
  4. 84% of people said expectations had not been exceeded in their last customer service interaction.

That last number is pretty stark, because, if they had a bad interaction in the past, or even a middling one, chance are their expectations were already pretty low. Barely meeting poor expectations is not something of which to be proud.

Most of this confusion and anger comes from mixed signals and a lack of comprehension. Sometimes that is on the part of the CSR, who has a million things to balance. It’s a very difficult job. You have to be fluent in the company, have to know how to solve problems, and have to try to judge what kind of response the person on the other end needs to hear. Even being emotionally disconnected by a few degrees can lead to frustration and anger.

That’s where AI can come in. Artificial intelligence has the capacity to guage a customer’s emotions, and can give employees the advice they need in real-time. A representative trying to figure out the problem might not be able to pick up on subtle cues that signify building frustration.

But imagine, as in the example above, that the AI detects slight tremors in the customer’s voice as the CSR unwittingly cuts them off or steps on the end of their sentences, in an understandable rush to ask questions or move toward a solution. That can turn even a positive experience into a deep negative.

But AI can fix that, by picking up on tiny cues a person might miss. AI can use its base of knowledge from millions and millions of microinteractions to judge how it instantly analyzes a customer is feeling.

AI Understands What The Customer Doesn’t

What’s more, artificial intelligence can help to solve problems that the customer can’t quite articulate. Imagine that you sell lawnmowers, and there is a problem with the recoil motor. It’s just not starting when customers pull it. Now, they don’t know it is called a recoil motor. And if you sell dozens of appliances and machinery, your CSRs might not, off the top of their head, be able to ascertain exactly what a customer is talking about.

You can picture it: the customer struggling to say that “the part with the string!” is broken. After a few questions, the CSR might understand. The customer might have to repeat themselves a few times, growing increasingly angry, revving up like a lawnmower being pulled over and over.

But the AI has heard customers describe it in the exact same way before, because it can monitor and analyze literally every conversation. It knows, instantly, that someone saying “the stringer puller thinger!” means the recoil motor. Heck, it can probably understand what it meant when someone just imitates the recoil motor because someone, on some call, has tried to do the same thing. So the CSR gets a flash notice that says “recoil motor malfunction,” with information on how to handle the call. No repetition, no over-explaining, no frustration.

Is AI perfect? Of course not. There will be mistakes. Someone could sound very agitated but be totally placid, or cool as a cucumber but boiling and about to leave the world’s worst Yelp review. And maybe it isn’t a recoil motor. But it probably is.

The point is that AI has the capacity to learn and to grow, with every call. And that knowledge can be transferred to the highly-trained customer service reps you have in house or with a respected, award-winning, third-party call center partner. With that knowledge, your call center can improve, every day.

RDI-Connect is your full-service call center and customer care partner. We combine cutting-edge technology with superior hiring and training procedures to give your organization the support it needs. Your success is ours. To learn more about how Artificial Intelligence will impact your business, please download our white paper, “Artificial Intelligence, Real Results: How AI Will Improve Your Call Center Experience”. To learn more about how we can partner with you, please connect with us today.

Source: http://blog.rdi-connect.com/using-customer-speech-analysis-with-ai-to-improve-call-center-performance

Publish Date: June 16, 2017 5:00 AM


How AI Can Evaluate Employee Speech Patterns to Boost Call Center Productivity

Employee evaluations will be improved by artificial intelligence, which can measure tone, keywords, employee engagement, and more. This will improve your training and staffing issues.

How many calls does each of your call center employees take and make a day? Dozens? Even a very conservative 5 per hour comes out to 40 calls a day. That volume doesn’t even take into account new realms of customer care, such as social media or instant messenger chats. There is, literally, no way to monitor and evaluate all of it. You’d have to have a full-time team with the exact same number of employees to get information on every single interaction.  

Or, you could use artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence systems will revolutionize call centers by their ability not just to monitor interactions, but to actually judge them fairly and accurately. The systems will be able to perform both qualitative and quantitative evaluations, using keyword analysis and emotional intelligence to gauge the efficacy of every call, every chat, and every interaction. 

In doing so, you’ll be able to have a more clear metric of success. This will allow you to provide training where it is needed by giving you the tools to evaluate employee strengths and weaknesses. Listening to random calls might not give you the big picture, and might cause you to spend money in the wrong place, let go of decent employees who just need a little help, or make poor hiring decisions. Artificial intelligence, in short, makes you more intelligent.

The Benefits of Artificially Intelligent Staffing Solutions

What do we more intelligent staffing solutions? Well, think of it like this: imagine that you come into work on a bad day. You spilled your coffee, your kid was sick, and you got pulled over on the way to work. Not only that, but you had a meeting with a particularly difficult client first thing in the morning...and that meeting was what you’d be judged by for your evaluation. 

In a sense, that’s what happens with call centers. There’s just no way for one person to go through all the data, so it is random. And that can be unfair, one way or the other. And it is imperative for call centers to get staffing right, to reduce turnover. 

It’s estimated that the cost of hiring and training a frontline employee for a call center is $15,000, and about $12,000 for a non-frontline or management employee. So that means that understanding an employee’s weaknesses and training them in a specific way is a way to save money and reduce costly turnover. AI gives you the ability to do just that.

What AI Measures in an Employee

We talked above about how you could evaluate every interaction if you had a 1:1 ration of call center workers and evaluators. But that doesn’t seem cost-efficient. But AI can do exactly that, by measuring a few key factors in employee/customer interactions. Not all of this is available now, as it is different level of intelligence, but it is the direction the technology is heading in.

  • Keywords. What are some important words or phrases that you want to use to promote a product or upsell? What information is valuable for you to get out? What are some words or phrases you want to use to handle certain situations. There are a million degrees of difference between “I apologize for the inconvenience” and “we’re sorry about that.” Which one do you want your employees to say? AI can pick out if your employees are using the right words and phrases in any interaction, whether on the phone or on Twitter.
  • Staying on script. We’ve talked quite a bit on how employees need to have the training and the emotional intelligence to understand unique problems or responses that don’t perfectly fit a script. But there is also the need to stay on it in many occasions. AI can judge just how far an employee is veering. By evaluating millions of interactions, it can learn to differentiate between some stylistic adjustments to aid in the individual interactions and going completely off-course.
  • Tone. AI is increasingly able to evaluate emotions through tone analysis. Is your employee perky and cheerful, or droning on in a dull monotone? Are they emphasizing the right parts or underselling it? (Think of how insincere a “we’d love to help you out today” is if said without any inflection.) Sophisticated algorithms can detect patterns, too. After all, everyone is going to have a bad call or a bad day. There won’t be sirens clanging if someone’s “Have a great day!” isn’t sufficiently emphatic. But over time, it can detect if an otherwise great employee has problems delivering the material in the right way. And you can work to fix that.
  • Interactions. It isn’t just evaluating employees in a vacuum. After all, employees have to interact with individuals who have different needs, and the best employees modulate themselves to fit the flow. AI will also be able to understand how a customer is acting to better evaluate an interaction.

 And that’s the point of AI. At its best, there is nothing grim or mechanistic about it. It might be based on algorithms, but those algorithms are sophisticated enough to create insight into how human behave.

 That insight could be an enormous benefit to your company, especially if you are partnered with a 3rd-party call center that uses industry-best training and cutting-edge technology to perfect your call center approach. It’s how AI can save you money and improve, not replace, your employees. There is nothing artificial about its benefits.

RDI-Connect is your full-service call center and customer care partner. We combine cutting-edge technology with superior hiring and training procedures to give your organization the support it needs. Your success is ours. To learn more about how Artificial Intelligence will impact your business, please download our white paper, “Artificial Intelligence, Real Results: How AI Will Improve Your Call Center Experience”. To learn more about how we can partner with you, please connect with us today.

Source: http://blog.rdi-connect.com/how-ai-can-evaluate-employee-speech-patterns-to-boost-call-center-productivity

Publish Date: June 13, 2017 5:00 AM


Predictive Analytics and Artificial Intelligence in Your Call Center

Using artificial intelligence to predict consumer behavior doesn't have to be scary. Predictive analytics improve your customer service. 

There aren’t many fields that seem further away from each other than large manufacturing and call centers. But the truth is...ok, the truth is, they really are. But there are some similarities. Both require keeping a customer happy. Both are increasingly reliant on connected technology to improve their products. And both are beginning to harness artificial intelligence to enable predictive analytics.

Artificial intelligence isn’t going to replace people, and it can’t replace intuition. But it can improve both, by understanding what is happening on any given call, providing the best information, predicting what will happen next, and analyzing enormous amounts of data to predict the nature of calls that are coming in.

In doing so, AI can make call centers more effective by giving your representatives the best chance to succeed. And it is doing so in the same way it is revolutionizing manufacturing: by anticipating problems that, previously, were just guesswork. It’s a huge step forward in algorithmical intelligence, and it is going to change how we approach our customers.

The Machine Parallel

Let’s briefly talk about manufacturing, and how it is using AI and the IoT to understand large systems. For our example, let’s take a vast field of wind turbines, huge machines which you see spread out for sometimes hundreds of square miles. Those can be in the field for up to 30 or 40 years, but they don’t always run smoothly. Different parts break down, and repairing them can be very difficult. Even more difficult is monitoring them across that huge area.

In situations like these, engineers have tended to use “preventative maintenance”. That is, we know that every 5 years we have to replace or upgrade the gearbox, 50% of which fail during that time period, so every 5 years we replace them all. That’s not an efficient system. What’s worse, gearboxes don’t fail like metronomes. They can fail unexpectedly, or can slowly start to lose efficiency based on higher-than-expected windloads, rain seeping in, or any other factor. You might not even notice that something is slowly going wrong, until there is a big problem.

At that point it is too late to solve; you can only repair. That’s where AI comes in. Modern turbines are all IoT-enabled, and are generating huge amounts of data. An AI system can look through all of this, analyze patterns, recognize inefficiencies, and spur action. It can churn through literally inhuman sets of data to determine when and where something is going wrong. That’s predictive analysis, which leads to predictive maintenance.

Sometimes, it can send an OTA software update, and sometimes it will require human engagement to repair. But either way it is saving time by recognizing an issue through pattern analysis. And that’s what your call center needs.

Predictive Analytics at a Call Center

So how does this relate to a call center? It’s the same principle: pattern recognition. Each call generates data. Every interaction becomes part of a pattern. And an algorithm that can learn from those patterns in a way that no human could will be able to judge any interaction based on the vast wealth of its knowledge.

What does that mean? A few things.

  • Detecting emotions: There are quavers in a person’s voice when they are about to get frustrated, or are angry. Sometimes, these happen before the speaker even realizes it, and certainly before the customer service rep. But an AI algorithm, which has heard every voice your system has ever processed, can determine if a call is about to go pear-shaped, and alert the rep. They can modify their approach. The AI can even instantly provide an alternative script for dealing with the exact mood.
  • Predicting needs. An AI algorithm can use predictive analysis to try to determine a caller’s specific problem as they are calling. It can look at call history, their products, the normal problems that come with having X product for Y years, even taking into account their geographic and demographic information. This can get the call off on the right foot.
  • Spotting problems before they become widespread. AI can also scour social media and gauge calls to see if one issue or another is becoming a pattern, in any given time or area. It’s like with the machines: it can spot a looming problem before it goes catastrophic.
  • Preparing for the storm. But even if AI can’t stop a problem before it starts, by scouring outside data, including social media, it can alert a call center that they need to be prepared for a specific issue. And that could be the difference between ensuring crip continuity of expert service or being caught flat-footed.

“Predictive analysis” is kind of an abstract term, we admit. All analysis is done with an eye on prediction. But in your call center, whether in-house or with a third-party partner who combines rigorous training with cutting-edge technology, can benefit from what AI and predictive analysis can bring. It helps you know what to do before you have to do it. It’s an extra step of training, done instantly. It makes an uncertain future a manageable present.

RDI-Connect is your full-service call center and customer care partner. We combine cutting-edge technology with superior hiring and training procedures to give your organization the support it needs. Your success is ours. To learn more about how Artificial Intelligence will impact your business, please download our white paper, “Artificial Intelligence, Real Results: How AI Will Improve Your Call Center Experience”. To learn more about how we can partner with you, please connect with us today.

Source: http://blog.rdi-connect.com/predictive-analytics-and-artificial-intelligence-in-your-call-center

Publish Date: June 9, 2017 5:00 AM


Artificial Intelligence Will Improve, Not Replace, Your Call Center Team

Your call center won't soon be run by robots. But artificial intelligence can improve ever aspect of customer care. 

On our blog, we’ve talked a lot about how technology is already changing call centers. Different social media channels expand the definition of customer service. Computerized call systems make for more accurate and efficient conversation. And, most of all, the rising power of artificial intelligence might completely revolutionize how call centers will operate. 

For decades, futurists and CEOs have wondered how best to implement rapidly-improving AI opportunities, and call centers always seemed like a logical start. After all, if scripts could be written, and answers planned in advance, why could it be automated? Once machines pass the Turing Test, it seems an easy jump to replacing human altogether.

That’s not the case though. As we talked about extensively in our “Humanizing your Call Center” series, every problem is unique. Every person has their own issues and needs to be dealt with in their own personal way. Passing the Turing Test can only go so far. You can simulate, but you can’t actually grant, emotional intelligence in an algorithm.

The problem is that too many people think that AI will replace human call centers, with a Luddite reaction that AI has no place. Well, it does have a place. AI will help your human representatives in a number of ways, making them more efficient by providing accurate data, measuring progress, discerning emotional responses, and more. AI will improve, not replace, your call center team. And there’s nothing artificial about that.

What AI Is Going to Bring to Your Call Centers 

Over the next few weeks, and through our white paper, we’ll go in-depth with what artificial intelligence will mean to your call center: how to use it, what benefits it will bring, how to avoid overreliance and more. We think any good call center, whether that is in-house or a full-service third-party partner, should have the technological capabilities to incorporate this new advance. 

After all, while the Singularity might not be near (sorry, Kurzweil), these benefits are. Here’s what we’ll be looking at over the next month.

  •  Predictive and Preventative Analytics. In manufacturing, preventative maintenance is knowing that there is a problem in your system before it becomes a major issue. AI can aid in customer service by detecting issues that customer might have by analyzing enormous amounts of data to understand slight things that are going wrong, including he detection of speech patterns. 
  • Analyzing customer speech patterns. Slight tremors betray emotion. Key phrases help indicate a problem that the customer doesn’t really know. All of this information can be immediately harnessed and analyzed to help guide the CSR down the best path. Doing so allows them to make smarter choices and provide better help.
  • Detecting employee speech patterns. AI can listen into every call and analyze employee performance in an objective manner. It can pick up the use of the right phrases and discern if the best course of action was followed. It can also analyze nuances in voice: tone, tremor, authority, vacillation, etc. This can help managers to improve employee performance.
  • How AI Turns Big Data Into Actual Insights. The phrase “big data” is one of the most well-known phrases of our connected age. But all that data is meaningless without the ability to collect, process, and analyze it. AI, with its sophisticated human-based algorithms, can actually turn data into insight on your customers, your products, and how to improve interactions. AI doesn’t just tell you what 2 time 2 equals. It tells you what “4” means.
  • How AI Can Pass Key Real-Time Insights to Customer Service Reps. You have someone on the phone. The call isn’t going well. It can be tough. But AI can actually pass you those insights it just gathered to you in real time, and a well-trained CSR can incorporate that into the rest of their process.
  • AI and Bots: Freeing Your People For the Tough Questions. Many people think AI-driven bots will be able to replace human customer care reps. They won’t be able to entirely. They’ll be able to handle the easy parts, the rote tasks, and will be able to do so with elan and grace. But they won’t be able to handle the hardest parts. That’ll still take humans. But bots will be able to free humans to only handle the hard stuff, and that’s important.
  • The Emotional Intelligence Factor- Where Human Rule. That’s important because it is still a human enterprise. You are dealing with humans, and when it gets to a point where a person needs to step in, it is serious. Only well-trained empathetic people can truly handle a challenging customer care call.

 

So businesses shouldn’t be waiting on AI to replace their customer care representatives. In fact, maybe “artificial” is misleading. That implies that it could be a replacement, like how you can still see with “artificial lighting”.  It can’t be a replacement, at least not for a long, long time (and maybe not ever; this isn’t Westworld). 

But if we think of it as Augmented Intelligence we have a far better idea of what it could be. Using it correctly is a way to improve your call center employees. It’s a way to deliver better service to every customer. It’s a way to make intelligence work for you. Join us over the next few weeks as we dive further into how that will work.

RDI-Connect is your full-service call center and customer care partner. We combine cutting-edge technology with superior hiring and training procedures to give your organization the support it needs. Your success is ours. To learn more about how Artificial Intelligence will impact your business, please download our white paper, “Artificial Intelligence, Real Results: How AI Will Improve Your Call Center Experience”. To learn more about how we can partner with you, please connect with us today.

Source: http://blog.rdi-connect.com/artificial-intelligence-will-improve-not-replace-your-call-center-team

Publish Date: June 8, 2017 5:00 AM


Using Subject Matter Experts in Your Organization Leads to Better Customer Service

It's good to talk to people who know stuff. The subject matter experts in your organziation should be utilized to make your customer service even better. 

No matter how smart you are, the amount of things you don’t know much (or anything) about vastly outweighs the thing you actually do know something about. That’s due to the sheer overwhelming amount of stuff there is to know in the universe. The world’s greatest astrophysicist probably doesn’t know very much about tribal politics in 5th century Germany, and the historian maybe nothing about astrophysics.

But they’d both understand that if they wanted to know about the other’s field, the best way to do so would be to ask.

That’s what we need to do in customer service. Too often, the customer service department is its own silo, segmented from the other departments, and doesn’t take full advantage of what everyone else in the company knows. Most importantly, they don’t take advantage of the people who create, market, and design the product or service that is being offered.

 As we’ve discussed, the more knowledge a CSR has, the more human and open will be their customer interactions. They’ll be able to understand a problem better even if it is unexpected. And a lot of that knowledge can come from subject matter experts (SMEs) in your organization. Involving them in the training creates a richer and more layered knowledge of the product. And that’s what CSRs need the most.

 Who Are Your Subject Matter Experts?

 A friend of mine was an engineer for a company that made geothermal engineering solutions for homes and businesses. One day I asked her what kind of customer service setup they had, and how they were trained. She had no idea. She asked around, and no one in engineering had any real notion of what customer service did, or even where they were located.

 That, unfortunately, is pretty normal. But it shouldn’t be. Because while I am sure their CSRs are well-trained, there was never a time when the engineers communicated directly with anyone from customer service. Which, when you think about it, is pretty weird.

 After all, the CSRs are the people who interact with customers more than anyone. And the engineers (in this case) knew the product better than anyone. So doesn’t that seem like a bit of a disconnect?

In every organization and business, there are people who know the products and services the best. Whether that is the CEO who has the broad vision or the designers and engineers of the service, the SMEs in your team have in-depth knowledge of every facet of your operation. They know what happens everywhere. They should be taken advantage of.

Using Your SMEs in Customer Service

Obviously, most organizations can’t arrange for a CSR to spend their first day of work hanging around the lab. But there should be regular interactions with team leaders, and there should be a proper flow of information.

This can take a few forms.

  • SME Interviews. Customer service representatives should have regular opportunities to create questions for SMEs based on issues/questions/complaints they receive. If there is a common problem, it behooves your business to bring it to the people who know it best (not only can they answer a question, but it might also give the SME insight on how to make the product or service better). These can be presented to different departments by a CSR team leader, which will also help open up the information spigot.
  • SME Training Presentations. It isn’t a bad idea to have SMEs in your organization film training videos, where they talk about what they do, their knowledge of the product, and anything else that might be helpful. These should be regularly updated. Services like Facebook Live make this a quick and easy process.
  • Livestreaming conversations. Even more than videos, you could regularly arrange an “SME Chat” via video conference. It would be easy to set this up so that CSRs can ask questions directly.

Knowledge, to a customer service representative, is the most powerful currency. It allows them to comfortably interact with the customer, because they are able to understand the problem. And there is no one who can provide more knowledge than your SMEs.

It all goes back to understanding. Understanding what the client wants. Understanding what the product does. Understanding any possible disconnect. That’s why every part of your organization should learn from and interact with each other. It doesn’t matter if your customer service is in-house or you are working with a trusted partner: knowledge is the key to understanding. And that’s the heart of great customer service.

At RDI-Connect, we understand that your business is as unique as your customers, and that you need a true partner to understand every aspect of your organization and of your customers and clients. Our B2B and B2C customer service professionals work with you to provide the most well-trained and humanized customer care available. Connect with us today to learn more.

Source: http://blog.rdi-connect.com/using-subject-matter-experts-in-your-organization-leads-to-better-customer-service

Publish Date: May 30, 2017 5:00 AM


How Identify Client Pain Points Leads To More Humanized Customer Service

Knowing that your products and services are being used for a specific need is the way to make a more human, and less painful, customer service experience. 

There’s a famous saying about how you shouldn’t put the cart before the horse. It can be used as a metaphor for a lot of things, mostly about getting ahead of yourself, but really, it’s kind of a stupid saying.

For one thing, where did it come from? Was that a common problem? Did people used to accidentally do that all the time? But more to the point, it is super easy to fix: just move the horse to the front. It has legs and is mobile; that’s the entire point of a horse. I’m not saying people weren’t handy back then, since they had to fight bears and make cabins out of mud and hope, but that seems like a pretty simple issues.

The problem comes from having an issue that you can’t easily fix, like if you had a cart but no horse at all. Or, in customer service, if your representatives are going into work without any clear idea of who your customers are.

If you are moving forward blindly, with understanding your customer’s needs, pain points, and values, your customer service is doomed to failure. You need to know what you have to identify and what is useful in order to create humanized customer care that will reach them, that will solve their problems, and that will entice them to keep using your product and service.

Know thy customer is the first rule. Otherwise, your horse is going to run smack dab into the back of your cart.

Knowing the Known Unknowns

So, what do you have to know to avoid a cart-and-horse fiasco? When creating humanized customer service plans for an audience, you have to ask yourself if you understand these six key points.

Who Your Buyer Is

This is the most elemental step, but it is one that too many businesses and organizations fail to address. You may have a vague idea of who you are trying to reach, but unless you have concrete and data-driven buyer personas, you are more or less doomed to be flailing around. This is part of content marketing, but it is important in customer service as well. Customer service means addressing someone or something. You don’t have to start with “Good morning, Jim” because 1) most people aren’t Jim, and 2) Jim’d be pretty freaked out.

But you do have to have a general customer in mind with every single interaction. We’ve talked about creating buyer personas, and how to make them work for marketing. But they also are important in customer service. It’s the first and most crucial step.

What Their Needs Are

What does your buyer want? The obvious answer is “to use our service” or “to buy 50 of our widgets!” But that isn’t clear enough. Understanding needs means not starting with an end in mind, but a beginning.

Why are they a consumer? What is it that they are trying to accomplish with your product and service? Do they need to streamline their company’s IT process and move to the cloud, and so need a managed IT provider? Do they need to satiate a hunger for nachos? Do they need to send their kids to the best day-care?

Remember that their “need” isn’t specifically to keep using your product. Their need is to solve a problem. You want to let them know, through your customer service, that you understand that problem. That will eventually lead them to your solution.

Pain Points

Pain points and needs can be broadly similar, but think of pain points as obstacles to their happiness. Maybe it is hard to get nachos delivered to their apartment. Maybe they have to get several layers of approval before they can make an IT service decision. Maybe they don’t have money for the highest-end day care.

These are their problems, which are adjacent to their needs. Are they losing money, or scared of losing more? Are they scared of putting their kids in a bad place? Are they unable to find good nachos? You should know what their main pain points are, and how you specifically can solve them. It isn’t about “Resolving a problem” on your end. It’s about making sure that their needs are being met by your service.

 

Emotional Connections

Different customers have different emotional triggers, and different service needs to appeal to different emotions. But every interaction has to have an emotional connection. It starts with empathy, and that’s the heart of humanized customer service: you have empathy for the real lives of your customers, because you understand their problems and their pain points.

In the case of the daycare, it can be highly emotional; you’re dealing with people’s children, which are very expensive. For managed IT, it is about ingratiating yourself by understanding the frustrations of a substandard IT system, and the dangers and annoyances inherent with it.

See It Through Their Eyes

Have some great content? Wrote a tagline that contains keywords and is still memorable? Is everyone in marketing pleased? That’s great, but it might not be enough. Always ask yourself what your marketing efforts looks like from a customer point-of-view. They don’t actually care about how good your marketing is, and if you win awards. They just want their questions answered.

So you need to be constantly looking at the customer from their point of view. Who and what appeals to them? What are the best ways to get their questions answered? Why did they choose you over anyone else, and what will it take to make them continue to choose that? It isn’t just because you are the best. They have to know you are the best, from their own path.

The Best Ways to Identify Needs

But how do you know this stuff? Some of it is instinct; some of it is common sense, and comes from customer interaction. But mostly, it isn’t. You can use common sense and guesswork to an extent, but when you do, you usually resort to stereotypes, misconceptions, generalizations, and nonsense about Millennials who only eat nachos. You need data-driven results. These can come from:

  • Surveys of existing customers. Usually tie them into a reward of some sort. This is your best source of demographic information
  • Forms on your website. You don’t want a form to be unwieldy, overlong, or annoying enough to drive people away (and there are analytical tools that tell you just how much is too much). But any information you can get on a customer, as individuals and in the aggregate, is helpful.
  • Research into broad market trends, blogs, industry gossip, technological or cultural shifts that might be impacting your field, and more. Stay abreast of what your customers stay abreast of. That’s the only way to speak the language.
  • Social media monitoring. Follow the top feeds in your field. Who are your readers reading? Why are they popular? Why is a YouTube channel getting thousands of hits a day? This is a way to see what matters most to your customers.
  • CRMs and Analytics. The tools you need to track customer behavior and how they respond to your service. Are they coming back? Taken broadly enough, this will demonstrate to you what is working and what isn’t.

From this data you can create a comprehensive customer service strategy that actually works. You understand what people need, what is keeping them from getting it, and what they’ll respond to. You can use this empathy to form an actual connection. That connection will lead them, like a horse that’s in front of a cart, into staying a customer.

At RDI-Connect, we understand that your business is as unique as your customers, and that you need a true partner to understand every aspect of your organization and of your customers and clients. Our B2B and B2C customer service professionals work with you to provide the most well-trained and humanized customer care available. Connect with us today to learn more.

Source: http://blog.rdi-connect.com/how-identify-client-pain-points-leads-to-more-humanized-customer-service

Publish Date: May 19, 2017 5:00 AM


Customer Service Representatives Can Be Your Best Content Marketers


Who is promoting your content marketing? Hopefully, you've got customer service representatives on it. 

Content marketers, for the most part, aren’t shy artists. We don’t really produce content for it not to be seen, just for the joy of creation. We create material to be seen, to be read, and to be shared. And that can be frustrating, because: what happens when it isn’t being seen and read and enjoyed? Is it worth it?

For many B2B companies, that is a sticking point with content marketing. They aren’t just getting it to the right people. That’s because they often don’t have a comprehensive strategy. Not having one leads businesses to question the value of content marketing. If it isn’t doing its job, is it still important? Or can we stop doing it?

Unfortunately, the answer to that last question is a thudding “NO”. Content marketing is still incredibly important, and perhaps even more than ever. Just check out these stats:

    • 200 million people use adblockers. Traditional advertising is still effective. But it needs to be augmented by something more.
  • Content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing. Time spent on the road or in meetings is incredibly valuable, but also expensive. Being able to spend the rest of your budget efficiently helps all sales and marketing teams.
  • Content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as outbound. This is because you are able to target people who are, at the least, vaguely interested in your product or service. You’re appealing to the, from the jump.
  • The best content produces 7.8 times more traffic than non-leaders. It’s not just that you need content marketing. You need good content marketing. And that might be the toughest part of all, because…
  • 88% of B2B marketers use content marketing, but only 32% have a real documented strategy.

That last stat can go without much comment, because it speaks for itself. Content marketing is hard. It’s hard to come up with ideas, and it is hard to distribute your content marketing in a way that actually attracts readers and viewers. You might make a great video, but if you aren’t connecting with customers, none of that matters.

So how to connect with them? The answer to that is wrapped in a bigger question: what is marketing? When we look at marketing as just what happens before a sale, we are limited. Marketing happens throughout the entirety of the Buyer’s Journey, and well after. You want customers to be long-term clients, to keep using your prodcut or service, and to upgrade as much as possible. That’s where customer service comes in.

We’ve been talking about how, in today’s inbound world, there is no real difference between customer service and marketing. They are two sides of the coin, points along an endless loop. Customer service representatives can be your best marketers, and not just because they make people like your company more. It’s because they can push your content marketing out into the world, letting it be shared with more people.

Customer service representatives can turn your clients into brand evangelists. In that way, they are your best content marketers. Let’s see how.

Customer Service Reps Know What Customers Need

 

You already know that customer service reps are a great source of ideas for content marketing. After all, they are on the front lines, and understand better how customers both see and use your product or service. They can help shape your marketing, because they understand the shadow between perception and reality.

But that’s not all they can do! They can also push out your amazing content to customer who need it. Let’s take a look at how that can happen, at a hypothetical medical supply store.

Phone Rings

CSR: (seeing name associated with number) Good morning, Mrs. Sanchez. Thank you for calling Hypothetical Medical Supply Store. My name is Alex, how can I help you?

Customer: I’m having trouble charging my husband’s wheelchair. The batteries are dying too quickly. What can I do?

CSR: (already knowing, thanks to omni-channel care, what kind of wheelchair the Sanchez’s have). OK, well, on your XYZ Model, there is sometimes an issue when the battery caps aren’t screwed on. Let me walk you through how to do that.

(walking through)

CSR: Hopefully, that will solve the problem. But there might be some other issues as well. If you would like, our content team has created a video of the Five Reasons Why Battery Packs Lose Power: And How To FIx It. If the problem comes from something else, or if this is a problem in the future, this could be handy to watch. It’ll walk you through them, and give you tips on how to prevent any issues moving forward.

Customer: Gracious! That would be wonderful.

CSR: Now, we also know that some customers in your area have had trouble navigating bad roads and rough crosswalks. Sometimes suburbs aren’t always the best at total ADA compliance. But we have an infographic about safe ways to use the XYZ in non-pedestrian-friendly areas. I can send that to your email as well.

Customer: We have been having some issues with that, but I didn’t think that you would be concerned. That’s so nice of you, and so helpful. We’d love to read it--and to send it to friends who have had some of the same problems. Thank you!

In that little exchange, Alex pushed two pieces of content out there, helping a client solve a problem, and helping them with something they didn’t even know to ask about. They created loyalty in doing so, because this content goes above and beyond just answering today’s question. And they created brand evangelists. Not only will Mrs. Sanchez tell the other people in her community about how nice the people at Hypothetical, Inc were, but she’ll also forward the infographic to her entire list.

People will hear about the company, and follow it, looking for more great content. The customer service rep brought more people into the sales funnel, and kept old customers happy. That’s the ideal way for it to work.

So make sure your CSRs have access to your content (which they helped you create by letting you know what people were calling or writing or tweeting about). Turn them into content marketers. They can use that to turn your customers into brand evangelists. They’ll make everyone a marketer, and that’s the goal of great content.

At RDI Corporation, we combine the best in progressive and comprehensive digital marketing with proven effectiveness in customer service. Our training, hiring, and execution practices make us complete partners with our clients. Connect with RDI/A or RDI-Connect to learn more, and we invite you to read our white paper, The Perfect Circle: How Customer Service and Marketing Are the Same Thing which discusses even more ways that the two sides can complement and improve each other.

Source: http://blog.rdi-connect.com/customer-service-representatives-can-be-your-best-content-marketers

Publish Date: April 12, 2017 5:00 AM

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