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Survey Reveals Greater Challenges in Meeting Customer Needs as Consumers Indicate they are Creating More Interactions across More Channels

According to a new survey by NICE, consumers are more empowered than ever before as they are communicating more often and using multiple channels to contact an enterprise. Consumers indicate that on average they are using six different channels for contacting service providers, while 86 percent note that on average, they are communicating more often, or at the same level, with businesses over all channels.

The Web continues to be the most popular and growing self-service channel, while smartphone applications and social networks have grown in popularity with more than 40 percent of respondents noting that they have increased their use of these channels.

Almost half of the respondents noted that if they are unable to accomplish a task on a company website, they will then turn to the contact center to resolve their issue. This is often due to the fact that respondents find complex tasks difficult to complete via the web self-service channel. As self-service channels are more often used for easier tasks, the contact center continues to evolve to "Tier 2" status, for taking care of escalated service requests.

Customer expectations are high as 40 percent of respondents want the live representative to already know about their experience before beginning their conversation in order to bring the issue to a quick and successful conclusion.

Some other key findings:

  • Within Financial Services, only 50% of customers indicated satisfaction in their interactions with a live phone representative. However, greater satisfaction was reported among respondents in the other verticals – here, 81% expressed satisfaction with the live rep channel.

  • The use of all interaction channels is growing, especially in the travel/hospitality and insurance sector. The healthcare industry lags behind in multi-channel service, and many of the advanced channels (e.g., social networks, smart phone applications) are still not prevalent. Healthcare customers prefer to use service centers (85%).

  • The use of smartphone apps and SMS is on the rise (34%), with the strongest growth in the financial services sector (46%) and the travel sector (38%). FSI customers are substantially more successful (52%) and satisfied with smart phone apps than users in other industries (34% use this channel successfully).

  • The role of IVR remains unclear; survey results indicate a failure to contain interactions and a significant negative impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty. One of the biggest motivators to use IVR is to get to a live representative who is aware of their IVR journey, or to use the callback option. Regardless of the vertical, around 60% of the respondents indicated that they try to bypass the IVR to get to a live representative.

  • [Full Article]   Jun-17-2012


    10 Mistakes that Lead to Mobile Customer Service Failure

    While organizations are judiciously deploying their mobile application strategy, there are 10 major mistakes that cause mobile customer service failure, according to Gartner, Inc. Gartner said organizations should develop a mobile application strategy that enables them to capitalize on the unique opportunities presented by mobile technology. There are four areas that need to be addressed when developing this strategy:

  • Demand. What do customers want, what does the business need, what devices and habits do customers have, and what will the competition do?

  • Supply. Innovation is a major challenge, demanding that organizations go beyond "me too" mobile applications. What staff and skills will be needed to manage external partners, and how will they be obtained? What services and partners should be used?

  • Control. Who owns and manages the strategy? How will the strategy be managed? What measurements will be used to track it?

  • Risks/issues. What risks and issues are raised by mobility? What could derail the strategy, what other factors will impact it?

  • Gartner has identified 10 major mistakes that lead to the failure of an organization's mobile customer service:

    1. Violation of the "three-click/tap/press" rule. Applications must not use more than three key strokes to get to the required functionality. Each additional keystroke typically adds complexity and often stops the user from returning to the application.

    2. Difficulty with ergonomics, especially text input. Just because your web content fits onto a laptop browser screen, this does not mean it is suitable for a mobile device. Mobile content needs to be simplified and repurposed for each user device.

    3. Not reusing learned behaviors — such as soft keys, navigation. Mobile applications need to pick up the user's habits on the phone. For example, if "autocomplete" was switched off on the phone settings then don’t use that option in your mobile application — because the user clearly dislikes that functionality.

    4. Violating "security 101." As with laptop and desktop applications, mobile applications need to comply with security requirements. Authentication, encryption and secure login should all be part of any mobile application architecture.

    5. Difficulty with navigation. Standard Web pages displayed on a mobile device often have content disappearing to the right and off the bottom of the screen. To navigate, users have to scroll left-right and up-down to try and find basic functionality such as the "back" button. Ensure that navigation buttons can be easily accessible at all times.

    6. Burying most important functions. Due to the limited screen real estate, mobile application designers must ensure that the most important functionality is right at the start of the navigation journey, as opposed to layering functionality deep down in the application.

    7. Incorrect or illegible display of text or graphics. Many mobile devices are still not smartphones and have limited graphics processing capability. Pushing large graphical images and video text to the mobile device could result in a very poor quality experience for the user.

    8. Inability to revise mistakes. Few things are as frustrating on a mobile device as trying to get the cursor to the middle of a word or Web address to correct a typing error. Always have two "back" buttons -- one that erases text and one that does not erase text but will allow the user the opportunity to correct typed mistakes.

    9. Content visibility. Sunlight is one of the worst enemies of mobile applications, because it often makes the text on the screen illegible. Employ the best practice of "bolding" the most important pieces of information on the screen.

    10. Resource inefficiency -- draining the battery, excessive network round trips. Mobile applications must have a stop-start capability to allow the user to stop an activity or data entry and then return to the same point without having to re-enter all the content. This capability is needed when the device has to be switched off mid way through a transaction -- for example, when flying or when the battery runs out.
    [Full Article]   Jun-10-2012


    CEO Study: Command & Control Meets Collaboration

    A new IBM study of more than 1,700 Chief Executive Officers from 64 countries and 18 industries worldwide reveals that CEOs are changing the nature of work by adding a powerful dose of openness, transparency and employee empowerment to the command-and-control ethos that has characterized the modern corporation for more than a century.

    The advantages of the fast-moving trend are clear. According to the IBM CEO study, companies that outperform their peers are 30 percent more likely to identify openness – often characterized by a greater use of social media as a key enabler of collaboration and innovation – as a key influence on their organization. Outperformers are embracing new models of working that tap into the collective intelligence of an organization and its networks to devise new ideas and solutions for increased profitability and growth.

    To forge closer connections with customers, partners and a new generation of employees in the future, CEOs will shift their focus from using e-mail and the phone as primary communication vehicles to using social networks as a new path for direct engagement. Today, only 16 percent of CEOs are using social business platforms to connect with customers, but that number is poised to spike to 57 percent within the next three to five years. While social media is the least utilized of all customer interaction methods today, it stands to become the number two organizational engagement method within the next five years, a close second to face-to-face interactions.

    Coming after decades of top-down control, the shift has substantial ramifications – not just for the CEOs themselves – but for their organizations, managers, and employees, as well as for universities and business schools, and information technology suppliers. IBM’s research finds that technology is viewed as a powerful tool to recast organizational structures. More than half of CEOs (53 percent) are planning to use technology to facilitate greater partnering and collaboration with outside organizations, while 52 percent are shifting their attention to promoting great internal collaboration.

    Greater openness is not without risks. Openness increases vulnerability. The Internet – especially through social networks – can provide a worldwide stage to any employee interaction, positive or negative. For organizations to operate effectively in this environment, employees must internalize and embody the organizations values and mission. Thus, organizations must equip employees with a set of guiding principles that they can use to empower everyday decision making. Championing collaborative innovation is not something CEOs are delegating to their HR leaders. According to the study findings, the business executives are interested in leading by example.

  • By the numbers

  • CEOs regard interpersonal skills of collaboration (75 percent), communication (67 percent), creativity (61 percent) and flexibility (61 percent) as key drivers of employee success to operate in a more complex, interconnected environment.

    To build its next-generation workforce, organizations have to actively recruit and hire employees who excel at working in open, team-based environments. At the same time, leaders must build and support practices to help employees thrive, such as encouraging the development of unconventional teams, promoting experiential learning techniques and empowering the use of high-value employee networks.

    The trend toward greater collaboration extends beyond the corporation to external partnering relationships. Partnering is now at an all-time high. In 2008, slightly more than half of the CEOs IBM interviewed planned to partner extensively. Now, more than two-thirds intend to do so.

  • Other findings

  • The IBM study found that a majority (71 percent) of global CEOs regard technology as the number one factor to impact an organization’s future over the next three years – considered to be a bigger change agent than shifting economic and market conditions.

    Across all aspects of their organization – from financials to competitors to operations – CEOs are most focused on gaining deeper insights about their customers. Seven out of every ten CEOs are making significant investments in their organizations’ ability to draw meaningful customer insights from available data.
    [Full Article]   Jun-10-2012


    Survey Uncovers Significant Gap in Delivering a Superior Customer Experience

    Delivering an exceptional customer experience has proven to be a significant challenge to most organizations, even though they understand the critical impact it has on their businesses. These findings are highlighted in a recent survey jointly fielded by nFusion and Pegasystems Inc.

    The survey, titled Designing and Managing Customer Experiences for Improved Brand Performance, found that while 95 percent of organizations questioned said the customer experience was important, only 6 percent considered their organizations best practitioners. Such results highlight a significant disconnect between understanding the impact of customer experience and actually being able to deliver a positive experience. The majority of executives surveyed cited disjointed customer touch-points across channels and customer facing organizations as one of the key factors contributing to an inconsistent and often negative customer experience. As a result of channel and organizational silos, companies are lacking transparency and integration in customer facing initiatives across the organization. Sixty-nine percent of executives surveyed believed that the lack of coordinated customer touch points is resulting in a negative impact on their brand.

    The survey also highlighted a strong correlation between companies who successfully deliver great customer experience and the positive impact on their brand reputation. Successful organizations have been able to move beyond generic customer experiences to deliver more personalized, relevant experiences during every customer interaction. Responses cited that such efforts are usually driven top-down from the CEO, with the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) best equipped to lead such initiatives.
    [Full Article]   Jun-10-2012


    Seven Rules for Successful Self-Service

    Why should people who take pride in -- and businesses that depend on -- serving customers embrace self-service? Because, as Micah Solomon, a “new guru of customer service excellence” (Financial Post), states: as an adjunct to great human-provided service, “great self-service offers a way to provide great anticipatory service.” As he shows in his new book, HIGH-TECH, HIGH-TOUCH CUSTOMER SERVICE (AMACOM 2012), great self-service helps suggest choices and behaviors to customers via details volunteered by those very customers. Here are his seven rules for successful self-service:

    1. Customers need a choice of channels. When customers call on the phone, they shouldn’t be told to go to your website. “A choice means they choose, and you respect their decision,” Solomon stresses.

    2. Self-service needs to have escape hatches. For starters, automated confirmation letters need to prominently feature a reply-to address. And when you end FAQs and similar self-help postings with “Did this answer your question?” contemplate what should happen if the customer’s response is “No.”

    3. Usability is a science that needs to be respected. It pays to play by the hard-and-fast rules of what customers can easily process and have come to expect. For example, “O” on a telephone menu should always take you to a human, and the search bar needs to be at the top of a web page—right where the customer expects it. “Reinventing the wheel as far as usability is self-defeating,” Solomon guarantees.

    4. Customers need to be able to shift lanes. Whether a customer enters through your website, a phone line, or an email, the experience of connecting with your company should be cohesive. Customers shouldn’t have to start from scratch if they’ve already shared information with your company in another channel.

    5. Self-service has to be monitored and reviewed regularly. “Modern self-service can’t be set and then forgotten,” Solomon emphasizes. “It’s an endless work in progress.”

    6. Your staff needs to have used—recently—your self-service channels. “Otherwise,” warns Solomon, “they won’t ever recommend, understand the issues with, or be able to converse intelligently with a customer about using them.”

    7. Ugly upsells through self-service are a brand killer. handles upselling in a gently suggestive way, with a “frequently bought with” message. “Harder sells are especially hazardous in self-service, as there’s no human tone of voice,” Solomon asserts. He strongly suggests trying to soften a direct upsell with tongue-in-cheek humor.

    Adapted from HIGH-TECH, HIGH-TOUCH CUSTOMER SERVICE: Inspire Timeless Loyalty in the Demanding New World of Social Commerce by Micah Solomon (AMACOM 2012).
    [Full Article]   Jun-03-2012


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