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What are the top trends for customer service in 2013?

January 25, 2013 1 comment

As we’re now well into January, commentators are releasing a growing number of predictions for the customer service market in 2013.

Crystal Ball

The latest is from industry analysts Forrester. While its full trend report will be published later in the month, it has released a sneak preview of where it sees the customer service industry going this year.

Essentially it revolves around three areas:

  1. The need to personalise customer service
  2. How companies need to empower their agents in order to deliver quality service
  3. The opportunity to take advantage of the maturing customer service technology market

With 15 main trends identified, from the importance of analytics to the growth of mobile solutions, there are a lot of vital ideas for those involved in the customer experience to read and digest.

Many of these trends are echoed by Eptica’s experience working with customers across the world, particularly that consumers are now demanding the ability to contact organisations through the channel of their choice, rather than simply the phone or email.

Underpinning this multichannel approach is a need to empower agents with the right tools, training, processes and knowledge to deliver a superior customer experience.

At the heart of this is creating a consistent, central source of information – indeed Forrester trend 8 is that “Knowledge Management is becoming the jewel in the customer service crown.” This knowledge needs to be available across all channels – so that agents are providing the same answers via the phone as web self-service systems for example.

To meet this need Forrester sees companies adopting best practices in knowledge management, including:

  1. Making it easier to capture content from disparate sources (like email, social media interactions, and forum threads)
  2. Making it simpler (and faster) to locate the right content
  3. Allowing agents and customers to rate and comment on content
  4. Enabling content to be published quickly without complex review processes
  5. Closely integrating case management and knowledge management solutions to increase efficiency
  6. Becoming more data-driven, using analytics to understand the value of content

The rising importance of knowledge is something that we’ve been seeing for some time at Eptica, with companies centralising information and then making it available across multiple channels to deliver a consistent, efficient and high quality experience to customers. And the benefits are enormous. After installing centralised knowledge management insurer Ageas Insurance Solutions UK has seen First Contact Resolution rates rise to 96% and customer handling time halve, airline AirAsia has won multiple awards for customer service while reducing costs by 40% and the NHS Business Services Authority saved £121,000 in a single year after deploying Eptica’s knowledgebase for its 230 agents.

Taking Forrester’s predictions one step further, 2013 should be the year that every company examines how knowledge management can help transform its customer service.

Eptica acquires Lingway to strengthen multichannel customer experience

November 8, 2012 4 comments

Eptica today announced that it has acquired multilingual semantic search engine and sentiment analysis software developer Lingway. The addition of Lingway’s advanced search technology will further strengthen Eptica’s multichannel customer service suite, improving the experience for consumers. Following on from its successful fund raising round earlier in 2012, the new acquisition demonstrates Eptica’s continued momentum and ambitious growth plans.

Founded in 2001, Lingway provides specialised natural language search solutions and knowledge management technology to over 100 customers in areas such as HR and reputation management. Existing Lingway customers will continue to be supported under the Eptica-Lingway brand.

The integration of Lingway’s world leading technology will benefit Eptica customers in two main ways:

Improved multichannel search experience
Adding Lingway’s natural language search and sentiment analysis technology to the centralised Eptica platform will help organisations and their customers by providing an improved multichannel search experience.  Lingway’s technology also allows advanced content analysis, extraction and automated classification of data from any document source enabling Eptica customers to broaden the scope of their knowledgebase and extend its use to support enterprise applications such as HR.

Measuring social sentiment
Lingway’s advanced Sentiment Analysis will be integrated with Eptica’s existing Social Media Interaction suite, enabling customer service and marketing departments to track and analyse the tone of social media discussions in real time, giving a deeper insight into customer behaviour across networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Eptica is already leading the move to social customer service, with organisations such as AirAsia and Verbaudet relying on the Social Media Interaction suite to monitor and respond to social media customer posts and questions in real-time.

Improving the customer experience is a key goal for successful businesses across the globe. The combination of growing competition and rising consumer expectations mean that delivering the best possible experience is critical to keeping customers satisfied and protecting and increasing revenues. This is driving major market growth as organisations invest in technology to underpin their customer experience strategies – the worldwide market for web self-service software alone is expected to be worth $1 billion in 2012, increasing at $100m per year.

Eptica’s multichannel customer interaction suite enables organisations to create the best customer experience by delivering the answers customers want on the channel of their choice (phone, email, web, chat, social media, and mobile).  At the heart of Eptica’s multichannel suite is a dynamic, self learning knowledgebase and enterprise class workflow engine. This ensures every request is handled efficiently whether managed through a self-service channel or the contact centre. More than 400 organisations worldwide are using Eptica to improve service levels, increase efficiency and maximise sales.

As Olivier Njamfa, Eptica CEO and President, commented, “The acquisition of Lingway’s advanced technology brings us best in class multilingual search, strengthens our multichannel platform and enables Eptica and Lingway customers worldwide to improve customer experience, increase efficiency, and consequently grow revenues.”

To read the full release on the acquisition click here.

Succeeding in an ‘always on’ world

October 9, 2012 2 comments
Singapore Flyer

Singapore Flyer (Photo credit: chooyutshing)

Our last post talked about the strains facing companies as consumers demand faster and faster responses to their queries. However it isn’t just speed that customers value – they want to be able to get an answer through whatever channel they choose, whether online or offline. And if you don’t provide the right experience they’ll simply take their custom elsewhere.

To help Asian companies meet the challenge of successfully doing business with always on consumers, the Contact Centre Association of Singapore (CCAS) is organising a breakfast seminar on the Multichannel Customer Experience. Sponsored by Eptica, and taking place on Friday 12th October 2012 it will address the key issues facing customer service today.

Covering how to create a seamless multichannel experience and a more efficient service operation the event will include practical advice on:

  • How to improve efficiency and reduce your service costs by up to 40%
  • How to improve quality of service and first contact resolution to more than 90%
  • How to reduce the volume of inbound emails by 50% and calls by more than 30%
  • How to achieve joined up and future proof multichannel web, email, social, chat, telephone and mobile customer service.

The keynote guest speaker will be Huiyoong Yong, IT Strategic Communications, AirAsia. Huiyoong will be talking about how AirAsia is using Eptica’s software to deliver award-winning customer service.

By deploying Eptica as a centralised customer Self-service system, AirAsia is now providing fast, consistent customer service across the web, Facebook and mobile channels, 24 hours a day. Over one million enquiries per month are now being managed through the AskAirAsia system. What is critical for consistency of answers is that all these channels share the same knowledgebase. So whether customers ask a question through the web, Facebook or mobile they receive the same answer, through the channel of their choice.

Eptica CEO Olivier Njamfa, will share his experiences on how to achieve best practice when it comes to multichannel customer service and Eptica’s advanced customer interaction management suite will be demonstrated, showing how companies can both improve efficiency and service levels through an integrated solution. The morning will finish with a question and answer session and the chance to network with other customer service professionals from across Singapore.

The event is free and to find out more and book your ticket simply click here

The growth of web self-service

September 14, 2012 5 comments

Organisations today operate in a multi-channel world. Consumers want the freedom to be able to contact them through a whole variety of channels – the web, email, phone, social media, chat and letter. And they want to be able to use different channels for different interactions – so they might ask a general question on a company website and call or email with a specific enquiry about the service they are receiving.

Amidst all the talk of social media and mobile, the importance of web self-service is often overlooked. Yet it is growing fast – research from NICE found that 28% of consumers surveyed in the UK, US and Australia used the web to interact with companies at least once a week. Financial services companies were the most popular destinations, which is fuelling increased investment in technology. Consequently one in five is planning to implement online self-service, web chat or instant messaging in 2013.

This increased investment is dramatically expanding what the web self-service market is worth. According to Gartner analyst Johan Jacobs annual revenue in the sector has risen from $600m in 2010/2011 research to $1 billion in its latest Magic Quadrant, which is due out later in the year. At Eptica we’re seeing similar levels of growth, reporting a 20% turnover increase in 2011 alone.

What is web self-service?
So what does web self-service cover, what are the benefits and how do companies implement it? Obviously web self-service is a key part of Eptica’s product suite and we have extensive experience in the area, but we’ll leave it to Johan Jacobs from Gartner to give his views, as quoted in an interview with Mycustomer.com.

Essentially there are two parts to web customer service. The first is transactional – letting customers access their accounts, check bills and make bookings online. Previously these all had to be handled by a customer service representative, so there are obvious advantages for both the customer (greater control and speed) and company (reduced costs).

The second element of web customer service essentially helps customers to find answers to their queries online. You simply type in your question online into an Ask a Question box and the software analyses it, fetching a relevant answer from a constantly updated knowledgebase of information. Advanced systems such as Eptica’s uses intelligent, meaning-based search to make sure that answers are accurate, fast and constantly updated. Eptica’s knowledgebase is also self-learning, which means it learns  from the way it is used, which content is best for answering a specific question.

The benefits
The benefits for consumers of web self-service are obvious – they can get fast access to the information they need without having to email or call a contact centre. It doesn’t break the customer journey and is seamless part of their browsing experience.

For companies there are double benefits. Happier customers are more likely to buy more from you and more tangibly it reduces costs. As Jacobs points out, a call to the contact centre can cost anywhere between $27-$55 on average. Web self-service removes the need for some of these calls, and the same knowledgebase can also be used to power other channels such as chat. With a single agent able to chat to 5-6 customers online at the same time, the cost of a single web chat falls to $2-5 according to Gartner.

Achieving these benefits relies on the strength of the content within the knowledgebase. Information needs to be comprehensive, kept up to date and always accurate. Jacobs sees knowledge management as “the core building block” – fail to invest in building a strong enough knowledgebase and customers will simply revert to calling your contact centre.

Go multichannel
In our experience to get real value, this knowledgebase should span all your customer service channels – delivering consistent information however people want to contact you through. For example, Eptica customer AirAsia has deployed the same knowledgebase across the web self-service, Facebook and mobile channels and is dealing with over 1 million queries every month.

As Gartner’s comments show, web self-service is a market that is growing rapidly – and with more and more channels being introduced ensuring that consistent knowledge spans the whole customer experience is going to be key to successful businesses.

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