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Posts Tagged ‘Self service’

6 Top Trends Driving Customer Expectations

August 27, 2014 1 comment

Every business understands that today’s customers are demanding more – and are happy to move to the competition if they don’t receive what they are looking for. However, breaking these demands down into specific areas can be difficult, so those involved with customer experience should take a look at a recent Forbes blog post by customer service expert Micah Solomon as it gives more detail on 10 areas where companies should focus on fixing problems.eptica_6_top

Many of these echo what we hear at Eptica when talking to our customers as well as our own research in the recent Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study of 100 top UK brands. Looking through Micah’s top 10, I’ve picked 6 areas which reflect exactly what we are seeing in the market:

1. Speed is critical
Customers want answers to their queries delivered in near real-time, with expectations rising continually. Yet when we analysed companies in the Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study the average time to answer an email was 61 hours and 39 minutes (nearly three whole days), while the average response time for Twitter was 8 hours and 37 minutes. This doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to reply quickly (and accurately) – the fastest response time on email was 7 minutes and for Twitter just 4 minutes. If you don’t improve speed of response, chances are that your competitors will.

2. Accuracy is paramount
Misspelt emails or incorrect, inconsistent information are not acceptable to consumers. Companies need to join up systems and centralise information to ensure that not only do they deliver fast answers but that they are accurate. Again, the Eptica Study found a lack of consistency – just 1 in 8 companies provided the same answer to an identical question asked across 2 channels.

3. Customers are happy to help themselves
Driven by a desire for speed and control, customers are increasingly keen to find out information for themselves or update their own details without needing to call or email. Web self-service software has been deployed on 55% of the top 100 brands we researched, helping customers to help themselves. This boosts satisfaction levels, reduces the load on the contact centre and increases efficiency at the same time.

4. We live in an ‘always-on’ world
Customers want information or a response NOW, rather than within office hours. This is a challenge to many companies who may lack the resources to staff contact centres or social media monitoring teams 24×7. However, using technologies such as web self-service can help by providing answers to customers at any time, day or night, minimising the number of employees that need to be working out of office hours.

5. Being multichannel is vital
The typical customer journey spans multiple channels and consumers don’t expect to have to repeat themselves or re-enter information if, for example, they move from the web to email. Technology needs to join up channels to give a consistent experience and create a single customer record that can be accessed by agents however consumers choose to contact you.

6. Customers expect you to notice
Customers want to be valued – and that includes listening to what they say about your brand, products and service. Whether they comment on social media, blogs or the web, they expect you to pick up on their words and respond quickly and helpfully. This means that you need to be on the same social media channels as your customers – yet, for example, the Eptica Multichannel Study found that just 76% of companies were on Twitter.

All of these trends (and the other 4 in Micah’s top 10) stem from the fact that customers are both now more demanding and more empowered than ever before. They want more and are unafraid to either complain or switch supplier if they don’t get what they want. Companies therefore need to focus on delivering the right experience, right now, if they are to retain customers and grow their revenues.

5 key benefits of natural language powered self-service

August 6, 2014 2 comments

When interacting with organisations, customers value convenience, speed and consistency above all. Self-service systems deliver in all three of these areas, which is leading to their widespread adoption on the web. But self-service isn’t stopping there. Advances in speech recognition and voice to text technology mean that companies are beginning to look beyond websites to applying self-service to channels such as the telephone, in the contact centre and to apps on mobile devices. This convergence opens up new opportunities for engagement and improving the customer experience.

eptica_natural_powered_languageAt present however the web is the primary channel for many consumers looking to interact with organisations through self-service. Whether accessing websites via traditional PCs or mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones, the web is an intrinsic part of the relationship between customers and brands. According to Forrester 52% of consumers say they will abandon an online purchase if they can’t find an answer quickly to their question. Essentially, consumers don’t want to have to switch channels to get a response, which means that companies need to invest in technologies such as web self-service to deliver the right customer experience.

Natural language powered web self-service makes it easy for customers to get answers to their questions, with minimum effort and maximum accuracy. It goes beyond static FAQ pages or keyword search by understanding the whole question being asked and then providing the most relevant answer from its centralised knowledgebase. Advanced web self-service systems use technologies such as linguistics to analyse the context of the whole question, and therefore get the heart of what the customer actually is looking for. So, for example, it can tell the difference between cricket the game and the flying insect by reviewing the words around it. Questions that cannot be answered satisfactorily through web self-service can be automatically escalated to agents via email, and the resulting answers then added to the knowledgebase.

At a time of rapidly rising customer contact volumes on digital channels, web self-service provides five key benefits:

1. Improved customer service
Nothing annoys customers more than having to switch channels unnecessarily when they have a query. A well-structured web self-service system understands their question using natural language techniques and delivers a fast response, avoiding the need for them to call or email. This improves customer satisfaction ratings and has a positive impact on Net Promoter Scores (NPS).

2. Greater efficiency
Analysts Contact Babel suggests that it costs £3.87 on average to answer a query over the phone and £3.70 via email. In contrast web self-service has a negligible cost per transaction, as there is no need for direct agent involvement. In most cases web self-service has reduced calls and emails by over 50%, while still improving service levels. The efficiency savings are therefore potentially large, whatever business sector you operate in.

3. Reduced load on other channels
By deflecting incoming interactions from other channels, the load on contact centre agents is correspondingly reduced. This means they have more time to deliver personalised answers to more complex questions, such as around accounts or billing queries, that cannot be provided through web self-service. In turn this improves the customer experience.

4. 100% consistency
With a single knowledgebase behind web self-service, customers receive the same, consistent answer however they phrase their question. The same knowledgebase can be extended to underpin other channels, for example being provided to agents answering email or phone queries, further increasing efficiency and multi-channel consistency.

5. Advanced insight
Static FAQs provide no insight into the questions your customers are asking. In contrast, web self-service systems can be analysed to view the most popular questions and the insight used to improve business processes. For example, if 90% of queries are asking if a specific product is available in blue, or 75% of questions are sent at a specific point in the checkout process, companies can use this information to modify their operations and boost revenues.

Natural language powered web self-service is a technology that benefits organisations and their customers equally. In an increasingly competitive market, all companies should investigate how it can help them boost engagement and increase efficiency – before their rivals do.

Delivering omnichannel success in an ever changing world

April 15, 2013 5 comments

Customers are demanding better service through more and more channels. And they have no patience for roadblocks on the customer journey. According to Forrester 34% give up or go to a competitor after an unsuccessful website experience. Those that do persist tend to switch to your most expensive contact channels – nearly half (49%) of those that couldn’t find information online either called or emailed the organisation concerned.MultichannelGraphic_Web

So you’ll either lose the sale or will add unnecessarily to your costs by providing a substandard customer experience. In today’s fiercely competitive market this puts your very business survival at risk. But with a growing number of channels to manage and customers that want to be able to switch seamlessly between them, how do you deliver a consistent, omnichannel experience to everyone?

Based on its work with 400 leading organisations including AirAsia, TUI, Dixons, Ageas and the NHS Business Services Authority, Eptica has created a six stage approach to create a seamless omnichannel customer experience:

1. Install a single omnichannel workflow that brings all interactions together and automatically routes them to the best agent or department to answer the query. This also delivers a single view of the customer and improves efficiency.

2. Create a seamless customer journey by providing the right information at key points on all channels (phone, web, email, chat, social and mobile) to help move browsers to buyers. Make it simple for customers to move channels without having to repeat their query or re-enter information.

3. Deploy a centralised multichannel knowledgebase to deliver fast, accurate and consistent answers on every channel. Sharing knowledge from a single source not only improves the experience for customers, but increases efficiency and reduces management time and cost.

4. Increase adoption of Self-service by deploying it on your website, via mobile apps and on social media sites such as Facebook. By helping customers find answers to their own questions they don’t need to switch to other channels – reducing inbound emails by half and calls by 25% at least.

5. Analyse customer interactions across every channel. Ensure you track and trace the visibility of every interaction and measure agent performance in real time. Use technologies such as sentiment analysis to understand what your customers think of you without forcing them to fill in surveys – and use this information to improve your products and services.

6. Listen and respond to social media enquiries. As well as monitoring and replying quickly to relevant messages on Twitter and Facebook use sentiment analysis to gain a real time understanding of customer mood and how they view your brand.

To give more insight on how to deliver omnichannel success Eptica is running a webinar on 16th April 2013 at 9.30am BST. Aimed at managers in every industry you can register for the free event here.

Turning customer service excellence into sales

April 10, 2013 8 comments

logoSuccessful organisations have long realised that delivering the best customer experience has a direct impact on their profits. Happier customers remain loyal, buy more and tell their friends about the good experience they’ve had. Upset customers move to your competitors and use social media to tell the world about the poor experience they’ve had to endure.

This is backed up by research – Forrester believes that a ten point increase in a company’s customer service score can translate into an extra $1 billion of additional sales. But while most companies understand the importance of the customer experience, delivering it well can be much more complex and difficult. Customers have increasingly high expectations and want the same level of excellent service across every channel and device, time after time.

To help businesses meet this need, accelerate online sales and turn customer service into a revenue generator Eptica has just launched its Multichannel Customer Interaction Suite 8.2.

Eptica’s unified solution for multichannel customer service gives customers access to brands from multiple touch points: web, email, chat, mobile, phone and social media. Acquiring Lingway in November 2012 has enabled Eptica to strengthen its suite with one of the most powerful multilingual semantic analysis engines on the market, delivering functionality that helps increase sales and improve the customer experience.

Eptica version 8.2 has been made more powerful in four key areas:

1          Knowledge based proactive web chat
By integrating Eptica’s proactive web chat solution with the centralised Eptica knowledgebase, the efficiency of every chat agent is improved and conversion rates increased by up to 10x. Completely customisable rules of engagement allow chat sessions to be triggered by customer events while enhanced co-browsing enables agents to remove road blocks on the customer journey, increasing successful online form submission by up to 25%.

2          Customer sentiment analysis
Companies can now analyse the tone of every customer interaction, whether on social media, email, forms, surveys, or digitised letters and faxes, delivering vital insight into customer sentiment about product and brand. This can then be used to identify emerging issues, service problems and root causes in order to improve the customer experience, and sales.

3      Emotion-based routing
All incoming digital enquiries are automatically routed based on the content and tone of the customer’s question. For example, difficult or complicated enquiries can be directed to a specialist team, urgent enquiries prioritised and happy customers automatically offered the chance to complete a feedback survey.

4      Enhanced Web Self-service for web, mobile and social media
Customers want access to consistent answers through every channel and on every device. Eptica’s enhanced Web Self-service provides unlimited flexibility and leverages responsive design to create the best customer experience across the web, social media, iPhone, iPad, Android and Smart TV channels. Self-service options can now be quickly added to any point on a website, helping customers find the answers they need to complete their purchase. Customer service answers can also be automatically displayed through existing product search boxes, and Self-service widgets can display context sensitive help related to the product or service the customer is researching or buying.

Companies realise they need to deliver the right customer experience if they are increase revenues and survive in increasingly competitive markets. With the new features in the Eptica Multichannel Customer Interaction Suite, customers can access the right information they need to complete the customer journey, whatever their channel or device, boosting revenues and ensuring that service excellent improves the bottom line.

NHS Business Services Authority And Eptica Win At Customer Contact Association Excellence Awards

November 15, 2012 4 comments

Eptica and NHS Business Services Authority (NHS BSA), have won the Most Effective Use of Self Service category at the prestigious 2012 Customer Contact Association (CCA) Excellence Awards. NHS BSA has seen training time for new agents drop by 30% and first year savings of £121,000 since its Eptica-powered self-service knowledge management technology project called Sherlock went live.

Sherlock has enabled NHS BSA to transform telephone customer service. It ensures that 230 agents can access accurate, up to date information in order to deliver fast, consistent answers to the 3 million calls it receives every year.

The benefits already delivered by Sherlock have exceeded project expectations. As well as lowering training time the number of staff deployed on the service desk has been reduced by a third. In a recent survey 72% of agents said that Sherlock had made their jobs easier and 62% believed it had added to the customer experience. Sherlock is receiving nearly 40,000 queries every month from agents and the project is predicted to save £121,000 in its first year of operation, rising to £162,000 per annum in the future.

The NHS BSA is responsible for a wide range of healthcare-related administration services. These include managing the NHS Pension Scheme in England and Wales, which has over 2 million members, administering the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme in the UK, processing and making payments to dentists and pharmacists and managing the NHS Student Bursary scheme.

“Winning this prestigious CCA award is demonstration of the benefits that self service is delivering to every one of the 3 million calls NHS BSA receives every year,” said David Roberts, Shared Services Manager, NHS Business Services Authority. “Working with Eptica has transformed how we provide customer service, making it simple for our 230 agents to find information and answer telephone queries across the diverse range of services we deliver. Our agents love Sherlock and it is making a major difference in how we operate, enabling us to provide a superior, efficient, customer experience to telephone callers.”

The awards were announced at the CCA Gala Dinner on 7 November 2012, part of the annual CCA Convention. NHS BSA was also shortlisted for three further awards for customer service excellence. In 2011, Eptica and Ageas Insurance Services won the Best Technology Partnership category at the CCA Awards. In the same week NHS BSA and Eptica were runners up at the North East Contact Centre Awards in the Innovative Use of Technology category, with NHS BSA winning best North East Contact Centre, for the second successive year.

“Providing the highest levels of customer service is crucial for every organisation, whatever sector they operate in,” said Dee Roche, VP, Global Marketing, Eptica. “This latest recognition for NHS BSA’s Sherlock knowledge management project demonstrates how the organisation is leading the public sector. As the CCA award shows, Sherlock is making self service elementary for NHS BSA.”

The CCA is a membership body of 900 organisations across the UK with over 5000 senior customer services practitioners. Its Excellence Awards programme is designed to recognise achievements of individuals and organisations committed to delivering outstanding customer service. The Excellence Awards judging panel includes professionals from all sectors and senior executives with wide-ranging experience in customer contact and customer service.

Customer service on an internet scale

October 26, 2012 1 comment

Solving customer problems and delivering the highest levels of service is seen as central to successful businesses. But a recent musing from DeWitt Clinton of Google raised the question – does service scale when you have billions of users across the globe?

Clinton posted this thought:

 “If you have a billion users, and a mere 0.1% of them have an issue that requires support on a given day (an average of one support issue per person every three years), and each issue takes 10 minutes on average for a human to personally resolve, then you’d spend 19 person-years handling support issues every day.

If each support person works an eight-hour shift each day then you’d need 20,833 support people on permanent staff just to keep up.”

And he concluded: “That, folks, is internet scale.”

Essentially Google has a two pronged approach to customer service. Big customers (such as major retailers or agencies spending millions on AdWords) get access to a real account representative. However for normal users (Clinton’s billion), many of whom aren’t paying anything for their Google products, the company delivers customer service through automated self-service systems, content (such as videos) posted online and by creating forums where customers can help each other.

As Google has evolved, there are two problems with this. Firstly, there’s now a dizzying array of Google products (from browsers to Google Docs and the Android operating system) that are more complex than a simple search engine and require much more hands on service. People rely on them to run their lives/businesses so any problems have potentially calamitous effects. Secondly, by essentially outsourcing a lot of customer service to your community you do get internet scale, but risk losing control of the relationship with your customers. This makes it more difficult to sell more services and positions the company as faceless rather than friendly.

So what can Google do? Clearly creating a customer contact centre with space for over 20,000 people is a non-starter. But given the negative comments that greeted Clinton’s post (and wider complaints, often raised on social media) customers expect better from the company.

In our experience the answer comes back to providing knowledge to customers across all the channels and places they might be looking for it. A centralised knowledgebase that is available via web self-service, social media and customer forums will deliver consistent help to customers in the format they are looking for. And by linking self-service to customer forums and social media Google can bring in answers from the community but through a consistent, easy to use interface. Incoming questions can be analysed to find gaps in the knowledgebase or to spot customer trends and new answers can be easily disseminated across the globe. Obviously this is a major undertaking, but as Forrester analyst Harley Manning points out delivered professionally low cost self-service doesn’t have to mean low quality. Essentially a focus on multichannel knowledge provides a chance for Google to create a human face for service on an internet scale, benefiting users without significantly increasing costs.

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

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