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Digital Engagement Blog

SpeechTEK 2017 and the Rise of the Conversational Interface

“New uses of speech technologies are changing the way people interact with companies, devices, and each other. Speech frees users from keyboards and tiny screens and enables valuable, effective interactions in a variety of contexts.”  (SpeechTek)

Technologies and use cases for conversational interfaces are rapidly changing.  To better understand these industry trends I attended SpeechTEK 2017.  Here are a few notes and observations from the field.

Mix of Yin and Yang, Old and New

The conference brought in a mix of old school contact center vendors (Convergys, Aspect, etc) and new tech vendors (Google, Amazon, etc) analysts, consultants and enterprises.   It was interesting to see the collision and friction between the old and the new.

Topics: Industry Insights Customer Experience

Artificial Intelligence Landscape:  Ready to Place Your Bets?

Are you ready to invest in AI technologies to drive contact center performance?

My guess is that you already have.

You might have deployed speech analytics or an IVR using natural language or a Chatbot or fraud prevention.  All these solutions likely use machine learning and artificial intelligence to discover insights and optimize performance.

Good job.

But the AI landscape is buzzing with emerging tech that could have major implications on customer service.  Yes, some technologies will optimize existing processes (like IVR self-service) but others will be disruptive to your current processes (like Chatbots over a messaging app).

You're going to invest (more) in AI technologies for customer service. 

The only questions are when, on what solutions, and how much.

To answer these questions, lets take a broad view of how the AI landscape is developing and look for trends and patterns.

Topics: Industry Insights Customer Experience Intelligent Assistance

Guide to Intelligent Assistants

You could boil the challenges customer service will face over the next five years down to two questions:

  • How do we engage customers as they interact across digital touchpoints?
  • How do we embed intelligence into servicing applications to take advantage of the ability of algorithms to optimize far beyond what we've achieved to date?

Orchestrating Digital Touchpoints

The move to digital touchpoints, micro-moments of attention, conversational interfaces and messaging-based interactions is causing major challenges for many organizations.  One reason is that customer services apps (and processes) today are designed for single channel, synchronous and dedicated session interactions. 

So orchestration of digital interactions is very difficult... but it's not an option to sit it out because that is where the consumer/customer is.

Algorithms Driving Apps

The shift to algorithms driving interactions might be an even bigger challenge.  It is very likely that this trend will significantly improve servicing benchmarks (costs, CX) and become competitive differentiators for your business.

Again, it's not an option to sit it out because that is where competitors are going and what consumers will expect.

How, then, do you begin to re-constitute every app you run in the contact center to take advantage of new algorithms that drive these apps in real-time?

Topics: Customer Engagement Chatbots Intelligent Assistance

The Chatbot Tech Stack: Your Checklist for Smarter Customer Service

Chatbots and intelligent messaging solutions can help you deliver smarter customer service with a better customer experience at a very attractive cost per contact.  To achieve the kind of results that get you promoted, it's important to consider a customer service solution in its entirety.  Overlook one key element of the solution stack, and it'll never achieve its natural flow.  

We use the technology stack in this post to talk about goal and transaction oriented Chatbots both internally and with our customers.  You can use it as a checklist to  make sure you're not overlooking a critical part of a Chatbot solution for customer service.  

Topics: Customer Engagement Chatbots Intelligent Assistance

Chatbots 101:  A Forrester Primer

There is so much buzz and hype around Chatbots it is difficult to understand how to use this technology to create meaningful benefits in an operational setting. 

We've got an option to help you cut through the Chatbot BS.

Forrester just released a report titled "Chatbots 101:  Building a Conversational Interface" which is a great read and tells it like it is.   (You can download the report below).

Chatbots 101 Report

Chatbots 101 report covers the following:

  • What is a Chatbot?
  • When will Chatbots replace apps... or human?
  • When and where are Chatbots a good fit?
  • Are Chatbots ready for prime time?
  • Four questions to ask before you deploy a Chatbot.
  • Four questions to ask before you build a Chatbot.

These are questions you'll need to answer as you build your intelligent assistance strategy.  Chatbots 101 will help you gain clarity on this technology and its best use.

Topics: Industry Insights Digital Context Chatbots

3 Things the Self-Driving Car Teaches Us About Intelligent Assistance

Picture this.

You want to go somewhere.

  • Your office.
  • A restaurant to meet some friends.
  • Aunt Alice’s house for pick any holiday.

So, what do you do?

  • You jump in your car.
  • You say where you want to go.
  • You arrive safely, on-time.

This is the promise of self-driving cars.

 

And, it’s about to happen...at least that’s what we’ve been led to believe.

But is it?

Topics: Customer Care Performance Optimization Customer Experience Chatbots

Digital Customer Engagement:  No Human Required?

Contact centers in North America employ seven percent of the total workforce with over three million total staff. (Texas is top state with over 250,000 people working in contact centers).

We also know agents are 50 percent of total contact center costs.  And that puts agents in the cross-hairs when you're optimizing operations. 

So when we blogged about a 29% cost reduction through the use of chatbots and other smart technologies, it raised a deeper question.

Topics: Customer Engagement Industry Insights Digital Context

Bot Hype Encourages Marketers to Investigate Intelligent Assistance

In this guest blog, Amy Stapleton from Opus Research outlines three ways Intelligent Assistance technologies can work for Marketing.  The post is based on Amy's white paper, Six Perspectives on Intelligent Assistance, which is available at the end of this blog.

Intelligent Assistance Benefits Go Beyond Customer Care

Customer care professionals have been leveraging the benefits of intelligent assistants and similar self-service technologies for many years. On the flip side, most marketing professionals didn’t spend much time thinking about smart self-service solutions in the past. Self-service and marketing wandered down two separate paths. But with the 2016 “Facebook Messenger bot platform announcement” generating excitement around chatbots on messaging platforms, marketing executives are getting into the intelligent assistance game too.

Topics: Industry Insights Digital Commerce Chatbots Intelligent Assistance

How to Solve your Web Chat Abandon Rate Problem

Every time a customer engages in a web chat you have an opportunity to make a sale.  If you’re a retailer with a web site, I bet you watch your web chat conversion rate like a hawk.  Improve the conversations you’re having with customers, and you can convert more chats to revenue. 

So what happens when customers get distracted or interrupted and leave the conversation?  Many retailers struggle with web chat abandon rates in double digits.  By focusing on the conversations you’re having instead of those that have been abandoned, you may be overlooking a treasure trove of revenue opportunity.  To find that hidden treasure, you’ve got to think like a parrot instead of a hawk.  Arrrrrrrrrrrr.

Topics: Customer Engagement Consumer Behavior Customer Acquisition Messaging Apps

Prepare for the Future of Financial Services: Lessons from Money 20/20

Square, PayPal, Google, Visa and Facebook Share Insights

As we wrap up 2016 and prepare for the New Year, banks and insurance companies should consider several of the key takeaways from the recent Money20/20 conference.  This event is billed as the preeminent global payments show with more than 11,000 attendees from 4,500 companies in the banking, payments, retail and loyalty industries.

This year’s keynote speeches from industry leaders such as Square, PayPal, Google, Visa and Facebook highlighted trends to keep in mind to address the changing landscape for businesses and consumers in the future. Here are our five takeaways:

Topics: Industry Insights Digital Context