It’s a Digital World Out There

By Mandy Reed, Marketing Manager (Global)

It’s a digital world, my friends. No matter how you look at it (or try to escape it!), every day more and more people around the globe are becoming better connected to the internet, each other and organisations. According to We Are Social’s Digital, Social and Mobile in 2015 report, 2014 was a landmark year for growth across the digital space and 2015 is shaping up to give us even more impressive statistics.

Thanks to a boost from the growing availability of affordable mobile devices and data connections, nearly 42% of the world’s population now has access to the internet. The report shows that mobile web traffic has increased 39% since this time last year, and one-third of all web pages are currently served to mobile phones.

It’s interesting to note that the division of web traffic among devices varies widely between countries. For example, web traffic in India is undeniably dominated by the mobile – 72% of web traffic comes from mobile phones while laptops and desktops only account for 27%. In contrast, the figures for Australia show laptops and desktops accounting for 61% of web page views and mobile phones coming in at 26%. The UK shows similar numbers as Australia, with laptop and desktop traffic reported at 58% and mobile phones accounting for 27% of page views. Even though the percentage of mobile web traffic is significantly lower in Australia and the UK than India, that figure is on the rise across all three countries.

Mobile Web Traffic Jan 2015

So what does this mean for organisations? As your customers become digital, they expect you to be as well. Referred to as The Digital Imperative, today’s marketplace requires organisations to engage with customers across a variety of channels and devices. Organisations must get to know their customers in order to provide a positive experience across the entire customer journey, and understanding their access to the internet and devices such as mobile phones is a big part of that. Consistent and accurate access to information across channels – web, mobile, social – is essential for customers in today’s digital world.

Hotel Chain Virtual Assistant will have Unlimited Potential!

By Courtney Schreier, Marketing Manager, Americas

During these deep depths of winter, I’m sure most of us living in colder climes wish we could escape for a brief respite in a warmer locale. But booking travel has never seemed effortless to me. There’s always a new travel site clamoring for my attention to try it. And the logistics they set forth are not always ideal. Yes, I may save a bunch, but it’ll involve taking a red-eye flight and making five stopovers. Or maybe I’m booking a room and I won’t even know where I’m staying until I enter in my credit card. In a landscape where travel sites seem to be a dime a dozen, what makes the difference?

In terms of travel, whether I’m traveling for business or for pleasure, I want the best customer experience. And to get this, I look for the best and most reputable brands. With top hotels, you really know what you are getting, no matter where in the world you might be staying. I often find that the most simple and practical solution is for me to go directly to the source and book a room from a hotel’s website, taking a big part of the guesswork out of the equation.

That’s why Creative Virtual’s newest go-live has got me so excited. We are extremely pleased to announce that our virtual agent has been deployed across 11 brands under a major hotel chain’s umbrella and is now live – a feat completed in under 60 days. Our now-client had approached Creative Virtual looking for a way to enhance their customer journey and I think that the addition of a virtual agent is a strategy that will work extremely well for the travel space. This implementation in particular demonstrates our rapid deployment capabilities (the stakes are even higher when your solution is replacing the existing Customer Care page), creating a foundation for expansion (across multiple channels) and demonstrating continuous improvement in supporting the customer experience (by administering voice-of-the-customer reporting). A great way to forge an emotional bond with the customer is to add a personalized element to their interactions with you, be it online, in-person or from their mobile device. Customers can now look forward to an effortless experience, allowing for questions to be quickly and easily resolved – making planning a vacation seem more like, well – a vacation!

With omnichannel smart journey solutions from Creative Virtual, hotel and travel brands like our latest customer enable the following types of frictionless experiences:

  1. Want a hotel room near the Liberty Bell with a piano on Christmas Eve? Simply tell the virtual agent your preferences in natural language, and the tool will give you the rooms that best fit that criteria at the moment of truth – whenever and wherever you ask.
  2. Want to turn a casual Facebook interaction into a reservation? With V-Person™, you can ask about room features and then, based on your selections, the virtual agent can guide you seamlessly through the booking process.
  3. Want quick answers on rewards program information? Grab our V-Person for each of the separate brands and just ask. Find out brand specific information, as well as personalized rewards content just for you.

If you are interested in learning more, please contact us.

Knowledge, Knowledge Everywhere, But Not a Drop to Drink

By Rachael Green, Project Manager

We have so much information available at our fingertips, so why is it still so difficult to find the information we’re looking for?

Two recent experiences caused me to wonder why my service providers don’t offer more advanced self-serve options (for things I’m sure they could). I wanted to change my T-Mobile cell phone plan, and on my Amazon Mom account I wanted to find out why I received a 15% discount instead of 20%. In both cases, I did a quick search on their sites hoping to instantly find the answer to my question. I went through five or six steps only to end up talking to a live agent, when I didn’t really need to. The live agents were helpful and quickly answered my questions, but I still had to spend more time getting an answer.

These scenarios seem to be an online pattern – encourage customers to self-serve, yet only offer limited information. Half of the time, my questions aren’t that complicated – they just aren’t covered by the standard FAQs. I’ll find loads of info close to what I want, but it’s not clear what the actual answer is to my question. Maybe it’s a combination of FAQs, but I still want to know for sure. I want to be positive I understand, and it’s 100% the correct answer.

There are many sites where I would self-serve if I had the option to go beyond basic FAQs. And it wouldn’t be hard for those sites to put the more advanced content out there. They could put the content in a virtual assistant (VA) where I can ask my own question, in my own way. If it’s a more complicated question or if the answer requires more details from me, the VA can ask me questions before returning an answer, or even gather info about my account before providing an answer.

So how do you let customers, like me, easily self-serve with advanced support? Combine all the expert knowledge from your website and your content experts, and drop it into the intelligent, user-friendly VA format – your customers will thank you, and you’ll free up resources for non-self-serve issues.

Download the V-Portal™ overview to see how Creative Virtual and their expert team can help you do just that!

Will Retailers Focused on a Great Customer Experience Capitalize Best on the Holiday Season?

By Courtney Schreier, Marketing Manager, Americas

With Black Friday behind us and just a few short weeks until the holidays start in earnest, retailers are clamoring for consumer attention. This should surprise no one; it happens every year and is so predictable one could almost call it a fact of life. I started to look into this phenomenon more closely to find out what factors determine the winners in this retail realm of holiday merriment.

I found some answers in a video series in which the CEO of HSNi, Mindy Grossman, was interviewed for Bloomberg TV. According to Grossman, those who focus on the customer experience this year will be declared the winners.

Grossman recommends betting big on mobile this year. This is not terribly shocking. However, retailers need to ensure that their site is mobile friendly. Even retailers using responsive design need to check and make sure that it has been implemented properly to ensure a seamless omnichannel experience. A great way to do this is to design a mobile template first and then move on to create designs for other devices.

Keeping in mind that there are certain questions that are at the forefront of customers’ minds this time of year, retailers should ensure that the answers to these questions are super easy to find. A virtual agent can greatly benefit a website here. If there is an issue, make it very fast and easy to escalate a problem to a live person. However, many holiday shoppers aren’t just shopping for themselves, they are shopping for family and friends – they are looking for information on things like size charts, shipping and return policies, and coupon code redemption. A virtual agent can easily navigate a consumer to the proper pages for this type of information, saving valuable live resources for more complex concerns.

Finally, ensure that content isn’t falling through the cracks by reviewing content that has received low ratings from customers. Retailers may see sales drastically improving just through a simple action such as fixing certain answers (e.g. fixing the functionality of a store locator). V-Portal™, Creative Virtual’s knowledge management and business intelligence reporting platform can report on customer satisfaction rates in real-time.

Remember, the holidays can be stressful – ensure customers are able to have a great omnichannel experience from any device.

Does Your Smart Customer Journey Entail the 3 Cs of Customer Satisfaction?

By Courtney Schreier, Marketing Manager, Americas

“It may not seem sexy, but consistency is the secret ingredient to making customers happy,” an Insights and Publications article by McKinsey & Company opens.

The article goes on to describe the 3 Cs that make up the consistency element of customer satisfaction: customer journey consistency, emotional consistency and consistency of communication.

1.      Customer Journey Consistency

Omnichannel consistency is important. In the digital age customers are likely to interact with your company from several different devices and interactions should be consistent across channels. If your company has a brick and mortar store, customers might stop by for a visit. And what they expect to have is a consistent customer service. People are comfortable with what they know – so don’t keep them guessing. Interactions across all channels should be similar. Remember, customers should perceive their effort score as being very low when choosing to interact with your brand. This is a key metric in improving customer satisfaction.

2.      Emotional Consistency

According to McKinsey & Company, “for bank customers, ‘a brand I feel close to’ and ‘a brand that I can trust’” were the top drivers for bank differentiation on customer experience. It also appears that having a positive customer experience is one of the top drivers for increasing customer loyalty. Customers are stressed out by unpredictable situations. Companies need to keep things positive and consistent so customers feel like they have a real connection with the brand. Just one bad experience or interaction with your company can dismantle the feelings of trust and loyalty that has taken years of hard work to create. A great way to forge an emotional bond with the customer is to add a personalized element to their interactions with you, be it online, in-person or from their mobile device. This way customers are made to feel like they are not just a number to you – they matter, and that’s important.

3.    Communication Consistency

Customers want all communications from your company to be similar in nature. Mixed messages is something that is a definite deterrent. The method of delivery is almost as critical as what you deliver and promise your customers. With so many various touchpoints for customer engagement, this is becoming increasingly critical. It’s easy for your brand’s voice and company vision to get lost with all the chatter across channels. Don’t let it. Customers don’t have patience for variability. Nor should they. It’s your company’s job to ensure that all communications coming from you are delivered in a manner that creates a consistent representation of your company’s mission and engenders customer’s loyalty and trust.

Creative Virtual specializes in improving customer satisfaction and decreasing the perceived customer effort score. We keep things easy and consistent with the deployment of our omnichannel intelligent virtual agents. Our virtual agents are a tool that companies can use that will go a great way towards creating this consistency across all channels. If you haven’t checked out our solutions yet, contact us for a demonstration today.

The Hotel Industry is a Natural Fit for Virtual Agents

By Courtney Schreier, Marketing Manager, Americas

Creative Virtual is very excited to announce a new pilot program for a top hotel chain. The chain selected us based on our strong V-Portal™ offerings, which can enhance the customer experience by empowering customers to self-serve from the device of their choosing.

Booking travel arrangements and accommodation has been a continually changing process over the last decade or more. As an example, my parents used to visit a brick and mortar travel agency to get us tickets to visit Disney World. The signs displayed in their windows used to be exotic full color shots of happy families traipsing through sunny and sandy vistas. I passed that same travel agency just the other day and was shocked to see it was still in business – albeit barely. The shop looked defeated, with a window display adorned sparsely with only a school room blue globe sitting forlornly next to a snow globe. Nothing else was displayed. Despite seeing this relic of my former past in such a sad state, it made me realize how much easier things have now become – I can now book everything from the comfort of my own home, perched rather precariously over a laptop with a steaming coffee at 4 AM, debating whether I want Vermont or Jamaica as a travel destination for New Year’s. What I especially love is the ease of it all – the simplicity of self-service. I like getting these things done on my time, not during the restrictive hours of a store, hours that I’m probably working.

From here, the next stop looks simple. Using virtual agents to help with travel seems like a natural fit. I’m excited to think that having an account with one of the top hotel chains will allow me to benefit from personalized help throughout the process, help I can get while travelling, all from the touch of my mobile phone. I am also excited to have a virtual agent assist me with the booking and reservation process, helping me to redeem my reward points and also to help me sort through all the available promotional offers. Booking travel should be as seamless an experience as possible and I personally believe that using a virtual agent creates that optimal customer experience that travelers crave.

Diwali Celebration in Creative Virtual’s India Office – with the Founder & CEO!

By Rajkumar Mehra, Head of V-Portal Development

Sparklers last only a few seconds, but the legend has lived for millennia. After the long war, when Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya, the city was dressed up with lamps and flowers. Diwali marks the return of the king and the Ramayana still remains India’s most enduring legend. Diwali or Deepavali means “row of lamps” in Sanskrit. The festival marks the triumph of light over darkness. Clay lamps, or diyas, traditionally filled with mustard oil, are lit and placed around the entrances to homes and offices on the night before the new moon, which this year was on Thursday, October 23.

The festival of lights reminds us of the festive season of joy, splendour, enthusiasm and happiness. This year it lit up the mood of the members of the Creative Virtual family in India due to the presence and enthusiastic participation of Creative Virtual Founder & CEO Chris and his partner Julie.

The celebration started off with teams enthusiastically decorating their prearranged vicinity; Creative Virtual’s office in Bombay was decorated with lot of energy by the team in a very short time, everything from flower garlands to lanterns to festive lights were used and teams spared no effort to enliven the festive spirit. The workplace was decorated with ribbons, lanterns, balloons and lights.

Diwali BChris and Julie had just returned from their trip to North India (Chandigarh-Amritsar-New Delhi-Agra-Jaipur-Shahpur-Udaipur) and readily came to office in spite of being tired – and dressed up in tradition Indian Kurtas too!!!

Chris shared a lot of anecdotes from the trip, the amazing places they had been to and their experiences with the traditions and local cultures. Chris described the surreal experience he had while visiting the Golden Temple, it was really great of him to take part in certain important rituals as well. Visiting so many different places and interacting with local persons gave them a good glimpse of life in India and they had to say – Incredible India!

Chris and Julie lighted the traditional lamps (diyas) and these were then placed at the entrance of the office – to welcome prosperity in their lives, homes, workplaces! Chris and Julie also lighted a couple of sparklers and really kick-started the celebrations.

Diwali C

Diwali DDuring Diwali, it is customary to give employees sweets and gifts for Diwali – it is considered inauspicious for employees going home empty handed during Diwali. Chris kept the tradition alive and well!

All Creative Virtual employees present in India were given delicious Kaju Katlis and a gift that they can use at their homes and remember as well for a long time. Chris and Julie jointly and very humbly distributed the sweets and gifts to everyone on the team.

This was followed by a relished team lunch, enjoyed by all. Chris and Julie bid good bye to the team and thereafter continued with their last leg of the trip. It was a wonderful celebration and a pleasure to have Chris and Julie join us in the festivities.

Diwali F

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Happy Diwali!

Creative Virtual Attends First Ever Intelligent Assistants Conference In San Francisco

By Reg Johnson, COO, Creative Virtual USA

Sponsored by Opus Research, the first and groundbreaking Intelligent Assistants Conference was held recently in San Francisco. The conference focused on the technological development of the intelligent assistants and the growing number of enterprises which view intelligent assistant technology as an asset capable of adding meaningful business value.

This one day event in San Francisco featured a diverse group of industry analysts, industry pioneers and case studies presented by Fortune 500 companies which have implemented intelligent assistants and are currently reaping the benefits.

The benefits of intelligent assistants were found to include:

  • Better customer experience across channels
  • Ability to deploy the right solution for digital channels (critical and sometimes a matter of survival)
  • Ability to provide a rewarding self-service experience 24 hours per day
  • More than simply a technology able to deflect questions from live chat agents
  • Ability to access knowledge across the whole company
  • The technology has developed into the mainstream market and is no longer “just for early adopters”
  • Positive customer feedback has led to the Intelligent Assistant being promoted to the front of the support webpage in some organizations

The conference highlighted the importance of creating a world class customer experience, right at the heart of what Creative Virtual strive toward. This is evident in the successful deployments already realized by our clients. Our intelligent virtual agents have been proven to create opportunities for customers to easily self-serve across any channel. V-Portal™, our knowledge management system, is key for many of our clients to achieve great information transfer across a large company, as well as working to integrate with back-end CRM systems. To find out more about V-Portal and how our innovative technology could help your business, contact us for a demo now.

Research Natural Language Help Systems Before You Buy

By Courtney Schreier, Marketing Manager, Americas

Researching extensively online before making a purchase is becoming more and more commonplace. Perhaps you wish to make a small purchase such as the latest bestseller, or a large purchase such as a car.  Comparing several options before making a decision is not only useful but can be viewed instantly at the click of a mouse. Consumers are turning to their peers as well as experts alike in record numbers for objective reviews on a range of items before making a purchase, whether a toaster, a photocopier for the office, or even a gift.

So why should it be any different with a Natural Language Processing (NLP) Help System?

Realistically, it shouldn’t be – although it might be challenging to know where to get started. Creative Virtual has therefore assembled and published a new reference on the website: Purchasing Checklist: Top Five Key Points to Consider Before Purchasing, Implementing and Maintaining a Natural Language Powered Help System. This Purchasing Checklist serves the purpose of outlining the various features of NLP systems, including the functions they excel at and also which functions they are not so suited to.

These guidelines also catalogue what to look for in a vendor of such a system, as well as how to best implement and deploy such a solution. To read the full reference, click here.

As part of our new look, we at Creative Virtual have been excited about sharing more information about our technology. We’ve recently added lots of new reference materials to our website, so that people can easily access and learn more about our solutions. For more information on NLP systems, please contact us.

Victory: Powered by Virtual Assistants

By Courtney Schreier, Marketing Manager, Americas

Creative Virtual has achieved great success with one of our clients, a large US Bank. Our V-Person™ solution currently deployed by this enterprise bank has done so well that we have considerably improved upon their customer satisfaction ratings.

Why is that?

  • The V-Person solution has proven itself to be incredibly adaptable to security regulations.
  • Creative Virtual offers advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP) help systems that understand complex questions and user intent.
  • The solution has also proven to be scalable enough to handle the volume of conversations from one of the largest US Banks.
  • This virtual assistant now handles more than a million conversations with customers a month.
  • Advanced Voice-of-the-Customer reporting has allowed the bank to manage and handle major customer concerns such as data breach issues in real-time.

This deployment has done so well we have just created a new customer success story for our website.  To read it in full, click here.

Across the globe, Creative Virtual has proven to be a top-tier provider of virtual assistant technology for the financial services industry. Our virtual agents bridge the gap created by traditional banker’s hours, allowing customers omnichannel access to their banks around the clock. To check out one of other virtual agents in action at the Commercial Bank of Dubai, click here.

Please contact us if you are interesting learning more.