2015 FStech Awards Shortlist Includes Smart Help Solution from Creative Virtual

By Mandy Reed, Marketing Manager (Global)

We’re excited to start off the year with the announcement that Creative Virtual has been named as a finalist for the 2015 FStech Awards in the category of ‘Online Technology Provider of the Year’. In its 15th year, the FStech Awards programme recognises excellence and innovation in the field of information technology within the UK and EMEA financial services sector. This year the winners will be announced on 26 March at a Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony in London.

Our shortlisted entry featured the Smart Help solution currently deployed for TSB, specifically the additional integration and functionality released during 2014 to further improve the online customer experience by creating one central system for asking questions. Through the ability to continually monitor the solution’s performance and learn from real-time customer feedback, the Smart Help tool, as well as the overall customer experience, can constantly be improved. During 2014, TSB also addressed the growing popularity of mobile devices by deploying their virtual agent in an adaptive template.

Lorraine Donington, Head of Digital User Experience at TSB said:

“It’s great to hear that TSB and Creative Virtual have been shortlisted for the FStech Awards. It’s important to us that people can bank with TSB the way they want to, whether that’s in a branch, on the phone, via an app or online. Improving the customer experience on our website is therefore a key focus area, and working with Creative Virtual has helped us to do that.”

The financial services industry is becoming increasingly competitive and facing an ever growing demand from customers for easy access to banking options and information 24/7. With Creative Virtual’s V-Person™ for Finance solutions, financial organisations can escape traditional bankers’ hours by offering on-demand self-service solutions around the clock and deliver a personalised, customer-centric experience that helps drive brand loyalty.

You can find a full list of entries shortlisted for the 2015 FStech Awards here.

Analyst Report: A Very Good Report Card for V-Person™ Technology

By Mandy Reed, Marketing Manager (Global)

The Patricia Seybold Group, a strategic advisory service for customer-centric executives, recently released their second evaluation of Creative Virtual’s V-Person technology. This independent report, written by Mitch Kramer, Senior Consultant and titled Creative Virtual V-Person: Delivering Personalized Answers to Customers’ Questions, serves as a follow-up to the original review produced in 2012. In the report, Mitch evaluates our virtual agent technology against a rigorous set of customer-focused criteria important to organisations that want to improve customer experience, increase brand loyalty and reduce customer support costs.

The detailed, 37-page analysis takes a deep dive into V-Person and V-Portal™ (our knowledge management, workflow management and business intelligence reporting platform) and outlines how our technology can be used to deploy virtual agents on web, mobile, social and IVR channels to answer customers’ questions directly or through guided, question and answer dialogs. It also highlights the significant improvements and increased functionality added to our solutions since the previous report.  Mitch writes:

“V-Portal is a product strength and competitive differentiator. Personalized answers and knowledge management are V-Person’s most significant strengths and differentiators. V-Person is currently the only virtual agent offering with packaged personalization.”

The report describes personalisation as a ‘significant step forward’ for virtual assistant technology and credits V-Person as being the first to implement this functionality. This new personalised customer service capability is mentioned as an attractive option for account management scenarios in financial services, government, healthcare, telecommunications and travel.

V-Person earns very good grades on the Virtual Assisted-Service Report Card with an ‘Exceeds Requirements’ evaluation in the categories of Answers, Analysis and Matching, and Analytic Functionality. The report recommends that large B2C and B2B organisations and government agencies implement V-Person to deliver cross-channel virtual customer support, lower cost to serve and improve customer satisfaction.

A complimentary copy of this comprehensive review of V-Person technology can be requested here.

Talk, Type and Tap for Personalized Answers in Any Channel Webinar Available Now

By Richard Simons, CEO, Creative Virtual USA

Last week, Creative Virtual USA sponsored a webinar featuring speaker Kate Leggett, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research, Inc. entitled “Enabling Your Customers to Talk, Type and Tap to Get Personalized Answers in Any Channel.”

KATEThis webinar examined the changing landscape for businesses in the Age of the Customer. Kate provided some interesting insights into the increasing focus of businesses on customer experience and the investments companies are making in consumer-facing technologies. Kate also examined the pitfalls and challenges of actually delivering on this good customer experience promise in a time where people are spending more and more time on multiple channels and may use several devices to complete a single transaction.

I brought up the need for knowledge management and real-time reporting to truly inform business decisions. It seems that many companies go in making investments in consumer-facing technologies “blind,” and therefore achieve poor results or perhaps they are not sure how to analyze customer data once it is compiled. That’s where our V-Person™technology can help!

Registrants were also given the opportunity to submit questions beforehand and also live during the webinar. We received some really great questions that showed a real interest in our topic. To access the recording for this webinar on-demand, please click here.

Top US Bank Goes Live with Creative Virtual Solution

By Courtney Schreier, Marketing Manager

We are incredibly pleased to announce that one of the top banks in the US has gone live using our V-Person™ technology for a self-help system.  We estimate that this is the largest installation of an intent-based natural language system in the financial services industry today.

But what’s even more exciting about this deployment is the part V-Portal™has played in it.  V-Portal is our proprietary knowledge management system that allows for advanced personalization across channels.  This is a unique feature in the marketplace today.  From the business perspective, it means that customers are delivered a unique and exceptional experience that is tailored to them and the products and services they are using with the bank.  If the customer is using multiple services with the bank, the process of disambiguation will prompt them to choose between the various options that they are currently using.  This creates an additional layer of customization.

Electronic commerce

And this means that customers are getting to the answer they need. Faster.  This is key today, for no matter how often we talk about it, it is still worth mentioning again: it’s no longer about delighting your customer.  It’s about getting them the answer they need. Quickly.  With minimal touchpoints.  Customers don’t want to be impressed by the sheer awesome politeness of a representative.  They want things to be easy so they can move on with their life.  V-Portal is the cornerstone to this ease of use for customers and companies alike.  To find out more about V-Portal and its capabilities, contact us for a demonstration here.

Johan Jacobs Discusses the New Age of Self-Service

By Richard Simons, CEO, Creative Virtual USA

Last Wednesday, I participated as a panelist in a webinar with Johan Jacobs, Former Gartner Research Director.  Johan and I asked  registrants of the webinar to submit questions for our roundtable while signing up for the event, entitled “Enabling Customers to Talk, Type and Tap to get Personalized Answers in any Channel.”  We received a great response prior to the event in terms of questions asked.  Unfortunately, we were not able to get to all of the questions posed during our live Q&A session.  Johan was kind enough to answer some of these questions later.  I believe the most interesting points are mentioned below:

How do you design omnichannel metrics? Is there a process?

Johan Jacobs: Too many organizations are fixed on traditional metrics that measure internal issues such as productivity and throughput as opposed to measuring client activity such as relevancy and satisfaction. The most productive contact center service environments I have ever seen only measure these two items and have two pie charts up on a wallboard and one wallboard for every channel. If satisfaction goes down then analytics is used to see why and that problem is attended to. If relevancy goes down then analytics is used to see why and the issue attended to.

Reducing cost and providing excellent user experience are often conflicting forces. What is the algorithm to find the right balance?

Johan Jacobs: If you poll your customers then they would highly likely confirm the trend of preferring to do something by themselves online as opposed to going to a store or phoning a contact center. These customer preferences are automatically driving users to self-service therefore the cost savings that can be achieved by moving traffic off the phone and onto self-service provides a great business case. What then needs to be focused on is delivering a great experience and with using modern well proven technologies and investing time in building and maintaining a good solid knowledge base a great user experience is not that difficult to create.

How do you see omnichannel supporting proactive notification services to mobile users?

Johan Jacobs, Executive Consultant and Former Gartner Research Director

Johan Jacobs, Executive Consultant and Former Gartner Research Director

Johan Jacobs: SMS is a hugely underutilized channel and if used as a multi-modal channel where a URL is embedded in the text it becomes a very powerful notification tool. The embedded URL will allow the customer to browse back to an organizational transaction that shows the status of an activity or provide more information and insight into the notification.

How do you prioritize which omnichannel areas or opportunities that should be built first?

Johan Jacobs: Following international trends of many organizations that have already deployed additional interaction channels other than voice we see a trend of deployments in the following order:

  1. Web Chat
  2. Knowledge Management
  3. Email Response Management
  4. Collaborative Browsing
  5. Virtual Assistants
  6. Video Chat

For mobile users who have dynamically changing interface needs, will it be important to allow end users to choose their mode of interaction with live assistance (better known as ”unified communications”)?

Johan Jacobs: Unified Communications and live (external) customer service assistance are two completely different things but let’s focus on the latter. There are 4 types of mobile architectures but the organization that builds very large mobile (client) applications will have great difficulty in the future. Organizations that follow an architecture where they focus on keeping app size small and thin and leave the back end server to identify the incoming device and perform the processing will easily be able to cater for changing user requirements and delivering great assisted- or unassisted assistance.

To view the webinar in it’s entirety, please click here.


January’s Featured Executive Interview with CRMXchange

By Chris Ezekiel, Founder & CEO

Executive InterviewIt is my great pleasure to be CRMXchange’s featured Executive Interview for the month of January, and I thank them for giving me the opportunity to once again be a part of their interview series. This interview was a great chance for me to kick off 2014 discussing some of my favourite topics: customer experience management, personalised self-service and, of course, virtual assistant technology.

Since it is January, the interview starts off with my thoughts on the most important customer service experience management priorities for companies in the new year. I discuss how the power and flexibility of today’s virtual assistant technology allows organisations to deliver personalised self-service options for customers across multiple channels. When combining this technology with knowledge management and advanced analytics, companies can provide cohesive service and support to their customers in a multi-channel environment by opening up internal information silos and giving customers what they actually want. With survey after survey showing customers factoring the customer experience into their purchasing decisions, providing an accurate, consistent and seamless experience must be a priority for organisations in 2014.

I invite you to read my full interview on the CRMXchange website and then get in touch with us to learn more about how Creative Virtual’s technology can help make 2014 the year you reach your customer experience goals.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Gilbane 2013 – Reflecting on the content distribution journey

By Frank Schneider, VP of Customer Experience Solutions

“Content may be king, but distribution is queen, and she is wearing the pants.”

                                 -Jonathan Perelman, VP of Agency Strategy, Buzzfeed

Meghan Walsh, Senior Director, eCommerce Platform System Management, Marriott International, set the tone for an excellent conference in her keynote last week at the Gilbane Conference 2013 in Boston. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about the current digital content management and customer experience markets, while getting a better read on the pulse of business and the appetite/strategies for change in this rapidly evolving space.Gilbane_Boston

Personally, I was excited to hear thought leaders expound upon the challenges and theorize for solutions to the content delivery climate in which businesses operate today. It was validating to know that Creative Virtual’s approach to omnichannel maturity and the distribution of personalized, consistent, compliant, and correct answers to multi-faceted questions across all customer journey touchpoints is becoming increasingly critical to ensuring customer experience is effective, efficient and engaging.

Specifically, having the opportunity to speak in Track T with moderator,  Marc Strohlein, Principal, Agile Business Logic and Director, Forte Research Systems and co-panel member Luke Barton, Technical Director, Siteworx, was a great deal of fun. Marc did a great job of setting the stage for the mobile/technical track and adeptly encouraged audience participation with thought provoking questions, while Luke followed-up my multimodal interface presentation with a fascinating glimpse into the future of mobile engagement in retail with geo-location technology for intuitive rapid delivery of relevant personalized content and promotional offers to enhance the shopping experience.

I quickly learned, via audience participation, that Creative Virtual’s “type, talk, tap” mantra for multimodal mobile UI is indeed strong, but businesses need help taking the first step of a long content distribution journey of their own. Based on the feedback and interaction I received, allow me to provide a few first steps to mobile content delivery strategy.

1.)    Understand customer questions/tasks in mobile – what are your customers currently asking your contact center? What are they trying to accomplish via mobile? Thoroughly review your interaction history and even conversation transcripts to understand where the easy wins lie. Take first narrow steps to improve mobile support and content delivery.

2.)    Organize content in an omnichannel knowledge management system – part shameless plug, part seemingly daunting task – you must take inventory of what knowledge is stored where and try to uncover a way to break down silos to organize and then unleash content across all channels.

3.)    Not an App for that? – don’t be overwhelmed by developing a mobile app. Mobile pages and mobile tasks can be easily accessible with friendly, simple UI via HTML5. Find a vendor who can help you enable that type of smooth transition to mobile content delivery.Boston 6

Gilbane 2013 was a great experience, and helped set the tone for how Creative Virtual needs to position itself to facilitate the first step in mobile content distribution for customers. I am eager to see what 2014 brings after having learned that we are indeed at the right place, in the right time, with the right solutions and people to address the market’s yearning for better, faster, simpler, more accurate mobile content delivery and customer engagement. I look forward to presenting again next year and seeing the results of the coming year.

What I Learned @LivePerson Aspire EMEA This Year

By Rachel Freeman, Head of Operations

When an event is called Aspire the bar is raised for high expectations, and I must say I was not disappointed. At the LivePerson Aspire EMEA 2013 conference, venue, programme, catering and buzz were all of high calibre. The catch phrase was “making meaningful connections” and whilst I did not go away having made any new BFFs, I certainly spoke to quite a few interesting industry pros about improving communication and creating better customer experiences. In fact there were three common themes everyone “aspired” to for 2013. I thought I’d share them with you and see if you shared the same sentiments.

LP Aspire EMEA 2013

  • Customer experience is now more important than ever. It was refreshing to see that so many companies were genuinely concerned about their customers’ journey and were keen for tools to help them understand and make improvements. Forrester Research’s Harley Manning touched on these points during his session asserting that we need to remember that sales, account and technical teams all have valuable insight and input. It pays to take the time to bring representatives from these teams together to share ideas, strategies and perspectives. In the end, you’ll get a more holistic view of what customers want from your brand and be able to design a more effective strategy.
  • Mobile is hot, hot, hot. Not surprisingly, everyone wanted to get a better understanding of how their customers are using mobile devices. They’re seeing the trends and need to adapt, but have found it slow going in some areas, particularly because departmental silos restrict access to the information that customers really want. However, customers could care less about how their companies operate on the backend. They simply want the information, when they want it, and companies are struggling to find ways to deliver.
  • Customers drive our business. Everyone agreed that we need our customers more than they need us. With so many choices, it’s essential we put ourselves in the shoes of the customer and deliver a customer experience that goes beyond their expectations. In this new era, service and experience has become the differentiator and everyone is anxious to find ways to communicate their value on this front.

If you’ve never been to LivePerson Aspire, make plans to attend next year. It’s a great place to make connections and get the pulse of your peers on key issues affecting the industry. Plus, the event is a lot of fun too. Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple and other rock legends were played between speakers, allowing us to not only conduct business, but to rock out along the way and bang on some drums at the end of the day. But don’t tell my CEO. He may want to go in my stead next year!

Next Stop: LivePerson Aspire EMEA in London, UK

by Mandy Reed, Marketing Manager

Following on the heels of a successful Aspire APAC conference, as reported by Chris in his event round-up, Creative Virtual will also be at LivePerson Aspire EMEA as a Gold Sponsor. Taking place on 11 June 2013 at The Roundhouse on Chalk Farm Road in London, this conference has so much to offer. It will feature:

  • Speakers from a range of organisations including Royal Bank of Scotland, O2, Snapfish and Forrester Research
  • Breakout Sessions on topics such as mobile engagement, digital marketing techniques and intelligent online engagement
  • A Partner Showcase for attendees to find out more about LivePerson’s partners

As part of that Showcase, we will be providing a firsthand look at the advanced technologies we have developed in knowledge management, natural language processing and virtual assistants.  Specifically, we will be demonstrating how the integration of V-Person™ (virtual assistant) technology with Live Chat from LivePerson provides a seamless customer experience. Utilising Live Chat in conjunction with our other solutions means organisations can provide real-time, consistent customer support across all touchpoints to improve their customer experience while reducing support costs.

It’s totally free to attend Aspire EMEA so register online and stop by our stand to say hello and have a look at our innovative solutions.