Tag Archive for: #CSWeek2019

A Look Back: 2019 in Review

By Mandy Reed, Global Head of Marketing

The new year is just around the corner, which means it is once again time for our annual look back over the past 12 months. 2019 was another busy and exciting year for Creative Virtual and the chatbot, virtual agent and live chat industry. It’s always difficult to condense a whole year into one blog post, so here are just a few of the highlights.

We continued our five-year-long celebration of our Queen’s Awards for Enterprise: Innovation 2017 as we also celebrated the 15th anniversary of Creative Virtual. Chris Ezekiel, Founder & CEO, took a look back at the changes in the company and the industry since he started Creative Virtual in London’s East End in his blog post, Fifteen Years & Counting: Navigating the chatbot, virtual agent and AI revolution. During the year Chris also participated in industry interviews, including one with the AI Time Journal as part of their Conversational AI Initiative and one for the Executive Interviews website, where he shared more insights into the myths and realities of chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI).

This year we have also been celebrating another impressive recognition for the company: Frost & Sullivan’s 2019 AI-Enhanced Customer Self-Service Product Leadership Award! In selecting us for this award, the analysts at Frost & Sullivan evaluated chatbot and virtual agent vendors across two key factors, each with five benchmarking criteria. Creative Virtual was rated as ‘Excellent’ across these categories. You can download a copy of their full independent report here. I had the honour of joining Andy Madge (Head of Technical Services) and Liam Ryan (Sales Director) at the Awards Dinner in London to accept our plaque and meet other Best Practice Award winners from all over Europe.

Special congratulations also go out to Maria Ward, Account Manager/Knowledgebase Engineer, for being shortlisted for the 2019 Women in IT Excellence Awards in the category of ‘Role Model of the Year (SME) – Tech Industry’! You can read more about Maria’s journey from Creative Virtual customer to partner to team member in her Meet the Team interview. Maria was also one of our Team Animal runners in our charity runs for the RSPCA this year, joined by Laura Ludmany, Rachel Freeman, Björn Gülsdorff and Chris Ezekiel. Instead of all meeting up to run a group race together, each runner registered for a local race instead and took part in runs in Hamburg, London, Ipswich and Dublin. This was the fifth year we fundraised for the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), a cause we feel passionately about as a company of animal lovers.

The team was also involved with our annual blog celebration of CX Day (1 October) and Customer Service Week (7-11 October), making this year the best one yet. Authors based in four different countries covered topics ranging from customer expectations to chatbot creation to managing stress for better customer relationships. If you missed any, be sure to check them out:

We were also excited to be featured in the Wharf Life Newspaper during Customer Service Week. You can read the full article here.

While 2019 saw an increase in the adoption of chatbot and virtual agent technology, we also saw more companies struggling with poor performing tools or projects that never came to fruition. Founder & CEO Chris explored some reasons for this in an article for the AI Time Journal, “Virtual Moron-Idiot!”: Why Chatbots Fail and the #ChatbotRescue Mission Saving Them. As a successful pioneer in the chatbot and virtual agent space, Creative Virtual is in a unique position to help these companies save their investments. That’s why we launched our Chatbot Rescue Mission, offering organisations a no cost consultation workshop and initial chatbot upgrade to get their projects back on track.

This year we sponsored, attended and joined our partners at a variety of industry events around the world, including ones in the United Kingdom, Germany, Singapore, India, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong and Thailand. Team members presented, participated in panels and gave demos at many of these events, including several keynote addresses. We also welcomed some new organisations to our growing Global Partner Network and expanded our V-Person™ Family with new deployments around the world.

Our Founder & CEO, Chris Ezekiel continued his monthly Virtual Viewpoint column for the Wharf Life Newspaper this year. You can find all of his past columns here. He also saw his name in print in the 6 October edition of The Sunday Times where he was quoted in an article about British entrepreneurs and their tech giant competitors. Subscribers to The Times can read the article online here – and we also have a copy available here.

As we head into 2020, Creative Virtual is preparing to celebrate the company’s Sweet Sixteen – 16 years of helping enterprises deliver better customer and employee support and of bringing new innovations to the virtual agent, chatbot and live chat market. We’re looking forward to seeing what the next year will bring!

Be sure to check out our 2019 in Review photo album on the Creative Virtual Facebook page. As we do every year, we’ve compiled photos from industry events, company celebrations, fundraising runs and group activities. There will be more photos added over the next couple of weeks, so make sure you’re following us so you don’t miss any.

For a Better CX, Get Out of Your Customer’s Way

By Björn Gülsdorff, Chief Business Development Officer

It is Customer Service Week, time to give customer service and customer experience (CX) some thought. Wait a minute – even more thought? Isn’t it all about CX these days?

It is, albeit lip service most of it. Also, we know we have gone too far when you are being asked about your “shopping experience” in a supermarket. Or, as happened to me the other day, how to improve my airport experience. Seriously? Well, get the “airport experience” out of the way. Whatever you plan, the money is better spent on quicker security and boarding, minimizing my time at the airport.

I admit I am ranting a bit based on some recent unpleasant travel “experiences”, but there is a relation with CX. It was all well when it meant to put yourself in the shoes of the customer and be less product or project centric. But we lost it at some point when we still said ‘experience’ but started thinking ‘sensation’.

Instead, if you want to deliver good CX, get out of the way! Do not get between the customers and their goals. Integrate your various tools seamlessly. Don’t just be multi-channel (or omnichannel), go beyond channels and blend the different touchpoints as you blend different information sources.

Provide a one-stop shop for information and self-service, powered by natural language conversations. Make it as easy as possible for the customer – great CX is when they don’t notice.

My current travels have taken me to GITEX Technology Week with our partner ixtel. GITEX is the biggest tech show in the Middle East and has all the global players plus a lot of “local” ones which just happen to serve millions of people. They all have some cool stuff in the pipeline. All of which need NLP (natural language processing) power, of course. 😉

Scanning Twitter for some inspiration on where to look next I came across https://t.co/8zmViTW5r9, which I liked a lot and which is definitely far on the sensational side. So, I considered deleting my half-finished blog post. But then I did not, because all of this is certainly cool, but it will only be a great experience if it helps me do what I want. When it helps me to get my shopping done, not when it interferes with it. So, while I cherish all the nice visuals, I cling to my claim: A great experience is when it it easy, seamless and smooth.

Check out our annual Customer Service Week blog post roundup for some trends, tips and statistics to help you deliver an easy, seamless experience for your customers.

भारत में ग्राहकों की समस्याओं को दूर करता चैटबॉट

By Anand Gupta, Knowledgebase Author

Read this post in English here.

पब्लिक डिस्ट्रिब्युशन सिआज के दौर में भारत दुनिया की सबसे बड़ी उभरती हुई अर्थव्यवस्था है परंतु  ऊंचाइयां छूने के लिए अभी भी बहुत कुछ करने की दरकार है। देश को सफलता की सीढ़ी पर ले जाने के लिए तकनीक का बहुत महत्वपूर्ण योगदान रहा है। इसने लागत को घटाकर गुणवत्ता को बढ़ावा दिया है। लेकिन आज के बढ़ते प्रतिस्पर्धा के बीच इस आर्थिक गति को बरकरार रखना एक बड़ी चुनौती है। ग्राहक अपना पैसा उसी कंपनी में लगाने को तैयार है जो उन्हें कम समय में  सटीक समाधान दे सकें।

किंतु कई हिंदुस्तानी कंपनियां ग्राहक की समस्या समाधान में अभी भी बहुत पीछे हैं। और तो और वे इस बात से अनभिज्ञ हैं। सफलता में अंधे होकर वे ये बात भूल जाते हैं कि सब अच्छा नहीं है। इसी कारण उनका ग्राहक से संपर्क टूटता जा रहा है।

भारत में छोटी कंपनियां कॉल सेंटर को स्थापित करने का व्यय उठाने में अक्षम हैं। इस वजह से उन्हें ग्राहक की सहायता करने में काफी परेशानी का सामना करना पड़ता है। कॉल सेंटर को स्थापित करने में काफी खर्च बैठता है। लेकिन यह भी एक संपूर्ण समाधान नहीं है। उपभोक्ता अधिकारी तक कॉल जाने में कई स्तरों  सो गुजरना पड़ता है, जो ग्राहक में ऊब पैदा करता है, जिससे वह कंपनी से ही अपना नाता तोड़ लेता है।

भारत में ग्राहक उत्पाद निर्माता से संपर्क करने को लेकर सदैव संशय में रहता है। अक्सर उत्पादक की संपूर्ण जानकारी इंटरनेट से भी उपलब्ध नहीं मिल पाती है। हालांकि इसका एक बेजोड़ उपाय निकाल लिया गया है, जिसका नाम है चैटबॉट। ये साधन सबसे सस्ता, गुणवत्ता से भरपूर एवं इस्तेमाल करने मेें आसान है। इससे कोई भी बिना किसी रुकावट के 24 घंटे कही से भी इंटरनेट के माध्यम से इस्तेमाल कर सकता है। यह आम लोगों की आम समस्याओं का सही जवाब देने में सक्षम है। यही नहीं, समयानुसार इसमें लोगों के उचित बदलाव भी होते रहते हैं।

भारत एक विशिष्ट देश है जहां कई प्रकार की भाषाएं बोली जाती है। उन सभी के लिए कॉल सेंटर की स्थापना करना मुमकिन नहीं है। लेकिन चैटबॉट लोगों की समस्याओं को लोगों की क्षेत्रीय भाषा में समझकर उन्हें उन्हीं के अंदाज़ में जवाब देता है।

ऐसा करने वाली क्रिएटिव वर्चुअल भारत की पहली कंपनी बनी हैं। इसने राजस्थान (राजस्थानी, हिंदी, अंग्रेजी व हिंग्लिश) व महाराष्ट्र (मराठी) की सरकारी परियोजनाओं (भामाशाह व पीसीएमसी) में इसका सफलतापूर्वक क्रियान्वन किया है। लोग बिना किसी कष्ट के ई-कार्ड डाउनलोड कर सकते हैं। इसके अतिरिक्त सरकार द्वारा चलाई जा रही लोक कल्याणकारी योजनाओं के विषय में घर बैठे मोबाइल फोन पर जानकारी प्राप्त कर सकते हैं ।

ग्राहक सेवा सप्ताह के दौरान कुछ ध्यान देने योग्य बातें इस प्रकार हैं जो उपभोक्ता समय-समय पर हमें अवगत कराते हैं–

  • कंपनी से बिना कोई समय गंवाएं संपर्क हो
  • कही से भी संपर्क हो सके
  • कंपनी के उत्पाद के विषय में गहरी जानकारी मिले
  • समस्याओं का समाधान आम भाषा में हो
  • अगर चैटबॉट से समस्या हल ना हो तो इंसानी मदद हो
  • उचित जवाब मिले
  • मुफ्त में मदद हो

इसके अतिरिक्त कंपनियों को भारत में रह रहे  1 अरब से ज्यादा लोगों पर गहन अनुसंधान करना चाहिए। उनकी पसंद, नापसंद और ज़रूरतों पर समावेशी चिंतने होना चाहिए।



The Ever-Changing World of Customer Service Chatbot Creation

By Jeff Clifford, Project/Account Manager

I started building virtual agents and chatbots for customer service more than 12 years ago. A lot has certainly changed in that time. I talked about some of the changes in my Meet the Team interview a couple of years ago, but the industry has continued to evolve since then.

In my experience, there has been a major shift in customer expectations since 2015/2016 in the customer service chatbot industry. Pre-2014, most companies were looking to deploy chatbots that were pretty straight forward and consisted largely of FAQs, scripted conversation flows, keywords and a flat or standard UI. Some forward-thinking organisations were exceptions to that, and Creative Virtual worked with companies that took their solutions to the next level with innovative functionality like account integration to give personalised answers to logged in users.

Now, as we approach the end of 2019, chatbots and virtual agents are increasingly becoming the face of company help centres. Simple chatbot implementations are no longer enough to meet customer expectations. Customers also now expect self-service on new channels, such as Facebook Messenger and Amazon Alexa, that weren’t popular for customer service even a few years ago. The look of chatbots has also changed, with many companies now embedding their virtual agent into their own UI to give a cleaner, streamlined look and experience.

While previously personalised self-service was a major differentiator, now customers expect an experience tailored for them. Chatbots designed for enterprises have the features, functionality and integration options to deliver that. For example, chatbots are able to detect a customer’s language and country via integration with their user profile. This means the chatbot can display the user’s preferred language and can also return location-specific responses, such as a correct payment cut-off time that varies by country or time zone. Chatbots can also provide customised responses depending on where it was launched from, such as a section of your website about a particular product or service.

The goal of a seamless, omnichannel experience is becoming standard practice in organisations. Chatbots that can be deployed across channels are helping companies move away from a siloed approach to their customer service. When backed by the right orchestration platform, a single knowledgebase can be used across all channels while still delivering a specific answer based on the user’s device (such as a shorter answer on a mobile). A tight integration with live chat allows the virtual agent to pass a user over to a live agent seamlessly in the same panel while in the background passing over a full history of the conversation.

Perhaps one of the biggest changes in the chatbot industry is the use of more artificial intelligence (AI), and companies now want a chatbot that has AI capabilities. A good chatbot technology brings together different methods including semantic algorithms, deep learning, neural networks and machine learning in a way that still gives companies control. Chatbots are able to learn customer behaviours based on how users interact it with it and what suggested questions they are selecting in order to continuously improve. However, this shouldn’t be a black box. To be successful in a customer service role, the chatbot needs to have some level of human intervention and sign-off on content to keep information accurate and compliant.

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of simple chatbots out there today that leave customers annoyed and with a bad impression of the technology. The team at Creative Virtual are on a mission to help save as many of these chatbots as we can by transforming them into tools that meet customer expectations and are worthy of being the face of the company’s help centre.

The chatbot and virtual agent industry is an exciting space to be in, and I love being able to help my clients implement the newest developments in their virtual agent projects. At Creative Virtual, we’re always pushing the boundaries of what the industry thinks is possible and consistently striving to bring new innovations to the table. It gives me a real feeling of pride to see long-standing chatbot implementations evolve along with these changes and continue to deliver the service that customers expect.