A Banking Tale: Out of Hours? No problem!

By Mandy Reed, Marketing Manager

If you’re like me, you love to hear a story so I’ll tell you the tale of a frustrated customer who found resolution in what is now becoming one of the likeliest of places. Some time back, I met up with a good friend for one of our semi-regular, cake and coffee fuelled Sunday walks. We both love these walks because we can talk about everything and anything. Even the smallest things become interesting conversation. This one weekend, as we meandered across London towards our next coffee stop, my friend, Noelle shared with me a banking tale from the prior week.

Let me set the time and place. Noelle is a HSBC customer and this story takes place around the time HSBC was introducing their new Secure Key as an added level of protection for online banking services. She had recently moved and due to her address change, there was a delay in the delivery of the Secure Key for her account. She Closed_Signdidn’t think anything of it until late one night when she needed to login to her bank account to check on a recent deposit and pay some bills. When she went online to perform her routine online banking, she realised that HSBC had updated their log on pages requiring customers to enter the code from their Secure Key device.

That’s when panic set in. She didn’t have her Secure Key yet and the banks were closed. All she could think of was her busy work schedule the rest of the week and that it would be at least two days before she could make it to a branch during opening hours. Desperate for answers, she scoured the website for an answer and what she found saved the day. HSBC has an automated virtual assistant who told her exactly what to do. She said she simply typed in her question and the virtual assistant told her how to access her account without her Secure Key. Once she logged on, she checked her deposits, paid her bills and all was well in her world.

After she told me the story, I provided her with a bonus ending. I explained that I worked for the company that created HSBC’s virtual agent Ask Olivia. Her face lit up and she said “So that’s what your company does? That is super cool! Olivia saved me a bunch of time and all that money in late fees!” I’ve never forgotten that particular walk or her genuine, unsolicited testament.

Moral of the story: Your customers are busy people who want to take care of things like online banking at a time that works within their schedules. Providing self-service options, such as virtual agents, are a perfect way for you to provide support online even when it’s out of hours. Noelle’s plight may be a small hiccup to the rest of the world, but to her one virtual assistant and one question saved her day. What will it mean for your customers?

Banks Need More Than Lollipops and Branded Pens to Keep Customers

By Frank Schneider, VP Customer Experience Solutions

Don’t get me wrong. My four year old clearly choses my dry cleaner, bank and barber shop based on the probability of a lollipop or a sticker. However, when it comes to customer experience and banking, handing out trinkets dazzled with warm and fuzzy sentiments is not a critical factor in motivating consumers to switch banks -so says a recent study conducted by Novarica.

Novarica launched a website called FindABetterBank and received input from over 50,000 active banking shoppers. What they uncovered was surprising, especially in three areas.

  1. 14% left a bank because of a bad customer service experience. Given the propensity for customer experience to now include multi-channel interactions with a brand , there could be a lot of gaps to fill for banks, as well as key opportunities for banks to retain more customers.
  2. 15% left because there weren’t any convenient branch locations. Hmmmm! Without a physical branch, what can banks do to provide convenient, readily available options? Technology can help fill this gap with web and mobile accessibility that can thwart the need for a retail outlet. Self-service plays a key part in helping customers fulfill their needs around account access and customer service. If you can resolve most of those needs online or from customer’s smart phone, ATM access can become your primary focus.
  3. 8% left because features and services were missing from the bank’s arsenal, like mobile banking. Insights from the Mobile Banking and Commerce Summit held this past June revealed that banks will spend $118 billion on technology and mobile banking this year. In fact, 81 of the top 100 banks already offer some form of mobile banking. Banks behind the curve need to promote strong digital strategy that authentically meets the mobile needs of customers.

I recently read that “banking is something you do, not somewhere you go.” This is definitely at play with some of the trends uncovered in the Novarica study. Consumers want to perform tasks and access personalized content at their convenience. Banks need to start with what customers want, then build a customer experience strategy that will support customer needs beyond their sweet tooth.

Below is the full chart from the Novarica study. We’ll also be at the BAI Retail Delivery show on November 5-7. Visit us in the Innovation Showcase center and watch our technology in action.

Novarica chart

Are Your Customer Service Agents Working like a Dog?

By Mandy Reed, Marketing Manager

This week marks National Customer Service Week (#NCSW13) and a quick Twitter search shows lots of organisations recognising their service teams and sharing their top tips for providing the best service possible. It’s no secret that the service and support you provide can make or break your customer experience. Hiring the right people for your contact centre is key when it comes Working like a dogto providing superior service, but just like any other profession, your team can’t be successful without the correct tools for the job.

Customers today are demanding and not particularly forgiving if they feel like you’re wasting their time. They expect quick, complete and correct help the first time they contact you. If your agents don’t have the tools and information readily available to provide the expected level of support, then you are doing them and your business a great disservice. You may be forcing them to work like a dog to provide the best service.

With the growing demand for self-service, more and more enterprises are looking to intelligent virtual assistants as an option on their websites.  However, the power of that technology within contact centres is still often overlooked. These systems make the ideal tool for your support agents by providing benefits such as:

  • Goodbye keyword searches – Because virtual agents use natural language technology, your representatives don’t need to perform tedious keyword searches to find an answer.  They can simply ask in the same natural way your customer is asking them.
  • I see what you see – Often it’s helpful for live agents to know exactly what information a customer may have already seen on the website. With virtual agent technology you can provide them with that information side-by-side with more detailed information to further assist the customer with one quick search.
  • Everything in one place – These systems are not only a means for service agents to better help the customer, but also a way for agents to better help themselves. Virtual agents can be used to guide employees through training materials and can be an easy way to access internal guides, manuals and checklists.

As you take a few minutes to enjoy that delicious donut from the staff room in celebration of NCSW (I’ve seen the photos on Twitter!), also take a look at the tools you’ve given your customer service team. Are they truly allowing your agents to get their job done right? If not, then you better grab another donut and read more about how an intelligent virtual assistant can make a world of difference for your agents.

Multi-Channel: The Roadmap to Customer Satisfaction

By Chris Ezekiel, Founder & CEO

On Tuesday the world celebrated the first annual CX Day in recognition of companies and people that are creating great experiences for customers. I felt it was fitting that I be presenting my session titled Multi-Channel: The Roadmap to Customer Satisfaction as part of Customer Management IQ’s Customer Management Virtual Summit that day. Before you can create an amazing experience worthy of celebrating, you must put a winning strategy in place. But where do you start?

3 Steps: Multi-Channel StrategyDuring my session I shared study results and industry reports showing that customers want to access information quickly and easily on their channel of preference and will go elsewhere if your company can’t meet those expectations.  These stats also showed that organisations know they aren’t delivering a great experience consistently across multiple channels. So how do you go about turning all of those stats and survey responses into an action plan for your organisation?

The fact of the matter is that multi-channel can be difficult and presents a seemingly ever-changing list of challenges for organisations. I proposed three steps for meeting these challenges and creating a successful multi-channel strategy:

  1. Knowledge Sharing: Eliminate silos using knowledge management tools. You simply need to break down these departmental barriers in order provide a seamless experience for the customer.
  2. Information Delivery: Deploy multi-channel integrated solutions. Customers want information on web, mobile and social channels. You have to figure out how to communicate with them effectively wherever they want to engage.
  3. Conversational Analytics: Use conversational data, VoC and predictive analytics to gain valuable insight into what your customers want. Only with this kind of data will you find gaps and opportunities for improving customer satisfaction.

From our view of the room, we believe the convergence of intelligent virtual assistants with knowledge management creates a viable and successful multi-channel solution for global organisations, allowing them to provide consistent and accurate support across all touchpoints. The flexibility of this technology allows you to deploy solutions that are customised to meet the goals of your organisation and the needs of your customers.

It was a pleasure to speak at the first-ever Customer Management Virtual Summit, and I appreciate all the wonderful questions and feedback I’ve received from the session attendees. My thanks to Customer Management IQ for putting together a great two-day event. If you missed my presentation, the Virtual Exhibition and Session information will be available online for 90 days.

CX Day: A Look at Virtual Agents

By Courtney Schreier, Marketing Manager, Americas

It’s funny to look back on this first annual CX Day and reflect on the fact that the term “customer experience” is relatively new.  The field itself is in its infancy, when we take into account all the data points and research that really goes into defining how to create an optimal customer experience.  It’s not just based on the negative comments we receive in our “suggestions” box anymore.

A few years back, we just lumped everything into customer service, and the best part of the good old kind of customer service was getting to speak to a real live human on the phone.  I remember being a kid listening to my mother chat with the customer service agent at the other end of the Sears catalog line.  But gone are the days where a consumer will patiently wait to get through to a representative without thinking twice about spending their time listening to your hold music.  Growing up Millenial, I easily learned to abhor the endless time placed on hold, the feeling that a company didn’t care about my time and saw my only value as being a couple of cents measured on their bottom line.

customer_surveyIn fact, consumers now are interacting with customer service on borrowed time, trying to squeeze that quick service request into their cable service provider between conference calls or juggling their online credit card bill paying service before daycare ends.  Consumers want to solve their problems in the fastest, easiest route possible, and they often don’t believe this route goes through another person.  In fact, given the choice many consumers will prefer to self-service online.

Based on the Temkin’s Group Ultimate Customer Experience Infographic we shared in a previous post, it seems obvious that organizations should invest resources in meeting customers’ changing support needs in order to convert them into being coveted promoters.  Promoters are 5.2 times more likely to purchase more from the company and are 5.8 times more likely to forgive the same company if it makes a mistake. Yet organizations are struggling to deliver that “wow” experience to their customers.

Intelligent virtual agents, which provide self-service options 24/7, are a perfect way for customer-centric companies to achieve the personalized, branded interactions that their customers crave in order to convert them into promoters.  This technology has come a long way in recent years, with newer generations of virtual agents being integrated easily and seamlessly across multiple channels, so the conversation you start on a mobile device, for example, can easily be concluded from the laptop in your living room. Organizations can provide engagement with customers on their preferred channel, whenever and wherever they want it, thereby delivering a great experience and converting them into promoters. So on this day of celebrating great customer experience, don’t forget to give some recognition to intelligent virtual agents.

CX Day Infographic: The State of Customer Experience

By Mandy Reed, Marketing Manager

Happy CX Day! Today marks the first annual CX Day, a global celebration of companies and people that are creating great experiences for customers. In preparation for today’s festivities, Temkin Group created their Ultimate Customer Experience Infographic.

There aren’t any big surprises in this impressive infographic, but it is crystal clear that the customer experience continues to be a key differentiator for organisations with direct effects on revenue and customer loyalty. Despite only 8% of large companies rating themselves as CX leaders today, there has been an increase since 2011 in companies receiving ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ ratings from consumers. And an additional 62% of large companies report having goals to be CX leaders within three years. Even though these organisations still have a long way to go, customer experience is headed in the right direction with the help of new technologies and improved customer engagement solutions.

Get yourself into the CX Day spirit by having a look at the full infographic below. You can also download a pdf version from the original post.



The Time to Adopt Multi-Channel is Now

By Mandy Reed, Marketing Manager

Multi-Channel Customer Management Summit

On 30th September and 1st October, Customer Management IQ, a division of IQPC, will host their first-ever Multi-Channel Customer Management Virtual Summit. The event will focus on optimising, integrating and adopting multi-channel into the contact centre and will feature presentations from industry experts, virtual booths from cutting-edge solution providers, and interactive roundtable discussions. Creative Virtual is proud to be a part of this unprecedented virtual event.

Our Founder & CEO, Chris Ezekiel, will be featured as a keynote speaker and is presenting his session titled Multi-Channel: The Roadmap to Customer Satisfaction on 1st October at 12 pm ET. Whether customers engage with you in ‘old media’ or ‘new media’ or through touchpoints staffed by live personnel or virtual assistants, your ability to deliver a seamless, satisfactory experience cannot change. Chris will discuss how you must build—and measure—satisfaction to account for the multi-channel customer journey. He’ll explore how your ability to deliver on your brand promise can be achieved through the advent of advanced technologies and the utilisation of key metrics focused on the customer conversation.

Creative Virtual will also be participating in the summit through our own virtual booth which will be open both days of the event. Event attendees can stop by to read more about our technology, download customer success stories, and find links to additional resources. Our booth will feature an interactive message board as well as a chat room so you can share your thoughts and have your questions answered immediately by a member of our team.

The virtual summit will run from 12 pm – 5 pm ET on 30th September and 1st October. It is free to attend but attendee slots are limited and pre-registration is required. Click here to register so you don’t miss this exclusive opportunity to participate in this ground breaking event. We hope to see you there!

Using Virtual Agent Technology to Adapt to Customer Demands

By Richard Simons, CEO, Creative Virtual USA

Technology is adapting to the consumer, and not the other way around.  Finally.

I recently spoke as a panelist for a destinationCRM roundtable webinar.  The one hour event “Meet Customer Demands with Virtual Agents” focused on the changing trend in technology today to become more adaptive to customers’ behavior versus the other way around.

I think one of the biggest frustrations for customers when online help first surfaced was the inability to have their issues solved in either the channel they were requesting it in, or having to switch to a separate channel and start from square one.  At some point when a customer has spent their valuable time talking to an automated system or inputting their information, they expect, and rightly so, that the organization they are working with has retained their data.

That’s what makes the seamless multi-channel integration of Creative Virtual’s V-Person™ so exciting.  During the webinar I was able to show examples of how Creative Virtual’s technology is working to help successful companies deliver consistent and accurate information to their customers across channels such mobile, tablet, IVR and social media.   This flexible technology allows customers to have personalized interactions on-demand with an organization, delivering a more humanized customer experience in the medium, or mediums of the customer’s choosing.

For anyone who missed the live event, the presentation is now available for viewing. I’d like to extend a big thank you to destinationCRM and David Myron for hosting and moderating the discussion.

New Research Report on Multi-Channel Customer Management

By Chris Ezekiel, Founder & CEO

IQPC Multi-Channel Customer Management ReportMulti-channel – there’s no escaping this ‘buzzword’, but to what extent is the concept playing out as business reality for organisations? That’s the question addressed in an Executive Report from Customer Management IQ, a division of IQPC, on Multi-Channel Customer Management. This report is based on research conducted between May and July of this year through a web survey and targeted, one-on-one interviews. It gives great insight into the current performances along with some best practices for achieving future multi-channel success.

I don’t want to give away too many spoilers as the full report is well worth the read, but I did find these figures extremely telling:

  • 80% of respondents rate the importance of engaging customers in his preferred channel at a 4/5 or 5/5.
  • Only 5% rank the importance of multi-channel customer engagement at a 1/5 or 2/5.
  • But only 30% of organisations can consistently engaged customers in their preferred channel and 21% never can.


While knowing the importance of multi-channel is the first step towards developing a successful strategy, it’s obvious that most organisations have a ways to go in achieving excellence in this area. It’s essential that the specific needs of your customer base be at the core of your strategy, otherwise you are setting yourself up for failure and risk losing customers to competitors who are able to meet those needs. Take advantage of the feedback your customers provide in order to really understand their channel preferences and find a way to provide a holistic experience.

This complimentary report was sponsored in part by Creative Virtual, and I had the privilege of contributing to the expert discussion. My thanks to Customer Management IQ for including me in their interviews. I highly recommend taking the time to read the report for anyone involved with customer management and experience, whether your organisation is already implementing a multi-channel strategy or just beginning to engage with the idea. You can download the Executive Report here.

A Week to Remember! Creative Virtual Takes on India

By Shantanu Purandare, Executive Director, India

What a week!  Last week was easily one of the most exhilarating weeks I have ever experienced. I can definitely say that this has been one of those times which will be seared in my memory for a long time to come. We launched Creative Virtual in India, started our new office, had a number of exciting meetings with prospects, and are gearing up to increase our development and support team – many activities culminating and packed in one week.

Reflecting upon the run up to the launch in India, and the event itself, I feel it could not have come at a better time. Having recently taken our first implementation live in India for Citibank, it seemed like the right time to let people know what we are doing and our commitment to the region. We teamed up with UKTI, whom we have worked with in other parts of the world as well, for organizing the launch. Their wonderful team left no stone unturned to ensure a successful event.


In an emerging market like India, and similar economies, the adaption of technologies and newer practices spreads fast.  This is mainly attributable to the sheer volume of people that these are exposed to, and also the fact that these economies have setup their modern infrastructure in the past couple of decades, so the latest and the best is often the way to go. The quick adaption also leads to more demands from the customers, and soon the core services are not enough. This presents great opportunities to put in mechanisms that will go beyond the binary systems and add the human element.

Creative Virtual India LaunchDuring the launch, there was a lot of excitement from the industry representatives about our solutions. It was extremely satisfying to see multiple ‘This is what I was looking for!’ responses from folks in the room and to be there to discuss how we can help them through the journey. It is an interesting proposition to work with an audience who has quickly adapted to changes in technology and is now at a point where consolidation is important and key.

A common thread we noticed throughout our discussions with key stakeholders is the presence of information silos within the organizations and the need to consolidate and present a unified customer experience. Nearly each and every person in attendance echoed that it is not only when there is a need to improve the customer experience that innovative technologies can come to assistance, but also to enhance the existing customer experience presented to the user.


Citibank India played a key role in creating a lot of buzz for us. They stood by us in the event and gave a very truthful and factual tribute to the work that we have done which was very important to the local industry representatives – a perfect example of enhanced customer experience! Not surprising, a number of folks in the room were very keen on understanding how we are helping Citibank in their journey. I can’t thank them enough for taking the time out of their busy schedules to share their experience with Creative Virtual and our technology.


Rajkumar and Avinash, important members of our India-based R&D team, also ensured that all the attendees were well engaged with our company vision. Their presence made a big difference in the event, and I thank them for being with us that evening.

All of this was enhanced by a wonderful dinner with the team. Unlimited drinks and kebabs seemed to be the magic food to get us through the barrage of prospect meetings and the famous Mumbai traffic. Why, Mr. E. (as Creative Virtual Founder & CEO, Chris Ezekiel is known to us) even offered to drive! Well, I suggested and he had accepted – but then Rohit (CEO of Creative Virtual India) got a bit edgy…!

If last week felt a bit too hectic, then we can only imagine how the coming weeks will be as innumerable follow ups and demos await us in a short span of time. Lots of excitement, lots of possibilities…and as Mr. E. would say – Onwards!


Check out some of the photos from our successful launch event in our Facebook Photo Album.