Virtual Assistants and Knowledge Management: your complementary customer engagement solution

By Chris Ezekiel, Founder & CEO

My favourite webinar to present is the Technology Innovation Showcase that Creative Virtual has done for three consecutive years with CRMXchange. Why? Most other webinars require me to stick to just presenting slides, but the Tech Showcase gives me the opportunity to give live demos of some of our current implementations. The best way to truly showcase our Smart Help solutions – and for you to understand how they work – is to show them in action. I’m guessing many of you agree since we had one of the highest number of registrants and attendees that CRMXchange has seen for their Tech Showcase series!

This year my presentation was titled Knowledge Management and Virtual Assistants: A Winning Combination for Customer Engagement, and I addressed the challenge organisations face when it comes to creating and maintaining content in order to provide customers with accurate and consistent information across contact channels. My live demonstrations showed how companies are already using the powerful combination of natural language virtual assistant technology and a flexible knowledge management platform to create positive omnichannel engagement.

The main thing to take away from my presentation is the fact that the Creative Virtual solutions I demonstrated and explained are designed to be complementary to what your organisation already has in place. I see so many large organisations embarking on massive projects that go on for ages, cost a lot of money and may end up not even being relevant anymore once they are completed. Our technology can sit on top of your existing infrastructure, integrate with your existing systems and allow you to create highly personalised virtual conversations right away. These systems empower you to improve the customer experience, save costs and increase sales – all while building on what you already have in place. There’s no need to throw out what you’ve already spent time and money putting in place.

If you missed the live Tech Showcase webcast, it is now available to view on-demand. Once you’ve watched my presentation, I hope you’ll reach out to us for your own personalised live demo to see more of our technology in action.

My thanks to Sheri Greenhaus and CRMXchange for hosting another great Technology Innovation Showcase for us.

Innovation Showcase to Feature Knowledge Management and Virtual Assistant Technology

By Mandy Reed, Marketing Manager (Global)

As new customer contact channels (such as mobile and social media) gain popularity and traditional channels (such as phone) continue to remain key to customer engagement, organisations are faced with a challenge of providing consistent, accurate and personalised information to customers across the growing range of channels. Our 2015 Global Customer Support Outlook Survey revealed that when it comes to managing and delivering relevant content, the top obstacle is creating and maintaining consistent information in one system across the organisation.

Chris Ezekiel, Creative Virtual Founder & CEO, will address this challenge in the upcoming Technology Innovation Showcase with CRMXchange. The live webcast, titled Knowledge Management and Virtual Assistants: A Winning Combination for Customer Engagement, will highlight how organisations are empowered to deliver a positive omnichannel customer experience through the combination of natural language virtual assistant technology and a powerful knowledge management platform.

Chris will share a series of live demonstrations of V-Person™ and V-Portal™ technology to give attendees an inside look at how organisations can:

  • Break down information and departmental silos to bring content together in one powerful knowledge management tool
  • Create and deploy intelligent virtual assistants across contact channels from one platform to deliver accurate, consistent, seamless and personalised engagement
  • Gain better insight into customer behaviour with advanced conversational reporting
  • Improve the customer experience, build brand loyalty and increase sales while also reducing customer support costs

Don’t miss this opportunity to see how organisations like E.ON, Autodesk, Commercial Bank of Dubai and National Rail Enquiries are already using virtual assistants backed by an innovative knowledge management platform to provide omnichannel Smart Help to their customers and why Gartner designated Creative Virtual as a 2015 Cool Vendor in Smart Machines.

Register now to join this free live webcast starting at 4:00 pm UK time/ 11:00 am ET on Wednesday, 02 September. The webinar will be recorded so, even if you can’t log in to watch the showcase live, it will be available to view on-demand.

New Survey Report: 2015 Global Customer Support Outlook Survey Results

By Chris Ezekiel, Founder & CEO

Today Creative Virtual released the results of our 2015 Global Customer Support Outlook Survey. This survey is a follow-up to the one we conducted in 2013 and solicited input from customer experience professionals via an online questionnaire fielded between April and May of this year. Not surprisingly, a majority of participants from around the world said that improving their overall customer experience is extremely important to them this year, with many of them also placing great importance on resolving customer inquiries faster and improving customer engagement.

It’s certainly no secret that today’s customers are placing a growing significance on their experiences with brands when making purchasing decisions, and the customer service and support your organisation offers plays a major role in the overall experience. Engaging with customers now requires companies to go beyond traditional contact channels to develop a strategy that embraces newer channels such as mobile and social media. When asked about utilising mobile as a customer service channel, 72% of survey participants from EMEA and 54% from the Americas report currently using this channel. In EMEA, SMS, social media and mobile apps are the top three ways organisations are leveraging mobile customer service while social media, mobile apps and live chat take the top three spots in the Americas (see chart below).

Supporting Mobile Support Queries

As these additional contact channels gain popularity with customers seeking support and information, providing a seamless, consistent omnichannel experience is becoming an imperative for organisations. This raises new challenges for companies when it comes to creating, managing and delivering content to customers. Our survey reveals that creating and maintaining consistent content in one system across the organisation is the main knowledge management challenge for both EMEA (62%) and the Americas (53%). This speaks to the fact that a true omnichannel experience is driving brands to search out powerful knowledge management tools in order to break down the departmental and information silos which prevent efficient, accurate delivery of information across customer contact channels. Having the proper platform in place will also help organisations overcome the second most common challenge of cost savings and productivity improvement across the department cited by 53% of survey respondents in EMEA and 52% in the Americas (see chart below).

Factors Affecting Content & KM

Our survey also delves into barriers to customer experience programme development (lack of budget ranks high!) and inquiry volumes by contact channel, as well as the usage and contact deflection rates of virtual assistant technology. The results give an eye-opening inside look into how customer experience professionals view the current customer support landscape and plan to make improvements to their strategies and tools this year.

To see the full results, download your complimentary copy of the 2015 Global Customer Support Outlook Survey report here.

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.

V-Portal™ Earns Us a Spot as a KM Promise Award Finalist

By Chris Ezekiel, Founder & CEO

As pioneers in the virtual assistant space, Creative Virtual is well known for our highly accurate natural language virtual assistants. One of the key factors that sets us apart from our competitors is that our virtual assistants are backed by our innovative knowledge management platform, V-Portal – a unique offering in the marketplace today.

We are proud to share the news that our V-Portal technology and the current implementations of that technology have earned us recognition as a finalist for the 2014 KM Promise Award! Sponsored by KMWorld Magazine, this award is designed to celebrate the success stories of knowledge management. It is awarded to an organisation that is not only delivering innovative technologies in knowledge management, but also works with their customers to help them realise positive business results.

Knowledge management is key for accurate, consistent and personalised omnichannel customer engagement. You regularly hear customer experience experts discuss the necessity for companies to remove internal information silos in order to successfully reach their omnichannel goals. V-Portal is designed to do just that. We have combined our virtual agent technology with knowledge management, workflow management and business intelligence reporting in one powerful, innovative platform to help organisations provide their customers with anytime, anywhere support and engagement.

Our ground breaking V-Portal technology has also won us two 2014 Silver Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service (read more about those awards here), the 2013 Silver Stevie Award for Most Innovative Company of the Year in Europe (read more about that award here), and has been praised in an independent analyst report as ‘a product strength and competitive differentiator’ (find out more about that report here). It’s always exciting to receive these accolades for our technology and recognition of the business benefits we help our customers achieve.

The winner of the 2014 KM Promise Award will be officially announced during the KMWorld Conference being held 4-7 November in Washington, DC. You can read more about the award here. A full list of finalists appears in the November/ December 2014 issue of KMWorld Magazine which will be available online at the beginning of November.

And, as always, we’d love to schedule a live, personalised demo to show you what your organisation can achieve with our innovative customer engagement solutions.

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.


Improve Customer Experience with Smart Help Solutions

By Chris Ezekiel, Founder & CEO

Smart Help is all about providing consistent and accurate information to your customers regardless of what channel they use to contact you, and natural language virtual agents are a great way to reach that goal. Recently I had the pleasure of being joined by Kathryn Daniels from National Rail Enquiries, Alison Chapman from Motability Operations, and Maria Ward from our partner company The Virtual Zone for a live webinar showcasing real Smart Help solutions. Both NRE and Motability Operations have been using our technology since 2007 as part of their overall customer support strategies with great success. During this webinar they highlighted very different ways in which conversational Smart Help solutions can be used for customer service.

Webinar speakers

‘Smart Help Solutions in Action’ Speakers

Kathryn shared some background on NRE’s Ask Lisa and discussed the benefits of deploying a natural language virtual assistant over the traditional FAQ system they initially sought to implement. Maria followed with a live demonstration of Ask Lisa on the NRE website, including the new integration with train company information. She explained how the Facebook version of Ask Lisa not only provides 24/7 support but also allows users to like, share, and comment on the information Lisa provides.

During the second half of the webinar, Alison switched the focus to using this same technology internally for knowledge management and support of advisors within the contact centre. She gave insight into how implementing Ask Mo has allowed Motability to abolish an IVR and specialised teams and instead have a flexible customer contact centre who can now deal with over 90% of queries at first contact.

The event ended with a Q&A session during which we answered attendee questions covering topics including the time involved in keeping a virtual assistant knowledgebase up-to-date, ways to promote the use of a virtual agent in the contact centre, and the technology’s capabilities for supporting multiple languages.

My thanks to Kathryn, Alison and Maria for sharing their expertise and demonstrating the power of public facing and internal Smart Help solutions. If you missed the live event, the recording is available to view on-demand.

#CV10Years – V-Portal™ is Revealed to the World

By Peter Behrend, Chief Technical Officer

For the first part of the company’s history, Creative Virtual was focused on providing natural language virtual assistant solutions as a standalone self-service solution. As our solutions became more sophisticated, additional possibilities for service channels began to emerge, and consumer preferences and expectations changed, it became increasingly obvious to us that the future of our technology would be much more than just virtual assistants. And so we embarked on a mission that resulted in what you today know as V-Portal, our multi-channel knowledge management, workflow and business intelligence tool.

V-PortalWe officially announced V-Portal to the world in October 2012, but that was by no means the beginning or the end of our journey. V-Portal was developed based on years of our own observations and experiences as well as the feedback and wish lists of our customers. It allows organisations to aggregate cross-channel content from internal databases, live chat transcripts, call centres, CRM and business intelligence tools from a single platform, thereby eliminating pesky information silos. This content can then be used to deliver company and customer specific information across multiple support channels, such as the web, call centre, mobile and social media, via our intelligent virtual assistant technology. The easy to use drag and drop graphical editor, sophisticated and customisable workflow and permission management capabilities, and unique reporting and analytics dashboard combine with our powerful natural language engine to create a platform that has been described as ‘a significantly strong differentiator in the industry, and one that will exceed customer expectations’ by Patricia Seybold Group.

Since it’s official release in 2012, we’ve continued to expand on V-Portal’s functionality and are constantly reviewing our technology roadmap to ensure we are providing our customers with the innovative solutions that will best serve their organisations and, of course, their customers. You can learn more about V-Portal on our website and also download the full report from Patricia Seybold Group here.

See Smart Help Solutions in Action

By Mandy Reed, Marketing Manager (Global)

On Wednesday, 26th March Creative Virtual will be hosting a complimentary, live webinar on smart help solutions featuring two of our customers: National Rail Enquiries and Motability Operations. The speaking panel will include Kathryn Daniels, Information Development Manager at NRE, Alison Chapman, Communication and Development Manager at Motability Operations, and Maria Ward, Head of Web Services at The Virtual Zone, our partner company.

Smart Help Solutions in ActionBoth NRE and Motability Operations have been using Creative Virtual’s technology since 2007, and their well-established natural language smart help solutions continue to play important roles in their overall customer experience strategies. Kathryn, Alison and Maria have graciously agreed to join us for this 60 minute event to let you hear straight from the horses’ mouths (so to speak!) the success their organisations are achieving with conversational smart help solutions.

This webinar will feature live examples, demonstrations and real results achieved by NRE and Motability Operations. Kathryn and Maria will show how NRE’s Ask Lisa is providing 24/7 self-service across their website and Facebook page. Alison will focus her presentation on how Motability Operations uses the technology internally for knowledge management and support of their advisors within the contact centre. They will be joined at the end of the event by Creative Virtual Founder & CEO, Chris Ezekiel for a live Q&A session.

Don’t miss this great opportunity to hear real reviews from two of our real customers! Register now and mark your calendars for 26th March.