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What are You Doing to Deal with Stress?

By Rachael Needham, Head of Delivery Management

A key to good relations with our (yours and mine) clients is dealing with stress. When we’re negatively stressed or stressed out, we are less likely to be friendly, come up with creative solutions, or handle difficult situations well.

There is lots of great information about stress and handling it, so this is just a little reminder and snapshot of stress and handling it. Let’s take a look!

1. Is stress good or bad?

It’s both. There is stress that gets you up and going, which is good. However, bad stress is distress. It impacts you physically as well as mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and just about any another “ally” you can think of.

2. The physical impact of stress

Stress sets off inflammation in the body, stomachaches, headaches, and a long list of other issues. The biggest cause of inflammation in the body is from stress. The physical impacts can lead to illness, fatigue, brain fog, etc. And what happens when we have physical issues?

3. The psychological impact of stress

What affects us physically affects us psychologically, and vice versa. Studies show that just one night of poor sleep impacts our reaction time while driving and our decision making. Negative stress will have a knock-on effect as we work with colleagues and clients. Negative stress can sneak up on us, and begin impacting our decisions, words, and interactions, which can cause smaller issues to become escalations. Escalations create more stress and may draw others into negative stress, compounding issues by triggering stress motivated reactions.

4. Simple Solutions

There are lots of solutions for dealing with stress. Sometimes the smallest changes to your regular routine can have a major impact. Which of these things could you start doing for yourself?

  • Go to bed 30 minutes early a few nights a week
  • Walk barefoot in the grass once a week / month
  • Bounce on an exercise ball / on a trampoline / in place for 5-15 minutes a day
  • Stop looking at your phone / watching TV an hour before going to bed
  • Take a pharmaceutical grade, bio-available, quality nutritional
  • Eat a fresh salad / avocado twice a week (or an additional time if you’re already great about consuming veggies)
  • Chat with a trusted friend or co-worker
  • Take two 15-minute breaks a week to breathe / pray / meditate
  • Read a book on personal development / techniques to handle stress
  • Meet with a therapist
  • Watch a funny video that will make you laugh out loud

stress less

If you’re dealing with high negative stress and feel like it’s more than you can handle, please reach out to a doctor or professional counselor who is willing to look at both your physical and mental health.

 

Here’s to a great life ahead as you pursue stress-free health and supporting customers and clients from a place of wellbeing!

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.

Meeting Customer Service Expectations in India

By Anand Gupta, Knowledgebase Author

India is one of the fastest growing economies of the world but is yet to hit the peak.  Climbing up the ladder of success, and boosting the economy, has been aided by several technologies. They helped in cutting down costs and incorporating quality. Now, as the competition is increasing, maintaining economic growth is a huge challenge. Customers are spending their money with companies that can save their time and provide accurate information.

Yet major Indian companies and organisations are falling short on customer satisfaction. Most of them are shockingly unaware of it. While basking in the glory of success, they tend to think everything is alright. This is where they lose the connection with people.

Small companies in India are unable to afford call centres for resolution of customer issues. A contact centre requires a huge budget and infrastructure in place. Yet, having a call centre isn’t always the best way to serve customers. Connecting to a call centre agent consumes customers’ time. One needs to go through the grind and wait until the agent receives and answers your query. It may take a while and causes people to lose interest in buying from the company.

In India, people are often confused when it comes to contacting product manufacturers. There’s not much information available to them sometimes as to how to get the information and support they need.

Luckily there are solutions available to Indian companies to build better connections with customers. Chatbot technology is easily the most compatible, affordable, and easy to use solution. It is hassle-free, connects 24/7 from any place with just an Internet connection, and systematically answers the most FAQs without any human intervention.

India is an explicitly diverse nation housing multiple languages and dialects being spoken in distinct states. Not every company is capable of hiring a bunch of people at call centres to meet the needs of its customers’ languages. But a chatbot can accommodate the regional languages. It can process the queries in them and revert to the client in the same.

Here in India, Creative Virtual has successfully executed the technique in two states: Rajasthan and Maharashtra. We created our NLP (natural language processing) in the local languages, including Rajasthani, Marwari, Hindi (along with English) for Rajasthan (for the government project Bhmashah), and Marathi for Maharasthra (PCMC, government). It was a unique exercise that became pathbreaking in the industry with others looking to emulate. Now, people from remote areas don’t need to walk down to a government office. They can check the government schemes on mobiles phones and download e-cards provided to them for availing facilities.

As we celebrate Customer Service Week, here are some expectations of customers that companies in India need to keep in mind to better serve their customers:

  • Options to connect with a company without a long wait
  • Accessibility from anywhere
  • Proper and deep information of a company’s product or service
  • Resolution of their problem in their local language
  • Responsive user experience
  • Information readily available and help that is customary and free
  • Ability to connect with a human helper if they have a complex issue that can’t be resolved through self-service

Research is key for companies in India as it is a country of over a billion people with different needs. They must get to know their customers so they can build connections. Companies must be artisanal in their approach to customer service which includes flexibility when catering to a varied customer base. Requests and suggestions made by customers must be respected and worked upon. Word of mouth is key in success in the Indian market.

 

Building a Positive Relationship for Better Customer Service

By Mandy Reed, Global Head of Marketing

The relationships you have with your customers directly affect your bottom line. Happy customers are more likely to be loyal, repeat customers and recommend you to their friends, family and social media connections. Every service and support engagement you have with a customer can make or break that relationship.

At Creative Virtual one of our passions is helping our customers deliver a positive service experience to their customers. In order to do that, we work to build a close and collaborative relationship with each of our customer organisations. We get to know their business and goals and then strive to deliver the support they need to achieve their customer service objectives.

Customer Service Week is all about celebrating the people around the world who are delivering great service and support, and so I’d like to give a special shout out to the Creative Virtual team. It is your experience, expertise and dedication to building those positive relationships that have enabled the company to cultivate a growing list of happy customers for over 15 years.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Over the past several months, some of Creative Virtual’s customers have been leaving verified reviews of our company and technology on the Gartner Peer Insights* website. Here’s what they have to say about working with our team:

Relation Based on Trust and Successful Deliveries

“Working with Creative Virtual is easy. Our key contacts are always available to support us on any issues, new projects or last minute requirements. We appreciate the rapidity of answer as well as the flexibility around the Vendor Management. HSBC is working with Creative Virtual since 2011. A real trust has been developed as long as successful projects are delivered. This is a real win-win situation.” (Read the full review)

 

Moved Fast to Launch a Chatbot that Answers Inquiries in a Conversational Way

“Creative Virtual is very responsive to our needs. They are supportive and agile as our business evolves to take advantage of their product offerings.” (Read the full review)

 

If You Want a Company that Focuses on Your Needs, Only Look at Creative Virtual

“Creative Virtual are a very professional company that treats each company as an individual. They get to understand a companies’ needs and offer solutions, they don’t try to apply a one solution fits all approach. I highly recommend Chris as I have worked with him for over 10 years in large corporations. CV place the customer first and this comes through in every interaction.” (Read the full review)

 

Responsive and Adaptive, Thought Leaders, Consistently Delivers Meaningful Results

“Responsive and adaptive; very nimble delivery model (fast ramp up time, fast engagement and assignment of resources). Collaborative and agile approach. Highly skilled resources with deep subject matter expertise. Strong thought leadership. Meaningful results (improved call deflection rates). Innovative product set and roadmap, with particular strength in process mining tools and method combined with intent libraries.” (Read the full review)

As they say, the proof is in the pudding – and there’s no better feeling than knowing we have happy, satisfied customers. So happy, in fact, that they are willing to take time out of their busy days to complete a review and share their positive experiences with their peers. Thank you to all of our customers for collaborating with our team and trusting us to help you with your customer service!

To learn more about our technology and working with our team, request your own live demo. We’d love to add you to the Creative Virtual family!

 

*Gartner Peer Insights reviews constitute the subjective opinions of individual end users based on their own experiences, and do not represent the views of Gartner or its affiliates.

The Cycle of a Successful and Harmonious Customer Service Experience

By Rachel Freeman, Operations Director

It’s 2019 and time again to celebrate Customer Service Week. It’s Autumn and leaves are falling in the Northern Hemisphere – a testament to the changing seasons of a cyclical and (hopefully) never-ending cycle. The cyclical concept seems apt this week as we mark this week-long celebration again this year (although we should be thinking about customer service every week of course!) and seasons are changing.

So many aspects found in our lives are cyclical. On a personal level we have the cycle of life. One of my personal favourites is the circle of fifths which, on the most basic of levels, can be defined loosely as a musical concept involving the relationship of various tones found in major and minor keys which can explain why certain things might sound sharp or flat or in perfect harmony. Stay tuned for more on this later.

Moving into business we can look at software development, with stages including planning through to maintenance with the objective to move back to planning for more improvements based on feedback. Similarly, we can look at the product cycle where there is a season for production after research and development, and then an ultimate season of decline which feeds right back into R&D to work out what can be improved for the next version.

Closer to home, I consider how Creative Virtual’s suite of customer and employee engagement tools fulfil a tidy cycle which feeds upon itself to deliver a successful and harmonious customer experience. Like the circle of fifths, there is no end point. The relationships of tones and questions and points of contact exist in a wheel and the feedback loop – whether musical or user generated – provides enough information to confirm either perfect harmony or an experience needing more tuning.

customer serviceTo explain further – picture a user needing information about an upgrade to a banking service that may affect his/her account. The user asks a question via the self-help portal and gets a response that delivers an accurate explanation, but it is not specific enough for his/her unique situation. So, the user decides to escalate to live chat. The virtual agent passes the user over to the live chat advisor along with the transcript of the conversation so the agent can respond to the latest query and not start over at the beginning. The live agent “speaks” to the user who then asks another question about the bank policy on “xyz”. The agent, not knowing all of the policies, seeks advice on the internal advisor-facing self-help portal (serviced by Creative Virtual from same knowledgebase), finds the reference on policy number and feeds back the info to the user quickly.

The “journey” went full circle: user finding information on the self-help tool – self-help tool escalating the user to a live agent – live agent finding information on the internal self-help tool – a combination of humans and technology delivering exactly what the user needed to know. Possibly not a symphony but I’d call that a most successful and enjoyable customer prelude.

Happy Customer Service Week!

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.

Three Cheers for Customer Service Week

By Mandy Reed, Global Head of Marketing

Happy Customer Service Week! Every year during the first full week of October we celebrate the importance of customer service and the people who serve and support customers around the globe. The customer service landscape is more challenging than ever with a growing number of customer contact channels and increasing expectations for always-available support.

Even though the customer service industry is constantly evolving, the goal is always the same: to create happy, repeat customers through quality service and support. Here’s our annual blog post roundup of trends, tips and stats to help you consistently deliver a five-star customer service experience:

  • Top Tips for Implementing a Chatbot or Virtual Agent in 2019 – These eight tips address the most important items organisations should consider when evaluating and deploying chatbot or virtual agent technology. Get recommendations on how to build your business case, implement the right combination of humans and AI, and achieve long-term success with conversational self-service.
  • Are We Chatting or are We Serving? – The balance of chat and getting the solution quickly – In our digitised world with expectations for immediate access to information, is it right to assume that we are so busy that we’d rather just get an answer than exchange any pleasantries? This post explores creating the right chat/service balance when supporting digital customers.
  • Leverage Your Chatbot to Its Full Capacity – The long-term pros of having a chatbot go beyond providing basic self-service to customers. They can also be personalised marketing and sales tools and powerful sources of customer insights and feedback for companies that leverage them to their full capacity.
  • Creating a Better Experience for Indian Customers – There’s no denying the importance of providing a positive customer experience for digital customers. This post shares insights from this year’s Customer Experience Management (CXM) event held in Mumbai and a video of Creative Virtual’s presentation, including live demonstrations of our CX technologies.
  • The Digital Workplace in 2019 – Organisations are coming to understand the benefits of providing better and easier support for employees and are placing an increased focus on improving employee engagement. Chatbots and virtual agents are proven tools in the digital workplace for everything from onboarding new employees to helping troubleshoot common IT issues to training contact centre agents.
  • “Virtual Moron-Idiot!”: Why Chatbots Fail and the #ChatbotRescue Mission Saving Them – The chatbot and virtual agent landscape is littered with poor-performing implementations and failed projects, but it’s not all doom and gloom for the industry. Not only are there highly successful implementations that have been in place for years, but there are also options for getting failing projects back on track.
  • #CXDay: Serving Your Customers a Custom Support Experience – Frost & Sullivan predict that the year 2020 will be the point when customer experience will overtake product and price as the number one way companies will differentiate themselves from the competition. Here are four tips to help you deliver a custom support experience for your customers.

Don’t Worry, the Customer Only Wants You to Be Perfect

By Scott Tompkins, Enterprise Account Executive, USA

So…. I have this diploma and now have no idea what to do! Anyone else been there after graduation? Being from Delaware, I thought I would try my hand at one of the many financial service companies that call the First State home. My interview seemed to go well and as it was concluding the hiring manager asked me to sit with one of her agents for 30 minutes so that I would have a better understanding of what I would be doing in this role. I sat down and listened to “Steve” take his first call. The caller was a very polite woman who I assume had lived a long, enjoyable life. She was calling to cancel her credit card. I can’t recall all of the dialogue but when she hung up the phone not only was the card not cancelled but she now was the proud owner of the “World Traveler Card.” How did that happen? At that moment, I realized this was not the job for me! What an incredibly difficult position for an agent. How do you show empathy for your customers while at the same time complying with the push to meet goals the company has outlined?

Fast forward a dozen or so years and now I am a seasoned member of the working class that at times requires support from brands I purchase from. My expectations when speaking with an agent are that they will handle every situation the way I would handle it if I was on the other end. Imagine asking an agent to meet each caller’s personal expectations. I really dislike the word “fair”, and don’t allow my children to use it, but my goodness, that is an unfair expectation.

So, what is the answer? For me, it’s automation. When I take inventory of all the reasons I pick up the phone or live chat with a brand, most of those things could be answered in some type of automated fashion or by a chatbot. Whether I need information about my account or steps to troubleshoot a process, I shouldn’t need another person to take the time to help me. Chatbots have evolved in 2017 to be intelligent, easy to access and conversational. They should be used in everyday transactions and leave the “high-touch” scenarios for the agents. Companies should strive to create an environment where customers are able to get immediate support for everyday issues, while at the same time having agents available for consultative help. Companies will not only create a superior customer experience but also help bring sanity back to their agents. Allow the agent to spend their day consulting with customers on new products and offering advice where necessary. Let the chatbot handle the password reset, account balance, and “I need to reset my router” questions.

Contact us to learn more about our chatbot experts and solutions.

Excellent Customer Service: What’s the secret to achieving success now and in the future?

By Susan Ott, Customer Success Manager, USA

Often, customer service can be a challenging world. Solving problems, providing information, making sure things run smoothly…it’s not always easy.

When I take a moment and think about companies that emanate unmatched customer service, I see an atmosphere in which employees and management alike are engaged on the front lines with their customers. Pride in the company you work for should always be at the forefront of every interaction. That emotion of pride instills a sense of teamwork and customers can feel it!

Companies who employ individuals who go above and beyond will always win me over. Most often it’s those little “extra” moments that customers remember and foster a sense of loyalty to your brand. Delivering a personalized and effortless customer experience is really what it’s all about.

As we find ourselves in this age of internet-driven, 24- hour news cycles, we see a world full of ever changing landscapes. Customer touch points are rapidly expanding, and we see companies asking: How can we keep up and stay relevant?

Fortunately, new technologies are out there opening pathways for us to build a dialogue with our customers. We are already seeing that chatbots will have a major impact on the world of customer service over the next several years. Digital interactions will help employees complete tasks both great and small. Features that make our conversations seem natural and super convenient are constantly being improved upon.

The bottom line with regards to the future of customer service? Focus on creating a seamless experience BEFORE, DURING and AFTER a customer interaction. That is what customers want and if a chatbot can help with the process, we shouldn’t be opposed!

Contact us to hear more about how we can help with AI experts and solutions.

Postcard From Las Vegas: Happy Customer Service Week!

By Claudia Ramos, Senior Customer Success Manager, USA

When I got news that I’d be relocating with my family to Las Vegas, NV, I was thrilled with the possibility of finally breaking out of the Contact Center world and embarking on my new dream. I envisioned my big entrance in the Hotel Bizz. Dreams aside, I had to provide for my family. The reality of a crashing economy shattered my dream of working in a new exciting field. I knew that I had become great at something I did not like so much anymore. So, I accepted a Contact Center Manager job that paid 50% less than what I was making previously. Looking back, at least I had the view of the Las Vegas Strip and the occasional fun background check to review and decline for hire…

However, what was it that changed my love and passion for working at a Contact Center?  It was never the clients, the calls or coaching sessions, and certainly not the amazing Potlucks. First, I was fed up with the fast-pace of hiring demands. Second, was how quickly we had to teach the agents to follow quality guidelines and memorize all the products offered. At one point, I remember being the only manager on the floor with 45 New Hire agents and every other agent was asking the same question. If you do not know the feeling, it is equivalent to hiking Red Rock Canyon without shoes (it’s a long story)! I would go on to interview, hire, train, coach and motivate agents for the next few years. Each day, reminding myself that all this experience would come in handy one day. At the very least, I was able to fit into some old Levi’s from my early 20’s due to all the walking around answering questions!

I have a new spring in my step these days! In 2016, I took the challenge from my mentor to join a team of Artificial Intelligence experts. Without a doubt, my first thoughts were, “Bots are here to take our jobs”, “Bots are not conversational”, etc. Do you want to know what made things interesting? The VP told me, “These are some of the best conversations you are going to read” (insert LOL emoji). Fine, I would like to read these myself! As I started reading through conversations, they felt more like a face-to-face conversation with a person than talking to a robot. I was noticing that the chatbot was handling more concurrent chats. All the while helping resolve the customers’ questions. The chatbot was apparently alleviating issues at all levels, resulting in a reduction in phone escalations. The additional development was that the chatbot could assist agents with listening and providing accurate responses to customers. My initial reaction was jealousy. I wished this technology had been available to me during all those years of on-the-job training for New Hires and walking the sales floor!

The hustle of my Vegas Contact Center days was not in vain. I feel good being able to contribute to a fast-paced world that needs happier, more satisfied agents and customers! Chatbots are created by people who are passionate about helping others. Individuals who understand the importance of clients receiving speedy and accurate resolutions and carefully curating answers that maintain a conversational element.

Big shout out to all the New Hires out there. Y’all are too much sometimes, and that is okay because I love you. Thank you for all you do!

Reach out to learn more about our AI experts and solutions.