Category: IVR & Self-Service
West Corporation

Posted on January 22, 2016 by West Corporation 


Is Your IVR Out of Shape?

Voice self-service is a lynchpin for most companies’ customer service roadmaps. Optimization strategy can make it exceptional. Having seen the retail industry’s customer service influence across all verticals, we at West have witnessed the importance of evolution firsthand.

The consumer-driven world in which we live has spread the demand for accurate, immediate care when it comes to anything from pizza delivery, to air travel and even to choosing an insurance provider. Retail has set a standard that companies in every industry are being challenged to exceed.

While few would venture to argue against the need to drive an individualized customer experience, it is all-too-easy for brands to neglect helping voice solutions grow beyond their infancy stage.

Yes, we need to create a customer experience that evolves with our customer’s needs. But how does a company shift beyond stating the obvious to moving toward a more finite means of accomplishing customer satisfaction? Read More >

West Corporation

Posted on January 13, 2016 by West Corporation 


More Control = Easier Self-Service

They say that variety is the spice of life, so when it comes to providing customers with individualized, custom-tailored experiences, it’s probably best to add an extra dash or two. Although the desire for quick and painless resolution is usually universal among customers, the means of reaching this destination tends to vary wildly depending on user preference.

After West’s clients expressed an overwhelming interest in multi-modal IVR during our 2015 Connected Customer Experience Summit, it’s only fitting to ring in 2016 by talking about the potential uses and impact of multi-modal solutions. (Which we will talk about in even greater detail during our first Product Advisory Council on February 2nd).

Customers in every industry demand answers when and where they want them. (We’ve noted before that one-third of Millennials would prefer to clean a toilet than wait for a live agent). Customers will go to extreme measures to self-resolve, but need reliability when an issue demands greater attention.

This is why it is so important for brands to cover all their bases, but also make sure that they can effectively orchestrate every channel around the tried-and-true customer fallback: a phone call.

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West sees 2016 as an opportunity to help our clients create a more effective, consistent and rewarding experience for their customers by exploring a next generation communication solution that combines the reliable IVR of today with a mobile-ready visual interface. This concept centers upon allowing consumers to simultaneously interact via voice, Web and SMS, while completing just about any task that they’ve set out to accomplish. Read More >

West Corporation

Posted on December 7, 2015 by West Corporation 


Winter is Coming: Update Your Outage CX

HBO recently taunted Game of Thrones (GOT) fans with teaser art featuring actor Kit Harington’s (presumably) deceased character, Jon Snow, accompanied by the anticipated release month: April. While speculation continues to build regarding Snow’s mortality, the springtime premiere forecasts a lengthy cold-spell for fans eager to uncover the whole truth.

As GOT fans hunker down for the winter, utility companies are in a unique position to play the role of “King’s Hand” and help pave the way for customers. In other words, the people of the land want their utility companies to heed the Starks’ words and prepare accordingly: Winter is coming – bringing with it the challenges of ice storms and high winds that cut like Valerian steel.

By directing all outage calls through highly optimized High Call-Volume Answering (HVCA) systems, utility companies are sentencing confusing IVR amalgamations to death, vanquishing busy signals and empowering customers to interact with one consistent persona in any situation. Read More >

West Corporation

Posted on October 21, 2015 by West Corporation 


Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Busy Signals

Great Scott! Today, we occupants of the future celebrate a little-known holiday worthy of cracking open a few Pepsi Perfects: Back to the Future Day!

In the iconic 1985 film Back to the Future II, Marty McFly and Dr. Emmett Brown travel in time to October 21, 2015 to ensure Marty’s future children avoid foreseen disaster. To commemorate Marty and Doc’s voyage through time, let’s hop on our new HoverBoard, grab a ticket to Jaws 19 and enjoy a futuristic refreshment.

Although 3D billboards aren’t yet talking to us, and we may have to wait another few years get our hands on an actual hoverboard, there is no doubt that communication has changed drastically in the last 30 years.

Read More >

West Corporation

Posted on October 8, 2015 by West Corporation 


Don’t Ignore Any Outage

Feeling ignored by friends can be irritating. Feeling ignored by co-workers can cause miscommunication.

Feeling completely unsure of where your voice has landed when you are in an emergency situation is downright terrifying.

Imagine: A storm has blackened the sky. The first bolt of lightning cracks its whip. Lights out. Your frantic fingers dial the local utility company and you are taunted by a cold busy signal.

Utility customers not only crave solutions for more reliable communication, but desperately need them. As human beings, we deserve the peace-of-mind that we are being kept safe. Utility companies are in a unique positon to provide life’s necessities and keep consumers in-the-know.

TFCC/West’s high volume call answering (HVCA) system has transformed the way utility companies do business in storm-related, extended-outage situations. Now, companies are using their HVCA systems for all outage reporting, even on blue-sky days. By creating a consistent customer experience, these utilities are increasing customer satisfaction and decreasing operational costs. Read More >

West Corporation

Posted on August 20, 2015 by West Corporation 


How to Prep for Each Decade of Tech

Think back to 2005. If you were up with the tech-times, you may have had one of the very first camera phones in the U.S. and a 4th or 5th generation iPod. It’s possible that you were among the early undergrad Facebook adopters – or, then again, maybe MySpace was more your speed. Meanwhile, YouTube was born.

Any one of us knows first-hand that technology changes fast and we no sooner forget how much our user-expectations have risen.

Fast-forward 10 years: Facebook, now a publicly traded company, has 1.44 billion users (now ages 13+) and over 10,000 employees worldwide. Ninety percent of Americans own a mobile phone, 64 percent of which are smartphones. American Idol, one of the most successful TV shows in history, is gearing up for its farewell season, having captured more than 6 billion viewer votes cast by phone, via SMS/text or online since its debut. And likely many of those same viewers have watched Psy’s “Gangnam Style” on YouTube 2.4 billion times and counting. Read More >

West Corporation

Posted on August 10, 2015 by West Corporation 


How do you connect with 67.2M people?

Just ask companies that partner with West. In the last month alone, they made 293.5 million automated connections with 67.2 million unique customers.

From these quickly resolved inbound calls to the IVR, to proactive voice and SMS/text notifications, customers got information they needed. They got it faster, on the devices they chose, and at the times most convenient for them.

It was easy for these 67.2 million customers to check order status, bill balance and hours of the nearest facility; prescription refill reminders, back-to-school updates, insurance claim progress notifications and severe weather alerts reached them at the perfect moments. These brands know what their audiences want, and used that knowledge to deliver a better customer experience.

But you know your customers, too, so, what’s the difference between their brands and yours? They show it.

Gathering preferences, predicting activity based on historical behaviors, recognizing natural language, relying on customers to provide their information as few times as possible, sharing visibility of customer interactions across multiple channels and business functions, issuing replies at appropriate times, and using data to make continuous improvements…

Intelligently integrated communication solutions can help you show customers that your brand is on their side. You share their sense of urgency, anticipate their needs, and want to engage on their turf. You are there for them and only them. And, along the way, you gain a business ally that helps save your business a boatload of time and money.

Imagine what your brand could do, listening to what your customers are thinking… Watch this video.

As if they’re reading our minds, “Delivering Great Customer Experiences at the Speed of Digital Business” is the theme of this year’s Gartner Customer 360 Summit. West will be there in San Diego, September 9-11th, delivering a presentation with American Express. Be sure to connect with us. #ExperienceConnected

West Corporation

Posted on July 13, 2015 by West Corporation 


Insurance Claim Spin Cycle

My washing machine croaked. It wasn’t one of those slow and reasonable deaths we saw coming; it was a sudden, painful and sopping wet mess. 

The machine filled for two full hours, flooding the laundry room and kitchen. A slow trickle into the basement didn’t seem like a tremendous deal until, hours later, hanging pictures crashed, revealing just how saturated our drywall had become. Dirty clothes, ripped up flooring and industrial-strength fans haunted us for weeks; getting a new machine was the least of our problems.

This all went down months ago, but I can’t rinse away the memory because my insurance company seems to be taking us for a spin: We filed a claim. We followed up on the claim. And we waited for a response. And we had our house put back together. And we followed up. And we paid bills. And we worried. And we followed up. And weeks passed; our lives went on. And we got frustrated enough to follow up again… The saga repeats.

I won’t throw this company under the bus because it’s an all too common story. Ten years ago – even two years ago – we wouldn’t have expected anything different from an insurance provider. However, brands selling everything from pizzas and pharmaceuticals, to air travel and package delivery, have upped their game in our modern, consumer-driven world. Customer service isn’t only immediate, it’s proactive. Before I even think to check in for my flight, a notification that things are on schedule is sent straight to my cell phone. I’ve been programmed to get what I want when I need it, and now I count on it.

So what do I want from my insurance company? Immediate, frequent and accurate interaction, via the channels I’ve selected. I want peace of mind and reassurance for my family.

Speed and transparency of the claims process are top-level concerns among policyholders; and research shows that our propensity to switch providers jumps nearly 20% just by submitting a claim. Meanwhile, steep competition in the marketplace makes that likelihood tough for most insurance companies to stomach.

Although it sounds like insurance companies face an uphill battle when it comes to claims, there are strategic solutions to automate more of the customer care experience.

Smart, automated self-service has been shown to vastly improve companies’ productivity, profitability and customer satisfaction – increasing the frequency of interaction, while exponentially decreasing the money and human resources allocated for it.

Check out this infographic about boosting the success of your IVR with a few best practices from West:

  • Incorporate data to heighten caller authentication and verification, trimming time and frustration.
  • Integrate proactive SMS/text notifications to preempt inbound customer calls and decreases repeat calls.
  • Empower customers to help themselves 24/7×365 with user-friendly interfaces on multiple channels
  • Enable callers to speak naturally and self-serve more quickly with speech recognition applications.

Give your customer experience a boost. Get claimants like me out of the self-service spin cycle. Experience Connected.

West Corporation

Posted on June 30, 2015 by West Corporation 


When IVR Gets Personal

Where customer experience is concerned (aka everywhere), personal preference is king. Let’s face it: We want what we want, when we want it, the way we like it, wherever we can get it.

As Fjord/Accenture put it in spellbinding terms in the Fjord Trends 2015 report: “The impact of digital on the real world is coming into focus… Magic is now expected.”

Furthermore, we expect to be able to make our own magic. Consumers, particularly the younger set, want to be able to self-serve with mobile devices and other digital interfaces. For example, during our webcast with CRMXchange on June 11thTech Tank: IVR, Self-Service and Analytics – it was noted that 1/3 of Millennials would reportedly rather clean a toilet than speak on the phone with a customer service rep. Convenient self-resolution actually makes us feel good about ourselves.

Of course, the complexity and urgency of one’s message directly impacts the channel of choice. If we are desperate for a more detailed response, right this minute, we call; but if someone doesn’t pick up, we’ll turn to another channel. Consumers want phone-based care to be immediate, and otherwise seek a different kind of support altogether. (Even when IVR isn’t a part of the equation, many companies are doing away with voicemail because it’s a less-than-gratifying resource with a relatively hefty price-tag, as NPR’s Yuki Noguchi reported earlier this month on Morning Addition.)

Meanwhile, our collective investment in mobile technology is skyrocketing. As Business 2 Community highlighted recently, Forrester Research projects $38 billion in mobile phone sales and $76 billion in tablet sales across the U.S. this year. Digital technology is transforming the way we reach out to brands and one another, across the board.

This digital transformation has a profound impact on our population’s affinity for proactive (company-initiated) communication too, and that’s where preference management really comes into play. It is imperative that companies ask customers what, when and how they want various communication; track data and behaviors to learn from them; and, whenever possible, predict user intent.

As much as individuals would like to believe that our preferences are completely unique to each of us, soft research shows that there are only so many types of people in the world; the challenge each organization faces is identifying the right preference points and population triggers to intuitively, efficiently and cost-effectively give customers exactly what they’re asking for. Getting on the front end of user needs to offer updates and support before concerns arise – from weather alerts and insurance claim updates, to payment due dates and flash-sale announcements – make self-service options feel that much more rewarding.

However, smart proactive communication strategies – even when supported by powerful preference management tools – involve much more than a series of scheduled or ad hoc blasts. Occasionally, a single channel isn’t enough to walk users through to resolution. After all, mobile phone users don’t distinguish “voice call” vs. “text message” interaction the same way corporate customer service providers do.

During the Tech Tank webcast (catch the recording here), West Interactive Services SVP Strategy & Development Dan Gordon presented a multi-modal solution for the next generation of voice technology. A visual IVR solutions enables callers to stay on the line as voice technology walks them through SMS or Web-based prompts to change settings, make payments or solve other questions. You may have heard us talk about catching the next wave in inbound IVR customer service in the past, but multi-modal transformation of the voice platform is sure to have a profound effect on proactive communication, as well. This next generation technology is making it even easier to help users help themselves.

So, here’s the question: Is your organization getting personal with your customers, prioritizing the “magic” of a great user experience, and realizing the profitable productivity gains that come with intelligent automated interaction and improved satisfaction; or are your communication strategies leaving customers in unfortunate predicaments?

Talk to us. Replenish that roll. Get personal with customer care. Experience Connected.

West Corporation

Posted on June 29, 2015 by West Corporation 


Gartner includes West as a Representative Vendor in Market Guide for IVR Systems and Enterprise Voice Portals, 2015

West has been included as a representative vendor in Gartner, Inc.’s “Market Guide for IVR Systems and Enterprise Voice Portals, 2015.”

The Gartner Market Guide addresses ways that communication technology is being used to achieve business objectives, and recognizes vendors that support key standards and functionalities. According to this recent report from Gartner: “Increasingly, enterprises’ IVR plans are being subsumed within a broader self-service and assisted-service strategy. As a result, the integration of IVR with the broader customer service suite is increasingly critical for many enterprises. …”

“The key drivers of the IVR market include: Cost and quality control; Speech technology acceptance; Speech technology advances for natural language and mobility; Human-assisted speech recognition; Omnichannel self-service; Integrated self-service and assisted service; Analytics and business intelligence (BI).”*

“We are honored to be included in Gartner’s Market Guide, amongst seven other representative vendors worldwide,” West Interactive Services President Skip Hanson said. “It is clear that phone-based services remain an important component of companies’ customer care and customer experience strategies. West is proud to deliver a scalable voice platform and deep expertise in speech, cognitive science, data analytics and multi-channel cloud-based communications to help our clients optimize the user-experience and realize meaningful business results.”

West specializes in cloud-based communication solutions that drive a smart, personalized and convenient customer experience, including IVR and self-service, proactive notifications and mobility, cloud contact center and comprehensive professional services. West’s high-capacity and high-availability voice platform can be deployed in a number of ways and integrate with other inbound and outbound communication channels to offer the agility, security and cost savings diverse enterprises demand.

The Gartner Market Guide notes: “The distinction between the traditional, vertically integrated IVR architecture and the disaggregated Voice XML (VXML) portal architecture has disappeared, because nearly all solutions have moved to voice portal architectures. However, the generic term for this type of service remains IVR, even though the solutions themselves have moved well beyond the basic IVR capabilities.”

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About the Gartner Market Guide
Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

About West
A leading provider of cloud-based customer experience and communication solutions, West Interactive Services empowers enterprises to strategically attract, engage and serve customers on their own terms. Headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, we have 29 years of experience integrating technology to improve interaction, enhance productivity, increase profitability and exceed customer expectations, with clients in healthcare, education, utilities and commercial industries.

*Gartner, Inc., Market Guide for IVR Systems and Enterprise Voice Portals, 2015, Bern Elliot and Drew Kraus, 28 April 2015.


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