Category: Interactive Services


Category: Interactive Services
West Corporation

Posted on January 9, 2013 by West Corporation 


The Fifth-Game Jinx

Having a bucket list has become a popular thing to do in recent years. One of the things on my husband’s bucket list is to see his beloved St. Louis Cardinals win a World Series baseball game. He attempted to cross that off his list back in 2004 when they were in the World Series playing the Boston Red Sox. He had two tickets for Game 5, but the Red Sox swept the series — and, alas, Game 5 wasn’t played.

My husband is a little bit superstitious, so he believes he is a jinx. He has resigned himself to the fact that he had to adjust his bucket list and never ever plan to see a World Series game again. The next best thing, of course, was to go to opening day and watch the St. Louis Cardinals receive their 2011 World Series rings during the opening ceremony.

So, that’s what we did. It was a rainy April morning, but we were there, rain ponchos and all, with all of the other rabid fans. I have to admit it was pretty exciting watching the 2011 season players and former players, sans Pujols, of course. We also got to watch a few great games that weekend.

On the way back to Omaha, a big storm was brewing, so we decided it would be better stay in Kansas City for the night and not risk the drive in bad weather. Good thing we did, as there were a couple of tornadoes that night along I-29. While on the road home, I decided to use my trusty iPhone to book a hotel room right off the Interstate. Little did I know how frustrating and difficult that would be.

Disconnected Customer Experience

I tried to log into the Marriott website since I couldn’t find an app in the app store. That was the easy part. You would think it’s a pretty straightforward task to book a hotel room by providing the location, number of rooms and people, and credit card number. Oh, no — the website kept timing out. I had to repeatedly close the browser and start over again. Then, when I finally got to the area to fill out my information, the site was difficult to navigate and booking a room was a very, very lengthy process.

It was so frustrating (and I was getting carsick) that I decided to just call the hotel directly. I had to start all over providing information, of course. The agent at the desk had no idea that I had just filled in almost all of my information on the website. She had no context, other than I was on the phone with her now and she needed to book a room for us.

Not a good experience on many fronts. First, it was a lot of work to give Marriott my business. Why don’t companies think about the entire experience their customers have when trying to do business with them, including mobile apps and websites? Why couldn’t the information I had already entered on the website be accessible by the agent? Why was the website completely not user-friendly? It certainly left a bad taste in my mouth for Marriott.

Think of how much more revenue companies could make if they worked to streamline the customer’s experience. An investment in technology that would assist them with some of these things would be well worth the cost.

 

West Corporation

Posted on January 4, 2013 by West Corporation 


Transforming a Contact Center Father

Having my kids away at college has been an adjustment in communication and keeping up with each other on our lives and activities. I find myself saying, “Why don’t they just call me? (You can ask my wife.) They know my number, they know Dad’s “hours of operation” are 24-by-7, they know they won’t wait in any queue to talk, my average speed to answer is instantaneous, and they don’t need to worry about the average length of call. I make it so easy for them to call, but do they? Noooooooooooo! So I have resorted to other ways to communicate out of necessity to keep up with them and impart my “fatherly” knowledge.

Over Thanksgiving, my 21-year-old-daughter and 18-year-old-son came home from college to spend time with my wife and youngest daughter, who is 14. What struck me when we were together was how many new ways and applications my kids are using to communicate with their friends and organizations they belong to. They use texts, posts, pictures, video, opinions, pinning and other new ways to communicate that I barely knew existed. Just as I was getting used to texting and social media, I realized that to communicate with them I would soon be getting more devices and downloading a bunch of new apps. These kids are driving and changing my behavior.

Then it hit me: I am like a contact center, and my kids are the customers. It used to be good enough to have a toll-free number for customer service and wait for the calls. But today that is not good enough anymore. Consumers, just like my kids, are moving to new devices, technologies and applications at a rapid pace. They have expectations that they will communicate when and how they want to. Now, my kids know that “contact center dad” will only change so fast, but they continually challenge me to adapt until I learn how to best communicate with them. This is the same challenge that businesses face today with their customers and potential consumers.

How do they transform their old contact center ways into new customer contact strategies? Just as with our kids, it starts with understanding your customers, how they want to communicate, and what the most effective channels are. My son is a “texter”, my youngest is a “poster”, and my oldest is a mix. Customers and consumers are changing the way they communicate not only with companies but also with each other. They’re changing the way that they buy services, and their expectations for service and care are no longer passive and latent.

Because of these changes, companies are struggling to effectively address how they create and manage those customer interactions to make them proactive, predictive and consistent from channel to channel and across an explosion of customer touch-points.

Just like dads, companies need help with their customer contact transformation journeys. You need someone who has been there and knows where to start. Your “kids” will appreciate the effort and communication will flow. In business, this means more opportunities, brand intimacy and happier customers. For dads, this means helping your kids navigate a difficult world even when they think they know it all.

Oh, there is one more similarity between the role of contact centers and dads: When there is trouble or money involved, you are sure to get a call.

West Corporation

Posted on January 3, 2013 by West Corporation 


Speech Recognition Success or Failure Is Not Always Black or White

Statistically successful speech recognition is not the only indicator of a successful self-service IVR application. If an overall speech success rate is not also accompanied by rising key performance indicators — such as containment rates, completion rates, and customer satisfaction scores — then a closer examination of what is working and what is not working needs to be examined.

In order to do this, organizations need to take an honest look at their customer care and realize that not all points of customer interaction are equally important. A good raw number or bottom line is not so important if the core customer needs are falling short.

For example: What is the real value to having a stellar rate of success on a “yes” or “no” confirmation type of prompt if more of the responses are “no,” indicating that customers are unable to successfully speak the correct information the first time? If the core functions of your IVR are underperforming but are statistically padded by confirmation-type prompts, then it’s time to focus less attention on the overall speech success rate and more on the most important drivers of true success. In short, it’s time to strive for a speech success rate that is weighted more heavily not only on higher volume prompts but also on importance. In doing this, you will recognize that not all prompts are created, or valued, equally.

Conversely, it is also important to recognize that just as is true with success, not all failures are the same. For example, in a non-speech-enabled application, a miskeyed entry is rejected. There is no chance that an invalid entry of say “4” can be misinterpreted as a “3” when using touch-tone.

In speech applications, this is handled the very same way. In this case, a spoken “4” will be rejected, as it is not a valid in-grammar response. Depending on a particular organization’s reporting, this properly rejected response is not viewed as a successful interaction even though it was treated properly. It is important to make the distinction between a phrase that was misunderstood and thus not recognized versus a phrase that was properly rejected.

How an organization wants to view and report the success of its speech application will not be the same for all, and that is fine. What is important is that those doing the reporting are looking beyond the raw numbers to the true picture of what speech is providing to the core business functions. Remember that a best practice is not so because a group of experts say that it is. A best practice is only so if it results in increased productivity, greater customer satisfaction and specific bottom-line results that are measurable and provide true value.

 

West Corporation

Posted on by West Corporation 


Can You Identify With Me?

The average U.S. household has 3.5 phone numbers.

If it’s confusing to you to keep all of those numbers straight, then you can imagine the complexity involved for big business to keep data current to identify customers. The number of phones per household continues to grow, and we now have the ability to port numbers from one person to another. Wouldn’t it be great if companies could tie all that data together and identify a customer based on any one of those household numbers?

When you call a company’s IVR from a mobile device or a new number, chances are those businesses, with which you may be a long-time customer, are having a hard time identifying who you are — and then you’re unable to quickly access the services that you need. When a business can’t identify you, it increases call time, drives up operating costs and in most cases, can reduce customer satisfaction.

Twenty-seven percent of U.S. households are now mobile-phone-only, up from 14 percent in 2007.

With the culture shifting to a mobile-driven world, these issues are creating a strain on companies that are trying to keep their consumer data updated and relevant. More and more companies are now accessing learning databases that can identify and verify callers no matter which family member’s phone you may be calling from.

Customers, like you and me, want a personalized experience. We can still have it if companies can keep up with all our phone numbers.

 


West Corporation

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