Technology Solutions Provide Information Guideposts for Customers at Every Step along Their Journey
Consumers who can’t locate the information they need online can relate to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous line from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner: “Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.” People navigate websites, but are unable to locate the right pages to complete their transactions. They scroll through FAQs, but don’t see the answers they’re looking for. They escalate to the contact center, only to have to repeat information they’ve already provided to agents who don’t always have the facts at hand.
Nowadays, a company’s success can be gauged by how well its customers are able to manage with its assistance. An organization’s focus should be on how to help customers succeed in ways that are important to them. Providing better access to the right information helps businesses deal with customers more quickly and makes it easier to identify and resolve any problems.
Numerous resources are available to help customers meet their priorities, with many companies now exploring Proactive Engagement tools. According to Forrester’s Top Customer Service Trends of 2014 report, these solutions have the capability to show “the what, when, where and how for customers, prioritizing information and functionality to speed customer time-to-completion.” One new technology in this area is Web Voice Synchronization (WVS) solution from internet/contact center convergence specialist LikeBillions. “WVS closes the loop when the customer journey begins online and moves to the contact center,” said Ami Meoded, CEO of LikeBillions. “It uses a simple phone call to synchronize between the browser of a website visitor and a company’s CSR, converting a static website into a platform for collaboration for inbound contact center callers.”
When a customer starts out on a company website and escalates to talk to a live agent, the solution makes a significant amount of intelligence about the caller available. This includes time spent on the website, what the user has typed, referral source, keywords, landing page, current page, and which browser the customer is using. But perhaps the most important benefits are WVS’ capability to provide the predicted value of the customer and provide insight into the caller’s intentions based on data from the digital session that preceded the call. “Let’s say a customer has been on a site researching air fares to Paris, then calls to get more details,” said Meoded. “The technology calculates the price amount of the inquiry at $1200, and prioritizes the call in the queue based on value, routing it quickly to the most qualified agent. This not only prevents abandonment, it enables the agent to visualize content on the caller’s browser and insert customized content during the call, such as a coupon for discounted hotel rates.”
Israel-based LikeBillions has opened a sales office in New York City and launched a key partner, Callgorithm, which is a subsidiary of New Age Media Systems, a software development company that works with some of the worlds’ leading advertising agencies.
Web Voice Synchronization’s advanced analytics enables a company to better determine the value of its marketing investments. “By connecting the visitor’s browser to the call experience, the organization is able to gain a deeper understanding of what factors led the visitor to the site, noted Meoded. “The detailed keyword analysis allows marketers to prioritize their budgets based on metrics tied to revenue and thus reduce digital marketing expenses.”
The market is also experiencing a growing demand for more sophisticated knowledge management tools. As the Forrester 2014 Customer Service Trends report pointed out, “… 67% of consumers use web self-service knowledge to find answers to their questions. Customer service agents also rely on KM solutions to effectively answer customer inquiries … (but) knowledge is often difficult to locate, difficult to maintain and is not often contextual.” Cloud-based knowledge management and self-service solution provider RightAnswers offers a platform that leverages technology, knowledge services, and analytics to deliver what they call SmartService.
RightAnswers is committed to the business methodology of knowledge-centered support (KCS), which focuses on capturing, authoring, refining, and publishing information that is relevant to a company’s support processes. “We view knowledge as a company’s most valuable asset,” said Simon Yelsky, Vice President of Product Management and Marketing for RightAnswers. “Our mission is to make an organization’s staff, customers and overall support structure smarter by utilizing Knowledge as a Service (KaaS) from the experts.”
The solution includes provisions for improving both agent-guided interactions and self-service knowledge access. RightAnswers supports knowledge on a variety of touch points: websites, email knowledge response, voice and mobile self-service, creating personalized knowledge profiles that meet the divergent needs of different companies. “SmartService improves agent efficiency by making sure a company’s reps have the complete body of knowledge they need and the tools to easily retrieve it,” said Yelsky. “Our Agent Portal provides everything agents need on one screen... access to all knowledge from all sources.” An agent dashboard presents FAQs and announcements; ‘search suggest’ solution formats such as decision trees and agent forums, where agents help each other.
RightAnswers is able to expeditiously deliver knowledge capabilities to its clients. ”We have a 6- to 8-week ramp-up time,” said Yelsky. “Our clients have cut their agent training time by as much as 66%. Even the newest agents will be able to find answers fast and get content that is relevant to their job. One financial institution was able to get temp agents on the phone within three days.” RightAnswers Integration Framework provides seamless connectivity with Salesforce and other CRMs, streamlining workflow and making the agents’ jobs easier since they don’t have to leave the application.
RightAnswers also offers a customizable self-service portal that enables companies to deliver their brand experience along with the information customers need to answer their questions. “Clients use the RightAnswers platform to provide the framework of a web environment where they can offer federated content to help their customers search for information they’re seeking,” said Yelsky. An Intelligent Knowledge Builder monitors activity and suggests new content based on customer needs. Customers who cannot find answers through self-service can be passed on to live chat, with companies having the ability to control the point of escalation. Chat agents are provided with context of the transaction so customers don’t have to repeat information.
Companies using RightAnswers to optimize customer service or upgrade IT support have experienced reduced cost per contact. One financial service software company where 90% of service inquiries had previously been made via phone calls reported that after installing RightAnswers Web Self-Service, only 20% of inquiries went to agents and 80% were deflected to the self-service portal. Other clients reported as much as a 70% reduction in average call time and a 73% increase in successful online searches.
Another proactive engagement technology that has been making a difference in first call resolution rates, reduced call handling time and improved customer satisfaction score is co-browsing, which enables agents to instantly view a web visitor’s screen and provide online assistance with complex transactions or forms. Co-browsing specialist LiveLOOK was acquired this past July by Oracle. The solution, now known as Oracle Cobrowse, has been integrated with Oracle Chat Cloud Service and is also a stand-alone solution within the Oracle Service Cloud.
Stephen Fioretti, Vice President Product Management, Oracle Service Cloud, sees the chief benefit of the integration as leveraging the power of visual sharing during a chat interaction. . “Companies are building and refining the cross-channel experience, giving customers multiple platforms and touch points with which they can connect with the brand,” he said. “The visual collaboration enabled by co-browsing provides a real-time view into the customer’s experience, allowing agents to understand exactly where the customer is in the journey, exactly what is presenting an obstacle, and what steps are necessary to solve the problem.”
The Oracle Service Cloud integration enhances the agent experience by making Cobrowse an easy-to-access feature within the Agent Desktop. Its TrueView feature recreates the customer’s view for an agent even if the customer’s browser size or device is causing the content to display differently.
According to Fioretti, what differentiates Oracle’s Cobrowse solution is its speed, ease of use, security, and compatibility with all use cases and environments. “It's built to launch in just a few seconds, with intuitive customer and agent engagement windows,” he said. “Customer security and privacy is addressed by blocking content from the agent's view. Oracle Cobrowse supports any content that the customer and agent need to view together: Flash, dynamic content, desktop applications, any website - anything. And no matter what device the agent and customer are on, Cobrowse works - even within a native mobile app.”
Fioretti believes that Oracle Cobrowse bridges the gap between web self-service and agent-based assistance. “The goal of self-service is to avoid escalation to live help channels, but there will still be occasions when live assistance is needed,” he said. “Walking customers through an online or mobile process removes the frustration of going back and forth on an issue and resolution. Customers learn how to use self-service features and become more confident that they can resolve issues on their own.”