51.3% of the UK population has a smartphone (comscore, February 2012). We may also safely assume that they are all customers to brands that offer some form of Customer Service. 0% of the UK market offers intelligent access to assisted Customer Service via these devices! 100% of today’s customer service applications on smartphones only offer a CONTACT US page where they publish the telephone numbers for the customer to call in. We therefore begin to define the opportunity to improve the situation for both the consumer and the customer service representative.
What is Smart or Intelligent Customer Service?
I would define this as being “contextually relevant access to information, resources and guidance through all key milestones of the customer journey”. Specifically to the customer using these services they should have ready access to the right person, at the right time and with the right information.
To the Enterprise Contact Centre the opportunity to offer intelligent service offers the chance to ‘right channel’ and to find a self-tuning balance between supply and demand. Despite incredible algorithms in Workforce Management tools the average contact centre staffing model is incredibly inefficient. Available resources sitting idle with limited demand on one hand (this is rare for obvious reasons), or worse, on the other, the typical situation where demand for access to the contact centre far outweighs the ability of the centre to cope. What happens? Queue’s, waiting times and significant pressure on the working resources to feed the demand in order to meet self-defeating customer service satisfaction or resolution indicators. In order to reduce cost, the Enterprise finds itself striking a view that it is ALWAYS better to offer limited resources whilst constantly measuring performance against this demand as a level of “how much frustration and waiting have we caused out customers?” It’s almost as if the contact centre industry resigns itself to mediocre service that passes the ‘good enough’ test. I argue as well that a digital native will suffer inefficiency and delays far less than a digital immigrant. Digital natives are used to “JIT” (Just in Time) methodologies in everything around them. Can we begin to use technology to train the enterprise customers to accept some latency? I think we can if we begin to be intelligent about it.
Smart Customer Service offers the ability for the Enterprise to allow the customers themselves to have a role in describing the demand they wish to place on their suppliers. Customers may offer suggestions as to when they want to have the dialogue and even how it should happen. In other words; if we can find a clever way of describing our current and planned resources and share that intelligently with our customers then they may be able to choose how to engage and importantly when and how to engage. The only challenge then is to isolate an efficient mechanism for that ‘agreement’. Smartphones and the ubiquitous data environment (the internet) around all of us offer the perfect solution.
Let’s put intelligence into the Customers context and at the same time share with our customers the current resources we have available to assist them. Let the Enterprise and their customers decide in advance on a contract for service. Many factors may influence the decision in real-time. The measured prospective ‘value’ of the customer and the ‘resource availability’ are two simple as examples. Map this to the nature of the enquiry and the stage of the ‘customer journey’ and we can begin to make intelligent choices based on simple rules.
Smart mobile solutions for self and intelligent assisted service
The following video, in 7 minutes, describes a few simple use-case scenario’s where a customer using a typical smartphone is able to engage in ‘interactions’ that form part of the customer journey. They can do so initiated by their own perceived needs and the Enterprise can also reach out to these customers with ALERTS or any call-to-action as driven by the business.
Alerts could be simple, for example, “Dear Customer, your credit card is about to expire” all the way through to a powerful sticky call to action like “Congratulations, you have just qualified for an upgrade!” If we address these ALERTS to be coincident with our staffing and resource availability we can finally begin the process of truly planning workforce to the underlying service opportunity.
Please watch this video. For best results use HD quality in fullscreen mode and press ESC to return to this article when finished.
Afterwards ask yourself these questions from the consumer perspective;
- Would you use this type of technology if it helped you to avoid the IVR experience?
- Would you use this type of solution if you could avoid queuing for an agent?
- Would you react to an alert from your supplier if it provided you with a real and perceived advantage or benefit?
Also, ask yourself these questions from the perspective of the Contact Centre;
- Will it be beneficial to see why a customer wants to speak or interact with you BEFORE they do so?
- Could the physical location of the caller be relevant to your business? (e911, Roadside Assistance, Insurance etc)
- Would I like to shave the two big peaks in my customer services loading curve each day? By 10%? By 15%?
- Would I like to be able to survey across any media type or any type of interaction?
The technology you have just seen in this video is the simple use of the existing Genesys customer interaction management platform and tools that ship with it extended by innovation from the Anana team. It uses RULES and CONTEXT to decide what to show, how to show it, and what options or ACTIONS are available in each case. The application itself is simply a presentation layer and may be easily added to existing customer self-service applications. Even simple concepts like showing the customer that you have 16 billing specialist available right now for Chat, and 3 to talk about the upgrade could have a big impact on the choices that the customer makes in interacting with you. Instead of reaching out to you BLIND you have the chance to share your resources with your own customers; helping them to make INTELLIGENT choices about how and when to interact with you. Simple, yet profound?
A quick shoutout to thanks the Genesyslab Team for Tweeting this Article
— Genesys (@Genesyslab) 17. Juni 2012
Genesys Mobile Solutions – Reversing the role of ID and Verification with Mobile Apps for Customer Service
Setting the Stage
In most legacy contact centre interaction scenario's there is a heavy element of Identification and Verification (ID&V) required between the interacting parties. Overwhelmingly the onus of obligation to confirm ID is placed up the customer.
Do you ever receive a call from a contact centre, where the dialogue goes something like;
"Hello, this is Acme Bank calling, for security purposes can you please confirm you full name"
"David Tidwell, what's this about?"
"Thanks, I'll explain why in a moment or two! Can you please confirm the last part of your postcode starting BS16?"
"Just a couple more questions…."
"AAAAAAAHHHHGGGG !!!" CLICK – hang up
As a customer, this experience is infuriating! The Call Centre CALLED ME, and now I have to go through 100 hoops; and they are already inconveniencing me right when I need it the least! The natural and easiest reaction for the customer is to simply hang up! I know; because I do it a lot on unsolicited calls made to me from contact centres.
What about scenario's where the customer has asked for a callback? I suggest in these scenario's the customer is EXPECTING the call/contact, but still may have concerns that they are actually talking to their bank. It is incredibly easy for PHISHING to occur even in voice interactions. How? I block my Calling Line Identity, and phone my TARGET consumer pretending to be their bank. I can FREELY challenge this customer for their full name, date of birth, address, zip (postcode), telephone number and even confirmation of account details by simply pretending to be their Bank. It only requires minor levels of 'professionalism' and a practiced approach to PHISH in voice channels with some success.
Think about how easy this is to do! So, our line of argument for this concept of reversing the role of Identification and Verification is two-fold;
- It should make it easier for the customer to identify and authenticate themselves to the contact centre
- It should make it easier for the contact centre to identify and authenticate themselves to the customer
With Mobile solutions for Customer Service we have a new instrument that may make for an effective instrument to present SECRETS or TOKENS that are used in a variety of use cases for interactions driven by the CUSTOMER or interactions driven by the ENTERPRISE
Using Mobile Applications to present TOKENS or SECRETS to the Customer Services Team
The Anana Mobile Applications Solution for Customer Service now features the capability for the Customer to provide a secret or token as part of their CONTACT Request. In the use case presented below, our Customer, Dave Tidwell requests a callback from Customer Service
Step One – Booking the Callback and setting SECRET Token
Start the dedicated Customer Service application on the iPhone and go to the CALLBACK option.
Dave has selected the CREATE CALLBACK option on his Mobile Application. In doing so he has provided all the appropriate details and has added a SECRET. In this case that token is "anana". Dave's expectation is that when the Customer Services Representative calls him back that this token will be 'read-back' to him so that he has a tangible confirmation that the organisation is who they are purporting to be. Dave presses on CREATE button and the callback request; including the appropriate token is transmitted to the Contact Centre. In this case, we transmit this information into Genesys 8.1 through the Genesys Mobile Solution and Anana's Composite and Atomic Services Solution for Mobile. (A RESTful interaction stack; more on this later!)
Step Two – Confirming CallBack Request is Active
Dave now confirms on his listed CallBacks that the callback is booked.
Step 3 – Confirming details of Callback
Dave has the choice to click on the scheduled Callback item and see the details (we could of course add lots of options for rescheduling, cancellation, changing tokens or means of callback from Voice, to SMS, to eMail to Twitter, to Facebook and so on)
You can see in the graphic above that we have APPENDED the SECRET TOKEN to the Subject of the CALLBACK. It doesn't have to go here; but it makes presentation for the Customer Services interface in the Genesys Interaction Workspace slighly more intuitive.
Dave goes back to his HOME SCREEN in the Application and can see his pending CALLBACK request. We can send NOTIFICATIONS in email, or directly to the Application to confirm 5WH (Who, What, Why, When and Where) so that Dave is kept up to date with the STATUS of his interaction request in real-time.
Step Four – Callback active and pending (The work item is being targetted in the Contact Centre)
Step five – Targetting a Customer Services Team Member to conduct the Callback
Meanwhile, depending on the business logic in the underlying routing strategy (either in Genesys Orchestration Server – ORS) in SC-XML or via alternatives such as the automation of injection into Outbound Contact Server (OCS) an agent is targetted based on the NATURE of the enquiry, customer segment, context and state of conversation (via Genesys Rules Engine – GRE), Context Server and Conversation Management and a ringing event occurs in the Contact Centre.
The screengrab above shows that we have configured our Genesys Contact Centre system to RING with a TOAST popup event for this media type. The Customer Services Representative can see immediately that this is a CallBack interaction, from a Customer called Dave Tidwell, with a Subject of "Help" and the associated TOKEN or SECRET of "anana". A quick click on "Accept" spawns the interaction proper on the Genesys Desktop in Interaction Workspace. The agent will of course confirm the Contact Details and importantly the Interaction History to support context and the overall Customer Journey and Customer Experience.
Step Six – Customer Services conducts the Customer Requested Callback
Again, we present this key or token as attached data, and show it clearly in the associated interaction CASE INFORMATION.
Step Seven – the Customer Interaction Dialogue
"Hi Dave, this is John at the ABC Company calling you back as requested. Your secret is "ANANA", how may I help you?" says the Customer Services Representative
"Okay, Hi John, thanks for calling back, I have a question about my….." says our customer
The subtle injection of interaction TOKENS, KEYS or SECRETS can help both parties in the conversation. It adds an additional layer of explicit security with is tangible, is dynamic, and may be easily injected by either party. The Mobile device is the instrument that allows for the customer injection of ATTACHED DATA and context that "changes the conversation" and helps both parties enjoy a healthier, faster and more effective conversation.
Other Idea's that immediately come to mind
Payment Card Industry Compliance – when a customer needs to make a payment via the Customer Services Representative, for example, to pay a current bill, the Customer may easily do so privately on their own Application and on their own Device. We can transport the attached data for AUTHENTICATION, Transaction ID and Verification Code via the application layer back to the contact centre. At NO TIME does the CSR see, interact with or request the Credit Card Number, CVV – Card Verification Value or CVV2 (Card Verification Value Code).
Customer Alerting with TOKENS
The Enterprise needs to reach the customer. In most environments today this is accomplished via OUTBOUND campaigns (dialers) against distinct groups of customer service agents that may even be external to the Enterprise (offshore or otherwise outsourced). It may be far more effective for this requirement to reach the customer to be handled slightly less confrontationally and to improve the customer experience by sending a NOTIFICATION to the Customer Services Application indicating that the company needs to speak to the customer about their latest bill. The customer can then acknowledge this request by suggesting the date, time, media and context of that planned conversation. The results of the application level negotiation for the conversation may be easily pumped into Workforce Management and Schedules to that it is effective for both the contact centre and the customer. Tokens may be used in this use-case in a similar way.
"Hello Dave, this is John at the ABC Company. Your secret is"anana". Thanks for making time to talk to us" Says John in the Contact Centre
"Hi John, no problem, it was handy being able to tell you when I'd be free! What seems to be the problem? Why do you need to talk to me?" says Dave our Customer
"Dave, we noticed that your last payment didn't go through……" and so on
Dynamic Use of existing SMART Tokens for AUTHENTICATION mid-interactions
It is easily possible to transport the results of a smart TOKEN via the Application into these scenario's too. Where Banks issue their customers with smart-fobs that allocate digit based authentication tokens these may be included in the application to provide short lifecycle authentication for high value transactions. A Customer Service Representive may be able to ask the customer to enter their smart-pin in mid transaction for high risk transactions, for example;
"Yes, Dave, I can help you do the balance transfer. Because its over £1000 can you please activate our BANK Smart PIN and enter the digits in the mobile application now?"
"Yes, no problem" Says Dave as he enters the 6 digits into his dedicated Banking Application
[We send this key via the application to the Bank Back end systems, and provide a validation token to the Agent and we update the Interaction Workspace Data to show this new state]
"Great, thanks for confirming that for me Dave, so you wanted to transfer £5000 from Savings to your Current Account?"
A significant element of any contact centre solution are “Statistics” and a varied range of tools for providing real-time, near real-time as well as historic reports. These are obviously designed with their core focus on helping the operational contact centre manage the delivery of ‘resources’ versus their customers ‘demand’.
The 3 main statistical elements delivered in typical contact centres are;
- The Wall Board – a place for real-time as well as near real time statistics – the performance of the contact centre versus current or near real-time demand
- The Supervisors desktop – a place for the team leader and supervisors to manage their teams adherence to Service Levels and Key Performance Indicators
- The Business Analysts – for historic reporting, business intelligence and analytics
We see these 3 mainstays being supported by new features in Genesys Interaction Workspace for example, that expose additional layers of statistics to each agent. These include;
- A statistics Widget – where key metrics can be published or even ‘pinned’ by the customer service representative
- A My Statistics TAB in their desktop application that shows how the team, or the entire Contact Centre is peforming (much like the historic wall board, but now they can be skill specific)
- A holistic Call Centre statistical view that expresses the performance of the contact centre as a whole
So, I’d argue, every single facet of the modern contact centre has lots of information about how how demand is being met by the resources available. A new concept I’d like to discuss here is the concept of reversing the statistical role so that they can be used by customer to make decisions in real-time. For example;
- Are there resources available to help me right now?
- If so, how can I reach that pool of resources?
- If there’s a delay, how long is it?
- Do I have alternative options?
In the Anana Mobile Application for Customer Service, which we based on the Genesys Customer Interaction Management Platform we have modelled the simple presentation of currently available agents by skill. Study the picture carefully for a moment…
Which channel or media type would you pick?
Scenario A – You are in a rush, and your need to engage with customer services is very high priority. Which Channel would you pick?
Scenario B – You are less hurried, and have an important matter to engage about, but it could wait if it needed to. Which Channel would you pick?
Scenario C – You have all the time in the world, and the matter to engage about is less than important. Which Channel would you pick?
I think the answers to these options could actually be quite profound.
In Scenario A I may opt for the phone, simply because in a rush, whilst running about with my mobile phone, I can actually talk and walk at the same time. I might not decide to phone though if I can NO agents available to help me. This brings in all sorts of additional options, like “Publishing expected WAIT times”.
In Scenario B I would probably choose web-chat. Why? Because I can type pretty fast and I can see that there are more Agents available there
In Scenario C I would probably pick the channel that is most convenient to my situation/device; but only if there were people there to help. Even though I don’t mind waiting; once I’ve know what available I may start to take more notice of it. I’d probably still choose to use email, or ask for a call-back. If I was on Twitter or Facebook I may use those. SMS may work too as there’s a lot of people available to help me!
Further to our recent post describing the development of the first concept Customer Services application on the iPhone we are pleased to continue our exploration of this theme with a video of the application in action.
Anana will be showcasing a version of this application at the premier Call Centre Expo in London next week. Please pop by and ask to see it in action in real-time. We’ll be able to show both Customer Services Representative as well as the Customer Experience from the same place at the show.
For best results make the player below fullscreen and select the HD Mode On format for the video.
Exciting times appear to be ahead. Over the last 4 months or so my team has been very busy delivering on customer projects to bring Genesys Social-Engagement into the enterprise Call Center. Change that; into the enterprise Contact Center!
Social Engagement as a strategy for the Enterprise makes a lot of sense for many reasons. Now we see our customers begin the process of moving Social Engagement from the control of the Marketing Department into the operational front-line in the Contact Center.
That process too, though, adds more questions for the Enterprise. Should I segregate my agent pools and teams so that the large proportion stay on the original inbound voice channel, answering telephone calls? Should I create new agent teams that are trained specifically in written communications rather than verbal communication skills? If I create a team of agents that are now familiar with a text based interaction method (Facebook and Twitter in the Contact Center for example) then it is an easy step, is it not, to add other textual channels to their tasking too? Channels of Communication with Customers like SMS, eMail, Web-Chat and Instant Messaging?
With these questions Anana spends a lot of time thinking about the impact of this sudden and rather remarkable swing of interest from inbound (and outbound) voice in the Contact Centre to one of “Blending” across channels and interactions. One of our most recent technical additions has been a mobile framework that brings the power of Genesys as a solution itself to the Customer! How can the customer themselves become part of the Customer Services paradigm? How may Anana effectively explore this new “Voice of the Customer”? What meaningful ways could be explore that help our customers and clients begin the process of thinking about Customer Enablement? How can we also reduce the Customers actual (and perceived) effort score (Customer Effort Score) in reaching out to their contact center?
An excellent vehicle to explore these questions has been the creation of a series of ATOMIC and COMPOSITE web services that act as a bridge between any HTTP enabled device and the software that powers the call center itself from Genesys Labs. When I think of any HTTP enabled device, in our current modern context that could be as simple as a smartphone, an Internet Ready TV, a Sony Playstation, or even in the case of some manufacturers In Car Entertainment (ICE) systems. We started with the obvious paradigm; the smart mobile phone. As telephones are still the prevailing method to access Customer Care Services that are multi-channel ready the smart-phone is a great place to begin exploring. Smart Phones are everywhere! This market includes other devices that aren’t typically associated with Telephony; like Tablets.
To help our clients and customers begin the process of understanding how to enable Customer Care over these types of devices we have built an iPhone application which runs on any HTTP enabled iOS (Apple) device; this includes iPhone3, the iPhone4 and iPad (even some versions of iPODs). This application is an ALPHA (brand new initial exploration) and only just begins to scratch the surface of customer care solutions on smarter devices. Please see my earlier post on this subject for the technical details.
What are the details of this first iPhone customer services application for Genesys?
For all pictures in the post; please click on the picture and it will open full size for easier viewing. The application sits resident on the device itself and is started by touching the associated icon. In the picture on the left of your screen this is the ABC Company application logo. Prior to first use of the application the customer would configure their own Customer Services account details in the iOS settings application; declaring their name, contact details and associated customer record number.
Once the customer has opened the application we immediately publish ALERTS for them that have been generated by their activity with the Enterprise. If they have orders open and the status of those orders has changed we can show them here for example. We also show a list of any open ‘interactions’ and their status. We also list any customer requested callbacks that are pending so that they don’t forget the callbacks that they have already requested. From this simple home screen we would obviously have enormous opportunity to offer cross-sell and up-sell, advertising etc for and on behalf of the enterprise. If we know what products and services the Customer has purchased in the past; and there’s a better offer on the table then we can show them here. Indeed, the very nature of these types of smart-phone applications makes it incredibly easy to solicit location information, and presence information. There is absolutely no reason why the consumer wouldn’t have this application open by default if it was adding significant value to the progress of their day (in any form!). This presence can be reflected back into customer operations in cool ways; for example; If we know how many Customer Services Representatives are currently available AND we know how many customers are currently logged in to the Customer Services Application then we can take this information to use our excess CSR pool to do outbound call campaigns to subscribers that are ALREADY known to be available. This could even be geo-fenced into “Add subscriber to the campaign if they are within X metres of one of our retail outlets”….and then target them with GEOFENCED offers when they break this border. An obvious example is an airline customer on the loyalty scheme that happens to be within 2 miles of the airport. Back office systems confirm they are booked in for a flight that leaves in an hour and a half; so why not offer immediate concierge based curbside check-in?
From this home screen the Customer has fast access to common Customer Services functions. They can view their HISTORY for example. The interaction histories are interesting to me for one very profound reason. As a consumer, when I have to phone in, or email into a Contact Center I feel an overwhelming burden of ‘effort’ due to the fact that I have to verbally reiterate the entire reason set for calling in; specifically so when following up on an existing customer services activity. Knowing that my interaction history is clearly understood relieves me of this assumed requirement. Publication of the interaction history for the customer also shows a full commitment to transparency and a 360 degree view of the customer ‘journey’. Telephony (inbound voice) call centres have typically focussed on First Call Resolution (FCR); often in defiance of the actual ability to resolve the issue in one swoop of the agent script. With the Genesys solution we focus more on managing an interaction, that itself forms part of a dialogue or in other words as part of the overall “conversation”. This reduces the relevance of first call resolution, and puts more focus on the actual current need cited by the consumer and relieves the CSR from the shackles and constraints of the published script.
From the Home Screen the consumer can also select to open a chat session. In keeping with the familiarity of SMS chat, web-based chat, instant messaging chat and other chat mechanisms the Chat function works exactly the same way. If the consumer starts a chat, we take this chat request, and target it to an underlying Genesys Strategy that will find an appropriate agent in the pool of current resources. The Customer Services Representative desktop uses the prevailing ‘out-of-the-box’ web-chat capability already shipping in the Genesys Agent Desktop and the Genesys Interaction Workspace. The CSR see’s absolutely no differentiation between web initiated chat or a chat that starts from the iPhone application.
Once a chat is initiated the Customer can interact with Agent freely. The agent is able to send URL’s, and to dip in and out of Content Analysis, FAQ and knowledgebase at the desktop level to offer immediate customer assistance that is timely, appropriate and accurate. <<USER ACTION>> is very much a work in progress. This is a placeholder in this alpha version of the application that will offer status updates, for example, Agent is Typing and notifications of other parties joining; “ABC Agent 1 has joined the chat”. These are useful updates to the consumer about who’s on the chat, who’s currently typing, and who’s been added to the conference, transfer to other agent updates; or the simple fact that the Agent has invited a subject matter expert to join in the chat (conference). It is also remarkably easy for the Customer Services Representative to nest other interactions whilst in a chat; for example, sending an email to the customer that is recorded as part of the chat interaction and have it reported on for full cross-channel transparency purposes.
What happens if the customer would like a call-back at some point later on? Using the call-back web-service we can add a callback request into the Genesys Customer Interaction Management Platform so that the callback request is targetted to an available Customer Services Representative at the requested time. A customer may have hit a busy period in the call center. They may have remembered whilst in a meeting that they need to speak to the Call Center but right now is inconvenient or inappropriate. It may be convenient for that call to take place some hours later, say, on their way home from work in the commute. Anana could even extend these callback bookings into ‘campaigns’ mapping agent availability, workforce management and the Genesys Dynamic Contact Center capability to only offer callback times that coincide with planned operational performance. There’s a lot that we can do with this I’m sure.
My view is that this is a great place to start a journey of exploration, discovery, learning and innovation around Mobility Enabled Customer Care. We have already showcased this application to our existing customers and all are extremely excited by it. We’ll maintain a keen and steady pace on improving the interface; do some more work on graphics, layout and functionality and continue exploring how we can use the Anana Atomic Services Bridge into Genesys technology in innovative ways. We have already built out a series of use-case scenario’s to effectively demonstrate this application as part of the already extensive Anana Briefing Centre experience.