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If you’ve been following our summer Customer Experience Transformation webinar series, you’ve heard some expert guidance on how to assess the economic impact and identify hidden risks in your current contact center technology that can severely limit your business’ ability to serve customers. And you might recognize some of these things happening at your company.

Pursuing and realizing a modern customer experience vision can seem like an impossible, never-ending journey. But it doesn’t have to be—Genesys can help. We’ve already helped hundreds of companies achieve successful contact center modernizations. And during the August 1st webinar, Nicole Thomas, AVP, Service Solutions, Coca-Cola Business Services North America LLC, will share her real-world journey of contact center technology and business transformation.

The Journey to Modernization

No two businesses are alike, which is why no two businesses will follow the same linear path when modernizing a legacy contact center. But one thing should be consistent—you need an experienced guide with you in the process. The following story, called “The Quest,” documents the experiences that many companies encounter—and overcome—during a contact center modernization.

Chapter 1. Identify the Problem

There once was a business who wanted more than anything to be the best in their industry—with strong customer loyalty and lifetime value, engaged employees, and satisfied stakeholders. They wanted to make their customer experience vision a reality. But feedback from customers, employees and other stakeholders showed that their experiences were disjointed and frustrating.

With dramatic changes in customer and employee expectations and behaviors, there was more at stake than ever before. Inflexible, outdated and legacy technologies carried a higher cost than just maintenance fees; customer retention suffered and the business couldn’t easily roll out new services to capitalize on new sales and marketing revenue streams. So, despite having a great product and brand, they were limited in their ability to meet customer, employee and internal stakeholder expectations.

Decreasing customer satisfaction and rising TCO prompted stakeholders to ask tough questions. Our hero realized there must be a way to escape the oppression of the status quo that threatened the business. Something had to change—fast.

Chapter 2. Navigate the Terrain and Take Action

To enact profitable, sustainable change, our hero committed to finding a solution by the end of the year and got to work researching options for the best way forward.

Along the way, he encountered stories of other companies who had undertaken this same type of quest for contact center modernization. He found the ones who prevailed did so with expert guidance. They didn’t go it alone. Instead of looking for a customer experience vendor, our hero recognized the best guides were customer experience providers who became partners and who were invested in his success from Day One.

Without the right guidance, the buying journey is fraught with peril; the terrain is hostile and unfamiliar. And navigating it is daunting—there are internal assessments, budgetary considerations, solution exploration, building requirements and supplier selections. He had to choose a migration plan and evaluate cloud and on-premises options.

Fortunately, he found the right guide and, together, they developed a plan: Review the existing environment, map your vision and identify gaps, and then create a realistic migration strategy. The plan would achieve not merely a technology migration, but also specific business outcomes.

At every step, our hero had to assure validation and consensus building, so that things kept moving forward. The trusted guide helped by evaluating his needs, pinpointing any gaps in the plan, and using proven tools and expertise to smooth the journey.

Chapter 3. Overcome Obstacles

Later in the journey, our hero discovered that choosing the right contact center platform would not fulfill their customer experience technology vision. The new technology had to be successfully implemented in the business environment. He was confronted by terrifying new obstacles of implementation timelines and risks of business disruption.

But with the help of his trusted guide, with the right plan, our hero triumphed—overcoming these obstacles with commitment, responsiveness and a true spirit of partnership. They planned their work and then they worked their plan.

They managed dates, executed on them and remained flexible throughout the process. They applied proven strategies to simplify the migration process, minimize risk and disruption, and proceed at our hero’s pace. Remember: Every organization is unique; a one-size-fits-all migration strategy is not the answer.

Chapter 4. The Final Test

Our hero conquered the technology challenge, faced down process obstacles and then had to contend with the final test to realize the modern customer experience technology vision—transforming people. Employees that support contact centers also need a migration strategy to ensure their skills keep pace with the ever-changing customer experience environment.

Again, our hero was able to rely on his guide to partner for success, ensuring employees could assess their knowledge, and stay current with free interactive courses full of best practices and real-world examples.

Chapter 5. Capturing the Prize

You’re probably wondering how the story ends. You might wonder if our hero achieved the desired business outcomes of lower TCO, and a modern customer experience platform with simplified contact center architecture. And maybe you also want to implement new features that exceed customer, employee and stakeholder expectations, and support new revenue-generating services. Stop wondering—hear one hero’s real-world story of the quest for contact center modernization.

Register for our webinar, “Customer showcase: Real-world lessons from legacy contact center migrations,” featuring Coca-Cola—delivering on “brand promise” through customer care innovation. During the session, Nicole Thomas, AVP, Service Solutions, Coca-Cola Business Services North America LLC, shares her journey of contact center technology and business transformation.

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The most successful sports teams are made of players who are on the same wavelength—they play to each other’s strengths and create little bits of magic that take their teams from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Technology partnerships operate in much the same way.

The recent partnership between Genesys and Google combines leadership in customer engagement with leadership in machine learning to create magic. This teamwork lets you turn ordinary customer experiences into extraordinary ones for better business outcomes.

Driving Real Business Outcomes

Imagine that the Google speech recognition artificial intelligence (AI) engine enables organizations to increase recognition rates by 5%. At 50,000 calls per day, that equates to 2,500 calls where an intent could be recognized. Now, let’s assume that 50% of those 2,500 calls could be automated based on relevant intent. That means we could deflect 1,250 calls per day from the contact center. Based on the average cost of a voice call of $15, the total savings for the day would be $18,750. That’s a yearly savings of $6.8 million. And this is significant, not just in terms of cost savings, but also for the 2,500 people who had a better customer experience because their intents were recognized.

Delivering Benefits Across the Entire Customer Journey

AI doesn’t just apply to automation and it’s not just resigned to one part of the customer journey. Use cases such as Genesys predictive routing and agent-assisted services enable organizations to turn disconnected customer experiences into seamless ones at a fraction of the cost to differentiate them from their competition.

Speed to Market and Agility Is Key to Customer Experience Improvements

Historically, implementing bot technology in IVR and text-based systems has been time intensive and required extensive fine-tuning. However, it still failed to provide an exceptional customer experience.

Services like Genesys predictive routing, with tighter integration to the Google Contact Center AI, mark a shift in how AI technology is being applied to everyday customer interactions. Both Genesys and Google are excited to showcase the latest developments in an ongoing battle between convenience and technology to create world-class, leading-edge AI experiences that drive more benefits for our customers.

  • Better quality: Google Cloud Contact Center AI adds state-of-the-art voice recognition to Genesys-powered customer experiences. This helps increase self-service success rates, creates a more personalized and dynamic customer experience, and reduces the cost to serve. These combined technologies also increase agent capacity and efficiency by perfectly matching the right employee with the right customer using Genesys AI-driven predictive routing.
  • Faster time to market: Training for the Google Cloud Contact Center AI is straightforward and features chat and email transcripts from the Genesys omnichannel platform. You can embed voice and chatbots within the agent desktop to provide amazing customer experiences that bring automation to every interaction. This helps speed up time to value for customer deployments and leverages existing investments.
  • Greater flexibility: Our vision is to provide customers with the best customer experience using the industry’s leading Blended AI solution on the market, combining the most advanced AI technologies from Genesys and Google. We’re committed to providing our customers with the right choices to mix and match vendors to meet their needs—without being locked into a single vendor, technology or ecosystem.

If you are a Genesys customer and you want to be part of this new Genesys and Google AI self-service revolution, you can register to be an early adopter for Genesys Blended AI with Google Cloud’s Contact Center AI.

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The world has been overrun by bots, but that’s not really a bad thing. They account for more traffic on the Internet than humans. An estimated two-thirds of tweeted links to popular websites are posted by automated accounts. And even with concerns about bots moving into human communications, we depend on them to automate tiresome tasks and speed common transactions effectively. Juniper Research forecasts that by 2022, chatbots will save businesses more than $8 billion per year. Consumers like them, too. One recent report found that 45% of end-users prefer chatbots for customer-service inquiries. For millennials, that number is even higher.

More and more people engage with brands through bots every day. Facebook reported 300,000 active bots engaging with customers on the platform’s Messenger service, with eight billion messages exchanged monthly. One of the latest trends is omnibots, which are computerized personas of brand identities, fueled by AI. While similar to Apple Siri or Amazon Alexa, they’re also enabled for text, video and virtual reality. Omnibots are integrated into advertising, apps, websites, social media, call centers, stores and more.

The good, the bad and the scary about bots

When they work as intended, bots are awesome. With easy ordering, payment processing, and purchasing advice, for example, bots are increasingly the public face of brands. And therein lies the danger.

When bots don’t work as intended, brand reputation suffers. The Internet is littered with stories of bots that are poorly implemented, frustrating, pushy, context-impaired and creepy. No business wants to be associated with the catchphrase: “Sorry, I didn’t understand.”

Negative interactions mean that customer experience (CX) suffers when bots fail. And as we all know, CX is a crucial differentiator for brands. But that isn’t the only hazard. Consider what happens when an automated financial system program “goes rogue” and starts executing unauthorized transactions.

Protect your brand with safeguards

Human representatives make mistakes, too. But when ubiquitous automated systems make those same mistakes, the impact amplifies exponentially. To reduce these risks to reputation, apply the same safeguards to bot function and behavior as you do to managing traditional representations and representatives of your business:

  • Know your customer: Understand their needs and expectations and design any automation solutions specifically to perform those functions. Real utility is the hallmark of any great bot. 
  • Incorporate journey mapping: Take the time to create a visual design of every customer touch point with your business and where bot interactions will transpire. View your processes from the customer point of view to understand how they perceive bots.
  • Use the right technology: Can you integrate bot technology into all of your engagement channels? Can the bot seamlessly transition to a human for more complex support? Are there safeguards to vet customer feedback, complaints, and bot engagement data?
To bot or not to bot?

As we move into an increasingly automated future, new technology offers great promise for productivity, convenience, and engagement. But not everything can or should be “botified.” Brand responsibility cannot be automated, nor can reputation. If your bots fail, so do you.

Join me and experts from Amazon Web Services and IBM for one in a series of webinars on bots: Build a Bot Series: AI and the Customer Experience Evolution.

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In the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure, Worldwide, 23 years and counting comes to mind with Genesys being named a Leader for the 23rd consecutive time. We believe this recognizes that our thought leadership is aligned with market trends and customer needs.

In our opinion, our long-standing leadership position is validation of our ongoing commitment to our customers and our investment in customer experience solutions. 65% of the most valuable, global brands trust our customer experience platform to successfully manage their customer journeys. And in the past year, hundreds more industry leaders trust Genesys to differentiate their brands by providing omnichannel experiences for their customers.

Our Continued Focus on Innovation
Yet, as customer expectations and technology continue to evolve at a rapid pace, we know that there’s no time to rest on our laurels. So, we are delivering innovation faster than ever before. As an example, our recent acquisition of Altocloud helps our customers grow their business by using machine learning to predict customer behavior and engage in the right moment. As a result, companies are increasing revenue and improving customer experience. Our introduction of Kate, Genesys’ AI platform that brings together machine learning, bots and cognitive computing, is further evidence of us leading the way in customer experience.

Building a vision for our customers’ future isn’t just about the next set of new features. It depends on a future-proof architecture that allows for rapid innovation. We believe that the architecture best suited for this rapid rate of change is based on secure common microservices. With common microservices, we develop once to use with any platform – PureEngage, PureConnect and PureCloud. And common microservices benefit both our cloud and on-premises customers. Over the past six years, we have been mastering this architectural approach to provide scale, elasticity, and stability. It’s how we innovate faster.

Ongoing Dedication to Our Customers’ Success
Along with our substantial strides in innovation, we have also transformed how we help businesses realize the benefits of our solutions. Being in control of how you engage with your customers is key to staying competitive but deploying any customer experience solution can often feel complicated and expensive to set up. Companies need a simple plan and we understand. We’ve helped 11,000 companies through this in almost 30 years, so we know how to get this done. We put our experience and expertise to work at moving you forward more quickly while reducing risk, effort, and headaches along the way.

  • Throughout 2017, we launched prescriptive use cases for all three Genesys platforms that combine software, services, and best practices to turn your customer experience vision into reality with reduced risk and faster time to value.
  • Earlier this year, we launched PureSuccess, a tailored set of services that provide guidance and support at every turn, from strategy development and change management to technical guidance and value realization. With three offers, PureSuccess is designed to help businesses get the ongoing, full-journey guidance they need to deliver an exceptional experience to their customers.
  • We have also introduced a tier-less support program for PureConnect premise and cloud customers to provide additional expertise via technical account managers and customer success managers. This includes more experts in Genesys Care for 24×7 support for both PureConnect and PureCloud. Our customers are already seeing the benefits, and customer support will continue to be a top priority in 2018 and beyond.

Decreased Total Cost of Ownership
Through our prescriptive use cases, tailored services and greater support, we are delivering more value to customers than ever before. With new flexible subscription pricing, we also offer a lower cost of entry and flexibility to ‘burst’ to increase capacity and ‘remix’ software to meet businesses’ changing needs. An on-premises subscription plan also provides a stepping stone to the cloud with the same PureSuccess services. With prescriptive use cases, tailored services and a flexible subscription plan, you get faster time to value, lower total cost of ownership and reduced risk.

Our Mission
We are pleased to be recognized by Gartner as a leader for the 23rd consecutive time. At Genesys, our mission is to power the world’s best customer experiences and our success comes from connecting employee and customer conversations on any channel every day. It’s a worthy mission and one we relentlessly pursue with deep industry expertise, ongoing innovation, and dedication to helping our customers achieve great business outcomes.

Read the full report from Gartner

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.

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Today Genesys and Google showcased a new customer experience that combines elements of both companies’ artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. With Genesys Predictive Routing technology and the newly launched Google Cloud’s Contact Center AI, live agents and AI can seamlessly work together to give consumers a better experience that uses automation when it makes sense and the human touch when it matters most. It’s an exciting development for our industry that allows businesses to quickly deploy a Google voice bot with the Genesys solution – enabling new efficiencies across marketing, sales and services contexts.

Genesys and Google Team Up

Genesys is one of the first partners to integrate with the new Google Cloud Contact Center AI. We debuted our integration today in a demo featuring a major global online retailer at the Google Cloud Next 2018 conference in San Francisco.

There are three implications we should consider as Genesys and Google combine forces.

1. Collaborate to accelerate. As the market leader in contact center software, Genesys has the full-depth of customer experience solutions and decades of industry leadership. Yet, we recognize customer experience is a team sport, and we can’t do it alone. That’s why we have a large ecosystem of partners and work with all of the major players – like Apple, Amazon and now Google to enable the world’s most magnificent experiences to help organizations increase sales, customer satisfaction, loyalty and more.

Genesys has been investing in AI solutions that optimize business outcomes for its customers through better routing, predictive engagement, dialog management, chatbots and more. The partnership with Google helps Genesys customer extend their AI capabilities even further by enabling them to tap into the strong natural language understanding (NLU) capabilities of the Google Cloud Contact Center AI. This allows businesses to detect consumers’ intent and use this information to feed the predictive routing algorithm of Genesys. The integration is enabled by Kate, the Genesys’ AI platform, which combines NLU, machine learning, and automation to produce the best possible end-to-end experiences.

2. Blended AI is the way. While automation will drive efficiencies for repeatable tasks, like making payments, checking balances and more, it has not replaced the need for human to human contact. Businesses will automate where they can and yet depend on humans to take on the more complex issues that need a higher standard of empathy, complexity or decision making. At Genesys, we call this Blended AI: the seamless handoff between bots and humans to automate the easy stuff, so there’s more time and focus for more demanding or rewarding scenarios.

3. AI is for marketing, sales and service departments. According to MarketsandMarkets, the cloud-based contact center market is expected to grow from $6.80 billion in 2017 to $20.93 billion by 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.2 percent during the forecasted period. Part of this development is driven by the ability for technology to outgrow the service center and to move seamlessly into sales and marketing uses. As this trend accelerates, it is bringing AI capabilities with it: Machine learning algorithms optimize results in specific contexts automatically. There’s no need to rewrite the algorithm itself – all it needs is the chance to “learn” from new data. It is a logical next step for Genesys to inject AI capabilities across the entire customer journey – to connect every step as consumers travel between channels (phone, web chat, text and more) and departments, such as marketing, sales, and service.

Here’s your chance to learn more about the Genesys and Google partnership. Enjoy!

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A recent article in PaymentsSource caught our attention. The piece discussed how PCI compliance is not enough for breach prevention, but rather businesses should focus on chips and tokens as a best strategy.  The author’s argument is that “while PCI compliance is necessary and useful, it’s not always sufficient to be fully secure. To counter this, independent software vendors (ISVs) must adopt a layered security approach that uses EMV, encryption technology and tokenization in addition to keeping up with PCI compliance requirements.”

In general, we agree that encryption technology and tokenization are invaluable security tools. Not leaving data on your system waiting to be easily stolen is obviously a good idea. Even better if it’s tokenized, making it nearly impossible to use.

However, these solutions won’t be 100% effective in a contact center environment. The use of Point to Point Encryption Solutions in a contact center still exposes an organization to massive PCI compliance risks. While the data might not be stored in their system using this technology, there are holes when it comes to agent activity.  Agent conversations are recorded, leaving room for hackers to steal recordings. Additionally, this also still leaves internal employees the ability to steal information with the agent’s ability to see and hear a customer’s PII.

Think about the last time you said your credit card number or social security number out loud to an agent on the phone. It probably felt unsafe–and it is. But what’s the best way to solve for this issue?

On top of tokenization and encryption, contact centers need these calls to be descoped from PCI DSS. Using a solution like Agent Assist masks Dual Tone Multi Frequency aka touch tones, to provide companies with a solution to receive payments by phone without agents seeing or hearing the PII and without the recording software picking up the information and storing it.

With the most recent Verizon 2018 Data Breach investigation report finding that almost a third of breaches are executed by an internal employee, this is not a risk that companies should be taking. Even if they completely trust their workforce, it’s not worth it.

If you have any questions about Dual Tone Multi Frequency or how to better secure your contact center, get in touch with our secure payment specialists today. Visit PCI Pal on the AppFoundry marketplace to learn more about Agent Assist for PureEngage and PureConnect.

This post was co-authored by Dave Horchem, Senior Sales Engineer at PCI Pal. Dave is a valuable part of the PCI Pal technical team as Senior Sales Engineer for North America. With a degree from Brigham Young University, Dave Horchem launched his career in Call Center Operations, and Technical Support & Training at Vivint based in Provo, UT. Dave moved onto Hewlett-Packard working with the Partner Portal Support and Commercial Presales support teams developing employee training, coaching and career development. Dave also lead the Sales Engineer, Senior Manager effort at MarketStar on behalf of Hewlett Packard for over 6 years. Dave also has experience as a Sales Engineer in the Enterprise Cloud for Cloud Contact Center Solutions, and continues to serve our customers, partners, and prospects with excellence.

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I’ve always had a deep fascination in what makes people tick. I also enjoy following how technology assists our behavior and motivations to achieve our goals. And I was surprised to learn that my amateur neuroscience studies are more closely tied to the contact center world than I originally thought.

We all pay close attention to local and global trends, gaps between new facts and our current knowledge, and hints that guide us to the most optimal and successful path to our goals. And these are the same patterns of behavior that every leader in the contact center industry follows. They seek the right customer, at the right time, with the right value and all in the most optimal path. I work with some of the most fascinating technologies—and they’re all built with these foundational behaviors at their core.

The Lost Art of the Book

The human attention span is much shorter these days. In this click-bait world, you only have about three seconds to grab someone’s attention. But the summer gives us an opportunity to relax, unwind and reflect on the thoughts and ideas that a book promises to unlock. It’s also refreshing to dive into books that help us find new and optimal ways to reach our contact center goals.

These four books, which have been widely discussed among Genesys Altocloud designers and engineers, cover everything from optimization strategies to customer behavior to emerging technologies like data science. And anyone building the next-generation contact center could benefit from reading them.

1. Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity

Summary: Why do some companies get so much done?  This book by Charles Duhigg provides eight key concepts from motivation and goal setting to focus and decision making are explained to help you read your business goals.

Your contact center has a core purpose, and you need to focus on that. To do this, you need the right tools to optimally support your customers and your employees.

2. Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are

Summary: We have vast amounts of information at our fingertips. But everyone, including your customers, says one thing and then does another thing. We need to ask the right questions to reveal the truth behind the mountains of information we collect about ourselves and our world. Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz explores how the internet, and what we do here, is a source of truth. Being able to see what your customers are doing—before, during and after an interaction—will make your agents smarter and your customers happier. And it will help you achieve better business outcomes.

3. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

Summary: This book by Charles Duhigg is one of my favorites; it explains why habits exist and how they can be changed. Within the contact center, machine learning and bots are used to identify good patterns and then repeat them to get the outcomes you want.

Think of patterns as habits; a habit has three parts: a trigger, a routine, and a reward. If we identify a customer behavior, such as abandoning a shopping cart, we can use this as a trigger in our contact center. We can change the routine, using a chat offer, content offer or a callback, to prevent high abandonment rates and achieve a positive outcome—the reward.

4. Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets

Summary:  We can always find data or a pattern to confirm what we’re looking for—it’s called confirmation bias. But real data science is objective. While it sometimes confirms what we assumed to be true, data science should be about finding the signal within the noise. Fooled by Randomness, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, is an investigation in understanding our world of decision making through the vehicles of opacity, luck, uncertainty, probability, human error, and risk.

Mathematical models and algorithms within the contact center protect us from our biases, even when it’s tempting to emotionally cherry pick data from a large dataset. But be wary of amateur data scientists—and amateur neuroscientists—and check their credentials.

Write Your Own Story

If you’ve read a book recently that has helped make sense of your job as a contact center provider, we’d love to hear from you. Tweet us @Genesys and let us know what’s on your summer reading list and why.

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Guest Blog by Dan Miller, Lead Analyst and Founder at Opus Research

A popular meme on Twitter and in the blogosphere states that the growth of digital commerce and messaging networks is eclipsing the need for live contact center agents to assist prospects and customers. And these contact centers, which are configured historically as the windowless rooms with rows and rows of agent workstations and “butts in seats,” are squarely in the technological crosshairs. They’re forced to circle the wagons as the bulk of conversations between brands and their customers migrate to bots and other forms of intelligent assistants.

On closer look, don’t be fooled. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is fueling new life for contact centers and the resources that inform agents and IVRs, alike.

Yes, the ranks of digital denizens are growing. Two billion new smartphones will be sold around the world this year, placing them in the purses or pockets of nearly 5 billion people. And social messaging and digital commerce platforms like WeChat, WhatsAPP and Facebook Messenger each laid claim to user populations of more than 1 billion earlier this year. Meanwhile, the number of individuals installing and using smart speakers zoomed past 50 million by mid-2018, placing them among the fastest growing examples of intelligent digital endpoints in all history. The proliferation of these devices and the applications and activities they support is a testimony to the fact that customers’ lives are already digital.

Businesses, especially global brands, are scrambling to keep up.

Companies who run existing customer interaction infrastructure don’t want to believe this shift is happening. The purpose of “going digital” is to give a customer or prospect the ability to communicate with their brands of choice, through their device of choice and at the time (or times) they choose. While this is perceived to be an existential threat to contact centers, especially among the much sought after 18- to 34-year-old crowd, using your voice to talk to an agent in a contact center holds its own as the number of choices shoots up—from six to nine and soon 11, according to 2017 findings from Dimension Data. System integrators and vendors also confirm these numbers.

A 2016 Opus Research survey shows that customers, on average, used 3.5 different channels to complete digital shopping or customer support tasks. The phone figured into 70% of interactions with brands. Dimension Data assesses this number is declining, with the phone accounting for nearly 55% of the mix of customer contacts. And while respondents to the Dimension Data survey would prefer that figure be as low as one-third, empirical observations reflect steady growth in the number of minutes that people spend on voice channels in conversations with live agents.

Serving the Customers’ Moments of Truth

Brands are finding that their customers seek live agents at a “moment of truth.” They have searched the web or queried a chatbot and are ready to take action. Both customer service and sales representatives, in this context, are brand ambassadors who are expected to provide correct, personalized answers quickly. This translates into driving a multichannel, ongoing conversation toward a positive outcome for the customer. And that leads to improved business outcomes as measured by relevant KPIs.

Now, artificial intelligence (AI), particularly predictive analytics, natural language understanding and machine learning technologies, are being used to assist both customers and agents. Collectively, these technologies allow contact center infrastructure providers like Genesys to help companies leverage the big data they already have, such as interaction history, journey context, personalized information from CRM systems, and unstructured input from chat transcripts and call recordings. All of this is grist for the mill that informs conversations and speeds successful outcomes.

Genesys Predictive Routing takes a white box approach, allowing companies to use data they have already compiled on customers, agents, and outcomes.  It then uses a predictive model to evaluate each interaction and match it with the best agent to drive desired business results.

Forms of “intelligent routing” or “precision routing” have been offered to contact center operators for at least a decade, but AI changes the game. Coupled with machine learning, AI parses through the complex web of customer interaction and agent data to identify the relationships that drive successful outcomes, fulfilling on the long-standing promise of matching the most appropriate agent to the task at hand. It also can be used to prompt agents, or virtual agents, with the right answers and recommendations consistently and at scale.

AI’s Moment of Truth: Supporting Business Outcomes

Contact centers once struggled to be viewed as cost centers by enterprise decision makers. Yet, according to Opus Research, those same decision makers continue to invest in AI for the contact center to improve the customer experience (measured in customer satisfaction scores and Net Promoter Scores). And, to a greater degree, they have a measurable effect on top-line results, reflected in customer loyalty (churn reduction), direct sales and agent productivity.

What comes through loud and clear is this: AI provides the business with the ability to understand the relationships that drive desired results, and then continuously learn and improve. They now the tools to deliver successful business results by offering accurate and correct answers, or recommendations at scale. And demonstrably provided tools and reports that directly affect profitability by predicting outcomes—positive or negative.

These resources are empowering leaders to transform their contact centers from a necessary expense to a strategic vehicle for customer acquisition, retention, and growth. And they’re establishing a customer interaction platform that provides accurate answers across the enterprise, regardless of whether the resource is digital or human.

The next step for contact centers and business leaders is to adopt models, methods, practices, and metrics that concentrate on business outcomes, in addition to improved customer experience, rather than old-guard KPIs.

To learn more, watch the Genesys on-demand webinar, Technology Insights: How AI is Driving a New Era in Customer Engagement.

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It’s common to receive a request for feedback from a brand or business after you make a purchase. Companies regularly use Net Promoter Score (NPS), customer satisfaction scores and customer effort scores to obtain information. But, as customer expectations shift, it’s no longer a game changer just to ask a customer how you did. They expect you to act on the feedback they provide.

The Genesys Voice of the Customer practice uses the NPS system to seek customer feedback. Whether you are in the business-to-consumer or business-to-business sector, there’s a perception of survey fatigue among all customers. That’s why our practice is focused on actions based on the feedback we receive. As we continually evolve our practice, we share knowledge and exchange ideas with our customers who have successfully implemented their own feedback systems.

Rafael Aguirre, Operations and CS Director for Oriflame in Latin America, brings more than 13 years of professional experience in understanding customer behaviors and tying that knowledge to strategic and functional work within his organization. In my interview with him, Rafael lays out the foundations that have made customer experience a long-term, company-wide strategy at Oriflame. He also explains how improving the overall experience of clients—from creating positive interactions to becoming more accessible—has increased their loyal customer base.

Q: Many companies collect feedback, but creating meaningful actions on behalf of customers can sometimes be challenging. How does Oriflame collect feedback and what you do with it?

Rafael Aguirre: First, we have established channels to capture our client’s feedback to allocate appropriate resources to the process and cover as many interaction experiences as possible.

  • NPS system: A business process configured to centralize client feedback in a very structured manner, depending on the client’s baseline, churn and activity. We distribute, on a periodic basis, NPS surveys collecting information of key touchpoints for the business. The surveys include open questions on how to improve our service and, of course, the ultimate question. The goal: To monitor the score, aim for continuous improvement and increase the number of our loyal customers.
  • Post-interactions surveys: Within the same umbrella of our contact center, we have two surveys for our most utilized channels (voice and chat). The objective is to understand if the agent’s performance during the interaction was satisfactory for the client and if we could resolve the issue or situation reported.
  • Online claim box: This is an option available for customers online who believe their case was not resolved properly or felt mistreated during the interaction with any of our agents.
  • BazzarVoice: As our business has become web-based, we understand the power of online recommendations. We decided to incorporate a functionality that allows us to capture the feedback our clients have after using Oriflame products. This has proven to be a very powerful tool that provides valuable information for our marketing and research-and-development teams. And it opens a direct channel of communication for product purposes with our clients and company.

After collecting all the feedback, we analyze comments and categorize them by different business areas. Based on this analysis, we hold monthly meetings with process stakeholders to set priorities and determine the feasibility of initiatives—aiming to act on the ones with the greatest impact for our customers and faster implementation times (quick wins). Then, we create action plans and update and monitor for progress on a quarterly basis per market.

One of our key elements to success is to always find a way to incorporate the feedback into our business processes, promote constant improvements, and challenge old and dated business practices. We also have found success by finalizing the process through closing the loop with our service recovery program for detractors or disappointed clients.

Q: What were some challenges you encountered?

Rafael Aguirre: We believed that few organizations manage the feedback of their customers in an organized and structured way; this is one of the takeaways after several workshops and discussion with clients, colleagues, competitors and even academic institutions. For us, we identified mainly three big challenges in the process:

  • Senior executive mindset: Some senior executives in the organization tend to see customer service as their resolution center to deal with all customer issues and support clients during the entire customer journey. It’s quite easy to get trapped into this categorization of transactional service rather than having a holistic and continuous improvement approach/mindset for service processes. This also created grounds for inaccurate survey responses where it was overrated.
  • Proper system/process for data analysis: While collecting the feedback can be an easy and repetitive task, the way the data is processed and approached by the analyst to interpret the voice of the customer is a determining factor on being able to connect the dots with the business processes. When there isn’t a proper approach, it becomes difficult to propose long-term actions that really can make a difference for the customers.
  • Bias in prioritization or categorization of feedback: We are all human, and how feedback is prioritized and categorized can depend on the person, situation and perception. It’s critical to understand the context of the feedback and to remain objective. In the past, feedback often was used to explain bad behaviors in the organization, poor sales performance or used inaccurately to push for fast tracks to approve investments or resources allocations.

Q: Once you uncovered these challenges, understood actions that needed to be initiated and determined priorities, how did you implement the changes and solutions?

Rafael Aguirre: We established the following five steps around our feedback systems.

  1. Define annual feedback review meetings and sessions calendar.
  2. Each function delegates and empowers a person to be part of the System Stakeholders group (finance, marketing, digital, creation services, customer service, supply chain, logistics and sales).
  3. Results are monitored by this group and key actions are followed up by senior management in monthly business review sessions.
  4. Market sessions are planned monthly to follow up on the progress of the action plan with local representatives. Simultaneously, a reporting package is prepared and shared regionally and with global strategic functions.
  5. Key projects and initiatives that demand allocation of resources are presented to senior management for prioritization and business acknowledgement quarterly.

Q: What results have you seen from both a business and customer perspective?

Rafael Aguirre: It’s been quite a journey. In the last four years, we have transformed our organization to become a company oriented to our customer needs through a more informed, objective and reliable process and systems. That has allowed us to have an accurate diagnosis of what we do right and what we need to change, implement or adjust.

We are an organization who is more conscious of our customer needs and we recognize our limitations in terms of resources. This fundamental change in the mindset has made us more accountable. Before, we would promise anything without much tangible actions; today, we aim to deliver on our promises and provide the best service and positive interactions as possible.

For those that like quantitative data, here are some figures:

  • Mexico has improved NPS by 10 points since the introduction in 2015. Our 2018 figures currently set the score slightly above 80%, which is the best among the Oriflame markets around the world.
  • We have increased the base of loyal customer by 40% in Peru during the past two years.
  • Customer metrics are part of business reviews, and senior management devotes time and resources to understand the problems and prioritize initiatives.
  • We have clearly identified our weaknesses and opportunities to become more customer-centric as an organization.
  • We have reduced the tendency to overpromise when it comes to our service proposals as it is now part of a centralized customer service function and the business areas have more awareness about the processes, platforms and limitations.
  • The rate of response of the post-interaction surveys is quite high (above 55%), and the ratio of satisfied clients is above 94%.

The Power of Feedback  

As Bill Gates once said, “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” Feedback systems, when deployed as part of a strong customer experience strategy, are powerful. But feedback is only powerful when we act on it.

Oriflame demonstrates how acting on feedback can shift an entire company’s strategy and mindset to be customer-centric. It also shows how acting on feedback successfully builds more loyal and advocate customers.

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I was saddened to hear of Brian’s death over the weekend in an accident in Southern California. Brian was an industry analyst covering our space and we worked with him over the years. If you met him the first thing you would notice about him was his quick mind and sharp intelligence. Brian was one of the good guys – smart, witty and he understood the tech details. Even better, he had huge intellectual curiosity which made our conversations much deeper and forced me to think through my ideas, in short, he made me think better and consider my theories so they would stand up to his intellectual tests.

Over the years Brian interacted with a number of Interactive Intelligence and Genesys executives and staff, and my team have been remembering his sincerity and willingness to understand all the vendors in our space and our products/technologies. He would then take what he had heard and make it understandable to business people working through their customer support and service strategies.

I’d like to send my personal condolences, as well as those of the Genesys team to Brian’s family and friends.

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