Shaping the IVR of the Future Will Require New Technology and Some Common Sense

Ken Landoline

Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • As any customer service satisfaction survey will reveal, today’s interactive voice response (IVR) systems, which were designed to encourage self-service, cut costs and speed up interactions, are brimming with problems and often result in an increase in customer calls to live agents and diminished overall customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • While there has clearly been an increase in the technological tools and data applications available to boost IVR performance, it is also clear that common sense often remains the key missing ingredient in many implementations.

As I have discussed in previous blogs, despite the intent to make customer service faster and better, I believe IVR systems continue to cause more problems than they fix in today’s customer service marketplace. Without a doubt, they continue to be the source of a growing amount of frustration in the minds of the customers they were designed to help. While there is little doubt that the expanding set of technological advances ranging from the ubiquitous nature of cloud applications and services to the availability of big data analysis and context-related personalization will help, we should not overlook the benefits of common sense to improve customer service using today’s available tools and those yet to be introduced. Read more of this post

Customer Surveys Are Everywhere, but Are They Helping?

Ken Landoline

Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • With recent advances in survey technology, customer post-interaction surveys are pervasive. However, my experience is that their effectiveness is well below an acceptable level.
  • From an enterprise perspective, the real measurement of success in the customer service world is customer satisfaction and reducing the number of contacts needed to solve a customer issue. So, shouldn’t surveys focus on those issues?

As someone who has spent the last 15 years examining contact center technologies and processes in great detail, I realize I am often overly critical of customer interactions in which I am personally involved. My long-term intent is not simply to criticize the operations of companies with which I interact, but more focused on making the customer service world a better place. Therefore, I never miss a chance to complete a post-interaction survey whether it be via e-mail, callback, text or the U.S. Postal Service. In addition, since many of my contact center vendor clients develop and offer survey solutions, I am always on the lookout for ways they may improve their products and services to enterprise clients. Read more of this post

Effectively Incorporating Presence Management into Customer-Centric Strategies

Ken Landoline

Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • The advent of unified communications (UC) in telecommunications, coupled with the convergence of enterprise networks to IP-based infrastructure, introduced a great deal of promise for presence management in the contact center marketplace. But, it is obvious that most enterprises have yet to maximize the potential benefits of presence management in their contact centers.
  • Used properly, presence management can result in subject matter experts (SMEs) across the enterprise being effectively and efficiently converted into on-demand experts to assist customer service representatives in more quickly and accurately answering customers’ questions, improving the overall customer experience and enhancing corporate profitability.

In a unified communications system, a ‘presence’ feature indicates to a user whether or not another UC user on the network, or sometimes even outside the enterprise network, is available and able to communicate with colleagues, agents and customers. In the contact center, the initial manifestation of this UC capability is often the creation of a ‘buddy list’ which can be used by agents to reach another agent or other knowledge worker with a single click on the keyboard and little wasted time and effort because they know who is available and who is not. When customer service representatives (CSRs) working in a contact center need assistance, they often need to reach out to an SME for help. Traditionally, this help was limited to within the physical boundaries of the contact center and consisted of a simple glance around the room to see who might be available to help. Read more of this post

The Growing Role of Text Analytics in Voice of the Customer Strategies

Ken Landoline

Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • As customer care organizations recognize the importance of including ‘voice of the customer’ (VoC) tools in their contact center analytics toolboxes, the capture and analysis of unstructured data will grow in importance.
  • Because text analytics provides the ability to include large streams of input from a broad collection of unstructured data sources, it is a very complementary solution to other analysis tools such as speech analytics and post-call customer surveys.

In previous blogs I have commented on the growing importance of collecting, managing and using “big data” effectively to drive proactive efforts designed to improve overall customer service. Today many companies base their customer feedback analysis, or so-called VoC solutions, on a single data collection tool such as post-call surveys or speech analytics. While these tools can provide excellent insights into the customer’s thought process, emotions and purchase intentions, they are often limited by their focus on a single source of information or the fact that customer inputs are confined to a set of multiple choice questions posed to a customer. I am finding that as VoC campaigns mature, companies are beginning to realize that capturing the benefits of big data analytics requires broadening the collection of data to all the data that is available to them. This should include analysis of voice calls, web chats, responses to open-ended questions of customers and notes recorded by contact center agents and other front-line employees. Read more of this post

Consolidation of Contact Center Industry Being Driven by Economics and Market Demand

Ken Landoline

Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • Managers of customer service organizations are realizing that integrating discrete supporting applications with core contact center ACD functionality is a time consuming and often very expensive method of completing their solution suite.
  • Contact center providers are reacting to the market change from “best-of-breed” solutions to “all-in-one”, pre-integrated suites by acquiring the assets of interactive voice response (IVR), speech analytics, customer survey, and data analytics best-of-breed providers or developing deep partnerships to complement their contact center suite offerings.

Less than a decade ago contact center executives were beating the bushes looking for best-of-breed solutions in the areas of workforce management, IVR, customer surveys, speech analytics, proactive outbound customer contact, and more to complete the functionality of their customer service suite and optimize their service offering. At the same time, there was a groundswell of start-ups focused on offering the best-of-breed solution in each of these areas to fill the product gaps of the major contact center vendors that had solid ACD offerings but lacked solutions focused on these high-growth peripheral areas of customer care and support. Enterprises were fixated on finding and buying the best of breed solution to meet their needs and give them a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Read more of this post

Black Hat Roundup: Keeping Tabs on the Ones That Got Away

B. Ostergaard

B. Ostergaard

Summary Bullets:

  • With the annual Black Hat event in Las Vegas, the global Internet community celebrates its felons.
  • Like physical combat, Internet security requires a good understanding of enemy black hat strategies.

Last week saw Las Vegas hosting the 15th annual Black Hat event.  From its inception in 1997, Black Hat has grown from a single annual conference in Las Vegas (still the main event with the highest stakes) to a global conference series with annual events in Abu Dhabi, Barcelona, Las Vegas and Washington, DC.  From its nefarious roots, it spouts uncomfortable truths about the insecurities we face every day as global net workers.  It’s difficult to find any other industry where crime and passion are so closely aligned and where ‘respect’ and ‘respectable’ are terms so far apart.  Cyber-warfare for profit and power lacks any basic ‘Geneva Convention’ that could specify global rules of conduct and the means to prosecute felons. Read more of this post

Hunting for Big Data in Cloud Services: Customers Need a Better Security Standards Map

B. Ostergaard

B. Ostergaard

Summary Bullets:       

  • The lack of cloud security standards and the expanding range of cloud providers complicate RFPs.
  • The Current Analysis Cloud Security Study shows IT SPs ahead of carriers and the U.S. ahead of Europe.

The decision to migrate to the cloud is complicated by the expanding number and variety of cloud service providers (typically carriers, IT SPs, vendors, or dedicated cloud SPs), each with its own legacy of strengths and weaknesses, coupled with a dearth of specific cloud security standards to put into a request for proposal (RFP).  Apart from PCI DSS in the retail sector and FedRAMP for the delivery of cloud services to the U.S. government, security standards pertaining to cloud services are related to general business process quality (ISO9000), data center management processes (ISO27001-5), auditing (SSAE 16), and a slew of more vertical industry-specific requirements around handling of sensitive personal data.  Corporate customers are still relying on best-practice guidelines from standards bodies such as NIST in the U.S. and ENISA in Europe, as well as the user/industry forums such as the Cloud Security Alliance with its Cloud Matrix tool.  Still, what does the cloud security playing field look like from the service provider side?  How can they assess their service offerings to amorphous customer requirements, as well as the other providers in the market? Read more of this post

Stop GIGO Data with Better Information Management

B. Ostergaard

B. Ostergaard

Summary Bullets:

  • The looming GIGO data storm
  • Information management capabilities are more important than cheap storage capacity

Ease of storage expansion as well as lower storage costs per TB, combined with the drive to be more security ‘compliant’, threaten to combine to create a perfect data storm. Present conditions seem to encourage regulators and government agencies to insist that public sector institutions as well as corporations collect and retain even more data that is not required for operational purposes, but might be needed in future, or might be needed for public safety, or might aid future issue handling. Corporate governance, risk, compliance (GRC) policies are going in the same direction. The bottom line is: added operational costs.  Privacy issues aside, from a cost-benefit perspective two facts spring out: first, some 98% of what is stored is never viewed again, and second information management is way behind the curve. To put it bluntly: garbage in, garbage out (GIGO) is a growing problem because duplication, inconsistencies, randomness as well as systemic errors, lead to massive waste. Policy decisions based on such data risk being flawed and misleading, rather than those based on well-informed analysis of timely and reliable data. Clearly, it’s easier to just add more data to storage than to actually create an information management policy and capability that gives some assurance that data used for decision-making is valid to some defined degree. Read more of this post