TOP TIPS TO MAKE , CHAT AND MOBILE CUSTOMER SERVICE COST-EFFECTIVE AND RESPONSIVE

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1 TOP TIPS TO MAKE , CHAT AND MOBILE CUSTOMER SERVICE COST-EFFECTIVE AND RESPONSIVE PROVIDED BY IN ASSOCIATION WITH

2 mplsystems mplsystems provide a wide range of contact centre technologies including multi-channel contact, innovative CRM and customer experience desktops, delivered on premise or in the cloud. Our unique intelligent desktop manages calls, , social and online chat and brings this together with CRM and back office integration in a simple, intuitive interface providing a single customer view. Our expertise in the contact centre industry and unique modular approach ensures solutions are tailored to each organisations individual needs: from management to customer service apps, mplsystems solve a contact centres problems and completely integrates with existing systems. Get in touch: Web: info:mplsystems.co.uk Phone: +44 (0) Arecent webinar, hosted on CallCentre.co.uk in partnership with mplsystems, a leading multi-channel contact centre software provider, addressed the future of text-based customer service. Nicola Millard, Head of Customer Insight & Futures at BT gave webinar attendees a little perspective about where BT thinks things are going in the future, what channels will be most important and how getting to grips with Omni-channel is essential as digital channels increase in terms of complexity and contact centres start to create dialogue with the customer. While Paul White, CEO of mplsystems was on hand to discuss best practice for handling , chat and mobile channels and how call centres are finding new ways to efficiently manage these channels and integrate with your voice-based infrastructure. He also covered how to empower agents to focus on the high-value interactions that are so important to the business. CONTENTS l Putting customer service channels into perspective l The future of the contact centre l Changing customer service channels in the here-and-now l Typical issues with and chat l What can be done to improve text-based customer service channels? l Looking towards a future of text chat l Understanding the typical types of text-based queries l Making and chat work: The benefits 02

3 PUTTING CUSTOMER SERVICE CHANNELS INTO PERSPECTIVE The function of the contact centre is changing as much as the channels are and what we are seeing across all channels are what we are calling autonomous customers (see Figure 1) customers who are placing some slightly different demands over multiple channels. Autonomous customers are starting online and doing a lot more themselves says Nicola, [but] one of the issues is that this doesn t necessarily cut the number of contacts down. The reality is that while the volume on phone is going down year-on-year (as will be demonstrated in the following section), things like call duration is going up. This is symptomatic of the kind of complexity that is beginning to emerge in the contact centre space as customers we are doing more ourselves; we are far more autonomous which puts us in control. But the challenge for the contact centre is not just around the channel, it s about being able to help the customer with a very complex problem. And this is where contact centres often fall down, suggests Nicola. They have to put people on hold, they don t know what s on the website mainly because we have the wrong model for the contact centre, not just in terms of multi-channel or omni-channel, but also because of what the contact centre is there to do. Figure 1: Autonomous customers increase demands on contact centres THE FUTURE OF THE CONTACT CENTRE At the 2013 Call Centre & Customer Management Expo, Nicola and her team conducted research with delegates to understand what the contact centre is going to look like in The research was also conducted with the help of the Irish and UK branches of the Call Centre Management Association and Call Centre Helper. Together with her coauthor Tanya Alcock, Nicola has now published her findings in a whitepaper, Super Agent 2020: The evolution of the contact centre *1. The research found that for the majority of those surveyed, the primary function of the contact centre in 2020 is going to be for complex problem solving followed by inbound and transactional functions. The contact centre will deal with the following to a lesser extent: complaint handling, proactive outbound and cross-selling or up-selling. As far as the channels customers will use to get in touch with an organisation, the same research found that respondents believe web chat will surpass the phone to become the most popular channel of choice. Phone will remain a very strong channel with social media and video lagging behind. is predicted to be the least popular channel. Frankly, says Nicola I was quite surprised that web chat trumped the phone. I m not entirely sure it will but I do think that it will give the phone a run for its money, and I think there are a few reasons for that. Firstly, web chat is an immediate channel like the phone you can have a conversation. Secondly, the ability to manage multiple chat sessions means that the economics of chat does add up, assuming the volume is there. Thirdly, chat can be blended with other channels for example, chat can be open alongside, , social media, video, etc. But what really helps to boost the channel s popularity is that customer s like things to be easy and after two years of examining data, BT have found that chat trumps all other channels in terms of easiness consistently (see Figure 2). The reason for this is that a lot of BT s customers start online and it is much, much easier to find a button and push it than find a phone number and call it. 03

4 Figure 2: BT s Easy-o-Meter At BT, says Nicola We like to talk about precision routing which is very much around finding out what resources you have got, who is most appropriate to handle this and what is the most appropriate channel and then speed date that customer with the appropriate expert. Increasingly, the contact centre is a network of experts a relationship hub, multi-channel very much looking at a mixture of things but all directed at solving problems for the customer, and often solving very complex problems. The smartphone as a game-changer The smartphone is the biggest and most interesting gamechanger [for the contact centre], says Nicola. Smartphone users are becoming increasingly omni-channel and they are using apps more and embracing things like in-app chat and in-app services which is igniting debate in terms of if your customers are likely to call and you offer an app, then why not make things easy and allow them to contact you from within that app. This is especially true for under 34 year-olds who are displaying extreme omni-channel behaviour. This means that the contact centre has to lined up behind those channels to provide both consistent service and to enable channel hopping without making customers repeat themselves over and again. The contact centre is set to become a relationship hub So, what is in store for the contact centre of 2020? According to Nicola, contact centre should stop being so tied up with channels and start thinking about how they can speed date customers effectively by ensuring they have the right agent available using the most appropriate and efficient channel. CHANGING CUSTOMER SERVICE CHANNELS IN THE HERE-AND-NOW The phone still dominates inbound interactions, but along with telephone self-service this is falling. Down from 79% of UK Inbound requests in 2011 to just over 70% this year*2 telephone communication is set to fall rapidly over the next 5 years. Meanwhile total text-based interaction is growing rapidly, predicted to account for around 67% of inbound requests by , says Paul, Seems to be the forgotten channel by many technology vendors who want to talk about social media and mobile, but is still quite important it has been around a long time and has grown year-on-year to its current level of 16. 2% of all inbound interactions into the modern contact centre environment. *2 Although this doesn t represent substantial growth, is still growing and several recent surveys have shown that over a third of customers say that is their preferred channel of choice to contact an organisation. Web chat is tipped for some very serious growth. It currently represents almost 3% of inbound interactions and although it is still a long way off from being a major channel its growth will be driven by the demands of the younger generation and the unstoppable development of smart phone technology *2. Can you believe it s only been 6 years since the introduction of the first iphone?, asks Paul. We really need to watch this space and watch what s happening with web chat and mobile based chat solutions. 04

5 Figure 3: Inbound customer service contacts by channel *2 Costs The costs statistics of inbound channels are very interesting (see Figure 4). The average cost of taking an request in the call centre is nearly the same price as a phone call, yet the range ( / , /web chat) is massive and in some cases, with appropriate technology in place responding to a text-based query can almost be as low as self-service. Figure 4: and chat the issues TYPICAL ISSUES WITH AND CHAT What are the typical issues with and chat in the contact centre environment? is completely ubiquitous in the business world with the record of transactions and the ability to copy text to improve speed. Response times So why don t consumers more or why hasn t customer service grown more rapidly and been more popular? Research by mplsystems has found that the average speed of response in the UK is over 24 hours and in some major organisations it is not unusual to offer official response times as between 7 and 14 days. For the channel to be truly effective, response time should within minutes to a couple of hours. Security and authentication Another issue with chat and channels is that they are often not set up for security and authentication. An may not contain all the required information to process the request such as client IDs or product codes, the result is a prolonged exchange which impacts response time and agent efficiency. The advent of the mobile phone and the additional security features that are being developed are going to be essential to getting these channels ready for secure text-based transactions. WHAT CAN BE DONE TO IMPROVE TEXT-BASED CUSTOMER SERVICE CHANNELS? mplsystems suggests 4 key steps to consider when implementing , social and chat (see Figure 5): 1. Manage response time with a universal queue 2. Have a single Omni-channel view 3. Create an agent desktop Mash-up with back office systems 4. Improve agent efficiency with text analytics and automation 1. Manage response time with a universal queue Managing response times efficiently is about getting all your contact events into a single universal queue. When the events are in that queue, be it social, , chat, etc. you can start to manage how those requests are going to be processed and ensure that the right priorities and routing are attached, depending on subject and channel type. For 05

6 example, a high priority or chat about a cancellation from a VIP client, can be identified by text analytics, promoted ahead of a voice call concerning an administrative task and routed direct to the loyalty team. At all times, depending on the subject matter and the channel you can use multi-skilled based routing to get the best available agent to deal with the right enquiry. 2. Have a single Omni-channel view As soon as a call, , chat or tweet is passed to an agent, that agent is presented with all historic and live interactions for that client whatever the channel. Paul also explained the concept of grouping whereby all live interactions for that client are grouped together for the agent. It may be that the client is following up on a call faster an and social post that was sent in the preceding days which have not been answered. Whilst dealing with the call, the agent is able to close down all the other live requests from the queue ensuring that they do not burden other agents later in the day. mundane enquiries which can be automated? Use text analytics to identify the subject and language, and based on this, prefill an with a template response which the agent can quickly edit. FAQ type requests can be identified and responded to using automation. Whilst transactional requests, such as account changes which require an action, not just a response, can be fully automated by using text analytics to categorise the enquiry and a pre specified workflow to complete the response. Figure 5: How to improve text-based customer service channels 3. Create an agent desktop Mash-up Our third item to consider when implementing and chat says Paul, Is what we call the agent desktop mashup, which is really all about empowering the agent with the right data to get the job done. This consists of pulling all customer information into a single screen. This is much more than just integrating the contact centre technology with CRM, it is about bringing together all customer data from multiple back office and front office systems and presenting it in a very visual way for the agent so they can easily resolve even the most complex requests. One of the typical reasons why takes such a long time to process and why response times can t be tracked very well is because the request has to be handed over to the back office for processing instead give your agents access to back office applications as part of a single process driven desktop interface. 4. Improve agent efficiency Finally, and perhaps most importantly, get the most out of your agents. Paul asks, Why waste agent time on simple, LOOKING TOWARDS A FUTURE OF TEXT CHAT Research aside, says Paul All I have to do is take my children as an example. If I ring them the chances of them answering the phone and replying to a voice call are almost zero. If I ring my son a little bit later I ll get a text back from him saying what do you want? It s clearly a generational thing, and text is going to happen. If, as BT predicts, chat will be the dominant channel then it will be chat on a mobile device rather than browser based chat as we know it. Mobile engagement, Visual IVR and Messaging There are many types of mobile applications available today from customer acquisition and mobile marketing to customer loyalty type apps offering bonuses, loyalty cards and special offers. Different customer care options such as viewing personalised offers and promotions, account details or FAQs can be provided. 06

7 So what is meant by Visual IVR? A customer will log into a mobile app which will show them a very simple visual menu with the typical types of transactional service options (see Figure 6). These are presented simply and quickly and allow the customer to get the answers they are after or connect directly to the appropriate customer care team. What nearly all of today s engagement apps lack is a communication link back to the customer care team, should the user require further support of have a problem. Instead, if a client requires further support they need to come out of the mobile app entirely, then make a call to the call centre, burn up mobile minutes in a queue or waste time going through an interactive voice menu for authentication and to determine where the call is routed. Instead, mplsystems recommend that the mobile app includes a direct link from the app to the customer care team either via a call button, a call back request or an interactive chat or messaging button. Whichever way, all the authentication and interaction information from the app as well as the contact is transferred to the best agent to deal with it in the contact centre. If this mobile interaction is implemented as part of an intelligent Mash-Up desktop solution, as recommend by mplsystems, then as soon as the interaction is presented to the agent they would also be equipped, via a single desktop interface, with any relevant CRM and back office customer data. This creates a highly-skilled Super-Agent of the kind who really knows and understands your business and can resolve a complex problem. Figure 6: Mobile messaging UNDERSTANDING THE TYPICAL TYPES OF TEXT-BASED QUERIES Paul says, What we are seeing when we analyse , chat and social requests in a typical call centre is an awful lot really simple stuff high-volume, transactional enquiries, whether they be cancelling subscriptions, checking opening hours or checking stock availability etc. In many organisations there is typically 3 or 4 categories of requests which account for over 60% of all text interactions (see Figure 7) which would lend themselves nicely to automation, if automation really worked and could deliver on the promises that have been offered for a long time without always being realised. Figure 7: High volume enquiries Blending automated and assisted response It is possible to take all these simple text-based interactions and put in place a mechanism where they can be automatically responded to a double whammy where the customer gets an immediate response and the organisation makes massive savings in terms of productivity, time and cost. This would leave agents the time to focus on the more complex problem solving requests and providing a great service. mplsystem s intelligentresponse uses NLP (natural language processing technology) to identify and classify all those simple transactions and provide the best possible response. The same solution intelligently routes the more complex interactions to the best agent to deal with them. We think that this sort of intelligent response technology is going to 07

8 Figure 8: Making and chat work the benefits be the key to getting the productivity into this explosion of text-based channels, says Paul. And the beauty of this next generation technology is that it is incredibly quick and easy to set up. MAKING AND CHAT WORK: THE BENEFITS In conclusion, there is a revolution coming in the way that text based-based channels such as chat, and social are being handled by contact centres. This is being driven by the uptake of smartphone applications and the popularity of text in the younger generations and there is a real opportunity to automate those responses reducing the handling time that your agents are taking to deal with the mundane enquiries and freeing them up to deal with the complex tasks (see Figure 8). We can make these processes work and support the customer s channel of choice in an efficient way and in a way that will support your organisation and contact centre, says Paul. *1 SuperAgent 2020: The Evolution of the Contact Centre *2 ContactBabel

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