Whenever I write one of these blogs it always requires reflection on how long I’ve been in the contact centre industry and what has changed. When it comes to the commercial side I’ve seen a few different models over the past 20 years. One thing I do know is that the days of multi-million dollar CAPEX purchases are a thing of the past. A genuine Contact Centre as-a-Service has finally arrived in the form of Amazon Connect.
It’s no secret that universities have a constant battle keeping their curriculums up-to-date with the fast-paced development of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) is disrupting this institutional norm by preparing their students for working life through company mentorship programs. Companies such as VoiceFoundry, who develop innovative Contact Centre technologies for enterprise, are working with students in Computer Science degrees to develop innovative and real-world business solutions. More businesses are looking for novel ways to engage their customers and deliver better service. Graduates entering the workforce who can demonstrate technology skills in Automation and AI are undoubtedly valued. VoiceFoundry are proud to be a part of the development of these skills.
In this post, we take a look at how you can expand on the built-in reporting within Amazon Connect and use the wider AWS Ecosystem to bring real-time connect data into your existing Kibana dashboards. Amazon Connect provides out-of-the-box metrics and reporting that can generate real-time and historical metric reports to monitor efficiency and utilisation, agent performance, and other information about your contact centre. Sometimes more advanced reporting needs to be designed and implemented in order to meet specific requirements.
I’ve spent much of the last twenty years working with traditional contact centre technologies, and seen the industry move from basic call centres to omni-channel customer experience platforms. So when we launched VoiceFoundry, I thought I had a good handle on the features and benefits of Amazon Connect and Amazon’s Customer Experience (CX) ecosystem. I’m continually learning in this space and the more I discover, the more I’m impressed.
Coming back from a business trip this week, I realised it had been more than a year since our partnership with Amazon and the Connect team started. It’s incredible how much has transpired in a year and absolutely stunning the amount of welcome and reception that the platform has received from the marketplace. At launch, I thought early adopters would primarily be comprised of aggressive SMB organisations eager to adapt and adopt the latest new toys in the industry. Consider myself stunned that more than ever anticipated, early adopters have been largely comprised of big time Enterprise. And by that, we’re talking the biggest of the bigs – top 5 banks, top 5 insurers, top 5 financial service companies, top 5 retailers…..it’s truly been stunning.
User experience is something that you don’t normally hear about until something goes wrong. But what is it really and why does it matter?
For starters, user experience, UX for short, is how a person feels when interacting with a digital product. UX has many factors, including usability, accessibility, performance, design/look, utility, ergonomics, overall human interaction, and marketing. But while they might sound similar, UX is not the same as usability. UX is the experience and the connection a user feels when on a site. Usability is more along the lines of how effective the site and scope of design is.
August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey plummeted the coast of Texas pouring down almost 52 inches of rain on the Houston area and causing more than $180 billion worth of damages. The American Red Cross, doing exactly what they are known and relied upon to do, quickly deployed hundreds of volunteers providing food and shelter to thousands of displaced Texans.
As the days progressed, the damage multiplied. And soon the amount of available assistance wasn’t able to keep up with the increasing demand. Because the Red Cross is a life line for so many helpless individuals, they had to quickly figure out a solution.
VoiceFoundry North America happily assisted the American Red Cross and Amazon Web Services during the disastrous Hurricane Harvey. Because of the scale of the damage and the limited amount of available assistance, The Red Cross, as large an organisation as they are, had to call in for back up. They engaged us, VoiceFoundry, to implement Amazon Connect and provide a self-service, cloud based contact centre. Within 48 hours, the new call centre was up and running, and heroes were being connected to people in need from three hurricanes that had developed by that time. Continue reading about how The Red Cross, AWS, and VoiceFoundry all played a vital role in this execution.
Christmas is so close you can probably taste the peppermint candy canes filling your stockings. But how many of you are actually ready – as in finished – with all of your holiday shopping? The thought of heading anywhere close to the mall right now makes many of us shudder in fear. The people, the lines, the traffic! But if you’re like millions of people, you already know that shopping online is the only way to go. The number of online shoppers increases with each passing year as technology gives us more and more with just the swipe of a screen. But as additional people rely on the ease and selectiveness of online retailers, some companies may struggle to meet demand with their physical data centres.
Everyone has heard of the enormous amount of benefits when migrating to the cloud, but what does that mean from a customer’s point of view? I mean nobody really wants to call into a contact centre… ever. Its no wonder the majority of calls end up in hang ups and frustration and most of the time it’s the fault of the call centre whether its lack of staff or technology.
The solution – move your contact centre to the cloud. But the great debate is whether this migration can do more than just save you money, can it actually improve your customer experience? A recent study by the Aberdeen Group indicates that yes, it can improve customer service. In fact, it showed abandonment rates were significantly lower in cloud contact centres compared with traditional call centres, with just 4.5% of calls abandoned.
A long, long time ago…ok, maybe not that long ago, the only thing you expected from contact centre agents was for them to provide quick solutions to pressing issues. But thanks to this fourth industrial revolution we’re having and new technology solutions, customers expect a digital experience when they contact support for assistance.
And whether you gamble or not, the stakes are pretty high. According to an Ovum survey on omni-channel support, 82% of consumers cited a bad customer experience as reason enough to stop doing business with a company. And to make matters more pressing, 45% of consumers expect a response to questions and issues in under one minute. Does the pizza delivery rule apply here – if it’s not there within 30 minutes its free? If only everything was so black and white.
Any chance you remember the last time you had a really horrible customer experience? Maybe it was pretty recent and you just got hair-raising chills going back to that moment. Ok, so stop there.
Now, on a happier note, are you able to remember a blow-your-socks-off great customer experience? Perhaps it was in a store. Or on an airplane. Or maybe it was doing something as simple as making an online purchase. Whatever it was, great customer experiences seem to stand out more than bad ones. And sadly, those over-the-top-genuinely-want-to-help experiences are few and far between. How do we consistently offer these great experiences and set the bar for a new level of customer service? We suggest you look at revamping the User Experience Design (UX).
It’s that time of year when baseball seems to take over every television for 7 nights of the week -if each team is lucky. The World Series is one of the most watched events of the year and this year is no different with both the Dodgers and Astros fighting for the pennant. But why are we talking about baseball? Well the management of a sports team, any sports team really, is not that different from the management of contact centre agents. Remember the Oakland A’s—the major league baseball team that inspired the book Moneyball? They integrated big data analytics into their team strategy and it changed the game as we know it. By leveraging available data, the team manager was able to assess specific players’ values and performances to assemble power-packed lineups for each game. The end result: one of the most influential strategies to hit professional baseball.
Voice is not a new concept. It’s been around for decades and while it’s making its second trip around the sun, evaluating and analysing how far it has come is truly a fascinating endeavor. For all of the super-hip, tech-savvy-millenials, you might as well put on a poodle skirt for this.
1950’s to the 1960’s
In the history of speech recognition technology, this was the era of ‘baby talk’; only numbers and digits could be comprehended. In 1952, ‘Audrey’ was invented by Bell Laboratories which could only understand numbers. But in 1962, the ‘shoebox’ technology was able to understand 16 words in English. Later, voice recognition was enhanced to comprehend 9 consonants and 4 vowels.
When developing your business objectives and technology, a key component is evaluating the degree of automation offered by your technology platforms. Self-service and automated business processes often reduce costs while improving agent and customer productivity. Consider what you are doing to drive overall customer automation, expand the linkages between front-end and backend systems to streamline the agent experiences (CTI) , support your agents by empowering them to better service your customers (WFO) and most importantly, what systems do you have (and desire) to measure your centres performance (Reporting)? What do you need to add, enhance or revamp to deliver a better customer experience? By expanding automation technology across the contact centre you can also expand the areas to which the technology itself can bring value.
Businesses have been advocates of touchpoints for quite a while. The crucial moments when consumers interact with a business seemed to be able to tell how happy a customer actually was. Unfortunately, the narrow focus of satisfaction at those moments actually gives us a rather distorted picture. The picture we need to be looking at is the customer’s entire journey from start to finish. Businesses that are able to carefully manage the experience in its entirety reap enormous benefits across the board.
Churn is a big problem for many companies and for typical reasons. The ways to reduce this are well known, but costly (upgrades, discounted rate plans, etc). This is where customer experience saves the day. It turns out it can not only reduce churn but build a competitive advantage as well. Creating an exceptional customer experience cannot be achieved solely by perfecting touchpoints. While customers might seem happy at certain times during the interaction, many are unhappy with their overall experience. Most customers aren’t fed up with any one phone call, field visit, or other interaction; they don’t really care about these singular touchpoints. They do, however, care about cumulative experiences across multiple touchpoints and multiple channels over time.
Everyone has heard the phrase “in the cloud”. Those white puff balls floating over head seriously contain a massive amount of information – enough to win wars and impeach presidents. While it’s fun to think that the condensed air balls forming animal shapes high in the sky are what’s keeping all of our information safe, the Cloud is actually a bit more complicated. And even more so when you add artificial intelligence (AI) to the equation.
For tons of reasons, many companies already have or are in the process of migrating to the cloud. But some are taking it a step further and focusing on innovating from the cloud with artificial intelligence. You see, the Cloud is the underlying platform with the data storage capacity and massive processing capability that will help enable AI innovation at the speed demanded. Companies are already starting to integrate a variety of AI-driven technologies across voice, vision, language and machine learning in order to transform their businesses.
“Accenture research shows that 85 percent of business and IT executives anticipate making extensive investments in one or more AI-related technologies over the next three years.”
Change is hard, we get it. Remember when research used to be done by scouring through a set of brown and gold encyclopedias that you’d have to hope were still relevant? Who even has the shelf space for something like that anymore? While I miss the feel and the smell of those old pages, hopping online to find information is not only quicker and easier, but truly up to date almost to the millisecond. The same goes for contact centres. Where they were 20 years ago is not where they are now and if you haven’t already migrated to the cloud, you’re about to become as obsolete as those leather-bound-data-books. Nobody wanted to take a leap into the online world and now we can’t live without it. And while migrating your existing contact centre to the cloud can be challenging, Amazon Connect makes it easier.
Earlier this year Amazon introduced three new services and they’re actually pretty cool. Would you expect anything less from the orange giant? The services will help customers develop applications hosted on AWS that recognise images, add text-to-speech and implement technology from Amazon’s Alexa.
Amazon Rekognition is a service that recognises actual images. It can detect objects, scenes, and faces in images by going through a batch of millions of images or in real-time. Even more fascinating – it can detect smiles or frowns. Applications can be built to search and compare faces.
“It can pick out an image you ask for, of a woman, a car, a steering wheel and from that can search for images of women driving a car,” said AWS chief executive Andy Jassy about the new service.