August 13, 2012 • By LiveOps, Inc.
Tags — Barton Goldernberg, Cloud Contact Center, contact center, CRM, CRM Evolution, CRMe, Customer Relationship Management, Customer Service, ISM, social crm, Social Media
It’s a beautiful day in New York City, and we’re here attending the first day of sessions at CRM Evolution 2012. This event brings together customer relationship management (CRM) gurus and focuses on ways to improve how companies interact with customers. The reason we are more enthusiastic than ever to attend this year’s event is its focus on social. If you’re in the business of customer service, you understand the impact social has on consumers and the companies they engage with. It’s not a passing fad, but a “New Era,” which is an important topic we’ve been talking about since earlier this year when we added Facebook integration to LiveOps Social.
This morning, I had the opportunity to sit in on ISM Founder and President Barton Goldenberg’s presentation on “The New Era of CRM” and wanted to share my thoughts coming out of it. Barton explained that in order for CRM to be successful, companies must not only integrate people, process, and technology together to maximize relationships with customers. They must now also integrate social. Meaning, if they don’t up-level from the traditional CRM customer touch points and leverage the social customer touch point, others will.
Barton spent most of the session discussing how companies can gain customer insight by the tremendous listening capability now available through social channels. The challenge, however, exists in turning listening and intelligence into actionable engagement. This is where the power of many comes in. The cloud contact center has the resources, people, and might to engage with customers in a holistic way. Customers want options not only in their purchasing decisions but also in the way they interact with brands. Point solutions like traditional CRM or social CRM alone don’t always allow consumers to interact with a brand on the channel they prefer. We do.
Through the LiveOps Platform, we have blended the perfect mix of traditional CRM and social CRM into the customer service cloud contact center to increase satisfaction, drive loyalty, and create brand advocates for life. By doing so, LiveOps is powering a “New Era of CRM” where customers and brands engage in a two-way, real-time interaction on the consumer’s channel of choice. Say hello to the new the face of customer service.
One question dominated recent discussions in a Linkedin group I follow: “What department owns social media?” Most chime in with “marketing” or “public relations,” but it turns out this is the wrong question altogether.
“That’s like customer service asking marketing if they can use the phone to make a call,” industry expert Michael Pace told me. “Social media is a tool, not a function.”
Instead, companies should ask how you can deliver social media to those who need it, when they need it. Many automated social listening tools provide big-picture analysis, such as customer sentiment and keyword trends. But what about messages that require an immediate response, like customer service?
More than half of Twitter users expect a response within two hours of tweeting a complaint.
51% of Facebook users expect same-day response.
- Oracle report, Consumer Views of Live Help Online 2012
Customer support software developers, including LiveOps, have developed tools to solve this problem. Here’s how this technology turns social media listening into customer service action.
Prioritization is Key
As mentioned, one of the most difficult parts of socialized customer support is fishing out the most critical comments among the masses of information out there.
To overcome this challenge, LiveOps listens for any combination of the #CompanyName, @CompanyName or brand mention with customer service triggers like “help” or “need assistance.”
Then the technology applies a priority ranking based on a variety of factors, such as content, customer’s purchase history, and social activity level. A computer manufacturer company might, for example, place higher value on a key social media influencer or brand advocate who recently purchased ten laptops, and bump his help request to the top of the queue.
This priority scale completely depends on the company’s customer service strategy. At the same time, the provider should provide a dictionary of various prioritization options.
Service Needs to be Agile
“It’s important that all channels are treated with the same level of depth. This allows agents to easily pivot between each channel without any change in service.” – Sanjay Mathur, LiveOps Senior Vice President, Product Management.
Another common obstacle to efficient social customer service is process. If a complaint is submitted on Twitter, what’s the next step? Create a ticket? Respond in Twitter with a link? Send an email?
Not only does this make it difficult to respond quickly, it also provides a poor customer experience. LiveOps processes social media issues in the same way as tickets from any other channel. Once the social media complaint is identified, the software creates a ticket that shows up in the service queue along with requests from other channels. When they respond, it’s automatically pushed to Twitter, email or whatever channel makes sense in that situation.
Context is Crucial
If a community or social media manager is manually monitoring Twitter and Facebook, they won’t have the complete customer context on hand. As a result, they likely won’t flag a complaint as critical if the customer called the hotline, emailed three hours ago, and then tweeted, of example. They simply wouldn’t know their past points of contact. Similarly, they wouldn’t be able to identify loyal and high-value customers that might warrant a faster response than others.
Automated Routing Speeds Response Time
LiveOps also uses a rules-based interface to automate social message routing. The system can be configured to consider agent expertise, work group, current caseload, average time to respond, and service satisfaction rate. The platform might, for example, choose a top service-rated agent to handle a strongly negative issue.
Reporting tools also enable managers to constantly monitor response time, net promoter scores, satisfaction rates and more so they can fine-tune process and prioritization rules.
Research for this article was provided by Software Advice.
August 02, 2012 • By LiveOps, Inc.
Tags — cloud, Cloud Contact Center, contact center, contact center agent, Customer Service, customer support, customer support agents, LiveOps, multichannel, social crm, social customer service, Social Media, social media call center, social media contact center, social media support
Social media is disrupting customer care in ways that are both profound and difficult to predict. Not only do contact centers need to effectively manage voice, email, SMS, and chat traffic, they’ve also got to deal with tweets, wall posts, likes, dislikes, pins, blog comments, etc. This is an ever-expanding list of social media message types that grow in volume by the day. In short, the contact center is moving from merely chaotic to completely insane.
Until recently, contact center owners have had no choice but to deploy new social media monitoring systems that have no relationship with existing (and already disparate) contact services. Due to this, contact centers are becoming unmanageably complex, and customer support agents are being pigeonholed into unnatural specialties based on media channel type.
Fortunately, new technology solutions are emerging to address these problems. If you are in the market for new contact center technology, you should consider a vendor that supports all of the contact channels you need now and plans to expand coverage of new channels as they emerge. There are many reasons for this, and I’ll cover five of them here.
1) Support for Cross-channel Pivot Scenarios
Detecting social media activity related to your brand is important, but it’s only the first step; that initial @reply or direct message may not be enough to address the customer’s issue. You will need the ability to “pivot” from public forums like Twitter and Facebook to more private, interactive channels like voice or email. For example, you might want to provide a link in your direct message that generates a voice callback from a contact center agent, who then can directly address the problem surfaced in the original tweet.
Implementing the channel pivot capability using several disparate customer contact systems (one for voice, one for social media, etc.) can be incredibly challenging, but these scenarios are supported very naturally in an integrated customer engagement environment.
2) Keeping Up With Changes in the Social Media Landscape
Twitter and Facebook support are obvious requirements of any contact center solution now, but several years ago this wasn’t the case. Pinterest went from an unknown service to the 4th largest social network within months. Conversely, MySpace, the preeminent social network prior to the Facebook explosion, has gradually settled into near-irrelevance.
Social networks emerge, grow, contract, and explode in unpredictable ways; because of this, contact centers need to align themselves with innovative vendors that are focused on the ever-shifting tides of the social media waters. At LiveOps, we have developed a social media connector architecture that allows us to quickly connect to new social networks and use new capabilities of existing social media networks. For example, we recently added the ability to route new tweets to agents based on location data.
3) Providing a Unified Agent Experience
There’s no good reason that a contact center agent should need to use more than one desktop tool to service customers across different contact channels. In fact, switching between applications and browser windows can seriously impact an agent’s effectiveness. Because of this, convergence of desktop applications is often a high-priority IT goal.
Contact center technologies that support multiple contact channels have the opportunity to provide a consistent, rational user experience across those channels. In the case of LiveOps, contacts from multiple channels are displayed and manipulated using the same basic visual tools, with some special channel-specific tools displayed as appropriate (for example, ability to choose @reply vs. direct message when responding to a tweet). Also, agents can decide to service the customer using the original contact channel, or pivot to a more appropriate channel for the context.
4) Reporting Across All Engagement Channels
Historical reporting and real-time monitoring are among the most important functions of any contact center solution. Unfortunately, these reporting and monitoring needs are very difficult to satisfy in a multi-vendor environment. At the most basic level, matching customer and interaction records makes any data rationalization project problematic and often expensive, involving weeks or months of consultant time.
This is one area in which multichannel solutions shine brightest. Since all customer contacts are managed by the same platform, data is consistent by default. There is no need to spend time and money merging cross-channel interactions or customer records. With LiveOps, an agent or supervisor can see a customer’s cross-channel contact history instantly in a contact center dashboard, enabling a more engaged, effective customer experience.
5) Cross-channel Application Development
For every new technology a contact center implements, IT developers and consultants must take a new programming interface into account. Implementing voice call, email, and Twitter processing separately forces the IT application developer to write applications using three different APIs. This leads to higher development costs and longer time to deployment.
Compare this to a multichannel vendor with a single, consistent API. While developing a new CTI-driven application, for example, the application developer is also learning elements of the API that will be applied when integrating with the Twitter or chat channels. The contact center IT staff can build up knowledge of a single platform and apply it many times over.
As you evaluate vendors for your next social media contact center project, be sure to ask the question: “How can your product make my life easier?” If the answer doesn’t include simplification through multichannel support, you should really keep looking.
Last week, I was fortunate enough to team up with Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, a prominent social strategist and evangelist, in hosting a webinar on social customer service. As if this webinar wasn’t exciting enough, she also worked with LiveOps on a white paper – “Social Customer Service: The Pivotal Driver of the Social Enterprise” – and infographic – Your Brand on Social Media. Together, we explored a radically new breed of customer, the social customer, and how enterprise organizations must also make a radical transition to manage their social customers more effectively.
In putting together our infographic, we found that 60% of companies don’t respond to customer comments on social channels. This number seems surprising at first until you realize that, while companies may be on social channels thanks to marketing, they can’t keep up with the amount of customer comments on these channels. Now that brands have gone social, they need to go beyond using social channels to market and monitor; they need to interact with consumers to drive greater engagement. Additionally, brands are still determining which internal team should handle these comments – marketing, sales, product development, back offices, or customer service. To effectively manage social customers, these departments need the right technology and process to work together to manage these interactions residing in the contact center.
In turn, our integration of social media in the cloud contact center can enable you to better manage and engage with the social customer. Through LiveOps Social on the LiveOps Platform, we make it easy for you to manage, measure, and respond to your customers online with the same routing, quality control, efficiency, and reporting needed for other channels, such as voice, email, and chat. Your customers are telling your company’s story on their social channels, and it’s time you joined them.
I encourage you to take a few moments to read over Dr. Petouhoff’s white paper or grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and watch our webinar to find out more about:
- The rapidly evolving role of Customer Service and the expansion of this critical role to include collaboration with PR, Communication, Marketing, and Sales.
- The myriad of challenges in managing today’s Social Customer Service, including the struggle to keep pace with the volume of customer interactions.
- The value of a Contact Center – Marketing partnership and the inherent value in creating one central hub for servicing social customer interactions.
When you’re done, we’ll help you take your online presence from the top to the bottom of our infographic.
It is clear from Cloudforce London and the many LiveOps customers and partners that we met with that ‘Social CRM’, or social customer service is on the move in the UK. This was showcased in several case studies at the Cloudforce event.
Many of our customers in the UK are trailblazers in this area and have smartly leveraged our social-enabled cloud contact center software to deliver high quality customer service, and in the process, distinguished themselves from their peers. They are mixing ‘traditional channels’, like voice and email, with social channels like Twitter and Facebook, to provide a better 2-way and real-time interaction with their customers.
With LiveOps, Wokingham Council’s contact center now can service the borough’s 160,000 citizens through their preferred communication channels be it email, chat, voice, SMS or Twitter. By acknowledging social government through LiveOps, the council is ahead of the curve and has been able to deploy new services such as the traffic issue reporting service and the “Dog and Bone Text Alert Scheme”. Through the scheme, the council’s contact center can alert dog walkers via SMS when a dog has been reported as missing within the borough.
Through LiveOps Social, Royal Mail has improved public perception of the organization by delivering a deeper level of customer engagement. By responding to customer concerns on public forums such as Twitter in real-time, the postal service has accelerated “first tweet problem resolution”. Ultimately Royal Mail has demonstrated a true commitment to their customers by harnessing cloud-based customer services.
As the show concluded and the sun set over London’s Excel, it became clear that the social enterprise will continue to gain momentum in the UK and beyond. Hats of the trailblazers as they set the scene for the future in customer services!
- Marty Beard, President & CEO
May 22, 2012 • By LiveOps, Inc.
Cloudforce London kicked off today with a bang! Congratulations to George Hu and the Salesforce.com team for putting together yet another excellent event. George’s keynote on social enterprise and the rapidly evolving social customer service environment reflects LiveOps’ vision to a tee. As social customer interactions reach critical mass, NOW is the time for contact centers to embrace multichannel customer service with social at its core.
LiveOps is an established leader in social customer service and we firmly believe that social enterprise is the future. Today’s customers expect to engage in two-way communications with brands on social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Pragmatically speaking, however, we must not lose sight of existing communications channels such as web chat, voice, email or SMS which many customers simply prefer. It would be counterproductive to just focus on one or two channels.
At Cloudforce we’re demonstrating LiveOps Social and LiveOps Voice contact center solutions. Both demos are attracting a lot of visitors. The fact that they are interested in both social and voice is a testament to the importance of multichannel customer services.
- Ann Ruckstuhl, SVP & CMO
Today, we are excited to announce the integration of Facebook into LiveOps Social on the LiveOps Platform. The way that brands interact with their customers has changed. We’re entering into a “New Era of CRM” – and we know that if you want CRM to be truly social, the contact center needs to be social, as well.
LiveOps Social, a cloud application, leverages the LiveOps Platform to manage social customer interactions and deliver a better customer experience by providing a more complete and holistic view of interactions across all channels. The application was specially designed to enable companies to go beyond just social media monitoring.
LiveOps Social for Facebook furthers our offering of a quick, easy, and efficient way for enterprises to bridge their contact center to their social and mobile customers, enabling them to engage in two-way interactions on customers’ preferred channels.
Why LiveOps Social?
- Monitor designated Twitter accounts and Facebook Pages, as well as by hashtag or keyword, in real-time
- Tweet or post comments easily in response to customer needs
- Pivot seamlessly from Twitter or Facebook to more private channels, such as voice or email, when required and then back again if needed
- Access reply templates for standardized responses
- Rest assured messages are intelligently routed to the best available agent through comprehensive queue management and engagement tools
- Allow agent access to a single, concise record of the customer’s complete interaction history
- Monitor and trackindividual agent performance; View report of all customer-agent interactions across all channels in a single system
LiveOps Social with new Facebook integration is available immediately worldwide. Want more information?
May 01, 2012 • By LiveOps, Inc.
Tags — Cloud Technology, contact centre, Customer Service, increasing productivity, resource pressures, Social Enterprise, Social Media, wokingham borough council, Work at Home
As head of customer services & administration at Wokingham Borough Council in the UK, I’m responsible for ensuring the 160,000 residents, as well as businesses, of Wokingham Borough are well-connected to the Council. This is not just done via phone or in-person meetings anymore. Communication has modernised with the shifting culture, so we’re finding more of our customers now prefer to use email, mobile devices and social media. So we’ve been mirroring their preferred forms of communication with the cloud-based LiveOps Platform, which I recently spoke about at the IQPC Call Centre Europe conference in London.
Communicating with such a diverse customer base is always a challenge. Modern communication methods dictate much faster response times and with resource pressures from Government, we had to find a solution that improved the organisation and efficiency of our responses. LiveOps gave us the ability to manage all types of customer contact in a holistic way. The LiveOps Platform enables the Council to monitor and respond to residents’ comments and questions in real time via email, SMS, web chat, and social media. Utilising cloud technology in our contact centre facilitates and encourages home and flexible working, saving 50 percent in office space, increasing productivity and decreasing sickness and absenteeism. The way in which we have engaged with our residents using Twitter during a recent major change to their council services has had a very positive impact on public perception.
By working with LiveOps, Wokingham Borough Council has reduced costs and administration, shrunk its environmental foot print, increased the quality of communication with our residents and has been recognized nationally for outstanding customer service communications. By enabling real time interactions with our residents, we are making people’s daily lives better — a powerful and wonderful outcome of moving to the cloud.
Head of Customer Services & Administration
Wokingham Borough Council
Last week LiveOps met with dozens of industry leaders at the Call Centre & Customer Services Summit in Northamptonshire, UK. Top managers in customer services, contact centres and business operations took time out to quiz vendors on how they could add business value.
The hotels and leisure, financial services, retail, gambling and consumer goods manufacturing sectors were well represented, as were local government and housing associations.
“Compared to September 2011, the mood of the summit was significantly more upbeat,” reported LiveOps’ European Sales Director, Mark Edgeworth. “Attendees were putting a lot of emphasis on wanting to build long term relationships with service providers they liked, tackling strategic issues in partnership with them, rather than just plugging a functional gap at the lowest price. It seems companies are ready to invest in customer service again, to help them compete.”
Key drivers for investment included the need to replace legacy systems, contracts falling due for renewal and managers wanting to replace software that was no longer supported. Both Avaya and Mitel are causing considerable frustration for customers facing hefty bills to upgrade to a supported version of their software. “People are feeling really trapped and quite hopeless. It should be of concern to the whole industry that some installed software providers are so severely limiting clients’ ability to deliver best practice service,” says Mark.
Attendees were frequently feeling stuck on an old voice system that didn’t give them the flexibility they needed to run a modern contact centre. Or wanted to consolidate a multiple of different systems giving different communication channels, such as email, SMS or web chat, into one system they could easily integrate with their CRM. Sometimes both.
“This year the summit was all about overhaul, improve and replace,” says Mark.
Attendees understand they can now use technology to improve customer service and automate tasks, while retaining or improving service quality. They want technology that will enable them to simplify the contact centre, whilst opening up new channels and working practices and at the same time lifting service response times and quality.
Managers want to keep the same number of agents in their contact centres, but use technology to enable their current teams to handle increased messages or call volumes, without losing quality.
There was a real buzz at the Summit about the potential for cloud delivery and it was great to be able to step lots of the attendees through what it could mean for them and their businesses. Especially for those looking for a staged escape from legacy systems or installed software.
We created a bit of a buzz ourselves too, attending as LiveOps for the first time, rather than Datasquirt who had become regulars at the event. It was exciting to be able to showcase the fully integrated range of voice, social and mobile capability, and talk about how much LiveOps clients enjoy the freedom of ongoing upgrades and pay-as-you-go flexibility, with the comfort of great aftercare.
SVP & CMO
“Welcome to the Social Enterprise” was the main theme of yesterday’s Cloudforce 2012 conference. Marc Benioff covered a variety of categories under this theme during the keynote. One of the categories was customer social network, which revealed a gap in social media communications between companies and their customers. LiveOps is helping to bridge this communication gap by transforming customer interactions in the cloud.
In the past decade, there’s been a major shift in communications. Social Customer Service is now a “must have” and not just a “nice to have.” This was demonstrated by leading-edge company case studies showcased in Marc’s keynote yesterday. Salesforce.com is enabling SMBs to service social customers today. To service social customers on an enterprise scale, however, companies need even more powerful cloud solutions, such as LiveOps Platform and LiveOps Applications, with the following attributes in order to ensure both quantity and quality of service:
- Agent Productivity – Giving enterprises the tools to serve customers right, regardless of how the communication comes in – Email, Chat, Voice, SMS, or Twitter
- Management Oversight / SLA – When managing your workforce, analytics and metrics such as Abandonment Rate, Time to Resolution, and Conversion Rate are key
- Intelligent Routing – Customers can interact in the channels they choose and these interactions are routed to the right agent in the right channel at the right time
- Voice – Regardless of social media channels, people will continue to use the phone as the most personal and immediate way to communicate
When done incorrectly, this has a serious impact on the bottom line as measured by:
- Brand equity
- Customer satisfaction
- Share of wallet
- Loyalty for repeat purchase
- Customer Lifetime Value
I’ll close with this final thought. I believe that the 17,000+ people who attended this conference can’t be wrong: the social enterprise is here. The wait is over. This is true for the customer service contact center. LiveOps’ vision of managing customer interactions in the cloud, no matter what channel the customer chooses, is real. Isn’t it time you bridge the gap with your customers and become a social enterprise, too?
- Marty Beard, President and CEO