April 15, 2013 • By Ann Ruckstuhl
Tags — Angel, brand experience, Cloud Contact Center, consumer experience, contact center, contact center agent, CRM Magazine, customer experience, Customer Service, customer service agent, customer support, Integrated Agent Desktop, LiveOps, LiveOps Engage, mobile crm, multichannel, Nuance, social crm, social customer, Social Media, Voxeo
I recently had the pleasure of speaking at a roundtable event hosted by CRM Magazine on the topic “How To Build A Multichannel Support Environment.” During this time, my fellow participants, Voxeo, Angel, Nuance, and I discussed the need for brands to address their customers across all of their preferred communications channels, as well as what was needed to build a multichannel support environment.
Generation Y is the fastest growing audience and, according to a study conducted by Harris Interactive and LiveOps, Gen Y prefers to have multiple avenues available to them to connect with a brand. Although, at present, voice and email are the dominant methods of communication, chat, social media – Facebook and Twitter – and text are quickly gaining momentum. Today, this “trend” is quickly becoming the reality, and brands must comply by integrating multiple channels into their customer service platforms.
While today’s contact centers may claim to be multichannel, they are frequently segmented. Agents must toggle between several screens – five on average, but sometimes upwards of 50 – to find customer information and history, as well as the channel in which to communicate with the customer. Agents estimated they wasted 26 percent of their time searching for relevant data across different systems for each customer. Furthermore, the majority of agents work remotely, which translates to a multiple password nightmare. This work environment quickly becomes hell for an agent – “Alt-Tab Hell,” that is.
The most enthralling part of the webinar for me was when we broached the topic of the integrated agent desktop because this is a must for every brand that wants to do customer service well. This tool rescues agents from “Alt-Tab Hell” and provides them with all of the tools they need to serve customers efficiently and effectively. Agents now have quick and easy access to customer information and history, as well as the ability to pivot seamlessly from one communication channel to the next. An agent can instantly take a conversation offline and out of a public forum, such as Twitter or Facebook, to continue serving the customer on a private channel, such as phone – customers’ #1 preferred channel.
An integrated social, multichannel agent desktop empowers agents, which can lead to an estimated 50 percent increase in productivity, as well as 50 percent improvement in first call resolution and a 10 percent decrease in agent attrition. The result is cost savings for the brand on multiple levels.
In the end, it all comes down to this: A Better Agent Experience = A Better Customer Experience = Better Customer Lifetime Value. This truly is the formula for customer success. All you have to do is say goodbye to Alt-Tab Hell and hello to a social, multichannel solution. How can this be done? Here are five key steps you can take to help build a multichannel support environment for your brand:
- Understand your customers’ journey across multichannel touch points
- Re-align processes and skill sets to optimize customer experience
- Build the business case and strategy roadmap
- Arm agents and managers with the right cloud technology and tools
- Measure. Optimize. Repeat.
- Ann Ruckstuhl, SVP and CMO, LiveOps
March 18, 2013 • By Ann Ruckstuhl
Tags — brand experience, Cloud Contact Center, consumer experience, contact center, contact center agent, customer experience, Customer Service, customer service agent, customer support, Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, Integrated Agent Desktop, LiveOps, LiveOps Engage, mobile crm, multichannel, social crm, social customer, Social Media
It’s been said that what you see and hear depends a great deal on where you’re standing. In customer service, there are three players involved – the agent, customer and brand. As the provider of the first integrated, multichannel desktop, it’s essential to examine these three perspectives to better understand the state of customer service today.
- Happy Agents Equal Happy Customers: 92% of consumers report that an agent’s perceived “happiness” impacts their brand experience.
Agent happiness affects a customer’s experience, which affects brand loyalty. Most agents we spoke with believe they could increase productivity by 50% through an integrated multichannel agent desktop.
- Integrating Social Channels on the Desktop Is a Requirement: 85% of consumers feel that how a brand handles issues on their website or social channels is a good indicator of their quality of support.
Thanks to social media and mobile devices, customers are publicly communicating with brands more frequently. Agents need to be up to speed on all relevant customer interactions, meaning integrated channels on their desktop is key.
- Most Brands Fail to Provide Consistent Service Across Multiple Channels: 89% of consumers believe it’s important to be able to communicate with companies through any channel and still receive the same quality of response. However, 61% of social media users feel that brands failed to communicate with them effectively on these channels.
Through a multichannel desktop, agents can pivot seamlessly between channels, delivering a smooth, efficient experience.
- Live Agent Service, Regardless of Channel, Is Preferred Over Self-service: 90% of customers value the ability to communicate with a live person on any channel.
No matter what curveball technology throws at us, it’s doubtful person-to-person interactions will be replaced. Consumers appreciate ‘live’ channels for the perceived immediacy of resolution.
As a company deeply rooted in customer service for more than a decade, it was imperative for LiveOps to embark on this research initiative to understand the needs of the agent, customer and brand. In turn, we received priceless information to help design best-in-class contact center technology, such as LiveOps Engage. We are using this research to continue forward momentum, knowing what is needed to accomplish better customer service in this new era.
For more information on LiveOps Research, visit: www.liveops.com/liveopsresearch.
- Ann Ruckstuhl, SVP and CMO, LiveOps
March 05, 2013 • By Ann Ruckstuhl
Tags — Cloud Contact Center, contact center, contact center agent, customer experience, Customer Service, customer support, Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, Hypatia Research, Information Management, Integrated Agent Desktop, Justin Kern, Leslie Ament, LiveOps, LiveOps Engage, social crm, social customer, Social Media
It was once said, the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra. This saying holds true when it comes to the new era of customer service we’ve entered into.
The other day, I ran across an article on Information Management’s website that harkened me back to an issue we were addressing last year. The title of the article – “Social Monitoring Minus Interaction Misses Out on Potential” – first caught my attention because it’s hard to believe that most brands are still stuck in the “convincing” stage of social customer service. Here at LiveOps, we are in 100% agreement with Senior Editor Justin Kern’s statement on the importance of moving past social media monitoring, but why are brands so slow to engage on social media?
In his article, Kern references a report from Hypatia Research Group that found only 246 out of the 1,100 global organizations surveyed had social media software for customer service that enabled them to go beyond social media customer monitoring. Leslie Ament of Hypatia Research states that while the anecdotal information social media monitoring provides may be interesting, “if I were a CMO and I had to report to the board on why I spent six-figures on a social media monitoring system, I probably would not have my job for very long.”
What’s missing is the ROI from social customer service. What will it take to convince companies to move beyond investing in simple monitoring tools and truly recognize the benefits of a solution that provides advanced customer engagement features? If a customer compliment or complaint via phone doesn’t fall on deaf ears, why should a Tweet – especially when that Tweet plays into ROI in that it carries three times more viral word-of-mouth (WOM) influence than a phone call (source: American Express)? CMOs must recognize that social customer service ROI will be realized when they partner with customer service and contact centers across people, process and technology.
Case in point: A recent joint study conducted by LiveOps and Dr. Natalie Petouhoff evaluated three companies, the challenges they faced when it came to customer service, and the ROI on using an integrated agent desktop with native social customer service engagement capabilities. The end result? Agent productivity increased 25% to 50%. Agent “happiness” or agent “experience” improved 25% to 50%. First contact resolution, average interaction handling time, customer churn and customer lifetime value (CLTV) all improved significantly. One company estimated $8M in incremental profit a year based on agent productivity savings and incremental revenue associated with turning negative WOM into positive customer experiences and increased CLTV from proactive social engagement. That ROI speaks volumes!
So how can your company go from ordinary to extraordinary? It’s simple. Keep up with your customers, not only by going where they go, but also by engaging with them there. Become an extraordinary company by going that extra mile. I encourage you to visit our website to find out more about how you can leverage LiveOps to deliver extraordinary social, cross-channel customer service: www.liveops.com/engage.
Don’t just listen. Engage!
February 19, 2013 • By Maynard Webb
Tags — cloud, Cloud Computing, Cloud Contact Center, contact center, contact center agent, customer experience, Customer Service, Integrated Agent Desktop, LiveOps, LiveOps Engage, maynard webb, Mobile Business, Social Business, Support Agent, Workplace
I’m convinced this is one of the most exciting times in the history of work – and one of the best times for anyone to enter the workforce. The old ways of working, which may have led previous generations to success, no longer guarantee the same results. The world is changing. How we work in this world must change with it. We must adopt and adapt to the emerging technologies and techniques. It’s not just a better way – rebooting work is essential for the new era we live in.
The cloud, in particular, has transformed how we conduct business—in both our professional and personal lives. Because of cloud, the world is connected unlike ever before. While efficiency, cost and speed are the most frequently identified advantages of the cloud, the greatest advantage is the speed with which you can innovate once there.
LiveOps, for example, exemplifies cloud innovation. This is a company that has been developing cloud technology long before cloud was even “cool.” LiveOps has been a true cloud company from day one. And recently, with the launch of LiveOps Engage, they’ve leveraged their cloud experience and customer service expertise to create a tool that is transforming how an entire industry works.
The decades’ old call center industry doesn’t have the right tools to enable contact center agents to successfully interact with today’s cloud-enabled, social and mobile consumers. LiveOps Engage is the right tool. By arming agents with an integrated, multichannel desktop and access to historical customer information all in one screen, agents are able to perform faster and with greater accuracy on any channel—social, mobile, traditional voice, email, and chat. They’re happier about their ability to do a job well. And statistics show that 96% of customers who believe the agent they’re interacting with is happy, have a significantly better customer experience. Happy agents equal happy customers which equal happy companies. Everybody wins.
The most important tool in the industry—the agent desktop—has received a much needed makeover to empower employees to work better, faster, smarter. LiveOps is rebooting work in the contact center industry.
Cloud applications, such as GoToMeeting, Google Docs, salesforce.com and now LiveOps Engage, are prime examples of how cloud innovators are rebooting work to help fix problems in long-standing industries that have antiquated technology. This is essential for any employee, in any industry.
The opportunity in front of us is exciting. It’s inspiring. And it’s going to continue. All you have to do is embrace the power of technology, not only to improve the way you work, but also the way your company works.
How has the cloud changed the way you live and work? Check out this video for more information on Rebooting Work in the Cloud: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_l3cT4GZ-7Q.
- Maynard Webb, Chairman of LiveOps (former CEO) and board member of salesforce.com and Yahoo! Previously he was the COO of eBay. Maynard’s first book, Rebooting Work: Transform How You Work in the Age of Entrepreneurship, released on January 29, 2013, is a New York Times’ Best Seller.
January 30, 2013 • By Marty Beard
Tags — Cloud Contact Center, contact center, customer experience, Customer Service, Engage, Engagement, Geoffrey Moore, LiveOps Engage, Social Engagement, Social Media
This week’s breakthrough announcement of LiveOps Engage reminds me of an interesting article I recently came across on LinkedIn by Geoffrey Moore, high-technology author, speaker and consultant. Moore discusses the new word that will dominate business dialog – engagement.
Engagement is an action that today’s consumers are demanding, brands are looking to monetize and digital resources are constantly changing. This hot topic will surely influence 2013 success metrics by measuring and encouraging better engagement with three groups: consumers, the workforce and brand marketing. At LiveOps, our 2013 goal is the same – leverage our 10+ years of expertise in enabling customer service engagement to assist all of these groups in engaging with each other in a better, faster, simpler way.
Responding to and engaging with consumers is one of the most critical cross-functional processes in any company – spanning social, mobile and traditional communications channels. Although today’s brands are focused on “engaging” with consumers on some level, most of them are not doing it well or at all on some channels. LiveOps’ consistent focus on customer service engagement enables us to continue informing and transforming how brands and agents engage with customers on any channel of choice.
To start, we have pulled together a list of the top three benefits of engaging with consumers:
With advancements in communication technology and infrastructure over the past several years, the ability to interact with brands and their employees has been dramatically extended. The every-day consumer has a direct line to their favorite (or least favorite) companies’ business pages or feeds from anywhere and at any time. In turn, companies have more channels with which to reach consumers and foster positive engagement.
In most retail environments, customer service is the only factor that turns a one-time customer into a repeat customer. Businesses are looking at customer retention numbers as the benchmark for effective customer service. We all know, these customer relationships thrive best with faster, more consistent engagement.
Above anything else, brand engagement with consumers brings a sense of community, a small-business feel to a large corporation and the type of personal attention that a customer needs for them to feel valued.
With LiveOps Engage, we’re providing a must-have tool for companies to create better, faster, consistent customer experiences. As we maintain our commitment to transforming how brands and customer service agents engage with consumers, we hope that this year’s business buzzword and LiveOps Engage are only just the beginning of a great 2013.
- Marty Beard, President and CEO, LiveOps
January 17, 2013 • By Ann Ruckstuhl
Tags — Call center, Cloud application, Cloud Contact Center, contact center, customer experience, Customer Service, LiveOps, LiveOps Platform, Network Computing, Network Computing Awards
We are honored to be nominated as a finalist for the Network Computing Awards 2013 in the category of Contact Centre Product of the Year! Now, we’re asking for your help to bring us through to the finish line! That’s right, the winner is determined by people’s choice. We hope you’ll take a few minutes to vote for the LiveOps Platform through this online poll.
The Network Computing Awards were set up to recognize the solutions and the companies that have been most impressive in helping organizations function better and utilize their networks to the best advantage. The effectiveness of an organization depends, to a large degree, on the performance of its network. How fast does it run? How much downtime does it experience? How well does it cope with running an increasing number of applications and storing an increasing amount of data? How secure is it? It’s fair to say that managing a network (or a contact centre) is a challenging job, so we’re thrilled that the LiveOps Platform was named a finalist for this prestigious award.
Battle-tested for 10+ years by thousands of agents, the LiveOps Platform combines a cloud contact centre platform and applications with proven best practices to deliver:
- Low Up-front Costs
- Rapid Deployment
- Location Independence for geographically distributed workforce
- Speed, Control, and Flexibility
The winners for the Network Computing Awards are selected through the online poll, so please share this poll with your friends and followers and be sure to vote for LiveOps as the Contact Centre Product of the Year!
- Ann Ruckstuhl, SVP and CMO, LiveOps
Recent Visit to the UK Begs the Question: How Do We Make Citizen-to-Government Interactions More Social?
Earlier this year, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, launched the United Kingdom’s Civil Service Reform Plan in which “digital by default” is a central theme for making public services more efficient by 2014. We’re honored to be a part of enabling this change. Technology from LiveOps has played a key role in transforming the communication choices in UK public service organizations, such as the Wokingham Borough Council and Royal Mail. The demand to deliver customer service better, faster and more efficiently has increased across the board. Over a third of UK citizens have already engaged with brands via social media. Now they are demanding even more communication choices, such as phone, e-mail, chat and even SMS.
Last week, we had the opportunity to attend two prominent UK customer service events – Excellence in Customer Service: Supporting Quality Public Services and Ovum Customer Experience Management Forum. At both events, I was able to address best practices for social and mobile customer service in public service organizations, as well as the changing customer service landscape in the UK.
In my keynote at the Excellence in Customer Service conference, I covered a number of topics regarding citizen-to-government exchanges and the increase in interactions within the social and mobile sphere. I also posed the question: constituents are discussing citizen programs and services on social and mobile channels, but is the government listening, monitoring and engaging with their constituents? I highlighted two of our lighthouse customers – Wokingham Borough Council and Royal Mail – that have effectively engaged with customers via new social and mobile communications channels. Both organizations have successfully transformed from the traditional to cross-channel customer service contact centres, allowing them to increase customer satisfaction, productivity and cost effectiveness. Wokingham Borough Council, despite being the worst funded unitary authority in the UK last year, achieved a 96 percent rating in the Top 50 Contact Centres for Customer Service and was named the number one council for the second year running. By implementing cross-channel customer support with LiveOps, Wokingham was able to gain productivity and deliver more services without increasing staffing.
UK public organizations are in the process of innovating their people, processes and use of technology to deliver better customer service. The public service sector has between 12 and 18 months to evolve their legacy infrastructure to an agile, multichannel platform. LiveOps is well positioned to help them with this evolution.
Every day through the LiveOps Platform and LiveOps Applications, we are helping enterprise and government organizations bridge the social divide with the tools they need to communicate directly with their customers via the social media channels they love. Implementing cross-channel customer service is leading a transformation in the way government organizations communicate with their customers.
September 21, 2012 • By Ann Ruckstuhl
Tags — CIO, cloud, Cloud Contact Center, CMO, Consumerization of IT, contact center, customer experience, Customer Service, Dreamforce, IT, LiveOps, Marc Benioff, New Era of CRM, salesforce, salesforce.com, Social, Social Revolution
A hot topic at salesforce.com’s Dreamforce conference this week was the impact of the Social Revolution on the roles of chief marketing officers (CMO) and chief information officers (CIO). Now, more than ever, these two department heads need to work together to address and accept how technology and social tools are shaping companies, their customers, and the relationship that links them.
I had the opportunity to join the session “Focus on the Customer: The Colliding Worlds of the CMO & CIO” with other CMOs and CIOs. I joined co-panelists John Dunn, CIO, GE Healthcare; Douglas Menefee, CIO, Schumacher Group; and Catherine Hernandez-Blades, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Flextronics to discuss the speed of social marketing and how it is creating unprecedented demands on CIOs to support the CMO and vice versa. Their responsibilities must be updated to align with new IT and the demands of customers and employees to communicate via social channels. As these technologies and demands come about, CMOs and CIOs will increasingly find themselves working together to create a better outcome for the company and their customers. As I mentioned during the session, the consumerization of IT, and most recently the growth of cloud, has created the need for a new breed of CMOs. A Gartner study recently predicted that CMOs will spend more on technology than CIOs by 2017, and I believe we’re going to start seeing more CMOs owning operations and technology functions while CIOs become advisers to them. Together, CMOs and CIOs can establish the perfect Ying/Yang relationship that will enable them to usher their company into the Social Revolution.
Watch the video for a quick recap on my participation in the session, and stay tuned next week for a wrap-up post on key trends and takeaways from Dreamforce!
- Ann Ruckstuhl, Chief Marketing Officer, LiveOps
“Touch the Social Enterprise” is the theme around this week’s cloud computing event of the year – Dreamforce 2012. With four days of breakout sessions, exhibitions, and CRM success stories, Dreamforce is a must attend event for those in the industry. Enabling the social enterprise to excel at customer service is exactly what we’ve been focused on this year, so it’s no surprise that you will find us at Salesforce.com’s largest event. In between attending sessions, leading sessions, and demoing the LiveOps Platform and LiveOps Applications, we will stress how social customer service has become a necessity for brands. This is why we are ushering in a new era to CRM, and, as always, we’re proud to support Salesforce.com’s contact center.
We have a number of activities going on at Dreamforce this week, including three speaking sessions. Today, at 3:30 p.m. in Moscone West, 3020, our Chief Marketing Officer, Ann Ruckstuhl, will speak to the session “Focus on the Customer: The Colliding Worlds of the CMO & CIO.” Ann and other panelists will participate in a lively discussion about the speed of social marketing and how it is creating unprecedented demands on CIOs to support the CMO. Attendees will learn best practices on how the marketing and IT teams can rally around the customer in creating social apps for awareness, conversion, and loyalty.
At the same time, in the Expo Hall – Partner Theater 2, our CTO, Cloud Platform and Telephony, Keith McFarlane, will speak on “Enhancing Social CRM with Contact Center Technologies.” He will discuss how modern contact center technologies multiply the value of social CRM by amplifying its reach across multiple communications channels. In this session, Keith will touch on the best practices for developing web callback, social pivot, and bulk contact center data administration apps. Keith will also be giving an interactive demo using the LiveOps cloud Contact Center Platform.
We will conclude our speaking participation with a breakout session on the “Dynamic Customer Journey: A New Age of Customer Service” on Thursday, September 20 at 10:30 a.m. at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis – Foothill G. Jeremiah Owyang, Altimeter Group, Partner & Industry Analyst; Sarah Barrow, Wokingham Borough Council, Head of Customer Service & Administration; and Stefan Osthaus, Symantec, VP, Customer Experience will ask the question: Is social media killing your brand? This session – for CRM, marketing, and customer service practitioners – will be led by Jeremiah Owyang and will provide real world experiences and solutions from Symantec and a UK Government visionary. They will discuss how customers are evolving, lessons learned, and best practices for managing the dynamic customer journey.
You can also catch us at booth #1321 where we will provide demos of the LiveOps Platform and LiveOps Applications, including LiveOps Social. Additionally, Salesforce.com is showing their live call center powered by LiveOps on the expo floor in their Campground area.
And, if you’re feeling really engaging, follow us on Twitter and stay up to date on ways your brand can bridge the gap with your customers and touch the social enterprise!
We have enjoyed our recent collaborative efforts with prominent social strategist and evangelist, Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, and today, we strengthened our partnership with her even further. At CRM Evolution 2012 in New York City, I was fortunate to host a session with her on “Social Customer Service: The Pivotal Driver of the Social Enterprise.”
At the beginning of the session, we asked the audience a question that many companies ask themselves: Who actually owns social media? Is it the marketing, PR, sales, or communication department? We followed that question up with more questions: What if those departments worked together in identifying, engaging with, and retaining social customers? And what if the customer service department was the driver of the social customer? LiveOps, itself, challenges customer service to take the lead in creating a cross-functional team to turn social customer service into a strategic asset and differentiator for the company.
My colleague, Sanjay Mathur, stated in his last blog post that in order for organizations to take on this radically new breed of customer – the social customer – they, too, need to make a radical change. That change is collaboration. Internal teams must work together, more now than ever before, to deliver customer service the way customers want it. This means marketing, PR, sales, and communication departments need to coordinate effectively with customer support to ensure customer issues are managed properly. In turn, customer support needs to make sure they are tightly integrated with the influx of customer feedback on social channels. If the relationship between departments is efficient, and they are armed with the right technology and process to work together to manage customer interactions residing in the contact center, customers become happier and the company becomes happier.