Customer Priorities – Mature vs Emerging Economies

5/5 (3)

5/5 (3)

In the Top 5 Customer Experience Trends for 2020 Ecosystm Principal Advisors, Tim Sheedy and Audrey William say that emerging Asia will catch up with the mature economies of the world in their customer obsession. Have emerging economies really embraced Customer Experience (CX) fully or are they just responding to the hype? Do consumers really care about how they connect with brands or do organisations think product offerings is the main differentiator? The business priorities of global organisations reveal that there is a universal focus on improving CX (Figure 1). It is the top business priority across emerging and mature economies, though mature economies are still ahead in their customer focus. Organisations in emerging economies prioritise revenue growth and improving Employee Experience (EX) more than those in mature economies.

 

Delivering Better CX – The Challenges

Whether these organisations can actually fulfill their CX goals, depends on what their key challenges are. In the end, what consumers want is a consistent CX – across multiple channels and touchpoints. Organisations in emerging economies seem to find it more challenging to drive a more consistent CX (Figure 2). Information siloes are a challenge across all organisations. But organisations in mature economies cite training of their agents as their biggest challenge.

A desire to improve CX must be backed with both vision and budget. The vision should be for the entire organisation to have a single source of truth – not just for the employees – but also a common source of truth that is accessible easily and consistently by customers, across multiple channels. Without this, customer self-service measures will be inadequate. Increasingly customers will want to engage with brands when they want to (very often beyond working hours), how they want to (avoid lengthy voice calls) and where they want to (web and mobile apps). Interoperability of enterprise systems and a robust knowledge base are important factors.

 

How do Organisations Improve Service Delivery?

If we compare the top CX measures by organisations in mature and emerging economies, we notice a clear difference in priority. In mature economies, organisations appear to have a clear roadmap. They focus on the customers first; followed by empowering the staff to perform their jobs better; invest in technology that will enable both; work on process optimisation; and finally set KPIs and metrics to evaluate the efficacy of the CX measures in place.  Also, what they are increasingly doing is setting CX KPIs across the entire organisation – involving all stakeholders. A customer-focused business is one where everything is second to the customers and that should be built firmly into the organisational culture.

In emerging economies, organisations do not appear to follow a clear roadmap in their CX measures. While self-service is an important aspect of their CX programs, they are more tied down by improving their customer service staff capabilities. They are more challenged by high staff turnover (Figure 2) and appear to be focused on their employees in multiple ways – hiring experts, improving EX and investing in staff training. What they do far less than their counterparts from mature economies is setting organisation-wide CX KPIs.

Web apps are still the most important self-service CX touchpoint, followed by mobile apps. However, emerging economies are ahead when it comes to the importance they place on mobile apps for CX. This is reflective of the high mobile penetration in emerging economies, and the propensity to use mobile devices for all transactions – social and business.

We have seen that organisations in mature economies set CX KPIs more consistently. What are the top CX metrics and are there any differences based on the maturity of the economy (Figure 4)?

Organisations in emerging economies, continue to be more concerned about attracting and retaining employees. In fact, when asked about their security concerns, these organisations cite agents leaving with data as the key challenge. In mature economies, the key security challenge is improper use of confidential customer data, which can be handled best by continued staff training. In emerging economies, while organisations measure individual areas such as average call duration and first contact resolution, they do not measure customer satisfaction, in its entirety, using CSat scores, for instance. Organisations in mature economies are better at setting KPIs for their CX initiatives and tying them down to outcomes beyond the customer service teams – such as sales and adherence to compliance requirements.

 

Organisations in mature economies are focused on CX, but to become truly customer-obsessed they need to:

  • Evaluate what will enable them to deliver better customer self-service – it is not only about apps, but also about the knowledge base
  • Create a clear CX roadmap, focused on the multiple stakeholders and the technology – the steps have to be focused and not ad-hoc
  • Inculcate customer obsession across the entire organisation – not just the customer-facing teams
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Technology Enabling Digital Transformation in the Telecom Industry

4.8/5 (5)

4.8/5 (5)

The telecommunications industry has long been an enabler of Digital Transformation (DX) in other industries. Now it is time for the industry to transform in order to survive a challenging market, newer devices and networking capabilities, and evolving customer requirements. While the telecom industry market dynamics can be very local, we will see a widespread technology disruption in the industry as the world becomes globally connected.

 

Drivers of Transformation in the Telecom Industry

Remaining Competitive

Nokia Bell Labs expects global telecom operators to fall from 10 to 5 and local operators to fall from 800 to 100, between 2020 and 2025. Simultaneously, there are new players entering the market, many leveraging newer technologies and unconventional business models to gain a share of the pie. While previous DX initiatives happened mostly at the periphery (acquiring new companies, establishing disruptive business units), operators are now focusing on transforming the core – cost reduction, improving CX, capturing new opportunities, and creating new partner ecosystems – in order to remain competitive. There is a steady disaggregation in the retail space, driving consolidation in traditional network business models.

“The telecom industry is looking at gradual decline from traditional services and there has been a concerted effort in reducing costs and introducing new digital services,” says Ecosystm Principal Advisor, Shamir Amanullah. “Much of the telecom industry is unfortunately still associated with the “dumb pipe” tag as the over-the-top (OTT) players continue to rake in revenues and generate higher margins, using the telecom infrastructure to provide innovative services.”

 

Bringing Newer Products to Market

Industries and governments have shifted focus to areas such as smart energy, Industry 4.0, autonomous driving, smart buildings, and remote healthcare, to name a few. In the coming days, most initial commercial deployments will centre around network speed and latency. Technologies like GPON, 5G, Wifi 6, WiGig, Edge computing, and software-defined networking are bringing new capabilities and altering costs.

Ecosystm’s telecommunications and mobility predictions for 2020, discusses how 5G will transform the industry in multiple ways. For example, it will give enterprises the opportunity to incorporate fixed network capabilities natively to their mobility solutions, meaning less customisation of enterprise networking. Talking about the opportunity 5G gives to telecom service providers, Amanullah says, “With theoretical speeds of 20 times of 4G, low latency of 1 millisecond and a million connections per square kilometre, the era of mobile Internet of Everything (IoE) is expected to transform industries including Manufacturing, Healthcare and Transportation. Telecom operators can accelerate and realise their DX, as focus shifts to solutions for not just consumers but for enterprises and governments.”

 

Changing Customer Profile

Amanullah adds, “Telecom operators can no longer offer “basic” services – they must become customer-obsessed and customer experience (CX) must be at the forefront of their DX goals.” But the real challenge is that their traditional customer base has steadily diverged. On the one hand, their existent retail customers expect better CX – at par with other service providers, such as the banking sector. Building a customer-centric capability is not simple and involves a substantial operational and technological shift.

On the other hand, as they bring newer products to market and change their business models, they are being forced to shift focus away from horizontal technologies and connecting people – to industry solutions and connecting machines. As their business becomes more solution-based, they are being forced to address their offerings at new buying centres, beyond IT infrastructure and Facilities. Their new customer base within organisations wants to talk about a variety of managed services such as VoIP, IoT, Edge computing, AI and automation.

The global Ecosystm AI study reveals the top priorities for telecom service providers, focused on adopting emerging technologies (Figure 1). It is very clear that the top priorities are driving customer loyalty (through better coverage, smart billing and competitive pricing) and process optimisation (including asset maintenance).

 

 

Technology as an Enabler of Telecom Transformation

Several emerging technologies are being used internally by telecom service providers as they look towards DX to remain competitive. They are transforming both asset and customer management in the telecom industry.

 

IoT & AI

Telecom infrastructure includes expensive equipment, towers and data centres, and providers are embedding IoT devices to monitor and maintain the equipment while ensuring minimal downtime. The generators, meters, towers are being fitted with IoT sensors for remote asset management and predictive maintenance, which has cost as well as customer service benefits. AI is also unlocking advanced network traffic optimisation capabilities to extend network coverage intelligently, and dynamically distribute frequencies across users to improve network experience.

Chatbots and virtual assistants are used by operators to improve customer service and assist customers with equipment set-up, troubleshooting and maintenance. These AI investments see tremendous improvement in customer satisfaction. This also has an impact on employee experience (EX) as these automation tools free workforce from repetitive tasks and they be deployed to more advanced tasks.

Telecom providers have access to large volumes of customer data that can help them predict customer usage patterns. This helps them in price optimisation and last-minute deals, giving them a competitive edge. More data is being collected and used as several operators provide location-based services and offerings.

In the end, the IoT data and the AI/Analytics solutions are enabling telecom service providers to improve products and solutions and offer their customers the innovation that they want.  For instance, Vodafone partnered with BMW to incorporate an in-built SIM that enables vehicle tracking and provides theft protection. In case of emergencies, alerts can also be sent to emergency services and contacts. AT&T designed a fraud detection application to look for patterns and detect suspected fraud, spam and robocalls. The system looks for multiple short-duration calls from a single source to numbers on the ‘Do Not Call’ registry. This enables them to block calls and prevent scammers, telemarketers and identity theft issues.

 

Cybersecurity

Talking about the significance of increasing investments in cybersecurity solutions by telecom service providers, Amanullah says, “Telecom operators have large customer databases and provide a range of services which gives criminals a great incentive to steal identity and payment information, damage websites and cause loss of reputation. They have to ramp up their investment in cybersecurity technology, processes and people. A telecom operator’s compromised security can have country-wide, and even global consequences. As networks become more complex with numerous partnerships, there is a need for strategic planning and implementation of security, with clear accountability defined for each party.”

One major threat to the users is the attack on infrastructure or network equipment, such as routers or DDoS attacks through communication lines. Once the equipment has been compromised, hackers can use it to steal data, launch other anonymous attacks, store exfiltrated data or access expensive services such as international phone calls. To avoid security breaches, telecom companies are enhancing cybersecurity in such devices. However, what has become even more important for the telecom providers is to actually let their consumers know the security features they have in place and incorporate it into their go-to-market messaging. Comcast introduced an advanced router to monitor connected devices, inform security threats and block online threats to provide automatic seamless protection to connected devices.

 

Blockchain

Blockchain can bring tremendous benefits to the telecom industry, according to Amanullah. “It will undeniably increase security, transparency and reduce fraud in areas including billing and roaming services, and in simply knowing your customer better. With possibilities of 5G, IoT and Edge computing, more and more devices are on the network – and identity and security are critical. Newer business models are expected, including those provided for by 5G network slicing, which involves articulation in the OSS and BSS.”

Blockchain will be increasingly used for supply chain and SLA management. Tencent and China Unicom launched an eSIM card which implements new identity authentication standards. The blockchain-based authentication system will be used in consumer electronics, vehicles, connected devices and smart city applications.

 

Adoption of emerging technologies for DX may well be the key to survival for many telecom operators, over the next few years.

2
The top 5 Customer Experience trends for 2020

5/5 (2)

5/5 (2)

Increasingly organisations are looking to improve customer and employee experience over other traditional metrics such as growing revenue or reducing costs. Organisations are transitioning from business metrics to customer experience (CX) ones, and  employing CX leaders. 2020 will see many businesses make significant breakthroughs in improving the CX.

The top 5 Customer Experience trends for 2020

Here are the top 5 CX trends and the related technology markets in 2020.  It draws on the latest data from the global Ecosystm CX Study that is live and ongoing on the Ecosystm platform and based on qualitative analyses by Ecosystm Principal Advisors Tim Sheedy and Audrey William.

  1. Asia will Catch up with North America and ANZ in Customer Obsession

Many Asian economies – particularly those in Southeast Asia – have not needed to focus too much on CX. The proportion of businesses starting to map customer journeys is accelerating, and there is a growing focus on making those journeys easier, more effective and more enjoyable. We are seeing this play out in the levels of interest in – and deployment of – cloud contact centres. Australia and New Zealand have been leading the deployments in the last two years. Deploying cloud and using machine learning and AI at the core to understand how to deliver personalised CX is part of a wider CX strategy for several organisations.

In 2020 we expect large organisations in Southeast Asia and North Asia to transform their CX and contact centre capabilities and make the move to cloud-based contact centre environments.

  1. CX Initiatives will Dovetail with Broader Digital Ones

Many businesses have taken a bimodal IT approach to their technology platforms – driving customer-centric changes at pace while keeping their back-end systems slow. In the drive to make the entire business fast and innovative, these back-end systems are being modernised. But over 90% of businesses have not yet seen a customer or business benefit from this digital agenda.

This will change in 2020 as more businesses get some competitive advantage from the digital initiatives they are driving inside of their business. This will be driven by the linking of the customer-centric technology initiatives with the back-end ones. This means that customer applications will be infused with data and analytics from other systems, making them smarter and increasing the potential for automation and AI to drive down costs and increase personalisation and customisation.

  1. Hyper-personalisation will Move from Concept to Reality – Powered by Customer Journey Analytics

The idea of creating unique experiences for each customer has been discussed for years – but few businesses are really doing it today. 2020 will see businesses outside of the top 5% experiment and deploy hyper-personalised CX. It will move from the top web brands to mass market as more companies invest in automation, predictive analytics and AI.

But hyper-personalisation is not possible without Customer Journey Analytics. Businesses need to understand the end-to-end journey of each customer to understand how to personalise it. Therefore, Customer Journey Analytics will take centre-stage in 2020. The challenge for years has been that customer teams have focused on the traditional inbound and outbound interaction with the customer. Brands now need to understand and personalise the experience before the customer interacts with the brand and after they are done interacting with the brand. The ability to apply machine learning and AI to offer insights to predict the movement and journey of the customer will be a significant focus – and challenge – for customer teams. Customer Journey Analytics will allow brands to deliver that “frictionless” service.

  1. There will be a Renewed Focus on Compliance and Security in CX

With the recent banking royal commission hearings in Australia to GDPR and other global regulations around privacy and customer data handling, customer teams will now have to make sure that all forms of voice and non-voice interactions are monitored close to 100% of the time. Very few customer teams do that today and are at risk of non-compliance. As monitoring can be labour intensive, there will be a need for organisations to invest in analytics and AI applications around compliance and monitoring.

The recording of customer calls means that highly sensitive information could be stored for years and the risk of the contact centre breaching regulatory compliance requirements enhances. Solutions today have various ways to block the recording of key phrases or sections and some solutions apply APIs to the flow of the recording. As soon as the agent enters sensitive information such as credit card details, the recording stops to resume after the sensitive data is blocked or deleted. That way the sensitive conversation is not recorded or heard by anyone monitoring the call. Contact centres must adhere to this strictly, but few do. Businesses also need to know real time if an agent is misinforming the customer. Contact Centre Outsourcers will also have to re-look at how compliant they are and how much they have invested in securing customer data. There will be greater pressure on them to take on greater risks and share the risk burden with their clients.

  1. Businesses will Use AI and Analytics to Measure CX

The drive to improve CX has every business and government department measuring the experience at every opportunity. A one-minute transaction in a store can prompt a five-minute survey asking for feedback. As a consequence, customers are experiencing survey fatigue. Surveys are also not the best way to measure how customers feel after they have interacted with a brand. Already, many will not participate unless there is a discount or incentive, which eats into future margins. Smart businesses will begin to use AI to detect emotions and mood, and analytics to measure experiences.

 


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top 5 Customer Experience Trends for 2020


 

4
Technologies Transforming Customer Experience

5/5 (1)

5/5 (1)

Brands are not built overnight, and today’s customers tend to regard a brand’s worth by the innovativeness of the products and services and by the customer experience (CX). CX is by no means a new concept but has gained significance and organisations focus on ways to stand out from the competition and drive deeper engagement with their customers. In today’s ‘Experience’ economy CX is key to attracting new customers and retaining the ones the firms already have and cuts across the entire organisation – vertical marketing, strategy, product development or technology. Every business today needs to ‘delight’ its customers – offer a substandard experience and your brand might not survive long.

The global Ecosystm CX study discovered that improving CX is a key business priority for over 70% of organisations across industries – even in industries that are not considered customer-focused. These organisations were also asked why driving a consistent CX was challenging.

Challenges of CX

 

The key challenges boil down to managing the different stakeholders within the organisation – giving visibility and knowledge on all product offerings; managing the siloes created by each department and; in the end not being able to provide customers with one single source of truth. While many of these challenges are business-related, technology can be a key contributor to enhancing CX.

 

Technologies that can help you improve CX

There are many technologies that allow organisations to provide better CX, but the key to these technologies is how they collect, classify and provide actions on customer data. This is where AI comes into the picture, and why AI is at the heart of many CX offerings, making sense and aiding in the decision making around customer data.

 

AI-Enabled IoT

AI-enabled IoT devices are helping to enhance Customer Experience. The sensors in IoT devices such as wearables or personal assistants produce data which can be processed to derive useful insights, activity patterns and develop personalised communication. AI is improving the ability to take IoT generated data to personalise and customise actions and communication. For example, customers in gyms and fitness clubs can share their wearables data with their fitness trainers to customise their exercise routine and provide dietary recommendations.

Similarly, cars can be embedded with sensors which assess the users’ driving habits. This can then be used to suggest improvements to driving style or adjust insurance premiums based on how they drive.

Progressive Insurance, for instance, offers its customers discounts based on their driving through its “Snapshot” program. Progressive is using its usage-based-insurance (UBI) telematics programme to monitor how its car insurance customers drive. Using an ODB telematics dongle and machine learning, the insurer is able to judge how a driver is performing on each journey.

 

Location-Based Targeting

With location-based tracking technology and GPS systems on smartphones and devices, more businesses are working to enable and provide geo-location services to customers. This presents opportunities to offer personalised shopping experiences and customised promotions and offers to the customers. Businesses are already using geo-location services to extend offers to customers – such as cinemas and theatres pushing notifications on movie timings and available discounts when customers are in the vicinity.

Location-based services also help to enhance the actual shopping experience. Lowe’s has an app which allows their customers to navigate the large warehouse-like stores, helping them find products faster and easier. The app called The Lowe’s Vision: In-Store Navigation app works using a combination of VR and location-based services.

 

Customer-Centric AR and VR

AR and VR technologies are enhancing the way customers engage with businesses. Companies adopting AR/VR can distinguish themselves from the competition by introducing higher touchpoints and deeply personalised experiences designed specifically for their customer journey. The retail industry has been at the forefront when it comes to experimenting with AR and VR technologies, in the customer space. Retailers have rolled out applications and services that lets consumers virtually try makeup, clothing, accessories and seek out the best look for them.

Financial institutions are also leveraging AR and VR to build customer-centric solutions for self-service and user training. Citibank worked with a mixed reality technology company to develop a trading platform combining 2D and 3D working environment to extrapolate insights from data. Traders work with hundreds of financial instruments, and with the mixed reality workstation, they can quickly identify market hotspots that they should be focusing on. The consequences – better trades!

 

The hospitality industry is also leveraging AR to improve CX, AR-based menus is a good example.  Various fine dining restaurants have started offering AR based food menus which can display virtual food items and live 3D models of food to accurately represent both the appearance and the serving portion.

Obviously, the entertainment industry will leverage mixed reality to the fullest. For instance, The New York Times leverages VR for storytelling where readers can visualise the events described in some editions of the newspaper. The technology thus allows the description of the setup of a story making the viewers witness an emotional connect with the characters.

 

Voice capabilities for a seamless experience

With the advent of digital voice assistants and voice recognition AI, voice recognition has opened up avenues and opportunities for businesses to enhance the way customers interact with them whether through mobile apps or their call centres.

Nowadays, voice-capable apps enable customers to interact with services very easily. A good example is Starbuck’s My Barista app, which allows customers to order via voice command or messaging. The coffee chain expanded its application by incorporating voice features to boost speed and convenience for placing and processing orders.

 

 

In conclusion, implementing technologies in a business could help businesses change the way the customers see and respond to a business. In addition to this, Improving customer service and using technologies can significantly reduce human inaccuracy, improve employee confidence and rapidly improve the character of a brand. By bridging the gap between a company and its client’s, businesses are becoming CX oriented and are dedicating themselves to enhance CX.

Besides the above, which technologies do you think are beneficial in enhancing your CX?

Let us know in your comments below.

3
Poly: Accelerating Partnerships and Product Innovation

4.9/5 (7)

4.9/5 (7)

Poly’s CEO Joe Burton was in Sydney recently to meet with staff, customers and partners. I had the privilege of interviewing him about the roadmap ahead for the company. Plantronics acquired Polycom for $2 billion at the end of March 2018 and earlier this year at Enterprise Connect, Poly was unveiled as the new brand  – the coming together of Plantronics and Polycom. The company prides themselves on the strong engineering heritage they have across their product portfolio. Poly is playing in a large addressable market and these segments include unified communications (UC), video, headsets and contact centres.

Big news last week – Poly and Zoom partnership

At Zoomtopia last week, Zoom announced purpose-built appliances for their Zoom Rooms conference room system. These appliances are custom developed hardware that lets users gather room intelligence and analytics and will simplify installation and management of large-scale conference room deployments.  One of the major partnerships for this was with Poly. Joe Burton was on stage with Eric Yuan the CEO of Zoom to unveil the Poly Studio X Series – The X30 (for smaller rooms) and the X50 (for midsize conference rooms).

What is promising about this offering is that the whole concept of launching a meeting by connecting to a screen has become simple. In a world where user experience is everything, simplicity and quality are what end-users expect. The Poly Studio X Series are all-in-one video bars  that will simplify the Zoom Rooms experience and will feature Poly Meeting AI capabilities. Some of the features include advanced noise suppression to make it easier to hear human voices while simultaneously blocking out background noise.

For Poly, this is a great partnership given Zoom’s good growth in the Asia Pacific region. Poly is also increasingly deepening their relationships with other major players in the Video and UC market including Microsoft.

Flexible Workspaces and Contact Centres drives the headset market in Asia Pacific 

According to JLL, the flexible space sector in Asia Pacific is expanding rapidly. From 2014 to 2017, flexible space stock across the region recorded a CAGR of 35.7% in Asia Pacific – much higher than in the United States (25.7%) and Europe (21.6%) over the same period. When you consider the changes in the modern workplace which include the rise of open flexible workplaces, remote and home working and the rise of freelancers, providing a seamless experience for the office worker will be important – it should be the same for a contractor as it is for full-time staff.  As we move into more mobile and agile work practices and with the rise of open offices, headsets will play an important role for the office worker. More organisations across Asia are investing in headsets and whilst it may sound simple to just buy the headsets, it is more sophisticated than that. There is no one-size-fits-all headset and IT managers will have to invest in headsets to suit the persona of employees taking into account the role, workload, use of voice and video services and ultimately their comfort level. Vendors in the headset space are heavily investing in easy-to-use features, more automation, deep workflow integration and machine learning to deliver that experience. The opportunity for headsets does not stop there. In the contact centre space as agents spend long hours on calls, designing the right headset with feature rich AI capabilities will go a long way especially for training and coaching.

The one area Burton emphasised on is how AI and analytics is transforming this market and Poly investing in building these features into the headsets.  Some of these examples include:

  • Tracking conversations by using analytics to gain insights into long pauses of silence and “overtalking”. The analytics generated from these insights can help for training and coaching.
  • AI can help track user behaviour patterns related to noise, volume and mute functions. These patterns can be used to detect problems during the call and could lead to possible training sessions for the agents. It is a great mechanism for supervisors to understand and work through where agents are struggling during the call.

Partnerships to expand their reach into the contact centre markets in the Asia Pacific region will be important. The market for contact centres is seeing a big shift and new entrants are making their presence felt in the Asia Pacific region. Poly will need to capitalise on this and expand their partnerships beyond the traditional vendors to expand their footprints across the contact centre markets.

Asia Pacific – an important growth theatre

Poly continues to win and have some large-scale deployments in Japan, China, India, and ANZ. They have also made several strides to develop what is best fit for the local market in terms of user requirements. With a deep understanding of the Chinese market, Poly released the Poly G200 in September this year which is tailor-made for the Chinese users with easy to use and collaborate solutions. The Poly G200 is the first and significant customised product launched in China, after Poly announced their ‘In China, for China’ strategy. This is a logical move given China is an important market and one that presents its own unique business dynamics.

Conclusion

The shift to mobility and the cloud has changed everything and is driving a new level of user experience. The ability to offer the same and frictionless experience when on the desktop, mobile device as well as other applications is what is driving fierce competition in the market. Users get frustrated when they cannot launch a video session instantly or when there is poor quality in audio. These may sound simple but addressing these frustrations are critical. Vendors in the UC, Collaboration and Video space are working hard to make sure that the experience is seamless when they are inside the office, out of the office and when they are working in open plan offices. Ultimately users want their daily office communication and collaboration solutions to work seamlessly and to integrate well into the various workflows such as Microsoft Teams.

On the contact centre front, Digital and AI initiatives are taking centre stage in nearly every conversation I have had with end-users. Company-wide CX strategy and customer journey mapping and analytics are what CX decision makers are talking about most. Poly is addressing that segment of the market by providing quality headsets coupled with AI to help in coaching and training by identifying trends and bridging the training gaps. There are new vendors starting to disrupt the status quo of some of the more traditional vendors in the contact centre market and hence deepening the partnerships with these new vendors in the contact centre space will be important.

Poly has a good addressable market to go after in  unified communications and collaboration with their headsets and extensive range of video solutions. The most important part will be deepening the partnerships with the wide range of vendors in this space and engineering their products to be tightly integrated with their partner ecosystems’. The release of the Studio X series at Zoomtopia is a good example.  I am confident that the road ahead for Poly is promising given the deep engineering capabilities the company invests in and how they are taking their partnerships seriously.

3
Ecosystm Snapshot: Oracle acquires CrowdTwist to strengthen their customer experience portfolio

5/5 (1)

5/5 (1)

Oracle signed an agreement to acquire CrowdTwist,  a leading cloud-native customer loyalty solution provider for businesses. offering personalised customer experience. CloudTwist offers over 100 engagement paths and time-to-value to marketers providing a comprehensive view of the customer.

The news comes less than a month after Oracle and Deloitte Digital partnered to deliver Oracle’s Customer Data Platform (CDP) capabilities following which Oracle also announced updates to their CDP platform Oracle CX Unity, which brings together data from marketing and advertising systems to help organisations deliver experiences across the entire customer journey.

Oracle’s increased focus on CX

Oracle continues to build their CX capabilities, and it is looking to integrate CrowdTwist’s customer loyalty solution with their existing platforms. Commenting on Oracle’s acquisition, Ecosystm Principal Advisor Audrey William said, “CrowdTwist is a leader in the customer loyalty segment and knows how to build loyalty through a deeper data analysis and stickiness with various building blocks across the customer loyalty value chain. We could see Oracle’s services becoming more customer oriented through targeted marketing campaigns and customer journey mappings across the Unity, Eloqua and Responsys platforms.”

To drive the CX journey, organisations of all sizes are seeking management and lifetime value programs. CrowdTwist’s cloud loyalty solution fits into Oracle’s strategy and would offer benefits in support orchestration, derive intelligence on customer loyalty data and provide solutions to use the data for customer retention and marketing campaigns.

“Customer loyalty cannot be easily predicted as one has to analyse how customers are reacting at every touchpoint and how emotionally they are connected with the brand,” said William. “A very basic program will not suffice in this era of CX. Applications of machine learning and AI across the portfolio will help to accurately predict and tailor the best loyalty programs. Customers using Oracle’s Cloud CX portfolio of applications will be able to further analyse the data that has been captured to personalise their marketing campaigns.”

Upon the closure of the acquisition, the CrowdTwist team will join the Oracle Customer Experience (CX) Cloud organisation. This arrangement will help marketers personalise customer engagement and obtain a more thorough view of their loyalty programs.

3
VendorSphere: NICE Interactions – Key Takeaways

5/5 (3)

5/5 (3)

I was a guest last week at the NICE Interactions Summit in Sydney and it was great to hear from executives from NICE talk about the journey the company is taking their customers on. Australia and New Zealand are witnessing good adoption of cloud contact centres and many organisations (as covered in some of previous blogs) are at the inflection point of investing in a cloud contact centre, machine learning, customer journey mapping and predictive analytics technologies to drive greater customer experience (CX).  Across Asia Pacific and in the ASEAN region, more organisations are at the verge of embarking on transformational CX projects to help them raise the bar on CX in a highly competitive environment. We can expect the adoption of cloud contact centres to grow rapidly in the next few years across the Asia Pacific region as companies move from expensive and traditional legacy environments to agile platforms.

Investing in Analytics and Cloud

Darren Rushworth, NICE’s Managing Director APAC, talked about how NICE has moved from being an infrastructure player to become an analytics company and talked about the acquisitions that are helping them alleviate their game in CX. Key acquisitions since 2016 have been instrumental to shaping their offerings and these include Nexidia, an Interaction Analytics software company and InContact, a cloud contact centre vendor. In 2019 NICE acquired Brand Embassy, whose technology brings to CXone a full range of integrated channels, enabling any digital channel to be integrated into customer service operations. In a Mobile First economy where customers want the applications of their choice, allowing customers to use the social media or messaging application of their choice in their contact centre interactions, will be critical. The Brand Embassy platform supports more than 30 channels and these include Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Apple Business Chat, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, SMS, email, and live chat.  This is an important acquisition and not many contact centres have addressed the issue of allowing multiple forms of messaging to be used when customers want to communicate an issue or get answer to a query. Customers are gravitating towards social media platforms and messaging apps for daily communication and being able to integrate those channels to the contact centre is important.

The Move to the Cloud with NICEinContact

It was interesting to hear  Tracy Duthie, Head of Service Development at 2degrees Mobile talk about why they deployed a NICEinContact solution. She talked about 2degrees having too many legacy systems that were not all integrated. The problems with not having the systems integrated drove the team to think hard about embarking on a journey with NICE. The objective was to grow their market share and to drive greater contact centre efficiency. She mentioned that 2degrees were keen on a SaaS option and it was not just about replacing the legacy solution. The move to the cloud as many organisations are starting to tell me, is to drive transformation and further innovation including deploying agile methodologies to deliver great CX. Also because this was a cloud deployment, they invested heavily in the network. This is an important aspect for an organisation when embarking on a cloud journey especially for mission critical applications such as voice, video and collaboration applications where latency and jitter can spoil the experience. Many times, I have heard customers blame the vendor for the technology. For cloud voice, video and other contact centre applications to work well in real time, the investment in the network must not be compromised especially when working on a tight budget. When this aspect is ignored, the problems  discussed early are bound to arise.  She also highlighted how important it was to eventually get the agents on board the new deployment and they adopted an open culture of allowing the agents to provide feedback and an open dialogue was initiated. As this was a big change from when they were running the contact centre in a  traditional environment, the change management aspect was critical for the agents.

Compliance is something that has to be adhered to seriously

Efrat Kanner-Nissimov from NICE presented on driving a proactive compliance culture. This is a highly talked about area in the contact centre, given the  increase in legislation around privacy and all countries having strict legislation around customer data and data privacy. Contact centres store sensitive customer information and knowing when to dispose off that data or for how long the data can be kept is an aspect that cannot be ignored. With what the banks have been through in Australia in recent times with the Royal Commission, serious questions around compliance and how compliant the agents are cannot be ignored. Ecosystm research finds that several organisations fail to identify what could be sensitive information. The journey towards a compliant environment starts with data classification, long before security roadmaps and solution implementations.

There is a greater emphasis on compliance and whilst many contact centres will claim that they have the processes in place, some of these have not been looked at for years. Compliance impacts the IT Manager, the agents, the Supervisor and ultimately the business. An automated compliance solution will help detect violations, prevent errors and allow for better visibility across different systems.  She presented how Macy’s claims to have reduced their infrastructure and storage costs by 40%, through automating and deleting interactions that were no longer required. This helped lower IT costs and reduced time on audits.  With the emphasis today on data privacy, data storage, data deletion and being compliant when you talk to your customers,  the CX agents have a critical role to play in ensuring compliance.

Ecosystm comment:

Organisations across the Asia Pacific region are re-inventing how they look at CX as mentioned in my previous blogs. Banks, airlines, retailers, telcos and organisations from other verticals are investing in projects to drive transformation in CX. Applying deep analytics along every step of a customer’s journey will help the contact centre and the wider organisation better serve customers. The traditional methods of just looking at inbound and outbound interactions and setting KPIs for that, are no longer enough to drive this new vision. Machine learning, customer journey mapping and analytics, as well as shifting to the cloud is needed to drive transformation and agile ways of running  CX.  The Brand Embassy acquisition is an important one for NICE given one of the challenges not addressed by contact centres is integrating the various social and messaging applications and making them available to customers as a way to interact with the brand. This is an area contact centres have been looking to resolve.

In a highly competitive CX market where CRM, analytics, cloud and machine learning technologies are important aspects of a CX journey, NICE is investing in these areas to further strengthen their cloud contact centre value proposition. Compliance as highlighted earlier cannot be ignored and it is an area contact centres will be looking to invest in due to the multiple strict regulations underway across the Asia Pacific region surrounding how customers data is treated.

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The acquisition of CloudCherry will bolster Cisco’s contact centre offerings

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Cisco announced their plans to acquire CloudCherry to bolster their contact centre portfolio. Launched in Chennai in 2014, CloudCherry is a customer experience (CX) management startup that helps organisations understand the various factors influencing CX. CloudCherry has employees in Chennai, Bengaluru, Singapore and Malaysia, besides the US and their team of around 90 employees will join Cisco’s contact centre solution practice as part of the acquisition

Using artificial intelligence (AI) as the underlying solution to CloudCherry’s open API platform allows for various customer data sets from  CRM systems to other communication touchpoints in the contact centre to be analysed in real-time for the organisation to deliver a personalised CX. When agents can understand what is taking place in real-time and when the contact centre team has one integrated point of data injecting analytics, improving the ability to drive greater loyalty and eventually higher revenues.

Some of CloudCherry’s offerings are:

  • Measuring customer journeys. CloudCherry provides the opportunity to follow the customer across 17 different channels, driving contextual real-time conversations with customers on the channels they choose. It is important to understand the micro journeys  – for example, their customer PUMA sells products online and in physical stores and may have two micro journeys in addition to an overall customer journey map for:
    • Online customers
    • In-store customers
    • Blended customers
  • Predictive Analytics. Their predictive engine is based on customer feedback, their actions and their purchasing data. With advanced predictive analytics, CX teams can derive what is needed to increase the ROI.
  • Questionnaire builder. They have the capability to respond to feedback collected from surveys in real-time. There are set conditions for survey questions so that when triggered by customer response, the concerned employee or department is quickly notified regarding it. For instance, when a customer gives a low rating on store cleanliness or staff behaviour, an alert can be immediately sent to the concerned employee to follow up and take corrective action. At the same time, even positive feedback can be noted in order to recognise and reward employees.
  • Sentiment Analysis. This helps organisations tap into machine learning and deep learning to identify customer sentiment associated with open-text responses and brand conversations.

These are just some of the applications and tools the CloudCherry platform offers to their customers.

Leading with data will be critical to driving personalised CX

CX decision-makers and buyers of contact centre and CX technologies have an important role to play in the next few years to look at re-inventing how they view CX. This means re-looking at the ways they have been running contact centres in the traditional way and making investments towards the cloud, machine learning and predictive analytics.

  • By having rich analytics, mobile conversation through the app can be richer. A Mobile-led CX approach is key in today’s world where most people spend hours on a phone.
  • Issues can be prevented before they happen if in-store transactions are monitored and dissatisfied customers can be identified.  The organisation has the ability to reach out to the customer through any touchpoint to mention proactively that they are aware of the issues that just happened and what they can do to help solve the negative experience. Proactive notifications demonstrate how a brand takes it, customers, seriously
  • Leveraging AI as the underlying platform to understand customer behaviour is going to be the next battleground for CX vendors. The challenge so far has been that many organisations have invested in several data and CRM tools from various vendors. When agents have to view customer information, they are dealing with data in an unsynchronised format. This explains why when we contact a contact centre, we sometimes have to repeat ourselves and state the problem we are facing. Or worse than that, the agent has no idea that we had a problem a week ago and spoke to 2 agents. These frustrations are real and still happen today.
  • Contact centre of the future will not be reactive but proactive in helping understand customer sentiment in real-time to make the necessary adjustments and actions needed to solve the issue the customer is facing. The deep analytics platform for CX also means that agents will be empowered with information and bots can be placed to help agents say the right things or make suggestions to customers. The use cases to help deliver personalised CX are enormous.

 

Ecosystm comment

This is an important and good acquisition for Cisco. Cisco has a vast set of customers globally and in the Asia Pacific region in the collaboration, voice and contact centre space. This acquisition marks how they are investing in enhancing their existing contact centre portfolio to use machine learning, cognitive and predictive analytics to alleviate their offerings. The contact centre is a key part of Cisco’s larger collaboration portfolio.

According to the company, Cisco products support more than 30,000 contact centre customers and more than 3 million contact centre agents around the world. Vasili Triant, VP and GM of Cisco Contact Centre solutions mentioned in a blog recently that the acquisition will augment Cisco’s contact centre portfolio with advanced analytics, journey mapping and sophisticated survey capabilities whether their customers are using Webex Contact Centre in the cloud or their hosted and on-premises solutions.

The market for predictive analytics and customer analytics in the contact centre and across the CX segment will be big and we are at the beginning of a new era of organisations using data as the platform to deliver a new way of engaging with customers. CloudCherry offers a CX management platform that uses predictive analytics to derive insights for contact centre agents.  The market for deep analytics is becoming an important area of investment for organisations as a way to decrease customer frustration. It is by applying analytics before, during and after the call that will allow contact centres to deliver a personalised CX as was mentioned in my last blog. This is the reason why a data-driven culture will be key to driving rich outcomes for the contact centre. Contact centres will have to lead with analytics so that every experience across every single touchpoint the customer has with the brand is analysed and observed in real-time. We will see many contact centre vendors and players in the CRM space acquire companies with capabilities like what CloudCherry offers.

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IoT and its significant role in Customer Experience

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Organisations are increasingly focusing on customer experience (CX), and it is overtaking pricing and product development as the key brand differentiator. The global Ecosystm CX study discovered that improving customer satisfaction is the key business priority across industries – even in industries that have not had a traditional focus on customers such as Manufacturing and Construction.

 

IoT is already impacting CX

We should keep in mind that IoT customers are not just those who enjoy the advantages of a Smart Home or the patients that share health and wellness data from wearables and medical devices with medical professionals. IoT customers are also the Maintenance Director of a Manufacturing plant floor, the Field Service technician using a predictive maintenance application, the Purchasing Director, the Marketing Director or the Product Director who use sensor data from connected products around the world in an intuitive and easy-to-use platform to improve usability or to sell more.

IoT can improve CX on multiple counts

Let’s see some examples:

  • The right IoT sensor and actuator can boost customer satisfaction. For instance, by installing intelligent IoT sensors in the physical store environment, retailers can collect contextual data such as sound, temperature, or traffic patterns and will uncover how physical elements of a location correlate to customer satisfaction.
  • IoT devices like wearables or smart home devices with good features improve the quality of life and have revolutionised CX.
  • Effective IoT connectivity management is key to a successful IoT deployment. IoT connectivity enriches communication with customers too. The sensors and IoT devices that are inbuilt into products can feed data back regarding usage patterns and even detect problems. This data can be used to the manufacturer’s advantage allowing them to send across personalised communication to customers.
  • IoT platforms with Artificial Intelligence (AI) components facilitate analysis of the ways customers are interacting with their devices over time, and helps identify frequently and rarely used features, allowing the building of better devices and applications fitted better to customer needs.
  • IoT applications like condition-based monitoring allows the prevention of failures before they occur rather than waiting for problems to arise first. Connected devices can schedule predictive maintenance, detect issues before they debilitate functionality and diagnose problems accurately. When connected to a powerful AI-based workforce-management solution, companies can optimally schedule a technician by balancing skills, asset location, parts, technicians’ locations and traffic.
  • IoT aids CX through faster Customer Service/Customer Support. Intelligent IoT devices itself could communicate an issue to a support team, even if the customer is unaware of one. Based on this information, a support team could then take several pre-emptive actions, which could include either notifying the customer or even rectifying the issue before the customer is affected. IoT sensors may be able to predict problems before they surface. Perhaps a piece of equipment exhibits certain symptoms before it breaks down. If the IoT device could send an alert to an engineer warning them about the potential problem, the equipment could be fixed before the problem leads to any downtime.

Designing an IoT Product Strategy centred around CX

Here are some points points to keep in mind when designing IoT products with a better user experience.

  • The data that you havee gathered from the usage of your products can be used to develop new products. You can figure out what part of your products can be improved upon and then pass on this information to your product development team.
  • Never introduce a User Experience (UX) based functionality that does not comply with the core values that the IoT product aims to provide.
  • Since IoT-enabled devices come equipped with several sensors, they can easily capture loads of data regarding product motion, biometrics, air moisture, temperature, weather, etc. The product should be designed in such a way that the device makes optimum use of this data to learn deeply about the user and start taking smart and automated decisions on its own.
  • Focus on making it easy for the customer to personalise the interface of smart products.
  • Think beyond the usual interfaces that are based around screens. Combine with other technologies like AR, Voice Recognition, etc to obtain the desired output functions.
  • Your IoT device design should make things simpler and not introduce more complexity into the equation. They should be designed in a way that it involves a minimal amount of training.
  • Design with the intent of keeping machine-to-machine interaction at the maximum and autonomous behaviour at the minimum.
  • Place the centre of control in the hands of the users. The interface design should make them feel like they run the show. One of the best ways to do this is by enabling remote user interfaces.
  • Get information about the time gap between procuring a product and using it, and the date when the product is up for replacement.
  • Combine IoT and AI for a better CX.

 

IoT is no longer in its infancy. The technology is here, available and ready to help organisations connect better to their audiences. There are already millions of users enjoying the benefits of and working with IoT devices. The possibilities of improving CX via IoT are indeed monumental. To keep up with market expectations, IoT vendors must be convinced that IoT will have tremendous positive impact on their relationships with their customers.

IoT vendors should be transparent and inform customers that they are using their usage data to optimise the design of products and services and to significantly improve customer satisfaction.

What are your views? Let me know in the comments.

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