Customer Service – Hell or Heaven?

Customer Service – Hell or Heaven?

Today, customers are communicating with businesses on a variety of channels. One customer calls in, inquiring about the status of an online order. Another sends an email. A third customer may ask for service in-store. If a mobile app is not meeting the customer’s expectation, the customer may prefer self-help and check an FAQ in the app. An alternative is to initiate a chat with an agent, also inside of the app. Or, if someone is really annoyed, that customer may even rant on a social channel such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.Company reality is that there is more than one CRM, and several business systems. All come with with their own backend. One company might be using all of the following, without even realizing how fragmented the experience is: An e-commerce system that comes with its own service subsystem. An order fulfillment system that is not connected to the CRM. Mobile app support that has its own backend. Social Media that is often run by marketing and not customer support. E-mail support that is handled via a joint inbox, which is not integrated into any support system. This is CustServ Hell! In CustServ Hell, customers do not get recognized and often need to repeat the same information over and over, because there is no integrated process. This is a customer experience nightmare. CustServ Hell forces service agents to work with a great number of applications and/or tabs in their browsers. Their work is very cumbersome, inefficient and error prone. In order to be able to satisfy a customer request, agents need to tap into different applications, like CRM...
CXM! What the Heck is That?

CXM! What the Heck is That?

In his recent very readable article ‘iCXM Comes of Age – Using AI to Know, Engage, and Server Your Customers Better’, CustomerThink.com founder and chief editor Bob Thompson explored how Artificial Intelligence can improve Customer Experience Management – and with extending CXM to iCXM created a new acronym, jokingly noting that the industry is running short on buzzwords. The opportunities that Bob identifies are Knowing your customer Engaging your customer Serving your customer While this is all true, I contend that none of this is about customer experience management, simply because customer experiences are living in the perception of the customer, and hence are solely managed by the customer, not by any company. I wrote about it earlier in my article There is no customer experience without customer engagement. According to Wikipedia, customer experience ‘is the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship. This interaction is made up of three parts: the customer journey, the brand touchpoints the customer interacts with, and the environments the customer experiences … ‘. Therefore customer experience ‘implies customer involvement at different levels – such as rational, emotional, sensorial, physical, and spiritual. Customers respond diversely to direct and indirect contact with a company.’ Lastly, customer experience ‘can be defined as the internal and personal responses of the customers …”. A company, supported by the software it uses, can engage customers in a way that these customers have a positive – or negative – experience. What now is customer experience management? Friend and CRM Godfather Paul Greenberg, in a seminal article clarified on the definitions of...
Google and SAP – A Marriage in the Clouds

Google and SAP – A Marriage in the Clouds

On Mach 8, 2017, SAP and Google announced another marriage in the cloud during Google’s Cloud Next event: SAP HANA is certified on Google’s Cloud Platform GCP, and is generally available now. SAP Cloud Platform and more products and solutions are to follow. The Google Cloud Launcher marketplace will be utilized to offer and deploy to and for customers and partners, starting with SAP HANA, express edition, which is already available, too. Further topics that are covered by this partnership are Improving Google’s containerization technologies for enterprise workloads Security, privacy, and integrity of customer data in the cloud. As part of this SAP software shall act as a data custodian (NB: How that works in legal and political environments remains to be seen) and joint solutions for access control, governance, risk and compliance shall get developed Integrate Google’s G Suite into SAP applications. This has already been implemented for Identity and Access Management. More on the still fuzzy side are end-to-end integrations and collaborations in the areas of AI and machine learning. True to the SAP mantra of being an ecosystem player this is all about choice – choice for the customer to implement what is best for them. My Take Another interesting one! Good Win for SAP SAP now covers all major cloud platforms. HANA is now certified on AWS, Azure, and GCS, apart from running in the SAP cloud. With this SAP now has the broadest footprint when it comes to running on an IaaS platform. With the SAP Cloud Platform being available soon there also will be a very powerful PaaS solution on one of the...
Watson meets Einstein – Elementary, my Dear Holmes

Watson meets Einstein – Elementary, my Dear Holmes

This week Salesforce and IBM announced a global strategic partnership to deliver joint, AI based solutions based upon Salesforce Einstein and IBM Watson, their respective AI platforms. The upcoming solutions will be designed to “deliver everage artificial intelligence and enable companies to make smarter decisions, faster than ever before. With the partnership, IBM Watson, the leading AI platform for business, and Salesforce Einstein, AI that powers the world’s #1 CRM, will seamlessly connect to enable an entirely new level of intelligent customer engagement across sales, service, marketing, commerce and more.” IBM Watson will be connected to the Salesforce Intelligent Customer Success Platform in a way that augments the customer specific insights that are delivered by Einstein with its structured and unstructured data that comes from a variety of sources, in order to be able to use specific as well as more generic, yet industry relevant, information. “Together, Watson and Einstein will ingest, reason over and derive recommendations to accelerate decision making and drive greater customer success.” Initially planned solutions are “IBM Watson and Salesforce Einstein Integration: Integrating IBM Watson APIs into Salesforce will bring predictive insights from unstructured data, inside or outside an enterprise, together with predictive insights from customer data delivered by Salesforce Einstein to enable smarter, faster decisions across sales, service, marketing, commerce and more. For example, by combining local shopping patterns, weather and retail industry data from Watson with customer-specific shopping data and preferences from Salesforce Einstein, a retailer will be able to automatically send highly personalized and localized email campaigns to shoppers.” “IBM Weather Insights for Salesforce: The Weather Company, an IBM business, will power a new...
Customer Service beyond the Chatbot Hype

Customer Service beyond the Chatbot Hype

2016 has been predicted to be the year of conversational commerce, and I’d say that this prediction largely held true. Conversational interfaces have become more and more mainstream, and their support by AI and bots has become all the rage. While people more and more turn to their smartphones and Google to find service and get answers to their questions, companies are increasingly looking at bot support to increase the efficiency of their call centers. But where is reality? In their 2016 hype cycle on emerging technologies Gartner places Conversational UIs in the innovation trigger phase with a predicted time of 5 – 10 years to mainstream adoptions Machine Learning on the peak of inflated expectations with a period of 2 – 5 years to mainstream adoption Forrester Research in their recent AI tech radar places virtual agents and machine learning into their growth phases of their respective life cycles, giving them 5 – 10 years to mainstream, while acknowledging a successful trajectory. So, clearly, AI and conversational systems are strategic. At the same time Abinash Tripathy, CEO of helpshift, a leading helpdesk company providing users with instant, proactive, and personalized in-app support, feels that “we are closer to IoT than to having really helpful bots”. Some bots are actually harming the customer experience. And he is right. Why? Several reasons. Essentially artificial intelligence, driven by machine learning or deep learning, is not yet intelligent enough. Too many bots are still driven by decision trees, which severely limit the possible conversations that the bot can serve. Second, bots’ ability to understand natural language is still lacking, albeit improving, and...
Mass Distraction – The Case for a Consolidated Marketing Platform

Mass Distraction – The Case for a Consolidated Marketing Platform

These days, customer experiences increasingly need to be delivered with the help of technology. This does not mean that direct interactions and people are no more important in marketing, sales, or service; on the contrary, but that an increasing number of customers is using the web, social media, chat, or an app to identify suitable products or services or to resolve an issue, when needed. The Customer Executive Board found that 57 per cent of the buying process is already completed before sales personnel get engaged. A Cisco retail study confirms the American Express findings and states that around 60 per cent of all in-store purchases start their journey electronically. The American Express Global Barometer claims that 60 per cent of all customers abandoned a purchase because of poor service experiences. Over the past 20 or so years the way products and services get sold and customer service as well as marketing get delivered to customers changed dramatically. Gone are the times where a potential customer was addressed via a radio- or TV-spot or an ad printed in a newspaper, or a letter in the mailbox … – well, it still happens, but the focus shifted. We started off from one single, unidirectional marketing ‘channel’ – the customer comes into my store and interacts with me, a person. From there on we added an ever increasing number of additional channels, like the ones mentioned, plus many more. In today’s omni-channel world we also have telephone, e-mail, web-delivered ads, mobile apps, branded and white-label communities, social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., chat, messenger applications like WhatsApp, FB Messenger, Snapchat,...