Tag Archive | "Service"

What the Local Customer Service Ecosystem Looks Like in 2019

Posted by MiriamEllis

Everything your brand does in the new year should support just one goal: better local customer service.

Does this sound too simple? Doesn’t marketing brim with a thousand different tasks? Of course — but if the goal of each initiative isn’t to serve the customer better, it’s time for a change of business heart. By putting customers, and their problems, at the absolute center of your brand’s strategy, your enterprise will continuously return to this heart of the matter, this heart of commerce.

What is local customer service in 2019?

It’s so much more than the face-to-face interactions of one staffer with one shopper. Rather, it’s a commitment to becoming an always-on resource that is accessible to people whenever, wherever and however they need it. A Google rep was recently quoted as saying that 46% of searches have a local intent. Mobile search, combined with desktop and various forms of ambient search, have established the local web as man’s other best friend, the constant companion that’s ever ready to serve.

Let’s position your brand to become that faithful helper by establishing the local customer service ecosystem:

Your Key to the Local Customer Service Ecosystem

At the heart sits the local customer, who wants to know:

  • Who can help them, who likes or dislikes a business, who’s behind a brand, who’s the best, cheapest, fastest, closest, etc.
  • What the answer is to their question, what product/service solves their problems, what businesses are nearby, what it’s like there, what policies protect them, what’s the phone number, the website URL, the email address, etc.
  • Where a business is located, where to find parking, where something is manufactured or grown, etc.
  • When a business is open, when sales or events are, when busiest times are, when to purchase specific products/services or book an appointment, etc.
  • Why a business is the best choice based on specific factors, why a business was founded, why people like/dislike a business, etc.
  • How to get to the business by car/bike/on foot, how to learn/do/buy something, how to contact the right person or department, how to make a complaint or leave feedback, how the business supports the community, etc.

Your always-on customer service solves all of these problems with a combination of all of the following:

In-store

Good customer service looks like:

  • A publicly accessible brand policy that protects the rights and defends the dignity of both employees and consumers.
  • Well-trained phone staff with good language skills, equipped to answer FAQs and escalate problems they can’t solve. Sufficient staff to minimize hold-times.
  • Well-trained consumer-facing staff, well-versed in policy, products and services. Sufficient staff to be easily-accessible by customers.
  • In-store signage (including after-hours messaging) that guides consumers towards voicing complaints in person, reducing negative reviews.
  • In-store signage/messaging that promotes aspects of the business that are most beneficial to the community. (philanthropy, environmental stewardship, etc.) to promote loyalty and word-of-mouth.
  • Cleanliness, orderliness and fast resolution of broken fixtures and related issues.
  • Equal access to all facilities with an emphasis on maximum consumer comfort and convenience.
  • Support of payment forms most popular with local customers (cash, check, digital, etc.), security of payment processes, and minimization of billing mistakes/hassles.
  • Correctly posted, consistent hours of operation, reducing inconvenience. Clear messaging regarding special hours/closures.
  • A brand culture that rewards employees who wisely use their own initiative to solve customers’ problems.

Website

Good customer service looks like:

  • Content that solves people’s problems as conveniently and thoroughly as possible in language that they speak. Everything you publish (home, about, contact, local landing pages, etc.) should pass the test of consumer usefulness.
  • Equal access to content, regardless of device.
  • Easily accessible contact information, including name, address, phone number, fax, email, text, driving directions, maps and hours of operation.
  • Signals of trustworthiness, such as reviews, licenses, accreditations, affiliations, and basic website security.
  • Signals of benefit, including community involvement, philanthropy, environmental protections, etc.
  • Click-to-call phone numbers.
  • Clear policies that outline the rights of the consumer and the brand.

Organic SERPs

Good customer service looks like:

  • Management of the first few pages of the organic SERPs to ensure that basic information on them is accurate. This includes structured citations on local business directories, unstructured citations on blog posts, news sites, top 10 lists, review sites, etc. It can also include featured snippets.
  • Management also includes monitoring of the SERPs for highly-ranked content that cites problems others are having with the brand. If these problems can be addressed and resolved, the next step is outreach to the publisher to demonstrate that the problem has been addressed.

Email

Good customer service looks like:

  • Accessible email addresses for customers seeking support and fast responses to queries.
  • Opt-in email marketing in the form of newsletters and special offers.

Reviews

Good customer service looks like:

  • Accuracy of basic business information on major review platforms.
  • Professional and fast responses to both positive and negative reviews, with the core goal of helping and retaining customers by acknowledging their voices and solving their problems.
  • Sentiment analysis of reviews by location to identify emerging problems at specific branches for troubleshooting and resolution.
  • Monitoring of reviews for spam and reporting it where possible.
  • Avoidance of any form of review spam on the part of the brand.
  • Where allowed, guiding valued customers to leave reviews to let the greater community know about the existence and quality of your brand.

Links

Good customer service looks like:

  • Linking out to third-party resources of genuine use to customers.
  • Pursuit of inbound links from relevant sites that expand customers’ picture of what’s available in the place they live, enriching their experience.

Tech

Good customer service looks like:

  • Website usability and accessibility for users of all abilities and on all browsers and devices (ADA compliance, mobile-friendliness, load speed, architecture, etc.)
  • Apps, tools and widgets that improve customers’ experience.
  • Brand accessibility on social platforms most favored by customers.
  • Analytics that provide insight without trespassing on customers’ comfort or right to privacy.

Social

Good customer service looks like:

  • Brand accessibility on social platforms most favored by customers.
  • Social monitoring of the brand name to identify and resolve complaints, as well as to acknowledge praise.
  • Participation for the sake of community involvement as opposed to exploitation. Sharing instead of selling.
  • Advocacy for social platforms to improve their standards of transparency and their commitment to protections for consumers and brands.

Google My Business

Good customer service looks like:

  • Embrace of all elements of Google’s local features (Google My Business listings, Knowledge Panels, Maps, etc.) that create convenience and accessibility for consumers.
  • Ongoing monitoring for accuracy of basic information.
  • Brand avoidance of spam, and also, reporting of spam to protect consumers.
  • Advocacy for Google to improve its standards as a source of community information, including accountability for misinformation on their platform, and basic protections for both brands and consumers.

Customers’ Problems are Yours to Solve

“$ 41 billion is lost each year by US companies following a bad customer experience.”
-
New Voice Media

When customers don’t know where something is, how something works, when they can do something, who or what can help them, or why they should choose one option over another, your brand can recognize that they are having a problem. It could be as small a problem as where to buy a gift or as large a problem as seeking legal assistance after their home has been damaged in a disaster.

With the Internet never farther away than fingertips or voices, people have become habituated to turning to it with most of their problems, hour by hour, year by year. Recognition of quests for help may have been simpler just a few decades ago when customers were limited to writing letters, picking up phones, or walking into stores to say, “I have a need.” Now, competitive local enterprises have to expand their view to include customer problems that play out all over the web with new expectations of immediacy.

Unfortunately, brands are struggling with this, and we can sum up common barriers to modern customer service in 3 ways:

1) Brand Self-Absorption

“I’ve gotta have my Pops,” frets a boy in an extreme (and, frankly, off-putting) example in which people behave as though addicted to products. TV ads are rife with the wishfulness of marketers pretending that consumers sing and dance at the mere idea of possessing cars, soda, and soap. Meanwhile, real people stand at a distance watching the song and dance, perhaps amused sometimes, but aware that what’s on-screen isn’t them.

“We’re awesome,” reads too much content on the web, with a brand-centric, self-congratulatory focus. At the other end of the spectrum, web pages sit stuffed with meaningless keywords or almost no text as all, as though there aren’t human beings trying to communicate on either side of the screen.

“Who cares?” is the message untrained employees, neglected shopping environments, and disregarded requests for assistance send when real-world locations open doors but appear to put customer experience as their lowest priority. I’ve catalogued some of my most disheartening customer service interludes and I know you’ve had them, too.

Sometimes, brands get so lost in boardrooms, it’s all they can think of to put in their million-dollar ad campaigns, forgetting that most of their customers don’t live in that world.

One of the first lightbulb moments in the history of online content marketing was the we-you shift. Instead of writing, “We’re here, isn’t that great?”, we began writing, “You’re here and your problem can be solved.” This is the simple but elegant evolution that brands, on the whole, need to experience.

2) Ethical Deficits

Sometimes, customers aren’t lost because a brand is too inwardly focused, but rather, because its executives lack the vision to sustain an ethical business model. Every brand is tasked with succeeding, but it takes civic-minded, customer-centric leadership to avoid the abuses we are seeing at the highest echelons of the business world right now. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Uber, and similar majors have repeatedly failed to put people over profits, resulting in:

  • Scandals
  • Lawsuits
  • Fines
  • Boycotts
  • Loss of consumer trust
  • Employee loss of pride in company culture

At a local business level, and in a grand understatement, it isn’t good customer service when a company deceives or harms the public. Brands, large and small, want to earn the right of integration into the lives of their customers as chosen resources. Large enterprises seeking local customers need leadership that can envision itself in the setting of a single small community, where dishonest practices impact real lives and could lead to permanent closure. Loss of trust should never be an acceptable part of economies of scale.

The internet has put customers, staffers, and media all on the same channels. Ethical leadership is the key ingredient to building a sustainable business model in which all stakeholders take pride.

3) Lack of Strategy

Happily, many brands genuinely do want to face outward and possess the ethics to treat people well. They may simply lack a complete strategy for covering all the bases that make up a satisfying experience. Small local businesses may find lack of time or resources a bar to the necessary education, and structure at enterprises may make it difficult to get buy-in for the fine details of customer service initiatives. Priorities and budgets may get skewed away from customers instead of toward them.

The TL;DR of this entire post is that modern customer service means solving customers’ problems by being wherever they are when they seek solutions. Beyond that, a combination of sufficient, well-trained staff (both online and off) and the type of automation provided by tools that manage local business listings, reviews and social listening are success factors most brands can implement.

Reach Out…

We’ve talked about some negative patterns that can either distance brands from customers, or cause customers to distance themselves due to loss of trust. What’s the good news?

Every single employee of every local brand in the US already knows what good customer service feels like, because all of us are customers.

There’s no mystery or magic here. Your CEO, your devs, sales team, and everyone else in your organization already know by experience what it feels like to be treated well or poorly.

And they already know what it’s like when they see themselves reflected in a store location or on a screen.

Earlier, I cited an old TV spot in which actors were paid to act out the fantasy of a brand. Let’s reach back in time again and watch a similar-era commercial in which actors are paid to role play genuine consumer problems – in this case, a family that wants to keep in touch with a member who is away from home:

The TV family may not look identical to yours, but their featured problem – wanting to keep close to a distant loved one – is one most people can relate to. This 5-year ad campaign won every award in sight, and the key to it is that consumers could recognize themselves on the screen and this act of recognition engaged their emotions.

Yes, a service is being sold (long distance calling), but the selling is being done by putting customers in the starring roles and solving their problems. That’s what good customer service does, and in 2019, if your brand can parlay this mindset into all of the mediums via which people now seek help, your own “reach out and touch someone” goals are well on their way to success.

Loyal Service Sparks Consumer Loyalty

“Acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to twenty times more expensive than retaining an existing one.”
Harvard Business Review

“Loyal customers are worth up to ten times as much as their first purchase.”
White House Office of Consumer Affairs

I want to close here with a note on loyalty. With a single customer representing up to 10x the value of their first purchase, earning a devoted clientele is the very best inspiration for dedication to improving customer service.

Trader Joe’s is a large chain that earns consistent mentions for its high standards of customer service. Being a local SEO, I turned to its Google reviews, looking at 5 locations in Northern California. I counted 225 instances of people exuberantly praising staff at just these 5 locations, using words like “Awesome, incredible, helpful, friendly, and fun!”. Moreover, reviewers continuously mentioned the brand as the only place they want to shop for groceries because they love it so much. It’s as close as you can get to a “gotta have my Pops” scenario, but it’s real.

How does Trader Joe’s pull this off? A study conducted by Temkin Group found that, “A customer’s emotional experience is the most significant driver of loyalty, especially when it comes to consumers recommending firms to their friends.” The cited article lists emotional connection and content, motivated employees who are empowered to go the extra mile as keys to why this chain was ranked second-highest in emotion ratings (a concept similar to Net Promoter Score). In a word, the Trader Joe’s customer service experience creates the right feelings, as this quick sentiment cloud of Google review analysis illustrates:

This brand has absolutely perfected the thrilling and lucrative art of creating loyal customers, making their review corpus read like a volume of love letters. The next move for this company – and for the local brands you market – is to “spread the love” across all points where a customer might seek to connect, both online and off.

It’s a kind of love when you ensure a customer isn’t misdirected by a wrong address on a local business listing or when you answer a negative review with the will to make things right. It’s a kind of love when a company blog is so helpful that its comments say, “You must be psychic! This is the exact problem I was trying to solve.” It’s a kind of love when a staff member is empowered to create such a good experience that a customer tells their mother, their son, their best friend to trust you brand.

Love, emotions, feelings — are we still talking about business here? Yes, because when you subtract the medium, the device, the screen, it’s two very human people on either side of every transaction.

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Microsoft AI CTO: A Cloud AI Service Behind Every Device

What could change us from having to wrestle with physical devices? That was the question posed by Microsoft AI CTO Joseph Sirosh at the 2018 AI Summit in San Francisco. He was specifically referring to a prosthetic, but that is only an example of how Cloud AI Services could impact the usefulness of all devices.

Joseph Sirosh, AI CTO at Microsoft, talks about how a Cloud AI Service will eventually be driving every device:

Top Macro Trend: A Cloud AI Service Behind Every Device

The most important macro trend is a cloud AI service behind every device. It might be a prosthetic, it might be any device that you use in your house. Of course, your apps on your phone have AI services behind them eventually, some of them already have AI, but others well. Everything in the world that is connected with Wi-Fi or Internet connectivity can now be backed up by an AI service. That’s very powerful and profound when you think about it.

Now, think about this one, the grip classification (on a prosthetic). How it works is there’s a muscle sensor that I’ve attached to my arm here, there’s a camera in the hand. So, through the electronics, it goes to an Azure Custom Vision Service, where our classification model has been set up, a deep-learned model that recognizes objects and classifies it to the right action and then that triggers the appropriate grip classification in the Servo motors connected to an Arduino board in the arm.

The Magic Provided by a Cloud AI Service

Two undergraduates built this. Hamayal Choudhry from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and Samin Khan from the University of Toronto. They did this for the Microsoft Imagine Cup. They were the winners in 2018. Building this took them a few weeks. Of course, then the magic was provided by a cloud AI service to be able to make this device intelligent. That’s a power. Even an undergraduate can build something as powerful as this today.

Why is this Revolutionary?

So, why is this revolutionary? Step back and think about this device. Look, there are over a million amputations per year. That’s an amputation every 30 seconds. WHO estimates that 30-100 million people in the world live with limb loss. Only 5 to 15 percent of these have access to prosthetics, even though prosthetic devices have been around since the Egyptian times. Even though these devices have been there, they have been purely physical devices and very severely limited. Limited by cost.

The bionic arms that you have heard about today, they cost tens of thousands of dollars and it takes a lot of effort to fit them on you. They’re limited by availability, very few people have access to it, and they’re limited by the interface you can attach to the body.

Breaking Physical Limits via Cloud AI Service

Above all, they’re limited by the nervous system that we have because we’ve got to train ourselves to use that device. In fact, literally, we had to force our will into these devices to be able to use them effectively. How could we change all of that? What could change us from having to wrestle with physical devices? How could we break these limits? The answer is an AI or a cloud AI service backing it up.

Think about this, what if you had low-cost electronics to build with it? What if we could change the game of availability with 3D printing? So, you can print these things anywhere in the world. What if you had a Cloud AI service behind it that provided the ability to recognize things and make the movements? What if it could be personalized? What if it could be adapted? What if other people, your friends could train your arm to make the right kind of movements, in the right kind of environments? How could you have customizability of all types? What if you could tap into the knowledge of the world beyond our senses through the cloud service so that you can keep improving it? What if all of these things came together for a very low cost like the $ 100 it took for this arm to be built?

That would be revolutionary, right? Imagine, now every prosthetic in the world or orthosis in the world which is, let’s say you break your arm and [inaudible] sling and you need assistance? What if you could get something very cheap that you could move around but it’s controlled by a Cloud AI service and all you have to do is express your intent to that Cloud AI service somehow and it does the more complex task of actually doing the grasp?

Affordable, Intelligent, Cloud-Powered and Personalized

See, this is the difference that the services can make. What you do is you express your intents and your constraints, and the service generates the behavior you need. So, it’s a generative service. The behavior is generated but from high-level intention that you communicate. So, the future is affordable, intelligent, cloud-powered, personalized, prosthetic devices and really devices of every type. That’s hugely revolutionary.

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CaaStle CEO: Our Clothing as a Service (CAAS) Technology is not Disruptive

The clothing as a service business model is not disruptive for clothing retailers says CaaStle founder and CEO Christine Hunsicker. “It’s completely accretive and one of the big things about this technology is that it’s not disruptive. It’s not a disruptive model that’s threatening their businesses.”

CaaStle is a fully managed service that allows retailers to offer Clothing as a Service (CaaS) to their consumers. CaaS is an access model that they say has “transformative benefits” for retailers and consumers. CaaStle says it simply provides technology, reverse logistics and managed services to help retailers participate in the new economy.

CaaStle founder and CEO, Christine Hunsicker, recently discussed her CaaStle and why clothing as a service is not a disruptive model threatening retailers:

Enables Clothing Retailers to Rent Clothing on a Subscription Basis

CaaStle is a fully managed service that allows any retailer to offer a rental subscription service to their customers using their inventory. We are completely behind the scenes and nobody knows we exist. We are the people building the front end consumer experience, we’re handling the logistics and were handling the technology and the algorithms. We just take the clothing and the consumer list from the retailer and make it all happen.

What we found is that fundamentally consumers rent very differently than they buy, so most of the things that you buy, and if you think about your own wardrobe, are gonna be the basic core and the staples, things that you can get a lot of wear out of, and that makes sense from a cost per wear perspective.

When you rent you tend to go more towards the fashion and the trend. For a company like Express or like Ann Taylor or like New York & Company they’re going to continue to sell just like they always have. What they’re doing now is increasing engagement with their brand and increasing that brand loyalty through renting more of the fashion pieces.

Our Clothing as a Service (CAAS) Technology is not Disruptive

It’s completely accretive and one of the big things about this technology is that it’s not disruptive. It’s not a disruptive model that’s threatening their businesses. Right now it’s an opportunity for these retailers to jump on board and increase the number of new consumers they have and increase the spend that consumers have with them. It’s a significantly more profitable business and has very high engagement rates.

It’s everyday clothing. You can’t be concerned that you may snag it or tear it or spill something on it, there’s going to be some damage that happens. We want the consumers and the retailers want the consumers to be very relaxed and comfortable in the clothing. It’s actually part of the service fee, there’s no nickel and diming for extra insurance. It’s going to happen that occasionally the clothing comes back damaged, very rarely though.

We get paid on a per consumer basis so we’re completely aligned with the retailer to help them grow their base and maintain their base and have very happy consumers.

We’re Building this Company to Take it Public

As far as the Eloquii acquisition ($ 100 million) by Walmart, they have this strategy with Mark Lore (Walmart CEO) and under Andy Dunn to bring in a bunch of brands and expand their consumer base. As far as straight retail goes you saw it with Bonobos and Eloquii and ModCloth, this is just another step in that in that path.

I think it’s great for the plus-size consumer. I think it’s great for the Eloquii customer. They’re going to be able to leverage the Walmart supply chain and logistics and deliver a better experience probably at a lower cost point.

When it comes to, do we want to be acquired? We’re building this company to take it public. We don’t want to be acquired by any single player largely because we believe in fragmentation. If you believe the industry has been fragmented and will remain fragmented and if you want to impact the tremendous part of the economy you need to be a platform underlying all of the brands and the retailers as opposed to being a singular consumer-facing brand.

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Talking to Mr. Money Mustache about the US Digital Service

Last week, I passed my one year anniversary as head of the US Digital Service (USDS). So when Mr. Money Mustache asked for an interview, I was delighted to talk about some of the work that the USDS does. If you aren’t familiar with Mr. Money Mustache, he writes about a philosophy of badassity in which people make better life choices like biking to work or saving a higher percentage of their paychecks.

I remember discovering Mr. Money Mustache and immediately reading through most of his site, so it was a pleasure to do an interview with him. And if you haven’t heard of the US Digital Service before, this interview is a good chance to find out more. The US Digital Service is still here, still working on projects that matter, and we’re hiring.

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How Social Media Is Changing the Way Businesses Conduct Customer Service

Social media has become more than just a networking platform. They’ve become an ecosystem where friends, family, consumers, and brands interact with one another at lightning speed. In this age of hyper connectivity, brands are slowly realizing the potential of social media when it comes to providing customer service.

According to a study by Lithium Technologies, 70% of Twitter users expect a response from brands they interact with online. The same study also revealed that 50% of those users expect the response within the first hour. The need for a prompt response to customer inquiries has skyrocketed over the past few years and brands need to step up their game.

Today, consumers are quick to share their sentiments—whether it be negative or positive—on social media. Brands need to develop a more agile strategy that allows them to moderate these comments without damaging their reputation.

Image result for social media customer service

Because customer support through social media is still an emerging trend, not a lot of brands have expertise on the topic. Consumers, however, understand the power of social media and they use public posts as leverage in order to get the response they deserve.

Once unanswered questions and unaddressed concerns queue up on a brand’s social media page, their reputation is sure to take a hit. This shows the explicit need for brands to quickly allocate energy and resources in improving how they provide customer support through various social media channels.

Negative consumer sentiments shared online can hurt a brand’s online credibility. What makes them even more dangerous is their viral element. Each post has the ability to reach millions of existing and potential customers, giving brands often undeserved bad publicity.

For brands to come across as more responsive and approachable to consumers, they need to have a community manager who can focus on providing prompt and adequate responses to customer inquiries.

Aside from responding to messages being sent in by customers, community managers also play a key role in establishing a better relationship between brands and their target audience. They are also responsible for developing a more relevant tone that resonates with customers.

Once a brand figures out the right tone to use on social media, they can easily communicate with their audience in a more organic way. This tone helps brands stay consistent to the image they want to project to their target audience.

Staying on top of customer support requests are made easier by automation tools that can be integrated into social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Chatbots can perform basic inquiry ticketing to help community managers address the most urgent inquiries first. Both social media sites are already conducting experiments and studies that can further improve the reliability of chatbots.

Image result for social media customer service chatbots personality

Using sophisticated machine learning and AI technology, these chatbots are also being trained to engage in more natural-sounding conversations with customers. The better these chatbots perform, the more they’ll be able to help brands increase customer satisfaction.

Given the cutting-edge tools and accessibility of websites like Facebook and Twitter, providing customer support through social media has never been easier. The rising trend in customer support through these platforms is bound to change the way brands establish a relationship with their customers and target audience. When used properly, social media can help brands give customers a more pleasurable experience with their products or services.

Social media is becoming one of the most accessible channels for conversations between brands and consumers. Whether brands are ready for it or not, social media will become a place where consumers will express their thoughts and grievances regarding their experience.

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SearchCap: Google home service ads, Google Image SEO & link building

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Google home service ads, Google Image SEO & link building appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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Can AI Replace Your Customer Service Representative?

Businesses are quickly changing the way they operate by automating menial tasks with the help of Artificial Intelligence or AI. More companies are now using chatbots to help users accomplish tasks that would, in the past, require the assistance of a customer service representative.

Despite the rapid progress, however, experts say that there is still a glaring need for development before machines can fully replace humans in providing customer support. In order for machines to provide full value in addressing real-life customer concerns, they must first understand human semantics.

Chatbots as Customer Service Reps

Using chatbots in place of actual customer service representatives is a good idea, in theory. For one, you can teach a chatbot to answer thousands of possible questions consistently. They even have the capacity to decode questions with grammatical errors, misspellings, and a certain level of colloquialism.

This autonomy and intelligence are some of the characteristics that have made current chatbots a possibility. But while this holds a lot of promise, there are limitations to machine learning that prevent AIs from fully learning semantics.

A simple question can have several different interpretations depending on tone and emphasis, and teaching all of that to a bot can be tedious and time-consuming. To provide users with adequate responses, bots need extensive chat log histories that can train them to understand real-life scenarios.

Companies who want to deploy bots at the foreground of customer support either have to input all of the possible data manually or do away with a bot that doesn’t have sufficient input.

This is the very reason why we hear stories of bots who’ve gone rogue minutes after deployment. Without access to properly labeled and extensive chat logs, bots don’t have the full capacity to pair questions with their underlying intent. In that sense, they only have semi-autonomy in dealing with customer concerns.

AIs Working in Conjunction With Real Life Customer Service Reps

Today’s AIs have the capacity to understand basic questions and provide entry-level responses. Anything more complex would still require the understanding of a living and breathing customer service representative. This slight limitation, however, doesn’t mean bots can no longer provide customer support. Many brands and businesses are already making significant investments to integrate AI into their customer service operations.

The real and imminent possibility at the moment is to deploy AIs and machines to work with people on the front lines of customer support. This advancement on its own can make customer support more accessible and decrease call traffic for most support hotlines.

Once developers find a way to fully optimize AI in handling real-life scenarios without going rogue, it’s quite certain that using bots as customer service representatives is in our near future. For now, studies and further work need to be done to ascertain if bots can provide customers with a satisfactory resolution to their complex concerns.

The hype surrounding AI doesn’t mean humans will be obsolete in the customer service sector. This just means businesses can allocate more of their resources and manpower to more demanding aspects of business operation.

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Amazon Announces Cloud-Based Contact Center Service

Amazon has released Connect, a contact center as a service hosted in the AWS cloud. The service is based on the same contact center technology Amazon has built for their own use.

AWS says that setting up Connect can be done in minutes with only a few clicks in the AWS Management Console. No specialized skills are needed to set up and operate Connect:

“Amazon Connect’s self-service graphical interface makes it easy for non-technical users to design contact flows, manage agents, and track performance metrics…The service also makes it possible to design contact flows that adapt the caller experience, changing based on information retrieved by Amazon Connect from AWS services, like Amazon Redshift, or third-party systems, like CRM or analytics solutions. “

Fees for the service are based on the number of customer minutes used and time spent on the phone. Calls cost $ 0.03 or $ 0.06 for toll free numbers. Amazon Connect offers direct inward dial (DID) numbers and toll-free numbers in the United States and 18 countries throughout Europe.

IDC estimates that worldwide contact center application software revenues were about $ 5.8 billion for on premises and $ 1.9 billion for public-cloud in 2016; by 2020, on-premises will be $ 5.5 billion and cloud will be $ 4.3 billion, representing a compound annual growth rate of -0.8% for on-premises and 22.9% for the cloud over that time.

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‘GoogleGuy’ Matt Cutts Leaves Google, Will Continue with the US Digital Service

Matt Cutts, who was once believed to be the mysterious GoogleGuy on Webmaster World forums and later became the main conduit of information to webmasters about Google search updates, has resigned from Google. For the last few years Cutts has been on leave from Google and has more recently worked for the US Digital Service. He announced on his blog that he had resigned from Google as of December 31, 2016:

When I joined the US Digital Service, I only planned to stay for three months. That quickly turned into six months after I saw the impact of the USDS. In the last month, I made a big decision. On December 31, 2016, I resigned from Google. I’m currently serving as director of engineering for the USDS. Mikey Dickerson, the first administrator of the USDS, is a political appointee, so he’ll step down on Inauguration Day. When that happens, I’ll serve as acting administrator of the USDS. The work that the USDS does is critical to the American people, and I’m honored to continue that tradition.

The USDS played a pivotal role in rescuing the Obamacare website healthcare.gov that was beset by huge cost overruns while still not working. Cutts also notes that “the US Digital Service has helped veterans get their health benefits, brought bug bounties to the federal government, and helped the IRS protect taxpayer info.” He posted this video to illustrate the important work and accomplishments of USDS:

“Working for the government doesn’t pay as well as a big company in Silicon Valley,” writes Cutts. “We don’t get any free lunches. Many days are incredibly frustrating. All I can tell you is that the work is deeply important and inspiring, and you have a chance to work on things that genuinely make peoples’ lives better. A friend who started working in this space several years ago told me “These last five years have been the hardest and worst and best and most rewarding I think I will ever have.””

For those in the search engine space Cutts is very familiar, having attended many Pubcon, SearchEngineStrategies and SearchEngineLand conferences. WebProNews has video interviewed Cutts and written about things he has said hundreds of many times over the years while covering the search industry and Google. Here are a few of our WebProNews exclusive video interviews with Matt Cutts:

PubCon: Exclusive Interview With Matt Cutts (2006)

PubCon Las Vegas 2007: Matt Cutts of Google and Vanessa Fox (2007)

WPN Exclusive: Matt Cutts Apologizes on Behalf of Google’s Penalty against Google Japan (2009)

Breaking News: Matt Cutts Explains “Canonical Tag” from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft (2009)

Matt Cutts on Changes at Google (2008)

The post ‘GoogleGuy’ Matt Cutts Leaves Google, Will Continue with the US Digital Service appeared first on WebProNews.


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Staying with the US Digital Service

A few months ago, I took a leave of absence from Google to do a stint with the US Digital Service. A lot of people know about the US Digital Service because they helped rescue the healthcare.gov website. But you might not realize that the US Digital Service has helped veterans get their health benefits, brought bug bounties to the federal government, and helped the IRS protect taxpayer info.

USDS logo

When I joined the US Digital Service, I only planned to stay for three months. That quickly turned into six months after I saw the impact of the USDS. In the last month, I made a big decision. On December 31, 2016, I resigned from Google. I’m currently serving as director of engineering for the USDS. Mikey Dickerson, the first administrator of the USDS, is a political appointee, so he’ll step down on Inauguration Day. When that happens, I’ll serve as acting administrator of the USDS. The work that the USDS does is critical to the American people, and I’m honored to continue that tradition.

If you’re reading this blog post, odds are that you might be a tech geek yourself. I’d like to ask you to review what the US Digital Service has accomplished in just a few years. If you’re a more visual person, you might enjoy this short video:

Working for the government doesn’t pay as well as a big company in Silicon Valley. We don’t get any free lunches. Many days are incredibly frustrating. All I can tell you is that the work is deeply important and inspiring, and you have a chance to work on things that genuinely make peoples’ lives better. A friend who started working in this space several years ago told me “These last five years have been the hardest and worst and best and most rewarding I think I will ever have.”

If you have experience in the tech industry, there’s a decent chance that you have skills that can benefit the American people. If you’re considering joining the US Digital Service, please fill out an application.

Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO

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