Thursday, August 28, 2008

5 Web Self Service Myths & Pitfalls

eGain (A Multichannel Support Offering) developed an excellent case study on the 5 Web Self Service Myths and Pitfalls. The pitfalls are as follows:

Myth #1: Self Service is A Foolproof Way To Reduce Costs
Myth #2: Self Service means Eliminating Customer Interactions
Myth #3: Self Service is a quick Fix.
Myth #4: One Self Service Method fits all.
Myth #5: We deployed Self Service and Contact Center Volume Went down, So we Succeeded.

Most of these are certainly true as I have seen it in business occur on a very frequent basis. Specifically with Myth #2 and #5. The only true way to eliminate customer interactions is to get down to the root cause and offer the feature on the web site. Click here for the Full Case Study.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Document: IBM Blogging Policies & Procedures

Attached is a Policy and Procedures Guideline from IBM on Blogging and Social Community policies. A great resource for companies looking to employ new Social Strategies into their organization.

Preffered Support Channels By Generation & Age

Web 2.0 Support Strategies is probably one of the few topics you can talk comfortably about in a business environment that discusses the trends and behaviors of consumers by age. In this article, we will take a look at a study done by the Service & Support Professionals Association and a company called Lithium that reviews trends of support channels and their respective relation to generations. Before we begin, attached are the generations studied in this white paper.

- Seniors - 65 and Older
- Baby Boomers - Age 43 - 65
- Generation X - Ages 30 - 42
- Generation Y - Ages 18 - 29
- The New Silent Generation - Ages 13 - 17

The study concludes that not only are younger customers demanding different channels of support and are moving away from the phone support channel, but the findings indicate that in efforts to provide excellent service to current and existing customers, Web 2.0 strategies must be employed in the Customer Service Organization. Attached are some high level facts I took away.

Keypoint #1 - Reliance on The Phone Is Declining - Especially amongst younger customers. Only 1/3 of Generation X and Generation Y prefer the phone. Only 13% of The Silent Generation considered the phone as a primary channel of support.

Keypoint #2 - Alternative Support Channels Rated Just as Good as Phone Support Channels - As seen in Figure 1.0, Support forums rated with just as many excellent scores as Phone Support ratings. While Email & Web Self Service scored the highest amount of responses in the Good and Average categories.

Figure 1.0
Click Chart Below For Full View.

Keypoint #3 - Younger Customers Are More Willing To Try New Products - This is evident in the survey evidence in Figure 2.0 below. This means that younger customers are also likely to interact with a web site that is more dynamic. Support sites that are static are less likely to be successful for younger customers and maybe viewed as unreliable.

Figure 2.0
Click Chart Below For Full View.

- Young Customers Prefer Peer To Peer Support - Unlike the Traditional approach of utilizing an organization to support it's customer base - young customers prefer to rely on their social networks, forums, and their peers to get support.

For the full study, click here to download.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What Are Chat Bots & Why Should Your Business Use Them?

As things get hot over Web 2.0 strategies in the Service Industry, one of the more challenging technologies that Service Managers dread to deploy is a Chat channel for Customer Support. The concerns over using chat for support are legitimate, and are usually attributed to resource management, productivity, and whether or not a chat interaction will be more productive over the long term since an agent has to type to engage upon solution solving.

So now Gartner and several other multichannel support vendors are buzzing about over the concept of Chat Bots and it is likely being driven by the popularity of Second Life and it's use in the Business World. Gartner predicts that by 2010, over 15% of Fortune 1000 companies with a web site will have some kind of chat bot deployed on their web site. The concept of Chat Bots is far from new however. Anyway who utilized the MIRC in the early days of chat on the internet know what I am reffering to, so in this post I will summarize what is a chat bot, and how should a service organization utilize them?

What Are Chat Bots?

In laments terms, a chat bot is simply an automated agent that a customer or person online can ask for information and the chat bot would serve the individual the information requested. In the context of a support tool, you would ask the chat bot a question and the chat bot would attempt to answer the question prior to being directed to an actual live agent.

Perhaps some of the most familiar chat bots in our everyday virtual lives is in AOL's Instant Messenger Bots. These bots are active in the Buddy list for you to ask questions on a variety of things such as the following:
  • The Movifone Bot - Too find out where is your favorite movie playing and at what time.
  • The WSJ Bot - Wall Street Journal Bot to find stock quotes.
These are just some of the several bots you can use on Instant Messenger, and they serve as great automated sources of information to the consumer.

Why Should Your Business Care?

So you rolled out chat and saw the value of it, but what if you could eliminate 15% of your inquiries prior to a live chat engagement? What if 100% of your inquiries can be managed in an automated fashion with a personal touch using a chat bot? The reality is that customers today and future customers are living in a virtual world. Technologies like Virtual Chat Bots will be essential in the future as a front end to your live web support vs. today where it is more of an option.

In the context of support, companies are utilizing chat bots as a front end to support their customers prior to reaching a live agent over the web. Unlike traditional Knowledge Bases or Online Support Forums where keywords are utilized, Chat Bots provide a more conversational and question oriented approach to resolution while providing the end user with a more personal experience in real time. Typically, if the chat bot is not successful in automatically resolving the customers inquiry, then a live chat interaction with an agent takes place.

There are certainly some good and bad with the Chat Bot concept, and the technology is currently maturing. Solution providers like eGain, and PandoraBots, and Microsoft acquired Colloquis are some providers taking the lead in this space. But depending on your business, this may or may not be the best approach. One instance where we do see automated chat put to good use is on 1-800-Radiator's Web site. The company recognized that it had a much better chance of converting customers over the phone than online, so it used an automated chat service to pre-qualify customers, gather information and then escalate the contact to the phone via click to call.

Click below to download eGain's White Paper on Chat Bot Best Practices.

8 Tips For Superior Web Self Service Through Chat Bots

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

CIO's Love Video Conferencing But Don't Get Wikis

An interesting read was recently released that surveyed CIO's indicate that they love Video Conferencing, and Online Training - but they don't have any plans for Virtual Worlds and Wikis. The survey interviewed 1,400 CIOs by staffing firm Robert Half Technology. The results are as follows:

* 67 percent have no intention of using tagging software;
* 72 percent aren’t going to use blogs;
* 74 percent don’t get the wiki thing;
* And 84 percent have no plans for virtual worlds.

I am quite surprised that they don't embrace wikis since it is used today in many areas of IT for projects, tracking bugs, and updating knowledge. With the popularity of Virtual World's like Second Life which has a lot of commerce opportunity, was also another shocker.

Web 2.0 Today - What Is The Industry Saying Today?

Seems like the industry is mixed on whether Web 2.0 Strategies are properly managing their support. Check out the various opinions below floating on the web this week.

Customers in Control at Dell’s IdeaStorm
Online Communities: Customers Just Not That into Them
Web 2.0: Not Everyone’s Doing It, After All

Monday, August 11, 2008

Video: Groundswell - Will It Blend?

Funny video using a blender while talking about Social Media and of course The Groundswell concept we all know and love.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Slides: Universal Mccann Social Media Research

Universal Mccann International Social Media Research Wave 3

From: mickstravellin, 3 months ago

This is the Social Media Research done by Universal Mccann including 17,000 people in 29 countries

SlideShare Link

Audio: Why Most Brands Fail At Social Networking

Interesting interview with Jeremiah Owyang on Social Networking strategies and why brands tend to fail.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The State of Customer Service In North America

Here is an excellent study done by eGain called "The State of Customer Service In North America that outlines how Service is doing in the United States broken out by industry. You can download the study here.Here are some key findings:

- Self Service Performance across industries was below average.

- Although Phones remain to be the most popular support channel, the overall score was one of the lowest in the study (1.9 out of 4).

- The Study Concluded that the overall rating on providing a MultiChannel Experience was below average, but what is further interesting is that the article concludes that MultiChannel Customers spend 20 - 30% more than single channel customers.

- Industry scores were best in the Consumer Electronics Sector with a 4.9 out of 10.0 score, and Communications came in at about 4.5.

Probably one of the more interesting things in this study is that Customer Service was below average in all industries. In addition, the multichannel scores shed some light on whether they are providing value to customers. Despite the fact that Customers who utilize multiple channels spend more money, the survey indicates that their service experience is still below average. It looks like the U.S Service Industry still has more to improve upon.