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Tips for Making your Help Center Smarter – Part 2

Chitra Rakesh on 7 December, 2017

This part will focus on the importance of ensuring consistency across multiple support touchpoints and the role of intelligent self-service. Today, technological advancements are allowing companies to employ AI and machine learning algorithms to learn from customer interactions and feedback in order to improve search results, predict relevant content and build phenomenal help centers. Further, it will also explore metrics such as customer effort score, ticket volume and average resolution time, that are great indicators of help center effectiveness.

With key industry metrics and trends skewing in favor of self-service, support driven organizations are making their help centers more current, robust and smarter. We examined the role of relevant content and its delivery in Part I. While fresh content and an intuitive UI lay the foundation for a thriving help center, there are other factors that must be kept in mind.

This part will focus on the importance of ensuring consistency across multiple support touchpoints and the role of intelligent self-service. Today, technological advancements are allowing companies to employ AI and machine learning algorithms to learn from customer interactions and feedback in order to improve search results, predict relevant content and build phenomenal help centers. Further, it will also explore metrics such as customer effort score, ticket volume and average resolution time, that are great indicators of help center effectiveness.

Ensure Consistency

Customer support has evolved from individual silos to more holistic and omnichannel. Today supportdriven organizations are proactively where their customers are – be it the web, mobile, chat or even social. According to Mahesh Ram, CEO of Solvvy, “Companies that WIN deliver both consistency and speed across all support channels.”

 

 

In the Help Center context, this would translate to ensuring consistency in the way FAQs and self-service articles are delivered across different support channels. Furthermore, delivery should be optimized for different devices like desktop, laptop, mobile and tablet, as well.

Track Key Metrics

It is important to measure the effectiveness of your help center and see how it is impacting the key support metrics such as such as customer effort score (CES), ticket volume and average resolution time.

CES is a powerful metric that relates closely to customer satisfaction or CSAT ratings. Organizations that are able to reduce customer effort through their help centers and intelligent self-service score substantially higher than others. According to Yael McCue, support leader at TaskRabbit, the best KPI that leads to lower customer effort scores and increased customer satisfaction ratings is “First Contact Resolution”. First Contact Resolution, as the name suggests, refers to solving customer issues the first time they contact the support team.

Ticket Volume is defined as the total number of support tickets logged in any given period of time. One of the key objectives of a thriving help center should be to minimize ticket volume. Additionally, frequent, recurring tickets should become a part of the help center to cut down on support tickets.

Average resolution times are considerably lowered when users are able to find answers to their questions using self-service since they don’t have to wait for responses from agents. Tracking knowledge base traffic and the kinds of content that are being utilized by them provide helpful cues to keep help centers current, relevant and updated.

Use Intelligent Self-Service

Customers are the true drivers of the evolution of self-service. With digital interactions on the rise, the advent of technologies like AI and ML, and so many great tools and techniques out there, the support community is living in magical times. Machine learning capabilities are being employed to learn from customer interactions and feedback to improve search results, predict relevant content and build phenomenal help centers.

 

In a recent Forrester study, 73% of customers said that valuing their time is the most important thing companies can do to provide them with great customer service. As per McKinsey, support experience is an integral part of the customer’s decision-making process. Having relevant help centers are transforming from “nice-to-haves” to a “necessity”.

Organizations are working on optimizing the results of frequent searches, agent interactions, surveys and social media conversations and presenting them in the most concise, relevant and accurate manner, be it in form of FAQ’s, featured content or using intelligent self-service solutions such as Solvvy. Solvvy approaches intelligent self-service in a unique way with automated question-answering. Its Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine learning engine provides immediate self-service resolutions to complex end-user questions, by learning from prior successful agent resolutions as well as a company’s knowledge base and FAQ’s.

“Self-service is the way to go,” says Sarah Hatter, founder of CoSupport. “If you can answer people’s questions without getting a human involved then you’ve already won the game!”

Our eBook on “Tips for Making your Help Center Smarter and More Relevant” is available for download. Get it now.

 

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Tips for Making your Help Center Smarter – Part 1

Chitra Rakesh on 6 December, 2017

With key industry metrics and trends skewing in favor of self-service, support-driven organizations are making their help centers more current, robust and smarter. Increasing volume of support requests, rising customer expectations and soaring support costs make the need for help centers and other self-service options critical to the success of any business.

This is first in a two part series of ‘How to Create a Thriving Help Center’. You may download our eBook here.

With key industry metrics and trends skewing in favor of self-service, support-driven organizations are making their help centers more current, robust and smarter. Increasing volume of support requests, rising customer expectations and soaring support costs make the need for help centers and other self-service options critical to the success of any business.

According to a research report by Forrester, 53% of customers are likely to abandon their online purchases if they can’t find quick answers to their questions. Customers increasingly leverage self-service options like help sections, frequently asked questions, tutorials and manuals on a company’s website as these channels offer the least amount of friction. This makes building a thriving help center a necessity.

In order to make help centers smarter and more relevant, it’s important to take measures to keep content fresh, focus on presentation and layout, ensure consistency across support channels and make use of intelligent self-service.

Keep Content Fresh

“Investing in content is the most crucial element of customer success,” says Mahesh Ram, founding CEO of Solvvy, a machine learning startup reinventing customer service experience through intelligent self-service. Organizations must review and curate content continuously to make sure that their help centers contain the most updated information.

Support leaders should make it a point to revisit their support content and articles from time-to-time to make certain that they are current and correct. With support being an integral function of the sales process, outdated and inaccurate information can result in lost business. Bad customer experience can negatively impact revenues.

Answers to common questions pertaining to new product developments and enhancements should be proactively included in the help center. To make this a smooth process, folks serving on the frontlines should be kept in the loop and notified about any new product developments and updates to the existing product.

Support leaders should ensure that the language used is simple and the tone is in line with the overall brand. “Language could be a game changer,” according to industry leader, Sarah Hatter. “You want your customer service function to be an extension of your persona.” For example, if your brand is happy, fun and happening, you don’t want your help center article to sound very formal or technical.

Hatter, a subject-matter expert, notes the importance of personalization in content. Conversational content works better in certain scenarios. In fact, she goes on to say that “Artificial intelligence has evolved to a point where it is trained to have an empathetic side.”

Finally, support leaders must also scan their customer interactions and the most frequently asked questions and plug the gaps in their knowledge base.

Focus on Presentation

Delivery of content is as important as the content itself. The content contained in a company’s help center should be well organized, easy to navigate and visually appealing. A simple and intuitive user interface can greatly help with key support metrics such as resolution time and customer satisfaction ratings. A help center that adequately answers the frequently asked questions and addresses the common support issues allows support agents to focus on high-value ticket items.

From a functionality standpoint, help centers should be easy to navigate, searchable and comprehensive. Users should be able to easily access information, run keyword searches, and find what they are looking for. A well-designed help desk also adds an element of positivity to the overall customer experience.

In fact, a lot of organizations are investing in curating visuals in the form of graphs and charts, adding video tutorials and incorporating step-by-stepguides to their help sections, wherever possible.

In the next blog, we’ll examine the importance of ensuring consistency across multiple support touchpoints, track the role of intelligent automation and reveal the best measures of help center efficiency.

Don’t want to wait? Our eBook on “Tips for Making your Help Center Smarter and More Relevant” is available for download. Get it now.

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The Building Blocks Of Customer Experience

Kaan Ersun on 27 November, 2017

Customer experience (CX) is one of the most important aspects to any modern business. Study after study has shown that positive experiences are correlated with higher satisfaction, greater customer retention, and increased purchase behavior

Customer experience (CX) is one of the most important aspects to any modern business. Study after study has shown that positive experiences are correlated with higher satisfaction, greater customer retention, and increased purchase behavior.

CX is an area of increasingly hot competition, but a lot of people still aren’t clear on exactly what factors to focus on when thinking about how to shape their experience.

With the divergence of customer journeys and the nonlinear buying cycle in most industries, it’s important to understand the components that shape CX as a series of touchpoints rather than a specific path to purchase.

Customer experience comprises five main building blocks:

  1. Perception
  2. Interaction
  3. Friction
  4. Issue resolution
  5. Communication

Each of these components plays a role in how your customers perceive and experience your overall brand. It shapes both their expectations and their behavior.

Enlarge Infographic

Customer Perceptions And Interactions

Customer perception of your brand and customer interactions with your product are the starting points of customer experience.

The way your customer perceives your brand is a result of all of the interactions that they’ve had with your brand and your product. Simple enough, right?

Your customers interact with your brand and your product physically and also on the internet when they encounter one of your pieces of branding or advertisements.

Friction

Sometimes interactions with your product cause friction, which is undesirable because points of friction are points of the customer experience where your customer isn’t having their reasonable expectations for your product met.

Customers also experience friction when their interaction with a product doesn’t go the way they wanted—like when you put coins into a vending machine, but the snack gets trapped and doesn’t fall to the bottom.

Friction reduces the quality of the customer experience, so a big part of CX is finding and reducing points of friction by changing the product or changing the way that the customer interacts with the product.

Issue Resolution

It’s unreasonable to expect 100% of your customer interactions to be totally free of friction, and so traditionally the front line against friction is your customer service.

Customer service uses communication with your customer to resolve the point of friction and promote good CX.

Communication

Communication is the final block of the customer experience.

Customers are sensitive to the way that brands treat them, and prefer to buy from brands that they feel treat them the best.

Your outgoing communications toward your customers guide your brand’s interactions with them and helps to shape their perceptions, just as your customer service team resolves their points of friction with your product.

Internal communication also plays a huge role in the customer experience. If various departments or business functions don’t communicate effectively, then the customer will feel it in how they’re treated during different stages in their buying journey.

While all 5 components shape the way your customer experience feels, it ultimately comes down to communication as the touchpoint between your brand and your customers.

Taken together, each of these components plays a role and it’s critical to invest in each in order to deliver the kind of world-class customer experience that modern consumers expect.

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Make Your Help Center Smarter and More Relevant

With key industry metrics and trends skewing in favor of self-service, support-driven organizations are turning to make their help centers more current, robust and smarter.

Read Now

How AI Will Redefine Customer Service

Mahesh Ram on 8 November, 2017

By 2020, Customer Experience is predicted to overtake product and price as the number one differentiator among businesses. Companies wishing to stay ahead are taking note and increasingly turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to meet consumers’ growing demands. According to a recent study by Oracle, nearly 8 out of 10 businesses have already implemented or are planning to adopt AI as a customer service solution by 2020. Gartner predicts that by this same year, customers will manage 85% of their relationships with an enterprise without interacting with a human.

By 2020, Customer Experience is predicted to overtake product and price as the number one differentiator among businesses. Companies wishing to stay ahead are taking note and increasingly turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to meet consumers’ growing demands. According to a recent study by Oracle, nearly 8 out of 10 businesses have already implemented or are planning to adopt AI as a customer service solution by 2020. Gartner predicts that by this same year, customers will manage 85% of their relationships with an enterprise without interacting with a human.

A generational shift is driving these changes. Millennials hold high expectations of technology and digital solutions and demand speed and immediacy when interacting with a business. They want to express themselves naturally across any channel; they want their questions understood and resolved within the context of previous interactions; and they want to control the customer service experience to best suit their needs.

Modern advances in machine learning and natural language processing are finally able to deliver on these requirements. Machine learning and natural language processing technologies allow conversational understanding to move away from keyword dependencies. AI and machine learning also match correct resolutions to customers’ issues with greater specificity and accuracy than ever before. Finally, these technologies can extract meaning from prior successful agent interactions to improve the next user’s experience.

Early adopters of AI technology for customer service are reaping real results through higher customer satisfaction, increased revenues, decreased costs, and improved agent performance. For example, GoFundMe achieved 20-30% self-service resolution, reduced support costs, improved team productivity and streamlined their Help Center to deliver a better customer experience all within the first six months of implementing an automated solution.

Yet many people ask us, “these results sound amazing, but how do I get started?”

TOPBOTS and Solvvy are teaming up to share our collective experiences in customer service automation. We believe our combined knowledge will help companies of all sizes pinpoint the right artificial intelligence solution to enhance customer care in their business, be it a virtual agent or sentiment analysis. We’ll discuss how companies can sort through the hype and find the true value in this emerging technology.

Find out more about the future of customer service in our upcoming whitepaper and webinar on November 14, 2017 at 2pm EST.

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Solvvy Raises $12M Series A Funding

Mahesh Ram on 23 October, 2017

On behalf of the entire team at Solvvy, I am very pleased to announce that we have raised $12M in Series A funding, led by Scale Venture Partners. The round also included full participation from our earlier investors, including Pear Ventures, Signatures Capital and True Ventures, and we are very grateful to them for their continued faith in our vision and team. We are also pleased to welcome Rory O’Driscoll, Founding Partner at Scale and one of the pre-eminent SaaS investors in Silicon Valley, to Solvvy’s Board of Directors.

On behalf of the entire team at Solvvy, I am very pleased to announce that we have raised $12M in Series A funding, led by Scale Venture Partners. The round also included full participation from our earlier investors, including Pear Ventures, Signatures Capital and True Ventures, and we are very grateful to them for their continued faith in our vision and team. We are also pleased to welcome Rory O’Driscoll, Founding Partner at Scale and one of the pre-eminent SaaS investors in Silicon Valley, to Solvvy’s Board of Directors.

With this funding, we are even better equipped to pursue our vision of applying the promise of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to create a better customer experience that all consumers around the world expect and deserve!

Of course, the biggest reasons for our success are our team and the customers we serve. Our little team has now grown to include many of the brightest minds in the world, brilliant and resourceful, who share our deep commitment to deliver the customer experience of the future! Our customers are our heartbeat – they are leading brands whose passion for customer satisfaction motivates and drives us every day.

In today’s competitive economy, every business has become a service business, where customer experience determines success or failure. As consumers, we have moved from merely purchasing goods and services to demanding rewarding and immediate experiences from the companies that serve us. Leading companies also understand that they are in the customer-experience business. They recognize that their end-users demand consistent resolutions, delivered quickly and effortlessly, anytime and anywhere, and on any channel. A superior customer experience is a true competitive advantage today in a way that it has never been before in history.

At Solvvy, we believe intelligent automation is the best way to meet these high consumer expectations, delivering cost benefits to business and an always-on and delightful customer experience. Artificial Intelligence represents the next big wave of computing (mainframes -> desktop computers -> cloud and mobile -> now AI) and is the natural next step in the evolution of computing. It will be a part of every system we use and will profoundly improve all our experiences including our interactions with businesses. Intelligent automation is already transforming self-service from its early days of customers searching for online FAQs articles with keywords to a truly conversational experience. Companies adopting these technologies early are gaining a strategic advantage. Our five-year vision is that 90% of the interactions between companies and customers will be automated and effortlessly resolved under five minutes. Since the average response time today is over 12 hours, that’s on par with moving from trans-atlantic travel to a Mars landing but we are poised to make that leap.

We are very proud and excited about the progress we have made so far. Solvvy’s intelligent automation platform allows businesses to deliver an effortless customer experience cost-effectively. In its first year on the market, Solvvy has attracted many leading global brands, including GoFundMe, Peloton, Rover, TaskRabbit and Upwork. We, now, support 200 million users with an average ticket resolution time of one minute. Through this, Solvvy has helped customers save over $15 million just this year. We’ve simplified onboarding so that most customers are live with less than 1 hour of work on their side and the ROI is immediate from Day 1.

From all of us at Solvvy, we would like to say thank you to all of our customers, partners and investors. While we are very thrilled and grateful about the funding and welcome the opportunity to also work with Rory and Scale, raising funds has never been an end goal for us, only an outcome. Our journey is only beginning and this funding allows us to accelerate our progress, add great new team members, and drive relentlessly towards our bigger vision. Stay tuned for more exciting news from us in the next few months. In the meantime, we are always happy to hear from you. Reach out with any questions or just to say hi!

Here’s to the future!

Gratefully,
On Behalf of The Entire Solvvy Team,
Mahesh Ram, CEO

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Customer-Obsessed Innovation Continuously Drives Nordstrom Forward

breAnne O. Reeves on 27 September, 2017

Ever since it began as a single shoe store in downtown Seattle, Nordstrom has always been about innovation and adaptation, including adjusting to market changes, broadening selections of products and services, expanding geographically, and introducing technology that enhances the customer experience.

Nordstrom is not the same company today that it was five years ago. It will be a different company five years from now. That’s how you stay relevant for 117 years.

Ever since it began as a single shoe store in downtown Seattle, Nordstrom has always been about innovation and adaptation, including adjusting to market changes, broadening selections of products and services, expanding geographically, and introducing technology that enhances the customer experience.

While technology is obviously crucial, technology for its own sake is not the primary focus at Nordstrom, where innovation is about solving customers’ needs and enhancing every customer interaction. Nordstrom always asks: “What problem is that technology solving to make life easier for the customer?”

Innovation at Nordstrom is about being “Customer Obsessed and Digitally Enabled”–not the other way around. Geevy Thomas, a veteran Nordstrom executive who is now Chief Innovation Officer, told us, “Customer obsession has been a thread all the way through, but how we deliver against that obsession has changed. Our future is going to allow us to leverage our history but not be held prisoner by it. The customer is at the leading edge, not the technology. We always have to ask ourselves: ‘What does the customer want?'”

Nordstrom has always taken notice of Amazon, whose Seattle headquarters are a few blocks away. Three years after Amazon successfully launched its Web site in July of 1995, Nordstrom launched Nordstrom.com, which today accounts for approximately 25 percent of $15 billion in annual sales.

When it comes to serving the end customer, Nordstrom is channel agnostic. The boundaries between physical stores and Internet shopping are becoming irrelevant. Customers don’t think in terms of a buying channel, but rather the kind of experience they desire at that moment. That’s why Nordstrom has evolved from being a curator of products to being a curator of services and experiences, supported by products.

The physical store is not dead; it’s become digitized, encompassing the personalization and sensory experience of physical brick-and-mortar with the personalization and convenience of digital technology via the customer’s device of choice.

Nordstrom offers salespeople and customers the tools for their smartphones to communicate and make transactions via secure one-to-one texting. Customers can use their smartphone to scan any item, see the price, decide what size and color they want, and then have their purchases delivered to their home, office, or hotel anywhere in North America.

Nordstrom’s online Reserve & Try feature enables a customer to search and discover products and then to quickly go to a nearby Nordstrom store to touch and try on items before buying. This feature enables the customer to best utilize their own time (their most valuable resource) and helps to make the shopping experience easier.

Here’s how it works: The customer shops online, reserves items in their digital closet, fills in their contact information and confirms a reservation in the store closest to them. Users can select up to 10 things, which are held until the store closes the next day. There is no payment up front. Within two hours or less (during store hours), the store texts the customer when the items are available to be tried on.

In the store, the customer visits a designated department called Order Pickup. They find their name on the door of a designated fitting room that contains the previously selected items. They can try on the items, decide what they want to buy and be out of the store in minutes. The customer doesn’t have to talk to a salesperson if they choose not to. If the customer opts to interact with a salesperson, that opens up the possibilities of selling more items to the customer. Reserve & Try combines the convenience of online shopping with the sensory gratification of in-store shopping to create a compelling, seamless customer experience.

By being Customer Obsessed and Digitally Enabled, Nordstrom continually finds ways to innovate and adapt that delight the customer, and motivate employees to enhance the customer experience, create loyalty, and contribute to the bottom line.

Robert Spector, co-author of The Nordstrom Way, recently talked about Nordstrom’s Customer Obsessed Innovation in a Webinar produced by Solvvy. In case you missed it, you can watch the replay here!

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The Future of Customer Service with AI

By 2020, customer care is predicted to overtake product and price as the number one way for a business to differentiate itself.  This report touches on the many ways AI is being integrated into customer service.  It covers the essential buy vs build question and highlights the critical questions to ask of any potential AI vendor.

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Trust and Loyalty Lay the Foundation for Delightful Customer Experiences

Robert Spector on 13 September, 2017

Join us for a live webinar with Robert Spector, co-author of ‘The Nordstrom Way’, and Mahesh Ram, founding CEO of Solvvy as they discuss the future of CX while exploring core business values. Trust is the foundation for loyalty and longevity—as well as every value in your organization’s culture. Every meaningful personal and business relationship is based on trust and loyalty, which can be gone in the blink of an eye. Organizations must earn the trust and loyalty of their stakeholders literally every day in as many ways as one can imagine.

Trust is the foundation for loyalty and longevity—as well as every value in your organization’s culture. Every meaningful personal and business relationship is based on trust and loyalty, which can be gone in the blink of an eye. Organizations must earn the trust and loyalty of their stakeholders literally every day in as many ways as one can imagine.

Employees are loyal when they feel that they are being held accountable, when they are making a meaningful contribution, when their achievements are recognized and rewarded, and when they are afforded opportunities to learn, grow and advance. That’s why Nordstrom views career development as a shared responsibility among managers, employees and the company. It encourages leaders to be the teachers as well as the developers of their people’s growth.

Nordstrom highlights its trust to employees with a single rule: Use good judgment in all situations. Empowerment to do the right thing is the byproduct of trust. Nordstrom gives its people on the sales floor the freedom to make entrepreneurial decisions, and management backs them on those decisions. Everything else flows from that premise.

Customer loyalty is the coin of realm in business. Nordstrom salespeople generate that loyalty by taking ownership of the customer and the customer experience.

Front-line people are empowered to establish relationships with customers and to find ways to take care of them, with a personal touch, as if they were interacting with a trusted friend. A strong connection turns a happy customer into a brand ambassador.

It is axiomatic that people like to do business with people they like. If your product or service is similar to your competitor’s, and the price of your product or service is similar to that of your competitor— Why would you get the business? The answer lies in the relationship you have with your customer and the trust you have built up over time. Once you’ve established and nurtured that relationship, why should your customer go anywhere else?

Trust is embodied in the Nordstrom return policy, which is a virtually unconditional, no-questions-asked money-back guarantee. Empowering the people on the sales floor to accept returned merchandise is the most noticeable illustration of the Nordstrom culture because it is the one that most obviously affects the public.

As counter-intuitive as it may sound, the return policy works to the benefit of the best salespeople, who take back the returns with a smile, knowing that many of those customers will return because they were treated with respect.

Nordstrom is one of only five companies to make Fortune’s “Best Companies to Work For” and the “Most Admired” company every year surveys are conducted.

You can rent employee loyalty, but you can’t buy it. Golden handcuffs are only an effective short-term solution. Many good people will sacrifice a few dollars for a place that values and trusts them.

Each year, all of the new and past winners of the John W. Nordstrom Award (the highest honor for an employee) attend a dinner in Seattle, hosted by the Nordstrom family. The company pays for the travel and lodging for the winners (and their guests)—even for past honorees no longer working for the company. Now that’s loyalty.

Want tips on how to enhance customer experience, develop brand loyalty and increase revenue? Join Robert Spector and Mahesh Ram in a webinar, organized by Solvvy, as they chat about the future of customer service in an omni-channel world while exploring core values that every service culture should consider. Reserve your spot today.

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Learnings and Highlights from SDX Portland 2017

Mahesh Ram on 7 August, 2017

SDX Portland kicked off with a celebration of support and a “Happy Hour”, hosted by Solvvy at the Airbnb office in Downtown Portland. The entire support community comprising of industry leaders, managers and folks working on the frontlines came together to network, learn, share and rejoice. The attendees mingled over Boke Twinkies and Local Craft Beers in a warm and casual setting.

SDX Portland kicked off with a celebration of support and a “Happy Hour”, hosted by Solvvy at the Airbnb office in Downtown Portland. The entire support community comprising of industry leaders, managers and folks working on the frontlines came together to network, learn, share and rejoice. The attendees mingled over Boke Twinkies and Local Craft Beers in a warm and casual setting.

The gracious hosts from Airbnb offered attendees a tour of their office which is modeled on listings from around the world and designed by employees themselves. From classic and contemporary to rugged and rustic, all the workspaces (and even the bathrooms!) were pretty thoughtfully done.

SDX kicked off the next morning on Saturday, July 22 at Portland State University. Support Driven, the conference organizers, drew an impressive line of speakers and workshops for the day-long event. The sessions covered the most pressing support issues, ranging from reducing ticket overload, building a culture of candor, leading with clarity and data, key support metrics to industry best practices, dealing with difficult customers and surviving the worst of support. The workshops were aimed at coaching, training and equipping customer support professionals with the necessary tools, skills and knowledge to effectively carry out their job.

Today, with increasing volume of support requests, rising customer expectations and soaring support costs, support driven organizations are feeling challenged to keep up with the ticket overload. Mahesh Ram, founding CEO of Solvvy, discussed the importance of self-service in reducing ticket overload while highlighting important KPIs and factors affecting the success of self-service.

Max Yoder, CEO of Lessonly, emphasized the importance of candor, vulnerability and appreciation while sharing his personal journey and anecdotes. Emily Triplett Lentz from Help Scout talked about the ROI (Return on Investment) of saying “Thank You” and shared the power of sending handwritten thank-you notes to customers. Valentina Thoerner from WooCommerce division at Automattic highlighted the importance of going over all customer feedback, taking notes, identifying patterns, updating the knowledge base and doing follow-ups. Sukhpreet Anand from Kayako gave some handy tips on reducing churn and nurturing long-lasting relationships with customers.

Over lunch, the attendees got a chance to experience Portland’s Farmers Market. The market featured fresh produce, Oregon grown nuts, flowers, pastries, food carts, local tastings, and live music.

Some of the other conference highlights included a mix of speaker sessions and hands-on workshops around scaling, the need for automation and technologies like AI (Artificial Intelligence), and mastering the art of dealing with customers. While most sessions centered around happy customers, Sharon Moorhouse from Intercom spoke about nailing difficult conversations with unhappy customers, and Sarah Betts from Olark, conducted a workshop on surviving the worst of support, referring to problematic customers as “Villains, Trolls and Grumps”. David Klint from Illuminate Education talked about the art of handling stress. From the back of an ambulance to fielding support queries, the former EMT and firefighter saw himself applying the same techniques. He had some handy tips for support professionals like always staying cool and being (or at least pretending to be) in absolute control.

Portland truly turned to “Supportland” with representation from more than 50 companies from 3 continents including Solvvy, Zendesk, Airbnb, WordPress, Intercom, MailChimp, Shinesty, Help Scout, Zapier and several others.

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The Basics of Artificial Intelligence Decoded

Justin Betteridge on 7 June, 2017

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, has come a long way since its inception in 1956. Simply put, AI refers to the theory and development of computer systems that are able to perform tasks that usually require human intelligence. This infographic from Solvvy highlights the key drivers, explains the branches and traces the evolution of AI.

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, has come a long way since its inception in 1956. Simply put, AI refers to the theory and development of computer systems that are able to perform tasks that usually require human intelligence. This infographic from Solvvy highlights the key drivers, explains the branches and traces the evolution of AI.

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Whitepaper: Building Intelligence into the Customer Experience

Optimizing service processes to deepen loyalty is the next frontier for customer happiness professionals. In this whitepaper, we examine the shift in brand loyalty which is no longer centered on the quality of a product but rather shaped by the complete experience customers have with your brand — in relation to your product, your marketing, your digital footprint, and your service.

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Sarah Hatter: Self-Service is the Way to Go

Mahesh Ram on 22 May, 2017

If you can answer people’s questions without getting a human involved then you’ve already won the game! Join us for a live webinar with CoSupport and Solvvy on Wed, Jun 21, 11:00am PST. Don’t apologize for the inconvenience or say, “Thank you for your feedback,” notes Sarah Hatter, a renowned name in the world of customer service. Instead try, “Thanks so much for sharing this insight with me” or “Your experience matters.”

Folks from Solvvy – an intelligent self-service platform for customer service – caught up with author, speaker, entrepreneur, and coach, Sarah Hatter to talk everything customer support. For starters, she urges folks to get real. While you would think that “human touch” is getting lost to technology, you might want to think again. Technology, today, is in fact an enabler. A huge proponent of automation and tech, Sarah says, “Artificial intelligence has evolved to a point where it is trained to have an empathetic side.” Isn’t it, then, paradoxical that humans are turning robotic while machines are turning human?

The key takeaway for customer service leaders is that language can be a game-changer: relational is in and mechanical is out. A simple thing like replacing robotic email templates with personal transactional emails might change the way your users perceive you.

Winning customers from that very first experience with your product and company is essential. It is stellar customer service that separates the best from the rest. You want to have your customer service function to be an extension of your persona. If your brand is happy, fun and happening, you don’t want a support notification going out that reads, “Please allow 2-3 days for a response.”

From a “white page with an email address on it” to becoming an “integral function of selling,” customer support has come a long way since Sarah Hatter launched her company, CoSupport, in 2011. The customer support function has truly evolved from playing catch up after product launch to carefully thinking through support strategies ahead of time. Searchable help sections, video tutorials and trained support personnel have become a norm today.

In all of this, what truly amazes Sarah – our wine and grilled-cheese loving friend from California – is support “baked” into the product itself! Instagram is a classic example. It did not have a “Help Center” when it started out and folks took to it almost instantly since it was so self-explanatory. The adoption was phenomenal, and the growth, explosive.

As someone having worked the phones at a call center at the age of 15, Sarah thinks phone support is on its way out! It is expensive and in most cases the staff is not well-educated about the products and services they are supporting. Having untrained interns taking people’s credit cards numbers over phone and paying a crappy wage for reciting a script from the binder is no longer considered effective customer service.

Our expert also shared some interesting research results: Gen Xers tend to contact customer support via email, chat or social while the millennials and the 45+ crowd prefer to find their own answers. Their reasons differ. Millennials “don’t have time to waste” and self-explanatory works best for them while the 45+ age demographic wants to “feel empowered” and leans towards old school user manuals, step-by-step guides and downloadable pdfs.

With web and self-service support on the rise, advent of machine learning and natural language processing, and so many great tools and techniques out there for companies and teams of all sizes – the support community is living in truly magical times. If done right, these technologies can bring great returns on investment and help support driven organizations deliver a stellar customer experience.

Sarah Hatter is going to be sharing her valuable insights on emerging trends and best practices in customer support in a webinar, organized by Solvvy, an intelligent self-service platform for customer service. Reserve your spot today.

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