Tuesday, July 28, 2015

One Year Later: Revisiting with Diego Ventura, CEO, noHold

Photo of Diego Ventura (CEO of noHold)

One year ago this month, Connected World interviewed Diego Ventura, CEO of noHold about virtual agents, the IoT (Internet of Things), and AI (artificial intelligence). In the year since that interview, the pace of developments in these areas, and for noHold as well, has been blistering.
noHold has announced a number of important developments since June of 2014, clear indicators of the company’s vitality and its commitment to innovation.
Some of the key announcements were the continuation of its longstanding relationship with ViewSonic, and the launch of a collaborative project with Cisco to develop the next generation of AI-enabled virtual assistants. This project, code named SARA for “Services Automated Resolution Agent,” is intended to “revolutionize the interaction by integrating with sophisticated back office systems and deeper understanding of complex problem resolution.”
One of the more exciting projects Ventura’s team has launched is “Virtual Volunteer,” a program designed to give charitable organizations a means to supplement a diminishing base of human volunteers, the ones who make the calls to secure contributions from donors.
Connected World’s Tim Lindner, who originally interviewed Ventura, caught up with him recently to see just what noHold has been doing this past year.
For the full interview with Diego Ventura, please follow this link to Connected World Magazine: http://connectedworld.com/one-year-later-revisiting-with-diego-ventura-ceo-nohold/

Friday, July 24, 2015

6 Tips to Help Reimagine the Customer Support Experience for Your Audience

A couple weeks ago we mentioned the ongoing trend multiple companies are following of 'reimagining' products and services. While the product is an important component to the customer experience, it is not the only component that needs attention. Think about brand names such as Disney, Apple, Sony, and Amazon. When you hear these names you don't just think about their products...you typically associate them with exceptional customer service. To achieve global success, your customer service and customer support need to match this product evolution. 

Here are 6 tips to help 'reimagine' the customer support experience:     
Statistics describing digital use around the world as of January 2015
Photo Source: wearesocial.sg
  • Embrace Social Media - Social media is not a new concept, but the necessity for companies to connect with their audience through these channels (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.) is now a must. In a survey, "42% of consumers complaining in social media expect 60 minute response times," and "24% expect a reply within 30 minutes, regardless of when the contact was made." (Convince & Convert) Support vendors are making this transition easier with interactive technology that can be deployed directly on their social channels. 
  • Leverage the Internet of Everything (IoE) - As we've heard previously, the number of connected devices is expected to reach 50 billion by the year 2020. Thanks to the IoE "companies are starting to use support automation to preemptively diagnose and fix issues with minimal human intervention." (Forrester) "The real value in IoT [IoE] is not just connecting devices to their users, but to deliver an integrated management platform, driven by big data to centralize customer service." (CSMWire)
  • Clear Website Design - People typically visit a company website first when looking for support. It is crucial to have a clear, flowing website layout for customers to easily find the information they need.  
  • Understand Customer Wants/Needs - The Voice of the Customer (VOC) is powerful data to incorporate into the development of any company. Leading brands have implemented self-service marketing tools that collect metrics/qualitative insight directly from the customers themselves. In one particular case, using an empty Virtual Agent (EZIntel), a leader in computer hardware manufacturing was able to use the knowledge they gained from their customers to make adjustments to their web design to better fit their audience. Learn more about collecting actionable customer intelligence here: http://www.nohold.com/assets/ezintel_brochure-(1).pdf
Shadows of many people with chat bubbles coming out of them.
Photo Credit: ideastogo.com
  • Improve Self-Service Technology - "In a survey Forrester recently found that web self service was the most widely used communication channel for customer service, surpassing use of the voice channel for the first time." (Forbes) It is not just enough to have sub par self-service options though. Customers are demanding a more interactive, personalized way for self-service interactions to flow.  
  • Single Point of Search - Providing customers with the convenience of having one place to search and find answers to their problems. For example, users can ask a question in the text field, and solutions will come up from multiple knowledge sources. (i.e. internal knowledge base, Google, CRM systems, etc.) Click the infographic below for an enlarged visual representation of this concept.                                            
search engine connected by plugs to spheres representing the different platforms SICURA can be connected with

Please share in the comments below some of the ways your company is 'reimagining' the support ecosystem. For more information on any of the tips mentioned above, please contact noHold.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

New noHold A.I. Connector Integrates with Lithium Communities

Allowing Users to Leverage Multiple Knowledge Sources from a Single Point of Search

API connector chip
Photo Credit: jdesbonnet.blogspot.com

July 16, 2015, MILPITAS, CA – noHold created a new connector that integrates with Lithium Communities to simplify the customer support experience. With a similar goal to optimize efficiency for end users to find support solutions, the connector uses noHold’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Lithium’s search to find answers in the discussion boards hosted within a Lithium Community, and returns the results within the noHold Virtual Assistant window. Through the open API connector, companies can leverage a Virtual Assistant that also works in parallel with multiple knowledge sources such as Lithium, Google, Bing, Salesforce, and more; all from one place, Single Point of Search.

One of the largest PC manufacturers in the world is already utilizing this technology to make their support options more dynamic. For example, if a user is inquiring about a battery issue for their laptop, the user can type ‘battery’ into the search bar. The expert system will bring up noHold’s Virtual Assistant, as well as pull in a library of knowledge and relevant discussion threads from the company’s Lithium-powered community. The technology is designed to help customers find solutions on their own terms, for any type of user. They can use the Virtual Assistant for a more diagnostic and interactive experience, or use the search function to get to a relevant list of articles in the forum.

The advantages to deploying a Virtual Assistant with such a connector include:
  • Single Point of Search – having one place for customers to search multiple repositories of information simultaneously.
  • Ease of implementation – within a matter of days the Virtual Assistant can go live.
  • Low customer effort – users do not have to jump from different channels (phone, web, email, etc.) to find solutions.

“Communities are a powerful way to generate trusted content that solves customer problems. But like any content, community content is most powerful when you deliver it to the right person at the right time,” said Joe Cothrel, Chief Community Officer at Lithium Technologies. “This integration between noHold and Lithium empowers companies to harness the power of community in new ways.”

“Virtual Assistants have gone through an impressive evolution in the past few years. First, leveraging content from their own knowledge base only and now reaching out and connecting to content found in Communities,” said Diego Ventura, CEO and founder of noHold. “Our connector to one of the most sophisticated platforms in the field, Lithium, makes our Virtual Assistant even more in tune with what the audience is interested in because the content is created by the audience itself.  We look forward to this next stage of evolution.”

Contact noHold to learn more about Single Point of Search, and the benefits of an integrated customer experience.

About noHold, Inc.
noHold is a privately held company established in 1999 and is headquartered in Milpitas, CA, USA (Silicon Valley). noHold is the acknowledged leader in Web based Self-service solutions with a mission to deliver real answers to real questions – real fast. Simple to use, easy to implement and as close to human as you can get, noHold turns automated customer support into cognitive customer interactions. noHold customers include Toshiba, Cisco and a host of industry leaders. More information can be found at www.nohold.com.

Press Contact
Veronica Cech
Marketing Associate
408.946.9200 ext. 356

All other product and service names are the property of their respective owners.

Friday, July 10, 2015

How to Reimagine the Customer Experience

2015 has been a big year for service/product evolution in customer-centric companies. With technology dominating the market, and consumers demanding the latest and greatest, big brand players are definitely delivering. 

Photo Credit: news.mattel.com
For example, Mattel, the worldwide leader in the design, manufacture, and marketing of toys and family products, announced at the beginning of the year their latest collaboration with Google to revamp one of their most iconic toys, the View-Master. With the help of Google, Mattel was able to transform a classic toy and turn it into an 'immersive digital experience for kids.' Experts are referring to this sort of evolution as "reimagining the customer experience." Alongside Mattel, Cablevision is also working towards adapting to modern customer needs. When announcing the addition of a free digital antenna and digital Wi-Fi phone service to their broadband package, the Chief Operating Officer, Kristin Dolan, went on to say, "As a connectivity company, Cablevision is reimagining its relationship with its customers. Our new 'cord-cutter' packages take a modern approach to traditional triple-product bundles and provide real alternatives that fit new consumer lifestyles."

With technology at the forefront of almost everything, this is a critical time for companies to stay relevant and up to date so they don't get pushed out by the competition, and 'reimagining' the customer experience is a great way to accomplish that. What some companies turn a blind eye to is as your products and services progress, so should your customer support initiatives. It is import to recognize the need to reimagine all aspects of the customer experiences, including pre- and post- sale interactions. Traditional FAQs are not going to be enough anymore, and live agents can get costly. Experience shows that providing consumers with a dynamic and interactive self-service tool, such as a Virtual Assistant (VA), increases customer satisfaction because it gives users the freedom to find their own answers, on their own time.

Just as goods have been evolving with the times, VAs are progressing with the age of technology as well. At the beginning, VAs simply automated FAQs leveraging content from its own knowledgebase to answer questions. Now, VAs are more dynamic and interactive than ever before, integrating to back-office systems (CRM, existing Knowledge Management solutions, etc.) and connecting to various software platforms (live chat, social media, communities, etc.).

How is your company reimagining the customer experience? 
For more information on how VAs can help your company revolutionize the way you connect with your customer, please visit our website: www.nohold.com

Photo Credit: loyalty360.org

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

noHold A.I. Enables PC Industry Leaders to Transform Issues into Opportunities

June 30, 2015, MILPITAS, CA – Within the past 12 months, noHold Virtual Assistants have handled over 25 million conversations. During these interactions with the Virtual Assistant, actionable metrics were captured regarding end user behavior. noHold was able to turn these metrics into valuable insight not only for the support organization, but also for product marketing, engineering, sales, and more.

In working with the leaders in the PC and related industries, noHold has identified the top 10 most frequently used solutions from support questions in this space. The top issues include: downloads and drivers (39%), system restore (18%), wireless issues (10%), Windows issues (6%), webcam issues (5%) , no boot/no power (5%), touchpad issues (5%), monitor issues (4%), audio issues (4%), and owner manuals/guides (4%).

It is important to target your organization’s top issues and leverage those issues to create opportunities to better serve your customers. In fact, a noHold client used the information collected through the Virtual Assistant to redesign the support site and simplify customer engagement. Here are a few tips on how you can turn insight from the customer into opportunities:

  •   Create a seamless customer journey for end users – integrate CRM, live chat, social media, and mobile.
  •   Be prepared – make self-service front and center throughout all support mediums. Be ready to answer questions related to new products or services. For example, there will be a lot of questions surrounding Windows 10.
  •   Incorporate up-sell opportunities – if the battery is not holding a charge, maybe it’s time for a new one. Provide direct links to order pages, or co-browsing functionality to make it an easy process.
  •   Offer premium support when necessary – research shows that a large portion of users will pay for enhanced support, and VIP treatment.

For more information on tips and best practices, please follow this link: http://www.nohold.com/assets/best-practices-web-print.pdf

“There are many tools on the market that can collect metrics in a quantitative manner,” said Diego Ventura, CEO and founder of noHold. “In addition to quantitative metrics, the advantage to our tool is that the Virtual Assistant is also able to provide qualitative insight on customer intent. With that kind of information, organizations are better equipped to make decisions that will enhance their customers’ experience.” 

About noHold, Inc.
noHold is a privately held company established in 1999 and is headquartered in Milpitas, CA, USA (Silicon Valley). noHold is the acknowledged leader in Web based Self-service solutions with a mission to deliver real answers to real questions – real fast. Simple to use, easy to implement and as close to human as you can get, noHold turns automated customer support into cognitive customer interactions. noHold customers include Toshiba, Cisco and a host of industry leaders. More information can be found at www.nohold.com.

Press Contact
Veronica Cech
Marketing Associate
408.946.9200 ext. 356

All other product and service names are the property of their respective owners.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Robotics Challenge Finals 2015- Humanoid Robots Continue to Advance Each Year

Just a couple weeks ago, teams from all over the globe competed in the Robotics Challenge Finals 2015 put together by DARPA (The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). Check out this video from Yahoo! Tech to get a summary of what went down at this event.

Each year the robots entered into these challenges advance greatly. While the technology is rapidly growing, it is still in its infant stage according to DARPA's own Gill Pratt, the person in charge of the Robotics Challenge. "'These are still the Model Ts,' Pratt told me. 'In coming years, reliability will go up, prices will go down. And the technology here can be applied to robots for many, many purposes- in particular, robots for an aging society. In the United States right now, 13 percent of the population is over age 65. In 15 years that number will rise to 20 percent. Who's gonna take care of us? Wouldn't it be better if I could age in place, if I wouldn't have to go to a nursing home? If there would be technology in my home to make life better, so that I can have a more dignified life as I grow old?'"

Society is slowly gaining more and more acceptance of humanoid robots, and moving away from the fear of AI world domination. What is your opinion on robots, and their progression throughout the past 5 years?  

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Cortana on Windows Phones, PCs, and now...Apple and Android Devices

Photo Credit: Yahoo! Tech
With the summer release date for Windows 10 to come out, Microsoft is making some big moves this year. In addition to Windows 10, Microsoft also announced that later in the year Cortana (Microsoft's Personal Virtual Assistant) will be available on Android and iOS devices via a mobile application (Yahoo! Tech). While Cortana might not have all the capabilities it does on a Windows Phone, Microsoft plans to continually improve its functions across all devices.  

What does this mean for the Virtual Assistant space?

1. It is further validation that Virtual Assistants are becoming the new norm. Big brands and industry experts agree that self-service and Artificial Intelligence is the way of the future and companies need to jump on board or risk getting left behind.

2. The competition between Siri, GoogleNow, and Cortana will stiffen, and in the coming months we will see how the public takes to Cortana's availability.

3. More companies (even outside the mobile market) will continue to invest in advancing their Virtual Assistant technology to better serve the consumers. 

What is your opinion on Microsoft's expansion to Apple and Android devices? What other implications does this have for Artificial Intelligence and the Virtual Assistant market?