Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How to Increase Revenue With Support Services

In a customer-centric world, creating an excellent customer experience is key to making your brand stand out from the rest. Statistics show that improving the customer experience is actually cost effective; “A 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%” (15 Statistics That Should Change the Business World- But Haven’t). One noHold customer discovered how an existing Virtual Assistant could help generate revenue by promoting new products/services in the right context. Here’s the story…
  • The brand in reference is in the consumer electronics industry.
  • The company implemented a Virtual Assistant that primarily answers post-sales questions about products.
  • On average, the Virtual Assistant handles 75,000 interactions per month, while significantly decreasing support costs.
  • The company began promoting a new service on the web site, a Premium Support Service.
  • They used typical marketing strategies: banners, colorful buttons, etc. Very little leads came from this type of advertising, though. 
  • noHold proposed to let the Virtual Assistant offer the Premium Service in the right context. For example, when an end user describes a problem, the Virtual Assistant provides an answer, but if appropriate, it also suggests to sign up for the Premium Service. No flashy buttons or gimmicks, just let the Virtual Assistant play the role of an expert advisor. 
  • It worked! Of the 75,000 interactions per month, 10,000 resulted in leads, and 1,200 converted into sales. After doing the calculations (each sale being about $110), this company was generating an average of $132,000 per month via the new revenue stream.
From this, we learned a couple invaluable lessons. First being, the Virtual Assistant is a great resource to generate leads that might have been lost otherwise. The same service that was not getting attention while flashing in the middle of the Website, is now reaching record sales due to the Virtual Assistant’s ability to understand the context of the conversation and present an offer only when it makes sense. 

Secondly, the Virtual Assistant is able to provide a better customer experience than most other solutions. Take this as an example; a customer is lamenting that the battery life on his or her laptop is degrading. The Virtual Assistant can provide both simple suggestions to increase battery life, and present a one-click link to buy a new battery. In the end, the customer receives excellent customer service and the company effectively cross-sells in the appropriate context. 

“In today’s society, humans are programmed to reject typical forms of advertisements, but everyone still appreciates a helping hand when they are trying to solve a problem.” –Diego Ventura, CEO of noHold. 


Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Most Disruptive Technology Trend in IT History... The Smart Machine Era

Earlier in the month, one of the top analyst firms in the industry posted their predictions of the top 10 strategic technology trends for the coming year. For example, being able to compute everywhere on mobile devices, embracing the Internet of Things, and 3D printing are just a few of the kinds of disruptive technologies we will be further immersed in as 2015 approaches. 

The smart machine era is another trend that is considered to be the most disruptive in IT history thus far. In this era of smart machines, they now have the capability to analyze the environment around them, learn from it, and make educated decisions on their own. Leading analysts agree that prototype self-driving cars, intelligent robots, and Virtual Personal Assistants (VPAs) will continue to develop at a fast pace. 

Similarly, Virtual Customer Assistants (VCA) are evolving rapidly. Using this type of disruptive technology will not only decrease support costs, but also improve the customer experience and increase revenue. According to a distinguished magazine publication, when consumers start a support interaction, they are 4x more likely to leave that interaction unsatisfied and stop shopping with your brand. The presence of a VCA allows users to find the answers to their own questions, on their own time – quickly.    

Companies that want to stay competitive need to start thinking about incorporating these strategic trends into their organization. Is your company already adopting some of these trends? If so, which ones and how? Does your eServices strategy emphasize the importance of self-service?     

Thursday, October 16, 2014

noHold Kicks Off Virtual Volunteers With its First Charitable Virtual Assistant Awarded to Family Giving Tree

Photo Credit: familygivingtree.org
October 16, 2014, MILPITAS, CA – noHold is proud to announce its charitable initiative called “Virtual Volunteers,” with its first Virtual Assistant donation given to Family Giving Tree of California. The goal of noHold’s Virtual Volunteers is to provide charities, non-profits and foundations with a Virtual Assistant that interacts with website visitors to get real answers to questions real fast. Virtual Volunteers work similar to live chat; however, instead of interacting with a live person, end users interact with an Artificial Intelligence (AI). These Virtual Assistants are available 24/7 and allow supporters to find answers without human intervention. Virtual Volunteers improve customer satisfaction, help the recipient get closer to its audience, and increases donation/volunteer rates. 

Family Giving Tree is one of the first recipients, and has recently launched a Virtual Assistant. The Virtual Elf is ever-present as visitors to the website navigate through various pages, and provides a wealth of knowledge for hosts, volunteers, agencies, and offers additional information about how to donate. With successful programs focused on back to school as well as the holidays, Family Giving Tree accepted the donation to keep up with the growing popularity of giving back. In its 23rd year, the total number of gifts and backpacks donated had grown to over 900,000, making the Family Giving Tree the largest gift and backpack donation program in California.

By donating a Virtual Assistant, noHold will empower the organization to focus on its charitable mission and spend less time answering calls. Since Family Giving Tree has frequent changes in volunteer locations, donation centers, etc., the “Virtual Elf” can be updated as necessary based on the needs of the organization and its audience. In addition, the Virtual Elf will capture actionable feedback from its users, which provides a unique way for Family Giving Tree to get closer to supporters. For example, a visitor to the site might have questions about leading a drive, volunteering, donating or he/she may even be part of an agency. The Elf will first determine which of these groups the visitor belongs to, then answer specific questions automatically.  To interact with the Virtual Elf, visit www.familygivingtree.org, and click on “Ask the Elf!” on the lower right corner. 

“I have been a longtime fan of Family Giving Tree, so I was thrilled when they were selected to receive the same great Virtual Assistant technology we provide to our for-profit customers.  By having a Virtual “Elf” to answer common questions, the fabulous folks at Family Giving Tree can focus even more of their time on fulfilling families’ wishes.  And volunteers, agencies and hosts can get answers from the Virtual Assistant right away, even when Family Giving Tree offices are closed,” said Andrea Sahli, Member of Virtual Volunteers Committee, and Implementation Manager at noHold. 

“In order to give back to our community, noHold has recently launched Virtual Volunteers. Working with trusted brands over the past 15 years has proven that Virtual Assistants can significantly reduce costs while increasing customer satisfaction. noHold looks forward to working with The Family Giving Tree as they achieve the same success as our customers,” said Diego Ventura, CEO and Founder of noHold. 

“We are extremely grateful to noHold, Inc. for donating their time, energy and support in providing our organization with a fantastic Virtual Assistant.  The quality of service, commitment and expertise from the entire noHold staff has been incredible. We feel very privileged to work beside them on this endeavor, and highly recommend their expertise and product to both for-profit and non-profit agencies alike,” said Ashley Gilmer, Communications Specialist Elf. 

noHold plans to donate two Virtual Assistants each year to organizations selected by the Virtual Volunteers committee. More information and submission criteria can be found at: www.nohold.com/virtual-volunteers.html, or you can "Ask Vint" about noHold's charitable initiative.

About Family Giving Tree
The Family Giving Tree began in 1990 as a San Jose State University MBA class project. Jennifer Cullenbine and Todd Yoshida were asked to "create a program that adds value to someone else's life." They created the Family Giving Tree with the hope of providing holiday gifts to 300 children in East Palo Alto. Encouraged by the success of the first year, Jennifer decided to continue and expand the organization. In the 23rd year of the program's existence, the total number of gifts and backpacks donated had grown to over 900,000, making the Family Giving Tree the largest gift and backpack donation program in California.

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 experience into cognitive customer interaction. noHold customers include Toshiba, Lenovo, Cisco and a host of industry leaders. More information can be found at www.nohold.com.

Press Contacts
Sarah Ramoz
Marketing Operations Manager
408.946.9200 ext. 305

Veronica Cech
Social Media Assistant
408.946.9200 ext. 356
Copyright © 2014 noHold Inc. All other product and service names are the property of their respective owners.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

3 Reasons Why Smartphone Brands Need a Virtual Customer Assistant (like Siri) for Customer Support

Photo Credit: richardrshapiro.com
Happy Wednesday all! I wanted to first start off with a side note. noHold has decided to write a weekly blog (as opposed to daily), to make sure we are providing our audience with the most relevant and compelling content. Thanks for your continued support! 

In light of customer service week, I wanted to share some thoughts on why one of the World's most recognized consumer electronics companies, Apple, and brands alike, could benefit from having a Virtual Customer Assistant (VCA) for support. 

Siri, Google Now, and Cortana are some of the most well known Virtual Personal Assistants (VPA) used today. Smartphone users typically ask their VPA for directions, reviews, funny questions, and a host of other things. While these companies utilizes VPAs for users to answer personal questions, it's about time they used a VCA (similar to Siri or Cortana) for customer support. Here are three reasons why.  

#1: Apple's melt down after the release of their first update to iOS 8 is not a secret. According to an article from Computer World, "Apple today [Sept. 24] released, then quickly pulled, its first update for iOS 8 after customers flooded its support forum with reports that their iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Smartphones could no longer connect to a cellular network." Increase in customer support and service questions surrounding new software updates, and new versions are a common challenge for many companies. While it may not have been able to fix the problem in this instance, it would be able to give assurance to users that the problem is being addressed and maybe even offer some sort of condolence for the inconvenience, such as a coupon, or free song download. This way, customer satisfaction is never compromised, even in the face of technical difficulties. 

Photo Credit: themacwire.com
#2: What about the U2 debacle that occurred at the end of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus announcement? Many iPhone users were upset that the U2 album automatically downloaded into their iTunes, and wanted to figure out how to delete it. With the bad backlash from their marketing tactic, a VCA could have provided a solution to tens of thousands of users without costing the company big bucks to answer the phones/ emails. 

#3: Lastly, one of the leading analyst firms is predicting that companies need to start leveraging digital technologies to create a more engaging customer experience. They believe that more enterprises are exploring self-service through a VCA to reduce the volume of calls to the contact center, thus reducing support costs. Not only will a VCA reduce support costs, it can also help improve customer satisfaction in the process. 

In this age of technology, it is apparent that self-service is quickly becoming the users' preferred channel for support. Top brands, and small businesses alike need to adapt their strategies accordingly before they get left behind. 

How are you celebrating your customers this week...and daily? Is your company using digital technology to improve the customer experience? Do you agree that Smartphone vendors should leverage a VCA for customer support? Let us know what you think in the comments section below. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

How Will the Internet of Everything Impact Your Healthcare?

Greetings! I hope everyone had a relaxing weekend!

I wanted to start off this week by sharing a video from Cisco's YouTube channel. As the acknowledged leader in the Internet of Everything (IoE), Cisco gives a great practical example of how the IoE can be utilized within the Healthcare space.   

As you can see, the IoE is working to improve the way we view healthcare, but it isn't stopping there. In the past, we have talked a lot about the use of Artificial Intelligence (more specifically Virtual Assistants) in the healthcare industry. As time progresses, there is an increasing amount of automation in the doctor's office. In fact, in a podcast shared earlier in the year, experts in this arena debated whether robots had better bedside manner than a human doctor. In the end, there were quite a few people who preferred the Artificial Intelligence.

People are beginning to warm up to the idea of letting robots and/or Artificial Intelligence play a major role in their lives. Take wearable devices for example. Most wearable devices are designed as a health monitor; tracking exercise, diet, blood pressure, etc. With the IoE, your personal physician can retrieve the data from your health monitor and sync it with your digital file. This way, if you have to see a doctor, he/she will have accurate data and be better equipped to diagnose the problem. 

Do you think the IoE is going to impact healthcare, or is it just an over-the-top fantasy? What do you think about Virtual Assistants becoming nurses? Let us know what you think in the comments section below. 


Friday, September 26, 2014

A Look Back at noHold's Top Stories of the Week: September 22nd-26th

1. Virtual Agents Help Fight the Flu Season 
Here is a video with some do's and don'ts for the coming flu season. 

During peak seasons, such as these, a Virtual Agent can help relieve some of the congestion in the call centers. Click on the blog above to find out how. 

2. Virtual Agent Tips and Tricks: Virtual Agent for our Company's Community Forum

This week's Tuesday tip: Virtual Agents are a great asset to social media pages, community forums, or blogs. 

3. noHold CEO Travels to San Francisco for the Intelligent Virtual Assistants Conference Presented by Opus Research

"The time to differentiate is now," explains Dan Miller, lead analyst and founder of Opus Research. "Coke, Domino's and Hyatt are part of a leading-edge group of firms that employ human-like assistants for sales, customer care, technical support and answering questions. Within a few years, they will be virtually ubiquitous." (Opus Research's Intelligent Assistant Awards (IAAs) Recognize Hyatt, Domino's and the US Army for Human-Like Automated Assistance).

4. Throwback Thursday: Virtual Agents for Wearable Devices

When asking the community what they think about wearable devices, there has been an overwhelming lack of consensus on this technology. People have mixed feelings whether to embrace this disruptive tech, or reject it completely. With the announcement of the Apple Watch to come out in 2015, we'll see if wearable devices will gain a little more traction than before...

Please click on the link above to read the full  blog. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Virtual Agents for Wearable Devices

Happy Throwback Thursday! 

Earlier in the year, noHold published a short demo video showing you how Virtual Agents can augment the Internet of Everything. Check it out below:  

When asking the community what they think about wearable devices, there has been an overwhelming lack of consensus on this technology. People have mixed feelings whether to embrace this disruptive tech, or reject it completely. With the announcement of the Apple Watch to come out in 2015, we'll see if wearable devices will gain a little more traction than before.  

In addition to being the latest wearable device in the game, Apple Watch also comes equipped with Apple's well known Personal Virtual Assistant, Siri, but Siri seems to be falling short compared to other personal Virtual Assistants lately. While it has received some updates, one important feature that Siri still lacks is the ability to follow a conversation. You can ask it a question, but as soon as you ask another question, Siri loses the context of the conversation. 

For wearable devices and the Internet of Everything to be a more usable concept, a Virtual Agent (VA) needs to be able to act as a 'butler' (similar to the video above), to manage all the devices and applications in your life. It should be able to, not only do what you ask, but also suggest other actions based on gathered knowledge and reference back to the context of the conversation. For example, you ask the VA to set the alarm for 6:30 AM. The VA sets the alarm, but comes back with the suggestion to set your alarm a little earlier because your gas tank is low and you need to fill up in the morning.

What are your thoughts on the future of wearable devices? Are they going to be a dying trend or will they be the next must-have devices? How do you think a more conversational and intuitive Virtual Agent will impact wearable devices and the Internet of Everything?