Friday, January 23, 2015

Virtual Customer Assistants Advancing in 2015 to Solve Complex Problems

Virtual Personal Assistants (VPAs) have become a household name; something we use daily without thinking twice about it. Things such as Siri, 'Okay Google', Cortana, etc. have been integrated into our lives, it has become second nature to communicate with Artificial Intelligence. Most people actually prefer it to get quick and easy answers to their needs: getting directions, scheduling an appointment, calling a friend, etc. 

Virtual Customer Assistants (VCAs) have been used to streamline customer support questions long before VPAs became popular. VCAs have advanced greatly since their inception, though. Now, VCA's are not just used to answer simple support questions, they have the capacity to integrate with back end systems to understand more complex problems and connect with more sophisticated devices. Stay tuned for next weeks announcement on a project noHold and one of the largest networking companies in the world have been working on. 
Cheers! 
www.nohold.com

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Self-Service and the Internet of Everything Make a Big Splash at CES 2015

It was a record breaking year for the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). There were tons of innovative and immersive technologies being showcased, including things like driver-less cars, 4K TV's, advances in wearable devices, and virtual realities.

But what do all these things have in common? They all have the potential to be connected with the Internet of Everything (IoE) phenomenon, a continuing hot topic throughout the space. Check out this short clip from CES's YouTube channel, highlighting one of the major trends at this years show, the IoE.



Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Assistants also made an appearance at CES 2015. According to an article from inc.com, Virtual Assistants are one of the top tech trends to watch out for this year (8 Hot Tech Trends Coming to Your Office in 2015). Gartner also predicted in 2012 that "by 2015 [this year], 50 percent of online customer self-service search activities will be via a Virtual Assistant for at least 1,500 large enterprises" (Gartner Says Organizations That Integrate Communities Into Customer Support Can Realize Cost Reductions of Up to 50 Percent). While the exact numbers are not available at this point, it is apparent that since 2012 more and more companies are adopting self-service strategies to support their customers' needs.   

What were some of the tech gadgets that caught your eye this year? Any predictions for CES 2016?  
www.nohold.com

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Look Back at Some Highlights of 2014

Photo Credit: theweeklyracer.com
Welcome back! I hope everyone had a fun and relaxing holiday. Now that we are back in motion, I wanted to share a quick recap of some of the memorable moments of 2014. 

1. noHold kicked off our Virtual Volunteers initiative. We successfully implemented a Virtual Customer Assistant (VCA) for the non-profit organization, Family Giving Tree.   
Virtual Volunteer

2. The Internet of Everything (IoE) was, and is continuing to be a hot topic in the tech space. noHold Connect, the evolution of Confederated Knowledge™, is revolutionizing the way humans experience the IoE from a single user interface.

3. noHold's CEO, Diego Ventura, was published in an interview in Connect World Magazine, followed by a feature on the Peggy Smedley Show, the voice of M2M and connected devices. Alongside Diego was special guest Glenn Schleicher, Senior Director of Customer Service of Cisco. Together, they discussed the IoE, Artificial Intelligence, and how noHold fits into the equation. 


Diego Ventura featured in Connected World Magazine
Listed are only a few of the highlights of 2014. To see more click here. It was been a busy year for the team at noHold, and in the coming year we are excited to continue to modernize the way we look at the customers' experience. To keep up with noHold and industry news alike, follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter: @noHoldAI

Cheers!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy Holidays from noHold


As the year is coming to an end, everyone here at noHold wishes you and your family Season's Greetings and a prosperous New Year. Cheers!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Trusted Retailers Innovate the Traditional Customer Service Approach by Adding Robots as Staff

Photo Credit: newsroom.cisco.com
Over the past few years, online sales have increased tremendously and are expected to continue to rise to 10% of all US retail sales (Fitting Room Robots and Smart Mirrors: Can Retail Tech Save Stores?) Brick and mortar stores are trying to pull shoppers into the store, and are using advanced technologies to entice them to do so. 

As everyone is in the middle of holiday shopping, companies have been incorporating new technologies to accommodate the increased volume of shoppers, while still being able to provide excellent customer service. Orchard Supply Hardware is one of the companies focusing on customer service and innovation, and plans to appeal to customers by integrating OSHbots with staff. OSHbots are robotic customer assistants that help customers locate products in the store and provide them with information on the product and current promotions. Not only can they find products, but they can connect with employees from other Orchard stores when human intervention is needed. Check out this video to see OSHbots in action: 




Amazon is also utilizing robots to make sure packages get delivered on time this holiday season. Kiva's [company Amazon purchased in 2012] robots bring shelves of goods out of storage and carry them to employees, allowing Amazon to retrieve more items for more customers simultaneously. Amazon began using these robots in July of this year, and there are now more than 15,000 of them in 10 of the company's warehouses." (Robots Shipping Your Order this Holiday Season)

Artificial Intelligence and robotics are working together to revolutionize how we look at customer service. Do you think other retailers are going to adopt robotic sales associates? If so, how do you think customers will react?
www.nohold.com

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Artificial Intelligence to Help Improve Communication Skills in Autistic Children – How Siri Did It

In the spirit of the holidays and being grateful for all we have, I wanted to share this heartwarming story I read titled, “To Siri, With Love – how one boy with autism became BFFs with Apple’sSiri.” It was written in the form of a letter from a mother whose son was born autistic. She took the time to write a thank you letter to Siri for being a friend to her son and teaching him many things that he might not have understood before; for example, showing him the essence of companionship.

Technology has been proven to be one of the most effective ways for children with autism to improve communication and social skills, and enhance learning abilities. The technology is advancing as well. According to experts in this field, next generation virtual assistants are going to be able to do more than just retrieve information – they'll be able to have a more complex conversation within that persons area of interest. "Your son will be able to proactively get information about whatever he’s interested in without asking for it, because the assistant will anticipate what he likes," said William Mark, Vice President for Information and Computing Sciences of a leading independent research center. Relating this back to the story above, this boy could actually have an intuitive, fluid conversation with a virtual assistant about topics that interest him; in this case, the weather.

Virtual Assistants and self-service are a trending option in today’s market but as you can see, their benefits can go far beyond the scope of support or sales. People want to be able to do things their own way, on their own time, and that includes socially. Some people are just more comfortable chatting with Artificial Intelligence than others. And in this particular case, that allowed this autistic boy to feel comfortable but still get that social interaction that human beings desire.

Here is a video from ABCNews.com describing just how Siri helped this teenage boy.


What is your opinion on children with disabilities and technology? Is it pushing them away from human interaction or better preparing them? Should children in school classrooms have access to a virtual assistant to facilitate learning? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How Self-Service Can Increase Revenue and Customer Satisfaction this Holiday Season

Photo Credit: newyork.cbslocal,com
While the holidays are a time filled with love and joy, they can also be one of the most hectic times of the year. Yes, I am talking about the infamous holiday shopping experiences. No parking, long lines, and crazy crowds are something everyone can agree does not put cheer into the holiday season.

While shopping for consumers is hectic on its own, the companies are feeling the holiday pressure as well. Large and small businesses alike must strengthen customer service options to prepare for the increased volume of sales. Not just for the initial sale, but also for the customer service, care, support and overall customer engagement that follows.
According to an article from salesforce.com, one tip for your company’s customer service to conquer the holiday rush is to “improve self-service support.” Since companies can already predict the high volume of customer interactions (and the short fuses they have by the end of a long day), implementing a web-based, Virtual Customer Assistant (VCA) for consumers to find the answers to questions on their own terms will take some of the load off, while making consumers happy they didn't have to spend even more time waiting on hold or getting passed around to different representatives.

VCA’s aren't just useful for support questions though. For example, many electronics require product registration. The VCA can quickly offer guidance through the process, while answering any questions that may arise, and/or cross-sell other products/services when appropriate.

Mobile shopping is another major factor effecting companies this year. “If it wasn't official last year, it will be this year – holiday shoppers are eager to shop online for gifts and other needs. According to a survey, 56 percent plan to shop online, up from 51.5 percent last year and the most in the survey’s 13- year history. Additionally, the average person plans to do 44.4 percent of their shopping online, the most since NRF first asked to 2006.” (National Retail Federation) Providing customers with the tools they need to make the holiday shopping experience easier is key to increasing sales, but moreover, increasing loyalty.

How is your company enhancing self-service and engagement options this year? Does your strategy incorporate usability for mobile shoppers?

We hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving weekend. Enjoy!