Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Customer Journey Mapping Toolkit: Do It Yourself Exercise

A couple weeks ago, we shared with you the scoop on a popular customer experience trend, Customer Journey Mapping. We went over what it is, why its important, and how to do it yourself. Click here to get a reminder of the information that was presented in that blog. 

To complete the customer journey mapping toolkit, we want to provide you with a sample story to test out your new journey mapping skills. The story we used is based on a company in the consumer electronics space, but once you get the hang of the exercise you can apply the skills you've learned to any industry. 

Take a moment to go over the 'how-to' presentation to re-fresh your memory on the 11 step process. 

Once you feel comfortable, print out the story presentation below and discuss with colleagues/peers what pain points you see as major issues and how you can improve the customer experience. Remember: the main goal of any customer journey map is to identify key touch points a customer has with a company and how they were feeling at those specific moments.  


If you have any questions or comments, please let us know in the comments below. Or for more information follow the link to the website and contact us via the contact us form. Feel free to share your experience designing your own map and what ideas you have come up with to better the customer experience.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Miss Last Week's Episode of The Peggy Smedley Show?

Check it out here

Last week, CEO and founder of noHold, Diego Ventura, guest starred on The Peggy Smedley Show. He talked with Peggy about what he sees for the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI). If you missed the live show, be sure to catch the recorded episode by following this link: http://peggysmedleyshow.com/index.php?q=node/3593. (Episode 401). Diego begins his appearance in the third segment titled "Big Potential for AI."

Rainbow brain
Photo Credit: twinfinite.net


Friday, August 21, 2015

Customer Journey Mapping Toolkit: How to Create Your Own

Multiple thumbs-up in the air
Photo Credit: q4dm.com

“Customers are the greatest advocates of a brand or specific product or service: they tell stories and they make recommendations. They have the power to infect others with their enthusiasm for adoption, and therefore have to be seen as a core element of long term strategic growth.” (B2BInternational) Knowing this, companies need to start making positive customer experiences a top priority before they get left behind. “By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.” (Customers 2020 Report) One way that has assisted many companies take their brand to the next level is a trending topic called Customer Journey Mapping, an exercise used to better understand how to improve the customer experience.

What Is It?
Customer Journey Maps are a diagram that takes you on a detailed story of your customers’ experience, starting from the research stage all the way to support. Each map can be structured differently (as they do not all look identical), but all journey maps should identify key touch points a customer has with a company and how they were feeling during these interactions. According to Joanna Lord, former CMO at BigDoor, customer journey mapping is “a framework that maps out the stages of your customers lifecycle. It enables you to improve your customers experience through helping you best understand how customers are interacting with you now and what areas to invest in moving forward.”

An example of a customer journey map for an airline
Photo Credit: imagestack.co

Why Do It?
Customer Journey Mapping is a hot topic right now, and an effective way for companies to identify areas of improvement. As mentioned earlier, becoming a customer centric brand is important to the success of a company. Getting to that place can be challenging, but leaders are finding that journey mapping is one of the best options to better understand your customers’ entire experience. In fact, “Executive dashboards and customer journey mapping are the 2 customer experience activities that had the largest increase in focus since last year.” (Temkin Group) It is an active way to identify key pain points within the customers’ journey, and also leverage the entire company’s assets to work in unison; evolving the company to work like a well-oiled machine, producing a positive experience for every customer. Marketing can help the support team, support can assist the engineering department.

How to Do It?
We have produced a simple presentation that goes over the basic guidelines of how to create a Customer Journey Map for your company. Follow these 11 steps to get a better understanding of what your customer journey really looks like. 

Stay tuned next week as we take you through each step of the process within an example for the Consumer Electronics industry. Also, we will complete our Customer Journey Mapping toolkit with a blank template for you to draw out your own journey map.  

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

noHold Releases Flexible Procedure Guidance

Evolving the Way AI Understands Humans

August 18, 2015, MILPITAS, CA – noHold, the leader in Web based self-service solutions, announced the release of a new feature that will transform the way humans interact with AI, it is called Flexible Procedure Guidance. This cutting-edge technology expands on the Virtual Assistants ability to simply guide users through a set of static procedures. It takes self-service a step further by intelligently understanding what information is given by end users, providing flexibility to where the conversation begins.  

Take Tim for example; he is using a Virtual Agent to make a flight reservation. If Tim simply stated that he needed to book a flight, the Virtual Agent would come back with a series of fixed questions that go along with booking a flight. (I.e. where are you traveling to/from, what day, etc.) Flexible Procedure Guidance comes into play when Tim says, “I would like to book a flight to San Jose for tomorrow.” With Flexible Procedure Guidance the Virtual Agent analyzes the information given, recognizes that Tim has already answered two of the information fields needed to book a flight, and can start the conversation with only asking for the remaining information needed.

Flexible Procedure Guidance is designed for more than just booking flights. It has the possibility to enrich any Virtual Assistant interaction, including users searching for support. “Technology has become an unavoidable component in helping to deliver quality customer service, yet companies still must maintain a humanistic approach in order to preserve the personalized experiences that cultivate satisfaction and loyalty” (1to1Media). When it comes to creating an exceptional customer experience, understanding the customer is key. Flexible Procedure Guidance empowers companies to provide a sophisticated self-service tool that better understands humans and makes AI as close to human interaction as possible.

“Human interactions are complex and very difficult to simulate, but features like Flexible Procedure Guidance takes us closer to a world where the human spirit is celebrated while conveniently supported by friendly computers.” -Diego Ventura, Founder and CEO of noHold, Inc.

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 interaction. noHold customers include Toshiba, Lenovo, Cisco and a host of industry leaders. More information can be found at www.nohold.com.
Click here to hear more of what Diego has to say about Artificial Intelligence on the Peggy Smedley Show.   

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Chatbots, Intelligent Assistants, Virtual Agents...But Which Term is Correct?

Photo Credit: bbc.com

Artificial intelligence (A.I.) and automated self-service solutions have gained major traction within the past few years. With big name brands turning to A.I. (Google, Microsoft, etc.), consumers have become more comfortable having a conversation with technology (Artificial Intelligence). Virtual Agents are one of those technologies that have become familiar, and demanded by consumers. In short, a Virtual Agent is an intelligent web-based self-service tool used to support customers and employees throughout many processes. Similar to live chat, but end users interact and get answers from an A.I.

As a company with over 15 years of experience creating Virtual Assistants for trusted brands around the globe, we are always excited to see a continual increase in the adoption of these self-service practices. Over the years, we have witnessed many different companies and analyst firms try to coin different terms to describe these diagnostic and interactive self-service tools. Here is a list of some of the terms we see floating around our space the most: 
  • Avatars
  • Chatbots
  • Enterprise Virtual Assistants
  • Intelligent Assistants
  • Intelligent Personal Assistants
  • Intelligent Virtual Assistants
  • Interactive Artificial Intelligence Assistant
  • Virtual Agents (VAs)
  • Virtual Assistants
  • Virtual Customer Assistants
  • Virtual Customer Care Expert
  • Virtual Personal Assistants

Photo Credit: hrpayrollsystems.net

Now, the million dollar question...which term is correct? The truth is, they all are. Which ever term you want to use, in the grand scheme of things, they all refer to the same thing. Understandably, it can get confusing with all these different variations of the same word, but we hope shedding some light to this debated topic will eliminate some of that confusion. As we like to say, tomayto/tomahto.

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.