Friday, August 29, 2014

A Look Back at noHold's Top Stories of the Week: August 25th-31st +Intern Update!

Let's take a look at this week's exciting stories.

1. Trusted Brands Use Quick Videos to Introduce Virtual Agents to Call Center Agents, Employees, and Consumers. 

Here is an example of a demonstration video for Albert, noHold's Help Desk Virtual Agent. Utilizing short 'training' videos is a beneficial way to introduce Virtual Agents to Call Center agents, employees, and consumers alike. 

video

Based on our experience, we outlined 10 different features that work together to create an effective Virtual Agent.
  • Natural Language Processor (NLP)
  • Reporting Metrics
  • Diagnostic and Interactive  

Click on the title above to find out what the other features make up a stellar self-service experience. 

3. The Leading Manufacturer and Provider of Visual Technology Celebrates Grand Opening

Kudos again ViewSonic on your grand opening of the new headquarters. It was a pleasure to attend the event!
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony in Brea, CA

4. Throwback Thursday: Apple's New Release vs. Apple Five Years Ago
With the release of the iPhone 6 coming out, Apple is continually expanding their brand. Check out how they have changed in the past 5 years. 


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As we've mentioned before, our Interns were working hard creating their own Virtual Agent. On Wednesday, they gave a great presentation demonstrating what they came up with. So, before we head out the office for a long three day weekend, I wanted to share with you a brief description about their project...

As a team, they came up with the concept of a Virtual Agent that will aid individuals/ small businesses that are trying to build their brand on social media. In essence, it is an artificial social media expert! Here's an example of when it can be used. Say there is a star college football player that is trying to create his own brand. With little experience with social media, he decides to enlist in the help of "Mara." Mara is able to suggest if something is beneficial to post based on an analysis of up-to-date social media trends. Similarly, a small business with limited marketing budget may need assistance in setting up social media, connecting various channels, and advice on what to post and when. Mara can be updated automatically, pulling new software updates, changes, and information from the most popular social media channels - Thus, empowering a small business to stay on top of its social media game. 

They each contributed to a different aspect of the project, and ultimately came together to make this innovative idea come to life. Eleonora designed the avatar and the look and feel, Stefano took care of the content, Asraful was responsible for the technical and engineering part, and Victor came up with marketing strategies. They've worked extremely hard over the last month and we were very pleased with what they accomplished in such a short amount of time. We are sad to see them go, but know they will accomplish great things in life.    

I'll leave you with this picture of Stefano, Eleonora, Victor, and Asraful; and the avatar for their VA, Mara. 


2014 noHold Interns giving presentation on their Virtual Agent, Mara
















Please have a safe and relaxing Labor Day weekend! Cheers!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Apple's New Release vs. Apple Five Years Ago

Photo Credit: thisdayintechhistory.com
Happy Throwback Thursday!

Did you know that exactly five years ago today, Apple released their Mac OS X 'Snow Leopard'? Most people don't remember that operating system, but it was an important time for Apple, Inc. Due to Snow Leopard, they dropped the support for PowerPC-based Macs and shifted their attention to the Intel processor-based Macs. They also discontinued AppleTalk in Snow Leopard, one of the first and most widely used networking protocol in the World (ThisDayInTechHistory.com).

Fast forward 5 years; Apple is expected to release the iPhone 6 in the coming weeks. The details on the phone are very hush-hush, but everyone is anticipating a very technologically sophisticated phone, with elements that make it easier for users. Some speculations on new features of the iPhone 6 include a much larger screen (edge-to-edge display), a whopping 128 GB of storage, and a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip inside the phone (PCAdvisor.com). With the presence of an NFC chip, wireless charging is made possible, and it also puts Apple in the game of mobile payment systems. It is rumored that they will either use Bluetooth/Wi-Fi to create their own e-wallet platform (accessible from any iPhone, not just the 6), or they are using the NFC technology to include mobile payments, strictly for iPhone 6 users. Either way it looks like Google Wallet is facing some competition now (AppleInsider.com)    

These are only a few of the predictions made for the up and coming iPhone, but what about updates for Siri? With almost all major brands creating a Personal Virtual Assistant for their smartphones (Microsoft=Cortana, Android=GoogleNow, etc.), Apple needs to make sure Siri is maintaining the latest, cutting-edge technology. 

What sort of updates do you think Siri should or is going to get? Sources suggest that the new iPhone will have a heart rate monitor; do you think this means that Siri will be able to manage your health through a single user interface? 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Leading Manufacturer and Provider of Visual Technology Celebrates Grand Opening

Last week, noHold's CEO was invited to attend ViewSonic's official ribbon cutting ceremony in Brea, CA. It was a very exciting day, celebrating the grand opening of their new corporate headquarters! Diego had the chance to see some familiar faces, and also meet a few new ones. Here is a quick photo taken from that afternoon. 

August 21, 2014; ViewSonic ribbon cutting ceremony

Congratulations again on the big move, ViewSonic! We wish you all the best!

www.nohold.com

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Virtual Agent Tips and Tricks: What Are the Components That Create a Stellar Self-Service Experience?

Within the past couple of years, Personal Virtual Assistants have become household names (Siri, Watson, GoogleNow, Cortana, etc.). Although they are gaining popularity with the public now, noHold has been developing sophisticated Virtual Agents (VA) for over a decade. Based on our experience, and the satisfaction of our customers, these are just a few of the key features one should take into consideration when implementing a Virtual Agent: 

  1. Natural Language Processor (NLP). The NLP gives the VA the intelligence to provide the right answer to a question, even if questions are phrased differently, or if there is misspelled or morphed words. For example, "Show me a neworking sample" and "What is a network?" Due to the NLP, even though the questions are different and there is a misspelled word in one of the phrases, the VA will still provide me with the same answer. 
  2.  Multilingual Capability. Having a multilingual Virtual Agent is one of the differences between  becoming a global success and staying a local commodity.  Global support options should speak the language of your audience. 
  3. Reporting metrics. This feature allows you to listen to the Voice of the Customer (VoC), and gives the customer an opportunity to share how he/she feels about the experience. Flexible reporting options empower trusted brands to not only listen to the VoC, but also to customize the reporting they capture from each interaction. 
  4. An effective VA should be able to provide multimedia options within the solutions. For example, including images for visual learners, or embedding an instructional video to demonstrate how to fix the audio sound on your PC. Most people prefer watch a clip to see how something is done, instead of reading a long list of directions that can often be confusing. 
  5. Ease of implementation and ease of maintaining is another feature to look out for when learning about Virtual Agents. A short implementation process and easy administrative tools allow entry level associates (or even interns) to build and maintain a Virtual Agent. Some noHold customers utilize short overview videos to introduce groups a Virtual Agent to call center agents, employees, consumers and more. 
  6.  Another important feature that a Virtual Agent should have, is the ability to ask confirming questions. In a natural conversation with your peers, the listener often confirms he/she understands your request before responding or taking action. For example: "Where is the light?" Before answering, the other party might ask "Are you asking me where is the light in the kitchen?" By implementing this type of feature, you keep the conversation as close to a human interaction as possible, while avoiding a false positive response. 
  7. Clarifying Questions. The end user should be able to ask clarifying questions without confusing the VA. For example: During a natural conversation, I might use a term that my audience is not familiar with. In this case, my peer or audience should be able to stop me and ask "Before you proceed, please tell me what a Virtual Assistant is?" The ability to ask clarifying questions is imperative for the end user to have a successful dialog, and a smart self-service application should be able to mimic that dialog. Clarifying questions during a VA conversation empowers the end user to understand a term, and then continue naturally with the remainder of the conversation without a hiccup. 
  8. Change of subject. The end user should be able to abruptly change subject during the interaction without confusing the VA. Giving consumers the freedom to control which direction the conversation goes in is an important aspect to increasing Customer Satisfaction. 
  9. Integration with the customer experience ecosystem. A Virtual Agent can live within your existing call center, integrate with live chat, and/or other applications. Having open APIs gives companies the flexibility to create a custom Virtual Agent that is specific to the needs of the brand. In addition, seamless customer experiences increase customer loyalty and satisfaction, and have proven to reduce costs. 
  10. One of the most important features that a Virtual Agent should have is the ability to be diagnostic and interactive. Sometimes, users need help diagnosing or figuring out what the problem is. When there is an 'error' message, the customer may not understand how to troubleshoot the problem. With the diagnostic element, a Virtual Agent can help troubleshoot the problem and give interactive instructions to solving the issue. A Virtual Agent makes sure it understands you and you understand it, every step of the way.    
These are just some of the most popular best practices that have worked for our customers. The light-weight, flexibility of a Virtual Agent gives companies the power they need to create a stellar customer experience, from the beginning of the relationship all the way to supporting that relationship.  

What are the features that make your customer experience stellar? Does your company offer self-service options for pre-sales, customer service/care, and support? What is your strategy to creating a unified customer journey for end-users?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Trusted Brands Use Quick Videos to Introduce Virtual Agents to Call Center Agents, Employees, and Consumers

One of our customers once said, "Consumer products and services should be easy enough to use that you don't have to train your audience to use them ." This is a great rule of thumb for consumer products, as well as the support and self-service that accompanies them. Consumers don't like buying an expensive piece of technology and having to spend hours learning how to turn it on. They want easy, light weight, user-friendly technology that can simplify their lives in some way. 

At noHold, we always talk about the importance of ease of use for the end customer and administrators alike. In some instances, our clients recruit interns or entry level associates to build and maintain Virtual Agents. Minimal training is key to making this model successful. Similarly, call center agents and end customers should be able to interact with the Virtual Agents effortlessly. When a customer launches a new Virtual Agent, one of the easy ways to introduce the users to the product is with short overview videos. Within the videos, companies can describe the User Interface (UI) of the Virtual Agent, the different capabilities, and/or anything else they feel appropriate.  

One of the largest companies in the networking equipment industry is utilizing this method of introducing Virtual Agents with easy to follow and engaging videos. In doing so, it encourages adoption by giving examples of the ease of use. These videos have been viewed by internal employees, call center agents, and more. 

noHold also made a quick overview video of our Help Desk Virtual Agent, Albert. Check out the video below to see the example.

video

Would you be more inclined to use self-service options if you were prompted by a quick video clip? How does your company introduce new products or services, like a Virtual Agent, to your end user?  Do you think videos help to encourage usage? 

P.S. 
The time with our interns is almost up; this is their last week here with us. We are sad to see them go, but are very excited for them to show us what they have been working on for the past month. Stay tuned for a blog overview on their work creating their own Virtual Agent.   

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Look Back at noHold's Top Stories of the Week: August 18th-22nd

Happy Friday!
Let me tell you about some of our top stories from this week. 

1. Traveling All the Way From Italy to the Silicon Valley, noHold Welcomes Interns for a Month.
Check out this brief introduction to each of the interns. And stay tuned to see what progress they are making and how it all turns out!


From left to right: Brandon Liu, Victor Gobbo, Stefano Masserini, Eleonora Marzadro, Asraful Islam

2. Here are some tips on getting your kids ready for back-to-school. Great suggestions on the latest laptops, tablets, and PC's on the market. 



3. On August 20th, we recognized National Radio Day and remembered one of the most infamous moments on public broadcasting, the Orson Welles Alien invasion scare. 
Photo Credit: slate.com

4. Fast forward to our current generation, the public is worried about robots taking over their jobs! See what we have to say about that in the blog, 'Throwback Thursday: Are Robots Threatening Your Job Security?'


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Thanks for sharing another exciting week with us! Cheers!
www.nohold.com

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Are Robots Threatening Your Job Security?

Photo Credit: apps.carleton.edu
If you look back at past T.V. shows/movies, it is almost as if they were foreshadowing a future with robots and interactive technology. Take the 1960's cartoon series, The Jetsons, for example. They enhanced the futuristic vibe of the show by adding a robot as their housekeeper. Now, in today's World, the public is more afraid than ever of robots replacing humans in the job market. I recently read a funny article, making light of the public's worry about a 'robot take over'. The article is titled, '7 Roles That Robots Will Never Fill (Although We Kind of Wish They Would).' 

Read the full article to find out why the author thought a robot could never replace a human in certain occupations.

While most of these seem like a joke, their are many other jobs that robots cannot replace, either. For example, an occupation in creative arts. While, a computer can enhance art (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.), a robot uses logic and lacks the element of a 'creative eye.' Some of the most beautiful art is abstract and that would be a hard concept for a robot to grasp.

What about teachers? We wrote a blog about Jibo, the social robot, being used as a tool to help teach children. While it was proven successful, it does not mean that the presence of a human teacher is obsolete. Young, developing minds require human interaction, and much more to thrive. 

In the end, it is important to look at robots/technology as supplementary to human jobs, instead of a threat to job security. Industry experts and trusted brands envision a work place where technology and humans work together. Creating efficiency, streamlining processes, responding quickly and reducing costs are just a few of the benefits that automation can provide. According to our metrics, we see millions of consumers interacting with Artificial Intelligence a month. People feel more comfortable with A.I. and in most cases, prefer the immediacy of using such tools. Not only are consumers getting to the answers they want quicker, but they are leaving the conversation feeling satisfied as well.       

What do you think about robots, automation and Artificial Intelligence becoming more predominate in the job market? Are you worried, or do you see it as a benefit? How do you interact with AI today in your occupation, and how does it make your job easier? 
www.nohold.com