Customer Feedback is Your Mirror

Lately, I’ve been drawing parallels between people, businesses and the need for self-assurance. If mirrors are objects of personal observation and grooming, shouldn’t brands also be aware of how they come across?

A mirror gives us useful information and knowledge due to its function as a feedback tool in letting us know about our appearance. Without a mirror, we risk looking unkempt which can hurt our personal and professional images.

Businesses need to collect customer feedback for the same reason to survive. Without it, companies lose momentum their customers have established for them, including opportunities to build trust and valuable connections.  

Here’s what kind of feedback we expect out of mirrors and how we can use it to understand our customers better:

1. Specific feedback

When I look in the mirror, it gives me a very specific type of feedback. It tells me that a new pimple has emerged on my chin. It is not vague in telling me that there’s “something on my chin”, it clearly demonstrates what the problem is. In the same way, your questions, including their execution should be as specific as possible. Customer responses are going to be only as good as the questions themselves.

The biggest benefit of customer feedback is the honest, actionable information you can use for the betterment of your company. Less obvious still may be the personal connections you make and a greater understanding of how customers are using your product.

2. Immediate feedback

Another thing that a mirror does is give you immediate feedback of everything that’s in front of it. It’s reliable, accurate and most importantly provides instant gratification. Similarly, giving customers the ability to express themselves with minimal friction—wherever they are on your site—is of utmost importance.

As human beings, we prefer closure to hanging in the balance—even if the news we receive is less than stellar. By dragging your feet on communication, you are leaving unresolved issues on the table, losing the human touch with your customers.

3. Descriptive feedback

A mirror gives me a very detailed description about me. There is no judgment or opinion being passed around as part of this description. Ultimately it is up to me to understand and interpret what is being shown to me. When listening to customer feedback, do we understand everything that’s being said? Is there an open, productive discussion or process to let team members know of the pain points outlined by the customer?

Before you start talking with your customers, you must outline and understand what information you want to collect during your conversation. Perhaps you’re launching a new product and want to improve it before launch. Perhaps your website traffic isn’t converting and you’d like to understand why. Either way you must establish a general feedback goal before you ask for that feedback.

4. It’s genuine

A mirror doesn’t select certain aspects to show and exclude the rest. Similarly, you should treat good feedback and negative feedback on equal grounds.

At the same time, don’t let good feedback give you the warm fuzzy feeling, potentially overshadowing the negative feedback you get from legitimately concerned users.

It’s true that no one likes negative feedback, but it demands action: analyzing, validating, implementing and following up with your customers. At the end of the day, it elevates your business to a favorite because you care about what your customers have to say.

What clouds your company mirror?

Is it feasible or even beneficial to ignore your company’s feedback and carve out your own path? Probably, according to Henry Ford or Steve Jobs (News - Alert).

Henry Ford once said that “If I asked what my customers wanted, they’d say faster horses”. Steve Jobs similarly declared, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them”. However, we mustn’t forget that these were leaders with highly directed (and somewhat proven) goals in mind that applied to their industries.

For most of us who are trying to grow an existing product, customer feedback is valuable data straight from the source. It’s counter-productive not to want to listen to people that are paying you money and using your product.

About the Author: Vitaliy Verbenko is the guy behind customer service and marketing coordination at Helprace. Vitaliy has been into customer service ever since he co-founded a small construction company five years ago. Vitaliy holds a BA from Canada's Ryerson University.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

FEMA Contracts with AT&T to Improve Contact Center Success Rates when Disasters Occur

FEMA Contracts with AT&T to Improve Contact Center Success Rates when Disasters Occur

September 08, 2015

Whether talking about contact centers that are geared towards private business, or ones that are working for the government, success means that there needs to be a more human centered approach to customer service. This is why the United States federal government is turning to a company that understands customer service quite well. AT&T (News - Alert) has been handed a four year contract by FEMA in order to help the government agency modernize its communications system in order to improve its collection, validation and processing of claims when it comes to a wide range of disaster survivors. Interactive Intelligence is a subcontractor on the project.

People who have just lived through a massive flood or destructive tornado as in the commercial world are customers of federal agencies and they expect the same kind of treatment when it comes to dealing with a contact center. The agreement will see AT&T provide FEMA a number of different services including a top of the line IVR platform that is entirely scalable depending on the size of the call center the government agency is using.

IVR is just part of the solutions that FEMA is going to have to look into in the coming months and years in order to make sure it’s serving the people that need its help the most. Contact centers all over the world have to adapt the way they interact with those who contact them. A simple phone call might be the most popular way to reach a FEMA disaster center but the Internet is playing a bigger role in these kinds of centers all the time.

Companies and government agencies alike are looking at channels like social media in order to provide better customer experiences. While the IVR itself does not offer the human touch that people are looking for, it can make reaching the right person to solve a problem easier. And, when it comes to people with urgent and important problems reaching the right person is paramount.

Edited by Peter Bernstein

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Top Health Award from iAwards Goes to Okee with Medical Imaging App

September 08, 2015

The iAwards honors companies which are at the cutting edge of technology innovation. They recognize the achievements of home-grown Australian innovators. The key goal of the iAwards is to discover, recognize and reward the information and communications technology (ICT) innovations that are already having a positive impact on the community.

In addition companies that have the potential for having a future impact down the road are also honored. The iAwards are judged by the ICT industry, for the industry and provide achievements with public recognition that extends across the ICT sector to government, community and beyond.

If you look at it from their perspective, there are probably very few things that are as frightening to a child as having to go to the hospital. The sights, sounds and smell can be quite overwhelming to children. That is what makes this year’s overall health category iAwards winner special.

Top honors went to an app called Okee in Medical Imaging, which is something that can possibly ease the tension of bringing your child to the hospital for a medical imaging appointment. Basically, the app uses games and videos as a way of showing children what is involved and what they will be going through for medical images.

The company hopes that through the use of games, along with the information in their app, that families and their kids will feel more comfortable with the process as they go through their appointment. In addition the kids should also have a lot of fun with the app’s characters.

It is important for hospitals to maintain their inventory, which is not an easy task. BloodNet is a web-based system that allows hospital laboratories to order blood supplies from the Red Cross Blood Service, keep track of their inventory managing their supplies efficiently. The National Blood Authority's BloodNet system received a 100 percent approval rating from end-users when it was first introduced and it also received the iAwards’ top honors in the government category.

NICTA (previously known as National ICT Australia Ltd) is Australia's Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Research Centre of Excellence. Coviu is an emerging NICTA start-up company whose digital service delivery platforms replace awkward video conferencing systems with multi-party, feature rich video collaboration using standard consumer hardware to deliver government, health and education services. The platform is highlighted by extensive WebRTC research.

Coviu’s WebRTC-based digital services delivery platform won the regional inclusion and community award. Speech pathologists, psychologists, dieticians, accountants and lawyers are just some of the various groups that use Coviu’s services. Currently, Coviu's technology is being used to provide speech therapy to children in rural areas of New South Wales (NSW).

These are just a few of the companies that were recognized by iAwards as delivering products and platforms that were at the top of their field. As you can see, this year featured several products that are geared toward children. Whether it be easing the fear of a medical procedure through the use of games and videos, or providing speech therapy to children, these are innovations that help the entire family and deserve being honored.

Edited by Peter Bernstein

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ThinkingPhones and Group Phoenix Partnership Provides Global UCaaS Platform

ThinkingPhones and Group Phoenix Partnership Provides Global UCaaS Platform

September 08, 2015

Thinking Phone (News - Alert) Networks, which is also known as ThinkingPhones, is a Massachusetts based provider of cloud-based unified communications as a service (UCaaS). The company's main product combines business voice, video, text (SMS), instant messaging and presence indication under one cloud service delivered both to traditional desk phones and mobile devices.

It was announced earlier this week that ThinkingPhones will be forming a partnership with Group Phoenix in an effort to provide the European market with an intelligent cloud communications platform. The initial goal is to have Romania, Ukraine, Moldavia, Italy and the Benelux region benefit from the platform. If all goes according to plan, Eastern Europe and Russia will also be able to take advantage of the platform toward the end of the year.

Group Phoenix is an international IT solution and managed services provider. The company prides itself as being at the forefront of technology and service innovation by offering data, voice and mobile solutions. Group Phoenix has been recognized as an international IT solutions provider.

Marcus Debets, who is the managing director at Group Phoenix, made the following comments, “The communications technology landscape continues to evolve at lightning fast speed. Entering into this partnership with ThinkingPhones allows for continuous innovation, ensuring that our solutions are ready for the future. We are very familiar with the UCaaS marketplace and ThinkingPhones’ sophisticated technology stood out as the platform that could best deliver the integration capabilities to support our needs.”

As you can see from Debets’ comments what brought this partnership together was the fact that Group Phoenix was searching a company that could fit in and become a trusted partner in the unified communications as a service (UCaaS) sector. The fact that ThinkingPhones’ has the ability to seamlessly integrate with its custom portal, while at the same time being to evolve based on future requests of its customer base, seems to make this a collaboration that will go a long way.

Bart Meursing, area vice president of ThinkingPhones, said “We are pleased to be partnering with Group Phoenix and look forward to working together to deliver a robust, intelligent cloud communications solution to the EMEA region. This partnership is a testament to our commitment to our partners and Value Added Resellers (VARs) in helping customers get the maximum business benefits out of intelligent cloud communications solutions which will positively impact their growth, productivity, and revenue.”

Edited by Peter Bernstein

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Technavio Forecasts European Insurance Tech Market to Grow at a CAGR of 3.74 Percent

Technavio Forecasts European Insurance Tech Market to Grow at a CAGR of 3.74 Percent

September 08, 2015

The trend of customer empowerment has forced industries to make changes and transform their businesses to become more customer centric by leveraging social media, mobile, big data and other technologies. For industries that haven’t made these changes, customers nevertheless expect the same level of service as the ones that have already made the transition. According to Technavio's new report "Insurance Technology Market in Europe 2015-2019," the insurance industry seems to be lagging on the customer side of the technology.

The report says insurance firms are spending considerable amount of resources on IT risk management systems to identify, manage, optimize and mitigate risks. This is primarily being driven by several cyber-attacks and security breaches that have been reported because of the increased number of Internet users.

Currently, the top priorities for insurance organizations are asset classes, customer segments, functional departments and products. Because of the overall damage cyber-attacks can cause to insurers, and indeed all organizations, failure to manage these risks is not an option. According to Technavio, many insurance firms are struggling to secure clients' data to make investment decisions.

The key players in the Insurance Technology Market in Europe are Accenture, Agile (News - Alert) Financial Technologies, E&Y, HP, IBM, Mphasis, Oracle and Sopra Steria. Other vendors that were mentioned in the report also include, Amazon Web Service, BSB, Capgemini, Cognizant Technology Solutions (News - Alert), CSC, FICO, Genpact, Google, Informatica, Netapp, Polaris, Rackspace Hosting, Salesforce, SAP, Symantec, TCS, T-Systems, Verizon Communications, VMware and Wipro (News - Alert).

The analysts forecasts a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.74 percent during 2014-2019. The report covers the overview of the insurance technology market including the Political, Economic, Social and Technological (PEST) analysis of the insurance market, insurance brokerage market, and the adoption of third platform technologies such as cloud, big data and others by the insurance firms in Europe.

While the need to mitigate the risks cyber-attacks pose is very important, it is just as important for the insurance industry to implement technology addressing customer service.

“As customers are increasingly demanding real-time solutions, many insurance firms are aiming to be agile and event-driven architectures in the market. Mobile technology and social media are providing a cumulative number of sources for real-time data, which can be leveraged by insurance firms to a gain competitive advantage in the insurance technology market in Europe,” said a Technavio analyst.

Because of the many different countries in Europe, the growth in the insurance sector is going to vary depending on macroeconomic factors. The investment strategies in technology is expected to fuel the market during the forecast period by helping insurance companies reach their customers more effectively.

The growth will be driven by investments in digital marketing, data analytics and platforms for receiving and storing these insights. This will result in better product design and pricing, agency management, reporting, and improved customer-targeting processes.

Edited by Peter Bernstein

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Make Mine Mobile: Why Size Will Not Matter

Make Mine Mobile: Why Size Will Not Matter

September 08, 2015

With CTIA taking place in Las Vegas this week along with a new Apple iPhone announcement expected, mobile once again takes center stage.  T-Mobile announced it is now supporting seamless video calling on mobile devices while Acer showed off a mobile phone that can double as a fully functional PC.  Real time communications (RTC) is the beneficiary as all computing evolves to a mobile first mode, because smartphones will be the standard computing platform within five to ten years.

Consumer video calling has been a dream of the telephone industry dating back to the mid-1960s, with AT&T demonstrating prototypes that ran on copper wire landlines. The combination of the smartphone and better cameras has enabled mobile users to conduct video calls from anywhere, but you can get a better experience – and likely a longer call, given battery life right now – on a tablet.

However, video on a mobile phone has often required downloading a specific client, then convincing anyone you want to call to use that same client, and then typically starting up a chat session to make sure the person is on line and using the client before you kick into video mode. It’s been cumbersome, with a lot of unseemly scrambling for users, a lot of stats on who runs the most video minutes, and the always-awkward “How do translate calls from a mobile environment into a larger screen experience?”

WebRTC provided a breakthrough by enabling voice and video browser-based communications as a standard means of communications, but it doesn’t support always on dial-tone like the traditional PSTN-based calling world. People aren’t locked into a proprietary OTT ecosystem, but they still have to have the client up and on to make a call. 

T-Mobile’s breakthrough is to use RCS and LTE and all the parts and pieces that have gone into making the two technologies work to enable seamless video calling at the touch of a button.  If you want to video call someone on the T-Mobile network – assuming you have the supported phone, of course – push the video button and the phone “rings.” All the other person has to do is accept the call and it just happens. There’s no downloading of clients, no fussing with having to have an app spun up on line waiting (and eating power in the background), it all just works.

Currently supported on the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+, Galaxy Note 5, with the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge coming this week, T-Mobile says it is “working with others so you can eventually enjoy built-in video calling across wireless networks.”  It is possible within a few years you’ll be able to make a video call directly to another phone on another wireless carrier’s network just by “dialing” a phone number and it will simply happen without additional software or signing up for a third party service.

Both WebRTC and RCS have their respective roles to play in convenient real-time communications, but it is the increasing power of the phone itself that is threatening to redefine the concept of “phone” and start killing off larger devices.  Acer’s Jade Primo Windows 10 “phone” uses Continuum, the Windows 10 ability to hook up a monitor, keyboard and mouse, and run the same apps you would on a desktop PC. Supporting equipment provided for Jade Primo include dropping the device – not really a “phone” – into a docking station to drive a large screen monitor.  Voila! Your phone is now the PC!

We are only beginning to scratch the surface of “phones” being full-blown PC devices.  Why would you want to buy a Chromebook when you already have PC power in your phone? BYOD, with the appropriate WebRTC and other cloud services, means businesses can think about getting rid of desktop devices and simply buy universal docking stations for driving screens and charging “phones.”   Do we really need tablets? Does a tablet become a cheaper display device while the phone does the heavy lifting?

Google and Microsoft have been strong advocates of the “Mobile first” approach to the world. RTC is riding this wave through smartphones and the need for apps to be “Written once, run everywhere.”  Size doesn’t matter in this world, so you’ll be able to get RTC wherever you need it.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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Contact Center Analytics Week in Review: Recommind, Uniphore and Salesforce

September 05, 2015

By Maurice Nagle
Web Editor

Numbers never lie; leveraging a big data and analytics solution provide a firm with an honest looks at operations and offers actionable insight to improve overall performance. From the bottom line to day-to-day operations, analytics can prove integral to a firm. And, with the weekend upon us, no better time than the present to take a look at the week that was in analytics: time for the Week in Review!

Recommind added IM analytics capabilities to its version 5.5 of Axcelerate, its cloud-based eDiscovery platform. The solution provides advanced analysis of email, data sets as well as IM data. “Chat is the new email, and our customers need clear, rapid insight into every kind of enterprise data,” commented Bob Tennant, CEO of Recommind. “With Axcelerate, they can quickly spot the conversations that matter for investigations, compliance and litigation. While their opponents are still sifting through email, Axcelerate customers are planning a winning strategy.” The full report can be found HERE.

Uniphore software recently released its auMina speech analytics system v2.0. Businesses can leverage the solution to analyze speech data, with 95 percent accuracy and offers support for 25 different Indian and international languages. Find Steve Anderson’s entire analysis HERE.

HireIQ recently raised an additional million dollars in funding for its innovative software offerings. HireIQ provides firms with software that makes emotional assessments. The firm notes it is especially useful in pre-qualifying job candidates as it gives an accurate read of the emotional state of said candidate. The complete article is HERE.

Salesforce made the news this week with its unveiling of the Service Cloud Lightning Console and the Service Wave Analytics App. Both will be available by the end of 2015. Service Wave provides a firm with a complete view of customers and tracks key performance indicators. Paula Bernier’s in-depth look at this week’s unveil is HERE.

Remember to stop by early and often for your fill of all things analytics! See you next week!

Next Generation Digital Services Week in Review: Khloe Kardashian, Dubsmash and ADTRAN

Next Generation Digital Services Week in Review: Khloe Kardashian, Dubsmash and ADTRAN

September 05, 2015

The landscape of next generation digital services is evolving into never before seen engagement and revenue opportunities. And, as more digital service providers jump on the bandwagon the fourth wave will begin to reach tidal wave proportions. With the long weekend upon us, no time better than the present to take a look at the week that was in digital services: it’s time for the Week in Review!

Group chats; whether you love or hate them they can be a necessary piece of the planning process. Regroupd has been working with Khloe Kardashian to create an app that improves the planning process and alleviates the frustrations of making large group decisions. I guess we know one Kardashian that will be easier to keep up with. Find the full report HERE.

Dubsmash recently received over $5 million dollars in funding to develop what could be a major hit in today’s digital lifestyle—an app that allows people to make video selfies with soundtrack and commercial recordings overlayed.

"There's not many categories of technologies that are going to consume a mass number of people, and messaging appears to be one of these now," said Brian Blau, social-media analyst at Gartner Inc. Hence the recent investment in Dubsmash.

According to a recent report from Research and Markets, The VoLTE market is poised to explode in the coming years, with an expected CAGR of 36 percent over the next five years and by 2020 is projected to represent $120 billion in revenue. Joe Rizzo’s entire analysis can be found HERE.

Image via Shutterstock

There is no question that APIs play an integral role in the fourth wave of digital services. This week ADTRAN announced its new open API to help digital service providers with analytics, customization and orchestration. Mae Kowalke has all the details for you right HERE.

The next generation of digital services is a frontier of exciting and innovative offerings providing service providers with monetization and engagement opportunity, make sure to check back early and often for all things digital services. See you next week!

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