Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘customer service’ Category

A Mammoth Customer Base

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IBM today announced that Mammoth Resorts, the leading four-season mountain resort operator in California, is using Watson Customer Engagement solutions on the IBM Cloud to create customized offers that are helping to drive record numbers of visitors to the resort every year.

One challenge facing year-round travel destinations such as Mammoth is attracting consumers who often visit multiple location web sites to research potential getaways only to hold off on making a firm decision until they’ve assessed all of their options.

For Mammoth, the question was how to bring prospective customers back to the Mammoth website to ultimately book a trip in advance of peak vacation periods.

With cloud-based Watson Marketing solutions, Mammoth is able to closely monitor customer activity on their website including where visitors are spending most of their time, what they were looking at, whether they left their shopping cart empty and more.

With these details, Mammoth is triggering responsive email campaigns that feature deals on the very items customers were viewing such as a free night’s stay on their next visit. The team can then track which promotions are most successful in sparking return visits to the site.

Since launching these campaigns, the results were almost instantaneous, with email click through rates climbing from 8 percent to 34 percent year-over-year, a growth of 325 percent.

In addition to attracting new guests, IBM Watson Customer Engagement is helping Mammoth build customer loyalty through timely, personalized campaigns that take into account each person’s preferences based on past stays. 

Mammoth Resorts then uses these details to proactively recommend trips, such as a return stay during the February winter break for summer guests that includes the same number of rooms and discounts on lift tickets.

Mammoth also automatically delivers guest alerts around birthdays, booking anniversaries and more, with each communication including special deals on both lodging and other items such as lift tickets as well as recommendations on, for example, off-season vacations options such as a summer mountain bike trip for the family.

You can learn more about IBM Watson Customer Engagement solutions here.

Written by turbotodd

July 20, 2017 at 11:08 am

LivePerson, IBM Watson Offer Combined Platform For AI, Bots To Advance Customer Care

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LivePerson, Inc., a leading provider of cloud mobile and online business messaging solutions, and IBM have announced LiveEngage with Watson, the first global, enterprise-scale, out-of-the-box integration of Watson-powered bots with human agents.

The new offering combines IBM’s Watson Virtual Agent technology with LivePerson’s LiveEngage platform, allowing brands to rapidly and easily deploy conversational bots that get smarter with each interaction, and lets consumers message those brands from their smartphone — via the brand’s app, SMS, Facebook Messenger, or even the brand’s mobile site — instead of having to call an 800 number.

The customer care sector has lagged behind consumers in terms of technology adoption, still requiring most interactions to be conducted by analog voice call. In fact, customers make more than 270 billion phone calls to customer support lines each year.

This legacy approach has not kept pace with the consumer move to smartphones and messaging apps, now the dominant way consumers communicate digitally. Forrester’s 2017 Customer Service Trends report revealed that “Customers of all ages are moving away from using the phone to using self-service — web and mobile self-service, communities, virtual agents, automated chat dialogs, or chatbots — as a first point of contact with a company” and, according to Dimension Data, while there has been a 12 percent decline in phone volume, there has been growth in every digital channel.

LiveEngage with Watson helps meet that demand – allowing consumers to message large brands from their smartphones and instantly get answers from AI-powered bots, with human care representatives brought in seamlessly, in real-time, if a bot is not able to resolve an issue satisfactorily.

The move will help enable millions of consumers to avoid the frustrating experience of legacy, voice-based customer support, which requires them to dial an 800 number, wait on hold, then talk to an agent, and often multiple agents over multiple phone calls.

LiveEngage with Watson gives brands the ability to customize bots based on their own unique corpuses of data — from product manuals to customer service guidelines — creating a personalized interaction that can be up and running as quickly as in a few days. These bots can be informational, personalized, and transactional — quickly addressing the most commonly raised customer service issues such as taking bill payments and finding contact information — while bringing in human expertise when necessary to drive effective customer engagement.

“Providing customer care over 800 numbers is not just extremely costly — it is a poor and antiquated experience for consumers,” says Robert LoCascio, founder and CEO of LivePerson. “Nobody likes waiting on hold. This partnership between IBM and LivePerson marries the technology and services to solve the problem at scale. We’re working with top brands in the telecoms and banking space right now to get this done, moving customer care away from costly, analog voice calls with frustrating hold times and toward consumer-friendly mobile messaging. We’re thrilled to form this partnership. No other company but IBM brings this sophistication of cognitive technology and breadth of supporting consulting and implementation services.”

As business decisions continue to be made with the help of AI, customer care will be no different. IBM Global Business Services, the company’s consulting unit, is providing a set of strategy and implementation services to help companies integrate LiveEngage with Watson as part of their broader business transformation.

By building experiences that learn, and adapt, into core processes, companies can deliver better engagement with customers. Together with LivePerson, IBM plans to operate a Cognitive Care Center of Excellence to help enable brands to drive this change at scale. 

You can learn more about IBM Watson here.

Written by turbotodd

June 15, 2017 at 3:31 pm

Six Keys To Effective Reputational And IT Risk Management

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In September of last year, I blogged about the IBM 2012 Global Reputational Risk and IT Study, which I explained was an “investigation of how organizations around the world are managing their reputations in today’s digital era, where IT is an integral part of their operations and where IT failures can result in reputational damage.”

I also wrote “corporate reputations are especially difficult to manage in an era when anyone with a smartphone and Internet connection can file their complaint with a single touch.”

That continues to be the case, but what’s new is that IBM has recently issued another report on further implications of this study and its findings, and more importantly, what organizations can do to get on offense when it comes to better managing their corporate reputation.

The Connection Between Reputational Risk And IT

When the corporate world first began paying attention to the concept of reputational risk in 2005, organizations’ focus tended to be on business issues like compliance and financial misdoings.

Today, the focus has shifted to include the reputational impact of IT risks. Virtually every company is now reliant on technology for its critical business processes and interactions. While it may take 10 minutes or 10 hours to recover from an IT failure, the reputational impact can be felt for months or even years.

IBM - Factors Affected By IT Risk

Reputational damage caused by IT failures such as data breaches, systems failures and data loss now has a price tag. According to analyses performed by the Ponemon Institute, the economic value of a company’s reputation declines an average of 21 percent as a result of an IT breach of customer data — or the equivalent of an average of US $332 million.

The question now is not whether IT risks affect your corporate reputation, but what you can do to effectively prevent and mitigate these risks.

IBM -- True Price Of Reputational Harm

Six Keys To Effective Reputational And IT Risk Management

An analysis of responses to the IBM study revealed distinct correlations between the initiatives that organizations are undertaking to protect their reputations from the ramifications of IT failures and the overall effectiveness of their reputational and IT risk management efforts.

Based on this analysis, and the pattern it revealed among organizations that are most confident in their ability to prevent and mitigate IT-related reputational risk, there are six key initiatives that IBM recommends as part of every company’s efforts:

  1. Put someone in charge. Ultimate responsibility for reputational risk, including IT-related items, should rest with one person.
  2. Make the compliance and reputation connection. Measuring reputational and IT risk management strategies against compliance requirements is essential.
  3. Reevaluate the impact of social media. In addition to recognizing its potential for negative reputational impact, social media should be leveraged for its positive attributes.
  4. Keep an eye on your supply chain. Organizations must require and verify adherence of third-party suppliers to corporate standards.
  5. Avoid complacency. Organizations should continually evaluate reputational and IT risk management against strategy to find and eliminate potential gaps.
  6. Fund remediation; invest in prevention. For optimal reputational risk mitigation, companies need to fund critical IT systems as part of their core business

IBM -- Importance Of Reputational Risk

How IBM Can Help

When planned and implemented effectively, your organization’s reputational and IT risk strategy can become a vital competitive advantage. When you protect against and mitigate reputational risks successfully, you can enhance brand value in the eyes of customers, partners and analysts. Further, your organization can better attract new customers, retain existing customers and generate greater revenue.

IBM can help you protect your reputation with a robust portfolio of IT security, business continuity and resiliency, and technical support solutions. You can start with an IT security risk assessment, or penetration testing performed by IBM experts.

For business continuity and resiliency, you can begin with a Continuous Operations Risk Evaluation (CORE) Workshop and move on to cloud-based resiliency services. Our technical support solutions range from basic software support to custom technical support.

What makes IBM solutions work is global reach with a local touch. This includes:

  • Over 160 business resiliency centers in 70 countries; more than 50 years of experience
  • More than 9,000 disaster recovery clients, with IBM providing 100 percent recovery for clients who have declared a disaster
  • A global network of 33 security operations, research and solution development centers; 133 monitored countries
  • 15,000 researchers, developers and subject matter experts working security initiatives worldwide.

To learn more about the IBM Global Reputational Risk and IT Study go here.

IBM Opens Lab To Bring R&D To The CEO

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One of the things we heard about extensively during our time on the ground at SXSW Interactive 2013 in Austin over the past week was the importance of the customer experience.

Whether that be in applications in mobile devices, in customer service via the social media, the physical experience of a brand’s product or service…the customer experience rules!

And this anecdotal data is supported by IBM’s own research, including last year’s Global CEO Study, which queried 1,700 CEOs from 64 countries and 18 industries and found that CEOs are changing the nature of work by adding a powerful dose of openness, transparency, and employee empowerment to the command-and-control ethos that has characterized the modern corporation for more than a century.

The study revealed that the advantages of this fast-moving trend are clear: Companies that outperform their peers are 30 percent more likely to identify openness — often characterized by a greater use of social media as a key enabler of collaboration and innovation — as a key influence on their organization.

Those “outperformers” are also embracing new models of working that tap into the collective intelligence of an organization and its networks to devise new ideas and solutions for increased profitability and growth.

In order to forge those closer connections with customers, partners, and a new generation of employees in the future, CEOs plan to shift their focus from using e-mail and the phone as primary communication vehicles to using social networks as a new path for direct engagement. And while social media is the least utilized of all customer interaction methods today, it stands to become the number two organizational engagement method within the next five years, a close second to face-to-face interactions.

Big Data, Big Opportunity

Given the data explosion being witnessed by many organizations, CEOs also recognized the need for more sophisticated business analytics to mine the data being tracked online, on mobile phones and social media sites. The traditional approach to understanding customers better has been to consolidate and analyze transactions and activities from across the entire organization. However, to remain relevant, CEOs must piece together a more holistic view of the customer based on how he or she engages the rest of the world, not just their organization.

The ability to drive value from data is strongly correlated with performance. Outperforming organizations are twice as good as underperformers at accessing and drawing insights from data. Outperformers are also 84 percent better at translating those insights into real action.

From Theory to Action

To this end, IBM today announced the creation of the IBM Customer Experience Lab, dedicated to helping business leaders transform the way customers experience their products, services and brands through the use of mobile, social, cloud and advanced analytics technologies.

IBM Research scientists and business consultants will co-create with clients to deliver systems that learn and personalize the experiences of each individual customer, identify patterns, preferences and create context from Big Data, and drive scale economics.

The IBM Customer Experience Lab will provide CEOs, CMOs, CFOs, heads of sales and other C-suite executives direct access to a virtual team of 100 researchers, supported by the deep industry and domain expertise of thousands of IBM business consultants addressing the opportunities of the digital front office.

In the new age of Big Data and analytics, organizations are reassessing how to move from addressing mass audiences to personalized relationships. The same technologies allow enterprises to engage in new ways with their employees, allow government agencies to build new relationships with citizens, or enable new models of interaction among students and educational institutions.

IBM Research is developing technology assets and capabilities that can help deliver front office capabilities as a service from a cloud, design novel products to match customer preferences, and leverage math and psychological theories of personality to improve marketing effectiveness.
Client Engagements

The Lab focuses on innovation breakthroughs in three primary areas:

  • Customer insight. Applying advanced capabilities such as machine learning and visual analytics to predict differences in individual customer behavior across multiple channels.
  • Customer engagement. Using deep customer engagement to drive insight and continuously deliver value by personalizing engagement, versus transactional experiences.
  • Employee engagement. Embedding semantic, collaborative, and multimedia technologies to foster employee engagement and insight – in person and online.

Among the clients engaged with IBM on advancing their innovation process are Nationwide Building Society, the world’s largest building society serving 15 million members in the United Kingdom, and Banorte, one of the largest banks in Mexico with more than 20 million customers.

“Mobile and social technologies, and the ability to access information anytime, anywhere, is driving significant change in the way consumers bank and in the services they expect,” said Martin Boyle, Divisional Director of Transformation, Nationwide Building Society. “Our ability to innovate and anticipate, and not just respond, is what sets us apart from the competition and helps us to provide our customers with new and better ways to do business with us. By partnering with IBM, we can tap into its vast research and innovation expertise and facilities, which has already proved invaluable in our transformation program and will continue to be an important part in how we continue to innovate our service for customers.”

New Tools and Capabilities

The Lab provides IBM clients with an innovation process, assets and platform to give line of business leaders the exclusive ability to work side-by-side with IBM researchers and business consultants to analyze business challenges and jointly create solutions that integrate next-generation mobile, social, analytics and cloud technologies.

Co-creation with clients includes an innovation model called Innovation Discovery Workshops, which generate ideas, roadmaps, prototypes and solutions that draw on research assets, business consulting and IBM Software solutions in areas such as Smarter Commerce, Big Data, analytics, and Mobile First products.

The IBM Customer Experience Lab will be headquartered at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., supported by researchers at IBM’s 12 global labs including Africa, Brazil, California, China, India, Israel, Japan, Switzerland, and Texas.

The Lab brings together skills across disciplines including service science, industries research, mathematics and business optimization, social, mobile, Smarter Commerce, data mining, cloud computing, security and privacy, cognitive computing and systems management. IBM invests more than $6 billion annually on research and development and employs about 3,000 researchers worldwide. IBM Global Business Services deploys business consulting, applications and delivery expertise globally, including market-leading business analytics, Smarter Commerce, mobility and applications management practices.

Visit here for more information about the IBM Customer Experience Lab, and follow IBM’s innovation breakthroughs on Twitter at @IBMResearch.

Live @ IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit Orlando: Outdoor Products Maker Husqvarna On “The Partnership Of Equals” Between Marketing And IT

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One of the highlights of attending any of IBM’s events like the Smarter Commerce Global Summit in Orlando, Florida, last week is the opportunity to meet with and speak with IBM customers.

John Marchiodona, VP of marketing, and Simon Howard, head of IT for the Americas, at Husqvarna, are two prime examples.

John and Simon are the poster children for marketing and IT coming together to create new capabilities and opportunities for their customers, in their case for a 300+ year-old commercial concern that now focuses on outdoor products, including chainsaws, lawnmowers, and the like.

John and Simon explained in the interview Scott and I conducted with them how new digital opportunities, particularly in the social space, have required them to come together earlier and more often to map out new requirements and capabilities for better serving their clients.

As they explained, “Technology is becoming more and more a requirement for everybody,” and a good example of the fruits of their labor was a new social media section of the Husqvarna site that contained videos demonstrating the safe and productive use of their products.

As they explained in our discussion, theirs’ (marketing and IT) is a “partnership of equals,” and that to fulfill on the new digital demands of their consumers, “they have to have the necessary platforms in place to do what they want to do.”

Live @ IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit Orlando: IBM GBS Exec Paul Pappas On IBM’s Smarter Commerce Consulting Capabilities

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Paul Papas is an executive with over 22 years of experience in consulting and over 15 years of specialization in customer relationship management and business analytics. He leads a global practice that helps clients use digital technologies to increase the value they provide to their customers and business partners. He is a frequent public speaker and blogger on the subject of digital transformation.

If you’ve ever wondered just what part of IBM it is that helps bring IBM Smarter Commerce solutions to life on behalf of our clients, you need look no further.

Paul Pappas, the Smarter Commerce Global Leader for IBM’s Global Business Services unit, is an executive with over 22 years of experience in consulting and over 15 years of specialization in customer relationship management and business analytics.

Paul now leads a global practice that helps clients use digital technologies to increase the value they provide to their customers and business partners.

Paul was formerly a partner at PriceWaterhouseCoopers and has held several practice leadership roles throughout his career.

Prior to assuming his role as the Global Smarter Commerce leader, Paul led IBM’s Life Sciences practice and is a recognized industry subject matter expert.

During our 11 minute discussion at the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit this past week in Orlando, Paul outlined the vision behind IBM’s approach to smarter commerce, the so-called “systems of engagement,” which focuses on customer touchpoints (and not just transactions).

He also explained the four “I’s” — Interact, Inform, Integrate, and Innovate — that drive his discussions with clients.

The IBM Smarter Commerce GBS practice began 18 months ago with just over 1,000 consultants, and in that short time has already doubled to keep pace with market demand.

As Paul explains in the interview, “Every IBM client has a different set of objectives or needs,” and it’s that customer-centricity that has helped IBM rapidly become a market leader in servicing this burgeoning growth area.

Live @ IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit — Opening Keynote Debrief: Motivate the Elephant

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Click to enlarge. The IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit kicked off earlier today in Orlando, Florida. Over 200 IBM executives, industry specialists, and other thought leaders will be sharing their insights and expertise there over the next three days, including factoids like those seen in the infographic above.

If you love nothing else about IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative, you have to love the fact that it’s driven by results.

Here in Orlando, day one of the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit has already revealed some of those facts, or business outcomes, that demonstrate the power of a more integrated customer experience in action.

By way of example: I mentioned earlier via Twitter that over $27 billion in sales generated by the Internet Retailers Top 500 is powered by IBM Commerce software.

Another example: IBM manages $57 billion in annual procurement spend managed on behalf of our clients.

Yet another: IBM analyzes over $100 billion of commerce transactions each year in the cloud and conveys that insight back to our customers.

But those are results on the so-called “back-end.”

Let’s turn our attention for a moment to the newly empowered consumer: 86 percent of them use multiple channels in their shopping efforts, and they spend four to five times more than the average.

Four in ten smartphone users search for an item while in the store, and yet online sales via mobile devices were up 300 percent over 2010.

Or how about this one: 77 percent of the global population are now mobile subscribers.

That’s an immense opportunity.

Guy Kawasaki On Enchanted Customers

As former Apple evangelist and social media thought leader and author Guy Kawasaki kicked off today’s keynote session here at the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit, he explained to the audience that we had over 200 interesting and very valuable sessions of the audience’s peers and outside industry experts sharing their own insights.

He began with the notion of the “chief executive customer,” that is to say, with placing customers at the center of the commerce experience.

Citing his own book, “Enchantment,” Kawasaki revealed there are three pillars for building enchantment with your customers. One, you have to be likable. Two, you must achieve trustworthiness. And three, you have to do something “DICEE” (the acronym which translated to “Deep,” “Intelligent,” “Complete,” “Empowering,” and “Elegant.”)

Kawasaki shared some compelling examples of which he spoke. After running into Virgin mega CEO Richard Branson at a speaking engagement in Moscow, Branson cornered Kawasaki and asked him the ill-fated question: Do you fly on Virgin Airlines?

Kawasaki admitted that, as a loyal United customer, he did not. Branson then used his charm and personality, and even a quick shoe shine, to convince Kawasaki he should reconsider.

Kawasaki now also flies on Virgin.

The Legend Continues…

After some other amusing anecdotes, Kawasaki turned the rostrum over to Craig Hayman, IBM’s general manager, Industry Solutions.

Hayman talked about examples of businesses that have had to completely reinvent themselves (Play-Doh, the children’s product, used to be a cleaning goop used prior to World War II!).

Hayman explained that the rate and pace of change in today’s marketplace is soaring, but that ultimately the customer “owns the transaction.”

“If you disappoint them,” Hayman explained, “they’re going to share their point of view (especially via the social media!) and then move on.”

Hayman handed the reins over to Lenovo senior VP of supply chain, Jerry Smith, who explained that Lenovo is a $30 billion global personal technology company with 27,000+ employees and customers in 160+ countries.

Partnering with IBM, Smith explained, Lenovo rebuilt its company around a global supply chain vision whose goal was simple yet straightforward: To become the undisputed #1 supply chain in personal technology by providing a best-in-class customer experience.

As Smith related to the gathered audience, “We need you (Lenovo’s sales force and partners) to sell product on the water,” meaning those units which were already on ships leaving China heading for parts around the globe.

Lenovo’s supply chain overhaul saw delivery performance go up by 15 percent, and onboarding costs/time down some 85 percent, giving them better negotiating leverage, higher order speeds, and leaner inventory, a must for the PC business.

The Grass Always Grows At Husqvarna

Smith’s handoff was to two executives from Husqvarna, the 300+ year-old company that, these days, specializes in outdoor equipment.

Think chain saws and lawn mowers.

“Grass always grows,” explained John Marchionda, Husqvarna’s VP of marketing, as his counterpart from IT, Simon Howard, nodded his head in agreement.

Husqvarna’s most recent marketing investments include a social video education space on its website that are both sales force and tutorial, explaining the likes of using chain saws safely, and effectively, and helping turn the inventory in the process.

The last IBM customer to “testify” in the morning session was Aditya Bhasin, the senior VP for Consumer Marketing and Digital Banking.

“People trust other people, not institutions,” explained Bhasin. He and his team are using that knowledge to make banking better, combining the best of human interaction with a more robust and effective technology system.

One example: “BankAmeriDeals,” a form of digital couponing that combines buyer behaviors, shopping, and payment systems to bring more value to its customers in direct savings on purchases.

Another: Its new Facebook branch, which is helping match consumers with local ATMs and bank branches, and helping answer customer questions through a medium they’re most comfortable with.

Change Is A Four Letter Word

The co-author of Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, Dan Heath, batted clean-up in the morning session by talking about a theme universal to many of IBM Smarter Commerce clients’ initiatives: Change.

“Change is a four-letter word for a lot of people,” Heath explained, before challenging the audience to think about “what happens when you leave Orlando?  Will the change you envision be a change you are willing to fight for?”

Heath explained that change is definitely within the art of the possible: We’re certainly optimistic about change the moment we decide to get married.

With much laughs from the audience, and Heath’s wedding album pictures onscreen as pudding proof, Heath explained that change is made more difficult by the battling two sides of our brains: The Rational, Conscious, and Deliberative side, and the Emotional, Unconscious, and Automatic side.

The emotional side is like a big elephant in our heads, the little devil telling us “We deserve ice cream” or “Call my ex.”

The rational side…well, we like to often ignore that side.

To make his thesis actionable, Heath explained a three-part framework for thinking about change.

One, he explained, we have to “direct the rider.” Point to the way you want to change and “find the bright spots,” those areas of opportunity where you’ve already succeeded.

Second, “motivate the elephant” — give them a compelling reason to change.

And finally, “shape the path,” for change.

That is, “cultivate a culture that’s more conducive to change” and encourages more people to participate.

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