Articles by Maria Minsker
To say that United Airlines has been in hot water recently is an understatement. Now, United Airlines has rolled out 10 new customer service policies in response to some of the recent incidents, but one customer service expert argues they're simply not enough.
Posted April 28, 2017
Among customer service platform provider Zendesk's claims to fame are the company's embeddables—software development kits (SDKs) for Web and mobile environments that enable elements of customer service to be easily added to online customer experiences. Now the company is taking its solutions to app development platform Fabric (which Google recently acquired from Twitter) with a Zendesk kit that includes these embeddable solutions.
Posted April 21, 2017
Chatbots are promising, but many of them simply don't add business value from a customer service perspective—yet. With the introduction today of the Pega Intelligence Virtual Assistant, Pegasystems is setting out to accelerate the process by offering artificial intelligence extenders for platforms including Facebook, Slack, and others.
Posted April 18, 2017
Call center analytics company Invoca just secured $30 million in series D funding, with Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners as the lead investor. The company has been making waves recently, appointing a new CEO in July and possibly preparing for an IPO, Techcrunch reports. According to Kyle Christensen, senior vice president at Invoca, it's an important time for the company, and not just because of what's going on internally.
Posted April 14, 2017
Just a few months after revamping its Direct Messages, Twitter added a new feature to the offering: the location request feature, enabling businesses to ask customers they're conversing with to share their location via direct message.
Posted April 07, 2017
Chatbots on Messenger may be a breakthrough for customer service on Facebook, but they're far from perfect. For the time being, they're hard to find via search, and for many companies, the functionality is limited. Still, there are already some brands that are getting it right. Here are five companies delivering solid service through the emerging channel.
Posted March 24, 2017
Amazon has a reputation for continually innovating to make the service experience better and easier for customers. Soon other companies may be able to quite literally borrow from Amazon's playbook, as the e-commerce giant is rumored to be developing a suite of cloud-based call center tools based on its own proprietary call center technology.
Posted March 17, 2017
Customer engagement platform provider Pegasystems has added artificial intelligence-powered capabilities to its CRM solution, Pega CRM. The new tools are built to improve customer service agent performance by pulling insight from desktop solutions that agents rely on and identifying any processes that slow down daily activities.
Posted March 03, 2017
Twitter has become a staple part of many companies' customer service strategies because it provided an easy route for getting in touch with businesses directly. With the introduction of chatbots and automated responses, however, companies run the risk of losing that level of authenticity. But now, Twitter is updating its direct messaging with Custom Profiles, enabling brands to differentiate automated responses from human responses during interactions with customers.
Posted February 24, 2017
Most consumers have come to expect being able to reach a company's customer service team by phone, so what happens when a company offers no dedicated service line? In Facebook's case, this spells trouble. According to firsthand research conducted by NPR reporter Aarti Shahani, conducting a Google search for "Facebook Customer Service" does indeed produce a number to call, except that number is fake and leads callers right into the hands of scammers.
Posted February 17, 2017
Chipotle CEO Steve Ells is making good on his promise to improve the company's customer service by implementing a new compensation system for its employees: Moving forward, employees will be paid based on how effectively they deliver customer service.
Posted February 10, 2017
Apple and IBM teamed up to build mobile apps for the enterprise back in 2014, and now United Airlines is finally getting ready to roll out some customer service apps that show off the fruits of their labor. United Airlines announced on Thursday that the company is working with both IBM and Apple on several apps designed for the 50,000 iPhone and iPads that its employees currently use.
Posted February 03, 2017
According to Salesforce.com's annual State of Service survey, customer service is no longer an afterthought for companies, meant only to support the business after the important part—the sale—was already complete. Increasingly, customer service is becoming a central component of the company's strategy and initiative. More than 68 percent of the service teams surveyed say they're the ones leading customer experience efforts.
Posted January 27, 2017
Your goal should be to turn customers into advocates, says the service guru and author in his new book, Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles.
Posted January 13, 2017
This year will be the "year of purpose," according to customer experience research firm Temkin Group. Though many trends have carried over from last year, the differentiating factor in 2017 will be maturation. "There are not a lot of new things on the list because the story this year will be adoption and operationalization. Companies aren't playing around with emerging tools anymore—they're using mature and powerful technologies," says Bruce Temkin, managing partner at Temkin Group.
Posted January 06, 2017
According to findings from the 2016 Consumer Experience Index survey by Aspect, 44 percent of shoppers prefer to use chatbots rather than speak to a live agent, assuming that the automated assistant is capable of handling the request. Forty percent of those surveyed also said that assuming the quality of the experience and privacy are preserved, they would like to use services such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Snapchat to communicate with companies; this is up from 33 percent last year.
Posted December 16, 2016
At a Barclay's investors conference earlier this week, Chipotle founder and co-CEO Steve Ells admitted the company has underperformed in customer service, with roughly half of its 2,100 restaurants receiving C grades for service. Ells explained that after the company's recent E. coli contamination crisis, Chipotle shifted its focus to food safety and neglected service. To turn this around, Ells said Chipotle is devoting "laserlike" attention to the situation, retraining employees and making customer service a key priority again.
Posted December 09, 2016
It's no secret that when used effectively, social customer service can work wonders for companies. It's cost-effective and has the potential to directly link companies with their customers. But according to a recent report on the state of social customer service, from social customer service provider Conversocial, there's still a long journey ahead before customers fully trust social media as a primary channel for support.
Posted November 18, 2016
Known for offering top-notch in-store support at its Genius Bars, Apple is rolling out an app to offer iPhone and iPad support directly on the devices. Up until now, support was available on Apple's website, but the introduction of an app makes the experience more user-friendly for iPhone and iPad users. The app offers troubleshooting suggestions, connects customers with agents via phone, and enables live chats between customers and Apple's support team.
Posted November 11, 2016
After securing $55 million from Sequoia Capital India in a round of funding earlier this week, Freshdesk is continuing to expand its solutions beyond customer service. Its recently launched CRM tool, Freshsales, and mobile-first support platform, Hotline, are big areas of excitement and growth at the moment, according to company executives.
Posted November 04, 2016
Customer experience management company Medallia acquired customer feedback capturing technology Kampyle earlier this week and rolled it into Medallia Digital—a combined feedback management and data analytics solution. Together, the two solutions will deliver more omnichannel insight into the customer experience because it will take both offline and online data into account.
Posted October 21, 2016
With rumors swirling about a possible acquisition, Twitter's future is uncertain, but the company's role in enabling brands to deliver customer service remains solid. Earlier this month, Twitter released findings from a customer service study, an effort the company expanded from the airline industry alone to the quick service restaurant and telecom industries as well. The findings revealed that the manner in which customer service is delivered on Twitter plays a significant role in how much consumers spend.
Posted October 14, 2016
Helpshift, a customer service platform for in-app support, is now offering Campaigns, a feature that arms companies with a more proactive approach to in-app customer service. The company already delivers in-app support but is now making it possible for brands to message their customers directly before a specific customer service issues arises. The new tool lives at the intersection of customer service and marketing, Abinash Tripathy, CEO of Helpshift, says.
Posted October 11, 2016
Monday, Oct. 3, marks the start of National Customer Service Week, an initiative that was started by the International Customer Service Association back in 1984. The weeklong dedication to customer service is an opportunity for brands to treat customers to surprises, perks, and other engagements, but the event is about more than just customer appreciation—it should be about employee appreciation as well.
Posted September 30, 2016
Customer service solutions providers Cisco and Salesforce.com announced a strategic alliance earlier this week that brings together their respective customer service solutions. The two companies worked on deep integrations of Cisco's collaboration, Internet of Things, and contact center platforms with Salesforce Sales Cloud, IoT Cloud, and Service Cloud. The goal for both companies is to augment each other's offerings for a more holistic slew of services.
Posted September 23, 2016
Online review platform provider Trustpilot is now integrated with Zendesk, a cloud-based customer service platform provider, in an effort to empower Trustpilot clients with a wider array of customer service tools and technology. Through the integration, a review on Trustpilot automatically generates a customer service ticket in Zendesk so that agents using Zendesk can be immediately alerted and can appropriately respond to the review.
Posted September 16, 2016
In the age of Siri, Cortana, and Echo, the idea of artificial intelligence conjures up a sense of fear not because of how it's been portrayed in science fiction, but because AI may one day pose a very real job threat across a number of professions, including customer service. AI tools can perform certain tasks faster and more efficiently than people, but a recent customer service hiccup from travel planning company Skyscanner serves as a reminder that, however powerful it is, AI won't be a catch-all tool for customer support.
Posted September 09, 2016
In a study by equity insight and analytics provider 24/7 Wall Street and research company Zogby Analytics, Comcast was named one of the worst performers in customer service, while Amazon was named the best. More than 1,500 Americans were asked to evaluate companies across 17 industries.
Posted August 26, 2016
Genesys' app marketplace AppFoundry and developer portal DevFoundry have boasted rapid growth recently, with AppFoundry now offering more than 100 customer experience apps and DevFoundry now supporting more than 250 users. Jim Kraeutler, vice president of the innovation group at Genesys, atributes the growth to the vendor's commitment to educating partners and developers and giving them flexible tools to build solutions.
Posted August 12, 2016
Air travel is hectic—hundreds of flights are cancelled and delayed throughout the country every day, and while some airlines handle these issues with ease, others send customers on an impossible journey to get reimbursed for travel nightmares. Startup AirHelp is working to eliminate some of the customer service hassle associated with air travel by handling the refund or reimbursement process for customers, even filing lawsuits when necessary.
Posted August 05, 2016
As brands increasingly strive to provide self-service options for customers to solve straightforward problems quickly and efficiently, contact centers are taking on new roles, becoming an extension of the brand. Here are four reasons why customers still love—and need—contact centers.
Posted July 29, 2016
As Twitter continues to struggle and analysts start to speculate about a possible sale, the company is continuing to roll out features dedicated to the social customer service space. One new tool is designed to let consumers know when a brand is most active based on how quickly it responds to tweets and messages. Another is an updated Featured Tweet capability, which enables brands to pinpoint specific tweets that will remain fixed at the top of their feeds for other users to see immediately.
Posted July 08, 2016
Xerox has announced plans to split into two companies, with one portion remaining as Xerox and the other becoming Conduent, a business process outsourcing company that will offer solutions for customer service as well as other areas.
Posted June 24, 2016
Helpshift's cofounder and CEO, Abinash Tripathy, maintains that omnichannel service is not the answer to customers' growing expectations. As customers increasingly expect faster, more efficient support, the need for more sophisticated self-service support and support through artificial intelligence will grow. With $23 million in funding, Helpshift plans to continue improving its in-app messaging customer service tool by making it more proactive.
Posted June 13, 2016
In an industry often criticized for poor customer satisfaction, T-Mobile rose to the top, beating out competitors AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint in the American Customer Satisfaction Index. On ACSI's 100-point scale, T-Mobile earned 74 points while Verizon and AT&T both earned 71. Though the victory margin is slim, T-Mobile's improvement is noteworthy—the carrier's score grew by 4 points. Sprint was the most-improved carrier, raising its score from 65 to 70 this year, but the company fell behind its three primary competitors overall.
Posted June 03, 2016
To deliver a more seamless cross-device experience for customers, Salesforce.com has introduced Snap-In SDKs for the Web and for mobile devices. The debut of snap-in functionality enables users to quickly add tools such as Cases, Knowledge, Live Chat, SOS, and Tap-to-Call to their mobile and Web apps.
Posted May 27, 2016
Messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat are becoming increasingly popular among consumers, and as the platforms introduce tools for companies, they are also becoming a route for customer support. Live chat has become quite popular as well, with companies deploying proprietary chat or implementing chat solutions from vendors such as Zendesk. But messaging apps and live chat tools have limitations from a customer service standpoint. That's why newcomer LiveNinja just secured $2 million to continue developing a hybrid tool that brings together the best of both.
Posted May 06, 2016
Effective self-service functionality can make a company's customer experience stand out, and solid search capabilities play a key role in ensuring that customers quickly find the resources they need. With the introduction of Coveo's new Sitecore native search app, Coveo for Sitecore Pro Cloud Edition (as well as an on-premises version of the same tool), companies can add context to customers' searches and improve the relevance of the content that is returned in a search.
Posted April 29, 2016
At its developer conference this week, Facebook introduced bots on Messenger, an automated response system for customer support and other e-commerce interactions. The chatbots are powered by Messenger's updated Send and Receive API, which enables the platform to not only support text, but also other types of content such as images and links. Call-to-action buttons will also be available on the updated platform, according to Facebook.
Posted April 15, 2016
After relying on email customer support for six years, Uber is ditching the channel in favor of in-app self-service. As the company expands globally, email is proving to be an unsustainable support route, especially in countries such as India where email is not widely available. The redesigned help function within the app will now replace email and will tackle the most common questions and concerns that riders and drivers have, including giving riders easy access to passenger ratings.
Posted April 08, 2016
Millennials are more likely to file customer complaints than other generations, even Baby Boomers, according to a report from J.D. Power. The study of more than 600,000 consumers revealed that Millennials have a lower tolerance for customer service issues, errors, and delays than Boomers,tend to value effective issue resolution more than their older counterparts, and tend to reward brands that solve customer service challenges with their loyalty.
Posted April 01, 2016
Known for extensive regulations and customer processes, the financial services industry has strict onboarding procedures called Know Your Customer (KYC) that add complexity and time to customer experiences. To streamline the process while ensuring that banks continue to observe all required regulations, Pegasystems today introduced a client lifecycle management (CLM) tool that speeds up the onboarding process.
Posted March 21, 2016
At the Enterprise Connect conference earlier this week, Avaya introduced Zang, a cloud communications platform that supports application development, embeds capabilities from outside solutions such as Salesforce.com, and offers a turnkey application called Zang Spaces.
Posted March 11, 2016
For years, Apple has made an effort to avoid establishing a major presence on social media, but on Thursday, the company broke its social silence by launching a Twitter customer support account. The launch comes on the heels of Twitter's rollout of additional customer service tools, as both Apple and Twitter acknowledge the social channel's central role in modern customer service.
Posted March 04, 2016
From silly GIFs to sophisticated branded content, video has been exploding online but hasn't really entered the enterprise feedback management space. With its video feedback solution, InMoment is turning video into a key Voice of the Customer (VoC) channel and enabling companies to use customers' video testimonies to gain insight into the customer experience.
Posted February 26, 2016
Twitter's stock is hurting, and CEO Jack Dorsey has been making an effort to set the social network back on course with new features, including a suite of customer service tools that play to one of Twitter's greatest strengths. Earlier this week, Twitter updated its Direct Message capability with deep links, which enable users to send private messages to businesses quicker and more effectively.
Posted February 19, 2016
Pegasystems continues to expand its Pega 7 platform with the launch of Pega Field Service CRM, an app for field service agents; it provides on-the-go CRM functionality to professionals who deliver service on site and unifies customer service across the customer journey, from initial call to service delivery.
Posted February 12, 2016
For the second quarter in a row, L.L. Bean reigns supreme on Stella Service's benchmark report of retailers' customer service performance. Stella Service evaluated retailers by looking at a number of service areas, including the speed with which customer service issues are handled, the efficiency of returns and exchanges, and the amount of missed opportunities for customer engagement. Most notable were L.L. Bean's prompt responses to both phone and email requests, according to the report.
Posted February 05, 2016
Earlier this week, former Amazon employee Eric Springer shared his recent experience with Amazon customer service, revealing that the e-commerce giant unknowingly gave away his identity to hackers on three occasions. Springer was alerted to the situation after receiving an email confirming a recent interaction with customer service via Web chat that he did not actually have.
Posted January 29, 2016
With messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WeChat staking a claim to how consumers communicate on mobile devices, brands are working to get in on the action. Mobile support is becoming a must-have for customer service, but in-app support and service via the mobile Web just aren't cutting it. Joshua March, CEO at Conversocial, sat down with Smart Customer Service to discuss the evolution of social support and how Sprint is tackling the growing demands of the space.
Posted January 22, 2016
Customer experience management solution provider InMoment has teamed up with predictive analytics vendor RapidMiner to deliver a more sophisticated Voice of the Customer solution that not only provides insight on what customers are doing at different phases of the customer journey, but also why they're taking certain actions.
Posted January 15, 2016
Customers who received replies from airlines through Twitter were not only happier with their experiences but also were more willing to pay more for their next tickets and to recommend that airline to others, according to research from Twitter and Applied Marketing Science.
Posted December 18, 2015
Pages has long been a powerful resource for marketers maintaining a Facebook brand presence, but the social network is launching new capabilities to enhance the platform's customer service features. With better engagement tracking and an emphasis on faster response times, Facebook is enabling brands to deliver an improved social customer service experience in real time.
Posted December 11, 2015
Thanks to social media, customer reviews, and other tools that give consumers the power to shape brand dialogues, companies have had to improve how they deliver service. Increasingly, expectations for customer service are extending beyond traditional call center and support experiences to include in-store support, delivery, and product consultation. According to a recent report from Constellation Research, five trends are shifting power to retail consumers. These trends have key implications for brands.
Posted December 04, 2015
Social customer service provider Sentiment is teaming up with systems integration company IP Integration to help inject social solutions into existing contact centers. As contact center providers rush to offer social tools, Sentiment and IP Integration are working to ensure that social solutions are no longer considered an afterthought.
Posted November 20, 2015
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday right around the corner, companies expect more transactions to occur through mobile devices. Last year, mobile commerce accounted for 22.56 percent of online sales in November and December, and 27.91 percent of Black Friday sales, according to the 2014 IBM Experience One U.S. Retail Online Holiday Shopping Recap Report. This year, the number will likely surpass 30 percent, and as mobile secures its position as a key channel for online retail, retailers should consider stepping up their mobile customer support.
Posted November 13, 2015
To the surprise of many, the company that all-but demolished the brick-and-mortar book business debuted its first brick-and-mortar book store earlier this week. With the opening of Amazon Books in Seattle, the e-commerce behemoth is redefining the in-store experience, and it's all about personalized service. On the surface, the store is a condensed, limited version of the online business; digging deeper into its shelves, however, reveals a much more nuanced business model.
Posted November 06, 2015
At its G-Force summit in Miami this week, Genesys debuted AppFoundry, an app marketplace where developers can design, innovate, and collaborate on customer service solutions. With wide-reaching integrations for on-premise and software-as-a-service solutions spanning from CRM and database applications to sales and e-commerce tools, the marketplace promises to extend Genesys's offerings while maintaining the vendor's commitment to the customer service space.
Posted October 30, 2015
Metrics are the lifeblood of every contact center's performance, yet many of them aren't measuring the right performance indicators, the ICMI determined in a recent study. The findings, announced at the ICMI Contact Center Conference earlier this week, revealed that as contact centers evolve to be increasingly multichannel hubs, companies are struggling to maintain consistency across channels and customer touch points.
Posted October 23, 2015
The company is expanding its technology into the B2B space.
Posted October 15, 2015
The brand now offers workshops and presentations on customer service for non-competing companies.
Posted October 09, 2015
Author Marsha Collier hosts discussions about the latest trends in customer support and experience.
Posted October 02, 2015
A Q&A with Aircall founder Olivier Pailhes, whose solution enables the mobile customer service agent.
Posted September 25, 2015
Apps that provide support are becoming essential across industries.
Posted September 18, 2015
New capabilities include resolution management, geotagging for Instagram support, and CROWDS communities.
Posted September 11, 2015
A personality match promises a better customer service experience.
Posted September 04, 2015
Global hotel chains are experimenting with customer support via text messaging
Posted August 28, 2015
Company debuts customer support videos for its Beats by Dre products.
Posted August 21, 2015
The Seattle Seahawks cornerback answers customer service calls on Nike's Gear Up Day.
Posted July 31, 2015
What brands can learn from United's social customer service hits and misses.
Posted July 24, 2015
The new app promises to boost efficiency for customer service reps.
Posted July 17, 2015
In two decades, Amazon has entirely transformed consumer expectations.
Posted July 10, 2015
Separate but specialized support teams are replacing traditional outsourcing.
Posted July 02, 2015
In a crowded market, the vendor attempts to differentiate itself with speed and solid caller ID functionality.
Posted June 26, 2015
The social network expands Messenger's customer service features with a time-saving tool.
Posted June 05, 2015
Latest Temkin Group Customer Service report reveals a service decline in 13 industries
Posted May 29, 2015
The company is continuing on its growth trajectory.
Posted May 22, 2015
Though interactions will now be more quick and seamless, there are some caveats.
Posted May 15, 2015
There were a few surprises on Forrester's 2015 CX Index.
Posted May 08, 2015
In the second wave of major updates this year, Microsoft furthers its integration of Parature products.
Posted May 01, 2015
Do happier employees really equal happier customers?
Posted April 24, 2015
The company's mobile app is turning heads in the fast-food industry.
Posted April 17, 2015
Contact centers aren't prepared to handle growing cross-channel demand.
Posted April 10, 2015
The new general manager of IBM Commerce, Deepak Advani, shares his vision for an experience-centric strategy in an interview with Smart Customer Service.
Posted March 06, 2015
The company is overhauling its CX strategy with the help of its employees.
Posted February 27, 2015
The deal expands Verint's cross-selling opportunities within the customer service market.
Posted January 06, 2014