Monthly Archives: February 2018

Customer Service Automation: How Far is Too Far?

Customer service automation

Customer service automation isn’t your average trend – quickly and surely, the use of automation tools are changing the way customer support teams and companies operate, communicate, and learn about customers over time. Specialized support software that allows organizations to build custom chatbots, launch interactive knowledge bases, trigger segmented emails, and many more automated services, have become as widely used around the world in order to improve customer service and experience.

A recent article from Harvard Business Review dives into the areas of customer service that are paving the way for future automation innovations, as well as ones that should remain untouched by automation. As some of their most innovative examples of automation in customer service today:

Various Silicon Valley startups have deployed robots that make pizzas, craft salads, and assemble artistic bistro sandwiches. In Boston, a robot works with labor nurses to schedule baby deliveries. Waiterless restaurants in China permit customers to order and pay through the WeChat app and feature robot servers that dispatch trays of food to the appropriate tables. In Japan, a robot named “Pepper,” that was conceived in part as a companion for the elderly, has honed its skills in a variety of service roles, ranging from retail assistant, to waiter, to Buddhist priest.

While these benefits are well-known and can be attributed to many improvements in customer satisfaction, experience, and personalization, there is always a point at which automation simply cannot do what a person can. The real question is: how much automation in your customer service strategy is too much? The experts at HBR have recognized in their article that:

For starters, the economics of service automation aren’t universally rosy. When a nationwide retail bank introduced online banking, customers who adopted it increased their total transaction volume and began visiting and calling the bank more, increasing costs and decreasing overall profitability. Similar dynamics can be observed in health care. Patients who adopted e-visits, for example, actually began showing up at the doctor’s office twice as often. One explanation for this pattern is that current technology is functionally limited, requiring people to seek out in-person help in addition to using automated services. But as innovation progresses, functional limitations are bound to fall by the wayside.

So, what is a company to do? First, it’s important to pay attention to the areas of successful innovation that customer service automation provides.

1. Automating transactional interactions, while facilitating human connections.

2. Supporting employees without getting in their way.

3. Enhancing customer and employee engagement.

4. Engaging customers in ways that won’t make human service providers cringe.

Read the full article on Harvard Business Review here

 

Customer service automation – while highly advanced – can only grow and evolve into more useful ways. At Zingtree, we’re looking forward to continuing to provide a versatile platform that allows companies to automate customer service, support, and the overall experience even further, without sacrificing personalization or ease-of-use.

Call Center Agent Scripts with Salesforce Lightning

Salesforce Lightning is the new, modern rewrite of Salesforce Classic, and can work well for Call Scripting. And as Lightning evolves, it is getting better at interfacing with pop-up applications like Zingtree, although it still lags behind the capabilities of Salesforce Classic. Here’s what can be done as of March, 2018.

Agent Experience

Here’s a quick video showing how the agent experience works. Unfortunately, Lightning doesn’t let you launch a new pop-up window like Classic does. It has to open in a new tab, and only after clicking a “confirm”.

Setup

Within your Salesforce setup, you can create a new custom button or link.

  1. In Lightning, go to Setup, Object Manager, Case, and create a new Detail Page Button or Detail Page Link:

  2. For the URL, make it look like this (substituting the tree ID of your script for #########):
    https://zingtree.com/host.php?tree_id=#########&style=panels&show_history=1&persist_names=Restart&persist_node_ids=1&agent_mode=1&nopermalink=1&source={!Case.OwnerEmail}&session_id=SF#########-{!Case.CaseNumber}
  3. Now add the button or link to your Case Page Layout. Go to Setup, Object Manager, Case, Case Page Layouts and select Case Layout.

  4. If you’re adding a Custom Button, click Buttons, and drag the button we created called “Agent Script” into the Custom Buttons area.

    If you’re including a link, click Custom Links, and drag the link we created called  “Call Script” into the Custom Links area.

 

We expect Lightning to get better as time goes on. Got any tips or updates for us? Please share!

3 Massive Ways Decision Trees Are Improving Process Flows

We understand how key well-laid out process flows are for mapping each stage of the business processes our customers deal with every day. Traditionally crafted up using expensive software or other somewhat clunky online formats, process flows should be a core practice within any industry in order to better standardize every phase and minute detail of how your business is run.

Interactive decision trees are quickly becoming a preferred solution for improving process flows, providing a powerful, yet simple platform for building and running through any process, click-by-click.  Below we’ve outlined some of the biggest ways that decision trees can improve process flows in many major departments or areas of focus for your business.

3 Uses of Decision Trees for Process Flows

1. Streamlined Scheduling

Whether you’re referring to scheduling patients or customers for an appointment, internal meetings, or production planning, an interactive environment is one that can do it all. Already a comprehensive platform for clicking through predefined paths, decision trees allow businesses and organizations to schedule and collect any associated data needed.

In the case of Spokane ENT (a specialty medical practice in Washington), decision trees for scheduling have enabled them to optimize scheduling, help agents intelligently pre-diagnose patients and collect key medical information in a secure environment, and ultimately eliminate unnecessary appointments.

Pro Tip: Integrate decision trees with Calendly to make scheduling simpler.

2. Improved Procurement

Procurement is another process that, when well-defined and executed internally, helps keep business operations purring away soundly. However, procurement is an intensely in-depth, complex business function that requires a lot of careful planning and powerful technology in order to perfect. Improving procurement can mean a myriad of things – chiefly that your organization will save money, grow revenue and business opportunity, and create a more sustainable environment for managing purchases and delays.

For PMI, utilizing decision trees to improve the procurement process flow has been an incredible asset, as they allow employees to be guided through complicated purchasing journeys effortlessly. PMI’s decision trees have automated process flows with a standardized approach to ensure one set of procedures are being followed for every purchasing decision.

Pro Tip: Use logic nodes in decision trees to assign a series of rules based on specific conditions being met. 

3. Better Communications

CRM and other communication systems are the ideal way to guide potential new customers, manage and maintain relationships, and communicate directly about important or relevant company updates – this is one business process flow that should never be left cooling down on the backburner. One of the most straightforward ways to improve existing CRMs (like Zendesk, Freshdesk, etc.) is to integrate its features with decision trees.

Interactive decision trees connect seamlessly with any CRM system to simplify complicated processes, help customers find solutions and navigate complicated forms, and more. For companies using an email communication tool to get in touch with new, existing, or old customers, Zingtree decision trees can also be linked up with MailChimp in order to make the steps from entering an email address to add any information collected during a session into an email list.

Pro Tip: Create a master tree to link all individual trees to one centralized location.  

 

Having a firm grasp on your businesses processes and a well-ironed out process flow for each main area will only help to make your company that much stronger. Armed with decision trees that can simplify, streamline, and reduce friction within many process flows, any area of focus – from customer service to procurement management – can be vastly improved on.

Ready to improve process flows within your business or organization? Please get in touch with us!

The Visual Designer: Drawing Out Your Decision Tree

Everyone prefers their own way of creating, and it can come in many forms. To address this, we built Zingtree with a few different ways to design and construct an interactive decision tree (as well as some great ways to publish them!). For the more visual learner, the Zingtree Visual Designer allows you to draw out your decision tree.

This “whiteboard” style lets users create nodes, along with their connections, and see the nitty gritty details of how the tree functions all on one screen. In terms of ease-of-use and full-scale layout views, Visual Designer really can’t be beaten.

Here’s how to get started with the Visual Designer:

1. Once you log in to your Zingtree account and start Designer, you’ll see a screen that looks like the one shown below, with one node already in place as a green box. This is the very first node your users will see and interact with.

2. Double-click on the Node you’d like to change and an edit window will pop up conveniently to dig into. You can edit the Title, Question and main Content segments to your liking, as well as add in any Data Entry fields.

3. Drag new nodes into the design area – these correspond to the pages in your decision tree. Again, select the green box to edit each node’s Question, Content, etc.

4. Add a Final Answer Node and edit to fit your needs, when you’re ready. These will appear in blue, to differentiate from your green Question Nodes.

5. Continue dragging new nodes into the design area to create these Questions & Answer Nodes, and then connect them using labeled arrows. The connecting arrows represent the button selections from each node.

6. Finish linking all of your nodes using this method, and you’ll end up with a finished product that looks something like this image below. You can click on any node or button/arrow to highlight connections and see more detail.

Please keep in mind that things can get confusing for more complex trees that require more nodes. 

BONUS TIP! Automatically re-arrange the nodes in your decision tree visually with just a single click, so you can more easily see every node and connection without constantly opening each one.

 

For a more in-depth tutorial, watch this video to see how to build the example tree above using Zingtree Designer:

 

To view more ways of building your decision trees, check out our Zingtree Design Tutorials.

 

This article was originally published on Jan 30, 2016, and has been updated for accuracy. 

3 Simple Ways to Show Customers That You (Really) Care

While February is typically reserved for the romantics of the world and sharing appreciation to those in our lives, we believe the practice of showing people that you care should be a year-round effort. For businesses in industries from retail to technology and everywhere in between, customer appreciation and true customer care are vastly important to long-term successes.

From a purely bottom-line perspective, happy and loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase on average. From a more human point of view, happy and loyal customers are more informed about the product, satisfied with the results or experience, and get far more use out of a purchase. So, what are some simple ways to insert more customer care into your over-arching customer support strategy?

1. Pay attention to their feedback (and make it easy for them to provide it).

Customer feedback is golden – for every customer who complains about a product or service you’re offering, 26 other customers remain silent. Every part of customer feedback should be carefully considered, analyzed internally, and taken into action when needed in order to really show that you are listening to what your customers have to say. To show your customers that you are really listening would be to:

  • Ask for their ideas. Find a way to kickstart a discussion and open up their ideas with clever questions that can open the feedback they provide.
  • Reward their suggestions. No one incentive is ever recommended, as it largely depends on the type of company in question. Some offer cash, vouchers, discounts, or other value-based incentives.
  • Send them a ‘thanks.’ Always send a thank you! Your thanks will show your customers that you care about how they’re enjoying the product or service and thank them for choosing you.

With the right tools and platforms in place to collect this valuable data – like an embedded feedback form or survey – you’ll be able to take the guesswork and manual effort out of the gathering, analyzing, and taking action on customer feedback.

2. Personalize and humanize the service they’re getting.

When providing a service, you should always make the customer feel as if it is personal to them. This can be as simple as using their name during contact or through online communications; it’s about going the extra mile to make sure they know they’re being heard. This can be adapted and worked into customer service training programs, used when crafting your customer-facing newsletters, and tapped into during any other customer interaction that may be had.

Going hand-in-hand with personalization is the concept of being human – at no point should the customer feel like they’re talking to a robot when on the line with your customer service team. If you have one basic call script and a team of agents reading from the same one, but no one includes any personalization or humanity into the interaction, the customer will likely walk away feeling disconnected. 

3. Always ask, never assume.

Rather than assuming what your customer might expect from you, it’s far more effective and engaging (and less risky) to ask them. Research shows that businesses are wrong more than 50% of the time due to assumptions, which will easily result in an annoying customer experience that could have easily been dealt with from the very start of any interaction.

Ask questions, gently nudge for more information, and listen intently to the response. If you reach out for further help with new product ideas and other suggestions and actually put those into practice, customers will know that you care and that they have an impact on (and direct connection to) your business. The real way to show customers you care about them is to take action to improve their experiences; show gratitude by proving you’re listening, and take the feedback to your advantage to work toward a better future.

Many of our own customers have submitted feature requests, brand new use cases, and incredibly helpful suggestions that we’ve taken to heart and implemented over the course of many, many decision tree updates over the years – it’s been a win-win situation for ourselves as a growing and evolving product, and them as customers gaining more value every day out of what we offer.

If you’re looking for an easier way to personalize the customer experience or allow your employees to connect and collect better data, see how a decision tree gives you full flexibility in the way your customers are being cared for. If you need more guidance, our team is more than happy to assist you – reach out to us for more advice!

What Kind of Valentine’s Card Should I Give?

Valentine’s Day is back yet again! Whether you’re searching for last-minute ideas for your significant other, mom and dad, or other VIP’s in your life, the simple and sincere Valentine’s card is a staple of the season that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Rather than going to your neighborhood pharmacy and grabbing a generic option last-minute or sketching up something on your own, our custom decision tree will help you find the perfect Valentine’s Day card online that you can download, print, and customize.

 

 

Want to see more amazing user-generated decision trees? Check out the Zingtree Gallery!

Industry Leaders Weigh In: Here are the Top Strategies for Customer Retention

We’re incredibly invested in the customer support industry, its processes, and all of the other key business functions that affect it. Customer retention is one such area that is directly intertwined with that of customer support – so much so that these strategies should be intertwined as well. The vast majority of customers will abandon loyalties and switch brands or providers due to poor customer service; to manage retention and reduce churn, customer support efforts need to be a top priority.

The customer relationship is far from over after they make a purchase, and strategic businesses are aware that retaining a happy customer in the long-term is much more valuable than getting a one-time buy. NGData used their resources to reach out to dozens of the industry’s top-ranking customer retention experts to gain more insight into what businesses can do to foster these long-lasting customer relationships.

“What’s the #1 way organizations can improve customer retention?”

Create a good experience, that’s consistent and predictable, and you have a shot at customer retention.

The root of retention and loyalty comes service, which actually starts at the top, with the leadership determining if they want a customer-focused culture. That culture is what drives the customer experience. The way leadership treats employees drives the customer experience. The way employees treat each other drives the customer experience. In short, what is happening on the inside of an organization is felt by the customers on the outside. It’s on the inside of the company where customer retention begins.

– Shep Hyken, Shepard Presentations

 

Hire the right employees.

How can you retain top notch customers if you can’t retain top notch employees? It’s infinitely more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep an existing customer happy. The best way to keep a customer with you is to hire (and retain) the right Customer Service Representatives to provide a consistent level of five-star service and support.

– Patrick Clark, Hyrell

 

Be responsive.

If employees are trained to truly listen to the customer and give them what they want and or need, organizations would see a measurable improvement in their customer loyalty numbers.

In an effort to reduce costs and to deal with a large number of customers (with minimal staff), organizations have tended to streamline their processes and train their customer service staff to give customers a pre-determined or “canned” response. There are companies who actually limit the amount of time a customer service representative can spend with a customer, regardless is the problem has been resolved or not.

– Janet Boulter, Center Consulting Group

 

Customer retention is a mixture of art and science.

On the art side, you need to be able to create and foster a meaningful relationship with all of your customers individually (in a B2B setting), putting in the required time and effort to go above and beyond what the customer’s expectations are.

On the science side, it’s important for sales to coordinate closely with marketing to provide automatic follow up with the customer. Having consistent, useful communication with the customer is vital to establishing trust in your brand and guaranteeing continued business.

– Raphael Ventura, The Expert Institute

 

Simply care about the customer as a person, not a sales generating object.

It is business 101, but organizations have a tenancy to think about customers as data and widgets in the technology age. When you ask the question “how do I want customers to talk about my company in a year?” it forces you to see them as a human with actual thoughts and as a long term relationship to care about.

Irasema G. Jeffers, Online Amiga

 

To foster better relationships with their customers by providing:

  • a frictionless user experience, and
  • actionable insights for three transaction criteria: recency, frequency, and value.

– Zach Goldstein, Thanx

 

Through the carefully combined efforts of better personalization, ongoing communication, high-quality employee training, and a customer-centered strategy, customer retention is one business metric that can steadily be improved. Businesses who are looking to boost up their customer support and customer retention strategies can try out powerful technologies and tools that can be used to streamline these processes. Perfect for contact centers, eCommerce businesses, and startups of all sizes, interactive decision trees are the most flexible, easy-to-customize solution for providing personalized customer experiences.

This post was updated on February 19, 2018, to include a quote from Patrick Clark, Hyrell. 

Decision Tree Improvements – January 2018 Updates

This past month’s updates include some new security and access restriction features, performance enhancements, interface improvements, and a variety of small bug fixes. Here are the details:

New Features

  • New Change Log report to show what authors have done. Also exportable to CSV.
  • New Hidden Field data entry type (for Ted B, Others)
  • New API calls for agent_add, agent_remove. (These are no-login agents.)
  • Google sign-in authentication for agents (for Benjamin)
  • Push Live tool
  • Server updates and extra capacity
  • Performance enhancements with smarter file caching. Added cache_tree URL parameter option.
  • Different Single Sign-on Identity Providers for authors and agents.
  • Internally logging security events (logins, failed logins, email sends, tree changes)
  • Single Sign-on logins for agent portal (Lynne H.)
  • ##include_url: ## template macro for loading data from 3rd party URLs
  • Agent Portal now has #agent_first_name# variable. (Craig S.)
  • Can now pass new merge variables into a pause-and-resume session (Geoff)

Updates

  • Updated Zendesk Agent Scripting App. New agent_tags variable included in URL, no more flashing when going between tickets.
  • Session summary from Zendesk app now shows which agent did which click (Sonny R.)
  • Add Agent can now use a no-login option.
  • Max video upload size is now 150 MB (from 50 Mb) (Darryl )
  • Session Info cookie is now protected by https.
  • Agent portal node search now includes node tags (Jonathan B)

Interface Enhancements

  • Reordered Add Node selections based upon popularity.
  • Reordered node icons in Designer by popularity.
  • New Tutorials and Videos.
  • Easier-to-use Edit Content Node. Now uses tabs to surface advanced options.
  • Pop-up editors in Designer now use more screen space.
  • Easier-to-navigate Settings tool uses tabs.
  • Tools pages and drop-down tools menu reorganized.
  • Consistent tree info display across tools.
  • Formatting of default hosted link on Publishing Tools page – removed extra spaces at front.
  • No more weird message when viewing gallery trees in Designer.
  • Node editor – Data entry fields no longer appear by default in question nodes.
  • Node editor – switching between question and answer types now keeps tabs straight.
  • Node editor – Dragging to reorder buttons or data entry fields now positions items properly in range of editor.
  • Reordering nodes in Simple Overview now shows node being moved in proper position.
  • Simple Overview no longer shows empty “Variables: “
  • Session Details no longer unnecessarily shows tree name from starting tree in each step.
  • Node editor no longer flashes a bunch of blank buttons when first loading.

Fixes

  • Archiving Development version of a tree also archives the live version (Vlad).
  • No longer showing button class overrides (i.e. .btn-red) in front of History (Tal D.)
  • Designer no longer adds “score” variable to new nodes.
  • Zapier interface handles newlines in data entry variables properly (i.e. Session History variable) (Gabe L.)
  • Importing session_history variable into a pause and resume session no longer causes a JS error (John H.)
  • #agent# now gets used as a variable in Agent Portal (Ted B.)
  • Space character in agent login no longer makes agent portal tree viewing fail (Gordon S.)
  • Cleaned up tree search tool for Live vs. Development trees.
  • Nodes with tree search forms now locate live or development versions depending on live/dev status of the originating tree.
  • Tree search nodes no longer always return results where page title had “search” in it. Also didn’t properly look for page titles.
  • FAQ and end-user tree searches no longer return every node when searching keywords “title”, “span”, and other HTML elements.
  • Zapier authentication no longer ignores fields that were once empty (Josh D).
  • Zendesk Agent App: Newline in Zendesk custom field or merge variable value caused no session to be saved.
  • Session Matrix report uses faster queries, no longer displays button formatting overrides.
  • Responsive image selection now works properly for all image insert operations.
  • Compare Trees tool no longer shows “Return to previous tree” as an option.
  • Data Entry Fields: Required markers for placeholders now appear on the same line as input control for small display widths (Jay H.).
  • Data entry fields no longer have extra line space between them in small display widths (Jay H.).
  • Address auto-complete and validation no longer fails when a pre-existing address is in the form (Jay H.).
  • No longer tries to validate empty phone numbers (Jay H.).
  • “Add another” for repeating form entries is now working properly on all browsers.
  • Ill-formed include_url blocks no longer reload this tree, causing a propagation of buttons.
  • “Sorry, but you don’t belong to organization…” endless login loop message no longer when organization no longer accessible.
  • Clicking tree search results didn’t always change the page.
  • Clicking search results should now always change the page.
  • IPV6 addresses now work for getting location data (Raj).
  • Changing email address in login info now goes to proper logout page.
  • Copying or moving trees to new organizations also copies webhooks. (Raj)

Credits

Thanks to all of our customers who contacted us with great suggestions and astute observations.

If you have a suggestion for us or see something that you think could be done better – please let us know!