Customer Service Brings the Holiday Spirit to the Hearts and Minds of Children

Avaya supports the NORAD Santa Tracker every year, to help children around the world know what Santa’s up to! Last year, nearly 114,000 children across the world called the hotline. How exciting, and what a great way to think about “service.” In the spirit of the holidays, I wanted to see just how many smiles were put on the face of parents and children this week.

We’ll have official results in a few days, but a quick look shows more than a million views on the YouTube trailer video. Facebook and Twitter showed a lot of fun was had by all.

The official NORAD Tracks Santa Facebook page (which has nearly 1.5 million “Likes”) provided live location updates as Santa made his way around the world.

NORAD posted updates for 23 hours straight, following Santa as he landed in the South Pacific, followed by stops in Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, North America–ending at Johnston Atoll, a U.S. Minor Outlying Island located 860 miles southwest of the Hawaiian Islands.

Midway through the night, NORAD posted photos of its Santa Tracker operations center, which was staffed by more than 1,200 volunteers this year.

Here are some of my favorite comments people left on the Facebook page:

“Wherever we were stationed around the world, our boys always knew when Santa was going to come,” Sonja Norman wrote on the Facebook page. “Thank you for all you do.”

“Every 5 minutes it was, ‘Where’s Santa now?'” Natasha Winters wrote. “I loved it.”

“NORAD is part of Christmas and has been since the ’50s for me,” Sandi Vaillancourt wrote. “To every “elf” at NORAD, please never stop this tradition. You are part of the “Night Before Christmas” story for so many in the world. From our home and family… we wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Many thanks again to the men and women of NORAD.”

On Twitter, @NORADSanta has 145,000 followers, and has been tweeted at more than 14,000 times in the past two days (more than 34,000 times in the past week). One of the team’s most popular tweets was a photo of First Lady Michelle Obama volunteering at the NORAD hotline.

NORAD 2013 Graphic

So how many children called in to the hotline? We don’t have the official answer just yet, but the thought alone certainly makes me smile. This is what being in the customer service industry is all about in my opinion: Making people happy, making people smile, at every turn, across every mile!

Watch these super cute #NORAD videos from students around the world: http://bit.ly/1eoFgMk

Want to know more about why you should call the tracker hotline next year? Check out this blog entry from last week.

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Join us for the Transformational Journey: Avaya Evolutions is Now #AvayaENGAGE

For over 11 years Avaya Evolutions Mexico has been the milestone event for Mexico’s technology market, with over 3,000 visitors in each edition. This year Avaya Evolutions transforms into #AvayaENGAGE Mexico. Following Avaya Engage events in Dubai and Las Vegas, this is the third and final location on our tour, and the largest thought leadership event in Latin America. This must-attend event brings together top senior executives, industry leaders, technology innovators and key decision makers to reimagine the possibilities of Digital Transformation and Cloud.

In the past, Dr. Zedillo, Former President of Mexico; Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, former President of Mexico; Jose Fernandez, NASA’s first Mexican American Astronaut; Steve Wozniak; and Guy Kawasaki have all been a part of Avaya Evolutions.

Evolutions began in 2006 in Mexico as the annual premiere technology forum before expanding internationally in June 2010. The Evolutions tour gathered over 30,000 attendees in 15 different cities across the U.S., Central America, and South America, receiving the Internationalist’s Innovation Global Media Award in 2012. The success of these global events was made possible by the continuous commitment and support of our partners and sponsors.

When customers join us this June in Mexico City, they will be introduced to the latest concepts on smart digital economies from forward-looking organizations. At the Digital Transformation Lounge, customers can experience innovative demonstrations and view software solutions live.  

Join us to learn how the experience is everything. Gain knowledge and insights to make informed decisions to support your digital transformation journey.

We are bringing together an exciting lineup of keynote speakers at #AvayaENGAGE Mexico. We’re featuring Kevin Kennedy, Avaya CEO; Morag Lucey, Avaya CMO; and Gary E. Barnett, Avaya Senior Vice President and General Manager, Engagement Solutions. You can find us on Twitter @Avaya. Follow us in early May as we announce our very special guest speakers.

Join us in Mexico City on June 21 for a can’t-miss next-gen experience. I hope to see you there!

Don’t Underestimate Smart and Secure Remote Access

Like many people, I’ve spent a lot of time watching great NCAA March Madness games in the last two weeks. During the commercials, I’ve been thinking about the challenges faced by athletes aspiring to get to the Final Four—and realizing that many careers bring similar tremendous pressure. In my communications industry, I think of IT professionals trying to solve technology issues, bridging legacy and new solutions, always on tight deadlines and tight budgets. These teams need things to go right—and when there’s an error—they need smooth, secure, fast fixes from their vendors.

Underestimating the skills of the remaining NCAA players might be a mistake—don’t blame their current success on luck or a fluke. That’s basketball, but I’ve seen IT departments underestimate the problem-solving power of remote connectivity in a similar way. Remote Access is often dismissed as being too risky for network security.

In his blog “Achieving Secure, Mission-Critical Technical Support is a Two-Way Street” Mike Runda, President of Avaya Client Services, refutes the misconceptions IT can have about remote access. Mike discusses the three key attributes that IT managers should demand of a remote access solution. Before you choose your communications solution, make sure that the provider’s connectivity into your enterprise is smart, secure, and gives you full control.

Secure remote access connectivity is the foundational component for resolving complex network issues. Mike tells the real-life story of an Avaya customer having a network issue, and blocking remote access for Avaya support technicians. The techs needed access to diagnose and resolve the problem. The customer was steadfast in its cybersecurity. The situation became a full-court press (i.e., escalations) by both teams. Once both teams got together and discussed the power and security of Avaya’s remote connectivity, the issue was quickly fixed. Read the whole story in Mike’s blog.

For now, we know the teams heading to the Final Four are doing all they can to bring their A Games to Phoenix. Likewise, when the pressure’s on in IT, Avaya customers can work with us via remote connectivity—with confidence that the pros at Avaya will protect security and bring proven results.

Get out of the Queue: Drive Your CX with Attribute Matching

At this point, nearly every company is working overtime to realign around two simple words: customer experience (CX). So much so that nearly 90% of companies now compete solely on CX—a drastic increase from 36 % in 2010—and 50 % of consumer product investments are expected to be redirected to CX innovations—like attribute matching—by the end of this year.

But what exactly does the CX consist of, especially in today’s new world of digital business innovation? This next-generation CX is supported by several advanced technologies—big data analytics, omnichannel, automation—however, these investments are all aimed at driving one thing: contextualization.

The rise of contextualized service—the ability for companies to not only gain insightful information about their customers but also deliver information in a way that is relevant and meaningful to customers based on individual circumstances to improve their experience—has evolved the CX to a point where it looks virtually nothing like it did as recently as 10 years ago. Whereas consumers once primarily focused on the act of purchasing, driven by such things as product quality and price, they now focus on the richness of brand relationships, driven by the personal value that companies deliver throughout the customer journey. Just consider that 70% of buying experiences are now based on how customers feel they are being treated. This is the key factor that sets apart market leaders like Amazon, Trader Joe’s, and Apple from the competition.

According to Accenture, there is an estimated $6 trillion in global revenue up for grabs due to dissatisfied customers constantly switching providers. The ability for companies to offer contextualized service is vital for operating at the speed of the consumer and capturing more of this market share. There’s just one thing preventing companies from seizing this limitless potential: the traditional call queue.

Every customer is familiar with the call queue. This is the place where statements like, “Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold,” and “Let me transfer you to a specialized team who can help you with that” perpetually live. It’s where exhaustive efforts to route customers to the correct service rep become lost, or where consumers must repeat the same information to multiple agents across different teams. It’s the greatest barrier preventing companies from being more dynamically connected to their consumers, and one of the greatest reasons why customers reduce their commitment to a brand.

Driving Contextualization with Attribute Matching

In a world where customers demand a profound level of connection and transparency, organizations can no longer support a contact center environment in which calls are distributed among agents who are organized by function (i.e., sales, service, support). In today’s smart, digital world, companies must transform the traditional call center into an integrated, digital communications hub. This means moving away from a siloed, metric-driven queue and instead working to put customers in touch with the best organizational resource depending on their exact need or circumstance as immediately as possible. The most effective way to achieve this is to migrate from archaic infrastructure towards an integrated, agile, next-generation platform built on open communications architecture.

Open communications architecture allows organizations to seamlessly collect, track and share contextual data across various teams, processes, and customer touch points. This integrated environment supports a real-time data repository from which businesses can pull from to route customers based on needs beyond traditional characteristics (like language preference). Rather, the technology allows companies to build customized learning algorithms that drive anticipatory engagement, enabling them to match customers based on next-level variables like personality, emotion and relatability.

Imagine, for example, a hotel routing a customer directly to an IT staffer after seeing that the person tweeted about a poor in-room Wi-Fi connection. Imagine a bank being able to route a customer to a money management expert after seeing that the last five questions asked via live chat were about account spending. Imagine an athletic apparel company matching a customer with an agent who is an avid runner after noticing that the individual recently signed up for a 5K.

The future of the CX means creating and continually building a contextualized view of customers throughout their entire brand journey. It means going beyond customer service to establish unparalleled, organization-wide relationships. It means transforming peoples’ lives, verses simply answering questions. This is what companies must work to align themselves with. The good news is that technology has evolved to a point where they can now easily, effectively and cost-efficiently do so.

Interested in learning more or getting beyond the queue to Redefine Your Customer and Employee Experiences? Contact us. We’d love to hear from you.