3 Easy Ways to Add Flexibility to Your Nurse Advice Line

Have you ever sat up in the middle of the night with a sick child, and you weren’t sure what to do? Have you ever felt unsure if their symptoms were serious enough to merit a trip to the emergency room?

My husband and I have been there. Our daughter’s been sick multiple times with the croup and a high fever. In those cases, instead of taking her to the emergency room, we called our pediatrician’s nurse advice line, left a message and waited for a call back.

Advice lines are great for healthcare providers, because they reduce unnecessary emergency room visits, which in turn help hospitals contain costs and improve efficiency.

While nurse advice lines are very helpful, they’re not as flexible as they could be. According to data from our March Customer Experience Management survey, 69 percent of people expect companies to provide them multiple communication channels—voice, email, text messages, video and chat. Just 46 percent of companies do.

Adding live chat to nurse advice lines makes sense. The chat solution should provide automated responses, and the ability to escalate to a live nurse for more complex interactions. If you could offload basic questions to an automated-response system, you could care for more patients more quickly—decrease response times and improve patient satisfaction.

According to some estimates, 60- to 65 percent of nurse advice line calls involve problems that can be handled at home. It’s likely that some percentage of those calls could be managed with automated chat responses.

A solution like Avaya Automated Chat can interact with the patient, their spouse, parent or other caregiver. Check it out here:

Healthcare organizations can also create an outbound campaign to follow-up automatically with patients to see if an appointment or additional follow-up is needed. Personally, I feel cared for when I get a follow-up call to make sure everything is OK, and that I don’t have any additional medical needs.

Automated follow-up calls are an effective way for healthcare providers to catch problems early, encourage patients to visit their doctors early and make them feel like they’re receiving the best care possible. Improving patient satisfaction is beneficial for hospital systems, as reimbursements are now tied to those measures.

I know that I don’t want to visit an emergency room in the middle of the night and I hope with more flexibility in nurse advice lines and other service offerings that those late night visits will be reserved for truly critical situations.

A major study based on the responses of 60,000 members of a health plan, found that telephone-based triage service “appear[s] to be a cost-effective intervention that improves access to medical advice, thereby encouraging appropriate use of medical services.”  By providing access to service (or advice) via alternative channels, healthcare providers can provide even more value for their patients.

Visit http://www4.avaya.com/usa/campaigns/health/index.html to learn more about Avaya healthcare solutions.

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Check out the Cool Avaya Omnichannel Contact Center Demos at ICMI

Sometimes you travel to Orlando to really fun destinations. But this May 22-25, when you arrive in Orlando for the 2017 ICMI Contact Center Expo and Conference, we think you’ll be heading for what we like to call the second happiest place on earth. Visit Avaya’s Booth 623 for a fun omnichannel contact center experience that shows you how to create satisfaction—happiness—for customers throughout their interactions with your company.

Each year, contact center executives gather for a few days of education on the latest innovations designed to ensure customers have a great experience. I might not meet up with Mickey from Disney, but I may get together with Alex from Norwegian Cruise Lines, an Avaya customer, and many others who are going to have a wild ride at our cool contact center demos. We’ll show customer-focused companies our latest innovations. This includes the Avaya Oceana™ Solution for contact centers, which enables you to provide a greater customer experience over every communications channel—phone, email, web, SMS, chat, and more. And Avaya Aura® Workforce Optimization, which helps you drive a better customer experience by generating relevant and timely insights from each interaction.

At our demos, we believe customer service professionals will be as excited as kids visiting Goofy. Why? With just five minutes of prep, we can put your corporate website into our Avaya Oceana contact center transformation demo. We’ll set up a live, fully functional omnichannel contact center for taking calls and chat sessions from your website. It’s like magic to see a retail website suddenly support chat and WebRTC-based voice. We show you the exact experience your customers would have. Want to add voice? Will do. How about co-browsing and secured form fill? Done. How about a custom application for the iPhone? Done and fun!

Then we’ll add in our workforce optimization tools, giving you a 360-degree view of how to move from the old world of 800 numbers to the new world of a multi-touch omnichannel contact center. It all works with all of our Avaya solutions (which are used by 90% of the Fortune 100). It’s a great ride—with no height restrictions and guaranteed to be eye opening.

Visiting an Avaya booth at any tradeshow is a unique experience for many reasons:

  • Each demonstration we do is customized. The best way to show you the power of Avaya is to give you a glimpse into what your actual solution could be. If a vendor shows a canned demo, it might be an indication that the technology is not flexible or easy to customize.
  • Each demo shows multi-touch channels in action. Click on a live representation of your company’s mobile application and it connects to an agent. Follow the experience like your customers would.
  • We show the entire customer experience. A customer journey map shows the entire customer experience so that agents can add value to previous transactions and steps. By knowing what a customer has done in the past, or what a customer tried to do, an agent can be one step ahead with a relevant response.
    If a customer chatted with an agent yesterday and places a phone call today, it’s likely that both contacts are about the same transaction. An agent can see what information was exchanged with another agent, so the current agent can continue the customer journey fluidly. It’s a great way to reduce agent time requirements, while making the customer experience more personalized.
  • We are passionate about making a difference for your business. Meet an Avaya team with years of contact center experience and dedicated to helping your company create a competitive differentiation by transforming your customer experience.

We hope to see you at the ICMI Contact Center and Exhibition in Booth 623. We’ll have you saying “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!” (Did you know Microsoft Word has supercalifragilisticexpialidocious in the dictionary?)

If you can’t make it to a show, an Avaya associate or partner can demo our solutions in person or online. To schedule a demonstration at the ICMI event or at another time, please email me at blgutnick@avaya.com.

Customer Journey Analytics vs. Traditional Analytics—Know the Difference

It’s expected that 60% of all large organizations will develop customer journey mapping capabilities by 2018. Why? Because the average consumer isn’t so average anymore. Consider that a typical customer now owns three personal mobile devices, each with anywhere from 10 to 20 downloaded apps. This individual owns an average of five social media accounts, nearly three of which are actively used. Additionally, the average office worker receives up to 121 personal emails per day. Just imagine what these figures look like for consumers on the high end of this engagement spectrum.

To get a snapshot of my own activity, I followed these simple instructions to figure out how many emails I receive. It’s 10 a.m. and I show 59 emails received (up from 47 just two minutes ago). And tweets average around 6,000 per second—I have 1,175 in my queue based on who I am currently following. The question is: How do you bring your email, tweet, post, or blog to my attention amid all the clutter?

When we look at what this means to customer experience it is worth noting that we’ve reached a point where over 40% of customers now use up to seven different channels to interact with brands, from live chat to email to social media to SMS. Businesses increasingly understand this fact, and they’re taking the necessary steps to ensure they can deliver consistent, contextualized experiences across various channels and devices.

Each of the devices and channels offers its own set of diverse scenarios for linking to other devices and channels, making no two customer experiences the same. The not-so-good news is that businesses are still grappling to understand customers’ actions across these various touchpoints. They need to leverage data but, in fact, 43% of companies currently obtain little tangible benefit from their data, while 23% admit they derive no benefit whatsoever. Organizations are struggling to create a data strategy that delivers the insights needed to drive anticipatory engagement and repeat spending.

The bottom line is that a business can support virtually every interaction channel. However, without a comprehensive view of the data generated and shared across those channels organization-wide, it will fail. Supporting an array of channels is simply not enough. Businesses must gain an inherent understanding of how customers are using these channels so that they can adapt, evolve and change as needed. This is where the ability to understand your data—specifically, customer journey analytics—becomes vital.

The solution here may be simple to describe, but implementing it isn’t. Adopting customer journey analytics means businesses must now support a powerful, real-time visualization of the customer journey across all lines of business, not just the contact center. They need a roadmap to continually reinvent key processes and fine-tune organizational behavior. They must harness real-time and historical data across all channels and devices to intuitively understand customer needs and optimize business outcomes. Most challenging of all, they must do this in a way that shows tangible ROI and improves TCO.

To make customer journey analytics work, businesses must take a critical step from ideology to implementation—a move that can often feel like a leap of faith.

But there’s good news: technology has evolved to a point where companies can now easily, effectively and cost-efficiently achieve these core data objectives. The key is investing in an extensible, omnichannel customer engagement solution.

Your customer engagement solution should boast simple capabilities. It should be pretty easy to create and manage dynamic, multi-touch customer journeys. And you need a built-in, flexible analytics and reporting platform to deliver a single, comprehensive view of customer data across all sources, both internal and external. This lets you compete using customer journey analytics, and also easily add third-party data sources to amplify their strategy.

A customer engagement platform redefines the way businesses engage with digital consumers. Here’s how customer journey analytics stand apart from traditional reporting and analytics:

  • Obliterates Siloes: A siloed environment is the greatest barrier to data success, and it’s affecting more businesses than we realize. According to Deloitte’s 2017 “Contact Center Benchmarking Report,” nearly 60% of customer channels are currently being managed in silos. Analytics integration is vital for competing on customer experience (CX), an initiative that traditional analytics tools simply can’t support.
     

    Built on open, extensible architecture, a customer engagement platform has unparalleled flexibility for gathering transactional information from numerous different channels (IM, co-browsing, SMS, phone, email, IoT) and devices (phone, mobile/tablets, branch, desktop, kiosks). This enables companies to flexibly collect, process and analyze all real-time and historical data. They gain a rich visualization of their customer journey enterprise-wide. This means consistent, contextualized experiences no matter where and when interactions begin, end, continue—and no matter how many company agents are communicating with the customer.

  • Seamlessly combines internal and external data sources: The open nature of a customer engagement platform enables companies to combine internal data with that of virtually any other business intelligence (BI) tool. For example, insights collected internally can be combined with data from visualization tools from leading providers like MicroStrategy, Oracle, SAP and Tableau. This lets managers maximize the return on their existing investments, while driving their potential beyond what was initially imagined.
     

    Furthermore, this unique ability lets managers generate cradle-to-grave customer interaction reports, enabling them to identify innovative new ways to meet consumers’ evolving needs. Chances are you’re not going to get this with traditional reporting and analytics platforms.

  • Transforms the agent experience: A holistic customer engagement platform redefines agent and supervisor experiences by allowing companies to easily create, customize and integrate key applications for specific work groups. Supported by an advanced software development kit, companies can build their own contact center apps, or embed specific functions into their existing apps, to customize desktops for any unique customer/agent configuration. The solution represents a revolutionary way to serve digital consumers. And, it offers managers a new avenue for analyzing performance metrics for all ways customers are served.

With customers using more digital channels than ever, it’s clear that now is the time to adopt customer journey analytics via a customer engagement platform.

Interested in learning more or chatting about transforming your analytics environment? Contact us. We’re here to help and would love to hear from you.

CX Experts Agree Customer Journey Maps Help Build Relationships

I recently attended the 2017 MoNage conference, which focused on the Age of Messaging over the Net—a phrase coined by the founder Jeff Pulver. Jeff was a pioneer in the VoIP industry, having created the Voice over the Net conference, co-founding Vonage. He extends his vision that messaging is at the center of the digital transformation era. I wanted to explore some of the observations from the conference—especially those about contact center operators leveraging customer journey maps for serving customers effectively via chat, SMS and other messaging communiques.

Digital transformation has made the mobile device the preferred method for contacting businesses. The accessibility of compact smart phones has made them readily available to communicate at any time. Whether it is checking email during a TV commercial or when a player goes offside at a hockey game, we’re obsessed with interactions, many of which impact our relationships with companies.

The accessibility of devices has led to a preference for human-less customer services, including web commerce applications, chatbots for addressing basic questions like order status, and electronic updates via SMS for transactions like shipping notifications. Research shows that humans still prefer to communicate with humans for more complex transactions. According to Accenture’s 2016 study “Digital Disconnect in Customer Engagement” in 2016, 83% of customers prefer dealing with human beings over digital channels to solve customer services issues. Experienced travelers know using a friendly tone on a call to an airline representative is the most likely way to get an issue resolved.

The challenge for customers is they often must interact with a business’s numerous touch points before they finally can speak to a live agent. As Avaya’s Laura Bassett highlights in her blog “Winning the CX with Apps, Integrated Data Views, Custom Agent Desktops”—over 40 % of customers were already using up to seven different service channels including live chat, email, social media, SMS and traditional phone to engage with companies.

Imagine if the agent who answered your call had telepathic powers. Imagine that instead of hearing, “How can I help you?” you were given an answer before you even asked your question. The use of text chat is creating an expectation of immediate gratification with answers in seconds, not days—compared to the old-school way of sending an email knowing it will sit in a company for hours or days. When a customer contacts a company, they are contacting a company, not an agent. If they have sent an email, the last thing they want to do is to repeat what they have already told the company. To the customer, the agent is the company.

Technologies have evolved—business can now route interactions to agents with the best-matched attributes to serve individual customers’ needs. Agent selection criteria can include gender, age, location, language—tailored as needed for different industries. It’s not surprising to find a female agent is more successful upselling to a male customer buying flowers. But how do you empower the agent to serve that customer as if they are the only customer that matters? It starts by examining why customers contact a business in the first place.

Is Calling a Contact Center an Admission of Failure: Many People Believe It is

Many businesses often view a call to a contact center as a failure. It’s a failure because the customer could not serve themselves, and had to incur the most expensive resource in the company—human agents. If you examine the reasons people call a contact center, the most common reason is due to a previous event. In many cases, there is an attempt to resolve an issue by going on a website and trying to find information, or using a chatbot to get an update, or sending an SMS requesting an account status. Knowing what a customer has done prior to the agent receiving the transaction is the secret sauce of the customer journey.

Maintaining a View of the Customer Experience with Customer Journey Maps

Customer journey maps lay out a view of the entire customer experience so agents can add value to previous transactions and steps. By knowing what a customer has done, or what the customer tried to do, the agent can be one step ahead of them with a response. It’s like being a detective. If a customer chatted yesterday with an agent about an order and today places a phone call, it is likely to be about the same transaction. By presenting the history of most-recent transactions, the agent is able to have a full 360-degree view of the customer journey. A representative can know what information was exchanged with the last agent, so they can continue with the customer journey as if the journey never stopped. It’s a great way to reduce agent time requirements, while making the customer experience more personalized than ever before.

Avaya can help with the formulation of customer journey maps that capture all forms of communication, including SMS, email, website activity tracking, and more. For example, just last evening I booked a hotel for a trip. Early this morning, I received a message indicating my reservation had just changed, with an offer to chat with an agent. The agent informed me via chat that my preference for a high floor had been confirmed. The neat part was the agent knew I had used the college discount code on the web and wrote “enjoy visiting Arizona State University.” They totally know me. That’s what making a great customer experience is all about. The more you know about the journey your customer takes, the more you are likely to keep that customer on a journey with you for the long term. That customer might even tell their friends about the experience. I’ll definitely tweet about mine!