The 5 Reasons Why I Joined Avaya Global Support Services

A couple months ago, I found myself around the family kitchen table attempting to explain to my wife why I was considering leaving my current role at Avaya for another. Between requests and “stories” from our three young children, I explained that I was considering joining the leadership team of our support organization as a strategy leader.

Carl Knerr

As I cut some food for my daughter and passed the ketchup to the boys (is there such a thing as too much ketchup?), I told my wife about how Avaya Support has gone through a huge evolution in the last couple of years, earned a lot of recognition, and are now looking to take their delivery to another level.

Although I would very much enjoy having you, oh beloved reader, at our family dinner table, alas, the logistics just do not allow for such wonderful things. While I cannot share some of my wife’s amazing cooking, I will share with you the reasons why I think Avaya Support will continue to be not only an industry-leader, but an innovator in delivering value to our clients.

Downtime is the enemy

91 Percent of Outages Resolved in 2 Hours or Less

We know that system outages are the worst thing that can happen to our clients, and as such, we have dedicated teams trained on restoring down systems as fast as possible. If that isn’t great enough, I’m really excited that they have begun to reach out to our clients when we know they are at risk.

For example, we know that having a recent backup allows restore times in 2.5 hours instead of 1.5 days. Given the industry average of $110,000 of cost to the customer for every hour of outage, this makes a huge difference to our clients. If a client doesn’t have a recent backup, we reach out and help them implement a backup strategy. These engineers are inspiring on how customer focused they are.

Death to Rework

Our support team hates rework and that’s why every time one of our wicked-smart engineers finds a new problem, she will document it and publish the solution to http://support.avaya.com instantly. As if that isn’t enough, we use our own Avaya technology, Avaya Automated Chat, to help our customers easily find what they are looking for.

Avaya Ava

In fact, our implementation of this technology, dubbed “Ava”, has become the face of Avaya. How cool is that? Even when Ava fails to find you a solution, she succeeds by putting you in touch with an Avaya engineer and passing that engineer your full history, so that you don’t have to start all over.

Not Just a Phone Company

As a Gen-X’er myself, I despise talking to customer support on the phone; and Avaya gets that. Not only do we work with customers over the phone, email, or online chat, but last year, they deployed a first-in-the-industry video chat option using our own products.

If you haven’t tried this yet, stop what you’re doing; and just check it out. Wicked cool stuff. Of course the hot topic is support via social media–something I’ve written on–and now you have an opportunity to see what @Avaya_Support can start doing.

Innovative Diagnostics

Perhaps my most passionate topic over the years has been around diagnostics for Avaya products.

Avaya Support continues to raise the bar in the space of diagnostics. I get irritated when I see valuable time of our human experts being used to validate basic settings, gather log files, etc.

We’ve got really exciting technology that leverages our lessons learned from years of troubleshooting hundreds of thousands of customer systems and we embed that into tools that can solve product issues without an engineer; which means our customer gets an issue resolved in a matter of minutes.

I’m excited that we’re not resting on those laurels, but continuing to invest in improvements and all-new tools to keep satisfying our customers.

Satisfied Customers

As a result, in 2014, 92% of our clients indicated that their overall support experience was excellent, very good, or good. Read that last sentence again. 92%! Isn’t that amazing!

When we look at Avaya’s Net Promoter Score, as an entire company, we were at 65 the last quarter (average of 50 over the last 4 quarters), putting us in best-in-class with Amazon and other companies and beating out companies like Cisco, Microsoft, and Shoretel. Read more here.

Avaya Client Services

Please don’t just take my word for the impact of the items above. In October 2014, I was proud to join other Avaya Client Services leaders in Las Vegas at the TSW 2014 Conference, hosted by TSIA. Avaya walked away with three awards for our efforts in Avaya Client Services, putting Avaya in TSIA’s STAR Awards Hall Of Fame.

As you may surmise from the above, I was convinced this was the right move for me and I’ve made the shift. As part of this new role, I plan on continuing to bring you stories from Avaya Support as a means to help our customers and partners derive as much value as possible out of their Avaya Support agreements.

*Based on internal metrics in 2014

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Using AI in Contact Centers to Create Better Customer Engagement

I’ve been through quite a few technology trends in my career, and to say Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the hottest may be an understatement. If you have customers that are 55 and under you need a customer experience plan to address digital channel preferences and AI in contact centers now, before it’s too late.

Avaya recently announced Avaya Ava™, our cloud AI solution that supports your customers who use social media, chat and messaging channels to engage with you. To address the communication preferences of your customers, Ava interacts with social and messaging platforms by automating digital interactions through chat bot and Natural Language Processing (NLP) with sentiment analysis—in 34 languages! And Ava provides seamless hand off of the customer experience, with full context of the interaction, to an agent when and if one is required.

Why the Time for Avaya Ava is Now

To put things in perspective, if you do a quick search you can find that there are over five billion mobile device users globally, sending 22 billion text messages and over 60 billion social network messages per day. This makes it no surprise that Dimension Data found the 55 and under crowd prefers to engage with organizations through digital channels like social media, mobile applications and web chat. In fact, I’m often hearing stories about someone’s parent or grandparent over 55 who prefers to text rather than talk.

The real question is how do you serve your customers who are living on those mobile devices? The answer: Start with AI.

But why is AI so hot? Why start there? Because it eliminates the need for human interaction by adding intelligent automation? Or maybe it’s the ability to reduce siloed experiences? These are definitely true, but only part of the equation. AI is such a big deal because it also has significant potential to help drive revenue, reduce costs and increase CSAT. Everybody wins! And that is why you see market research predicting a CAGR of nearly 60% in the global AI market by 2025.

AI is Not All the Same—What You Should Look For

With all of the excitement around AI, it’s no doubt there’s a bit of “bandwagon jumping” going on. Imagine that I am a new customer of a large insurance company, and I tweet about frustrations with recent billing issues I am having. This could go one of two ways: Good or BAD.

Let’s say that this insurance company has a bot and social mining that recognized me as a frustrated customer. After an initial exchange with the bot it was determined that a live agent was needed, so after a lengthy hold, a voice connection is established with the agent. But the agent has no context explaining who I am and why we have been connected. How do you think this ends? Likely with a great opportunity for the competition.

Now, let’s look at how this scenario but be improved with a truly intelligent AI solution—one like Avaya Ava. My tweet and frustration sentiment is detected by the AI application and I am recognized as a relatively new customer, so it is known that I am in a critical phase for retention. I receive a response from the company’s bot, who understands who I am. We engage in a “conversation” to gather some additional details and validations for security purposes. Since it is determined that I already have a relationship with Jeff, the representative who set my account up, the bot sends me a link that connects me directly to Jeff. Jeff has all my information—the complete context of my interaction—and my billing issue is resolved in a matter of minutes. Happy customer! Retained customer!

This not-uncommon scenario highlights the need for a truly valuable AI solution—one that has the potential of delivering the business results you need—to meet a set of core capabilities:

  • Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand written language
  • Machine Learning which “observes” human interactions learning to provide relevant, meaningful automated responses
  • Sentiment Analysis to assess emotion or attitude of a customer, either positive or negative, and assign a qualitative score to guide proper treatment
  • Chat bot for real-time automated services leveraging the aforementioned capabilities to be effective

What You Need to Know About Contact Center Automation

So, if you implement an AI solution with all of these capabilities you can completely automate your contact center, right? Well, not quite–at least not yet. Rather, you should look at AI to “humanize” the automated customer experience. Having a machine (bot) interact with me and understand my intent is leaps and bounds a better experience than what an IVR can offer, but the live agent experience is still paramount.

An AI solution should be fully integrated into the rest of your customer experience solution as part of the complete customer journey–one that allows the full context of an interaction to be visible to a live agent. This way, the agent becomes an extension of the automated experience, and in turn creates improved CSAT. And because the automated experience is always available with real-time and intelligent responses, you will be better aligned to your customers’ engagement preferences. This in turn will help drive down cost with increased self service and accelerate revenue opportunities due to a more personalized and “intelligent” experience.

We generated a lot of buzz about AI when we introduced Ava at our partner and customer conference last month. People are seeing the potential to build enviable customer experiences by better connecting with customers through social and messaging channels and by journey mapping customer interactions.

At Avaya we take a consultative approach to helping our customers meet their business objectives. To help you with AI for contact centers, we offer a Professional Services Discovery Workshop. Contact us to learn more.