When it comes to artificial intelligence, throw away that tired old tech rulebook

By | AI, bots

Our simulator, uses an intelligent agent to monitor activity. Using this type of technology, is in line with where AI jobs are going. It’s expected that the number of professionals working in AI-focused roles will nearly double in the next three years. This shift will not only require changes to businesses’ digital environments, but to their organizational structures as well.

Read this article to learn four ways in which businesses need to evolve to fully prepare for the advent of #ArtificialIntelligence.

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Three Ways to Show Employees Your Appreciation in a COVID-19 World

By | empathy, Employee Rewards | No Comments

Now more than ever in 2020, companies need to reach out beyond a traditional Thanksgiving pat on the back. As COVID-19 has taken away traditions such as a company potluck or group volunteering activities for the underserved.

In regular times, over 66% of employees say they will leave an employer of they don’t feel appreciated. Showing employees on a regular basis that you appreciate them is always important but during holidays, you may want to go beyond the standard format.

Here are three other options you may want to use.

  1. Unless you have been living under a rock, we have all had a “Zoom” meeting. The company Zoom offers to reimburse employees for any book they purchase. This is a great idea as it gets us away from screens. You may offer to set up a book club or use lists of books for people to choose from so they can have non-work conversations about each book they are reading
  2. Mail a personal hand-written note to their home. Getting physical mail is rare these days so sending a note directly to their home will be seen as a nice gesture as it does take more effort and thought than sending a digital note or dropping something off at their desk.
  3. Many of us have been forced into becoming set design and lighting experts to put our best face forward on endless video calls. Why not provide a custom back-drop or lighting packages to help everyone look their best.

However simple or elaborate the gesture is, remember to be authentic, and all gifts will be greatly appreciated.

Four Ways To Boost Customer Experience (And Thus Hold Onto Your Clients)

By | Uncategorized

Customer satisfaction needs to be THE priority in every area of your business. Each interaction a customer has with you will either positively or negatively influence your brand, the customer’s lifetime value, and the impact on future customers and therefore your revenue. The customer experience is everything in today’s market. Ryanne Van Der Eijk is the Chief Customer Experience Officer at RAKEZ and knows how to create a customer-centric workplace. She shares her best advice for providing the right experience to customers in her article, “Four Ways to Boost Customer Experience (and Thus Hold onto Your Clients).” One of her tips is to build customer-centricity as part of your company culture. Start by defining your company’s philosophy on customer service—that’s the easy part—and then work on ways to share it via the workflow, the hiring process and the staff training. Read her entire article for more ideas for developing a culture focused on customers and her other tips to boost overall customer experience.

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Why we should be embracing AI and bot technology

By | AI, bots


If you’re reading this, then chances are that getting easy access to clean, running water isn’t an issue for you. But for around 43 percent of the world’s total population, this simply is not the case. For them, obtaining the drinkable water they need to sustain their families requires hard work and commitment.

To make matters even more critical, most of them live in rural areas in which farming is their main source of income. This means that any available water must be carefully distributed between their crops and family. This is an exhausting situation that can take all day just to keep a small patch of land in farmable condition.

Such is the case for Monica, a Kenyan farmer who every day must assume the roles of mother of four, farmer, merchant, and housekeeper just to make ends meet. In this video, you’ll learn how she managed her dwindling water supply to keep her farm yielding, family fed, and trade at the local market—a situation that was soon to improve dramatically thanks to modern technology.

Stay in the Know

By | Uncategorized

We are working with our new partner, Microsoft. Each week they keep us in the know of where technology is and how it’s helping companies expand their footprint. The way we think of and use technology holds so much potential. From increasing the productivity of farmers to helping researchers track endangered species, Microsoft is proud to support so many amazing people who inspire and improve the world we live in. Whether you’re trying to make a difference on a global scale or trying to improve job satisfaction in the workplace. Subscribe today to stay “in the know”!

View: Stay in the Know

Top 3 Strategies for Win Win Vendor Relationships

By | contact Center, empathy, podcsting | No Comments

It’s not about driving down costs — at all costs.

Procurement Cloud states that 47% of vendor relationships will hit a wall. Why is that?

There isn’t one single answer but many times it comes down to building win-win relationships vs. trying to drill down the price to shave percentage points off your supplier fees. Even in the middle of a Pandemic and economic downturn, there are ways to build strong relationships. Here are three top strategies:

  1. Good communication and setting ground rules
    1. Christa Heibel of CH Consulting Group, a well-known Contact Center Consulting firm, states in order to create a Win-Win relationship, begin with ensuring your contract flushes out all of the details of the relationship including how each party will contribute creatively. Listen to her Words of Wisdom an excerpt from our Contact Center Insights Podcast

2. Be transparent – I’m not saying give away trade secrets but the better the vendor understands how decisions are made, what other priorities are demanding resources the more valuable input they can provide. My first experience with this was 20 years ago when I worked for a company win win situationthat had an onsite contract with Sears headquarters. At that time it was rare that a vendor would be invited to sit in on staff meetings and participate in the planning process but it gave us greater insight as to how we could provide our services in a more valuable way. We were able to become more pro-active in recommendations and felt truly part of the team.

3. Create channels of trust

When you’re making a buying decision, trust is a large part of the equation. Will the vendor deliver what they promised, will support be at the level you expected it to be. The same can be true for your role. Giving timely responses, clearly outline what your expectations are, and stick to them, not delaying payments or changing the terms of the deal allow the vendor to have faith in the relationship and align their resources accordingly.

For example, a BPO set terms with their client to abide by specific KPIs for managing a campaign. Mid-way through the campaign, the client’s business had a major re-organization and put pressure on the BPO to stick to the original terms and fees, even though their employees were putting in more time and effort to manage a new set of metrics and requirements. Even though the vendor may fear losing this client, in a solid win-win relationship, it would be fair to expect the vendor to ask for a revision of their contract.

Simulations to Teach Coaches How to Coach

By | call center, contact Center, empathy | No Comments

Practice without a purpose is wasted time

Many organizations are great at taking a top performer and promote them into a manager’s role. But what they forget is that not all good frontline employees are good managers.

Recently I was working with a client who wanted to find a new way to teach her managers how to be good coaches.

Let’s first define the difference between “telling” vs. “coaching”. In an article written by Julia Milner & Trenton Milner, in the Harvard Business Review, it presents a great case study on how you can teach managers to be good coaches. Many of them start off with telling employees what to do — this is NOT coaching.

Coaching is a combination of skills that allow the employee to come to a solution of their own accountability vs. being told exactly what to do. I made a two-step recommendation to my client. As she was overseeing Quality Analysts for a global software company, I recommended she first take a look at a Coaching for Performance certification program from Benchmark Portal. They have many certification programs but this seemed to be a great way to give the foundational skills needed to understand coaching. coaching employees

Then I recommended that she use our simulator to build tailored coaching conversations her QA could use to practice various scenarios. As stated in the HBR article, you need to let coaches practice in a safe environment. This is exactly why companies use our simulator. It provides realistic experiences that can blend all of the skills needed such as:

  • active listening
  • questioning
  • giving constructive feedback
  • assisting with goal setting
  • showing empathy
  • letting the coachee arrive at their own solution
  • recognizing and pointing out strengths
  • providing structure
  • encouraging a solution-focused approach

The embedded smart analytics reporting system will allow my client to access detailed metrics in real-time to see how well her QA’s are doing in the capstone activity of completing coaching simulations.

With many people still working remotely, it’s even more imperative that managers have the right skills to help their employees succeed.
If you’re curious to see how to use our simulator to build your own coaching simulations, please contact us.

Five Best Reasons To Use Simulations for Remote Training

By | Adaptive Learning, bots, simulations | No Comments

How Simulations Can Ensure Remote Workers Are Job Ready

Well, it’s now August and many of us optimistically thought in March that Covid-19 would be a fading memory. How naive we were. But here we are and every company is trying to figure out what the “long-game” is in regard to changing the way business is done.

Two years ago when I launched Verbal Transactions our small team was able to quickly land some well-known clients who saw the value of using our simulator as a way to augment their existing training programs. One key reason was that it gave them the reassurance that employees would get more “hands-on” practice.

Now with the majority of employees working remotely, tools like ours are even more imperative. Why you ask? Here are the top 5 reasons.

  1. Simulation training has been proven to produce better results compared to instructor-led, video, or eLearning. By giving users the ability to practice in realistic situations exposes them to a more tactile and true-life experience.simulations
  2. Due to the fact employees are not sitting in a classroom or placed in a pod to where they can tap someone on the shoulder to answer quick questions, using our built-in “bot” simulations can be built to allow for users to verbally interact with the simulator to feel they have a guide or mentor to help them along the way
  3. A well-built simulation will allow users to make mistakes with some form of immediate feedback. We all learn from our mistakes. Using simulations to allow you to fail in a safe environment allows you to actually succeed faster.
  4. Because managers can’t physically observe employees doing their job,  using analytics like that built into our ACES software removes any mystery around how well the employee can perform their job. Each behavior you want the simulator to observe can be tied into the scoring and reporting functionality.  No need to watch a video or listen to a recording of the user completing this task, the real-time reporting gives you complete transparency to how well they did.
  5. Most importantly, users appreciate more hands-on practice and feel more confident about how to do their job. Many employees have a variety of anxiety in these uncertain times. Losing their job is one of them. By arming them with tools to ensure you are helping them to learn how to do their job well, ensures, you want them to succeed and to ensure they are well equipped to contribute to helping the company do their best.

 

ACES Simulations vs. Storyline “simulations”

By | Adaptive Learning | No Comments

Recently one of our clients asked us to build an technical support simulation. In this simulation, the engineers would be responding to the customer via a series of emails. Their developers were used to using Articulate’s Storyline for building on-line training. In this case, they decided to build both versions – ACES™ and Storyline.

For those of you not familiar with our simulation platform ACES™, has the ability to recognize key-words, conduct complex and multiple randomized branching, and uses speech recognition for verbal responses.

The primary differences in both designs were as follows:

  1. ACES™ set up randomized branching as to not “game” the system, the Storyline version did not have randomized paths
  2. The Storyline vs. presented multiple-choice options as which response to the customer was best vs. ACES™ allowed the user to actually compose the email. We did provide a hint but if a hint was used, their points were deducted.
  3. There were three initial branches for both options, due to the fact we also included randomization, we were able to build in Six scoring options vs. the one scoring option supplied by Storyline.
  4. When the results were presented, the user could review their composed emails with the instructor if they questioned their results. This was not an option in the Storyline version.
  5. Based upon which path the user chose at the beginning and which keywords they selected, we provided a breakdown of their score into for clearly defined behaviors they have defined as departmental skills they choose to reinforce. The users were able to see how well they scored for each of these behaviors. Storyline was not able to do this.

Don’t get me wrong there are benefits to both tools but in my 30 years of building and delivering enterprise training solutions, one thing I know for sure is, the more active vs. passive the training is, the better results you will get. This is why I am a proponent of non-SCORM based tools as we have grown beyond this capability to track and measure more behaviors and skills vs. simply measuring completions.

If you have read this far, share with me what tools you feel should be highlighted that may fall into the non-SCORM camp as well.

 

Reducing Gladwell’s “10,000 Hours by 90%”

By | bots, call center, contact Center, simulations | No Comments

Deliberate Practice vs. Traditional Training

I’m a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell and I’m sure many of you are familiar with the term “10,000 hours to mastery”. This has since been proven to be taken out of context but he still references it as a guide to how long it takes for someone to master an innate skill. In Frans Johansson’s book, The Click Moment he explains that Deliberate Practice is a more likely predictor of success. Here are the core elements to Deliberate Practice

  1. Set a specific targeted goal or task you want to master
  2. Provide focused intense periods of practice
  3. Receive immediate feedback and self-correct
  4. Prepare to be uncomfortable in order to overcome barriers to success

One of the core reasons our customers use our simulator is that it uses this deliberate practice approach. Many of our customers need to get contact center agents up to speed quickly. Traditionally they are putting them on the front lines before they have had time to really master interacting with customers. By using our simulator, they see how this gives agents realistic practice so they can reduce the time it takes to get to mastery. Like Johannson’s approach, our simulator is a predictor of agent performance — here’s how.

  1. Simulations are built to look and feel just like your scenarios with a specific skill in mine – such as how to change credit card information, how to handle product returns etc.
  2. We recommend building different levels of immersion so that as agents score out of one level they continue to practice one transaction 3-4 times at a minimum
  3. They receive automatic immediate feedback from a built-in bot who guides them through how to handle verbal and on-screen interactions successfully
  4. They are uncomfortable at first due to the fact they have not had any exposure to this. Our conversational interactions are built on best practice responses. Once they become comfortable with each level, they can move on to more complex transactions

No need to use a crystal ball to try to determine who will be successful. Our ACES  automates this process. The intelligence embedded into the system, allows the managers to know right where in the transaction the agent may have gotten off track.

Businesses don’t have the luxury of 10,000 hours of time to help employees get up to speed on their skills. So imagine if you had the ability to help your agents master many of your complex transactions in 5-10 hours vs. 5-10 weeks? You can view some examples on our video page.