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simulations

How Active Listening Benefits Your Company

By | Adaptive Learning, call center, contact Center, empathy, simulations | No Comments

Responding Authentically Drives Customer Retention

There is a lot of talk around replacing contact center agents with bots or some form of self-service options. But according to research conducted by NewVoiceMedia, 75% of customers still prefer a live agent (voice or chat) to help them solve their issues.

Successful companies know how to create a culture that allows agents to not only express empathy but express the Right level of empathy for the customer’s situation. Here is an example.

A customer who is calling to get roadside assistance because they have a flat tire.

Agent#1 “I apologize for your situation.”

Agent#2 “I’m sure that’s really frustrating for you.”

Agent #2 does a better job of expressing empathy that expresses what the customer must be feeling. They recognize what is going on in the customer’s world. This would be perceived as “more authentic” vs. canned and routine.

You can teach agents how to use the skill of active listening, here are 8 steps created by David Grosman that are right on target with how we teach this skill in our simulator

  1. Approach each dialogue with the goal to learn something. …
  2. Stop talking and focus closely on the speaker. …
  3. Open and guide the conversation. …
  4. Drill down to the details. …
  5. Summarize what you hear and ask questions to check your understanding. …
  6. Encourage with positive feedback.
  7. Listen for total meaning
  8. Pay attention to your responses

I’ve highlighted number 5 as this step is really critical step.  It demonstrates to the customer that you truly understand their situation and can accurately paraphrase what is going on.

When the customer senses you are truly trying to get to the heart of their issue or how to help them out. This builds a level of trust. This connection is priceless and should not be taken lightly. When customers feel you are trustworthy they are more likely to continue doing business with you.

 

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Seat Time vs. Skill Readiness

By | Adaptive Learning, bots, simulations | No Comments

How to Get the CEO to Notice

Did you know that only 8% of CEOs see a direct correlation to the money they spend on training and business impact? This is one of the reasons why training is the first thing to get cut from a budget when tightening the purse strings.

Why is this?

I’ve been in the corporate training space for almost 30 years now (yikes!). I was lucky enough to follow the evolution of how technology has impacted the delivery and access to corporate training but I have also seen it become a detriment as well.

When electronic delivery or eLearning was first introduced companies proclaimed “Now you can cost-effectively train employees on hundreds of topics.” This never happened, even though the vendors successfully sold libraries of 100’s of courses to their clients, only a handful were really useful to the organization at any given time.

Once the evolution of LMS’s (learning management systems) came about it was the holy grail of managing and delivering training. At first, this was great. As companies grew comfortable with LMSs they began to turn them into something beyond their original intent.

evolution LMS

Evolution LMS

As this image shows, LMS and digital delivery of training have evolved from one to many to agile. But the fact of the matter is, managers and executives have no solid information to tell them if the employee can actually perform the task the training was intended to teach them.

Technology — that is not necessarily new- AR/VR and simulations have a better approach at measuring skill readiness. In the past, these learning platforms were too cost-prohibitive. The digital demand has driven the costs of these solutions down allowing for increased access. I still see a lot of organizations trying to fit these delivery mechanisms into the same SCORM world but it just doesn’t work.

We need to explore how an organization will benefit from exploring learning solutions that truly measure skill readiness vs. just seat time or completion stats. With the availability of AI/ RPA and big data and predictive analytics, we can build and deliver training that helps employees learn new skills faster and more competently. This translates into a direct tie to business impact.

If you’re at all curious to see an example of AI/predictive analytics and simulation learning visit our video page.Videos

 

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Why Your AI Investment Should Be In Employee Training First

By | bots, contact Center, simulations | No Comments

Did you know that poor customer service is costing corporations $80 Billion a year? Even though our economy is still healthy, I don’t think any company can afford to lose customers.

Every day I read about some new products with “AI” or supposed AI embedded into it. Many of these are bots or customer-facing applications to automate or collect data during a customer journey. But even as you deploy these solutions, if the customer still needs some form of human interaction, your contact center staff will need to have stronger skills to handle the more complex problems.

There is a growing trend and awareness in the corporate training world that has finally recognized that the traditional forms of training either via classroom, online or blended, simply doesn’t fully guarantee your training is effective. It simply allows you to check the box training was giving and maybe an evaluation to tell you if the employee found it enjoyable. So What! I don’t know if they can actually perform their job correctly do you?

Here’s where AI comes into play for training. There are new training applications (Like our ACES) that leverage AI and NLP applications to automate one-on-one coaching and guidance to walk an employee through hands-on tasks. Imagine putting a contact center agent into a variety or real-life scenarios multiple times until they have mastered these situations. The embedded AI tracking their behavior pro-actively addresses any mistakes they may make before they engage with live customers.

Plus using a bot like coach removes the need to use your seasoned staff to coach and assist your new hires. Keeping productive and skilled staff on the phone is a much better use of these resources.

Studies show that using this type of technology can even reduce the amount of time it takes to get that new hire up to speed. If you haven’t heard of the term Adaptive Learning you will. This form of learning allows a learner to learn at their own pace with ongoing feedback to calibrate their skills at just the right time.

If you spent a portion of your AI budget in applications like these, it should actually give you a higher ROI on any money you are spending on monitoring customer experiences. If you can proactively reduce call handling times, assure CSAT scores will be high before your agents are placed into production, I think it’s money well spent.

If you want to see an example of this, just click this link to view some sample videos of our ACES simulation.

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How To Make Your Own Intelligent Agent

By | bots, contact Center, simulations | No Comments

Do you talk to Siri or Alexa like they are a personal friend of yours? Intelligent agents and voice technology has exploded over the last three years. Our appliances, cars and HVAC systems talk to us. Now you can build your own intelligent agent without the need to have programming skills.

Amazon Alexa’s Skills has some great templates. Their Blueprint Skills page provides easy to use templates that cover topics from telling jokes, quiz games, and corporate applications.

Google has DialogFlow which provides templates and tools to incorporate, the built-in functions of your device, like time, location, directions etc. DialogFlow had a longer learning curve for me but I can certainly see the benefits of using this to create your own bots. It will even begin to “learn” how to accept inputs that may not be word for word what it needs to listen for but will begin to accept variations of what you are asking the bot for.

They also offer Actions as an extension of their Google Assistant with some pretty easy to use templates.

There are several new companies forming to provide you with a nice user-friendly tool to build your own bot.

Here are some tips to think about when you are building your bot.

  1. Do you want your bot to have a specific persona
    bot agent

    Facebook bot agent

  2. Who are your target users, do they have a device that works with this platform or can they install an app to interact with the platform you are building your bot for
  3. You need to think about what response you want the bot to provide if the user is giving it an input it doesn’t understand.
  4. Does your bot need to be private or secure
  5. Do you want to collect what someone is saying to the bot

Both Amazon and Google have free options which are a great way to play around with them at no risk. Have fun and test it out, you’d be surprised how easy it can be to build your own intelligent agent.

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How to Stop Contact Center Mistakes

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

If you had a crystal ball to see into the future, who do you think would be your top-performing contact center agents? Now take that and scale it to all of your call centers both internal and external.

Contact Center Predictions

Predict Contact Center Performance

How would this impact your business?

Here is a list of just a few examples:

  • We would know where the gaps are in hiring and the costs needed to fund recruitment and onboarding
  • Your quality control managers could pro-actively manage your KPIs
  • Our scheduling would be much easier
  • Managers could predict what the AHT would be before any calls were made
  • Workforce managers  would know how many support people to place into each channel with a good estimate of FCR
  • Turn-over and costs associated with this could be managed better

Taking a look at just this small list you can tell that having the ability to predict who your top contact center employees perform is pretty powerful.

Now I will let you in on a secret –  ACES (accelerated contact engagement system) gives you this ability.

How?

ACES gives you a scalable way to catch the contact center agent errors before they happen! Using it’s a powerful simulator, ACES allows you to build realistic immersive simulations that feel like your taking on a real call or chat session.

To see some examples of ACES in action, just click this Videos

 

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How to Us AI to Teach Humans vs. Machines

By | contact Center, simulations | No Comments

Many of you are familiar with the term Machine Learning (ML) which is a subset of AI designed to train a machine how to do a very specific task. Can’t we do the same process with Humans?

The answer is yes, of course we can! I want to highlight some examples that go beyond providing employees or customers with simple information using an intelligent agent.

  1. Shameless self-promotion for ACES (Automated Contact Engagement System) designed to automate the process of teach contact center agents how to conduct the primary transactions they will encounter on the job. ACES is an immersive simulator with builtin AI to provide automatic feedback when an agent give the wrong verbal response or enter the wrong information on screen. All actions are tracked and mapped against the same metrics and agent would be measured on during a live call. Agents get up to speed much faster and are truly “floor ready” when placed into production.
  2. Third Space Learning is using an AI powered system to measure how effective the teacher performance is and tie this directly to student success.
  3. MATHIA from Carnegie Learning is an example of an intelligent tutor. It uses a technique called “Knowledge Tracing” to track a student’s progress and tailor feedback to help them solf the math problems.
  4. EdCast is used to “upskill” employees by making automatically curated content based upon previous content the user has completed in the past and what job skills are mostly likely needed for their job.
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Why Simulations are Effective

By | call center, contact Center, Employee Rewards, simulations | No Comments

Studies have shown that simulation-based training is the best way for learners to retain knowledge and decrease the time it takes for mastery of a new skill.

Why are simulations important to your organization?

  1. Quicker return on your training $$ – by providing this level of active and immersive learning, your organization will see a greater return on the money you invest in recruiting, retention and customer satisfaction
  2. Greater employee satisfaction – the faster an employee feels confident about their job, the higher their employee satisfaction.  This has a direct impact on customer satisfaction but will also reduce the risk of poor moral or wasted time re-training employees who need more hand-holding
  3. Removing the risk of practicing on real customers – I can’t tell you how many times I hear that call center employees transition from the classroom to the production floor with little or no practice time.  This is a huge risk to your organization.
  4. Reducing time to recognize a bad hire -using a simulator will allow your organization to road test an employee’s skills before putting them on the front line.  This will also help you to determine if an employee is just not making the cut.
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How Simulations Can Shorten the Path the Mastery

By | simulations | No Comments
simulation

Simulations for learning

Why do pilots user flight simulators vs. real airplanes? We all know that hands-on experience is one of the best ways to learn a new skill.  But don’t take my word for it. In an article featured from Laurdal they state three reasons why simulations accelerate learning and retention:

  1. Simulations increase engagement – By placing students into an immersive environment, they are ACTIVELY vs. passively engaged in the learning
  2. Simulations maximize retention – One of my favorite reasons why simulations are important. How many times have you put people through a training program and the knowledge is lost within a short amount of time
  3. Simulations ensure that learning is transferred to the job – This should really matter to the executive suite, when employees can accelerate their level of applying their skills directly into their work and shorten their path to mastery, this goes directly to the bottom line.

Think of it in this way, if I gave you a manual to learn how to conduct a step by step process, this is an explicit approach to learning something. It’s easily repeated and more commoditized but not as effective. On the other hand, if I gave you access to the equipment and/or placed you into a simulation which immersed you in learning this process.  This is an implicit experience but much more valuable in giving you first-hand experience in learning this new task.

Finally, in a study conducted by Roger S. Taylor and Micheline T. H. Chi at the University of Pittsburgh, they conducted a study comparing students who studied using a textbook and those who used a computer simulation. This was the summary of their findings:

The Simulation condition acquired a significant amount of implicit domain information from pretest to posttest, whereas participants in the Text condition did not. These results suggest that educational computer simulations have the potential to significantly enhance the learning of implicit domain knowledge.”

But keep in mind, the simulations need to be tailored to a specific skill or task directly related to the job. It should include some form of immediate feedback and places the learner into a contextual setting, similar to what they will experience in real life. Anders Ericcson was noted as coming out with the study of “deliberate practice” Here is a video where Anders explains this concept.

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Auto-create Podcast with Amazon Polly

By | podcsting, simulations | No Comments

As I am getting ready to create a presentation I am giving on Podcasting imagine my delight when I ran across this article on how to add Amazon’s Polly text to speech software into a WordPress blog post. This is exactly what I have been trying to communicate to my clients, how to creatively use speech to text and speech recognition tools for extended uses in business.

Voice-enabled technology continues to get better and better. If you are not familiar with Polly, it’s an online tool that allows you to type text onto a page and then it will create a voice file which you can download and embed an MP3 file into another program. Originally I was using this to create voices of characters in some of our training simulations, but now with the WordPress plugin – you can embed this functionality to read your blog posts — very cool!

Here is a step by step guide on how to add Polly to your WP site

 

One final bonus, the settings for this plugin allow you to automatically push your audio podcast to iTunes.

 

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