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eGain Executive Interview

Anand Subramaniam, VP of Worldwide Marketing, eGain

In a recent survey, one of the biggest pain points  in customer services was inconsistency of answers between agents and across channels.  What factors contribute to this disconnect and how can it be corrected?      

As new interaction channels came about, businesses implemented point products for customer service and knowledge management to serve consumers through those individual touchpoints. This created fragmented interactions and inconsistent knowledge silos over time. The solution is to take a “hub” approach to customer service, where interaction and knowledge applications are built on a common omnichannel platform.  

Enterprises have quality monitoring in place and management staff whose mission it is to ensure accuracy.  Why do you think inconsistent responses are often not flagged?   

Traditionally, quality monitoring tools have been just that – they monitor and not enable agents.  Moreover, they have been focused on the general basics of interactive compliance (e.g. did the agent greet the customer properly or show empathy or ask for the contract number) rather than assessing the quality and consistency of answers.     

Do you think that more training will assist this issue?   

It’s hard for training departments to keep up with the ever-expanding set of products and services offered by the business, the range of customer issues that arise, and the best paths to resolve those issues. Moreover, with the relentless push from the C-suite to drive down costs and increase efficiencies, contact centers are under constant pressure to reduce training time. Outsourcing models add another layer of difficulty to agent training. The solution is to arm agents with a highly intelligent knowledge management system – for example, eGain’s case-based reasoning capability can guide agents (and end-customers) to answers and next best steps like an expert agent would, and in compliance with industry regulations and best practices.     

Customers still often find it too difficult to find the information they need online. What measures do companies need to take to reduce the rate of website abandonment?   

Delivering fast, accurate, contextual answers—both proactively and reactively—is key to reducing website abandonment. Deciphering customer intent, including natural language understanding (NLU) and providing multiple ways to find answers to suit customers’ information consumption styles—FAQs, topic tree browsing, virtual assistants, conversational guided help, etc.—helps reduce abandonment.     

How can companies’ capitalize on the consumer’s increasing use of devices?   

Devices such as smartphones and tablets (and IoT) should be treated as part of a unified omnichannel customer engagement hub for consistency and connectedness across touchpoints. When it comes to mobile, look for engagement apps that are compliant with responsive design standards and solutions that include mobile SDKs and “re-skinnable” reference apps.     

While older customers find agent knowledge levels acceptable, a higher number of Gen Y customers think differently.  How can companies ensure that their agents have the right information at their fingertips and can better personalize interactions with customers of all ages?   

Younger consumers are more used to “instant gratification” than older consumers, and moreover, they are more likely than older customers to have already tried to find answers through online self-service and forums. By the time they get an agent, they are likely to have tried a few things and do not want to repeat context or get asked to try “obvious” solutions they have already tried without success. The solution here is to have a systematic approach to capture accurate answers and the fastest discovery paths from the best agents and subject matter experts, and propagate it to the entire contact center through knowledge technologies such as Case-Based Reasoning. In fact, a leading global bank and an eGain client has been able to empower all agents to handle all calls from all customers with this approach, while zooming from #4 to #1 in service delivery! Moreover, analyzing the effectiveness of knowledge and crowdsourcing it to complement enterprise knowledge on an ongoing basis, can help fill gaps.      

What do you think is holding companies back from adopting knowledge management systems to facilitate better Omni-channel service?  

Here are some barriers:  

Lack of awareness

Inability to easily try a solution and prove value, and disenchantment from typical SaaS DYI, freemium and toy sandbox prototypes

“Bait and switch” tactics, where many vendors inflict “sticker shock” when the implementation rubber meets the road, requiring extensive professional services even for basic capabilities. This scares away others considering omnichannel KM 

eGain has recently introduced a unique, expert-guided pilot service called “eGain Try+Buy” that makes it risk-free, safe and super-easy to adopt knowledge. The offer enables businesses to quickly prove value with our award-winning omnichannel knowledge and customer service solutions in production settings. We have seen strong interest and adoption of this program across multiple industries--retail, telco, financial services, insurance, travel, BPO, and manufacturing, where many customers have already bought the solution after a successful, guided, “Try” phase.