About Steve Gass

As the Director Product Marketing, Steve Gass has responsibility for Angel's complete product suite which includes IVR, proactive customer communications, virtual call center and mobile products. He has more than 25 years of experience within the customer engagement industry; most recently in a senior leadership role responsible for product management and development in the telecommunications industry. Additionally, Steve is the author/co-author of five pending patents related to outbound communications and has successfully collaborated with enterprises to affect revenue increases, improved customer satisfaction scores while reducing costs.

Four Must-Ask Questions for Any Multichannel Strategy

Multichannel

Outbound communication technology has demonstrated how it can enhance the customer experience and positively affect the customer lifecycle from start to finish. Today, we wrap up our three-part blog series and show the role outbound communications play in a multichannel strategy.

If there was one word that seems to be increasingly floating around our industry, it’s multichannel.

For many organizations, outbound multichannel campaigns help businesses define, orchestrate and communicate important communication to its customers using multiple channels such as IVR, contact center agents, email, mobile, websites and social media. Unlike other hot buzz words, the increased attention the word multichannel is receiving is absolutely deserved. For example, as we’ve discussed here before, by building a multichannel strategy, especially one focused on proactive, outbound communications, businesses can measurably improve the customer lifecycle as well as increase customer satisfaction.

However, as we’ve seen with previous trends, while businesses and customer experience teams can understand the value a technology or new approach can bring to their organization, designing and deploying an outbound multichannel strategy can be much easier said than done. As we’ve held several conversations recently with our customers and partners on how to build an effective and personalized multichannel strategy, we wanted to point out the four must-ask questions that need to be raised prior to developing any multichannel strategy: Click here to read more »

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How Outbound Can Improve the Customer Lifecycle

Customer Lifecycle

Proactive outbound communication technology has already proven to enhance the customer experience, but how does it affect the customer lifecycle from start to end? This is the second post in a three-part series which will show how businesses can enrich their customer service strategies through proactive communication.

We’ve said it before and we will say it again – proactive outbound communication technology not only can help enhance the customer experience, it can also save businesses time and money to improve the bottom line. Cutting costs while keeping customers satisfied is a key concern for many business leaders, especially when communication processes lose out in budget battles. But many industries, including finance, healthcare and travel, are finding ways to leverage customer data and analytics through cost-saving, proactive outbound communication methods that improve the overall experience.

However, businesses that truly want to take advantage of an outbound strategy’s capabilities need to take a closer look at the role outbound communication plays throughout the customer lifecycle. It has been well documented that acquiring a new customer costs more than retaining a current one. By implementing an outbound communication strategy, a company can reduce costs and ensure money is spent in an effective and impactful way.

Below are just a few examples of the role outbound plays in the customer lifecycle:

Customer Acquisition

We know it’s more expensive to get new customers than keep the ones you have, but for many reasons, the majority of customers won’t stay with a brand forever. By using outbound communication tools to offer promotion and discounts, companies can attract new consumers to become loyal customers. For example, a company may send a text message to a consumer who has signed up online requesting more information about flight promotions and offer them a discount to encourage them to become a customer.

Customer Onboarding and Care

Once a consumer becomes a customer, a company can use proactive outbound tools to help set up accounts, provide order status updates and send appointment notifications. These onboarding strategies have a direct impact on customer service for companies in many industries and can effectively demonstrate to a new customer that they’ve made the right choice.

Loyalty Programs

After the first purchase is made, companies can continue to provide a superior experience to existing customers, not only because it’s cheaper and more successful, but to ensure brand loyalty. Similar strategies to find new customers can be used include offering rewards that offer instant gratification to ensure a customer stays with the brand. Virgin Airlines, Amazon and Patagonia are just a few examples of companies that have created loyalty programs that have helped reduce customer losses. Outbound communication is one tool companies can implement to keep customers from going to a competitor.

The end of the cycle

As we said before, customers will eventually leave a brand and reach the end of their relationship. For example, a patient may no longer need to see a physical therapist once an injury has been healed or a customer may cancel a landline telephone plan if they only use their mobile device. Outbound strategies can still be used to ensure the final steps are pleasant – for instance, a phone provider can use an outbound strategy to confirm with a customer that their service has been terminated and that a final bill is on its way. Ending on a high note could potentially help a customer come back.

These are just a few examples of ways that outbound communication can help keep the customer lifecycle smooth and successful. What are some ways your company is keeping customers happy from start to finish?

And if you’re curious, see what outbound communication can do for your company to enhance the customer experience.

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Smart Customer Outreach is the New Rich

Proactive Communication

The opportunity to provide a better customer experience is there, but is your company taking advantage of it? This is the first blog post of a three-part series in which we will address how businesses can enrich their customer service strategies, through proactive communication.

Being proactive rather than reactive allows businesses to put the customer first and control a situation, before the situation controls them. As businesses evaluate their customer service strategies, cutting expenses is usually a top priority. The challenge is finding that middle ground where the business can make a manageable investment that also provides a positive, personalized customer service experience.

The most valuable customer service solution that will make any company look like a customer experience genius is: one that leverages customer data proactively and uses analytics to provide a personalized experience.

Taking this approach proves to the customer that the business knows them, understands them and realizes that their time is valuable and they don’t have the time to wait on hold, or repeat the same information over and over again to different company representatives. The investment in proactive, or “outbound” communication technology, is rapidly becoming more popular in many different industries. These industries below have realized how much time and money can actually be saved if they leverage customer data to beat their customers to their concerns:

  • Finance – Financial services institutions use proactive outbound communications to offer billing reminders and for debt collections.
  • Pharmaceutical/Healthcare – Retail pharmacy and pharmaceutical companies remind patients and consumers to refill prescriptions, inform them of medication recalls and dosing updates, as well as to confirm appointments.
  • Travel & Hospitality – Travel companies provide flight information for passengers for flights that are scheduled, as well as travel alerts for when prices have dropped for flights to their favorite locations.

In a recent Forbes article, Emma Byrne says that data scientists are the future of healthcare and that, “better targeting of preventative healthcare messages to the right population at the right time could save $70-100 billion.” That’s a significant chunk of change to save in the long run. As we’ve mentioned, it’s not just the healthcare industry that’s benefiting, here are three ways any business can benefit from outbound communication technology:

  1. The Phones Will Be Quieter Automating outbound communications can decrease the amount of inbound call traffic to a business’s customer service call center. A decrease in calls made to a company lowers overall contact center costs.
  2. Updates and Maintenance From Anywhere– Implementing a hosted or SaaS-based cloud service eliminates the cost of on-premise call center technology and maintenance, as the provider can constantly improve the services/offerings and deliver new features from anywhere.
  3. Use Customer Data Wisely – Cloud-based solutions allow businesses to create multi-channel customer communication strategies that promote greater engagement. With access from anywhere to caller analytics, purchase history and preferences, businesses are able to proactively leverage the data to provide an intelligent and more personalized experience.

The best way to predict the future is to invent it by using existing customer information to proactively and intelligently reach out to customers about things they care about before they come knocking on your door. Has your company invested in outbound communication technology to communicate with its customer? Why or why not?

If you’re interested in test driving our solutions to see how they can save you money and personalize the customer experience – contact us here.

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How Transparency Can Improve the Pharma Experience

Pharma Experience

Even with the many technology advancements being deployed throughout pharmaceutical organizations, transparency is still a major barrier between a company and its customers.

The highly regulated pharma industry makes it challenging for technology and information leaders to launch new solutions that can enhance processes and ultimately improve the bottom line. However, there are ways to follow regulations and keep a consistent, quality experience for everyone involved including employees, pharmacists and patients.

When looking to address transparency issues, companies need to keep a close eye on how certain protocols could negatively affect a customer’s experience. The following steps can help pharmaceuticals minimize the transparency gap between customers using flexible technologies to improve brand loyalty, provide personalized interactions and enhance the overall customer experience.

Know your customer needs before the industry changes

In order to keep customers informed, loyal and satisfied, pharma companies need to be prepared for any sudden changes to industry regulations. This was a challenge for AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, a global biopharmaceutical company, who struggled to keep technology processes up to date with constantly changing regulations.  With cloud-based IVR solutions, pharma businesses like AstraZeneca were able to Click here to read more »

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Three Ways to Improve the Inauguration Experience

Presidential Inauguration

With the Presidential Inauguration just under two weeks away – and held in our backyard! – we couldn’t help but think about what went well in 2009 and what could be done to improve the experience for those traveling to the ceremonies.

Politics aside, the 2009 inauguration attracted a record 1.8 million spectators, which makes it the largest gathering every held on the National Mall, eclipsing the 1.2 million official tally from the 1965 inauguration of Lyndon Johnson.* With such a large event generally open to the public, challenges and attendee frustration were inevitable.

However, crowd control that year was such a fiasco for those that attended (or attempted) to go to the ceremonies that the term “inauguration-gate” quickly made its rounds within the media. In fact, the experience so frustrating for so many attendees that Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chaired the inaugural committee, asked authorities to investigate how these snafus occurred and what could be done in the future to stem these sorts of issues.

In order to avoid such an experience, here are our thoughts on how some of these disasters could be averted on Monday, January 21: Click here to read more »

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