Chatbots and Customer Service

Every entrepreneur and business owner knows that customer service is key to a lasting and successful project, initiative, or company. Being the department that possibly interacts the most with your audience, it’s highly likely that you have spent countless hours looking for the best customer service employees and tools to elevate your service to the next level. When the digital age arrived, however, the rules with customer service began to change. No longer were you greeted with a, “Hello, how can I help you?” from a real live person, but instead with a, “Please press 1 for more options” message coming from a robotic voice. While both methods are efficient, it’s important to note that the customer service rules have changed, and programs like chatbots will soon become the norm.

 

Chatbots were born out of a necessity to more efficiently police and traffic calls in high volumes. Quite frankly, it would be nearly impossible for a small office of people to handle transferring incoming calls for a large company such as Wells Fargo or Apple in a timely manner. And with the technology available, companies are able to save money by no longer needing to hire that team of switch-board experts. Chatbots are also attractive to businesses because they allow the customer to have total control of the direction of the call, instead of relying on who is on the other end to understand what they need.

 

At first, chatbots were not very sophisticated and often served as a point of frustration for customers. Since they work off of keywords and not actual context, customers had to readjust their own customer service visions and learn how to interact with the new technology. Chatbots have come a long way since then, and have been integrated with machine learning technology that allows for an easier experience thanks to advancements within artificial intelligence.

 

Chatbots are able to do more than just get a customer from one complaint to a solution, however. They also can yield valuable data and metrics that show where the majority of customer complaints come from. Further even from this, because of the real-time nature of chatbots replacing employees live-chatting with customers to troubleshoot, they’re able to point customers in the direction of other services on your site that they may be interested in as well, all from the keywords that you used during your chatbot inquiry. This will drive sales and increase customer satisfaction.

 

The bottom line behind chatbots and customer service is to not be afraid of the growing technology. There is a healthy balance between an in-person customer service rep and chatbots, and by learning about the best practice for both services, you can create a custom service platform that will serve your customers in the best way possible. And as technology continues to advance, look to chatbots to become even more capable of driving your business towards success in more areas than just customer service.

Should You Care About The Way Your Company Sleeps?

time-is-money-1339781_960_720“Don’t lose sleep over it” is an old adage encouraging people not to worry about their problems, whether it’s the kids or money or the dozens of other things about which humans worry. Though it’s considered a mere nicety by some, a few organizations from Unilever to the historic Cambridge University are taking extra steps to ensure quality sleep for their employees, even if it means school: sleeping school, that is.

The Sleep School, led by Guy Meadows of London, is said to address insomnia through drug-free methods, helping its students learn better tools for sleeping and getting a full night’s rest. If you’re wondering whether it’s effective, reviews on his company’s website from The Guardian and The Times seem to affirm his offering. Afterall, Mr. Meadows has spent years studying sleep and has even trained doctors in his own methods, based on his research. Through workshops, The Sleep School, as the name suggests, provides education on sleeping and its benefits.

However, sleep is personal. So why should organizations concern themselves with their employees’ sleeping habits? Because, as companies like PriceWaterhouseCoopers has learned, sleep, or the lack thereof, affects overall ability to perform and even deal with stressful situations. What’s more, lack of sleep or insomnia can lead to poor judgement, low productivity and less than optimal leadership. In other words, it makes the company weaker and can be a liability.

The problem is, most assume that a lack of sleep is related to doing better, a stronger work ethic and dedication. That late nights are a sign of someone who’s passionate and willing to go above and beyond. While all of those are probably true and qualities deserving of recognition, studies continue to show that they are unhealthy, though probably not always noticeably ineffective. For example, both billionaire Richard Branson and lifestyle brand maven, Martha Stewart have said they only get around 4-6 hours of sleep per night. They are doing well by most measures, but it is not something others should follow.

According to experts, individuals should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night to perform at their best. Great sleep decreases fatigue, enhances creativity and develops a noticeably better work environment and company culture. Maybe The Sleep School is out of your range as a company, or just something you are unsure of presenting to your employees. However, you should make its importance known, through newsletters or other literature, and provide the necessary resources for employees to take care of themselves while at home.

How Your Business Can Benefit from Blogging

pexels-photo-large (2)Everyone has an opinion, and these days, all of them are online. It’s a great thing, as it helps us better understand people on an individual level, in a way direct conversation could never provide. However, that also means the world wide web is a crowded space. How do people and businesses navigate through the noise of social media platforms to say important (or not so important) things to their customers in long form? Blogging.

Traditionally blogging has been seen as a less formal means of communication. There are perceptions of the media as a tool through which people rant or make false claims in a tabloid-like manner. While there are indeed many blogs whose focus include those qualities, like anything in life, there are more than one side to that coin. These days, artists, businesses, and professionals of every kind have turned to blogging as a way to connect with customers in real time. Here’s why:

  1. Control The Conversation
    Depending on the size of your business, there is already information pertaining to your operations online. The information is likely very basic, such as your product or service, location, years in service, etc. Though all of that is important, none of it provides information about your current state, your future plans nor recent achievements. Historically, this information would be disseminated through press releases. Whether or not an established medium who would report on what’s you considered important, was left to chance. Now, businesses have the opportunity to cut out the third party, and talk to directly to customers about situations involving them or topics related to their interests. Many use social media platforms to do this, but, once again, the space is crowded. You should have your own platform, and use social media, instead, as a tool to direct stakeholders there.
  2. Increases Traffic
    Constant activity drives traffic to your site through search engines. People use search engines when they are not aware of who you are and what you do, yet are looking for something in relation to what you provide. Resources like Google, Yahoo and Bing crawl your site/blog to determine if what their users are looking for is there. One of the other measures used by these engines to determine whether or not your information is important enough to be shared with their millions of users is how recent your content is. Frequent updates result in higher ranking, which leads to more people finding your site, connecting with your content, and becoming potential customers.
  3. Free Marketing
    Thus, you could and should use your blog as a marketing tool, to turn those visitors into leads. To be clear, this should not be the sole purpose of your blog, but including simple call-to-actions, such as: signing up for an email subscription, learning more via your website, or following your organization on social media, can lead to continued interactions that may lead to a permanent relationship. As a note, free is not absolute. Should you choose to create a special domain and purchase hosting for your blog, that is a small cost. However, it pales in comparison to other advertising tools which may not be nearly as effective. In fact, 60% of businesses who blog said they receive more customers than those who don’t.

Understanding The Importance of Employee Wellness

Pepper Rutlands exercise equipmentInterest in health has become a major focus for many Americans. Now, more than in recent decades, individuals are concerned about getting healthier and adopting wellness as a lifestyle, as seen in the incredible popularity of FitBit and other wearables which monitor activity and quality of sleep, as well as the consumer trend toward juicing, smoothies, and organic or Non-GMO foods. Consequently, it should not come as a surprise that U.S. News & World Report’s #1 trend in employee benefits to watch for in 2016 is wellness programs. As a consistent leader in our industry, the MMR Group had already begun investing in our employees, and this month, we’re proud to announce that our very own employee wellness center is open for all staff, at our in company headquarters in Baton Rouge, LA.

At MMR, we’ve taken notice of studies with regard to stress as a growing problem in America, and how it affects overall health. Research shows that stress can lead to significant, deadly illnesses when left untreated or exacerbated, such as heart disease, migraines, obesity, and accelerated aging. It is worth noting the role work plays into or sometimes causes stressful situations as well. According to a Carnegie Mellon University study, workplace stress has increased between 1983 and 2009, by a startling 18 percent for women and 24 percent for men. While employers cannot control stressful situations outside of the workplace, it is our duty to alleviate any issues resulting from work, and one of the best ways to do that is through well programs.

Most entities, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to private companies like Altitude in Massachusetts, agree that wellness programs and centers like ours are imperative, with the CDC going as far as to declare that such is a “vital piece of a healthy lifestyle.” In fact, nearly 28 percent of employees who participate in wellness programs offered by Aetna experienced less stress and 20 percent sleep better. That was early last year and just one study, as more services are offered, that number may likely increase.

Additionally, the benefit of giving employees access to sports and exercise equipment leads to an increase in productivity. According to that same study, healthier, better rested, and less stressed employees produce, on average, about 62 minutes more of quality work per week. Financially, that is about $3,000 per employee every year. Likewise, a recent study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine suggests that companies which invest in employee health perform better in the stock market than those who do not. Thus, such contributions are equally beneficial to all involved, and should be implemented on a larger scale.

Our 10,000-square-foot facility houses a weight training and exercise room, a basketball court, and will offer instructor-led boot camp classes. Active home office personnel and MMR staff employees can utilize the facility free of charge Monday through Friday from 6 AM to 8 AM, 11 AM to 1 PM and 5 PM to 8 PM. Click here to find out out more from our company website.