AI ChatBots – Your Customers Are Waiting …


Consumers are becoming accustomed to interacting with chat bots.  For many it is a natural, easy and sometimes fun way to be serviced.

Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Google Now, all have become staples in our daily interactions.  My mother, at 91, is fascinated with my Google Home device and how I get everything from my daily news fix, weather, and recipes to the occasional joke, simply by stating my request preceded with “Hey Goggle”.  “How does it know so much!”, Mom finds it quite marvelous.

I’m quite certain one of my newscasts is actually being read by a chatbot.  I believe this because sometimes the way she pronounces names (famous names), is not quite right, but I appreciate how natural she sounds overall.

Where are AI chatbots headed? “Is it live, or is it Memorex?” … some of you are likely old enough to remember that advertising tag line.  Take a chatbot, and add machine learning or artificial intelligence, and you have a tool that improves with every single interaction it handles.  Agent-assisted interactions allow the chatbot to learn from its human assistant.  In fact, behind the scenes of Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Google Now, any AI chatbot, are humans who pickup where the AI chatbot leaves off, examining what the chatbot couldn’t understand or misunderstood and providing the human intelligence to respond.

Natural language interfaces used to be anything but natural, now we see, through various apps, just how natural they’ve really become.  While I’m learning Italian, and practicing with Google Translate, the chatbot knows to examine the context of my poorly spoken phrase to “guess” at that I probably meant to say – very human of it -not to mention encouraging for me!

The fact that chatbots can speak and understand any language opens up a panacea for tailored customer service and reduced customer effort.  Allowing customers to service themselves, in the language of their choice, for Canadian businesses is significant, we are a multi-culture nation.  Being able to collect information from our customers in their language and have information shared back to them real time, either through a chatbot alone, or a chatbot-assisted conversation, significantly reduces interaction handle time and delivers a better customer experience.

Chatbots can carry a conversation between channels.  i.e. start as a chat and move to a call, retaining the thread of conversation and avoid the customer having to repeat the same information as they switch channels.  Again, the chatbot helps reduce customer effort and interaction handle times, while improving agent satisfaction by giving agents the information they need up-front.

From the simple to the complex, being able to have services delivered in whole or in part by a chatbot, through any channel, at all times, is a definitely a game changer.

If you’d like to “chat” more about chatbots and their place in your customer’s journey please feel free to contact the writer.

TCPA 2017: Key Issues and Proactive Steps for Contact Centers


The transformational declaratory judgment order on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) entered on July 10, 2015 was met with immediate concern. Various telemarketing, financial and collection entities filed an appeal, effectively staying many cases until a ruling is made. Oral arguments on the appeal were made on October 19, 2016 and a ruling is expected in early 2017.

TCPA cases remain the second most common type of case filed in Federal courts (3710 cases in 2015, up 45% from 2014). These cases often involve significant costs and demonstrate the risks associated with non-compliance.
Five Key TCPA Issues Raised in Appeal

The petitioners in the appeal seek clarity on enforceability of five key issues.

Read the full article by Abdo Rabadi: TCPA 2017

TCPA – Consumer Protection – Controlled Business Mayhem


The Telephone Consumer Protection Act is surrounded by a plethora of fear, loathing, confusion and a seemingly never ending parade of revisions, clarifications and court decisions that appear to oppose one another.

While the statute looks as though it cuts off telemarketers at the knees; if guidelines are met to satisfy the elements of the TCPA along with good call number hygiene and sound recordkeeping, there is no reason for business not to proceed as usual.

What’s the TCPA All About? 

Born of best intentions – …Read the full article by Abdo Rabadi: TCPA Consumer Protection – Controlled Business Mayhem


Contain Costs and Increase Predictibility – The Benefits of Cloud for Government


It’s a staggering number even for the US federal government. Since 2002, and against the backdrop of a budget deficit that’s now more than $17 trillion[1], the government has spent $600 billion on information technology alone. By any measure of fiscal responsibility, efficiency and accountably, spending on IT during the period can be considered excessive. Yet it’s only in the last few years that the spending’s root causes have come under closer scrutiny. The overriding reason, of course, is budget control and pressure from the tax-paying masses. But an equally significant reason is the government’s approach to technology itself. To put it carefully, certain technology decisions at the federal level since 2002 have been both curious and questionable. A notable example is this:

At the peak of its $600 billion IT spending spree, the federal government built, operated, and maintained 1,100 data centers for various agency and constituent functions.[2] Yet by the government’s own admissions, they developed data centers that were much larger capacity than needed — and that were “antiquated” by the time of launch. Since then, these centers have remained immensely problematic to modify and sustain. They are often duplicitous, are cross agency inoperable, and continually fail to deliver on their intended mission. Worse is that a large portion of the government’s current $80 billion annual IT budget[3] is spent maintaining this aging infrastructure. (Ironically, current maintenance expenses nearly exceed what it would cost to build the same infrastructure “new” using today’s available technologies.)

The cloud as a feasible solution option

Especially as budget reduction pressures mount, it’s clear the federal government must change its philosophies toward IT and an infrastructure that’s outdated and costly. Getting lean has become mandatory. Moreover with a constituency demanding greater technology ease of use and privacy protection, CIOs and decision makers at the federal level must weigh new technology options and their feasibility. The cloud gives the government one such option, and the present administration agrees.

Read the full article by Abdo Rabadi’s: Cloud-Communications and Government


[2] VanRoekel, Steve, Federal CIO, keynote remarks as prepared for delivery, PARC 2012, pg 3.


Gamification Psychology

Psychology BrainI am fascinated by the human psyche and the drivers behind it – whether internal or external. The value that can be achieved using a properly designed gamification application is massive. Whether it’s to change behaviour, develop a skill or to encourage innovation, the growing role of gamification is becoming more mainstream.

Psychology is the driver and technology the facilitator.  Both are vital to a successful result. The Gartner group says that 80% of gamification applications will fail by 2014 as a result of poor design.

Irrespective of the desired goal, at the end of the day an application has to be very focused, goals driven, measureable, community oriented and ultimately an engaging experience.  It must tap into the basest of human drivers:  Mastery, Meaning and most importantly Recognition to succeed.

As humans developed, we were hard wired with an instinct for survival.  Survival required constant skill development, achievement and community engagement.  We have not lost that instinct.  We crave success, self-improvement, gaining of skills and inherently want others to recognize our achievements.

As insignificant as points, badges and other forms of experience recognition seem on their face, they are powerful drivers when viewed in the totality of human psychology.  The immutable desire for personal satisfaction and transparent recognition is a tremendously powerful tool. That tool when leveraged will modify behavior, encourage desired behaviour and promote learning.

The game is not the end, it is the means.  The human psyche, and a very specific and measurable mission goal is the area of focus to be always in the forefront of designers’ minds when designing a gamification application and avoiding being a member of Gartner’s 80%.

Think Strategic – Workforce Optimization – Get it Working for Your Organization

288042055Over the past few years there has been a great deal of focus and discussion on the operational benefits of a Workforce Optimization (WFO) solution and how it can improve the efficiency of a contact center, but little, if any, discussion of the benefits derived from its inclusion in strategic planning and execution. Leveraging WFO in the strategic planning process can significantly increase your organization’s competitive advantage and profitability through:

  •  An improved customer experience
  •  Increased customer loyalty
  • Greater employee satisfaction
  • Decreased operational costs
  •  More effective marketing campaigns
  • Better products

This paper examines three major elements of WFO: Analytics, Quality Management and Workforce Management, and discusses how and where to incorporate them into your strategic plan.  Think Strategic – Workforce Optimization – Get it Working for Your Organization.

In It To Win It


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Gamification is no longer a tool solely for video game makers.  Organizations everywhere are revolutionizing the way they do business.  Top organizations are motivating, encouraging, engaging, even recruiting, not only their employees but their customers as well.  These organizations use … Continue reading

Score: Lexmark 0 – Brown’s 10


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A few weeks ago, I had two very contrasting customer experiences.  Both experiences got me thinking about what makes a customer truly stay loyal. I have a little brown package that I keep on my desk – it contains a … Continue reading

Be a Hero to Your Customer


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People Want to Feel Merry Especially During the Holidays With the stress that surrounds the “most wonderful time of the year” and the need to get that special something for that special someone is reaching critical mass.  It pushes contact … Continue reading

IVRs – The Most Annoying Invention… Ever: 2000 Consumers Press 1 for Yes


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Do we think 10,000 watt bass amplifiers, pantyhose (so I’m told) or parking meters are annoying? Sure. However, according to the Discovery Channel’s new program How We Invented the World, out of 2000 adults surveyed, automated switchboards (IVRs) rated #1 … Continue reading