Will Bots Replace the Human Customer Support Role

Will Bots Really Replace the Human Customer Support Role?

Perhaps it took longer than expected, but the rise of the machines is now at hand. Artificial intelligence is fast becoming more advanced and is now being used in a host of applications. It’s changing the technological landscape as we know it, bringing us closer to Cyberdyne System’s Skynet computer.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, folks. We’re currently working on and perfecting AI functions that can help us humans do simple, labor-intensive ‘narrow’ tasks across different industries. A neural network controlled by a sentient AI computer is still far from reality, but with the way things are going, it’s not impossible.

Will Bots Replace the Human Customer Support Role

The progress we’ve been making in the field of artificial intelligence has been no less impressive. Machines can now perform predictive analysis, deductive reasoning and natural language understanding, which are all needed in understanding and predicting what the user needs or maybe offer recommendations for the next action.

Now that we’re taking the development of AI in the right direction, it is found to have good use in the field of customer service. Chatbots are now all the rage in the tech world, simulating conversations with people to address their questions or perform simple tasks. These bots are now booming not only in text conversations but in verbal exchanges as well. Yes, we’re looking at you, Alexa.

 

AI’s Role in Customer Support

Businesses need a fast and efficient customer support service to address all their customers’ concerns. This helps them forge good relationships, making it an essential factor in running a successful business. And with chatbots now taking the place of humans in online conversations, they are revolutionizing the customer service industry.

Chatbots automate conversations with real humans by delivering the right responses according to how they are programmed to do so. With language processing now an integral part of AI, conversations are more seamless, as if you’re having one with a real human being. Advancements are set to further make it harder to discern if you’re chatting with a person or perhaps Threepio.

Many companies embrace a chatbot’s functions as a means to complement or even reduce the need for call centers. As human-to-human chat conversations become a thing of the past, this will significantly reduce operating costs.

For now, chatbots are used to collect basic information, with the more advanced versions providing resolutions for increasingly more complex issues. This speeds up response times and frees agents for more challenging work that requires a more advanced brain. Yes, the one responsible for creating chatbots in the first place.

 

Why Bots are Here to Stay

The bots we’ve read about or seen in fiction were made to serve humans, and their purpose hasn’t changed one bit in real life. Now that AI-driven chatbots are being extensively used in the field of customer support to perform repetitive and simple tasks, they are proving to be invaluable.

Despite being relatively basic, bots can help relieve humans of the grunt work, which can streamline any process and make things move along faster and a bit easier. This saves loads of time and money for the company during the technical support process. Here’s how it works:

 

  • Process Efficiency

When calls come in, human agents go through the motions of collecting information from the concerned customer before they proceed to address the issue. AI-driven bots can streamline this step and cut the time it takes to complete this task, so a human agent can resolve the issue at hand. Although support ticket qualification is a fairly simple task, automating it can result in huge time savings.

 

  • Cost Efficiency

When processing time is lessened to a considerable degree, more calls can be processed within the day. This significantly decreases the operational cost by taking in more customers who need help in a single day. When AI becomes more advanced, pretty soon there will be more stages in the operation that can be taken over by bots. This will allow humans to focus on more difficult tasks and become even more cost-efficient.

 

  • Better Customer Experience

Once the process is streamlined to a point where your service addresses all customer concerns in a reasonable period of time, you will leave them feeling satisfied with the whole interaction. The bots help make the process faster, and the human touch becomes more focused on a customer’s needs. All this leads to a better customer experience, creating a competitive advantage for your brand.

 

  • Timeliness

Machines are all about speed and precision. They help cut work time to achieve results faster, which is the reason why AI-driven bots are increasingly becoming popular. Additionally, the risk of human error is basically non-existent. So, when it comes to menial tasks, bots are faster and more accurate – it really isn’t much of a competition.

 

But Will They Replace Humans?

With AI being able to handle increasingly sophisticated tasks, many believe they’re a growing threat to us humans. People are under the impression that they will start taking jobs away from us, and before we know it, they will gain sentience and start making slaves out of us ‘fleshies.’ That is one dystopian future nobody wants to become a reality.

But before we get in over our heads, AI-driven machines aren’t about to take us out. We are still at a stage where we are finding ways to make machines help make our jobs easier. And regardless of how far we’ve made them more advanced, there will always be a need for a human touch.

Humans take a lot of things into consideration when making an important decision. There are intangibles involved, such as emotions and creativity, which they combine with logic to arrive at the best outcome from any situation. On the other hand, bots based theirs purely on data and may be limited in scope.

 

Final Note

The advancements happening in AI technology are something to look forward to, but for some, they could be a threat. Even tech magnate Elon Mask has expressed concerns about AI warning us that it may create an ‘immortal dictator that we can’t escape from'.

But fret not! There won’t be any T-1000s hunting us down anytime soon. The whole point of AI-driven machines is to help us humans from labor-intensive tasks that can shorten the process. This makes the combined efforts of AI and humans more effective, with humans still overseeing that everything is going the way as planned.

Your job is safe. For now at least…

 

Looking for help with your technical support initiatives? At Intelligent Bee, we've got a team of experts (with the human touch) ready to provide flexible solutions at competitive prices. Contact us today!


Are You Ready to Build Your First Corporate Mobile App?

Are You Ready to Build Your First Corporate Mobile App?

If you haven’t noticed, there’s now an app for almost anything. It used to be that apps were associated more with mobile games, but thanks to mobile app development technologies, that’s no longer entirely the case.

Are You Ready to Build Your First Corporate Mobile App?
Today, there are non-gaming mobile apps that enable people to get things done or get the product or service they need straight from their smartphones. For instance, people no longer need to leave their house if they want to do their groceries. Through e-commerce apps, shoppers can buy household items and then have these delivered at their doorstep – all accomplishable with a few simple taps.

The following data shows that corporate mobile apps are noticeably proliferating across industries:

  • As of 2018, the number of apps available to consumers on the leading app store (Android) has already reached 3.8 million. (Statista)
  • The increase in mobile app usage outside of the gaming industry is as follows: 332% for device customization slash enhancement apps; 135% for mobile newspapers and magazines; 125% for productivity apps; 81% for lifestyle and shopping apps; and 53%-54% for travel, sport, health and fitness, messaging, and social apps. (Smashing Magazine)
  • Revenue from in-app purchases – which enable the app to earn money each time users purchase something within the app – amounted to $37 billion in 2016. (BusinessofApps)
  • Companies like Domino’s Pizza and Zara increased their sales by 28% and 60%, respectively, with the use of their mobile app. (KnowTechie)

Keep in mind that these figures are expected to continue growing as the mobile age reaches its maturity. If that’s not enough to convince you of the value that mobile apps bring to the table, why don’t we take a look at some of the most compelling benefits they can help you realize.

 

The Benefits of Having a Corporate Mobile App

  1. Brand awareness

A mobile app puts your brand in front of consumers and increases their recognition of your business, especially if you take functionality and user-friendliness seriously. Over time, as users try out your app, they’ll become more familiar with your brand, business model, and line-up of products and services. This builds up a level of trust, which makes people more likely to choose you over other businesses, which they have not encountered before.

 

  1. Customer engagement

Mobile devices are so handy that people have been spending a great deal of time on them, specifically on smartphone apps, which represent about 90% of users’ mobile time. With the right app, you can reach more users online and engage them every step of the way.

Thus, it’s important that you build several features into your app, including those that customers need for placing orders, managing purchases, keeping track of promotions, and communicating with customer service, among others.

 

  1. Marketing directly to customers

One of the biggest advantages of having a mobile app is it gives you an opportunity to market your business directly to customers. Think about it. A corporate mobile app is like having a whole new marketing channel.

Each time users open your app, you can send them information about new or upcoming products that you think they might be interested in. Moreover, you can use your app to capture important customer data, such as their product views or order history, and then use it to improve their experience within the app.  

 

  1. Added source of revenue

A mobile app can be an income-generating tool for your business. Having an enterprise mobile app not only complements your brick-and-mortar sales but also lets you monetize people’s use of your app in a couple other ways.

For instance, you can bring third-party advertisers into your app and charge them whenever someone clicks on their ad. Another monetization model for your app is to charge users a monthly subscription fee, so they can continue using the full features of your app.

 

  1. Complementing your website

You might think you no longer need a mobile app if your website is up and running anyway. However, you can design your mobile app in a way that supports your website, so you can serve customers in a more optimized fashion.

Since users who have no internet connection will not be able to access your website through a browser, they can have your app installed on their mobile devices, so they may still enjoy certain functionalities through offline mode. That said, you can build an app that allows users to save the information or files they need for offline viewing or reading.

 

Questions to Ask Before Venturing into Corporate Mobile Apps

Before springing into action, it helps to know the ins and outs of mobile app development. Here are some questions to ask yourself before proceeding with your project:

  1. How much will it cost? The cost of building an app depends on several factors, including the type, size, and functionalities of your app, to mention a few. Your app’s overall goal will tie into your budget to determine what to build and how much to spend on it.

  2. Which platforms will the app support? Your two main markets are iOS and Android devices, but you should also take into consideration that there are Windows phone users. 
  3. What’s your goal? In developing your app, you should also identify how it’s going to help your other business goals. Revenue wise, you can choose whether you will charge for in-app purchases, app downloads, or third-party ads. In terms of customer experience, you could prioritize between functionality and a pleasing user interface. 
  4. Do we have the skills? You’ll need tech wizards to visualize, design, develop, test, and maintain your mobile app. If your team doesn’t have these specialized skill sets, you can outsource your mobile app project to a software development company instead. 
  5. Is there a need being fulfilled? You’ll want a winning app that fulfills an unmet need in your target market. Your app should fill the gap between what users want and what options are available to them so far. 
  6. How to market the app? To get your mobile app into the hands of users, you’ll need to promote it on multiple channels, such as blogs, social media, email platforms, app stores, PR events, paid advertising media, and the like. 
  7. What integrations will you build into the app? You can leverage your app by  into it, or by allowing users to log into your app using their social media credentials. This will make it easy for users to share information from your app to social sites in a seamless manner.

 

Conclusion

To maximize your corporate mobile app’s chance for success, you should be able to answer these questions. Now, the million dollar question is: Are you ready to build your first corporate mobile app?

It will all boil down to how useful your app is for both your business and your customers. Make your app great enough that customers would want to install and keep it in their device for as long as possible.

 

Want an experienced team of developers to build your next corporate mobile app? Contact the experts at Intelligent Bee today!


When Should Businesses Outsource Custom Software Development?

When Should Businesses Outsource Custom Software Development?

Most, if not all companies have a common goal – and that’s to be the best in their field. As industries are becoming more globally competitive, it’s crucial that you continuously evaluate and improve the way you do things to avoid being left behind. It’s also critical that you make the right business decisions, such as when or why you should outsource your company’s digital application or software development needs.

When Should Businesses Outsource Custom Software Development?

Here are different scenarios where you might need to tap the services of an external custom software development team for your business:

 

  1. When you’re trying to focus on core business areas

IT work takes up time, which might prevent you from concentrating on core business activities that drive revenue. If you see that building your IT projects takes time away from your main business, you might be working on your priorities all wrong.

When you free yourself from IT-related tasks, you can focus your assets and resources more appropriately on your company’s area of expertise. This can help you establish leadership in your industry since you’ll have more time to innovate your current offerings, resulting in better customer satisfaction along the way.

 

  1. When you lack the budget

A low budget for your IT department can be a significant challenge, mainly because developing software is costly. You’ll have to pay upfront costs to build your IT infrastructure, purchase development tools and licenses, and hire and train IT staff. These costs can further increase as your team grows.

By contrast, there aren’t many overhead costs involved when you decide to outsource custom software development to third-party contractors. Often, these vendors offer full-cycle development services in custom software, mobile application, and web application development at cost-effective rates.

 

  1. When you’re short on expert developers

Software development has a very technical nature to it, which makes it mandatory that you hire only the most experienced developers. If you don’t have access to highly skilled developers, you should definitely consider outsourcing a team.

Expert developers have more experience in this field and will be able to better design software that suits the specific needs of your business. As they work on your project, they can anticipate possible problem areas and immediately make helpful recommendations.

Hiring developers with complete skill sets can lead to many positive things once the software goes live, including optimum efficiency and usability levels, better security, and ultimately, a high return on investment (ROI).

 

  1. When you don’t have the infrastructure

You’ll need to invest in a formal tech infrastructure for software development. However, if your business model isn’t directly related to this discipline, it might be unwise to build an IT infrastructure from scratch in-house.

In their years of being in the business, outsourcing companies have already established a robust IT infrastructure. They have state-of-the-art technologies and solutions to address even the most complex projects. Your business will also benefit from a fully functional IT infrastructure, so the security of your customer data and other company resources will not be compromised.

 

  1. When you lack support and maintenance manpower

Software design or development is not a one-time project. You’ll need to continually monitor and modify how it works, depending on the needs, demands, or expectations from end-users.

If your company doesn’t have a dedicated team of tech support, your product could quickly become problematic. An outsourced team will be responsible for introducing new features and fixing system bugs to make sure that the product works as efficiently as possible. This way, you don’t have to replace or rework the software altogether every time an issue shows up.

 

  1. When you have limited access to cutting-edge technology

When it comes to technology, things are always moving in the fast lane. What’s new today may not be so unique tomorrow, with developers constantly coming up with and releasing more advanced programs. To help your company adapt to rapid technological shifts, you can look to outsourcing companies since they have ready-access to the latest technologies, tools, and resources relevant to software development.

 

  1. When product movement is quite slow

Tech guys agree that dev work is a step-by-step process, where shortcuts are not always possible. Then again, there’s the business perspective that the sooner you can get your product out there, the better.

To prevent your company from having to deal with this dilemma, you’ll need to exert more control over how long your software development takes to finish. Software development companies recognize this need and are reliable enough to deliver what’s expected of them within a reasonable timeline.

 

  1. When your quality assurance processes are insufficient

Outsourcing companies take pride not only in their technical expertise but also on their knowledge about market trends, which allows them to deliver high-quality work to clients. With their technical skills, they can help you improve your products to deliver an enhanced experience to both your employees and end-users.

You can ask for as many product testing and trial sessions as needed before finally rolling out your software to the public.

 

Final Words

Your custom software development needs to be precise, organized, and timely to have the competitive advantage that you’re aiming for. Since many aspects in software development require specialized skills, you’ll want to work with the best team you can find.

Intelligent Bee’s track record in providing custom software development services is like no other, as we offer software solutions that suit your business needs and resources. Contact us to start your project today!


Tech Support Scams to Watch Out For

Technical Support Scams to Watch Out For (and How to Spot Them)

Technology has helped the world in many ways, but there’s no denying that there’s a dark side to it. For instance, phones, computers, and the internet can be exploited by fraudsters to deceive unsuspecting users into giving up personal information, and to some extent, their properties too.

Tech Support Scams to Watch Out For

Technical support scams do just that—they fool the unaware into thinking that there’s something wrong with their system and equipment, make them contact an unknown number, and steal personal information as victims are unknowingly being tricked. There are also instances wherein the scammers are the ones who call the user.

 

Tech Support Scams in Numbers

These types of cons are nothing new, but admittedly a lot of people still fall for it, especially since criminals keep finding new ways to conduct their fraudulent activities. A 2016 survey sponsored by Microsoft found that 2 in 3 people have experienced a type of tech support scam within the past 12 months; 1 in 10 have lost money.

In 2017, Microsoft’s Customer Support Services received 153,000 reports of such scams from 183 countries, with a 24% rise from the previous year. Approximately 15% of those who reported lost an average of $200 and $400.

Virtually anyone who owns a connected device is vulnerable—even though Microsoft is often namedropped by tech support scammers (with the company receiving 12,000 complaints every month globally), having a device other than Windows cannot protect a person either, as these deceptive acts can also fool those who use MacOS, iOS, Android, and other operating systems.

In terms of age, scams reported to Microsoft tend to be from older customers. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has found evidence that the elderly are more impacted by fraud as compared to the younger generations. However, it was also found that millennials (ages 18–34) are more likely to continue with a fraudulent tech offer compared to other age groups.

The underlying cause, though, is that many people are fooled into thinking that they are working with a legitimate business, whether that user is old or not.

 

The Fallout

As mentioned, tech support scams are designed to trick users into believing that their devices are compromised. The frauds will then coerce the user into purchasing unnecessary support services. In some instances, they will request access to the user’s device by getting sensitive information or making them install dubious apps that can remotely retrieve the details they need.

In December 2014, when tech support scams hit mainstream media, Microsoft sued several companies for unfair and deceptive business practices and trademark infringement. Later in 2015, the FTC announced the shutdown of several tech support scammers that pretended to be associated with Apple, Microsoft, and Google, and stole a combined $17 million from consumers.

In another case, the FTC had to give out partial refunds to around 37,000 victims of a fraudulent tech support company named Inbound Call Experts. This is after the company tricked consumers into buying unnecessary products and services by pretending that there is something wrong with their computers, all of which happened from April 2012 to November 2014.

No matter how big a business is, taking a legal action remains to be an arduous process. In this instance, Microsoft had to deal with the consequence of additional costs to fix issues that the company didn’t intend to put themselves into.

Despite Microsoft proving their innocence, there’s no denying that negative news like fraud can have a lasting impact on consumers. Those who don’t know better would likely continue to associate Microsoft with the fraudsters.

 

Spotting the Sham

The best way to avoid falling into shady acts is knowing what constitutes a tech support scam.

 

  1. Unsolicited Calls

This outdated yet effective sham is done through cold calls. The fraudster who claims to be from a reputable company will call the target and say that the company found something wrong on the computer.

Microsoft and other companies often employ outsourced tech support, but no tech company will ever reach out to the consumer, even if it’s in the name of public service. Microsoft’s security bulletin reads, "Microsoft will never proactively reach out to you to provide unsolicited PC or technical support. Any communication we have with you must be initiated by you." That means users will only receive a call if they request it.

In addition, caller IDs can be manipulated to show only the company name, but not the number, so it’s not reliable either. Hang up if this ever happens, and never give any personal information.

 

  1. Phishing Emails

It’s easy to fall for a phishing email because it does look like a message from a legitimate source. But once the target clicks and visits a malicious link included for a fake site that the scammers control, they will then be fooled into filling out a form with their sensitive information like email password, credit card details, bank account number, etc.

Again, the best way to avoid this practice is to ignore it (and delete the email, too) and never reply. Don't click any of the links on it, either. Remember to change passwords regularly as well.

 

  1. Sketchy Advertising or Pop-ups

Pop-ups appear when users are browsing the Internet and visit a website that contains suspicious links that, when clicked, will redirect them to a site hosting the pop-ups. These pop-ups can get so intrusive that it can become difficult for the user to close them as they appear.

Often, these pop-ups will contain a message stating that the computer is infected or that it will be locked down, blocking internet access, or making it unusable. The message will usually be accompanied by a phone number which the user can contact to fix the problems, or so it claims.

First off, you should know that legitimate IT support groups will not use pop-up messages to alert you of issues, so it’s best to ignore these messages. Aside from that, scrutinize the message and look for poor spelling or grammar and lousy imagery, which would usually imply fraud. A quick Google search can also support the legitimacy of the contact details included.

 

  1. Confusing Search Results

Interestingly enough, fraudulent companies also have budgets to use legitimate paid search channels to advertise their fake support services. To be on the safe side, study the website chosen before retaining a company’s services and always keep an eye out for trust signals.

 

In Conclusion

As long as technology continues to advance, so will the swindlers who continue to take advantage of users, especially those who aren’t well-versed in the technological aspect. The responsibility remains with users and consumers, as they need to stay vigilant in this thriving yet perilous age of information security. Tech companies, meanwhile, should do their part and ensure better protection for their clients.


 Self-service: the future of customer support?

Customer support is on the rise, becoming the backbone of any business. While customers enjoy fast and responsive customer service, more and more people prefer self-service over contacting a customer support agent. Could self-service be the future of customer support?

In a survey by Interactive Intelligence Group, “short response times” ranked higher in importance for customers than “efficiency”, professionalism” or “knowledgeable agents”. As we can see, customers need answers to their questions and solution to their problems in no time. Self-service could be the answer to many questions that customers have.  

Why self-service?

 

Self-service allows your customers to solve their own issues in a fast and easy way, letting your outsourced customer support team to deal with less requests for support and reducing technical support services costs. According to Forrester, 72% of customers prefer self-service to resolve their technical support issues without requiring any interaction with a representative from your company.  We can say that self-service and automation of processes is on the rise and will play significant roles in the transformation of customer support.

Customers prefer self-service. 91% of them would use a self-service channel if it were available and met their needs. Self-service channels are most utilized by millenials. 73% would help themselves if the company would provide them with the right resources to solve the issue on their own. Being faster and more convenient on mobile devices, self-service is the perfect choice for accessing technical support whenever needed. It makes you more available for your customers and it can rescue your technical support agents from repetitive issues that can be resolved through a FAQs article. It cuts the unnecessary costs and it empowers your customers, providing them with the means to solve their own issues. On top of that, self-service resources can easily be referred to a friend that is experiencing the same issue and the company can receive a valuable feedback from its customers.

 

How to self-service your customer support?

 

A self-service portal that offers immediate and constant access to common customer service issues is the kind of portal your company should have. Its resources can take the following forms:

  • Knowledge bases: a centralised database of useful information
  • FAQs: a collection of recurring questions and queries that are related to your product and the issues that may occur
  • How-to video: a collection of videos in which step by step instructions can lead your customer to solving an issue

If you already have self-support resources, it’s time to upgrade them and give your customers the best information they can have to solutionate the issues encountered:

  • Identify your customer’s needs. - If customers are gonna get the most use of your service, the resources should be relevant to their needs. Identify recurring issues and separate them according to usage and skill.
  • Visibility can change the path of your service. - Display your self-service resources and encourage customers to try them. If the presence of your own resources is not noticeable, customers will miss out the opportunity.
  • Highlight the most popular FAQ. - Your customers should be able to find the answers to their issues in your self-service portal. Add the most popular FAQ to the self-service home page in order to be easier to find.
  • A picture’s worth a thousand words. - Take screenshots to show your customers where they need to update settings or where to click. You can also record the entire process and upload it on your self-service portal, your customers will thank you.
  • Up-to-date information is the best information. - If you decide to create a FAQ section, don’t put it in a corner and forget about it. You need to improve your knowledge base continuously.
  • Mobile devices, here we come! - If you haven’t optimized your self-service for mobile users, you should do it now. Consistency on all channels is the key to a happy customer. If your self-service portal is not mobile-friendly, then you’re customers are less likely to use it.

 

Today’s customers are more than ready for self-service. Empowering the customer to resolve the issues encountered is a victory for both the user and the customer support team. Dave Campbell, the VP of product marketing for the customer engagement and support products at LogMeIn is of opinion that “The human touch is still required for many queries, but by offloading some of the work to self-service tools, agents will be in a much better position to deliver the game-changing support that creates higher satisfaction and increased productivity.”

As we can see, self-service is the future of customer support, yet the need for finding a great customer support team is becoming bigger and bigger. Even if self-support services are on the rise, startups or companies still need a team that can provide efficient and exceptional outsourced customer support in order to form and maintain connections with their customers.


Experience has it: 10 best practices for outstanding customer support services

Outsourced customer support is the future. Whether you’re a startup or a company with more than 100 employees, the need for customer support is rising due to the fact that products aren’t perfect, yet we aim for perfection when it comes to our services. “How can you remain on top of the game in the field of customer support?” is a question we hear a lot lately and we wanted to share with you 10 best practices that we learned in 7 years of experience with partners such as SendGrid and Cloud Elements.

Before we start, let us underline once again the idea of a customer support department. Whether it’s in-house or outsourced, the customer support department of a SaaS company should reduce customer churn. The product or service can be outstanding, yet the technical support that you are offering is crucial in your relationship with your customers. After more than 7 years of work with SendGrid and Cloud Elements, we gathered 10 best practices that will set you ahead of your competitors.

 

1. Hire the best people to represent your service/ product.

We can all agree that your agents are your brand’s diplomats. You form and maintain connections through them with the customers that will keep you in business. Hire and retain experienced people and exceptional outsourced customer support will follow.

2. Offer customer support on more than one channel, including live chat.

Instant communication channels can save or ruin the image that a client has about your product/service. When it all comes to customer’s expectations, the best way to offer a quick and helpful answer is through chat. Make it easy for customers to interact with you and don’t keep them waiting.

3. Encourage self-service.

More than 67% users prefer a self-service support over speaking to a company representative. It’s a fact that can be turned around in your favor once you create a FAQs page with content that answers common questions that customers usually come up with. From a FAQs page to regularly posting basic troubleshooting articles on your website, encourage self-service and you will receive a better feedback for product or service enhancements.

4. Attitude is everything.

When working on a customer support service, your positive attitude can turn a problem into a solution in no time. You know that in business, you never get a second chance for making a first good impression. Have the customer in mind and deliver responsive and personalized support.

5. Listen to customers.

The key to effective communication is active listening. Even when the customer is upset or angry, your customer support agent should treat him cordially, eager to give advice and to find a real-time solution. If you’re active listening to your customers, not only you will find more about the issue encountered and you will give better advice, but you will leave an imprint in your customer’s mind.

6. Ownership can change an issue into a solution.

Empower your representatives to make decisions in real time and to act upon customer’s best interest. If the issue needs more information in order to be classified as resolved, your customer support agents should follow up and address the issue further on until it’s resolved.

7. Honor your commitments.

Do what you say you will do. Earning trust and respect are key-points in the relationship between a company and its customers. Tell your customers exactly what they can expect from you and then go hard to exceed those expectations. That way, your customers will see that you’re willing to go the extra mile.

8. Set KPIs.

It’s important to always measure the success of a customer support team. For that, use KPIs and metrics that should be defined as parameters in judging the performance of a customer support agent or a technical support team.

9. Regularly train your agents.

Properly training your representatives can give them the power to make on-the-spot decisions that can change an issue into a solution. Ensure that they completely understand the product and the process and conduct refresher training sessions when there are any product enhancements. A well prepared customer support agent is a key point in maintaining your customers happy.

10. Ask for feedback.

A feedback at its time can change the path of your company. A study by The George Washington University from Washington, DC, shows that users will share their experiences with 8 out of 10 persons they meet. Ask customers to review your service after each session in order to find out if it was helpful or what aspects you should change.

Customer support in this century is the secret weapon of every business that respects itself. Without a customer support department, you can’t have a business that it’s focused on the customer, therefore you can’t really grow. For an outstanding customer support service, follow these best practices that we gathered in 7 years of experience.

We would love to hear about your experience and how they worked for your business.


lucrul la propriul produs digital sau maturizarea unei companii de IT

Working on your own digital product or how to scale a IT company

Digital/online products have been on my mind from a while now and I strongly believe that they are the future of IntelligentBee. Even if we started out as a outsourcing and services company, we developed our own products accordingly to our vision and mission as a company. Our progress turned into establishing our own Product team.

Regarding the opportunities that one can find on our local IT industry, you can find more from the following interview:

 

Considering the process of technical globalization, more and more software companies are starting to develop online in-house products, leaving the competitors behind. More and more people from online are willing to contribute to this movement, yet the question on everyone’s mind is: What’s next?

We talked to Costi Teleman, CEO at IntelligentBee, a Iasi based IT company, to find out a series of useful insights.

 

Costi, could you tell us why there is such a dilemma among people with a vast experience in digital?

Generally, their career are built through an ascendant path. They have the possibility of learning, guided by experienced people for specific areas, they follow up a well established hierarchy and enjoy a financial safety and recreational benefits, yet there comes a time when you want to put your fingerprint on a project that implies full responsibility.

That is why, most people of online, from beginners to advanced, choose to be a part of a start-up with a business vision in the long run which includes developing your own digital products rather than be part of a well established company on the market.

 

What are the professional perspectives they have in this case?

For the ones that reached the highest peak of their career and wish to use their skills to develop a project which will bring a major impact on web tech market, it’s important to know that more and more companies change their business model and develop their own digital products.

 

What are the advantages in this kind of business?

The advantages are multiple.

First of all, you can bring value to your team through your thinking and your skills. Being responsible for the success of your own product and your own team will highlight the contribution that you bring to the company. It can scare you or it can be the most satisfying moment for the ones that want to share their knowledge and have a progressive thinking.

Also, as a member of the team, you are a pacesetter for IT industry through the developed products. With a reduced execution time, you can deliver exactly what you know, yet you can learn new principles regarding digital products and its consumers.

More than that, you will succeed to establish a series of activities that will help you to leave your fingerprint on digital environment. For that kind of activities you are willing to compromise, to sacrifice a weekend or to add a longer sprint in order to obtain the desired results.

 

Where you can find teams such as the one described by you?

The most encountered option is leaving the city or even the country, but now, people of online from Iasi and from Moldova in general, can found teams of Product Development in software companies from Iasi and IntelligentBee is one of them. Until now we developed a series of our own products and we wish to offer the chance of stepping up to digital enthusiasts.

 

Could you tell us more about IntelligentBee?

IntelligentBee is an outsourced software development and technical support company from Iasi. Our aim in our 8 years of activity was to deliver dedicated engineering and technical support teams that will align fast to the business objectives of our customers, becoming an extension of their internal departments.

Besides that, developing of our own digital products has become a core of our mission as a company. We built our own Product department with people that are not willing to “play” it safe, yet they want to be recognized for the developed digital products. The desire of this department is to bring value to the industry.

 

How would you describe the Product team of IntelligentBee?

First of all, our Product team is formed of people good at their jobs, mastering their know-how, capable to deliver from their first day. We can add up the 4 values that guide our activity, the 4H: Honest, Happy, Humble and Hungry.

The teams from IntelligentBee are formed from people that are open, honest, admit their mistakes, take full responsibility and always offer constructive feedback. They accept every challenge and celebrate every success and have the will to learn more and more.

 

What are the advantages for the ones interested in Product teams?

  • They can develop their coordination abilities.
  • Will work with a team that fully understands the technical process of developing a product.
  • Will work for a project in which quality is more important than time.
  • The possibility of exposing their ideas regarding the development process of the product
  • Liberty to take a decision regarding the development process of the product
  • Can develop a product that can make a statement on the market
  • The possibility of launching new ideas
  • They will be part of a company that has both the work and the fun
  • They will not work for us, they will work with us for developing our own digital products

 

In conclusion, what kind of specialists is IntelligentBee looking for its Product team?

I believe that every company who decides to invest in their own products are looking for specialists, not only IntelligentBee. We are looking for people that can execute the products that we want to develop and people that have the know-how for promoting them. Basically, people that are willing to get out of their comfort zone and want to make a statement in the digital market.

 

Would you work with a compact team for their own digital products against a multinational company? Why?

 


Firebase-integration-golang

Firebase integration for Golang

Since Golang is considering a lightweight programming language and Firebase is the next-generation Backend-as-a-Service, we think it could be a savvy combination to develop with ease both performant and secure microservices or stand-alone projects. Here are several advantages that could convince you to try this combo.

When it comes to Golang, it is as speedy as a compiled language, but it feels like an interpreted one. Moreover, as we mentioned in one of our previous articles, it has clean syntax with text-based workflow and clear language specification. Thus, you can write the code fast, and even faster compilation speeds are allowed for a rapid feedback style.

On the other hand, Firebase is an all-encompassing product that has everything you need to develop. From a real database to authentication modules. when you connect your app with Firebase, you’re not connecting through normal HTTP, but through a WebSocket which is much faster than HTTP and sends you new data as soon as it’s updated.

Firebase Storage provides a simple way to save binary files to Google Cloud Storage directly from the client thanks to its own system of security rules to protect your GCloud Socket from the masses while granting detailed write privileges to your authenticated clients.

Regarding Authentication, Firebase Auth has built in email/password authentication system. It also supports OAuth2 for Google, Facebook, Twitter and GitHub. Moreover, Firebase Auth integrates directly into Firebase Database so you can use it to control access to your data.

Last but not least, Firebase includes an easy-to-use hosting services for all your static files that serve them from a global CDN with HTTP/2 making your development particularly painless.

Firebase admin SDK for Golang

The Firebase Admin Go SDK enables access to Firebase services from privileged environments (such as servers or cloud) in Go. Currently, this SDK provides Firebase custom authentication support.

To install Firebase Admin Go SDK, simply execute the following command in a terminal from your $GOPATH:
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Firebase Admin SDKs enable application developers to programmatically access Firebase services from trusted environments. They complement the Firebase client SDKs, which enable end users to access Firebase from their web browsers and mobile devices.

And that’s only the beginning. To explore further, here are 4 Go libraries and apps for Firebase that we think you will find useful:

Go-fcm - Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) Library using Golang (Go). This library uses HTTP/JSON Firebase Cloud Messaging connection server protocol. Its main features are: send messages to a topic, send messages to a device list, message can be a notification or data payload, supports condition attribute (fcm only), instance Id Features

Examples:

Send to A topic

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Send to a list of Devices (tokens)

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Firebase-server-sdk-go - This is the Server SDK written in Golang for the newly announced Firebase suite of services. This SDK, like its Java and Node counterparts, supports the following functions needed on the application server: Authentication, Real-time Database, Cloud Messaging (FCM)

Examples:

Create Custom Tokens

To create a custom token, pass the unique user ID used by your auth system to the CreateCustomToken() method:
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You can also optionally specify additional claims to be included in the custom token. These claims will be available in the auth/request.auth objects in your Security Rules. For example:
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Verify ID Tokens

To verify and decode an ID Token with the SDK, pass the ID Token to the VerifyIDToken method. If the ID Token is not expired and is properly signed, the method decodes the ID Token.
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Fireauth - A Firebase token generator written in Go

cosn/firebase - This a library for invoking the Firebase REST API.

In conclusion, a combination of those two can lead you to solid and scalable application development. Golang might be the perfect solution to scale your idea, while Firebase has all that you could need to begin a worthwhile business solution or to launch your current configuration forward on the right track.


5 web development trends to look up in 2018

For succeeding in digital-based industries it's vital to accept tech changes and ride along with it. You can do this by exploring tomorrow's trends and seeking to integrate them into your business plan. And, when it comes to web development trends, sometimes they change faster than they can be implemented. That’s why it is important to be ahead of the game.

So, here are some in-demand web development trends that we believe you should look up this year:

1. Javascript

In our previous article, we underlined that Javascript continues to dominate on software development industry. Its position is strengthening even more in the last few years thanks to dozens of JS-related technologies existing and still in development. Now we are not just making small interactive elements in web pages anymore, we are building complex applications in JavaScript. And, it became more complicated to grasp the size and scope of the current JavaScript ecosystem.

One of the main items that benefit from the recent Javascript improvements, such as ES6 and ES7, is Functional Programming. Some useful improvements for functional programming are:

  • Arrow functions: Arrow functions reduce boilerplate when writing functions.

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  • Object/Array Spread: Object spread makes it really easy to avoid mutating objects because it is so much easier to create new objects that contain existing values.

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  • async/await: Their purpose is to simplify the behavior of using promises synchronously and to perform some behavior on a group of Promises.

ReactJS will also have an important role to play in 2018 thanks to its versatility. React keeps winning customer satisfaction surveys and according to indeed.com, React is the first library to pass jQuery in job popularity in a decade.

Moreover, the rise of Node.js has made JavaScript boundless. With the help of Node.js frameworks, JavaScript can be used in front-end, web server, desktop application, embedded system, databases and so on.  And, in 2018, there are some Node.js Frameworks that will stand out:

  • Express consists of features that assist in building a very powerful web and mobile apps as well as APIs. Extension package or plugins can be written in Express easily and be used quickly.
  • Sail.js (node.js mvc) is an ultimate solution as it comes with features that can build anything. It also makes database work easier irrelevant no matter what database is being used.
  • KOA handles flow control, error-handling and omits callback issues with the help of generators. It consists of modular approach and allows the user to write codes their own way to make it robust.
  • Meteor assists you build web and mobile apps through JavaScript. It has only one API which is utilized in both, client and server side. You can make a connection with anything with the database through its DDP protocol.
  • Derby.JS consists of Racer, a data synchronization engine, that assists in swift data sync amid database, sever as well as a browser.

2. Golang

Even though JS will still hold their superiority in 2018, Golang will strengthen its position - it is just the question of time.

Why is Golang became one of 2018 web development trends?

  • Development is fast, secure, and provides cross-platform support
  • The language is developed by Google and well-financed which guarantees its regular improvement.
  • Huge collection of open source packages and free official guides
  • It is the language of cloud infrastructure. Go is a part of Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, AWS, Dropbox.

As we talked in one of our previous articles, Golang is a language of cloud industries and open source development. Both Cloud and OpenSource technologies are definitely going to grow in next 5 years - and Go programming is a perfect way of implementing these solutions.

Golang has 8 years on the market - so it’s relatively new. However, OverStack and GitHub statistics state that the number of Golang developers is already huge, and it is only going to grow.

3. Real-Time Apps

Real-time web apps, based on WebSockets, have been around for years, but they are getting more and more popular. The reason: users want fast interactions and real-time web apps are delivering on the need to share information instantly.

The main idea of real-time web apps is that a connection between client and server is left open, and the server pushes the new data once it’s there. Prior to real-time web apps, clients had to check back manually to find out if something new had happened.

While this has been very common in the world of Node.js, this trend is really spreading to other languages and frameworks as well. Even Ruby on Rails, a framework which has always relied heavily on server side rendering, and very long ignored the rise of Javascript single-page-applications, has seen the need for real-time (as you can see in Basecamp 3), and incorporated it under the name “ActionCable”.

4. Chatbots

As you probably noticed chatbots gained incredible popularity in 2017. And they will continue to evolve helping to increase communication online.

With chatbots, a company can provide a personalized experience that will enhance the quality of service through instant customer service 24 hours a day. In fact, many have predicted that 85% of all customer interactions will be done without human assistance by 2020.

It means that the customer service/care chatbots should turn into an essential aspect of every website this year. Nowadays consumers have become excessively demanding and want their issues to be resolved instantly, the customer service/care chatbots should top the priority lists of web development service providers.

5. Progressive Web Apps (PWA)

Not widely known, progressive web apps are similar to native mobile applications. Introduced in 2015, the concept of progressive web apps are anticipated to compete for the native mobile applications in the year 2018. This technology has many advantages, such as the ability to work offline, virtually no load time (because much of the information is stored in the cache of the phone), good reliability, and the ability to receive notifications. These progressive web apps can be designed faster than mobile applications, work for all users, and are generally easier to deploy and maintain, which is good for both the developer and the user.

This can maximize conversion rate by enabling the users to browse the Internet even when they are not connected to the Internet. However, despite being a relatively new technology, the progressive web application will continue to progress in 2018.

 

In conclusion, it's important for businesses to have both a strong online presence and competitive spirit, but also a flexible strategy based on web development trends in order to attract new customers, satisfy existing customers and encourage older customers to return.


7-programming-languages-to-learn-in-2018

7 programming languages to learn in 2018

Even if you are a student, a skilled techie or a professional, there are many coding trends to look out and now, more than ever, it’s really important for you to stay up to date with the most in-demand programming languages in the industry.

top-programming-languages

There are no secrets that many companies are expecting from you nothing but the right skills for developing the next functional web application and if you keep up with one suitable programming language, you can increase your value on the market.

most-in-demand-programming-languages

So here are 7 languages that you should bear in mind for 2018.

Javascript continues to dominate

JavaScript has become one of the most popular programming languages in the world and number 1 on GitHub in terms of pull requests thanks to the ubiquity of web browsers. Now, it’s used by over 80% of developers and by 95% of all websites for much dynamic logic on their page.

most-pull-requests-programming-languages

When you want to create interactive things for the web, Javascript is the way to go. You’ll see substantial results from your coding efforts in no-time.

Because of its core simplicity, more startups and tech businesses are starting to use JavaScript on the backend via the Node.js framework. Node is an open source run-time environment that allows JavaScript code to be run on the server side, allowing web developers to use one language for an entire web app.

Phyton is on the rise

Python is a general-purpose programming language used for web development and as a support language for software developers. Its popularity is driven by the continued growth and demand for machine learning developers, because is widely used in that area, as in scientific computing and data mining.

Because uses indents instead of curly branches for grouping blocks of code, the structure is extremely convenient and clean. That’s why Python is a great start for beginners and allows them to easily develop a project and further support it.

Python is a multi-paradigm programming language that means OOP and structured programming both supported. Also, it supports modules and packages which encourages program modularity and code reuse. Since there is no compilation step, the edit test debug cycle is incredibly fast.

Debugging Python programs is easy: a bug or bad input will never cause a segmentation fault. Instead, when the interpreter discovers an error, it raises an exception. When the program doesn't catch the exception, the interpreter prints a stack trace. A source level debugger allows inspection of local and global variables, evaluation of arbitrary expressions, setting breakpoints or stepping through the code a line at a time. The debugger is written in Python itself, testifying to Python's introspective power. On the other hand, often the quickest way to debug a program is to add a few print statements to the source: the fast edit-test-debug cycle makes this simple approach very effective.

Swift, a more approachable language

Swift drops legacy conventions. Thus, you no longer need semicolons to end lines or parenthesis to surround conditional expressions inside if/else statements. Method and function calls in Swift use the industry-standard comma-separated list of parameters within parentheses. The result is a cleaner, more expressive language with a simplified syntax and grammar.

Swift drops the two-file requirement. Xcode and the LLVM compiler can figure out dependencies and perform incremental builds automatically in Swift 1.2. As a result, the repetitive task of separating the table of contents (header file) from the body (implementation file) is a thing of the past. Swift combines the Objective-C header (.h) and implementation files (.m) into a single code file (.swift).

Swift has an edge over its competitors as it also hosts the Automatic Reference Counting (ARC), a well-known feature which tracks down and manages an app’s memory usage in real time to make sure it’s not taking too much memory.

PHP. Oldie, but goldie.

We know that there aren’t many fans of PHP, but it is still going to be really crucial in 2018 because it’s a flexible programming language that can be used to develop anything from a single-serving site to more complex web structures with the same ease.

Because many of you know how to write PHP, instead of talking about its traits, we would like to say something about one of it’s high-performance frameworks - Symfony.

Symfony is a set of reusable PHP components, enabling the developer to create scalable, high-performance applications. With 30 components from which to choose, the developer has the complete freedom to experiment and work in a RAD environment. Symfony APIs also enable easy integration with third-party applications, and it can be used with popular front-end frameworks, such as AngularJS.

Many popular projects, including Drupal and phpBB, also use Symfony framework. In fact, Laravel, the most popular PHP framework, is build off of Symfony.

Golang is a Go

As we saw in our previous article, more and more companies are going to start from scratch with Golang.

We believe that Golang demand will increase even more in 2018, so if you're willing to invest some time learning Go language, and become an expert, definitely it will be the right choice in your career path.

Golang is used in designing toolbox, documentation of browser, search engines, source indexing, analysis, and search. So, it will be beneficial for securing a good earning package by learning this language. Definitely, Golang is a great language for systems that need massive scale.

It’s also a garbage-collector language which means you don’t need to free up memory yourself. So you don’t have to do any memory management yourself. If you’re a C or C++ programmer, you know how tiresome it can get to manually allocate and free-up memory, so you don’t have to do any of that with Golang.

Ruby. The right choice for startups.

Ruby operates as a dynamic, object-oriented language and it makes the code easy to read. Its demand is increasing so much that’s become common within DevOps roles. i.e. engineers ensuring the reliability and efficiency of the servers running websites with high traffic.

But first, Ruby has an incredibly simple beautiful syntax that allows a developer to do more with less code. Secondly, thanks to Ruby on Rails, getting a web application up-and-running takes less time than in other frameworks. This explains why startups are so fond of the language: it enables the famous startup mantra, “move fast and break things.”

Obviously, you don’t have to know all of them. Pick one depending on your interest and get really good at it.

 

And, if you already know how to joggle with at least one of this programming languages, take a look of our available positions.