Alexa, go to the gym for me

I still remember the day I brought her home. I couldn’t stop looking at her. Everything she did was amazing to me. Her name was Alexa.

11 October 2018

I had you for a minute, didn’t I? Actually I live alone, with only my Amazon Echo and some small furries for company…yet somehow I always seem to be so, so busy. I work full time, I go to the gym, I see my family and friends, and I’m still only on Season 7 of The Walking Dead. All that is pretty time consuming; in fact, I don’t know how my friends who do all that and have a family do it. And as someone who is pretty unorganised and chaotic at the best of times, I am thanking any deity that will listen that technology has evolved so that I’m able to make managing my lifestyle so much easier.

Take, for example, my morning routine. While I’m making coffee, I ask Alexa what’s in my calendar for the day. The reason I’m able to do this is that I’ve set my Echo up to sync with Microsoft Outlook, and as I use my calendar both for meetings and to block out periods of time where I can work on a certain project, this is invaluable. If you’ve not joined the Smart Speaker revolution you can also do this the “old-fashioned” way - by syncing Outlook with your phone. This offers a double whammy of usefulness as not only can I see my calendar with a single swipe, but while I’m drinking the aforementioned coffee I like to check my emails. It’s a great way of deleting emails you don’t want and marking those that you do, so when I get into the office I know exactly what I’m doing. As Outlook is offered as part of Office 365, you can even go one step further and download Office 365 for Mobile, offering familiar software like Word and Excel…but pocket sized. And my love for Smart Tech – or the Internet of Things, if you’d prefer - doesn’t stop at the Echo. I’m trying to lose weight and my Fitbit not only syncs with MyFitnessPal, the Fitbit app syncs with my Echo so I can ask Alexa how many steps I’ve done or calories I have burnt off that day. Pretty cool! And with the Special Edition of the Charge 3 offering Near Field Communication (NFC) for contactless payments via Fitbit Pay, it’s set to become not only part fitness tracker and part smart watch, but something that will become as much a part of my everyday life as my mobile phone.

The technological revolution means that even industries which have historically been digitally adverse are now embracing it. Take my doctor’s surgery for instance; not only does an SMS message come through automatically once I have made my appointment, but they also text me the day before my appointment to remind me of it. Our SMS Team tells us that businesses come to GCI all the time asking how they can reduce missed appointments and open extra channels of communication between them and their customers. Financial services have also evolved exponentially from the days of stuffy bank managers in suits, and when I needed to contact my bank recently but had a busy work schedule that day, it was so easy to be able to speak to someone on Live Chat, with alerts to a new message in the conversation pinging in the background whilst I got on with work. The agent had secure access to my account history once I had passed the security checks, resolving my query quickly and easily. And even when you do need to speak to a real-life human on the phone, IVR can make it a lot more straightforward to get through to the right person, as was the case for me with PayPal not long ago. Clever voice recognition allowed my response to be recorded when I was asked “In a few words, please state the nature of your query”, routing me through to someone who was best placed to help me. Not only that but a GCI customer, Metrobank, has taken it one step further to get as many of its services online as possible. Whilst it has branches, if you go into one to open an account they will hand you an iPad! But as you can imagine, security is of paramount importance and robust connectivity is essential, so the bank has gone to great lengths to ensure they have best-of-breed solutions in place. GCI’s implementation of Windows 10 allows them to streamline communications between branches and Contact Centre staff, ensuring a consistent experience without compromising security.

Technology really is everywhere these days; even my local council allows you to pay your bill via an automated payments system. That might seem straightforward to those of us who have grown up with everything at our fingertips, but consider the back-end infrastructure, software and stringent security protocols that enable this. GCI has been providing our customers with solutions like these for years, and we are now seeing many come to us to help them take their next steps with omni-channel Contact Centres and IVR – not forgetting the consultancy and solutions to ensure PCI compliance if they are taking payments. Businesses have woken up; they’re recognising that we are increasingly time-poor and reliant on tech to help us juggle our work and personal lives, and are embracing ways to engage with the customer to provide better experiences. I’m excited to see what the next wave of technology will bring. Now, if only I could get Alexa to go to the gym for me!

 

Author: Ella Jennings, Marketing and Content Executive at GCI

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