HELLO, WE ARE 4 ROADS

BESPOKE.

Do you need a digital solution that an off-the-shelf product just can’t provide? We’ve created everything from bespoke health platforms to autonomous production line systems.

We also create bespoke products to integrate systems that run on disparate technologies.

ENTERPRISE.

Whether it’s a global solution or a small WordPress site, we can catapult your brand to the next level. In fact, we’re even a Sitecore Certified Solution Partner for Implementation.

COMMUNITY.

Are you looking to build better customer relationships through an online community?

We’re experts in strategy, implementation, and integration – as well as being the longest standing global partner of Telligent Community.

WE ARE EXPERTS IN BRINGING YOUR AUDIENCE CLOSER

We have over 20 years experience in developing engagement solutions.

Delivering the best digital experience to your audiences is everything. Whether that’s customers, prospects, partners or employees, businesses today must simplify, modernise and automate their engagement solutions to help drive deeper loyalty, enhance business performance, accelerate processes, and position them above the competition. To find out how your organisation can bring your audience closer, we are offering a thirty-minute complimentary digital consultation with our experts in engagement solutions.

A SMALL TEAM WITH BIG IDEAS

"The combination of their extensive knowledge and their experience with a diverse client base has been invaluable, supporting everything from development on small and
large projects, to consulting on our roadmap and strategy. 4 Roads have been responsive, timely and always willing to go the extra mile, we cannot recommend them enough."

Magnus-Andreas Sølvberg Aase, AFS Intercultural Programs

Online communities

CONSULTATION

If you are implementing yourself, our strategic advice will set you on the road to long-term success.

Our consultation service will help you:

  • Understand your community
  • Identify the opportunities

We can then offer strategic direction before and during implementation to:

  • Provide a clear community focus
  • Ensure community engagement
  • Safeguard innovation
  • Help promote your community socially
  • Help monetise your community
  • Futureproof your community’s development

IMPLEMENTATION

Implementation is our core offering. If you’d like us to implement a community solution on your behalf we can take full responsibility for the project.

Alternatively, we’re happy to augment an internal team, offering our experience to enrich your own capabilities as we implement in partnership.

Our implementation process relies on:

  • Agile project methodologies
  • Regular client interaction
  • Driving high-quality results quickly and efficiently
  • Focusing on accelerating time to market
  • Ensuring clients stay within budget

INTEGRATIONS

We’ve been Telligent partners since 2004 and Sitecore Certified Solution Partners since 2016, so we know a thing or two about adding community features to Sitecore websites.

If you run – or are about to implement – a Sitecore-powered site, we can help you add forums, blogs, wikis, chat, gamification elements and so much more…

Read more about our work with Telligent and Sitecore

Bespoke solutions

INTEGRATIONS

Our expert developers can create a wholly new system to ensure different technology solutions work together intuitively.

SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT

Whether you’re starting with a blank sheet of paper, or planning to make use of existing software as you introduce a new application or technology, we have the development knowledge and experience to create new solutions to help transform your business.

WE ARE EXPERTS IN BRINGING YOUR AUDIENCE CLOSER

We have over 20 years experience in developing engagement solutions.

Delivering the best digital experience to your audiences is everything. Whether that’s customers, prospects, partners or employees, businesses today must simplify, modernise and automate their engagement solutions to help drive deeper loyalty, enhance business performance, accelerate processes, and position them above the competition. To find out how your organisation can bring your audience closer, we are offering a thirty-minute complimentary digital consultation with our experts in engagement solutions.

Software Implementations

SITECORE

As a Sitecore Certified Solution Partner, we’re can create a truly responsive website.  Combining a CMS with analytics and automation features for enhanced engagement and personalisation, will turn your website into a lead generation and optimisation engine.

We can also help you manage the transition to using the Sitecore Experience Platform.

Our overall Sitecore offering includes:

  • Implementation
  • Training
  • Ongoing support

WEBSITE DESIGN 

Our design and development experts deliver solutions for both B2B and B2C clients. Here are a few of the ways we create stunning websites:

  • We use NET and PHP solutions
  • We develop on open source platforms – like Umbraco and WordPress
  • We also develop on closed source and bespoke platforms
  • Our coders are experienced with ASP, ASP.NET, PHP, HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript
  • Our sites incorporate SEO, social media, mobile and other tools

E-COMMERCE

We have a wealth of experience in creating e-commerce platforms that really deliver. We can help you with:

  • Conversion rate optimisation
  • User experience design
  • Creating bespoke features
  • Integrating your site with an e-comms solution

Contact us on  0808 189 2044 to discuss your digital requirements.

WHY WORK WITH 4-ROADS?

Successful Projects
Cups of Tea Consumed Annually
Community Users Worldwide
Years of Operation

What our customers say

Our latest thinking and insights

Knowledge Bases

How Knowledge Bases Save Customer Service Costs

How Knowledge Bases Save Customer Service Costs.

Have You Heard This One?

A customer calls into a customer service department, explains the problem, gets into a long winded exchange and eventually gets an answer. It takes 30 mins.

How About This One?

A customer calls into a customer service department, explains the same problem, gets into a long winded exchange and eventually gets an answer. It takes 30 mins.

Did you notice the difference? If you said “there wasn’t one”, you’d be right (help yourself to a virtual iced bun).

It seems crazy that in 2019 this is still happening with organisations, but it is and here’s why.

The Threat Of Legacy

Legacy is a powerful and sometimes debilitating thing within organisations. As a company of any size grows and evolves, it often builds its customer service and organisational structure based on what was needed at the time.

In a high paced environment, this sometimes means decisions were taken that did the job when it was needed (and probably did it fine), but as time has moved on following those same processes are now contributing to your team becoming hamstrung and inefficient. As a result customers are receiving a poor and needlessly time wasting experience.

It’s easy to understand why this is still happening too. Who has the time to reinvent the wheel when the current system is creaking but just about coping? After all, the customer service reps have got a lot of people to help following the tried and tested system. Is there a better way?

Knowledge Bases

In its simplest form, a Knowledge Base is a place to record, store and access knowledge and learnings. Sounds simplistic perhaps but each of those three components must be implemented in the correct way to make them a force for effective change at a customer service level. Let’s look at each:

1. Record

This is the part of the jigsaw that’s often overlooked the most when developing for your customer service team. It needs to be fast, easy to understand and not require multiple logins to ensure your team can record key learnings as they happen. All too often, it’s left to a development team to build this without any feedback from those on the front line.

Ensure those who do the recording are instrumental in helping design the architecture and UX for the system. Your customer service team often have to do this at speed so make sure it suits their needs.

2. Store

Storage needs to be done in a way that is safe, secure, but most importantly accessible by the whole team (not just customer service). Learnings recorded in a Knowledge Base should be considered valuable to the whole organisation so don’t let the information fester on an isolated system that’s difficult to access and siloed.

3. Access

This refers to two main types of access – external and internal. Externally, being able to show customers useful information and internally being able to show key team members and senior stakeholders insight to add value for the organization itself.

Saving Customer Service Costs

The drive toward Intelligent Self Service (ISS) looks at the ability of customers to find solutions to their problems quickly and effectively through Artificial Intelligence (AI). Underpinning this, Knowledge Bases are vital to making those systems accurate and relevant.

Every time a customer service rep successfully answers a customer query, that information and learning can be instantly recorded into the system. By using storage that is accessible for both internal stakeholders and external customers, the solution is then accessible instantly, by anyone.

The saving is clear and multifaceted. A customer with a similar question can now use the Knowledge Bases to self serve and find the answer without having to spend time getting through to the customer service team.

Knowledge Bases, done right, provide a living resource of up-to-date information that can be constantly improved and iterated. Knowledge is retained, not lost, and it allows your customer service team to focus on higher value actions rather than having to offer the same responses over and over.

Summary

There’s no doubt that embracing Knowledge Bases in this way requires an investment of time and money. A business case is required to convince the budget holders that a short term investment will lead to long term gains.

The trick is ensuring that your business case not only shows how this will benefit customers and the customer service team but how the senior stakeholders will also have an incredible amount of knowledge and data at their fingertips.

A dashboard can put the people who need to know right at the heart of the customer service experience. They can see what customers are asking, how customer service costs are being reduced through ISS and flag significant events (product launch feedback, product issues, etc) instantly.

Knowledge Bases are incredibly powerful mechanisms that can drive your business forward as part of the ISS solution.

customer service

The Rebirth Of Customer Service In 2019

How AI makes your customer service team relevant.

Customer Service has had a tough time of it. Visions of beige call centres where staff work from obvious scripts that often end up moving the caller to another queue are, unfortunately, the painfully accurate experience of many a frustrated customer.

If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to be the customer (and many of you will have), it’s not uncommon to perhaps experience one of the following scenarios:

  1. You find trying to do something that seems simple and inoffensive takes an inordinate amount of time and effort stuck in queues.
  2. The customer service person is intent on taking you through a laborious script, rather than finding out what your call is about.
  3. The rep is so siloed in what they can and cannot do, the inevitable outcome is an admittance that they need to pass you on to another team (and back in the queue you go). Sometimes, you get cut off.
  4. You’re on hold for so long that you wake up in a 4 am cold sweat with the mid-80s rock track used as hold music looping perpetually in your head.

Customer Service Is Evolving.

Customer Service is about to get sexy again. Hyperbole? Well perhaps sexy is an exaggeration (and possibly it was never sexy in its first iteration), but we’re about to enter a period where the very essence of helping your customers comes from a new DNA.

Companies who embrace this DNA and understand how solving the needs of the customer will retain business and attract new sales will leave their competitors in the dust. There is a misconception that corporate driven brand loyalty is still the overriding factor in attracting and keeping your audience but this is outdated and dangerous.

In 2019, the overriding factor is customer service and experience. Get that right, and customers will become your brand ambassadors for you through word of mouth happiness. Their experience will be your differentiator.

What Exactly Is This DNA Alchemy? Do I Need A Wand?

There are two key forces at work here – the reinvention of the customer service team and the role of Artificial Intelligence, or Intelligent Self Service. Let’s look at some recent Gartner data from 2018:

“Twenty-five per cent of customer service and support operations will integrate virtual customer assistant (VCA) or chatbot technology across engagement channels by 2020.”

Gartner, Inc 2018.

This figure will only increase as smart companies realise that the ability for AI to handle everything from the lowest hanging fruit (no need to wait in endless queues to do a basic task) to mid-level problem solving can be handled by the technology. This technology learns too. So every interaction and customer it serves efficiently and effectively not only broadens its accuracy  but gives the customer a fast, safe and positive experience.

As Gene Alvarez, Managing Vice President of Gartner says:

“A great VCA offers more than just information,” said Mr. Alvarez. “It should enrich the customer experience, help the customer throughout the interaction and process transactions on behalf of the customer.” 

Are Customer Service Reps No More?

The interesting outcome of this blended approach is that the value of your Customer Service team exponentially increases, rather than becomes redundant (which is a common misconception made by those companies who fear this evolution).

AI is moving forward, but it’s still a work in progress. Smart organisations will realise that there is now a huge opportunity to reinvent the work, and therefore the value the team brings to the organisations. This Harvard Review piece looks at the way T-Mobile have used Intelligent Self Service as a catalyst for change;

“Now the queue was dominated by the complex and varied issues that customers couldn’t solve on their own [that the AI couldn’t deal with]—a shift that started to put real stress on the company’s reps.”

Matthew Dixon, Harvard Business Review, late 2018.

T-Mobile’s customer service team, led by Callie Field, began reinventing the customer support team from the ground up. The process and results are too long to fit inside this blog (although I urge you to read the full piece), but the change from vertical rep hierarchies to supported teams has significantly changed the way T-Mobile does business. The results speak for themselves:

Customer Service

Summary

This is a golden time for Customer Service. The rise of Intelligent Self Service through technology is seen by some as a threat to the traditional jobs of the Customer Service team.

However, organisations that will succeed will understand that there is a huge opportunity in the space to reinvent the Customer Service landscape by deploying technology in areas where it can have maximum impact and offering a significantly more valuable job role for the wider team.

Customers get what they need when they need it.

There are a couple more stats you might want to consider in the new role of customer service reps from the T-Mobile example:

The company has also seen positive effects among employees, including record highs in rep engagement and record lows in turnover (from 42% annually before the rollout to 22% today).

Matthew Dixon, Harvard Business Review, late 2018.

Happier employees, smart technology, a happier customer. Pretty sexy…

Roy Shelton

4 Roads Limited Appoints New Non-Executive Director

4 Roads Limited, an Intelligent Self-Service Agency, announced today the appointment of Roy Shelton to the newly created role of Non-Executive Director.

With a successful track record of adding tangible shareholder value to organisations, focusing on growth and strategy for ScaleUp and turnaround companies, Roy will be responsible for guiding the next phase of growth at 4 Roads.

Roy has previously held posts including many CEO, Managing Director, Managing Partner and Non-Executive Director roles working with SMEs and Blue-Chip companies across the world to develop a wealth of longstanding senior relationships on a National and International basis.

Specialising in IT, fixed line and mobile telecommunication providers, local and central government departments and the Venture Capital/ Private Equity and Analyst Communities – he is a very experienced and highly respected figure within the industry, has extensive industry contacts and offers the ability to apply the team’s strengths in new ways.

Roy Shelton said: “I am delighted to be part of the exciting next phase of growth at 4 Roads. The team’s technical and creative vision around intelligent self-service communities is world class and one that has been clearly recognised by the iconic brands which they deliver innovative solutions for. Having already worked with Rob and James for the past six months, being invited to become a Non-Executive Director for the company can allow us to build on the team’s strengths with a clear and consistent vision going forward.”

Based in Stoneleigh Park, Coventry, 4 Roads Limited provides bespoke solutions alongside a range of development services. Part of the offering includes developing and implementing technologies for ‘Intelligent Self Service’ which comprises Artificial Intelligence, Voice Recognition, Knowledge Management, Online Communities and more.

Clients include Hitachi Vantara, The British Medical Association and Verint. The company was founded in response to customers wanting to improve their multi-channel online presence as well as getting closer to their audiences whether that’s customers, members, partners or employees.

Robert Nash, Founder and CEO, of 4 Roads Limited: “Roy has a successful track record of adding tangible shareholder value to technology businesses. We are excited to extend our relationship with Roy and help drive the future for 4 Roads.”

4 Roads Limited helps customers to form closer relationships with their customers through use of innovative technology. 4 Roads has extensive experience in developing intelligent self-service solutions which helps customers to resolve their enquiry or question in the most cost-effective and efficient manner; using the channel of their choice whether that be online, instore or at an event. 4 Roads Limited revolutionises the way organisations interact with their customers and partners and enable them to resolve their enquiry and provide access to invaluable insights.

smartglasses

Could Augmented Reality Give Smartglasses The Break They Need At The Opera?

Luke Briggs, Developer at 4 Roads gives his thoughts on how Smartglasses could get the break they need at the Opera.

Let’s be honest – smartglasses just haven’t caught on in the general consumer world. Few people want to have something relatively bulky and distracting all over their face. Whilst this is something that can just be put down to the technology not really being ready yet, it could also be because it’s not targeting the right market at the moment either. Maybe augmented reality in the form of smart glasses could start to gain some more traction by being used in places where overlaid information significantly improves someone’s experience, and one such place could well be the Opera.

I recently had the joy of being able to take my mum to experience La Boheme in New York. We were both first timers so neither of us had any idea of what was really happening. However, the MET Opera like many Opera houses has installed a subtitle system – a minimally invasive setup which displays translated subtitles on the rear of seats. To well versed Opera goers these systems are somewhat controversial, but to newbies and Opera-lite users they have become rather essential. The unfortunate thing is the UX of using these just isn’t great. When you’re looking at the stage, you can’t see the subtitles. When you’re looking at the subtitles, you can’t see the stage.

There’s a breathtaking scene where some 300 people are present in the stage area and the constant activity meant I didn’t look at the subtitles at all and just enjoyed it for the spectacle that it was. This separation of information made me think that overlaying the subtitles would be significantly easier – it would still have to be personal so they can be translated and not visible at all for the people who just don’t want them. That then quickly made me think of Google Glass and a quick search revealed a great piece from the Verge about exploring smartglasses at the Opera: (https://www.theverge.com/2014/6/27/5848964/a-night-at-the-opera-with-google-glass). Fortunately the project appears to be continually growing – I find it fascinating that such classic entertainment as the Opera is still subject to innovation right on the forefront of technology; I for one would certainly love to try it out!
Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Self-Service for Online Communities. Embrace the robots, but keep the humans

Artificial Intelligence is something of a buzz term around online communities right now.

The promise of a utopian community paradise where 99.9% of a community managers workload is managed by super-intelligent algorithms, leaving them free to bask in the sun of ultimate member approval and attend year-long digital nomad retreats seems within reach.

The Artificial Intelligence juggernaut is coming, and with it will come the rise of Intelligent Self-Service (ISS)

What Is Intelligent Self-Service? Is Skynet Coming For Us?!

Fear not, we aren’t facing the apocalypse just yet. Intelligent Self-Service links together a plethora of exciting emerging smart technology that is powered by an open source Artificial Intelligence engine.

At its heart, ISS takes the self-service piece into the assisted service area allowing your member to sit in the driving seat and control the journey. ISS allows your members to choose the path that is right for them.

Let’s look at some of the features of an I.S.S. ecosystem:

  • Public forums
  • Blogs
  • Knowledge base hubs
  • Chatbots
  • Automated telephony
  • Intelligent virtual assistants

If this looks exciting you’re in good company, not least because this approach lets the user select the channel of their choice whether that be online, in-store or at an event. The use of the word ecosystem is very deliberate; no matter where your customers are or how they want to get efficient, accurate and cost-effective answers they can.

Artificial Intelligence plays a crucial role in this evolving landscape. It is constantly learning from customer interactions and joining tools to become smarter and more accurate, not to mention giving 24/7 coverage.

But Proceed With Caution For Online Communities

When dealing with automated learning data at scale (you can call this Big Data if you like, but it’s really just… data) there’s a tendency for communities to be measured by grouping people together and making certain assumptions about their patterns of behaviour. There’s a balance to be struck.

Is This Valuable? Absolutely.

We swim in a world of incredible analytics that can show us, in real time, what people are doing and how they do it.

Does It Miss The Point? Occasionally.

Many communities focus on the numbers. How many members? 500 in the last week! Yay! How many active users posted in the last hour? 67%! Yay!

Did those members provide true value to the community? Erm…not sure. The data doesn’t show that exactly.

Don’t Hammer The Flowers

Artificial Intelligence is, of course, reliant on a constant supply of clean, rich data that it can process, learn from and use to make calculated decisions. But it still relies on humans to add the level of empathy and understanding which makes the user experience valuable.

The machine layer offers community strategists power – think Tony Stark’s suit in Iron Man. Used as a tool, it can liberate our time for work that demands a human touch – essential to build that human infrastructure of interconnected ecosystems.

But the Iron Man scenario only works if community professionals help drive the creation of AI – behaviourists alongside technologists to shape nuanced, contextually astute intelligences that consider where the human begins and the machine ends.

And it only works if we introduce machines at the right moments and the right contexts.
Let’s not hammer the flowers. There’s plenty of nails to hit.

Community Management expert and SWARM co-founder Vanessa Peach.

The challenge with AI is when it is considered an either/or solution for your audience. Can it take over large parts of a monotonous process, on-boarding users quicker and using machine learning to serve them answers? Of course. Can it make the user journey contextual? Absolutely. Does this cover everyone’s needs? No.

Organisations that build the most effective AI and ISS systems understand that a blended technology solution with a level of effective human input produces the most trustworthy solution for your customers, with your team able to adopt a much more strategic position in shaping the big goals, rather than slogging it out at the coalface.

Emotion AI

Emotion AI, also known as Affective Computing is the next wave of development in attempting to recognise and show human emotions to make interaction and engagement more natural. It will certainly become part of the ISS ecosystem, as 2017’s Pepper Bot example begins to show:

Summary

Embracing Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Self-Service Solutions right now will put companies firmly ahead of the curve from competitors, and vastly improve their customer’s experience. The companies that will thrive long term are those who also understand the role and value blending human interaction and strategic input has in building a successful outcome.

As a final reminder, here’s what Gary Vaynerchuk, one of the world authorities on building brands and companies, said in December 2018 about the importance of humans:

Gary V

The Rise of Intelligent Self-Service 

The rise of Intelligent Self-Service: leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots, knowledge management and more to empower customers to help themselves.

At 4 Roads, we have always helped our customers to form closer relationships with their customers through use of innovative technology. We’ve helped dozens of organisations across the globe revolutionise the way they interact with their customers, enabling them to resolve their enquiry and provide access to invaluable insights.

Since we were formed in 2004, we have witnessed first hand how self-service is becoming the first choice for consumers. After all, in todays digital age, customers want answers now, not tomorrow. That is why, over the past 12 months, we have been extending our services to include Intelligent Self-Service.

Also known as ISS, intelligent self-service solutions encompass several different technologies including chatbots, AI, online communities, knowledge management and more. Intelligent self-service helps customers resolve their enquiry or question in the most cost-effective and efficient manner, within the right context and on the channel of their choice.

During 2018, we have refined our ISS offering and are actively working with forward thinking organisations who are investing in self-service channels and looking to seamlessly integrate them into the user journey. Check out how we created a bespoke self-service platform, featuring artificial intelligence and chatbots for Hitachi Vantara.

Our opinion piece on The Drum, is perfect for more information on what Intelligent Self-Service (ISS) is. The article explains the fundamentals of ISS and how it can be implemented to truly benefit your company. Read the full article here to learn about intelligent self-service.

As premium members of The Drum, 4 Roads are collaborating with them in order to share our expertise with the wider industry by creating insightful and engaging content. Do let us know if there’s a particular topic you’d like us to cover in the comments. 

Also, check out the News and Insights on the 4 Roads blog to see what we’re up too and delve into our previous work here.

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