Category Archives: Customer Experience

Posted on Tue, Mar 19, 2019 @ 9:42 am

Good blockchain ideas don’t take off because of the most critical blockchain adoption challenge i.e bringing the blockchain business network together. IBM is leading the way in solving this challenge by bringing well-established enterprises and budding entrepreneurs together trying to build a minimum viable ecosystem needed for blockchain solutions. IBM Blockchain platform is the foundation on which these business networks are built on.

The N/W we will build in this guide

Powered by Hyperledger, IBM Blockchain Platform with its value add tools greatly ease the technicalities in establishing and operationalizing your blockchain network.

IBM Blockchain platform Technical Brief (source)

This post assumes some understanding of Blockchain and Hyperledger Fabric. Please listen to this webinar that OFS co-hosted with IBM Introducing blockchain and IBM Blockchain Platform with a demo

IBM Blockchain Platform 2.0 Beta

Early February’19 IBM unveiled the IBM Blockchain Platform 2.0 for free Beta. This release packages the following powerful features

  1. Greater deployment flexibility backed by Kubernetes cluster that you manage
  2. Multi-cloud blockchain network bringing true decentralization in where you run your nodes
  3. Dev tools integration with VS Code extension

In this post, we will see how to quickly set up a Blockchain network with two organizations in 10 simple steps.

What are we setting up?

Blockchain N/W model

If you prefer a video walkthrough of the entire setup process, please listen to this — takes 30 mins. In fact, I recommend you to do that. The remainder of this post is the abstraction of the video content. I am linking the steps to the video so that you can jump to sections of interest

Step 1: Launch your own Blockchain Instance

After you log in to IBM cloud, Blockchain Platform 2.0 will be available in the database section — start there.

Blockchain Platform 2.0

following the wizard should land you here

IBM Blockchain Platform 2.0 Console

Step 2: Create a Certificate Authority

A certificate authority is a mandatory component of your IBP network. You will need a certificate authority per MSP(Organization in the network).

Add a CA to be used by your MSP

Register users

Make sure you register two types of identities when you create the certificate authority

1.A user of type “peer” whose certificates your peers will use to communicate

2.A user of type “client” the certificate that will be used for administration

Step 3: Setup MSP

MSPs are the organizations in the network. Register your organizations and choose the certificate authority.

The organization admin should be the identity that you registered of type “client”. Enroll the identity.

Set up MSP

Enrolled ids will show up in the wallet

Pay attention to the fact that the Wallet here is ephemeral so you have to re-enroll your identities if don’t see them here, so take a back of the keys.

Enrolled Identities in Wallet

Step 4: Add Peers

Add peers and associate identity

Use the account of the type “peer” for Peer enroll id.Use CA admin for TLS.Use the account of type “client” when asked to associate identity

Peer detail view

Step 5: Add Orderer

Orderer is a key service acting as an orchestrator of the network broadcasting transactions between various peers in the network.

The configuration of the orderer is similar to that of peer configuration the orderer is usually one per organization, however, one has the flexibility to create more than one orderer when necessary.

Step 6: Create your Consortium

A consortium is your business network. You should attach your consortium to the orderer

Establish a network of organisations

Step 7: Set up a channel

Channels are created leveraging the foundational elements we established so far, channels are really a subnet of communication between two or more specific network members.

Create a channel

Please note that the newly created channel will not be listed until a peer is added to the channeleven if it is successfully added.

Step 8: Add Peers to Channel

Launch your peer and join a channel

You should know the name of the channel to add your peer to the channel

The Genesis Block

Step 9: Install and Instantiate Chaincode

Once the channel is established you can deploy smart contracts to the channel. Smart contracts are chain codes which are usually written in Javascript or GoLang

Install your Chaincode
The type of package accepted by the console is cds. The VScode plugin for IBM blockchain makes is very easy to create a cds package

Instantiate smart contract

Step 10: Your Blockchain network is ready. Rock On!!!

Up on successful installation of the smart contract, you can instantiate them. With that step, your very own IBP v2 Network is ready for consumption.

Rock On!!!

Kubernetes Dashboard

Kubernetes Pods Deployed for our N/W

Hope you found this guide helpful. Please share your comments. Thank you.

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to replace any official documentation from IBM for IBM Blockchain Platform. Also, note that the IBM Blockchain platform 2.0 is in Beta at the time of preparing this documentation, instructions might change as the platform progreses to GA

About the Author


Ganeshram Ramamurthy is ObjectFrontier’s technical director and heads technology for presales. For many years, Ganesh has been designing and developing enterprise applications across various domains. He has a keen interest in emerging technologies and is now spearheading blockchain initiatives at OFS.



Posted on Thu, Oct 26, 2017 @ 7:33 am

Post-Sales Use Cases

Make no doubt, customer service is the reason a customer decides to stay with your business or look for a new solution. After the sales cycle is complete and the service organization has finished its delivery, the face of a company to its customers is the customer support team.  The level of support provided is how customers measure the value of a company to them, not by the solutions alone. Customer service is one of the few groups that can single-handedly define a positive or negative Net Promoter Score (NPS), which, in a growing competitive global economy, can make or break a business all on its own. In addition to affecting NPS, the data collected by a customer service team can have other profound impacts on a business.

In this post, we’ll focus on how chatbots can help customer service teams collect important data on customers while significantly improving service and satisfaction.

Many leaders overlook the significance of the valuable insights they can gain from their customer service teams. Think about it: When someone calls into a customer service center, the CSR can learn a wealth of information about that person and about the solutions he or she uses:

  • What parts of a solution are and are not being used
  • What the customer finds easy or difficult to use or understand
  • How well the solution was or was not installed
  • How well the customer was or was not trained to use the solution

Let’s not forget about opportunities to educate, upsell, resell, retain, and upgrade those customers!

A lot can be learned from what customers say when they call into a customer service center, but only if their information can be tracked, counted, analyzed and reported on a regular basis. Traditional call centers often miss this opportunity and do not capture why customers are calling, because the system relies on employees to accurately record and categorize each call. The other issue is that call center employee success is almost never measured on the data they collect, but rather on the number of calls they answer and close in a specific period of time.

“Press 1 to leave a message, or hold and your call will be answered in the order in which it was received.”

How many of us have heard this recording at some point in the past 5 days, and how many of us have given a negative score on a customer service satisfaction survey because of it? Call centers are becoming more of a nuisance, both for a company and its customers. Often, call centers are a huge cost due to the sheer number of personnel required to achieve short hold times and global coverage, and they usually don’t improve NPS.

Specialized resource availability and scheduling is a constant headache, and the right person seems to never be available to help a customer when he or she calls. So, a message is taken, and the customer is told the following: “We will call you back when the right person is available.”  But, the customer needs help now!

There is another issue here: The organization has completely lost track of that customer, what the customer needed, and why the customer called, leaving it blind to their needs. Combine that one customer with the needs of all other customers that call, and major opportunities are missed.

We live in a world where we instantly access global information in the palms of our hands, have same-day shipping and online check depositing. It’s no surprise that as customers, we expect immediate, self-service access to the tools we need to get things done now. In addition, organizations are realizing how much they are missing by not capturing and tracking information about each support call and interaction. Because of these trends, chatbots are becoming a more permanent fixture in the realm of customer service.

Where are chatbots used in customer support?

Voice and chatbot use cases are expanding rapidly in the areas of online, in-app help systems and level 1 customer support. Customer support departments are using chatbots to either completely answer a customer’s question or to gather all of the appropriate information from a customer and pass on that information to an appropriate level 2 support technician.

How do I reset my password? How do I use this feature? How do I complete, change, and/or check the status of my order? 

These sorts of direct inquiries are the best use for a chatbot, especially when they make up 80% of a call center’s call volume. A chatbot can instantly answer these questions with more clear, consistent, and complete responses than a call center agent:

“I see you want to understand how to use feature ABC, so here is a video in your local language that can help.”

“I see you are trying to figure out how to print, so here are a few knowledge base articles and discussion threads that have helped others with the same question.”

What’s even better? The chatbot can ask customers if the solutions provided worked. If not, customers can choose to use the chatbot again, or to be transferred to a human (complete with the initial inquiry) to continue a real-time troubleshooting online chat session. Some chatbots even connect to backend systems and can perform certain tasks for a customer, such as resetting passwords, unlocking accounts, or creating a service request or work order.

From the customers’ perspective, the whole point is being able to ask for and get help in real time 24×7, instead of waiting for the call center to open, sit through a decision tree, only to be put on hold for an available service rep who doesn’t know how to help them anyway. From an organizational and NPS perspective, a major added benefit is that each chatbot exchange can be logged, analyzed, and recorded. When analytics and machine learning are applied to this transactional data, you can gain many insights on your customers’ habits, needs and challenges.

Chatbots can provide a wealth of knowledge to a wide range of teams within a business that call centers simply cannot. Consider teams like sales, marketing, product management, engineering, and user experience. These teams can benefit greatly from the insights chatbots obtain through the data they collect. Sales and marketing can use this information to aid in product positioning. Perhaps a product was intended to solve problem x, but customers are using it to solve problem y. You constantly should evaluate and adjust your value propositions, understanding that the problems your customers ask you to solve also can assist in homing in on the perfect wording.

Product management organizations benefit in a huge way from the insights they gain from chatbots collecting conversations with customers.

“Why can’t I find a report I need?”

“Does the system allow me to perform this function?”

“How can I use the system to complete this task?”

These questions are music to product managers’ ears, because they can use these questions to help them define and prioritize their ever-growing backlog of feature requests and defect fixes. Questions like these also can provide intelligence on what your competition is doing that your solution may not be doing.

When thinking about improving user experience, chatbots can be extremely helpful in providing insights. If customers constantly are asking how to complete a task or where to find a feature, it might be time to look at the UX surrounding those questions. Perhaps there is a confusing workflow, or a feature is hidden deep inside a menu or web page.  Perhaps a new defect was introduced in the last release that is causing heartburn for a specific group of users performing a specific task. The engineering team can monitor for this situation and proactively release fixes for the defect before customers get too frustrated.

Customer service is the key to high customer retention, NPS scores, and ultimately revenue and EBIT. In a world where instant gratification and access to information is expected by all users and customers, a properly implemented chatbot solution is an essential component to enabling this success.

Are you trying to get started on implementing a chatbot solution to optimize your customer support model? Contact us here to set up a time to talk with us about your questions, ideas and interest in implementing chatbots to transform your customer support model.

About the Author

Joel Sarapin has more than 15 years of sales and business development experience in the software engineering industry. Currently, he is OFS’s VP of Sales responsible for new client acquisition, and he also manages several key strategic accounts around the United States. Joel holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts (Amherst).


Posted on Thu, Oct 19, 2017 @ 9:00 am

From the first inquiry about a product to searching for a solution or logging a service ticket, chatbots assist a customer in real time to ensure they receive what they need when they need it. Whether customers call with a question or want to chat via instant messaging, businesses are using bots to provide real-time, useful information to their customers when they need it. Because of their versatility, bots are used to assist customers throughout the customer journey, including both pre- and post-sale activities.

In this post, we’ll focus on what a chatbot is, and how chatbots can assist with pre-sales activities.

What is a chatbot anyway? 

A chatbot is a computer program designed to simulate a conversation with humans.

How do they work?

Some chatbots use sophisticated natural language processing systems to communicate with the user and simulate a human conversation. Other, simpler systems scan for keywords in what the user types and look up a reply based on certain keywords, using a knowledge base or another database. Some chatbot logic even can improve its own results by altering its searching algorithms based on customer scoring: “Did this article help you?”

Where are chatbots used in pre-sales?

Chatbots are typically used in two different situations: pre-sales and post-sales. In pre-sales situations, potential customers can ask the chatbot which solution is best for them, and through a simulated conversation, chatbots and customers will narrow down the list of possible solutions to just a few, or ideally, just one.

Pre-Sales Use Cases

“We use a web form to gather information about our customers, but not too many customers fill it out.”

“We have called 100 customers, but we have been able to create leads for only 4 or 5% of them.”

“Which products are our customers interested in, and what questions do they typically have about them?”

Sound familiar? These statements are spoken often by marketing and sales professionals responsible for lead generation and qualification.

Imagine you’re a customer entering a search term into your favorite search engine, ending up on a website, and being presented with two or three possible products.  What happens today if you have a question?  You may be asked to fill out a form, and then you’re told someone will contact you soon.  The first thought that runs through your mind is “I’m going to be spammed if I fill this out,” and then you leave the site to go to a competitor.

Voice and chatbots can be used in these situations to assist customers in real-time before they even purchase a product. Potential customers can have a simulated conversation with a bot to determine which product is best for them. Each time the customer answers specific questions, those answers can be recorded and added to a CRM solution as a lead that is already qualified. Imagine an inside or field sales rep opening up a new lead in a CRM solution and seeing not only the customer contact information, but also a list of products that might fit his or her needs, and possibly a complete transcript of a conversation.

When SaaS or other subscription-based products are sold, bots can assist in customer acquisition as well. Inside and field sales channels are, by definition, relatively expensive channels for selling SaaS and subscription-based products.  Base salaries, commissions, office space, and all other personnel related costs quickly eat away at probability and EBIT of a small monthly subscription to a service or product. Chatbots essentially can eliminate those costs by assisting a customer through the entire process from the initial inquiry all the way through the entire order to cash process.  The benefits of this process become clear quickly, customers get instant access to the products they need, and organizations reduce their cost of sales and increase customer satisfaction at the same time.

To learn how chatbots can help you grow business and satisfaction from customers after the sale is made, check out the second blog in our series, The Rise of the Bots, Part 2: Chatbots Enable Customer Support to Grow Your Business, Not Lose It.

About the Author


Joel Sarapin has more than 15 years of sales and business development experience in the software engineering industry. Currently, he is OFS’s VP of Sales responsible for new client acquisition, and he also manages several key strategic accounts around the United States. Joel holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts (Amherst).