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Exclusive: AI in Customer Service: How to Enrich Your Customer Experience

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AI in Customer Service: How to Enrich Your Customer Experience

#Customer #Service #Enrich #Customer #Experience

Exceptional customer service is an absolute must today. 

For a company, however, it often involves a lot of struggle. Hiring and training support agents, buying expensive tools, working shifts – the list goes on. But don’t worry, there is a solution!

Using AI in customer service can easily solve all of these concerns. AI can be an incredible helper in improving your support without sacrificing too many resources. 

AI in customer service

Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence produced and demonstrated by machines and computers rather than human brains. AI comes in all shapes and sizes.

Typically, AI is of two types: narrow AI and general AI. Narrow AI is what we see in computers and smartphones in our daily lives. They’re intelligent systems that perform specific tasks without necessarily being programmed. 

Examples of narrow AI are speech and voice recognition systems like Siri or Alexa, vision recognition systems in self-driving cars, medical AI scanning MRI results, and so on. General AI, on the other hand, is something we see more often in movies, the kind of AI that can learn on its own to do whatever tasks humans can do.

Narrow AI has a broader application in customer service. It supports customers by guiding them and answering any questions or requests throughout their journey. Additionally, it manifests in the form of customer support chatbots, customer self-service, machine learning to analyze customer data, natural language processing for voice recognition and support, and many other potential use cases.

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AI in customer service is not that new. In fact, the very first chatbot (“chatterbot” as it was known) called ELIZA was developed in the mid-1960s. It was a psychologically intelligent assistant that helped doctors diagnose and treat patients. 

The first commercial bots appeared just as the internet became a big thing. No longer purely “call” centers, contact centers introduced new ways of text communication. In the 1990s, the first true customer service revolution happened, and customers were inspired to talk to brands and businesses in entirely new ways.

How is AI used in customer service?

AI is a great tool for most support teams to provide exceptional customer service. Chatbots undertake various activities, from reminding customers to revisit their shopping carts to collecting feedback and asking them to write reviews. AI in customer service means 24/7 availability around the globe in any language, which inevitably attracts new customers and increases customer satisfaction.

AI can also work hand-in-hand with human support agents, replacing them in solving basic tasks while allowing them to focus on more complex cases. AI solutions like chatbots easily recognize the voice triggers and provide relevant information and guidance without human agents.

Another way AI incorporates into customer service is through data collection and analysis. The amount of data generated by customer communications is vast and can provide valuable insights into customer behavior, preferences, churn rate, and more.

Thanks to AI, you don’t need to analyze the data and draw conclusions from it manually. AI can also help gain a comprehensive understanding of customer intelligence, interaction intelligence, and conversational intelligence.

At this point, it’s obvious that all kinds of AI are widely used in customer service. However, how exactly can they help improve customer experience and satisfaction? What are the most compelling benefits of incorporating artificial intelligence?

Let’s find out.

How can AI improve customer service?

AI solutions can do a lot for customer service. They’re powerful tools that can help with virtually any daily task a human support agent performs.

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Here are some ways AI can benefit customer service:

Source: Tidio

Improves lead generation

AI makes the buying process smooth, which unsurprisingly leads to more successful purchases. For example, AI makes it easy to analyze browsing history on company websites to determine what customers are looking for and guide them to what they need. 

It also facilitates proactive support, allowing businesses to quickly identify customer issues before customers even know they have them. This type of approach inevitably makes lead generation seamless.

“AI within customer service serves as a channel to identify common trends and pain points for users. Rather than helping a customer one by one, we can now have hundreds of conversations simultaneously.

 

The expansion of data collection and customer touchpoints allows companies to get more insight into the customer experience than ever before.

 

With more and more personalized data, companies can now optimize entire businesses, from products and services to email templates and social media posts.”

 

– Tony Do, Marketing Manager, Hubspot

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Streamlines workflows

As mentioned above, AI in customer service makes human agents’ work much smoother by solving fundamental problems while support agents focus on complicated cases that require human knowledge, empathy, and attention. 

You can rely on your AI chatbot to take care of general inquiries. Chatbots monitor customer activity and can provide answers to frequently asked questions, help with abandoned cart recovery, offer assistance during the checkout process, and more. Even if a chatbot cannot solve an issue, it can easily transfer a customer to a human agent.

Facilitates stellar customer service

As artificial intelligence becomes more advanced, customer service bots are becoming exceptionally fast learners. An AI bot can collect relevant data about customers and improve customer satisfaction, resulting in better customer service. Personalized and targeted support, fast response times, 24/7 availability, and multilingual support are some of the things that improve customer experience and bring new levels of customer loyalty.

Saves budget

Using AI in customer service is cheaper than hiring customer service representatives as your business grows. You can even use free AI solutions for mundane tasks. Chatbot pricing varies from tool to tool, and every business can find its optimal solution. All in all, AI usually doesn’t require a large initial investment if you plan to use it for customer service. However, the savings can be quite substantial.

Prevents employee burnout

Human account managers can’t always be at their desks. Working in shifts and having too many people to cover every hour is costly. On the other hand, understaffing can lead to fatigue, burnout, and other problems in the team. So, what’s the optimal solution?

AI customer support can continuously work to support and replace human teams as needed. That doesn’t mean chatbots can completely replace employees. It simply means that AI can help employees solve simple tasks and provide them with a good work-life balance.

Examples of AI in customer service 

AI is mostly associated with chatbots in customer service. Undoubtedly, chatbots make up a large part of the market as they offer diverse support. However, there’s always more to discover when it comes to AI in customer service.

examples of ai in customer serviceSource: Tidio

Chatbots

AI-powered customer service chatbots are computer software that mimics human conversations over chats to facilitate customer support. A chatbot can do a lot for a business. It engages website visitors, improves lead generation, answers frequently asked questions, and more.

Chatbots are available 24/7, answer questions in real time, and speak numerous languages. Even better, most chatbot setups don’t require any coding knowledge. Chatbot design isn’t rocket science these days, so it’s definitely worth trying.

Self-service 

Self-service powered by AI helps customers solve problems, complete purchases, or navigate a website without asking human agents for help. Modern customers are busy and picky, preferring to solve their problems quickly and independently. AI in customer service can do just that.

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Natural language processing (NLP)

Natural language processing is another widespread tool customer service teams use. It can be deployed in chatbots, phone calls, voice requests, emails, and pretty much anywhere you want people to write or say something. 

NLP transcribes communications across different channels and analyzes the data to improve customer experience. It saves companies a lot of time and financial resources in data collection and analysis.

AI training

AI in customer service not only helps customers but also enables collaboration between employees. Human account managers can benefit from sustained and ongoing training to further develop their skills. In fact, AI can provide such training, at least in part. 

AI can become an actual employee training expert, simulating thousands of situations that may arise while communicating with customers and assessing employees’ ability to solve these problems.

Machine learning

Machine learning is now an indispensable part of practically every corporate development. It’s an essential mechanism for analyzing large data streams and deriving valuable insights. Machine learning empowers human agents by analyzing thousands of conversations and predicting common questions and possible answers when it comes to customer support.

Machine learning also enables chatbots and similar tools to improve responsiveness and solve problems based on the results of previous conversations, enhancing customer experience.

FAQs about AI in customer service

Integrating AI into your customer service can be a little daunting. But if you know the basics, you can ensure success right from the start. Let’s look at some common concerns surrounding AI in customer service.

How is AI changing customer service?

AI is transforming customer service in every way imaginable. The way we interact with customers today is very different from what we did years ago. The processes are much faster, simpler, and more efficient.

Customers expect exceptional treatment and an outstanding experience – the need satisfied through AI. It reduces waiting times, answers all inquiries and questions in real time, recommends relevant products, and handles complaints.

Is AI in customer service expensive?

Short answer: it depends. However, the range of AI tools is so large that every company finds something for their wallet. As mentioned earlier, many AI tools, including chatbots, AI training, or NLP solutions, are available for free.

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Many only have free trial periods; others are freemium solutions. Businesses generally don’t require a huge initial investment. You can customize how you spend money on customer service AI to suit your unique needs.

What do you need to set up AI for customer service?

The good news is that many AI solutions like chatbots can be added to your website quite quickly. It may sound unbelievable, but you need to follow only a few steps to set up AI in your customer service. 

  • First, you need to determine the primary purpose of your AI solution. Will it answer your customers’ questions with a chatbot? Analyze data with machine learning or NLP? 
  • Next, you need to choose the primary channels. For chatbots, for example, there is a whole range of options: website, social media, messengers, mobile applications, and more. Choose a specific tool that suits your needs. 
  • Finally, adapt your solution to your needs. Train it, test it, and see if it’s right for your business.

What are the risks of using AI in customer service?

The risks depend on your business’ specifics, the purpose of using AI, your customers, and many other factors. Simply put, common concerns revolve around potential privacy issues, maintenance of AI solutions, and tool limitations.

However, technology is evolving every day, and the risks are becoming less and less significant. If you feel that a particular tool isn’t worth it, you can always switch to another or a completely different solution.

Key takeaways 

AI can be an extremely powerful tool in customer service, but only if used properly. If you choose to go intelligent, here’s a quick recap of things to keep top of mind.

  • AI in customer service is now more than a buzzword – it’s becoming a must-have. AI can be in the form of customer support chatbots, customer self-service, machine learning to analyze customer data, natural language processing for speech recognition and support, and many other potential use cases.
  • AI has diverse applications in customer service, from answering customer questions and inquiries to collecting and analyzing data and transcribing text and speech for insights.
  • Setting up AI for support pays off. It improves lead generation, streamlines workflows, delivers a great customer experience, saves costs, and prevents burnout, among other things.

It’s pretty obvious at this point that AI is here to stay in customer service. It’s practical, revolutionary, and doesn’t require a large initial investment. Additionally, the number of tools on the market today is overwhelming, and every business can find something to suit their needs.

All in all, using AI in customer service is becoming a gold standard for businesses, and it’s high time to consider it. 

Want to find out more about AI-powered software that’ll do wonders for your customer service? Learn what intelligent virtual assistants are and how they improve customer service.


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Exclusive: Juul can keep selling vaping products in the US for now – TalkOfNews.com

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Juul can keep selling vaping products in the US for now

#Juul #selling #vaping #products

A federal appeals court froze the FDA’s ban on Juul products Friday after the company sought an emergency administrative stay. On Thursday, the U.S. regulator took sweeping action against the e-cigarette maker, effectively killing its access to the U.S. market.

The temporary stay will be in place essentially to buy time until the case can properly be heard by the court, though it “should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits,” according to the court documents.

The FDA took action against Juul after the company failed to provide adequate evidence that its products were safe enough alternatives to smoking. The regulatory agency said that Juul’s documentation left it with “significant questions.”

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Juul is considering filing for bankruptcy if it can’t get the FDA’s order reversed.

Following the FDA order, Juul’s chief regulatory officer Joe Murillo said that the company would pursue a stay and planned to appeal the regulator’s decision.

“In our applications, which we submitted over two years ago, we believe that we appropriately characterized the toxicological profile of JUUL products, including comparisons to combustible cigarettes and other vapor products, and believe this data, along with the totality of the evidence, meets the statutory standard of being ‘appropriate for the protection of the public health,’” Murillo said.

Juul rivals Reynolds American and NJOY Holdings will continue to sell their own vape products in the U.S. after previously receiving the FDA authorization that Juul itself failed to secure.

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Exclusive: Roe v. Wade's demise forces companies to grapple with health care plans, employee privacy and more – TalkOfNews.com

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Roe v. Wade's demise forces companies to grapple with health care plans, employee privacy and more

#Roe #Wade039s #demise #forces #companies #grapple #health #care #plans #employee #privacy

Pro-choice activists are seen outside of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC on June 15, 2022.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

The challenges posed by the end of Roe v. Wade are only just beginning for corporate America.

By overturning the abortion precedent Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court set off a series of fresh difficulties for companies that must now navigate a country divided between states that will permit the procedure and others that will outlaw it.

One of those issues for companies is deciding if — and how — to provide abortion access to millions of employees who live in states where the procedures are no longer legal.

“Every major organization has health coverage,” said Maurice Schweitzer, a professor for the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. “The question is going to be what’s covered? Is travel for an abortion out of state covered if you’re operating in a state that prohibits abortion?”

Some of the country’s large employers, including Apple, CVS Health, and Disney, reiterated that the companies cover travel to states that allow abortions. Others, such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, rushed to update their medical benefits. Several prominent business leaders went a step further, condemning the end of 50 years of federal abortion rights.

Still many others declined to comment or said they are still reviewing plans.

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The Supreme Court decision will have implications in the corporate world that stretch far beyond employers’ health benefits and influence where companies locate headquarters and offices, which lawmakers and political action committees they donate to and how they communicate with employees, customers and investors.

Over the years, certain companies have chosen to take a stand on polarizing issues, including the Black Lives Matter movement after the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, by a police officer and Florida’s HB 1557 law, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

The Supreme Court decision will likely force companies’ hand and make it hard for business leaders to stay silent, Schweitzer said. With those decisions, he said, companies could risk a lawsuit, run afoul of politicians and draw backlash from customers or employees.

“This is going to be an additional challenge for executives,” he said.

For companies that decide to cover abortion care in other states, it will raise new questions including how to reimburse travel expenses and protect employee privacy.

Expanding employee benefits

Some companies such as Netflix, Microsoft and Google’s parent company Alphabet already have health care policies that include abortion and travel benefits, but others are catching up.

JPMorgan Chase told employees in a memo that it will expand its medical benefits to include travel coverage starting in July. Under Armour said it will add a travel benefit to its medical plans. Dick’s CEO, Lauren Hobart, shared on LinkedIn that employees, their spouses and dependents will get up to $4,000 in travel reimbursement if they live in an area that restricts access.

Warner Bros. Discovery also reached out to its employees after the ruling was announced Friday.

“We recognize that the issue of abortion can evoke a variety of emotions and responses which are different for each of us based on our experiences and beliefs,” Adria Alpert Romm, chief people and culture officer, wrote in a memo to employees obtained by CNBC. “We are here to support you.”

Romm said the company is expanding its health care benefits to include expenses for employees and their covered family who need to travel to access a range of medical procedures, including care for abortions, family planning and reproductive health.

Amazon and other companies added travel reimbursement earlier this year as state governments in the Sunbelt passed laws that shuttered abortion clinics or limited access in other ways.

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But how companies react over time will vary and could include removing abortion coverage from health plans, or offering indirect assistance such as paid time off or contributions to a health savings account that could be used for travel-related expenses to receive care in another state.

Nearly 30% of organizations said they would increase support within an employee assistance program for reproductive care in a post-Roe world, according to a survey of more than 1,000 human resources professionals for the Society for Human Resource Management. The survey was conducted from May 24 to June 7.

About a third cited paid time off as the top resource provided to support reproductive care, and 14% said they would include the topic of reproductive rights in their diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

Nearly a quarter of organizations said that offering a health savings account to cover travel for reproductive care in another state will enhance their ability to compete for talent. 

Businesses taking a stand

Even before the Supreme Court decision, companies were under pressure to step into the abortion debate — or at least articulate how abortion limits and bans could affect their businesses.

Companies have long used their economic power to influence political policy. In 2019, when Georgia legislators sought to ban almost all abortions, Hollywood used the threat of production boycotts in the state to make clear its opinions about politics.

Still, in the wake of the pandemic, studios have been slower to react to new laws that traditionally they might have opposed. Production shutdowns are no longer a luxury the Hollywood can afford, especially as it seeks to keep up with demand for new content.

Disney is coming off a recent battle over a hot-button cultural issue. The company publicly opposed Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, after its employees demanded the company take action. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Florida’s Republican-led legislature revoked the company’s special district in the state, which is home to Walt Disney World and other resorts, in a move it said was not retaliatory.

In a memo to employees Friday, Disney said it “remains committed to removing barriers and providing comprehensive access to quality and affordable care for all” employees. Disney, which already has pre-existing travel benefits that allow its employees who are unable to access care in their current location to seek out medical care for cancer treatments, transplants, rare disease treatment and family planning, which includes pregnancy-related decisions.

As individual states decide whether to maintain abortion rights or block them, legislatures may be faced with backlash from companies and influential business leaders. This could include boycotts, a loss of political donations or inform decisions about where to place headquarters, distribution centers or new facilities.

“Overturning Roe v Wade is a devastating decision by the U.S. Supreme Court,” billionaire and business mogul Richard Branson wrote in a statement. “This will not reduce abortions, it will just make them unsafe. Reproductive rights are human rights. We must all stand up for choice.”

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Branson was among the companies and business leaders who slammed Supreme Court’s decision.

“This ruling puts women’s health in jeopardy, denies them their human rights, and threatens to dismantle the progress we’ve made toward gender equality in the workplaces since Roe,” said Jeremy Stoppelman, co-founder and CEO of Yelp. “Business leaders must step up to support the health and safety of their employees by speaking out against the wave of abortion bans that will be triggered as a result of this decision, and call on Congress to codify Roe into law.”

Investors in publicly held companies could have a major influence on how responses to the new ruling are crafted.

At a Walmart shareholders meeting earlier this month, an investor called on the country’s largest private employer to publish a report on the potential risks and costs to the company of state policies that restrict reproductive health care, and any plans the company has to mitigate those risks. The proposal, which is nonbinding, was opposed by the retailer and did not receive support from the majority of shareholders.

Similar proposals could come up at other companies’ shareholder meetings in the near future. Analysts could also probe executives during upcoming earnings calls.

Walmart is based in Arkansas, a state that already has a law on the books to trigger a ban. The company declined to comment on Friday when asked if it will cover travel expenses to states that allow abortions. It already pays for travel to hospitals and medical centers for other kinds of medical procedures, such as spine surgery and certain heart procedures.

Wharton’s Schweitzer said employees and customers increasingly expect more from companies and want to join or spend money with those that mirror their values.

The corporate world has led the way in some cases, with companies turning Juneteeth into a company holiday before it became a federal one. Some companies, such as Unilever-owned Ben & Jerry’s and CEOs, such as Levi Strauss & Co.’s Chip Bergh have become known for speaking out.

“There’s been a growing trend for executives to become more involved, more engaged in social and political issues,” he said. “This is going to increase that trend where we’re going to see many executives speak out, many executives lead on this issue, and it’s going to normalize the idea that executives are part of the political process.”

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Exclusive: Leading With Transparency in Times of Uncertainty – TalkOfNews.com

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Leading With Transparency in Times of Uncertainty

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

While not a new concept, the importance of transparency in the workplace took on more urgency during the pandemic as our daily lives, including our work environment, were upended. Worldwide, both within the workplace and outside of it, uncertainty became the norm rather than the exception across many influential sectors: geopolitical, natural and business. And there are no signs of things calming down anytime soon.

In a volatile climate, organizational transparency becomes more essential to your business success. As your employees cope — or attempt to cope — with constant upheaval and uncertainty, helping to foster stability toward mental health is of prime importance. Any reassurances you can offer your teams will go a long way in stabilizing their anxiety levels, at least regarding the workplace since external factors are most likely beyond your control.

Ask yourself: If your management team is not leading with transparency, what is your response to the uncertainty? Are you then leading with opaqueness? What does that mean for our employees?

Related: Six Strategies To Navigate Through Uncertainty

Transparency vs. opaqueness

Transparency facilitates a more open, less hierarchical approach to management and a culture that tilts toward learning and innovation. It assumes that data and information will be of value to people. A culture of transparency helps to decentralize information, and with the right information, we’ve witnessed individuals become leaders.

The more employees connect to your company’s overall business objectives, the more room is given for inspiration to arrive. Transparency allows for ownership and alignment, enabling the business to unlock growth. In addition, it encourages individuals to take ownership of problems and mistakes, solutions and their departments. It discourages finger-pointing. It is evidence of mutual respect between the organization and its employees.

In this environment, employees stay connected to what is happening within the organization and don’t have to spend valuable time questioning the company’s direction or plans. If a problem develops, the focus stays on solving the problem versus spiraling into a perceived cover-up and becoming part of the subsequent rumor mill churn.

Organizations led by transparency foster a culture that acknowledges we don’t have all the answers and are learning together as the business grows.

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Related: Five Actions Leaders Should Take In Times Of Uncertainty

On the flip side, opaqueness assumes hierarchy. The lack of transparency permeates the organization, causing silos and territorial fiefdoms. Opaqueness facilitates a culture that guards information and knowledge and instructs people what to do instead of providing opportunities to lead. There’s no ownership by employees. There’s the leadership team and everyone else.

Here are some tactics your organization can leverage to foster a culture of transparency.

  • Document your vision, strategy and goals. Openly state these north stars, even sharing them externally, instead of having people guess or make them up for you. This level of visibility will ensure the alignment of your go-to-market strategy with your vision, mission and goals.
  • Share internally how the business is meeting its goals. Measure how the business is performing monthly or quarterly against a transparent plan that you’ve put in place. Share OKR (objectives and key results) reporting of how the company is performing. Use this information to foster a culture of learning. At PandaDoc, we understand that some of these OKRs will fail, but we let everyone know it’s okay as long as we learn from our mistakes.
  • Regularly schedule all-hands meetings. Implement these meetings at the company and at departmental levels. Schedule “ask me anything” meets with leaders so employees can voice their questions or concerns. PandaDoc’s all-hands have a cadence to them. We publish a calendar of what we’re going to discuss; for example, a monthly or quarterly business review, an OKR review, show and tell and what’s happening in various departments. We also structure time to talk about things happening in the world that impact us.
  • Schedule sprint reviews. Have departments share their accomplishments within a designated time — for example, over the past month. Record and post these on your company website so everyone in the company has the opportunity to view them. At PandaDoc, we invite our entire company to join our weekly product and engineering sprint reviews.
  • Create a culture where your employees feel safe. Not every employee feels confident enough to ask leadership-related questions during an all-hands meeting. Provide structured ways to encourage the questions. Let your employees know that they can have one of their co-workers ask the question on their behalf. It’s a simple way of letting your employees know that you have their back, and it provides a way for all employees to have their concerns addressed.
  • Take note of what other companies are doing. Software developer GitHub, for example, is implementing some innovative ways to promote transparency. Two that come to mind: They publicly expose their employee onboarding and offer a two-week CEO shadowing opportunity for employees.
  • Understand that you don’t have to share everything in real-time. You might not want to share a new development in real time; some may require a well-thought-out plan. But you do want to get in front of the rumor mill before your employees start to have that nagging feeling that something is wrong. And definitely, before the information is available on the internet. Share as quickly as possible what’s happening, and what the plan is so your employees can decide their next steps. Sharing this information helps cultivate mutual respect.

As you think about leading with transparency, it’s critical to note that your business is already transparent, even if you don’t want it to be. There’s no point in hiding negative information. It’s going to come out. And you don’t want the information shared on Twitter before you’ve shared it with your employees. A better business practice is to embrace and lead with transparency to foster a more positive working environment for everyone.

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