Most organisations are dealing with rapidly evolving and growing technology landscapes and voice architecture plays a big part in this. Call Recording solutions have been around for years, it’s an established technology and many organisations are now on their second, third, fourth or even fifth generation voice recording solution – and therein lies the problem.
When it comes to managing a large call recording estate, the waters have become muddied. Heads of IT are having to deal with call recording systems that span multiple product versions with multiple capture protocols, from multiple vendors (e.g. NICE call recording, Verint or Redbox Recorders) and often in multiple regions – too many multiples to run an efficient operation! Complicated by years of M&A and ‘upgrades’, these are often outmoded and incompatible, which is creating a real dilemma in terms of management, regulatory compliance, costs and operational efficiencies.
It’s a problem that worsens over time, as databases quickly build up to millions, if not billions of recorded calls. And now organisations are left with multiple repositories of siloed data making data coherence impossible unless steps are taken to achieve ‘unification’. Unification of data becomes the essential factor in achieving compliance and operational efficiency – and with most organisations being duty bound to store, manage and audit their voice recordings, regulatory and compliance bodies are expecting more extensive and comprehensive controls to safeguard against misconduct.
Managing the output from just one recording system is hard enough considering the vast number of recordings produced and throw in challenging environments such as end of life product cycles, technology upgrades and product replacements from a different vendor - the situation is exacerbated. Unless remedial action is taken, the problem escalates, and the disparate silos of data means operational management is substandard, hugely inefficient and extremely costly – all to be avoided in a sane world.
Businesses need to be able to generate more value from their voice recording data as well as reduce costs and respond to efficiency demands, so the conundrum keeps on magnifying.
So how can the Head of IT ensure they provide resilient, reliable solutions, manage upgrades, legacy and EOL systems whilst lowering their server footprint and reducing risk?
Driven by market needs and the complex customer challenges they create, Business Systems developed Wordwatch to manage the simplification of call recording management. We used our years of experience and heritage in call recording to develop disruptive technology to:
So how do we do this? Put simply Wordwatch sits over any voice capture system, storing data where you want it, unifying your compliance front end for replay and management. By providing open APIs, businesses can choose the best fit solution for Surveillance, Transcription, Trade Reconstruction or Analytics ensuring their landscape is future proofed. Wordwatch will simply feed any of those applications with the necessary voice data they require.
Think of it as a portal to the important data your business is demanding as and when they need it. It brings together a much-welcomed uniformity of data, management control and auditable access across the entire call recording estate – this is a real boon to those responsible for compliance and even provides a self-service option relieving IT from constantly having to respond to timely demands.
To summarise, Heads of IT have been dealing with their pains, frustrations and challenges around call recording management for some time now and for many, they have been fighting a losing battle around:
With Wordwatch, Heads of IT can now enjoy quantifiable benefits and results such as:
If you want to know more, get in touch – we have some great success stories around legacy management, technology landscape refreshes, compliance extract and cloud analytics which the team would be happy to share!
Publish Date: October 9, 2020 5:00 AM
Isleworth, August 3, 2020 – Business Systems, a leader in voice recording and enterprise workforce optimisation solutions, has been named as a supplier on Crown Commercial Service’s (CCS) SPARK DPS, a Technology Innovation Marketplace that can help government and public sectors access new and emerging technology products.
SPARK DPS allows Business Systems to provide Workforce Optimisation solutions to all UK public sector organisations. Public sector customers are expected to benefit from these emerging technologies predicted to have the largest impact over the next 2 to 5 years to streamline processes and completely replace existing technologies and methods.
“We already have a range of valued public sector customers, including the Home Office and Gwent Police, who have achieved innovation using our technology, so we fully expect that joining SPARK DPS will help us to continue to grow our public sector business and innovate the marketplace further,” added Richard Mill, Managing Director, Business Systems.
To search these solutions, buyers on the SPARK DPS Marketplace can filter by two technology areas: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automation and Data.
Crown Commercial Service supports the public sector to achieve maximum commercial value when procuring common goods and services. In 2018/19, CCS helped the public sector to achieve commercial benefits worth £945m – supporting world-class public services that offer best value for taxpayers.
Publish Date: August 13, 2020 5:00 AM
The chaos of the worldwide pandemic has pushed us to the verge of another cloud migration . We’ve seen it with data storage, and we will now witness the same evolution in the contact centre industry, moving from the on-premise call centre solution to a cloud contact centre.
It’s a reality that COVID-19 caused contact centres worldwide to struggle as they attempted to implement efficient remote-working solutions for their contact centre agents. Implementation needed to happen fast and made many businesses realised that a cloud contact centre offered scalability and operational efficiency in addition to remote working. And as a second wave of the virus threatens to make an appearance, contact centres need to remain prepared and ensure their systems and processes are in place to cope for another potential lockdown.
There are many reasons as to why now is the right time to make a move to a cloud based call centre solution. Here’s our top 4.
According to research carried out by ContactBabel in 2019, only 26% of 2019’s UK contact centre survey respondents had some form of homeworking capability with only 3.8% of UK agents actually being based at home .
Fast forward to 2020 and we’ve seen a widespread accelerated focus to home working across all industries. And for many, it has worked well. For some, homeworking has been credited with reducing agent attrition and offering greater staff flexibility with 55% of UK contact centres citing this as the most important benefit to homeworking so far .
Remote working is a topic, particularly within the contact centre space that will continue to divide opinions. And understandably so as traditionally, the contact centre space has always been a physical workplace with agents sitting side by side answering calls with Managers/Team Leaders supervising.
However, in a post-pandemic world where homeworking is no longer an unknown, and has been tried and tested by the majority, organisations will struggle to attract quality agents if they do not offer their employees homeworking and agent flexibility in some form or another.
In fact, according to statistics, working from home means an 80% better retention rate for contact centre agents .
As many organisations will have realised during the lockdown, cloud contact centre technology offers flexibility for employees which are far greater than an on-premise system.
For starters, the technology is browser-based so agents can access the system wherever they are.
Secondly, homeworking has provided employees with more flexibility over their working hours and home life, delivering increased satisfaction for the employee which in turn will result in an marked improvement in customer service as agents strive to demonstrate their ability to work from home.
Moving to a cloud contact centre means more flexibility in staffing, supplier management and business continuity arrangements which can amount to long term cost savings:
Communications these days now need to be kept consistent across multiple channels, working together seamlessly to provide a unified customer experience.
A cloud based based contact centre solution can help achieve just this, where communications, systems and processes can be managed in one space, making it easier for the contact centre to navigate from webchat, to SMS to phone calls to any other channel.
Take the example of Gant Travel – a corporate Travel Management company based in America. Gant Travel were struggling with a siloed contact centre. This meant no visibility across channels, increased call handling time and customer friction. By implementing cloud call centre technology, they were able to:
Cloud based contact centre models ensure business continuity and disaster recovery in the following ways:
Tip: Cloud solutions can also provide backup reserve disaster recovery protection to contact centres who have an on-site customer premise equipment (CPE) model. This allows for organisations to become more familiar with offsite functionality and hardware but at a slower pace. It can lead to a greater commitment further down the line to relocate the primary functionality into the cloud once the original contact centre technology is at end of life.
During the upheaval which the global pandemic has caused, understandably some organisations may be hesitant to invest in new technology.
However, although it may be tempting to remain with the familiar, it’s important to remember that innovation and change can be a good thing, particularly when looking to drive competitive differentiation in the contact centre industry.
Many contact centres may have been thrown into the world of cloud and remote working the last few months, and it may have happened a lot quicker than many of us would have expected. However, witnessing so many operations moving within days to a remote working environment whilst still supporting customers during this challenging time is proof that a cloud contact centre’s disaster recovery and business continuity advantages should not be overlooked.
If you would like more information on how cloud contact centre technology can benefit your organisation, then get in touch with the team >
Our cloud based call centre solutions have been implemented across some of the largest contact centres globally to help organisations to achieve their strategic goals.
Publish Date: August 10, 2020 5:00 AM
These past few weeks have been promising.
The pandemic lockdown restrictions have slowly started to lift. Shops (and soon even pubs) are gradually starting to re-open.
Businesses are now also complying with a host of new workplace guidelines, designed to create safe workspaces for employees.
According to GOV.UK, the main objective to these guidelines is to: ‘maintain social distancing wherever possible, on arrival and departure’.
As more of us might start to make a gradual return to the office, contact centre workforce planning teams need to carry on doing what they do best – balancing work volumes with workforce capacity, whilst ensuring a high level of customer service.
But this time, let’s not forget they also need to consider the new workplace guidelines…
How can Workforce Management functionality help?
The rest of this article can be found exclusively on Scott Budding’s Linkedin Author posts. Check our the rest of this article - ‘How To Manage A Gradual Return To The Office With Workforce Planning’.
Publish Date: July 20, 2020 5:00 AM
As the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions slowly start to ease, businesses are now turning their attention to reopening and looking forward. Organisations, particularly contact centres are now operating in a world that already looks different to the one we left a few months ago.
It’s an everchanging landscape, where contact centres now need to be thinking strategically rather than tactfully, so we thought it timely to team up with our partners NICE inContact, to deliver an insightful webinar on how you can navigate and adapt your contact centre throughout the next phase of events the lockdown restrictions may bring.
We’ve summarised the key points from our webinar in this article:
The pandemic has forced contact centres to trial new ways of working including working from home (WFH), which will most likely continue in this current climate, where according to one of the polls we ran during the webinar, 35% of you are considering allowing your agents to continue working from home post COVID.
WFH has been a new experience for most contact centres.
According to research carried out a month ago, only 10% of employers had already had some experience implementing a work from home strategy, compared to a staggering 50% who had no experience.[i]
The benefits of working from home has been spoken about many times pre-pandemic. From an agent perspective, some of the benefits include:
In fact, according to statistics, working from home means an 80% better retention rate for contact centre agents[i].
A WFH home model allows agents more flexibility with their work/life balance. Stats also show that this way of working means 57% of agents are more likely to endorse their employer[ii] and therefore stay with the company for longer. In turn, a reduction in retention rates will help contact centres save time, money and resource spent hiring and training new staff.
Looking after the well-being of your agents in turns means looking after your customers. Ensuring employees are treated in a way that stimulates loyalty, encourages them to serve customers well.
And let’s not forget, that from a business perspective, one of the major benefits of working from home means organisations can reduce their real estate footprint saving a large sum each year.
Although WFH may have positive benefits, stats also show that 71% of contact centre managers have said it has impacted their customer experience[iii]. This may be to do with the beginning of lockdown when contact centres were struggling to get everything set up in order to work remotely.
Most of these issues, such as agent devices not working or configurations not being set up correctly, have been addressed or acknowledged.
What we are seeing now is contact centres struggling to maintain and monitor the agent experience whilst working remotely, where according to another poll we ran, 22% of you are lacking full visibility into your service quality and productivity.
As more organisations consider working from home post pandemic due to the benefits it can bring to a workforce, consider the following steps to help get yourself set up more permanently:
Related Content: Download our Work From Home Agent Checklist
At the start of lockdown, businesses were working hard to maintain business continuity and move their agents to a work from home model.
One of the solutions we offered at the beginning of March was CXone@home – a cloud contact centre solution. CXone@home is a special offer specifically generated during COVID to ensure business continuity and elasticity and is being offered via 60 days no commitment no contract offering.
Since lockdown has started to ease, we are now seeing customers taking this offer up not from a rapid deployment perspective, but more of a strategic one.
Contact centres are now evaluating the tactical solutions they made a few months ago in the rush to get their workforce remote and are now seeing the limitations their current set up has.
CXone@home, as mentioned above is a cloud contact centre platform. The benefits of using a cloud platform have been spoken about greatly. Some of the benefits include:
Related Content: Download The Inner Circle Guide to Cloud Based Contact Centre Solutions
Does your existing ACD support remote agents?
Are your current agent device requirements sustainable?
Do your agents and supervisors have full app access whilst working from home?
The challenge that most organisations may now come across is finding the balance between protecting the factors, processes and change which supports the core of their organisation, whilst also being open minded to new methods and making sure this is met with the same speed we have seen throughout this pandemic.
Although it may be tempting to return to the familiar, it’s also important to remember the innovation which was seen over the past few months and making sure we are keeping this going by evaluating what has worked and what hasn’t for success going forward.
We may have been forced into this path of remote working and it may have happened a lot quicker than most of us were comfortable with, but now that the pandemic has shone the light on a new way of working which some may say was always inevitable, it’s the organisations who ride the wave and accept that change is constant, that will be in the strongest position to succeed.
If you didn’t get a chance to catch the webinar, then catch it on replay! >
If you would like more information on any of the topics or technologies mentioned in this article, then please get in touch with our team >
Publish Date: June 10, 2020 5:00 AM
Our latest webinar, ‘Top Tips for Combating Challenges in The Contact Centre’ was packed with an array of knowledge, best practice techniques and even a very good list of suggestions on what to watch next on Netflix, thanks to our audience contributions! (Tiger King it is then!).
Here are the top takeaways from the day:
COVID-19 has meant for many contact centres, juggling a balancing act between managing demand whilst still providing a good customer experience.
Depending on the industry you are operating in, you could be seeing a significant rise in demand or in fact could have seen a decrease in demand. 47% of our audience has seen an increase, 40% a decrease whilst the remaining contact centres experienced no change.
For those who are experiencing an increase:
Quick wins: updating FAQ’s on your website, setting up or editing existing IVR recorded messages, sending WhatsApp & SMS updates, compiling online tutorials, offering digital forms. The more pro-active you are in communicating with your customers, the fewer inbound enquiries you should receive.
Consider reducing your workload by also looking at cutting down average handle time and not just volume. Review your existing processes such as scripts, statements or automatic IDV (identity verification) checks you have in place. When was the last time someone reviewed these methods, and can you save time during the call as well as customer satisfaction by cutting these processes down?
This is a time for reviewing which communication channels are working particularly with agents working from home. Are there some channels that agents are finding easier to maintain for customer communication and are there some channels where the infrastructure with remote working is just not coping? Also review the reasons why customers are using a particular channel, is it because they are being forced to because they can’t get through on their channel of choice.
As well as using automation to free up agents’ time, why not also consider it as a tool to help temporary or lower skilled staff to guide them through a complex process. As well as considering automation in the contact centre, look at the back office too, why not also consider cutting down long winded processes in order to reduce metrics such as average handling time and agent workload?
For those who are experiencing a decrease, now is the time to focus on the following:
Do you have access to the data you need? Working remotely can mean it is difficult to keep a pulse on what’s happening in your contact centre. Visibility of this data, particularly with homeworking is critical.
Here are our top tips on maintaining visibility:
Consider what are you measuring and what the actions are that you can take from it. For example, make sure you compare stats pre COVID and post COVID. This will uncover rich data such as agent skillsets which are being impacted the greatest. In order to uncover this data, make use of the existing tools you already have (such as your telephony system or your WFM system) which contain reporting capabilities. Also don’t forget to consider Real-Time Adherence. Real-Time Adherence is a great indicator of a change in performance and therefore agent morale, where lack of schedule adherence can be flagged with alarms. It can highlight where a member of your team may be struggling with the workload and gives you an excellent idea of agent productivity.
It’s more important now than ever to listen to your customers. One way to gain a holistic view of all your interactions (especially when remote working), is with Interaction Analytics. Interaction Analytics can show you why demand has gone up and whether you can be doing something proactive. It can also show you how your agents are coping – when building search queries for example, include keywords such as ‘running slow’ and ‘not working’ which lets you see what your agents are talking about.
Let’s not forget that the back office is just as vital as the front office in a contact centre. Back Office solutions can enable you identify inefficiencies amongst staff and within certain processes so you can target coaching and training around this. This will help prevent failure demand and improve customer experience.
With 60% of our webinar attendees reporting an increase in their agent stress levels in these current times, what practical steps can you put in place to reduce these levels?
How to improve agent engagement:
Make sure you are communicating regularly with your team to boost morale
Keep in mind that this is an unusual time and some of the existing KPI’s you have in place will not be relevant in the short term so consider re-assessing these in order to avoid piling unnecessary stress on agents. If you re-align targets which offer hope and encouragement for your agents, morale and engagement will be boosted.
Consider offering different shift patterns for your agents during this time, especially for those who are having to homeschool. Although this will take time if you have to realign shifts and rotas, it will have a significant effect on your employee engagement and happiness. It may also help those who need support with changes in demand / demand profiles as agent availability may look very different when working from home (no longer needing to travel to offices in many cases and this may mean early/late shifts are now possible for many, where they were not before).
You may be dealing with upset customers more than ever during this time. Why not identify the agents who are best at dealing with those difficult calls and upskill them if required, making these agents even better at what they do? This also means you are protecting your agents and customers alike; vulnerable customers are dealing with the most experienced agents and these agents are better versed at dealing with these scenarios than others who may not have the same experience.
Gamification can boost employee morale and engagement. Some metrics which are relevant to gamify now might be NPS or CSAT scores.
With all our webinar audience agreeing that some form of homeworking will be part of their strategic future plans, it’s important to consider what the world of remote working will mean in the long run.
Here are our top tips to consider with homeworking (in the short-term and the long-term):
There is an array of technology out there to assist remote working and the regulators will still be expecting organisations to keep a tab on communications for compliance purposes if you are within an industry that is monitored. It’s also worth not just thinking about the short term remote working solutions you need, but how these short-term solutions will fit into your future strategic goals.
Transitioning to work from home in a business and compliance sense will take time and will require reliable technology so don’t rush! When things have calmed down, take time out to assess productivity levels during this period – what worked and what didn’t?
Homeworking can be a big step for some employees. Make sure they are taking their lunches and coffee breaks, and these are away from their dedicated workspaces. Also use collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams to encourage communications between employees building morale and engagement.
If you need any more information on combating challenges within your contact centre during this time, then get in touch with our team of experts.
Also, if you didn’t get a chance to view our webinar on the day, then here’s a link to the recording.
Publish Date: April 28, 2020 5:00 AM
Today’s contact centres face more demand than ever. With consumers having grown used to faster and more personalised services, and agents expecting better working environments, there are a lot of relevant concerns. Fortunately though, there are a lot of ways for those managing call centres to adapt to these demands and challenges.
With that in mind, here are 10 specific tips for the modern contact centre.
1.Embrace Communication Software
Gone are the days when business teams had to communicate solely through email and various instant messaging platforms. Now, more and more often, companies are turning instead to multi-faceted communication software platforms that streamline interactions both between and within teams. A list by Business.com revealed some of the most popular options (HipChat, Slack, Campfire, and more), if you want to look at some specific possibilities. By and large though, these programs help teams to interact more precisely and efficiently. This can make for a significant improvement in a modern contact centre. It makes it easier for employees to share results and discuss problems; it gives management a direct channel to the whole contact centre team; and it can help put anything from guidelines to result tracking all in one place that can easily be found and referenced.
2. Consider a Chatbot
Building a chatbot into a website and/or app is not necessarily a way of replacing contact centre employees. Rather, it’s a way of making their jobs easier. A sophisticated chatbot can welcome customers, address the most basic concerns, and otherwise direct them to the more in-depth help they need. These functions effectively eliminate some of the more tedious aspects of customer care, allowing those working in the contact centre to devote more attention to more pressing needs.
3. Put Functions on the Cloud
Almost the same way that communication software can keep teams on the same page, putting all customer service apps and functions into a unified cloud environment can help to organise a modern contact centre. Our coverage of CXonefrom NICE inContact, back in 2018, spoke about this idea in some detail. As we stated then, cloud service of this kind can “keep customer service teams productive and engaged” — particularly for larger companies that might be spread out across multiple locations.
4. Set Clear Performance Goals
This is less of a tech-based adjustment than some of the other ideas mentioned here. However, it’s still an idea for contact centres to embrace. More and more companies today seem to be recognising the benefits of clear performance structure. This means making it as clear as possible what team members are expected to accomplish, and when. When good performance is ambiguous, or judged after the fact, teams can often operate less efficiently; with clear goals put in place and made accessible, employees in a contact centre will be able to work steadily toward specific ends.
5. Establish Rewards for Those Goals
The second half of the previous idea is to make sure there are rewards for goals reached as well. This doesn’t mean that every team member gets to earn a raise on a regular basis for hitting weekly or monthly goals. In fact, a “reward” can be as simple as a kind word from management — or even a positive message in a tracking sheet (such as “Weekly goal met!!” in a tab alongside an employee’s name). Or, of course, a company can get creative with some sort of system revolving around point accumulation, small bonuses and the like. Whatever the case, providing incentives makes the idea of clear performance goals that much more effective.
6. Embrace Data Analytics
Data collection in contact centres can go a long way toward generating more business for a company. Over time, it can involve numerous specific initiatives: seeing which communications convert to sales; determining when the most customer engagement occurs; figuring out which communication methods customers most prefer; even recognising how long calls are before they result in customers leaving or hanging up. Unfortunately not all modern contact centres are equipped to handle this level of data collection and analysis, which is why this may be one area in which to consider an outside hire. A guide by Comeet on questions to ask in a data analyst interview can give managers a good idea of what to look for in this sort of hire. Namely, said guide conveys that a data analyst should understand relevant software, have an idea of how to organise a project, and be familiar with the company and industry at hand.
7. Train with Gamification
Gamification can be a somewhat vague concept, and is often misunderstood as having to relate directly to actually playing games. Really though, it more closely refers to taking some of the elements that make good games popular — the things that make people keep playing, or push them to achieve more — and applying them to another practice. Thinking of it this way, you can begin to see how gamifying training can be effective. The specifics will be different for different companies and contact centres, but teaching relevant software programs and team practices this way — with progressive “levels” of difficulty, incentive and reward structures, and so on — can actually make team members eager to improve and get to work.
8. Embrace Screen Sharing
Screen sharing is a function being used more frequently in many different aspects of modern business. A feature by Techspective states that screen sharing can “improve efficiency, flexibility, and collaboration in the workplace.” But it can be particularly helpful in some contact centre situations. For those who aren’t familiar with it, screen sharing essentially means that one person can broadcast his or her screen activity on another person’s device. When it comes to contact centres, this means equipping employees to show customers exact demonstrations when necessary. It can be significantly more efficient and effective than merely speaking or emailing back and forth, at least in addressing certain problems.
9. Support Breaks & Time Off
This is important in modern business in general, but certainly applies to call centres as well. Putting it simply, today’s employees — particularly in places like call centres — are being asked to spend long hours working hard and interacting with technology. As a result, there’s never been more need for regular breaks and adequate time off. Tech.co put it nicely from the employee perspective, stating a few years ago that “work-life balance is more important than ever” to today’s workers. By accommodating this need, a contact centre can both keep employees happy and, in all likelihood, ensure that they’ll be more productive while working.
10. Make the Physical Environment Appealing
Finally, it’s also important to make the physical environment of a call centre as appealing as possible. This can be done in any number of ways, including the use of some modern technologies (such as “smart” systems to regulate temperature and make the environment generally more responsive). But the idea is to foster a sense of wellness. Again, today’s call centre workers typically put in long hours that are heavy on tech use. Making them comfortable while they’re doing so can keep them content and productive.
Publish Date: April 8, 2020 5:00 AM
With markets fluctuating wildly due to the economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak, and companies closing offices and asking employees to work from home, organisations have had to adapt rather quickly in uncertain times.
Financial Services Firms in particular, have had the burden of setting up traders to work remotely, recreating the carefully monitored environment of the trading floor at not just one site, but potentially thousands.
According to The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) all firms are expected to have contingency plans in place to deal with major events. The FCA also state that they do not have any issues with UK staff working from backup sites, or home, so long as regulatory obligations are met. This may include, for example, ensuring recordings between traders and customers are still being recorded and monitored.
Keep Calm - There’s Mobile Call Recording
When the need for mobile call recording was first introduced by the FCA In 2011, enforcing that all ‘relevant mobile communications between traders’ had to be recorded (including both SMS and voice), most solutions on offer at the time relied on applications being installed on the mobile handset to route the call via a call recording system. These applications were considered highly unstable due to the risk of failure as well as the risk of being tampered.
Today, mobile recording technologies have advanced greatly, and enable traders to operate effectively from home while remaining compliant with regulations such as GDPR, MiFID II and Dodd Frank regulatory requirements.
The move to home working has been a long time coming. However, the recent COVID-19 outbreak has raised visibility of smart solutions which have a goal in mind of meeting global regulations.
Many mobile call recording solutions available today are easy to deploy, can be deployed in days and most importantly ensure complete compliance whilst you are away from the trading office.
Some more of the benefits of mobile call recording includes:
Some options for mobile call recording technology includes:
Ultimately, technology is playing a vital role in keeping financial services fully operational and compliant during this uncertain time. If you need more information on Mobile Call Recording solutions, then get in touch with our team.
Publish Date: March 30, 2020 5:00 AM
With Contact Centres all over the globe facing the reality of home working for the foreseeable future, real-time adherence is going to be vital to protect service levels.
Managing today’s multi-channel contact centres from home could be easier than you think with a little forward planning and the right WFM technology. In these uncertain weeks ahead, we all need to be flexible and agile with ‘on the go’ planning. Real-time adherence will play an integral part of effective intraday management.
Many organisations have spent the last couple of weeks getting their agents ready for home working. Staff are set up to take calls, they have access to the necessary systems, however, the immediate challenge is to ensure they’re more productive and working efficiently.
Without clear real-time visibility of staff and scheduled activity, organisations are finding themselves in a position where scheduled employees are not available when they should be.
Depleted workforces and increased demands inevitably impact the customer experience with longer wait times, high abandoned calls and service levels targets not being met.
So, what’s the solution? A good WFM solution with strong real-time adherence functionality including:
Add in intraday schedulers to the mix and organisations can gain high levels of visibility allowing them to make informed decisions around actions that need to be taken. E.g. Do we need to alter schedules for the workforce during the day or do we have enough resource to handle demand but they’re not doing what they should be?
With tumultuous times ahead, it’s useful to look at how some of our customers are using real-time adherence to help them protect their service levels.
In our first example, a customer believes that real-time adherence has had a calming effect on their day-to-day contact centre challenges.
Their solution has been configured in a way to help agents ensure they adhere to schedules. Their agents automatically receive pop-ups on their desktop to remind them when to take a break, go to lunch or when they are due to switch from one activity to another. The solution also confirms that shift trades and/or shift changes have been accepted. With agents forced to work from home, it’s vital that they still receive those breaks and are encouraged to do so, to help prevent mental health issues a few weeks down the line.
This customer also found that their Managers are now in complete control of their contact centre environment (whatever that may look like now), because they can simply login to the system and compare agent schedules to states and see state changes as they happen from their tablet or other mobile devices. They can make appropriate adjustments to schedules on the move, should they need to do so.
Our next customer found that real-time adherence has enhanced their service levels and customer satisfaction.
This feature benefits the whole company and has already proven to increase productivity by 5% in a short amount of time. By implementing the real-time adherence functionality and linking to their automated call distributor (ACD) system, they have been able to get an accurate, real-time view of the agents and overall contact centre activity to enable managers to track schedules against forecasts and then make quick and meaningful adjustments to meet agreed customer service level agreements (SLAs). Automated alarms flag-up when schedules are being breached and a real-time data feed which is updated in seconds allows them to make quick decisions.
Another real-life example, found having clear visibility of intraday activities and real-time adherence enabled them to factor in team meetings, 1-2-1 meetings and other offline activities during quiet periods. Now more than ever, these meetings will be vital for staff morale and must continue to happen where possible, albeit they are likely happening virtually for many of us.
We’ve been talking about business continuity planning for some time now, however not on the scale we are seeing today. We have used examples of organisations having to prepare for the unexpected such as storms that prevent people from getting into the office or major systems outages - who could have predicted we would be staying at home for this unprecedented situation?
Having this visibility in place will make all the difference when it comes to meeting services levels giving your organisation the best possible chance of coming out the other side!
If you need help to get your people up and running to work from home, please contact us to discuss your options.
Publish Date: March 25, 2020 5:00 AM
As the nation reacts to contain the virus, organisations need to be ready to adapt and do what is right for their staff, colleagues and customers, which includes ensuring employees are able to work from home where possible.
However, as organisations swiftly move to enable their staff to operate remotely, they are inevitably faced with a number of challenges:
In order to combat these challenges and remain operational, contact centres might want to consider the following options:
1.Transitioning to a home-based working environment within 48 hours
It might sound too good to be true, but with a no charge software option for 45 days (and a nominal set up fee) with the option to extend, CXone@home can transition your contact centre agents to a home-based working environment quickly and efficiently.
Activated in 48 hours and with unlimited scale, this option is an extremely good one for contact centres who are requiring business continuity.
2. Route communications to agents regardless of location
Cloud communications management is another option to support remote working in the eventuality of self-isolation. This technology avoids any disruption to customers by simply intercepting a call in the cloud and routing it to an agent mobile or landline (whilst ensuring the call is being recorded).
As well as this, contact centre managers can maintain visibility of all communication activity in and out of their organisation and manage these in real-time across all employees, teams, departments and locations.
3.Ensure your agents mobiles are being recorded
Mobile Call Recording provides an opportunity for organisations to ensure their staff are operational whilst working from home and most importantly meeting business and compliance processes.
These solutions can be rapidly deployed in days and require no IT requirements for set up.
4.Deliver customer service across all channels
One of the biggest challenges with on premise contact centre solutions which many organisations will be trying to combat , is that unless planned for, agents need to be on site in order to continue working. However, with cloud-based contact centre technology, these barriers are removed, providing your agents with the flexibility to work remotely whilst still delivering customer service across all touchpoints.
5.Plan & Schedule your workforce
Workforce management is a pivotal tool in helping contact centres effectively plan and schedule the right number of agents at the right time with the right skillset. Particularly in this current climate. ‘What -If’ scenario planning (a feature within WFM systems) for example, can help you model the impact of COVID-19 on your contact volumes enabling you to schedule the correct number of agents needed. Schedule re-optimisation within workforce management can also enable you to react quickly and efficiently, for example, if a significant number of workers contract the virus at the same time.
6.Remain operational in the back office
It’s not just your front office that will need to be managed remotely during this time. Your back office will also need to remain operational in order to ensure that customer demands are being met. Already a challenge in co-located offices, understanding who is working on what and assessing the quality of work being produced can be a minefield, especially when throwing a remote workforce into the mix.
Deploying a back office workforce optimisation tool can provide you with detailed information for every activity, every resource and every customer request so that nothing falls through the cracks. With a back office workforce optimisation tool you are also able to automatically match work with the most appropriate resource in line with business priorities.
Publish Date: March 25, 2020 5:00 AM
In order to meet customer demands, workforce planners need to make sure they have the right number of agents with the right skill sets available at the right time. And this starts with having the right resource planning techniques in place.
With customer contact channels increasing (email, web chat, SMS etc.), workforce scheduling has become a complex and labour-intensive job. Let’s not forget to throw into the mix variables such as absenteeism, holidays and staff-work preferences. Spreadsheets and Erlang C tables can still work well in helping you schedule if you are a small contact centre.
However, if you’re a contact centre managing multiple different contact and skill types, it’s important to remember that excel will fall short in many areas and this is where you will need to introduce a Workforce Management system.
Tip: If you’re deciding on whether it’s time to move away from spreadsheets, answer these 13 simple questions to help you decide!
Brought to you by our team of experienced WFM consultants, here are our top resource planning techniques to get you through those peaks and troughs:
1.Types of Scheduling To Consider
Considering different types of shift patterns and scheduling can be a huge benefit to ensuring your service levels are being met whilst also providing work patterns that are in line with your employee’s work/life balance. Below we’ve listed the different types of shift patterns and the pros and cons of each for you to consider:
Split Shifts – shifts with an early segment followed by an extended ‘lunch’ (>2hrs) followed by a late segment
- This can help with covering start and end of the day coverage
- Provides flexibility for employees with children at school for example
- Has been shown to be very unpopular with ‘regular’ contact centre workers
- The benefits of the ‘extended lunch’ are more than offset by the disadvantages of the shift span
Rotations / Rotas – employees work a repeating consistent pattern of shifts over a period of multiple weeks
- A well thought out rotation can give excellent shift coverage
- It is the ‘fairest’ and employees can plan their life around work
- Potentially zero ability to react to customer changes without employee agreement
Flexi Shift – contracts are based on allocating hours at short notice to cover peaks
- You get flexibility you need for last minute changes
- Employees have little control and cannot plan their life schedules around work
Shift Trading– Allowing agents of same or similar skills to swap shifts
- You keep control of your schedules
- Employees are given some degree of control over their schedules
- Can penalise highly multi skilled employees
Preference Based Scheduling – Employees express a preference of when they would prefer to work and the WFM application tries to accommodate
- In theory most of the time employees work when best suits their life schedules
- Has been poorly implemented in most systems (e.g. system doesn’t schedule you at all if you do not express a preference; system gives you a random shift if your preference isn’t available rather that ‘next best’)
Tip: When scheduling, make sure you take agent skill, specialisation, preference and type of calls handled into consideration.
2. Scenario Planning
Another popular resource planning technique is scenario planning. Some Workforce Management tools allow you to run ‘what if’ scenarios which will improve your risk level.
An example where running a ‘what if’ scenario can come in handy is when you may have increased demand on the business. Let’s paint a picture – your organisation wants to take on a new contract which will mean demand will increase.
If you win, will your contact centre be able to cope? Do you have the capacity and if not how many more people will you need to make ends meet? Running a ‘what if’ scenario will help you identify the impact this will have on your business such as how much more staff you need and when you will need them.
Here are some more examples where running ‘what if’ scenarios could come in handy:
3.Be Pro-Active For When The Unexpected Occurs
Sometimes, despite factoring in accurate volume and scheduling in your contact centre, life is unpredictable and the unforeseen can always occur. Here are some resource planning techniques to keep in mind for when this happens:
Regardless of the industry you operate in, there are changing expectations from consumers. Consumers are demanding a level of service which is above and beyond and they will not settle for much less. Smart businesses have come to realise that improving their resource planning capabilities and looking for feature rich technologies such as Workforce Management to help them do just this, sits high on the list of variables paving the way for exceptional customer experience.
If your looking for advice on your resource planning strategy, our team of experienced WFM consultants will be able to help so get in touch today.
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Publish Date: March 13, 2020 5:00 AM
Leader in regulatory voice recording management for Financial Services and enterprise workforce optimisation solutions is in line for FinTech Vendor of the Year award at the Citywealth Magic Circle Awards 2020
Isleworth, January 27, 2020 – Business Systems (UK) Ltd, a market leader in regulatory voice recording centralised management and enterprise workforce optimisation solutions, is delighted to announce it has reached the finals of the Citywealth Magic Circle Awards, whose winners are scheduled to be announced on the 13th of May, and where Business Systems is a finalist in the ‘FinTech Vendor of the Year’ category.
The Awards recognise the companies and technology solutions most instrumental in the previous 12 months in terms of helping financial services organisations, managers and advisors in the global private wealth management industry optimise their role and function.
Following a customer-driven nomination process, finalists are shortlisted by a judging panel featuring 10 global industry experts. The Awards bring together over 400 of the industry’s global elite representing over 140 organisations, including leading law firms, trust companies, family offices, tax advisors, technology specialists, investment managers and bankers in the wealth sector.
Isleworth-based Business Systems (UK) Ltd is in a strong position to succeed, given its specific RegTech focus working with most of the top tier one banks and financial institutions globally over the past thirty years and that it is also the UK’s largest and best-established independent Voice Recording and Workforce Optimisation specialist.
Notably, Business Systems recognised the significant risks that threatened those financial services organisations that were using multiple call recording systems and consequently developed a unique solution to federate these important records into one centralised management portal, Wordwatch. Wordwatch brings together this mixed bag of call recording data and provides a unified approach to access, manage, bulk extract and provide full BI. This unified approach to managing voice recording data has helped Business Systems’ customers substantially reduce corporate risk by dealing with the issues relating to legacy products, bulk extraction and management control.
“We’re delighted that Business Systems has made it to the finals of these prestigious awards,” confirms Business Systems’ Managing Director, Richard Mill.
“Getting shortlisted is close to our hearts, as we constantly look to develop new innovations and technology to ensure we can solve enterprise wide business challenges for our financial services and wealth management customers while driving business performance and significant operational cost savings.”
“And as an independent reseller and, more recently, an ISV in our own right, Business Systems is able to provide a consultative approach to selling, ensuring the customer has the best solution for their individual needs. We are honoured that the expert global judges have considered us for this important award.”
Voting for the 2020 Citywealth Magic Circle Awards will close on March 31, with finalists announced and winners set to be declared at a gala evening ceremony on 13 May 2020 at The Landmark Hotel in London.
To find out more and to cast your vote, go to
About Business Systems (UK) Ltd
Business Systems (UK) Ltd is the UK’s largest and most established independent voice recording centralised management and enterprise workforce optimisation specialist. Founded in 1988 to service financial institutions, public sector organisations and call centres across all industries, the company has built an impressive reputation for implementing complex projects on time and counts among its customers institutions such as the Home Office, Capita, Shell, Equiniti, NATS and many top tier one banks and financial institutions globally.
Business Systems’ expertise spans system design, project management, implementation, consultancy and ongoing service delivery and support. As customers demand increasing sophistication in their voice and data applications, we have built a reputation as a leading provider and specialist.
Publish Date: January 31, 2020 5:00 AM
Many organisations are turning to Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve the customer experience. We’ve all heard about AI and what it could potentially do. But do we really know how it would work in real-life? Here are the top 5 ways you could be using Artificial intelligence in your contact centre.
1.Managing Big Data
Contact centres accumulate vast amounts of customer data over time. Customers are aware of this and expect improved customer service in return. One of the common frustration’s customers face is having to repeat their details on multiple occasions when calling in. When things like this happen, customer dissatisfaction can start to kick in. In order to address this, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – a different branch of AI, can eliminate redundant employee and customer effect. RPA can capture, analyse, cross-reference and share information across platforms and channels, ensuring consistency across the customer experience.
2. Introducing Self-Service
Another main area where AI can be used in the contact centre is for allowing self-service capabilities. Self-service capabilities can handle day-to-day requests and simple interactions which take place in your contact centre. Introducing self-service can also cut down your cost as fewer customers will be calling in if they are able to handle their simpler enquiry themselves.
For AI to automate accurate responses as a human would, it’s imperative that the system has the right information and data. This is called Automated Customer Engagement – a level which Deloitte recognises as Robotic and Cognitive Automation working together. Automated Customer Engagement consists of AI-driven tools which act like virtual agents – including automated email and chatbots for example. The benefit to this is that agents can focus on more complex cases where a personal approach really matters.
3.Dealing With Customer Complaints
A common challenge for contact centres is the ability to make sense of unstructured data in the form of customer complaints. AI can help resolve this by automating responses to customer complaints. With AI, the system has the capability to understand the intent of an enquiry (emails, customer letters, web forms). These enquiries are scanned into the system as images. The system can then extract relevant details and automatically sends a recommended customer response which can be edited by the employee before sending to the customer. The updated data can then be automatically uploaded to the contact centre case management system.
4.Providing Feedback To Agents
Another type of AI which can reap great benefits in the contact centre environment, is real-time speech analytics. Real Time Speech Analytics analyses the conversation between the agent and the customer providing live feedback to the agent and team leaders. This technology also has the ability to listen to the content of the call and based on this, provide the agent with missing information which will help the customer at that specific need in time. Real Time Speech Analytics can also speech clarity, stress levels and script adherence whilst the call is happening.
5.AI and Workforce Management
AI is also developing in the Workforce Management space with vendors now introducing and planning further exciting innovations for the benefit of both planners and agents.
For example, Agents can now engage with chatbot virtual assistants able to boost employee engagement by making holiday and scheduling decisions within the confines of user led configurations.
Planners will also benefit from AI in the form of automatic validation of raw contact data. Automatic validation will account for abnormal events which are unlikely to re-occur and will also skew accuracy. The automatic validation will factor exceptions such as these into the equation when forecasting and scheduling, providing an accurate baseline for planners to go on.
Artificial Intelligence can bring many benefits to contact centres including increasing employee satisfaction, efficiency, lowering costs and reducing errors to name a few. When considering AI, be ready to ask the questions that will determine how it can work in your organisation. Brainstorm the possible processes which could largely benefit from automation. What will AI be used for in your organisation? Will it be compliance? Customer satisfaction or employee satisfaction? Having a plan for this technology is a must, whether you are implementing AI in all aspects of your operation or whether you are using it to supplement processes.
If you need more information on how AI can benefit your organisation then chat to our team. We’re independent technology consultants so we’re passionate about providing the right technology for your organisation to improve your customer service and operations.
Publish Date: January 27, 2020 5:00 AM
Business Systems (UK) Ltd’s Scott Budding takes a look at four key transformation drivers your contact centre needs to prepare for…
The age of transformation
Call centres like other areas of business need to undergo a transformation to break down silos, unify disparate data and provide a far more personalised service that today’s digital customers demand.
Digital transformation extending right into the back office will be high on the agenda for 2020. The aim is to work together in the front and back office, so teams share responsibilities for a more streamlined customer experience.
The rest of this article can be found exclusively on the Directors Club website. Check out the rest of the article - ‘Getting Your Contact Centre Prepared for Change in 2020‘
Publish Date: December 20, 2019 5:00 AM
It’s Christmas Season! Hurray! This means mulled wine, mince pies and festive holiday films. All happy stuff.
But let’s not forget that the Christmas season for some, especially for contact centres depending on the industry they are in, can be a stressful time. Contact centres must often be ready to handle an influx of inbound customer requests, enquiries and purchases, ultimately affecting scheduling, service level expectations, staff morale and the customer experience.
Let’s spare a thought for those who are caught up in all of this. Better yet, let’s provide some expert tips on how to manage this seasonal period.
1.Use Your Historical Data and Profile Delivery Effectively
For Workforce Management professionals, accurate historical data volume and the profile (arrival rate of that volume) is key to forecasting the workload for each channel type. It’s important to include the whole seasonal period of Christmas, as the months before and after will also be influenced. Retail contact centres for example will need to incorporate the month of January into their historical data. January is a busy time for handling enquiries and returns/exchanges as well as January sales. And let’s not forget Black Friday in November. All of this means that the periods requiring bespoke forecasting outside ‘business as usual’ levels have become greater. If accurate data from previous years can be incorporated into these forecasts, then the greater the level of accuracy.
With a Workforce Management System, you will be able to create accurate forecasts for all channel and media types (email, chat, phone, social media) with the use of historical data and precise algorithms. The system will take seasonality into account and add in knowledge of future campaigns to forecasting periods making the process simple and insightful. This can be done for multiple years in advance.
However, if your still using excel for your scheduling needs then try out this template brought to you by Call Centre Helper.
2. Make Use of Powerful ‘What-If’ Scenarios
In order to prepare for the seasonal period, planners should put together different forecasts and should make use of a feature within many workforce management systems - ‘What-If Scenarios’. These scenarios can be based around many different situations such as achieving service levels, marketing initiatives, flexible shifts or outsourcing.
Let’s take the example of a marketing initiative or a product launch during Christmas time. The marketing team have mailed out a mass campaign with 50% off and free delivery if you order before a certain date. Or, if it’s a product launch of a new version, their offering a free upgrade for all customers who have previously purchased. You can expect that the contact centre might be flooded with inbound contact such as emails, webchat, or calls. If this type of marketing initiative has happened before, you’ll be able to use historical data.
If not, using the ‘what-if’ scenario feature will help you predict the impact on the demand and will help you plan accordingly to ensure you have the right number of staff available with the right skills. For current and future use, don’t forget that when using this feature, having different forecasts on hand that are ready to be pushed into your live scenario will be of huge benefit.
Pro Tip: Make sure using this feature isn’t a one-off exercise and is part of your planning cycle - keep repeating it to help you assess, take action and proactively nip challenges in the bud
3. Use Real-Time Management for Monitoring Adherence and Performance
It’s also important for workforce planners to use Real-Time Management during seasonal periods. Real-Time Management allows you to monitor your carefully laid plans, ensuring they are both occurring and being followed; if not dedicated alarms will proactively prompt for investigation. This will allow you to assess and feedback into the operation the variables which kept you off track such as training needs or undesirable behaviour.
Once these alerts are addressed, they are fed back into your planning cycle which after each pass will become stronger and more efficient as discrepancies are addressed.
Likewise, if something unexpected occurs such as being busier or quieter than anticipated, effective Real-Time Management will allow you to proactively react by making use of automation features – this leads us onto our next point below – number 4 – make use of workforce management automation features!
4. Make Use of WFM Automation Features
Real Time Monitoring working alongside re-optimisation features can ensure better use of the resource you have in the business before switching to measures that will equal additional costs (such as agents working overtime). Often with a workforce management tool this is at the touch of a button where activities such as meetings for example can be isolated, so they are not moved during the process.
If you find volumes are higher or lower than expected re-optimisation allows you to react and move resource around or re-jig offline activity such as meetings or training. Re-optimisation can also notify the agents immediately of the changing requirements. Furthermore, working variables such as overtime automation, shift trading, additional or reduced holidays (allowed on the day) can all be automated with quick agent notification, allowing pro-active protection of all your vital metrics such as service level performance, customer satisfaction and employee morale.
Overall automation will free you up to focus on other tasks which will also deliver great value to your business!
5. And Lastly… Engage Your Employees!
Our last tip is all about your employees and boosting their morale and employee engagement. If you manage to do this, you will be rewarded with lower sickness and attrition plus improved customer service – factors which can spell disaster if they rear their heads during Christmas time! In order to boost engagement, consider the following different options:
And that’s it from us. The BSL team hope you have a fantastic Christmas and if you have any requirements or need any advice on scheduling your team during this busy period then please get in touch! Don’t forget that BSL have a team of expert consultants with real-life experience in Workforce Management, particularly in forecasting, scheduling and WFM implementations (especially switching from an excel only based environment to a WFM tool). Being vendor agnostic, we can recommend the best tool for you or provide expert consultancy to make the most of your current set-up!
Publish Date: December 12, 2019 5:00 AM