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Eckoh - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog
Businesses get excited about rebrands, unveiling new websites, publishing ultra-elegant apps and attracting big followings on their social media channels. But amid all the hubbub and euphoria, it's easy to forget to refresh your IVR at the same time. A big mistake.
When interactive voice response systems (IVRs) get overlooked, it's understandable for obvious reasons. You can't see your IVR, so it's out of sight, out of mind. Many people within your business probably don't converse with your IVR very much either.
But getting re-acquainted with an IVR that's lagging years behind the rest of your company may make you shudder and cringe — especially if you dial up and discover:
- Your carefully-crafted brand values are missing. It's clunky and awkward instead.
- The tone of voice is soooo last decade — and sounds blunt to the point of being rude. A human might be reprimanded for speaking to customers that way.
- Some options are no longer relevant. Other new and important ones are glaringly absent.
- The IVR says it's your company but it bears little resemblance to your website or other channels. Have you come to the right place? You would you trust it with your PIN number?
Without regular updates and the occasional refresh, you IVR can end up as the gloomy back yard of your business ... unloved, untended and with tumbleweed blowing everywhere.
It's time to refresh things —and get a step change in functionality
The good news is that it's possible and affordable to deliver radical changes to your IVR, beyond anything the industry imagined ten years ago. By evolving towards a multi-channel contact centre platform, you can surprise and delight customers again.
Callers expect to be treated as individuals, to be offered personalised choices, and to be able to reach their objective without queuing for an agent. You can make it happen.
Self-service has been revolutionised by caller identification methods and the ability to send SMS messages to the caller’s mobile phone. SIP telephony allows much more information to be passed to agents, increasing first call resolution. And there's more.
So rather than playing catch-up all the time, your IVR can actually lead the way — at the cutting edge of your business, showing the rest of your company how to represent your brand in the best way possible, enhancing customer service and securing greater loyalty.
Find out how to refresh your IVR in our new eBook:
Publish Date: August 9, 2016 5:00 AM
If you’re looking for new ways to improve customer service, then why don’t you look at refining your old ways? The phone channel is still a hugely important channel, but if you have an outdated interactive voice response system, you could be losing or agitating your customers. If so, then it’s time for a tune up…
IVRs have been around for half a century now, so callers are much more familiar with them. Many people use the same IVR on a monthly, weekly, even daily basis, so they know exactly how to get to the right place or complete their task within the IVR. Think comfy slippers.
These callers are much more familiar with the way a system works – probably more than was anticipated when it was designed. In fact, they may be so used to the path they take that they no longer even hear the other options or messages you have worked hard to include!
One size doesn't fit all
But just because lots of people view your IVR as super-comfortable doesn't mean that other callers don't find it abrasive and a poor fit with their needs. What about new customers that aren't familiar with the quirks of your IVR, or callers with very little time or tolerance?
The trouble is ... they may not tell you they're unhappy.
Sure, some will air their grievances on social media and you may see a trend in your feedback scores. Callers may also vent their frustrations to your agents.
But some customers may just walk away in the direction of a competitor, while sighing deeply. Your bottom line will notice — along with any call centre analytics you use.
So how can you take action before a trickle becomes a mass exodus?
Often, simple changes to an IVR can lead to dramatic benefits. We're not talking about investing vast amounts in new systems or enlisting a fleet of expensive consultants. Rather, these are subtle adjustments you can make fairly quickly and cost-effectively — to bring things bang up to date and meet the expectations of your customers. All of them. You'll find these valuable tune-up tips in a new eBook published by Eckoh called Is Your IVR Behaving Badly? The Essential Guide to Realising its Potential:
Publish Date: July 28, 2016 5:00 AM
As many parents will know, it's a painful experience when the headteacher calls to explain that your child has misbehaved. The story unfolds and you react with surprise, then horror, then embarrassment. But discovering some 'home truths' about your interactive voice response system (IVR) can be just as uncomfortable.
Picture it: You get your IVR looking clean and tidy and then send it out to play. Things go well for a while. But then there's a furious knock on the door — and a queue of agitated people, ready to let rip.
Every so often, some organisation or other publishes a survey of the most annoying things about contact centres and their IVRs.
Here's a typical top three, drawn from several of them:
- Callers get lost in 'no man's land' because of badly-designed menu options
- Long holding times frustrate customers and they give up
- The IVR tells callers to visit the website instead (to make it easier for the company)
You could get away with all this in the heyday of IVRs, before smartphones and ecommerce websites took off in a big way. Back then, most IVRs were tailored to middle-class, middle-income, middle-aged and middle-managers. Everyone else just had to put up with the plummy tones and plodding style of the disembodied telephone voice.
Customer demographics have changed, and are still changing
Since then, that middle-aged generation have become silver surfers, internet savvy and mobile-enabled, while their Generation X or Y grandchildren now drive the ecommerce boom with far more disposable income and far less patience.
Instead of waiting patiently in line, they'll break off — and sound off on social media. And if the experience is bad enough (or funny enough), it'll go viral and be picked up by mainstream media. If other callers feel the same way, then customer loyalty and your Net Promoter Scores (NPS) may take a hit. It'll impact your bottom line too.
How can you deal with an IVR that's behaving badly?
The challenges of IVR parenthood are explored in a new eBook published by Eckoh called
Is Your IVR Behaving Badly? - The essential guide to realising its potential.
The eBook acknowledges that IVRs are often seen as the 'ugly child' of the business — but it argues that this is often down to neglect and an absence of tender nurturing. There are four valuable suggestions for how to turn the situation around and bring back the love!
Publish Date: July 14, 2016 5:00 AM
Are you seeking solutions to mitigate possible fraud, more specifically in your contact centres? If you process card payments on behalf of customers, you may have heard of the quick-fix pause-and-resume technology.
Pause and resume was actually recently listed as the most popular adopted method to assist with PCI compliance.
If you haven’t heard of it, pause and resume as a method usually involves an automatic system which stops the recording when sensitive data is being transferred from the caller, and then resumes the call recording once the agent is passed to the payment screen on their system.
Essentially pausing and resuming removes only the call recordings from PCI DSS audit scope. Your agents, networks, systems and telephony are still exposed to card data.
What’s wrong with pause-and-resume?
It doesn’t matter how many times we repeat it, this method may be easy but used in isolation, it will not make your telephone payments PCI DSS compliant and ultimately you are left vulnerable to contact centre fraud. Even though the sensitive data isn’t recorded, it is still exposed to the agent handling the call. And generally the interactions had when taking sensitive card data are the most important and require protection.
Possible side effects of this method may include:
- Difficulty to actually achieve 100% automation of pause and resume
- Headaches when you need to upgrade your telephony or IT systems.
- Expensive and ineffective implementations, despite large investments of time to get them working.
Don’t forget your agent’s desktops and network will still be in scope for PCI compliance.
As a recent Verizon report reveals, even your employees and business partners can be potential threats. It is important to not lose sight of the role humans play in data breaches. 9% of confirmed data breaches over the previous three years were categorized in the insider and privilege misuse pattern. As pause-and-resume is not 100% reliable, the PCI SSC advises companies to implement methods that require no manual intervention.
How does that apply to your contact centre?
It only takes one breach to destroy your business. Anyone that can see, hear or handle your customers cardholder data are threats to the chances of a fully PCI compliant, secure contact centre.
Our honest opinion
Pause and resume is often considered a temporary solution and will only ever address a small part of the overall PCI compliance issue of call centre card data storage. So as regulations have tightened, it is important that you continue to update your solutions and completely remove the risk of fraud from your call centre. This includes preventing card holder data from travelling through call recordings, screen recordings, agents, desktops, IT systems and telephony network.
Here at Eckoh we recognise every organisation has different requirements, and that’s why our PCI DSS Level 1 solutions have been designed to fit around your needs and infrastructure. For expert advice, get in touch today on 01442 458 300.
Publish Date: May 4, 2016 5:00 AM
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is a telephony menu system that interacts with customers, enabling identification and routing of callers to the most appropriate agent within a contact centre.
IVR systems enable self-service, allowing customers to enquire and serve themselves via an automated calling process. This is often integrated with touch-tone or speech recognition technology. IVR assists the customer’s requests and if necessary, directs the customer through to an appropriate agent.
Poorly designed IVR’s create a bad impression
IVR’s are a necessary tool in the contact centre, but if poorly designed, can lead to frustrating experiences, giving them a bad reputation amongst customers. For many businesses IVRs often include out-dated designs with not enough options available to the customer. The menu options can be too long winded, where customers experience multiple verification requests or requests for unnecessary data. A recent report found that 77% of customers give ‘repeating responses in IVR’ as a top reason for a negative customer experience.
On many occasions the IVRs have not supported multiple languages -a key issue for international companies. For others, speech recognition technology has been poor. A common frustration for many customers is the difficulty they’ve experienced trying to reach an agent. Some of the broader uses of IVRs include:
Identifying information about your callers
IVRs gather information about the customer’s needs and will transfer calls to the most appropriate agent or department based on their IVR input. Information about why the customer is calling can be sent to the agent to handle the process more effectively.
Automating customer support
Customers can serve themselves through an automated menu option and obtain the information they are searching for without speaking with an agent.
Prioritise high-value calls
IVRs can prioritise calls based on a caller’s value. When a high-value customer calls, the IVR will route them to the agent who is most qualified to meet their needs. If all agents are busy, the customer will be directed to the front of the queue meaning high-value customers are always served efficiently.
Route the caller to an appropriate agent
The IVR ensures customers will reach the most appropriate agent or menu for a faster and more efficient customer experience. This can be set up based on a person’s skill set, so the customer is more than likely to find the answer to their query without having to be transferred.
Accept high call volumes
IVR systems allow companies to easily handle high call volumes. Queues are minimized as customers are directed to the most appropriate agent first time, meaning more calls can be accepted. Some IVR systems present the option of call-backs to the customer.
Benefits of an IVR System
With customer technology advancing at a rapid pace, the contact centre faces a lot of pressures. It’s worth investing in IVR as a well-designed system can:
- Reduce costs
- Improve efficiencies
- Decrease customer wait times
- Improve customer satisfaction
A well-designed IVR uses call routing with keypad or speech recognition, personalisation for returning callers based on their previous request, natural language speech recognition, and multi-channel integration. With an easy-to-use, reliable IVR, customers will never be routed to the wrong department ensuring a positive customer experience.
It’s no doubt that IVR’s are a cost-efficient system that saves businesses valuable time and money. But for any organisation to be truly customer-centric, the focus needs to extend beyond savings.
A badly designed IVR is easy to create but an effective IVR takes more thought. For an IVR to be effective, the customer must be placed at the core of the design stage, ensuring the simple tasks can be managed through self-service. Creating a successful IVR experience means assigning resources, in both time and budget and the system must be regularly evaluated to keep up with the customers needs and preferences. This can be a timely process but the benefits from having a modern IVR will quickly exceed the investment.
Publish Date: March 30, 2016 5:00 AM
The leaders of evolutionary customer service, are successful because they deliver a stress-free, personalised customer experience. But there are still many organisations that are focusing on an “inside-out” approach.
Inside out approaches mean operating costs restrict which channels are available to the customer, and as a result their customer service deteriorates.
A recent Forrester Trends survey found that those who focus on “outside-in” measures to deliver better customer service, experience increased revenue and company profitability. This is exactly why customer service technology has become top of the investment priority list for many businesses with contact centres.
Why exactly? Because the role of the contact centre in a world of advancing technologies will need to be proactive in its customer centric approach. Understanding customer’s needs is paramount to good customer service. Not to mention contact centre technologies also enable opportunities to improve profitability and generate added revenue streams.
Contact Centre Trends – Now and in the future
We’ve entered into an age where customers are able and ready to look for quick fix answers with minimal effort, this often includes FAQs, telephone IVR and emails. Phone channels are still heavily relied upon, but the use of services such as webchat and instant messaging (such as via Facebook) are quickly becoming preferable.
The majority of mobile phone users own a smartphone- 66% of UK adults. This has given customers easier access to customer service on the go. Some organisations do currently cater to these preferred channels but are slow to introduce mobile apps, an often unrecognised downfall. Future trends suggest that businesses will increasingly improve their approach to mobile technologies and integrate them into an omnichannel strategy. Visual IVR, for example is streamlined to connect appropriate agents along with outbound communications such as app notifications. This is where the fluidity of customer service will really thrive.
The personalised service is going one step further. The powers of predictive analytics are certainly set to make a drastic improvement using the customer’s historical data of past interactions, geographic location and choice of device, to create a tailor made service that’s suited to the customer’s profile.
In order to support your customer through every step of their customer service enquiry, the contact centre must measure the customer’s cross-channel journey. With multiple platforms at the customer’s fingertips there will likely be constant switching between channels for optimum service. By incorporating broader measurement programmes into the contact centre you will be able to explore the weak points of customer journeys.
Improved agent interfaces
The forward-thinking customer service leaders focus on a productive end-to-end customer service process. To ensure productivity is consistent throughout the contact centre, agents should be equipped with more user friendly, modern, automated interfaces that enhance the work place and minimise stress and fatigue.
SaaS Solutions (software-as-a-service)
A key emerging trend is adopting SaaS solutions either to replace on-premises customer service applications or to complement existing solutions. For the imminent future a recent Forrester Trends report predicts that customer service organisations will continue this venture of introducing SaaS solutions to increase business flexibility, speed of deployment, and the ability to quickly introduce innovation.
Some of these technologies may take off quicker than others, but taking advantage of these trends at a timely-pace is critical. To be successful, organisations must be wholly aware of their customer and to embrace these contact centre solutions is to take a step closer to delivering stress-free, seamless experiences.
What do you think will be the biggest contact centre technology trend in 2016?
Let us know by leaving a comment below.
Publish Date: March 9, 2016 5:00 AM
If your contact centre handles customer transactions and sensitive card data- the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is most likely something you’ve heard of.
As a formal set of requirements and standards, PCI DSS applies to all organisations which store, process or transmit sensitive data. The standards aims to ensure retailers, credit card brands and consumers are all protected from fraud and breaches.
Card Not Present Fraud
For contact centres taking Card Not Present (“CNP”) payments (transactions made via phone, internet or mail order purchases), PCI Compliance is crucial.
If your company is actively non-compliant, you’re at risk of suffering a data breach, monetary fines, as well as losing consumer trust. Ignoring the standard requirements could have a detrimental impact on your business, especially when CNP fraud is on the rise internationally. According to the Aite Group, CNP fraud in the U.S currently represents 45% of total U.S. card fraud, and in the UK the Financial Fraud Action UK reported an increase in fraud losses by 10%, totalling an estimated £331.5m in 2014.
So how does PCI DSS help?
The standards help to shape baseline requirements, that help companies like yours to create a series of information security networks. Being compliant will help you to identify where your cardholder data is coming from, who has access to it and how it will be stored. Understanding how this sensitive data is transferred is fundamental in order to protect it.
Among the many risks, two of the key risk areas for data breaches, include staff access and phone/network hacking. The PCI standards are robust and comprehensive to enhance payment card data security – and consequently reduce the risks associated.
Here is a brief checklist of the requirements your organisation must meet to become PCI DSS compliant:
Build and Maintain a Secure Network and Systems
This should be implemented by installing and maintaining a firewall configuration that protects CHD. It is advised to not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords or associated devices used in payment processing.
Protect Cardholder Data
It is best not to store cardholder data. If your business requires you to do so then ensure it is thoroughly protected. Any CHD that is transmitted across open, public networks should be encrypted.
Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program
This should consist of installing anti-virus software and keeping all protection programs up to date. Develop and maintain secure systems and applications such as using security patches.
Implement Strong Access Control Measures
Restrict access to sensitive CHD on a strictly need-to-know basis. Each user should be identified with a valid ID number when accessing system components. All personnel should be restricted physical access to CHD.
Regularly Monitor and Test Networks
Track and monitor all access to network resources, systems and CHD. Ensure that all security systems, functions and cardholder data environment are regularly tested.
Maintain an Information Security Policy
Maintain a policy that addresses information security and make sure all personnel are aware of it and are kept up-to-date.
Beyond the compliance of systems and processes, there are many secure payment services available, to eliminate the risk of internal staff having unnecessary contact with sensitive card information. Popular solutions range from DTMF Payments, Pause and Resume, Tokenisation and many more. To find out more about these methods, and the popular choices that organisations are adopting to meet PCI DSS in their contact centres download our free eBook below.
Publish Date: January 21, 2016 5:00 AM