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Eckoh - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog

Contact centre resilience – 5 lessons learned from COVID-19

In the words of Elvis, we're 'all shook up'. Not surprising after the initial reaction to the global pandemic that is COVID-19. It's changed how we think, live and work and why it's important to build resiliency into contact centre operations.

Traditionally contact centres have always had to consider how they keep going in crisis situations because their customers expect to be able to keep in touch and businesses depend on their front line customer service functions. But, with COVID-19 things have turned out to be quite different to anything experienced before.

So how is it that some organisations are faring better than others? The answer lies in the way they’ve approached the crisis and responded to the needs of their customers, employees and their business. Not forgetting security too.

Those that have fared well have done so thanks to agility and decisive thinking. Now, Eckoh’s experts have compiled a useful eGuide that looks at the top 5 lessons learned from COVID-19 that can have a real positive impact on how you face the future. We’ll be looking at:

  • Ways to succeed with reduced agent numbers
  • How to protect the customer experience with home working agents
  • How to combat cyber criminals attempts to take advantage of your vulnerability.

There’s no doubt that contact centre operations will be changed forever as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, both in terms of business continuity and ongoing operations.  As organisations across the country start to mobilise their workforce ‘back to the office’, many will begin to recognise that some of the practices implemented during lockdown could actually become an integral part of their business continuity planningIt will also reveal other practices that you could use to make your contact more resilient for the future.

To find out more download our eGuideContact CentreResilience - lessons learned from COVID-19. visit www.eckoh.com/contact-centres-resiliency

Alternatively, if you’d like to talk to us about how we can help then just get in touch. 

Publish Date: June 16, 2020 12:26 PM


How to make remote working secure

Considering enabling your agents to work remotely? If so, you’re probably most concerned with being able to maintain PCI DSS compliance and security.

What’s the risk?

Having a remote contact centre workforce comes with some risks. The prospect of allowing credit/debit card details, national insurance, driving licence and other sensitive numbers and personal details to run freely through the hands of unmonitored home-based agents is a major concern. Rogue agents can undermine the benefits and fraudsters could find it easier to gain access to your systems.

It isn't alarmist to be worried about this: It's realistic.

There are over 770,000 contact centre agents across all sectors in the UK, accounting for approximately 4% of the workforce[1]. The traditional approach of safeguarding sensitive data within contact centres by using 'clean rooms' is deeply flawed anyway but even the weak protection it provides cannot be transferred to the home. Bans on mobile phones, other strict rules and constant monitoring cannot be applied to a someone's spare bedroom in Bromley, Birmingham or Bristol.

The rewards - there are stand-out advantages…

Regardless of the reason for embracing remote working there are some compelling benefits such as…

  • The ability to flex to cover peaks, so callers spend less time waiting
  • Reduced need for office space
  • Easier to hire agents and reduce attrition rates
  • And it's not just older, experienced employees you'll be likely to attract. Huffpost reports that 64% of millennials would like the opportunity to work from home.[2]

So, what’s the answer?

With Secure Payment tools you can hide sensitive data from all your agents whether they're based within your contact centre or work from home. With Customer Engagement tools you can maintain connected customer journeys, including taking payments, across all channels and actually improve the customer experience.

Put simply, remote agents can: 

  • Take secure payments remotely in just the same way as in your contact centre
  • Take payments within as many channels as possible – telephone, online, chat, chatbot or IVR
  • Engage with customers in their choice of channel so the customer experience remains unaffected

Eckoh’s payment and engagement tools are all delivered via the Eckoh Experience Portal which allows you to take the solutions you need today and add new ones as you need them so you’re ready and agile to meet future needs.

If you’d like some advice and guidance on making remote working a reality, get in touch.

*Source:

[1] 'UK Contact Centres 2018-2022' - ContactBabel

[2] 'How Millennials Are Shaking Up American Work Culture From Their Parents’ Basements' - Huffpost

Publish Date: June 2, 2020 11:26 AM


Self-Service - what's in it for me?

Customer engagement can be delicate at the best of times, so why risk throwing a whole bunch of new Self-Service tools into the mix? The answer is easy because everyone wins when you get it right. 

Over the years, companies and their customers have been burned by self service. When it goes bad, it can backfire spectacularly:

  • At some time or other, most of us have lost hours of our lives trapped in joyless IVR systems, vowing to never dial those numbers again.
  • Maybe we tried out that cartoon virtual assistant that winked at us seductively from a website — only to find they gave us generic answers to every question?
  • And perhaps we were once asked by a robot to state clearly what we wanted, before being hopelessly misunderstood, repeatedly?

Sadly, those badlands still exist today if you're unfortunate enough to stumble onto them.

But the good news is that sub-standard Self-Service is on the way out. Next-gen Self-Service is here.

Arriving in the nick of time

A wealth of powerful, intelligent and intuitive Self-Service new tools have become available to contact centres ... and not a moment too soon.

Today, many contact centres are buckling under the ever-increasing weight of customer expectation. Drop the ball and customers will sound off loudly on social media.

Hiring, training and retaining more agents is expensive at a time when budgets are under pressure. And many customer enquiries, security checks and agent tasks are so mind-numbingly dull that everyone feels belittled by the process.

So, if agents end up feeling like robots, then why not let the robots take over - at least for the simplest of tasks? That way, many human employees could switch over to selling, sorting tricky enquiries and really applying the polish to the customer experience.

Well, that's exactly what's happening at many smart organisations today.

Numbers speak for themselves

Eckoh has just published its essential guide to Self-Service, which proves how Self-Service tools are now doing the serious heavy lifting in a scalable way for contact centres at a handful of forward-thinking organisations.

The guide cites some stand-out examples: 

  • A travel operator has used Self-Service to handle 25 million calls and 59 million minutes of traffic
  • The same company managed two million text enquiries with a two-way SMS service
  • A telecoms firm reduce agent time by one minute per call, thanks to automated security checks
  • A shopping channel found a way for 70% of callers to make a secure purchase using its IVR alone
  • Another company used self service to take 86,000 payments with a value of over £7 million.

A thumbs-up from customers

In the bad old days, customers would often see Self-Service as a way of companies cutting back on quality at their expense. But they embrace next-gen Self-Service because it genuinely saves them valuable time, puts them in control and fits with their lifestyles by being available 24/7.

When companies get Self-Service right, it's like pushing at an open door.

A Nuance survey found that 67% of people would rather use Self-Service than speak to someone. And for some, the feeling runs ultra-deep: Researchers working for Aspect found that nearly a third of consumers would rather clean a toilet than talk to customer service.

So why not give them an instant, stress-free alternative? The answers are within easy reach.

Five rules for getting it right

Successful Self-Service can lead to increased sales, greater customer satisfaction and less frustration, not to mention significant savings for organisations.

Eckoh's guide to self-service profiles top tools available today. You'll also discover five principles to follow and tap into expert advice on deploying quickly, easily and affordably via the cloud.You won't need to keep customers waiting.

Get in touch if you'd like to know more about Self-Service Customer Engagement.

Publish Date: June 2, 2020 11:22 AM


How can I avoid storing card data when taking payments?

Are you worried that storing customer card data will make you a target for criminals? If so, you're not alone. Most merchants feel the same way. But there is an answer.

Most of us would feel on-edge if we walked around with £50,000 in crisp banknotes stuffed into our pockets. So it's no surprise that the majority of merchants feel the same about the precious customer card data they're holding onto in their contact centres — especially as it places them within scope for PCI DSS compliance.

Recent research from American Express shows that 55% of merchants store customer profiles and card payment details for future purchases — and another 22% plan to do the same in the next 12 months*. However, 73% of merchants feel that storing customer credit cards on file is a security concern for their business. And 76% would prefer not to store customer credit card details at all. Some are bothered about the costs involved too.

But it seems that the need to offer simple payment options and deliver great customer experiences — to stay competitive — may have pushed merchants into this uncomfortable position. So what's the answer?

Where is card data hiding?
Before looking at solutions, it's worth exploring where customer card details are stored within a typical contact centre. It can be unnerving to discover where pockets of precious data end up:

  • PBX-telephony systems: If you take payments over the phone, then sensitive details could be found here.
  • Databases: These are an obvious location for sensitive data. But how good is your security around them?
  • Applications/CRM: Card details could be found alongside your customers' account profiles.
  • Call recordings: Calls are often recorded for training or legal purposes. But recordings can inadvertently contain card numbers spoken aloud by customers or entered using audible DTMF keypad tones that can be deciphered back into numbers.
  • Contact Centre Agents: It's not unknown for agents to scribble down people's numbers or cut-and-paste details from one screen to another because of system issues. It's an area of vulnerability even if agents don't have fraud in mind (though this can be a motive).

PCI DSS non compliance isn't an option

Any merchant that wants to process, store or transmit credit card data needs to be compliant with PCI DSS industry standards. Navigating PCI DSS involves checking PCI merchant levels, investigating the best way to provide PCI DSS compliant payments and completing a PCI assessment.

But attempting to handle each of these areas yourself using an array of PCI DSS compliant solutions can be complex, costly, time-consuming — and never totally secure. Think about new equipment, integration, patching, training and trying to enforce strict policies. Even then, you're still vulnerable to human error, mischief-making or insider fraud  

You'll still be a target too — for criminals that are getting increasingly sophisticated in their modes of attack. So what's the alternative to trying to sort your own contact centre compliance?

Lifting the burden from your business

Rolling back on customer convenience isn't the way to go. But it's possible to overcome the data security risks by using a solution that prevents data entering your systems in the first place – such as Eckoh CallGuard or ChatGuard.

For customers, the process is ultra smooth. They still speak or chat to your agents, use your familiar apps and your website as normal. What's more, with a PCI Level 1 partner such as Eckoh, you can add extra payment methods securely — such as Alternative Payments, Chat Payments or IVR payments.

Behind the scenes, CallGuard prevents any sensitive data from entering your contact centre systems. Instead, data passes through Eckoh’s secure platform to the Payment Service Provider (PSP) and transaction success is confirmed by return.

Inside your contact centre, the data is masked by Eckoh’s patented tokenisation technology which makes sure that the real card data is not exposed to your agents or systems.  

So your entire contact centre environment is shielded from any trace of sensitive data. This means that even if criminals managed to get around your security, infiltrate your workforce or obtain information from systems — there's nothing sensitive to steal.

Entirely de-scoping your contact centre means that customer service directors, contact centre managers, chief security officers and heads of compliance can breathe a sigh of relief. While they cannot pass on the whole burden of PCI DSS compliance, it can ease the load, risk and the worry.

Call centre compliance made easy

De-scoping your contact centre can be quick and relatively pain-free. It doesn't require the wholesale removal of your technology, expensive investment, painful integration and months of disruption impacting staff and customers.

With a cloud-based platform, such as the Eckoh Experience Portal, you can quickly access all the engagement channels and payment solutions you need to truly transform customer engagement and protect customer data as well as achieving, and maintaining, PCI DSS compliance.

Publish Date: June 2, 2020 11:16 AM


Your PCI DSS compliance – can you see the hidden threats

Titanic differences in de-scoping vendors

It’s relatively easy to spot an iceberg floating in the ocean. But it’s impossible to know just how massive it is without diving deep into the water.

Similar hidden dangers exist in the PCI DSS compliance market. There may be providers or compliance solutions that offer to secure your payments and give you broad promises about de-scoping, but their solutions only tackle surface-level threats and often rely on compensating controls. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The real dangers to your contact centre lurk deep beneath the surface, in the areas that most vendors are incapable of protecting.

In other words, you may have paid for de-scoping but get stuck with de-risking.

The dangers of de-risking

By using a de-risking strategy to achieve PCI DSS compliance, which often includes a number of compensating controls which may soon be deemed unacceptable, you allow sensitive data to continue to flow through crucial parts of your contact centre.

Only by completely removing the data from your environment (full de-scoping) can you be sure that your contact centre is as safe as possible.

The difference between de-risking and de-scoping can have significant implications for merchants, and these implications aren’t always clear when you choose an approach.

On average, UK contact centres use three different PCI DSS solutions to maintain compliance.

A multi-solution approach offers some form of de-risking, but not full de-scoping. You might be investing time, money and effort in an unreliable system that still leaves you exposed. Ineffective solutions can include:

  • Pause & resume – it’s prone to errors and doesn’t actually protect data so it could capsize your system
  • Mid-Call – it’s also prone to errors and is a collision of timing and human error
  • Appliances at the desktop and call recorder – doesn’t actually remove data from the contact centre environment
  • Appliance within your data centre – you may be de-risking part of your business but there is still data in your environment.

Don’t let de-risking sink your contact centre

There’s only one solution that truly removes the contact centre environment from the scope of PCI DSS compliance. You need a hosted solution like CallGuard from Eckoh which will fully protect your contact centre by preventing customer card data from entering in the first place. If there’s nothing there, there’s nothing to steal.

Publish Date: June 2, 2020 11:13 AM


Are your callers trapped inside the IVR that time forgot?

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:

Source: http://blog.eckoh.com/callers-trapped-inside-the-ivr-that-time-forgot

Publish Date: August 9, 2016


Fine Tuning Your IVR Can Win You Customers

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:

Source: http://blog.eckoh.com/fine-tune-your-ivr-system-to-win-customers

Publish Date: July 28, 2016


What to do — if your IVR behaves badly?

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!

Source: http://blog.eckoh.com/ivr-behaving-badly

Publish Date: July 14, 2016

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