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Is Proactive Customer Service The New Norm?

I've recently purchased a new software application for my business. The tool has been helpful in making our team and myself more productive. There is of course a bit of a learning curve and a few areas where I've struggled to figure things out but not enough to contact the provider’s help desk or customer service line.

To my delight and surprise the software provider of this tool has reached out to me…proactively. Checking to see if they can help me in any way. They offer useful tips and suggestions to make sure we are getting the most out of the tool.

And sure enough, the approach works.

I am more engaged with the tool, taking more advantage of the features I may not have been aware of otherwise. And, I am likely to become more dependent on this tool. Ah…there is the key…customer stickiness. I am now more likely to be a long term, loyal customer who renews my subscription.

The experience is great. It makes me wonder if the proactive approach is the new norm for providing an exceptional customer experience. Is it what will be expected for customers to be wowed by the products they use rather than just somewhat satisfied or pleased?

Providing this little bit of extra attention could end up going a long ways in impacting the experience of the customer.

I also think about large contact centers who service and support thousands and thousands of customers. How might a contact center team prepare, staff and cost-justify the additional expense?  The agents making the contact will have to be well coached experts about the products or the call may backfire.  What if the customer is unhappy? Do you also provide a proactive refund and enable the agents to make that call with the customer on the line? 

The well-intended call could have implications that are very broad and complex for a large organization to digest and manage. But if this is the new normal then we will need to adapt.

Also, how will companies incorporate the proactive contact into their operations? Is it a phone call or email and how many times do we attempt to contact our busy end customer? Might a company use the opportunity to up-sell their customer on other products to help offset the expense? Or is the long-term value of the customer justification enough to take this extra step?

If your company is not engaging in proactive customer service, it may be a new strategy for your organization to consider.  The opportunities and customer retention delivering this proactive service may very well outweigh the challenges.

Source: https://blog.envisioninc.com/blog/proactive-customer-service

Publish Date: January 22, 2019 5:00 AM


Do Your Best Agents Still Need Coaching?

No matter what type of contact center, we all have agents with different levels of tenure, skill and motivation that inevitably leads to a bell curve of agent performance and effectiveness. We all desire our agents move to the upper end of the curve where that magic combination of high productivity and quality exists.

The typical performance bell curve for contact center agents shows us that we have highly effective agents, those that are considered average performers and agents that are below average. Most of us focus on coaching and developing agents that are in the lower part of the bell curve, the agents that are in need of the most help in improving effectiveness. However, does it also make sense to also spend time coaching your best agents on an ongoing basis?

Perhaps we don’t need to look any further than Rafael Nadal for the answer. In this year’s US Open, Nadal won the final game of the championship in three straight sets coming into the tournament ranked as the world’s #1 tennis player and continuing his dominance in the sport. However, while Nadal is at the top of his game, he has a coach who continues to work with him on refining his serve, return, and volley. In fact, he now has two coaches as he seeks different input and approaches to continue to improve his game and maintain his #1 ranking.

The lesson learned? As we look within our own contact centers, continuing to invest in the effectiveness of our top performers is important and can keep them at the top of their game. Coach them to not just serve within the lines, but to hit an ace and win more matches by being better, faster and smarter.

Source: http://blog.envisioninc.com/blog/you-shouldnt-have-said-that-you-shouldnt-have-done-that-0

Publish Date: September 28, 2017 5:00 AM


Sorry to Say, but the CX Was Never What You Thought It Was

There’s no denying that every business today, regardless of size or industry, is driven by two simple words: customer experience.

But what exactly is the customer experience? You may think you’ve heard these words tossed around enough to inherently understand them, but you’d be surprised to know just how many variations exist today. In fact, it takes nothing more than a quick Google search to yield a number of unique CX-related results.

For instance, there’s “total customer experience,” which is defined as a customer’s opinion of a company’s products or services. There’s also “customer experience management,” or the process of supporting interactions to meet and exceed customers’ needs. Of course, there are then several definitions of the customer experience itself, including everything from a customer’s psychological perception of a company to the process of improving overall satisfaction.

We found many descriptions of the customer experience, yet only a couple that emphasized what CX is really all about: the value and impact of a customer’s interactions with a company over time.

Those last two words are critical. Every experience we have with a brand, an employee, a spouse, a family member or friend differs based on our circumstances and needs. Yet it doesn’t seem enough businesses truly understand this concept. If they did, they’d be implementing the right technology to ensure they’re delivering consistent customer experiences across all channels and touchpoints—something that only 32 percent of CEM executives say is a legitimate concern.

No two experiences are ever the same, so why is the customer experience—the holy grail of business today—widely perceived as a singular one? Why aren’t more businesses supporting experiences that grow and change alongside their customers’ preferences, behaviors and needs?

Data: The Key to Delivering Amazing Customer Experiences

If the customer experience is the heart of every successful business, then data produces the heartbeat. Data is vital information that the “body” needs to support relevant customer experiences at every touchpoint (in other words, to survive). This is exactly why nearly half of businesses this year are working to create a unified view of customer data that is available to all key internal stakeholders—an initiative that only 30 percent of businesses were focusing on back in 2014.

The “customer experience” may not be realistic; however, the process of consistently delivering amazing customer experiences—in which each interaction is meaningful to each individual customer—is possible, but it has to be driven by data.

It seems the majority of companies understand the importance of using data to drive the CX, but do they understand how to actually do so? After all, more data doesn’t necessarily mean better results. Better results happen when you convert data into actionable insights that drive better business outcomes.

So, what are the greatest data challenges affecting companies today? Here’s what our research found:

  • Drawing data from individual channels while avoiding silos: Research shows that the average contact center processes data captured through at least eight different channels. More channels mean more data, which leads to greater opportunity to hone in on customers’ wants and needs—but not when you have a siloed data view. A single, unified view of customer data is a must, and it seems many companies struggle to achieve this without the right technology.
  • Processing data in a way that enables you to anticipate engagement: You can’t assume to know what your customers are thinking or expecting; rather, you need technology that can help you anticipate this. Predictive analytics allows companies to analyze structured and unstructured data to predict the likelihood of such things as customer spend, retention and churn. Research shows that companies that use predictive analytics are able to retain nearly 30 percent more customers compared to non-users.
  • Providing employees with real-time support: Research shows that top-performing contact centers are almost 40 percent more likely to provide agents with real-time guidance to manage customer conversations. Again, this indicates a need for businesses to do more than just collect data but to actionably use it in the form of continual training and coaching.

In today’s CX-driven world, it’s imperative that every business has a clear focus on what the customer experience means. At the end of the day, it all comes down to ensuring your company is centered on the experiences it’s delivering, driven by the right tools and technologies.

Source: http://blog.envisioninc.com/blog/sorry-to-say-but-the-cx-was-never-what-you-thought-it-was

Publish Date: January 6, 2017 5:00 AM


Three Ways to Promote Transparency and Trust in the Contact Center (Part 3)

If you’re just checking in now, Parts 1 and 2  of this series explore specific areas where contact center managers can embrace openness and honesty with customers and employees. Companies looking to foster a culture of transparency and trust, however, cannot overlook the most important area of business they must be honest about: finances.

Imagine this: You sign on for a new data plan with your carrier and have walked through every cost associated with upgrading; you’re adding a new line, you’re increasing your amount of monthly data, etc. You understand the new changes and leave the store feeling good about your investment—until a bill arrives the next month for $50 more than you agreed to. The reason? Surcharges, which were conveniently left out of the conversation.

These kinds of fees plague customers across every vertical. Consider, for example, that some airlines charge customers a one-time reservation fee when booking flights online. Hotels may charge you a fee for checking into your room too early. In 2013 alone, hotels raked in an estimated $2.1 billion in fees, according to New York University's Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management.

Now, imagine instead walking into a place of business and being informed with complete transparency about all costs and fees you can expect. For instance, imagine being told that when you sign up for that new gym membership, you’re going to get charged a $40 annual fee two months later. Imagine not having to be surprised when you discover that there is a recurring monthly maintenance fee if you don’t maintain a certain balance in your savings account. Imagine how much easier life would be if the businesses we depend on embraced cost transparency.

It’s not hard to understand the benefits of cost transparency. Businesses that are truthful with customers about finances can transform customer retention and loyalty; brand credibility; and, contrary to popular belief, repeat spending.

The contact center is the first place many customers turn to for answers regarding costs, fees and charges. Here are a few ways managers can promote cost transparency within their facilities:

Enhance your scripts: Ensure the verbiage your agents use promotes full transparency of any and all costs, fees and charges. When customers have cost-related questions, ensure agents use language that is straightforward and easy to understand. The time to ban cryptic language from scripts is long overdue.

Email transcripts of conversations to customers: To ensure customers don’t miss anything that was verbally communicated to them, include a transcript of their conversation when following up with them via email. Consider implementing software that enables you to easily send transcripts regardless of the communication channel being used (i.e. live chat, phone, video).

Don’t force upselling or cross-selling: Being honest about costs means being honest with yourself about what is relevant to your customers. Managers should continually coach agents on upselling and cross-selling best practices by creating customized training documents that can be sent straight to agents’ desks during downtime. They can also quickly pass along resources in real-time that they think may be helpful for agents, like a Web link or video they stumbled across.

Offer new opportunities vs. added costs: Costs can be a good or bad thing depending on how customers perceive them. Being open about costs encourages customers to have a more positive mindset about your products and services and how they can lead to new opportunities. Cost transparency allows companies to effectively communicate their value proposition, verses having customers’ eyes glaze over once they begin imagining more dollar signs.

At the end of the day, customers understand that businesses have upfront costs; all they’re asking is that businesses be upfront about them.

Source: http://blog.envisioninc.com/blog/three-ways-to-promote-transparency-and-trust-in-the-contact-center-part-3

Publish Date: October 6, 2016 5:00 AM


Three Ways to Promote Transparency and Trust in the Contact Center (Part 2)

Every business leader should tell you that honesty and integrity is vital for success. In Part 1 of this series, we explored how contact center managers can promote a culture of transparency and trust via quality monitoring. Now, let’s take a look at how managers can promote this culture internally by embracing openness, honesty and truthfulness with agents…

Honesty and trust are perhaps the two most important traits we look for in just about everyone and everything—especially the company we work for. Here are a few ways contact center managers can increase transparency with agents in order to improve engagement, retention, morale and trust:

  • Honestly look at performance at every level: A 2010 study found that companies that encouraged honest feedback among employees experienced a 10-year total shareholder return that was 270 percent more than their competition. If you want to truly promote openness among your staff, you need to embrace honesty at every level. This means welcoming candid feedback about manager and supervisor performances; training processes; recruitment techniques; retention and incentive methods and more.
  • Proactively support honesty without repercussions: A survey recently conducted by Fierce, Inc. found that  a lack of candor negatively impacts their ability to perform. There is indeed such a thing as being honest and respectful. It’s important that employees feel they can respectfully be honest with management (without fear of penalization) in order for supervisors to identify and mediate problems early on, as well as make decisions that will produce positive business outcomes.
  • Take time to explain goals and initiatives: According to another survey from Fierce, 71 percent of employees feel their managers do not spend enough time explaining goals. Managers should be walking agents through the logic behind quarterly and yearly goals, as well as methodologies of tracking those goals. This can be easily achieved by sending email chains that outline continued progress, for example. Or, supervisors can schedule recurring monthly meetings with agents to personally involve them and ask for feedback. Seeing how the average contact center manager is responsible for 20 agents, managers can even create and send customized materials on the fly to instantly keep their agents up to date on priorities, goals and accomplishments.
  • Track data in real-time: According to a 2015 study from Virgin Pulse, more than half of organizations do not use ongoing assessment tools or real-time data to measure success. A performance scorecard—a graphical representation of an employee, team or enterprise’s progress over time—is key for tracking and meeting specific goals. But remember: it’s critical that performance data is tracked in real-time in order to gain accurate insight that drives efficient decision making.
  • Allow employees to collaborate and contribute: This doesn’t mean giving employees new decision making power. Rather, it means recognizing them as valued assets for organizational improvement, and tapping into that. Take a cue from Silicon Valley-based payments company Square, which we mentioned in Part 1. The company has a corporate policy that any meeting involving two or more people must have notes taken down. This way, notes can be shared with all employees to spark new ideas for improvement. 

Remember: a culture of transparency and trust does not just mean happy employees; rather, it’s a deep commitment to respect, and an expectation of honesty at every level. Coming up: In Part 3 of this series, we’ll tackle perhaps the No. 1 destroyer of transparency and trust within the contact center: finances.

Source: http://blog.envisioninc.com/blog/three-ways-to-promote-transparency-and-trust-in-the-contact-center-part-2

Publish Date: September 22, 2016 5:00 AM


Three Ways to Promote Transparency and Trust in the Contact Center (Part 1)

We’ve all heard the age-old saying, “Honesty is the best policy.” We live in a world, however, where the truth is that honesty isn’t always promoted. Just consider the U.S. presidential candidates this election season. FBI director James Comey deemed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton “extremely careless” in the way she handled classified information on a private email server as secretary of state. Meanwhile, Republican candidate Donald Trump has yet to release his tax returns to the general public.

Similarly, customers don’t always have full transparency into business processes and policies. Unfortunately, it’s more likely today that a customer won’t be informed upfront about the details of a contractual agreement, having to then go through hoops to learn the truth about what was discussed. Overall, many business leaders seem to have missed the memo that honesty is what unlocks unlimited business potential.

Being truthful and transparent with your customers and employees is vital for business continuity and profitability. Consider that 81 percent of employees would rather work for a company that values open communication than one that offers exclusive perks; meanwhile, nearly one-third cite a lack of transparency from their direct reports.

Of course, customers also want transparency from the companies they work with—especially when it comes to the way their sensitive data is handled. For instance, a 2014 survey conducted by Intent HQ found that nearly 80 percent of customers have more respect for an honest brand that gathers and presents data in a straightforward way, verses invasive methods.

We’ve seen a number of innovative ways that brands advocate transparency organization-wide. For example, social media management company Buffer operates on a fully transparent email system, meaning there are no private email servers. Any employee can read any email at any time. Meanwhile, Square, a Silicon Valley-based payments company, has a corporate policy that any meeting involving two or more people must have notes taken down. This way, those notes can be shared with all employees to spark new ideas and opportunities for improvement.

So, how can contact center managers do their part to promote a culture of transparency and trust? In this three-part series, we’ll explore unique ways that contact centers can embrace transparency and, in turn, improve the customer and employee experience. Let’s kick things off by exploring quality monitoring best practices.

Is Your Quality Program Run in a Culture of Transparency and Trust?

Quality monitoring is fundamental for managers to identify problems, maintain quality standards, improve the customer experience and enhance overall performance. Most customers are familiar with being told, “This call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes,” but do they really know how their recordings are being used? In other words, are you being fully transparent with customers about your quality monitoring strategy?

Are you being open with customers, for example, about the ways you use conversations and data to achieve specific goals? Are you honing in on internal operational efforts? External benchmarking? The customer experience? Employee training? These are all stellar initiatives, and it’s important that you communicate them with your customers.

Your customers know that support and training are fundamental. More importantly, they’re trusting you to record them and preserve sensitive data including account numbers and contact information. Contact center transparency means educating customers on your quality monitoring program and initiatives. Doing so will improve customers’ perceptions of your brand and will likely increase loyalty and spending.

Coming up: In Part 2 of this series, we’ll take a look at how a culture of transparency and trust produces inside out benefits by redefining employee engagement and satisfaction.

Source: http://blog.envisioninc.com/blog/three-ways-to-promote-transparency-and-trust-in-the-contact-center-part-1

Publish Date: September 9, 2016 5:00 AM


Three Reasons Why You Should NOT Renew Your WFO Software License

Since the advent of the cloud, there has been an ongoing battle between software licensing and Software as a Service (SaaS). The former involves a company signing a licensing contract that permits them to operate a physical piece of software onsite at their location. Meanwhile, the latter involves no physical software product and no licensing contract; rather, the product is available to the company on the cloud as a platform that is hosted by a third-party SaaS provider.

For contact center managers approaching a workforce optimization (WFO) software license renewal, there may be some temptation to leave their binding contract for a more flexible, pay-as-you-go SaaS agreement. We don’t blame them; after all, research shows that on-premise IT solutions are set to drop from 60 percent to 23 percent in the coming year as cloud gains momentum.

But this may not be enough to convince some managers who, for the most part, have been pleased with their licensing agreement. You yourself may be one of them. So, why make the move to SaaS, verses renew a WFO software license? Here are three irrefutable reasons why you should not sign when it comes time for your WFO software license renewal:

  1. Outrageous Fees

With maintenance fees as high as nearly 25 percent of the initial licensing agreement, research has found that—over the course of a 10- to 15-year term—cumulative fees begin to outweigh original licensing costs. Additionally, licensing involves upgrade costs as well as any costs needed to fix glitches in the system. Considering this, it’s not surprising to hear that companies spend between 50-60 percent of their IT budget on software.

Conversely, the positive impact of cloud/hosted technology on business is astounding. According to Dimension Data’s “2016 Global Contact Center Benchmarking Report,” 84 percent of companies saw reduced costs when using cloud/hosted technology. SaaS does not lock users into working with one single WFO product or solution, meaning users can pay as they go. The cost benefits associated with this kind of payment model are huge.

     2. Basic Functionality

A physical software solution can only enable contact center improvement so much. Conversely, SaaS is known to have far fewer restrictive elements, enabling managers to maximize the solution’s overall impact. In fact, 89 percent of companies surveyed by Dimension Data said that cloud/hosted technology enabled them access to new functionality.

Supported by advanced SaaS WFO, managers can:

  • Better measure WFO goals across digital channels (digital channels account for 42 percent of all customer interactions, according to Dimension Data)
  • Implement agent analytics in order to gain deeper insight into the nuances of every agent
  • Better align strategic and operational initiatives                 

     3. Limited Flexibility

Today’s leading organizations understand the importance of agility; they are able to shrink and expand in order to satisfy internal needs, adapt to market changes and meet ever-changing CX demands. Physical WFO software likely doesn’t support this need for agility. In fact, Dimension Data found in its report that “WFO needs to be more evenly applied across the board and be configured to meet the needs of a multitude of operating models.”

On the other hand, 84 percent of companies surveyed by Dimension Data reported an increase in agility and speed-to-market with cloud/hosted technology. All in all, a more agile WFO solution opens the door to true contact center transformation.

If you’re of the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, remember: just because there’s nothing glaringly wrong with your licensing agreement doesn’t mean it’s the best option for your organization. SaaS is a powerful and secure option with today’s modern WFO providers, and it can be on premise or in the cloud.

Interested in learning more about SaaS WFO? We’ve got you covered.

Source: http://blog.envisioninc.com/blog/three-reasons-why-you-should-not-renew-your-wfo-software-license

Publish Date: August 19, 2016 5:00 AM


Your Agents Are the Most Important Touch Point in the Customer Journey

As you know, contact center agents are often your business’s first line of defense. Customer contacts happen at the greatest frequency early in the purchase process when customers are researching brands and weighing their options.

This means that your agents directly influence whether a customer decides to purchase from your business or turn to one of your competitors. After all, 86 percent of consumers are very likely to switch companies if they experience bad customer service, according to a research study from ICMI.

While the majority of contact center leaders understand the important role agents take in the purchasing process, they seem to lack confidence in their organization’s ability to deliver a superior customer experience.

According to the study, while contact center leaders recognize that their centers play an integral role, less than one-fourth of contact center leaders believe that their organization provides a consistent customer experience across the customer journey.

Not only are contact center leaders unprepared, but there also seems to be a major gap between contact center assumptions and customer expectations. In the study, contact center leaders were asked to review a series of statements about customers and indicate how strongly they agreed or disagreed with each one. Below are just a few of the results:

  • 69 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for a product or service with a good customer service reputation; 35 percent of contact center leaders disagree.
  • 80 percent of consumers say companies put more effort into selling than they do providing excellent customer service; 88 percent of contact center leaders disagree.
  • 86 percent of consumers are very likely to switch companies if they experience bad customer service; 81 percent of contact center leaders disagree.
  • Three percent of consumers prefer using social media to interact with a representative; 41 percent of contact center leaders disagree.

If contact center leaders wish to improve the customer experience, then they must start with their “first line of defense”—their agents. With agents being the most important touch point in the customer journey, contact center leaders must give their agents the necessary tools to wow customers.

Cloud-based workforce optimization software, for example, allows businesses to combine recording and call quality management into one easy-to-use program to oversee contact center agent performance.

With cloud-based workforce optimization, contact center leaders are able to gather tons of valuable data—for example, trending topics and words, keystrokes, voice, and screen—to help improve customer interactions and increase agent productivity.

Not only does it improve agent interactions, but it also allows for more accurate forecasts and develops more effective contact center schedules. Not to mention that it’s cloud-based, which means that it can be used across multiple locations, multiple sites and for remote customer service representatives. What’s more, it’s cost-effective and doesn’t require upfront expenses and IT requirements of traditional workforce software.

So what are you waiting for? Click here to see learn more about Envision’s cloud-based workforce optimization software offering.

Source: http://blog.envisioninc.com/blog/your-agents-are-the-most-important-touch-point-in-the-customer-journey

Publish Date: June 17, 2016 5:00 AM


Contact Center Leaders Still Fail to Understand Customers’ Communication Needs

As a contact center leader you’re constantly under pressure to drive revenue for your organization by ensuring that your agents are engaged and supporting an environment that effectively satisfies the needs of your customers.

 To do this effectively means first understanding your customers’ preferences and wishes.

 While you may think you know your customers like the back of your hand, findings from a 2015 survey of 576 contact center executives, directors, managers and customers suggest otherwise. That is, some of the key conclusions, listed below, directly contradict what customers indicate are their preferences when interacting with a contact center.

  • Less than one quarter of contact center leaders believe that their organization provides a consistent customer experience across the customer journey.
  • More contact centers use email (85 percent) than live representative calls (77 percent) despite email being one of the slowest channels for response time.
  • Only 11 percent of contact center leaders believe customers prefer to use online channels such as chat and social media instead of calling a company on the phone.

In contrast to what contact center leaders believe, according to the study, more than one third of customers expressed an interest in using text and SMS more often if offered, and two thirds felt online chat was important to support. Based on this and other incongruencies pointed out in the study, a majority of contact center leaders are failing to meet the needs of today’s customers who want consistent, efficient resolution across a variety of channels.

To resolve the disconnect and better serve customers, contact center leaders need to both recalibrate their understanding of what customers expect and evolve their communications infrastructure and operational protocols in line with their new knowledge. The best way to do this is to replace any outdated on-premises hardware in favor of more agile and robust cloud-based solutions that can support your organization’s goal to more fully address customers’ changing needs.

That is, cloud solutions enable you to:

  • Collect customer histories and preferences to promote consistency across channels and efficiently route customer calls to the same agent they chatted with on other channels;
  • Monitor agent-customer interactions across channels and gain valuable insights from real-time analytics to help train agents to more effectively resolve customer inquiries; and
  • Utilize your cloud provider’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools to streamline software updates and security patches, as well as to effectively schedule agents to decrease downtime.

At present, contact center leaders are not taking full advantage of the innovative solutions available today to enhance the customer experience. Some 65 percent of the leaders surveyed report that their contact centers do not collect customer preferences for channels of interaction, with nearly half failing to use segmentation data to route customers to the best agent. 

A cloud-based solution and SaaS tools can help contact center leaders better understand customer expectations and evolve their organizations to address them more optimally—maximizing satisfaction and, ultimately, driving revenues.

To learn more about how your contact center can better understand the needs of your customers, click here.

Source: http://blog.envisioninc.com/blog/contact-center-leaders-still-fail-to-understand-customers-communication-needs

Publish Date: June 10, 2016 5:00 AM


Do You Know Which Communication Channels Will Meet Your Customers’ Expectations?

As a contact center supervisor, you want what’s best for your customers, your team and your business as a whole. So, you want to eliminate any gaps between your performance and customer expectations while staying aligned with corporate goals. Out of necessity, then, as the overseer of a modern facility, keeping up with technology is one of your primary concerns. In your call center, this means optimizing communication: enabling your agents and customers to seamlessly carry on the conversation over a number of different service channels.

If this isn’t happening in your contact center, you’re not alone. Less than one-fourth of contact center leaders believe that their organization provides a consistent customer experience across the customer journey, according to a 2015 ICMI report based on a survey sponsored by InContact.

What’s missing? A lack of insight into customer preferences for interaction channels. To turn this around, many organizations are turning to cloud-based solutions for capturing customer data. Since every company is different, each must collect information from its own customers. Effective call center software that collects and organizes customer input—the voice of the customer—allows you to make strategic, operational and transformational improvements in your organization.

Most contact center leaders do not know which channels their customers prefer using to contact them, so how can they know what channels to support and how they should be utilized? Without such insight, you too may wind up unnecessarily supporting some channels while completely neglecting others. Instead, employ exceptional software-as-a-service tools to collect customer preference data. As you strive to improve the customer experience, this is a surefire means to effectively match channels to customer needs.

For example, here are the top six channels that consumers making a purchase online find most important (in descending order) for communicating with companies, according to the ICMI report:

  • Email
  • Online self-service for order tracking
  • 1-800 to a live rep
  • Online chat
  • 1-800 to self-service
  • Apps for mobile devices

This list will change for each company based on the data it collects from its own customers. A contact center’s ability to effectively serve its connected consumers will be directly proportional to the depth of insight it gains on its customers’ specific needs and preferences.

Remember that your agents will continue to play an important role in your ability to meet customer expectations. No matter the proficiency of the interaction channels you ultimately provide to your customers, the study found that 81 percent of U.S. adults prefer a live agent when they are dissatisfied. Specifically, they want to communicate via phone or online chat.

The human touch is still critical for moving your customers happily through their purchasing journey. In this regard, your contact center solutions should enable you to optimize your workforce using tools for recording customer interactions, organizing data and easily viewing reports in an online dashboard.

Click2Coach from Envision offers contact center leaders the quality recording (for multiple channels), and robust analytics and reporting to improve customer experiences. For more information on how Envision can help you with its feature-rich solution, click here.

Source: http://blog.envisioninc.com/blog/do-you-know-which-communication-channels-will-meet-your-customers-expectations

Publish Date: May 27, 2016 5:00 AM


How to Beat Agent Churn in the Call Center

Is your call center experiencing abnormal increases in agent churn? Before you start to panic, know that call centers have one of the highest turnover rates of any industry. In fact, according to research from QATC, overall averages for the call center industry as a whole range between 30 percent and 45 percent.

While the turnover of call center agents is normal, it’s important that you keep a watchful eye on your turnover rate. After all, unexpected increases in agent churn can have a negative impact on your business and its bottom line.

For example, high turnover rates are associated with high costs. The cost of recruiting, onboarding and training new agents can really put a dent in a company’s wallet. What’s more, a high turnover rate can affect morale. It becomes increasingly difficult to create a motivating and positive work environment when agents are constantly leaving.

The good news is that you can reduce your churn rate by making a few simple changes. But before you can seek a solution to your problem, you have to understand why your agents are leaving in the first place. The most common reason why agents quit their jobs is because they are simply not a good fit for the work.

Call center agents must have a diverse set of skills, including flexibility and adaptability. It takes a special individual to deal with the stressors of fielding upward of 80 calls per day. Many hiring managers make the mistake of onboarding individuals simply because they have good phone skills, not taking into account how the pressure mounts with each successive call.   

The second most common reason why call center agents quit is because they have issues with their supervisors. Supervisors play an extraordinarily important role in the call center. Not only do they ensure goals are met, but they are responsible for motivating agents and creating a healthy work environment.

Unfortunately, many supervisors get so wrapped up on meeting aggressive KPIs that they forget about their agents’ needs. Oftentimes, supervisors are painted as discipliners or enforcers who display no interest in developing agents’ skills or motivating team members.

So, what can call center leaders do to ensure that their agent churn rate remains healthy and employees stay happy and motivated? It’s actually a lot simpler than you might think.

Implementing workforce optimization software into your call center can greatly improve agent churn. For example, the technology helps efficiently and effectively train agents so they have the tools and skills to confidently perform their jobs. And more confident agents equate to better-quality service.

What’s more, workforce optimization software records voices, screens, agent keystrokes and application workflow right from the desktop. Armed with this information, supervisors can identify agents who might be struggling and intervene before they call it quits.

Retaining employees is the key to reducing recruitment and operational costs. Therefore, it’s important to keep your call center agents motivated and feeling valued. Improve your agent turnover rate by implementing workforce optimization software. Not only will you see improvements in turnover, but you’ll also see spikes in overall customer satisfaction.

Source: http://blog.envisioninc.com/blog/how-to-beat-agent-churn-in-the-call-center

Publish Date: April 7, 2016 5:00 AM


Are You Doing Your Best as a Contact Center Supervisor?

If your superior were to ask you whether or not you think you’re doing your best, could you confidently answer yes? While this is a tough question, ask it of yourself every once in a while nevertheless to measure whether you’re on top of your game.

As a contact center supervisor, you drive the success of your call center. Your performance undoubtedly affects the business unit’s overall performance and drives customer satisfaction for better or for worse.

If you’re somehow falling short in the fulfillment of your duties, you can be sure that employees will notice and start to mirror your behavior. Soon they will be taking a laissez-faire approach to their jobs, and your bottom line will quickly reflect this attitude.

That’s why it’s important to have a set of best practices in place that will keep you honest about your performance and ensure that you’re leading your team of employees to success, as follows:

  • Be a student: All too often, contact center managers get complacent in their roles. Just because the call center may be running effectively doesn’t mean you get to sit back and relax. Be a student and discover new ways of doing things. For example, travel to conferences to find new, innovative ways to motivate or train your staff.
  • Always be communicative: Don’t leave your contact center agents in the dark. Create a collaborative environment in which feedback is welcomed and valued. Make sure you provide consistent and timely feedback and reinforcement. For example, conduct routine evaluations of the agent’s calls and share them promptly. When needed, offer additional training.
  • Be accountable: Not every quarter is going to be a home run. There will be times in which your department falls short of its goals. Perhaps, for example, your department didn’t service as many tickets this quarter as last. When this happens, it’s important that you take accountability and work positively toward making changes.
  • Build a welcoming environment: You set the tone for your team of employees. The most successful supervisors create a welcoming work environment by establishing a good rapport with their employees and encouraging core values, such as teamwork, creativity, responsibility and excellence.
  • Use data to your advantage: Don’t make important decisions based on gut feelings, as they are often inaccurate and hard to defend. Rather, make better, more informed decisions using all of the valuable data that you have at your fingertips. For example, you have a ton of contact center KPIs that can help you develop better training manuals and policies.

As a contact center supervisor, you have a lot of responsibilities, from training your staff to meeting key contact center performance goals to analyzing customer issues. With all of these responsibilities, it’s easy to get thrown off track.

Make sure that you do a gut check each month or so to determine whether you’re performing at your best. If you sense that you’re getting off-kilter, review the best practices listed above and reset your compass for true north.

Source: http://blog.envisioninc.com/blog/are-you-doing-your-best-as-a-contact-center-supervisor

Publish Date: March 25, 2016 5:00 AM


Using Automatic Scorecards to Improve Agent Performance

Today’s customers are more critical of companies than ever before, being that expectations have been raised by the multitude of businesses vying for their attention. One bad customer experience could leave a bad taste in their mouths or, worse, send them running to a competitor.

In fact, 60 percent of consumers cancelled a business transaction or purchase due to a poor service experience—a significant increase from 2012 (55 percent), according to the American Express “2014 Global Customer Barometer Report.”

Your agents play an extraordinarily important role in your business, helping to keep today’s customers satisfied and coming back for more. As a contact center manager, it’s your responsibility to make sure that agents are performing up to standards and keeping customers happy.

To accomplish this, you need to collect, evaluate and score contact center agent interactions and skills. Doing that, however, isn’t always easy, as one must collect a lot of data points, some of which are complex. 

Unfortunately, many of today’s contact center managers use old-school manual scoring, which takes an enormous amount of time and can often grossly misrepresent an agent’s effectiveness.

With manual scoring, it’s hard to get an accurate picture of what your agents need to work on, making it difficult for you to implement effective training strategies for agent improvement.

Rather than leave your scoring up to chance and put your business on the line, you might want to think about investing in sophisticated workforce automation software that gives you quick and objective insight into agent performance.

Workforce automation software gives you a clear summary of trending topics and words, agent keystrokes and applications that have been opened and closed—with a simple click of a button. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

The information thus gathered will enable you to more accurately evaluate interactions and implement training that will help agents improve hard and soft skills. For example, you might learn that some of your agents are having a hard time handling difficult customers. This critical insight will allow you to create a personalized training program for these agents that will give them the skills to deal with these types of customers.

What’s more, with workforce automation you can monitor these agent’s interactions to track progress. After all, if you’re not able to track progress, you might as well not implement a training program at all.

Let’s face it: No customer service agent is perfect. Each one has his or her own weaknesses and strengths. It’s up to you to improve customer service by giving them personalized training. Invest in workforce automation and finally help your agents improve their skills by better evaluating their interactions with customers.

Source: http://blog.envisioninc.com/blog/using-automatic-scorecards-to-improve-agent-performance

Publish Date: March 10, 2016 5:00 AM


Leverage Agent Personalities to Improve the Customer Experience

Chances are you have a slew of different personalities that make up your customer service team. For example, you might have a few people who are extremely outgoing and another group of agents who are more shy and/or quiet.

Believe it or not, there’s an advantage to having a mixed bag of personalities on your team. After all, not every customer likes to be greeted by a loud customer service agent who’s got a big personality. Rather, some customers may like to communicate with someone who’s more relaxed and soothing. 

It’s human nature to gravitate toward people who have a personality similar to your own—it’s called “chemistry.” For example, introverts are often intimidated by people with more outgoing personalities (i.e., extroverts). In the customer service world, mismatching an agent to a customer can end up going horribly wrong.

Matching agent and customer personalities, however, can be tricky. In fact, in most contact centers, the attempt isn’t even made; instead, most customers get placed with whatever customer service agent happens to answer the phone.

So, how can your contact center take the lead and ensure that customers are connected to the right agents for their personality types? Believe it or not, there’s such a thing as personality-based routing, which uses data to identify the best agent to handle each caller based on the agent’s past performance and personal strengths, along with the customer’s personality and other behavioral characteristics.

Essentially, this sophisticated technology mines through past data sets to match the perfect agent with each designated caller. Compare it to a dating site, in which people are matched together based on their likes and dislikes. While not foolproof, the odds are in your favor, as matches are based on real data.

Not only does personality-based routing make calls smoother and quicker, it can also improve critical customer service metrics that contribute to your overall bottom line. For example, personality-based routing can help raise customer satisfaction rates, decrease average talk time, increase first call resolution and boost sales conversions. 

Don’t match the wrong customer service agent with the wrong customer ever again or, worse, put them on hold until you can get them matched with the appropriate person. Use personality-based routing to help improve the overall customer experience. 

Source: http://blog.envisioninc.com/blog/leverage-agent-personalities-to-improve-the-customer-experience

Publish Date: March 3, 2016 5:00 AM


The Personal Approach Goes a Long Way in Improving the Customer Experience

A recent survey from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) determined that flight crew performance is the most influential factor when evaluating one’s travel experience. In other words, a simple smile or friendly greeting from a flight attendant can do wonders compared even to extra leg room or a free in-flight snack.

You may be asking yourself, what does this have to do with my business? Well, everything, frankly. The fact that consumers said flight crew performance is so influential just goes to show how important it is that your customer service agents develop personal connections with the customer.

The reality is you could have the most innovative product or service on the market, but if users don’t have a great customer experience, all of that money you have invested in creating a top-notch product or service is essentially wasted.

That being said, how exactly can your agents bring a personal touch to each and every interaction they have with customers? It starts with being personable and professional. Remember that you are dealing with human beings who want to be treated well.

Agents shouldn’t come off as cold or scripted; rather they should be warm, sympathetic and helpful. What’s more, give your agents the freedom and tools to go the extra mile for customers when necessary.

The saying “a little goes a long way” rings nowhere more true than in the customer service space. Your customer care agents are the face of your company. They are often the initial point of contact for first-time customers and, therefore, shape the perception of your business—good or bad.

Make sure that your customer service agents are going the extra mile in cultivating a personal connection with your customers using the few tips and tricks above.

Source: http://blog.envisioninc.com/blog/the-personal-approach-goes-a-long-way-in-improving-the-customer-experience

Publish Date: February 25, 2016 5:00 AM

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