Fonolo - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog Page 11
I think it’s fair to say that the busier you are, the higher the likelihood for error. When you’re managing and juggling more things than normal, mistakes are of course inevitable. Now let’s think about the environment of a call center. You can almost sum it up in one word – volatile. Unexpected peaks in call volume, workforce personnel constantly changing, fluctuations in consumer demands, and the list goes on. The contact center space is in a constant state of change and is expected to keep up every step of the way. But, just like anything else that’s full of activity, errors are bound to occur.
Luckily, these call center mistakes are common throughout the industry. So much so, that we can address them now and try to avoid them in the future. Here are five errors your contact center is making every day.
1. Leaving Customers on Hold
Every call center strives to do the best possible job keeping customers happy. Doing this consistently, and doing it better than the competition, is no small challenge. Yet, many call centers lose customers every day through the simple act of leaving them on hold.
To prevent this from happening, contact centers should consider offering a call-back. Call-backs improve customer satisfaction and make the call center experience more enjoyable. Not only do they positively effect CSat, call-backs also provide concrete ROI for the call center. Check out this eBook for more on that subject.
2.Untimely Twitter Responses
Twitter’s contribution to the contact center plays two roles.
1) It’s a customer service channel all in itself; and
2) It’s a way to complain about the most dominant service channel, which is still the plain ‘ole phone call. (Check out onholdwith.com for Tweeters complaining about hold time.)
According to Search Engine Watch, 70% of surveyed Twitter users expect a response from brands they reach out to, and of those users, 53% want a reply in under an hour. This increases to 72% when they’re issuing a complaint.
The importance of responding to a Tweeter in a timely manner is critical, especially when the tweet is negative. Here are some of the benefits:
- 47% of people recommend the brand on social media
- 43% of people encourage friends and family to buy from that brand
- 42% of people praise the company on social media
To avoid any lag in response times, create alerts for Twitter complaints so they are not missed.
3. Not Realizing Pitfalls When Calculating Metrics
Measuring and improving call center metrics can be a pain point for executives. Your call center operates in a stressful environment where good quality metrics lead to a higher standard of customer service. You may not realize it, but there are common errors when calculating these 4 popular call center metrics: Occupancy Rate, Average Handle Time, Service Levels, and Abandonment Rate.
These numbers drive your budget, the jobs of your agents and, of course, your company’s bottom line, so it’s critical to get them right. Rather than diving into everything here, read the full detailed report for a thorough understanding. You’ll also gain insight into how those pitfalls can be avoided.
4. Not Collecting Customer Feedback
The relationship you have with your customers is key to future success. Are you listening to them and effectively meeting their needs? VoC research is designed to support customer driven change, and in an era where change is ongoing, these programs are essential.
It’s vital that you capture consumer expectations and preferences in order to accurately meet their needs. If you haven’t developed a VoC program, now is the time. According to Forrester, successful VoC programs should support a cycle of four activities: Listen to customer feedback, interpret the resulting data, react to improve the experience, and monitor results. As a profound writer on customer loyalty, Kevin Stritz puts it this way,
Know what your customers want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet.
5. Not Rewarding Agents
There’s little doubt that recognizing a job well done is a great motivator. So do it regularly! It doesn’t need to be an annual trip to Hawaii (though feel free to sign me up for that). Rather, regular acts of public recognition can genuinely improve morale and bring out the competitive spirit in everyone. Unfortunately, many call centers fail to recognize this important topic. They are so focussed on improving metrics that they often neglect their front-line staff.
Luckily, there are many ways to incent and reward employees. Investing the time and effort to develop a strategy that fits your particular environment can pay enormous dividends.
Publish Date: May 12, 2016 5:00 AM
Each year companies lose an estimated $41 billion due to their poor customer service. On top of this, nearly 80% of contact centers say their current customer service systems won’t meet their future needs. At that rate, those estimated losses are destined to increase drastically unless customer service leaders make a change.
It’s okay, we understand, no one is perfect. But it’s time to shed some light on those common customer service shortcomings (without any judgment, of course). Today, we’re exploring five true confessions of contact center and customer service professionals in hopes of aiding them and others on their quest to improve and eliminate these pitfalls for good.
True Confession #1: “Our customers wait on hold far too long…”
75% of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent and 25% switch because they are tired of being kept on hold. Yet there’s a simple solution to giving customers their time back and to elevate stress on your call center agents: call-backs. Call-backs help to even out spikes in call volume, lower abandon rates, and can even lower your telco bills. Unfortunately, many contact centers fail to provide this effective solution to their customers. Why? There’s a host of logical reasons I’m sure but the customer experience has become far too valuable to avoid implementation any longer.
Surprisingly, deploying call-backs can actually be a painless experience, just ask, Mark Edelman, former VP of Digital Member Services at Stanford Credit Union. After deploying Fonolo’s In-Call Rescue solution SCU was able to decrease abandonment rates by 50% and saved $60,000 in the process.
True Confession #2: “Our customers can’t switch from live chat to voice…”
57% of customers end up having to switch from web to phone. When a conversation on chat becomes too complex, it’s important that customer service teams recognize this and are equipped to escalate to a voice conversation. However, if an agent has to tell a customer to call a generic 1-800 line to complete the interaction, we have a problem. Agents should be able to easily escalate the conversation while preserving the context (so that the customer doesn’t have to start over again).
Conveniently, Fonolo announced its “Voice-to-Chat” feature leading up to the ICMI Contact Center Expo which is happening right now!
True Confession #3: “We can’t send SMS alerts when a customer is waiting…”
I mean, technically you CAN, but you just haven’t deployed the right solution…yet. Mobile alerts have become increasingly important in a world that is nearly 2/3 mobile savvy. Today, 77% of consumers with texting capabilities aged 18-34 are likely to have a positive perception of a company that offers text capability. Contact centers using Fonolo can use “SMS Alerts” to notify customers of the progress of their call after they’ve requested a call-back.
It’s easy to lose a customer’s attention when hold times are long, but this solution can reduce the frustration by remaining transparent while keeping you and the customer connected.
True Confession #4: “We don’t offer any self-service options…”
Self-service can make your call center a smoother, better-oiled machine, and the demand for it is overwhelming. According to Zendesk, 91% of customers would take advantage of a knowledge base resource if it met their needs. Basically, your customers are telling you that they want to figure it out for themselves, so why not let them? Adding a self-service portal can also change the perception of your brand. In fact, 60% of consumers view a brand with a mobile-responsive self-service option more favorably than one that doesn’t.
By adding a self-service customer portal you not only improve the customer experience, but you help lower call volume, allowing your staff to handle customer care issues with more time and precision. It’s truly a win-win.
True Confession #5: “We don’t provide support through our mobile app…”
85% of people prefer using native mobile apps to websites, so why not provide support through your customers preferred channel? The number of inbound customer service requests via mobile app will increase by 38% in the next year. Fonolo’s “Mobile Rescue” offers companies a solution that allows mobile customers to automatically navigate the IVR, request a call-back, and get connected to live assistance. Your “Contact Us” page is now a one-tap portal to customer support.
So, maybe it’s time to stop confessing and start addressing how your contact center can benefit from cloud-based, turn-key solutions and make your customer service “future ready”.
Publish Date: May 11, 2016 5:00 AM
Being a call center agent is far from a glorious job. Yet they’re the unsung heroes of your company, answering a never-ending stream of calls from customers who aren’t always happy to be on the other end of the phone.
Great call center agents engage with customers every day, representing your brand in ways other employees can’t. You may not realize it, but every day they make commitments to get the job done the right way.
Here are 3 commitments every great call center agent makes:
They Commit to Your Company
Due to the availability of multi-channel customer service options these days, the complexity of voice calls continues to rise. This creates a burden on call center agents, who have to deal with an increase in calls of a difficult nature.
Agents have become more than just repositories of information – today they’re brand representatives who often have to field a wide range of questions outside of their usual purview. To do the job right, they have to make a commitment to your company and learn as much as possible, so they can properly handle calls that go beyond simply following a script.
They Commit to Your Customers
Great call center agents often advocate on behalf of your customers, working to fully resolve issues that aren’t always easy to fix. Their job isn’t simply to get off the phone as quickly as possible (as it is in so many call centers), it’s to satisfy callers and exceed their expectations, which drives customers to be loyal to your brand.
They Commit to Themselves
The best employees are ones that constantly strive for improvement. Great agents regularly participate in training, ask for feedback, and actively pursue their personal development.
It should go without saying that agents with these qualities are the ones that truly deserve your commitment.
Publish Date: May 10, 2016 5:00 AM
The 2015 Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report found that 60% of customers have higher expectations for customer service than they did only one year ago. There’s no doubt; customer demands are growing exponentially year after year, which means that businesses need to constantly evaluate how well they’re delivering service – or risk falling behind. For example, processes that might have worked only 12 months ago may need to be revamped to be “future-ready” today. There are a few pointers that contact center managers and agents can use to re-engage with customers and make sure the service they’re delivering is top-notch throughout the year.
Keep these 10 tips in mind when evaluating your contact center’s performance:
TIP 1: Be Conversational, Not confrontational
Customer service isn’t easy – reps need to be prepared for anything. But it always helps to remain calm and keep the conversation going throughout a transaction, no matter what channel it happens on. In fact, 71.5% of positive customer service experiences that people share on social media began as a negative experience. So, remember, there’s always room to turn the conversation around.
TIP 2: Ask for Feedback
The first step in delivering great customer service is to know how your customers feel. Harness their feedback after every interaction. According to a report by Deloitte, 55% of companies view call/contact monitoring as the best way to gain customer feedback. But not all customers use the phone for support, so deploying new ways to monitor interactions, like a CRM software solution (i.e. Sprout Social) is important. Overtime, that feedback can be vital to your growth and operations.
TIP 3: Give Credence to Complaints
Complaints should not only be addressed when resolving an isolated event, but should be followed up on even after a resolution. Many times a customer will go silent despite being dissatisfied with customer service (and that $10.00 coupon may not be enough to win a customer’s trust back for good).
TIP 4: Research and Deploy
After evaluating feedback and complaints, it’s your duty to research key solutions to better serve your clientele. If long hold times are a persistent issue, then looking for call-back solution should be a clear next step. Deployment is also important because the more time you make your customers wait, the more time they have to go somewhere else.
TIP 5: Be Knowledgeable
Thoroughly educate your staff to safeguard their customer interactions. If an agent has to address important issues without proper training it’s easy for them to not only get things wrong, but to also get defensive in the situation to save face. In 82% of negative customer service stories employees were perceived as not caring while 29% of customers switch because they are annoyed by a lack of staff knowledge. There is no need to dissolve a customer relationship because an agent is ill equipped to help. Training is a must.
TIP 6: Offer Self-Service Options
Sometimes your customers know exactly what they want and how to get it – offering ways to make that easier for them to do, not only helps them, it helps you too. Plus, 90% of consumers now expect a brand or organization to offer a self-service customer support portal. Therefore, there should always be an option to bypass a human agent to fulfill an order; otherwise your call center is going to be inundated with calls for absolutely no reason.
TIP 7: Issue Rewards
It costs 500% more to acquire new customers than it does to keep current ones. That’s why rewarding your customers is important to maintain the relationship and keep them coming back time and time again. Though not all rewards programs are created equally, they should be easy to achieve and understand. If your customers have no idea what their points earn them, they may completely abandon collecting them altogether. It’s important to let your customers know when they’re approaching a value-added bonus to keep them interested and feel their business is being valued.
TIP 8: Keep Tabs on What Your Competitors (And Non-Competitors) Are Doing
HootSuite founder, Ryan Holmes said, “…ever since I launched my company, the very first thing I do in the morning before I get out of bed is take a peek at what my competition is up to.” Of course he mentions using his own platform to accomplish this but the point is, this act will only help you push your customer service forward and inspire you to look for more innovative ways to improve. Customers today enjoy a unique customer experience and will take note of a company who’s a step ahead of the game.
TIP 9: Perfect the Multi-Channel Experience
57% of customers have reported switching from web to phone during an interaction. So, even if you think you’re delivering great customer service through one channel, it’s important that your customers can access multiple channels (phone, chat, social media, email etc.) easily. Fonolo’s “Web Rescue” and “Mobile Rescue” are great tools for this. They enable customers to seamlessly transition from web or mobile to live voice assistance without losing any context. With web and mobile on the rise, these features are a must-have to ensure stellar customer service.
TIP 10: Be Transparent
When customers trust you, they stick by you. By admitting to your mistakes and doing everything you can to correct them, customers will forgive, forget and continue to buy from you. One example of the worst way to handle customer complaints is the story of “Crazy Amy” from Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmare’s. Not only do the restaurant owners kick out customers who complain, deny error, and project all their problems on negative customer reviews, but they also refuse to give their staff any responsibility. Watch the clip to fully understand the cringe worthy service and then remember to do the complete opposite of what they’ve done to meet your customer’s needs.
Have a tip to better serve customers? Share it in the comment section.
Publish Date: May 4, 2016 5:00 AM
When callers are waiting on hold they’ll typically hear a range of messages from the contact center’s IVR. Some centers tell callers an estimated wait time until, others will announce how many people are in line in front of the caller, but most call centers tell callers nothing other than, “your call is important to us”. (A phrase callers have learned to loath.) To get a sense of how much anger consumers feel towards hold time, just check out OnHoldwith.com for a real time feed of “tweet venting”.
Given how much frustration is caused by leaving callers on hold, you would think companies would do anything they can to minimize the pain. People often say the worst part about waiting is not knowing how long it will be. So why don’t call centers offer that info?
NOTE: This post originally appeared as an answer on Quora to this question.
1. Not All Call Center Systems Support that Feature
It seems like a straight-forward feature, but keep in mind that many call centers are stuck with software that is decades old. The average equipment replacement cycle is 12 years! Another contributing factor is that some companies have multiple call centers at multiple locations, dividing the work. And those multiple call centers may have different technologies that can’t coordinate information to generate an estimated wait time.
2. Callers May be Put in Front of You
That’s right – sometimes folks “cut” in front of you! And if this happens you would end up hearing that you went *backwards* in line and probably feel angry about it. That’s not as nefarious as it sounds. Here are some reasons for doing that:
a) An agent that is helping an especially difficult or urgent case, and needs to transfer a call ahead of yours. (Supervisors are more likely to have this power.)
b) Callers with some kind of status (i.e. frequent fliers) may automatically go to the front of the line.
c) Some systems that offer a call-back as an alternative to waiting on hold, require putting calls at the front of the line. It works like this: If you, the caller, agrees to a call-back, the system calculates that it would probably be your turn in, say, 20 minutes. Then you hang up and the system calls you back in, say, 18 minutes. If you answer, you get put at the front of the line. (More on this below.)
3. The “Queue” is a Logical Construct and Not a Simple Ordering of Calls
In modern call center systems, your call requires a set of “skills” based on answers you gave to the IVR and possibly a profile of you in the company’s database. Let’s say “English speaking agent” + “billing” + “wireless plans”. Meanwhile, the call center has a set of agents with a mix of skills. The routing system is matching “skills needed” with “skills available” to find the right agent in the shortest time. So you just can’t say someone is “Nth” in line.
Now back to that issue of the flawed call-back strategy from item 2(c) above. The approach of scheduling a call-back based on an estimated waiting time is flawed because that initial guess is hard to get right. Most modern call-back solutions (including Fonolo) will actually hold your place in line so that the call-back timing is accurate and fair to everyone else in the queue.
Publish Date: May 3, 2016 5:00 AM
Every call center manager faces the problem of unpredictable spikes in call volume. Sometimes the causes are understood – even anticipated, however in many cases these peak periods come as a shock to the system. For example, a marketing event promoting a product sale would be an easy indicator of an influx in calls, whereas an unexpected power outage or sudden bout of the flu in the call center isn’t something you can readily plan for. Or is it?
What happens when call volume gets out of control? What strategy do you have in place to ensure that the customer experience doesn’t suffer?
This guide will tackle those questions head on!
The Role of the Voice Channel
When it comes to customer service, there will always be a role for a live conversation with an agent. Perhaps call volume has gone down over the years due to the availability of multi-channel tools and self-service, however this just means that the live agent transactions will be more complicated and likely to involve an upset customer. As well, some customers may simply prefer to deal with a live agent and skip self-service tools altogether. For example, a study by Wells Fargo found that 60% of banking transactions are made by customers who still prefer to do business with a teller.
According to Parature, voice continues to take the lead amongst all channels, but it’s not the most pleasant experience. The biggest problem with the voice channel is long hold-times. Typically this is the result of volume spikes or contact centers simply being understaffed. Unfortunately, the effect is negative nonetheless – 60% of customers will abandon a call after just one minute of waiting on hold.
The consensus is the voice channel still plays a critical role, but the experience needs to be worked on.
Tracking Your Call Volume Data
Before we dive into this guide, we encourage you to take some time to analyze your data. Look at the previous two months and label the spikes as planned or unplanned. Note any patterns that are present within both sets of data. For instance, many organizations tend to have spikes on Mondays after being closed on Sunday. Most contact centers would take this data and use it for workforce optimization – in other words, staffing up for times when they know spikes will occur. The important thing to note with tracking is that it’s an ongoing process. Changes in the marketplace, or within your own organizations, may dictate alterations in the trends and this is something you have to feel out as it happens.
How Spikes are Managed Today
When a call center experiences peaks in call volume, hold-times inevitably go up and abandon rates become an issue. This is the reality for call centers, and it can have a significant impact on the bottom line. Faced with this problem, many call centers will aim to fix it one of two ways:
- Staff up for peak periods, or;
- Find a way to eliminate hold-time.
The first option is a great fix to the problem of spikes, but leaves your call center with excess agent capacity at other times when call volume is reduced, resulting in inefficiencies.
The second option can be achieved through the use of call-back technology. Call-backs help “smooth-out” spikes in call volume by deferring calls (in a customer-friendly manner) to a time when there’s additional agent availability. In a sense, call-backs let you do a better job matching the demand with the supply of agent time. This results in more efficient use of resources.
Watch this video to learn how Bright Horizons uses call-back technology to smooth out spikes:
Expectations are on the Rise
The relationship you have with your customers is the key to future success. Are you listening to them and effectively meeting their needs? According to a Parature report, customer expectations are on the rise. 68% of customers have stopped doing business with a brand due to a poor customer service experience (for example, long hold times) and 56% have higher expectations for customer service now then they had a year ago.
To keep consumers happy, customer expectations can either be met (what the customer would find acceptable) or exceeded (what most customers really want). However from the customer’s perspective, there is a world of difference between the two. Here’s how Richard Branson put it:
Interested in reading more? Download the full report below.
Publish Date: April 28, 2016 5:00 AM
320 million – That’s the latest tally of monthly users who are currently active on Twitter. It’s fair to say that the twitterverse is a mighty big place, with countless voices trying to get our attention. But some of those voices actually have a lot of valuable things to say! In this vlog, we’ve navigated the deep twitter waters to find out which contact center professionals are delivering informative content with every 140 character message they send.
Watch it now as we countdown Fonolo’s top 10 call center tweeters to follow for thought provoking content and up-to-date industry insights (You might even see your name on the list!).
Publish Date: April 27, 2016 5:00 AM
In an era where “the customer is always right” (at least they are when they share their stories on social media), it’s easy to overlook just how difficult it is to be a customer service rep. Far from being a glamorous job, CSRs often have to choose between conflicting priorities – resolving issues on the first call, keeping handle times low, and keeping customers ‘happy’, to name but a few. The modern contact center is a pressure cooker, where every minute counts.
With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that, just like consumers, CSRs have pet peeves, too. For a change, let’s have a look at what makes for a poor service experience, from the agent’s point of view.
Dealing with Angry Customers (AKA “Shooting the Messenger”)
There’s nothing more frustrating for CSRs than having to deal with rude or irate customers who take out their frustration on the first person to answer the phone. Of course it’s not the CSRs fault that some unfortunate event transpired (for example, being stuck on hold for an unreasonable period of time) – but it is their responsibility to resolve the issue and turn the caller’s mood around. Often callers simply need to vent about their frustration with a company before any meaningful interaction can take place. Experienced CSRs know this, and will do their best to adopt a sympathetic tone.
(Of course, if your callers are frustrated from being on hold for so long, you need more than just experienced agents … you need a call-back solution like Fonolo.)
The Incorrectly Transferred Caller
This one frustrates both customers and CSRs alike: There’s nothing more annoying than navigating a complicated IVR and waiting on hold, only to be told that you’ve reached the wrong department and will have to be transferred (and start all over again). What’s worse, of course, is when you’ve been transferred from the right department, simply because a CSR couldn’t or didn’t want to deal with a particular issue. You can imagine how the conversation will start with the next agent who answers the call.
Having to Clean up Someone Else’s Mess
How many times at work have you fixed a problem created by someone else? Imagine having to do it repeatedly. That’s what CSRs often have to contend with. The best ones handle it with grace, solving issues in a way that leaves customers with a real feeling of satisfaction. These are, of course, the kind of employees every call center wants. When you come across theses CSRs in your call center – don’t let them go anywhere!
The Customer Is Always Right
Resolving issues can be a real challenge when callers adopt the position that “the customer is always right”. The goal of every interaction is, of course, to successfully satisfy a customer’s expectations. However that doesn’t meant that CSRs should accept blame for everything the customer believes is their fault. The reality is that customers are often in the wrong about particular issues. A skilled CSR can resolve issues in a way that allows callers to see the bigger picture. After all, sometimes the problem can be as small as a simple misunderstanding.
Having to Choose Between Service and Statistics
The best companies maximize every opportunity to interact with a customer, and know that the call center offers them the ability to do this with every call. For companies like this, exceeding customer expectations is the #1 priority. Unfortunately, most contact centers place a higher premium on metrics (sometimes arbitrarily), than on customer satisfaction. This puts CSRs in a difficult position: It’s hard to deliver the best service while trying to get customers off the phone as quickly as possible. Agents shouldn’t have to choose between service and statistics. Of course the good ones will chose … to work elsewhere!
Publish Date: April 21, 2016 5:00 AM
A decade ago, working with telecom resources was a daunting task. If you wanted to build anything that used voice or text messages over the public phone system (the PSTN) you would have to hire specialized engineers and expect to spend months in development.
That all changed with the emergence of a category of companies that have come to be known as “Communications Platform as a Service” of CPaaS. The existenceof these companies have radically changed the landscape of enterprise communication, customer service and, additionally, have become embedded in a surprising range of services (such as Uber).
Industry giant Avaya is the latest company to join the fray with the announcement, last month, of their new service “Zang”.
The first big wave of innovation came in the early 2000s, under the banner “Voice 2.0”. The stars of this era are mostly forgotten to history: Jaxter, Jajah, Jangl (yes, there were a lot of “j” names for some reason), GrandCentral , Mobivox. This was the first time start-ups felt they could bring the experimental spirit of the web world to the voice world.
At the same time enterprise communications were waking up to this potential as well. On that side, the term used was the much more staid, “Communications Enabled Business Processes”.
The innovation in this era was driven by the popularity of Asterisk (an open sourced PBX and voice routing engine) and the emergence of “termination providers”, which allowed anyone to make calls to regular phone numbers at low per-minute prices. Basically the amount of engineering knowledge required to do basic telephony was dropped by an order of magnitude.
But the real explosion in innovation required that barrier to be dropped even further. That was the role of the CPaaS, which gave developers a “one-stop-shop” API that covered both telephony functions and termination. With developers completely insulated from the “messiness” of telecom, the universe of potential developers was expanded greatly.
Here is a brief synopsis of the top CPaaS players on the market today:
- Tropo – One of the earliest CPaaS players was Voxeo, which started way-back in 1999. Their main business was acquired by Aspect in 2013, but they spun off Tropo as a dedicated CPaaS product which was acquired last year by Cisco.
- Twilio – Twilio is the current market leader in the category and they are expected to file an IPO soon. By some estimates they have 80% of the market. They claim that more than 560,000 developers use the service.
- Plivo – Plivo is a younger company, founded in 2011 and backed by Y-Combinator. It seems to be focusing on more global coverage and lower prices.
- Nexmo – Nexmo started around the same time as Plivo. One of their differentiators is enabling communications through some of the messaging platforms like Messenger, WeChat, Line & Viber.
(Isn’t it funny how names cluster around a pattern? In “Voice 2.0”, everyone had to start with “J”. Now, they all have to end in “O”.)
The New Kid on the Block
Avaya announced “Zang” at Enterprise Connect in March. It is the result of their acquisition of Toronto-based Esna Communication in 2015 and will be operating as a wholly-owned subsidiary.
What motivated the move from Avaya? One answer is to keep up with their close rival Cisco, which now has Tropo in its portfolio. The bigger picture is that Avaya needs to align itself with today’s buying process which has moved away from purchasing monolithic “UC” or “Contact Center” applications and towards buying smaller pieces that can be mashed together quickly with other pieces from different vendors. This is an offshoot of the “consumerization of the enterprise”.
Without a strong CPaaS play there is a risk that Avaya, Cisco and the other legacy vendors will be excluded from innovation that is happening in a “bottom-up” way. For example, some of the most interesting developments in the call center is around its integration with CRM systems typified by Salesforce’s new “Lightning Voice”. I talked about that in Salesforce has a Lot of Fingers in the Call Center Pie where one of my main points was the dominant role Twilio is playing in that ecosystem. Twilio also powers several of the other vendors who – to varying degrees – are going to end up competing with Lightning Voice.
A CPaaS Inside a Legacy Vendor = Extra Challenge
Legacy vendors like Avaya or Cisco have an advantage over the pure-play CPaaS companies in terms of name recognition and a broad customer base. But they have a disadvantage when it comes to fitting in with their business process.
The majority of Avaya’s revenue comes from its vast channel network. Thousands of “Value Added Resellers” and “System Integrators” around the world resell Avaya’s products and make money by installing and maintaining the systems.
These deals follow a top-down model where the CIO or CTO makes a big-dollar commitment. What happens when you introduce a parallel bottom-up approach, where developers/managers in a company can buy small “as you need it” licenses and build from there? Friction will inevitably be created between those two models. These are tough waters to navigate and may be the reason that Avaya chose to make Zang a separate business entity rather than division within the company.
That is one aspect that sets Zang apart from the pack. That, and the fact that they have the only name that doesn’t end in “O”!
Publish Date: April 19, 2016 5:00 AM
Interested in hearing this success story? Block out your calendar for Thursday, April 21st at 2:00 PM ET and listen to Chris Gloede, CMO from American Bar Association, speak about how call-backs reduced their abandonment rates by 78%.
First, let’s take a moment and think about how your call center is performing. Do you experience spikes in call volume? Are people hanging up because hold-times are too long? When is this taking place and why? And how is this effecting brand perception and the customer experience? When we asked Chris Gloede these questions, and what the main driver was for a call-back solution, he said this,
We had abysmal abandonment rates and service levels. There were days where customers waited over an hour to talk to us… Fonolo was an important part of a turnaround that helped us resolve unacceptable wait times.
In an effort not to tell Chris’ whole story, we invite you to register for our webinar and hear it for yourself. Joined by call center thought leader, Shai Berger, CEO at Fonolo, this webinar promises to deliver a strategy that will get you excited about improving the customer experience!
Check out this video snippet from Shai himself!
Publish Date: April 14, 2016 5:00 AM
According to Twitter, in the past two years the number of Tweets directed at leading brands’ customer service usernames has grown by 2.5x and that number is rising exponentially every year (50% to be exact). In the same report, Twitter found that 85% of customers who have a satisfactory social interaction are likely to recommend the brand to others. So, when a customer turns to social to contact you, it’s important to do your best to resolve issues as timely and accurately as possible. However, if you’re company is doing a great job responding to customers, but you’re still seeing a plethora of angry tweets directed at you, maybe the problem is how you’re handling callers. Social customer service should work in tandem with phone, chat, mobile, web etc. – you shouldn’t have to choose to be good at one thing or another.
Recently, I had a multi-channel interaction with a large makeup retailer. They kept cancelling an order I had placed without providing a reason (I still don’t know what the problem was). I’ve ordered from them dozens of times and suddenly their billing section failed me. My first method to resolve the issue was to call customer service. I waited 20 minutes on hold and my immediate reaction was to tweet them, hoping to have the issue resolved that way. I’ve had luck with other companies, so I thought, why not?
#onholdwith @Sephora for 20mins now for an order they cancelled that i needed 3 days ago – my credit card info is correct, what gives??
— Nicolina Savelli (@nicolinasavelli) March 19, 2016
Unfortunately, the reply they sent wasn’t as swift as I expected, so I tweeted more angrily at the 30 minute mark.
battery down to 10% — no charger with me — #onholdwith @Sephora for 30 minutes — not doing this all over again. frig.
— Nicolina Savelli (@nicolinasavelli) March 19, 2016
Finally, after 45 minutes on hold, they acknowledged my tweet. At that point, my battery was dead and I didn’t receive their tweet until I recharged.
@nicolinasavelli We’re sorry for the long hold times! Please send us a DM with your order number so we can look into this further. Thanks!
— Sephora (@Sephora) March 19, 2016
I opted to call again the next day and had a 50 minute long phone call to finally get my order processed. Meanwhile, the agent had no idea what the issue was either. That’s quite a lot of effort for a customer to make just to place an order! Needless to say, I became one of those hostile tweeters I see so often. So, I decided to look into what else motivates angry tweets. I’ve pulled some complaints from OnHoldWith.com to help us determine what businesses can do to improve the experience so that angry callers don’t turn into angry tweeters.
On hold with @VZWSupport and the moment the call gets picked up I get put on hold/transferred. 7 times, now
— Colin Moore (@MooreColinArt) April 8, 2016
@British_Airways can you give me a customer service email? been on hold for 30 min on executive club line.
— Lucy Stratton (@LucyRStrat) April 8, 2016
come on @Orbitz I’ve booked 12 flights with you guys but you leave me on hold for 40 minutes to resolve a simple issue? For real?
— RyanPerez (@TheDeepTrip) April 8, 2016
Wish @paypal had KPIs at their call centres, been on hold for 50 minutes…
— Jacob Kent-Ledger (@JacobKentLedger) April 8, 2016
@SineadMDaly this is not what we like to hear. What seems to be going on? We’d like to assist you with any issue you’re having. ^DeidreB
— DIRECTV (@DIRECTV) April 11, 2016
10 Key Takeaways to Help Protect Your Brand from Angry Tweeters
1. Respond quickly: Social media is a fast paced environment and customers are looking for immediate resolutions. It shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to respond to a tweet; otherwise customer frustrations will only escalate.
2. Keep your IVR pristine: Ensure your IVR is thorough enough to avoid multiple call transfers.
3. Be prepared: You should know when spikes in call volume are coming – Staff up during those periods and make sure you have a back-up plan if they come on unexpectedly.
4. Offer call-backs: Call-backs are a safety net for those times when you might not have enough staff available. They also provide customers with piece of mind so that they don’t feel neglected.
5. Measure performance: Your call center should have targets and metrics in place to evaluate performance levels.
6. Don’t cut corners: Skimping on good customer service while systematically increasing costs is one surefire way of getting customers to rally against you.
7. Treat good customers great: If you’re not offering exclusive services to your loyal customers and brand ambassadors, it’s probably time to start. Being treated like a one-time customer after spending money with a brand can feel like a slap in the face.
8. Keep your promises: If you offer special services for customers who are willing to pay more, make sure those service are actually top-notch and not simply a marketing ploy.
9. Be transparent: If your phone lines are busy, use social media to inform your customers of potential delays, and offer them an alternative method to communicate with you. They’ll appreciate you not wasting their time. Plus, hearing “Your call is important to us,” starts to lose meaning after the third time.
10. The more service, the better: Angry tweets don’t just happen from 9 AM – 5 PM. Turning off your customer service is like turning away customers, and ultimately, revenue. Do your best to provide a 24/7 experience – your customers will praise you rather than rant about you.
Have more ways to protect your brand from angry tweeters? Share them in the comment section.
Publish Date: April 13, 2016 5:00 AM
Fonolo is at it again! That’s right folks, tradeshow season is upon us. What better way to start the action than by exhibiting at the highest rated event for contact center professionals. Join Fonolo at ICMI’s Contact Center Expo and Conference, May 10-13 2016 at the Long Beach Convention Center.
Through breakout sessions, workshops, and training, this event will help professionals discover best practices and new ways to stay ahead of rising customer expectations. In addition, the robust expo hall will welcome leading industry innovators eager to share their newest products and services with attendees.
New technologies and the explosive growth of channels such as self-service, chat, and social media have put the customer in the driver’s seat. To better accommodate these multi-channel experiences, call-backs have become a must-have. As an attendee of the show, you’ll have the opportunity to meet with Fonolo at booth #651 where you can learn more about our cloud-based call-back solutions.
We look forward to networking with some of the industry’s brightest minds and getting attendees excited about how our call-back solutions can help reduce abandonment rates, lower costs and provide an overall better customer experience.
– Shai Berger, CEO at Fonolo
For live updates and insights from the show – follow @fonolo on Twitter using hashtag #CCExpo16.
Haven’t registered yet? It’s not too late!
Fonolo is providing a discount on conference registration. Simply use promo code CHDEWQ68 and enjoy a 25% discount off any conference package. For more information and to register, visit: ICMI.com/CCExpo (Cannot be combined with other promotions or applied retroactively.)
Publish Date: April 12, 2016 5:00 AM
What’s happening when your contact center is experiencing a high number of abandoned calls? Simply put, you’re receiving more incoming calls than your agents can handle, resulting in longer than normal hold times. Maybe it’s just a spike in call volume (even the best centers experience peaks), or not enough agents on the floor; either way the result is upset customers and a negative experience – neither of which you want.
One Simple Secret for Lowering Abandon Rates
More and more, contact centers are realizing the detrimental effect that hold time is having on their service levels, abandonment rates, and the overall customer experience. Fortunately, there are ways to fix this problem. In this one hour webinar you’ll learn how American Bar Association reduced abandon rates by 78%, improved the calling experience, and seized the opportunity to better manage spikes in call volume.
Join us on April 21st at 2:00 PM ET / 11:00 AM PT for an opportunity to get all your questions answered!
Publish Date: April 7, 2016 5:00 AM
In the name of fostering good customer service, Fonolo recently launched its First Annual Customer Experience Excellence Awards (#CXAwards). Since the announcement, we dug deep to determine who had truly delivered great customer experiences from the last year right up until now. We did this by analyzing the number of customers a company served versus the amount of hold time they saved them. The numbers spoke volumes. First of all, the amount of hold time saved by these companies was truly incredible. But also, the volume and improvement since deploying a call-back solution was another clear indication of their willingness to put customers first. It soon became abundantly clear that two distinct companies stood out.
So, without further ado Fonolo is proud to formally acknowledge this year’s winners: J.B Hunt Transport Services, Inc. and UMass Memorial Health Care!
J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc., is a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 Company, which focuses on providing safe and reliable transportation services to a diverse group of customers throughout North America.
When asked why they chose Fonolo call-backs they said…
We wanted to provide options for our customers that would make their experience the best possible. Fonolo allowed us to offer call-back options to our customers without the need for excess time or capital investment. Since implementing the Fonolo solution, our average speed of answer and abandon rate have both improved over our baseline statistics. Additionally, we have had multiple reports from our customers about how much they enjoy the call-back option.
Brad McBride, Information Services Manager, J.B. Hunt
UMass Memorial Health Care is the largest not-for-profit health care system in Central Massachusetts with more than 12,900 employees and 1,670 physicians, many of whom are members of UMass Memorial Medical Group.
When asked why they chose Fonolo call-backs they said…
The ability to provide callers with immediate access to the information they need is paramount. At the time of the Fonolo implementation, our abandon rate decreased nearly 20 percent despite an increase in call volume. Today, our call center continues to exceed our call abandonment rate goal of 5 percent or less when fully staffed.
Michele Sweeney, Senior Director of Patient Access Services, UMass Memorial Medical Center
Winners of the 2016 Customer Experience Excellence Awards have gone above and beyond service level expectations using Fonolo’s call-back solutions. We are excited to acknowledge them for their outstanding performance and look forward to seeing their customer service flourish.
Read the full announcement here.
Visit fonolo.com/awards if you’re looking for more details about the 2016 Customer Experience Excellence Awards.
Publish Date: April 5, 2016 5:00 AM
Measuring and improving call center metrics can be a pain point for executives. Your call center operates in a stressful environment where good quality metrics lead to a higher standard of customer service.
There are 4 call center metrics that are critical to track and get right. These numbers drive your budget, the jobs of your agents and, of course, your company’s bottom line. Here are common mistakes made when measuring or interpreting these 4 popular contact center metrics: Occupancy Rate, Average Handle Time, Service Levels, and Abandonment Rate.
This is a synopsis of each pitfall. Click here to get the full detailed report.
1. Pitfalls in Measuring Occupancy Rate
Occupancy rate basically measures how “busy” call center agents are when they are at work. It’s often used as a predictor of “agent burn-out”. Agents need time to take a breath and collect their thoughts between calls. Otherwise, performance suffers, followed by higher absenteeism and, eventually, agent attrition. There is a general consensus that occupancy above 85% is not sustainable. But how do we arrive at that number? It’s driven by the number of calls per agent per day, but, as usual, there are nuances to the calculation that have important ramifications. Let’s look into how to calculate — and use — occupancy rate properly in order to avoid these 4 pitfalls.
2. Pitfalls in Measuring Average Handle Time (AHT)
Let’s start by defining AHT and its parts. Sometimes there’s overlap between the terms “talk time”, “handle time” and “call time”, depending on who you ask. The definitions below are very common, but not definitive.
Hopefully, you have a consensus within your call center! But be aware when talking to someone from another company you may need to sync-up your definitions first.
Handle time is the sum of 3 numbers (as shown below):
1. Talk time:The time an agent and caller spend talking to each other.
2. Hold time:The time a caller spends on hold, not including the initial hold time, when the caller had not yet reached the agent. In other words, “hold time” in this case only counts the seconds where an agent has put the caller on hold (usually to research a solution or confer with a colleague). You can call this “interstitial hold time” to distinguish it from the initial hold time. Another way to avoid confusion is to call the initial hold time the “queue time”, since that term is never used for the interstitial hold time.
3. Wrap-up time:The time an agent spends on post-call work after the conversation ends. It’s important to limit this to work that is directly related to the call, and exclude general non-call work.
Once you have that all cleared up there are 3 distinctive pitfalls you need to avoid when measuring AHT.
3. Pitfalls in Setting Your Call Center Service Levels
The forecast says there’s a 20% chance of rain tomorrow in your city. Does that mean that it will be raining 20% of the time? Or that there’s a 20% chance there will be at least some rain? Or something in between? And what in the world does this have to do with call center metrics?!
The forecast problem illustrates how difficult it can be to work with probability. The most common performance metric used by call centers is the “service level”, which measures how quickly calls are answered. It is defined as a pair of numbers: a percentage value and a time value in seconds. So, for example, an “80/20″ service level means 80% of calls answered in 20 seconds. Like the forecast of rain, this is a probabilistic measurement and can be misleading if not understood properly. Watch out for these 4 pitfalls to avoid confusion.
4. Pitfalls When Measuring Abandonment Rate
An abandoned call is one where the caller hangs up before reaching an agent. “Abandonment rate” is the fraction of all calls that are abandoned and is one of the most commonly used call center metrics. Its popularity comes from being simple to calculate and easy to understand. Furthermore, high abandonment is a symptom that is easy to correlate with a root cause: long hold times. (With most other metrics, it is not so straightforward to connect cause with effect.)
There are, however, a number of nuances in calculating abandoned rate. Ignoring these five pitfalls could leave you with a misleading result.
Don’t forget to read the full report below explaining the specifics of each pitfall.
Publish Date: March 31, 2016 5:00 AM