Fonolo - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog Page 12
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
To run a successful contact center, managers must overcome a number of obstacles. From caller abandonment to agent engagement, there’s no shortage of tasks to take on. There are, however, a number of similar challenges that managers will face throughout a career timeline. Namely, the issues of disengaging with legacy call center systems and integrating a more flexible solution.
As you explore these 8 hurdles, be mindful of these Fonolo solutions: In Call Rescue, Web Rescue, Mobile Rescue, and how they can help resolve many of these problems. We understand rebooting your existing infrastructure may seem daunting at first, but the right technology can help to eliminate many of the stressors indicated here.
Publish Date: March 30, 2016 5:00 AM
Customers increasingly prefer chat over other communication channels, but chat suffers from an uptake problem, particularly on mobile.
On the other hand, messaging offers basically the same experience – asynchronous text-based communication – but has no problem with uptake. In fact, it’s burning up the charts: Messaging apps occupy 6 of the 10 top slots on App Store (the top 4 have 3 billion users). Granted, that popularity is driven by person-to-person rather than person-to-business communication, but many companies are betting on messaging making that transition.
So we’re at a crossroads: Will chat find a way to increase uptake rates or will messaging find a way to become a B2C channel?
That’s the topic for today’s blog and our webinar on March 31st at 2:00 PM ET.
What the Difference Between Chat and Messaging?
Although “chat” and “messaging” are interchangeable in casual usage, they are in fact, two different approaches to customer service.
A company adds “chat” to its website or mobile app by buying, from a 3rd party, a service that will live solely on that company’s site or app. Whereas, “messaging” is something that requires the company to partner with a platform that gives consumers a single interface (on the web or phone) for contacting both friends and businesses. The company does not pay for the platform and does not have control over it.
Caveat: These definitions aren’t official, but seem to be the consensus of the industry folks I know. If anyone has information that suggests otherwise, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
The chart below fleshes out the comparison.
The Ownership Issue
The top row of that chart is, I believe, the most interesting difference between the two. To make it more concrete, let’s say Company X uses a chat vendor (e.g. LivePerson, 7, Boldchat , OLark) to add chat functionality to its website or mobile app. There is a vendor-client relationship there. Company X is paying and the vendor needs to keep its client happy.
The same is not true for Company Y who partnered with a messaging platform (e.g. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Kik, SnapChat). Here, there are two agendas: Company Y’s and the messaging platform’s.
“Owned” vs. “Shared” Customer Service Channels?
To streamline the language, you could say Company X “owns” the chat channel. (They don’t literally own it, but the channel is there to serve solely their purpose.) Company Y is “sharing” a channel with the other companies using the same messaging platform.
Some of the ramifications to “owned” versus “shared” channels:
- Data ownership / security – What rights does the platform owner have vs. the company?
- Neutrality – Will the platform treat all companies equally?
- Longevity – Can companies trust that the platform will continue to work the same way in the long run?
I elaborated on these ideas in an earlier post: Will the WeChat Model Work in the West?.
How Does Twitter Fit in?
Twitter has proven to have enduring appeal as a customer service channel. It’s a role that was never part of the original vision of the service, but now is being fully embraced by the company.
Looking at Twitter in comparison with chat and messaging, the “frame” around the experience is different, the communication mode is the same: asynchronous and text-based. It’s different from chat and messaging in that conversations default to being public. But like messaging it is a “shared channel”.
As such, the 3 concerns above apply to Twitter. Twitter’s controversial changes around the rules for Direct Messages is a great example of #3.
A “Shared” Channel is an Unwritten Partnership
This idea of a “shared” channel is new to the world of customer service. For the last few decades, customer service was dominated by phone and email which were both “owned” channels. (Delivered by a phone company and ISP, respectively, which are both truly “neutral” platforms.) To continue with the analogy, consider in-person customer service where the physical store acts as an “owned” channel.
I’m stretching out this point a bit to point out how new this relationship really is. When Company X uses say, Facebook Messenger, to converse with a customer, that interaction is replacing one that might have happened over the phone or over web chat. Whereas the phone call or web chat would carry a per-interaction fee paid to the phone company or chat company, there is no fee paid to Facebook. There is, instead, an unwritten partnership happening between Facebook and Company X. Are both sides clear about what they expect from each other?
Companies are very eager to move conversations off the phone, where cost is highest, and on to text-based channels, where cost is low. The question is which channel is best? It’s great to have multiple choices fighting it out in the marketplace.
Join us on Thursday for an interactive webinar as we dive into this question and more!
Publish Date: March 29, 2016 5:00 AM
Customer service is arguably the single most important aspect of any organization. With that, support departments have to understand how customers wish to communicate in order to be successful.
As we all know, the options for support are endless, phone, email, social media, etc. But there are two platforms that are starting to compete head to head – chat and instant messaging (IM). These tools both offer short messages sent and read in real time, allowing you to converse more quickly and easily – but there are some obvious pros and cons to each.
Is live chat taking the back burner to instant messaging?
It’s a hot topic of debate and Fonolo will be tackling it head on during next week’s webinar with 7. Here’s a sneak peak at what’s to come….
Publish Date: March 24, 2016 5:00 AM
Call center agents go through a lot every single day. For instance, they help resolve customer complaints, they process transactions, and they follow up with customers to ensure their satisfaction has been met. And while some of those interactions go smoothly, others are not as pleasant. In a recent survey by American Express, 35% of respondents admitted to losing their temper while talking to customer service. Regardless of how badly a caller acts, agents have to keep their cool and help the customer out to the best of their ability. But lately we’ve asked around, and we’ve heard the water cooler talk, and there are a few things agents aren’t telling you that they wish they could.
Here are 10 phrases you’ll probably never hear a customer service agent say, but if they had the chance to tell you, they would:
1. “You do realize this isn’t MY fault?” – Customers tend to take out all their frustrations on customer service, no matter what the issue is. The reality is that most customer complaints are not caused by an agent – for example, delayed shipping or long hold-times.
2. “Do you talk to your mother with that mouth?” – It’s hard to handle aggressive customers and agents have to take it all in stride. But we think reps are secretly wondering if some of their callers were raised by wolves – I mean, there’s no way your momma would approve of that kind of language, right?
3. “Well, looks like someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed.” – Agents get it – you’re in a bad mood, you’re unhappy with a product or service, maybe you want to scream a bit. Agents will act like they don’t notice you’re being a real grumpy Gus, but they’re really just biting their tongue, wishing they could call you out.
4. “Can we talk about this later – I’ve got better things to do?” – What they’re really thinking: Can I just eat my lunch in peace? No? You need this resolved right now? Fine. But I’m not going to like it.
5. “Oh God, this sounds like it’s going to take a while.” – Sometimes an agent takes a call and can tell right away that this one isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s in that moment that they stretch out their legs and settle in for the long haul. Some customers just like to talk and Mr. Smith happens to be one of them.
6. “It’s really not that complicated…” – Seriously though, you’re wasting both of our times with this. If you can’t work the damn thing maybe you shouldn’t own it.
7. *Click* – No, no, no. That is one hot mess I’m not willing to deal with. In the heat of the moment, a quick and dirty hang up seems like the only reasonable response, but it comes with a price (like getting fired). So, it’s probably not the wisest choice, or a tactic that agents use often, but they definitely think about it.
8. “Well if you’re so smart why don’t you do my job for me?” – We know the customer is always right, but let’s face it; sometimes they’re actually really really wrong. So, how about you let me do my job instead of treating me like a halfwit? I mean, you don’t see me waltzing into your work and telling you what to do right…? Right.
9. “Thank you, and DO NOT have a nice day.” – After what you just put me through, no, I will not bid you a good day, sir.
10. “I feel like we’ve been through so much together.” – Some customer service interactions are actually quite pleasant. The agent and customer work together to accomplish the task at hand. And although the agent to customer relationship should remain professional, we bet agents get a little emotional about their customers from time to time.
Got anymore to add? Leave them in the comment section.
Publish Date: March 23, 2016 5:00 AM
Over the years, we at Fonolo have enjoyed a successful partnership with Avaya. We’re member of their DevConnect program – for developer partners, and their Select Product Program – which allows Avaya to sell Fonolo’s products directly, as well as through its network of resellers.
Today I’m happy to announce an additional milestone in our relationship with Avaya: The certification of our flagship call-back solution, In-Call Rescue, on Avaya’s Aura platform, version 7. You can read the full press release here: Fonolo Solution Now Rated “Avaya Compliant”
This is good news for Fonolo, and for our customers who are considering upgrading to Avaya’s latest platform. This certification will make it even easier for Avaya-based contact centers to add Fonolo’s call-back functionality. Passing Avaya’s rigorous technical certification means that adding Fonolo is quick, seamless, and of course fully supported by Avaya.
“Achieving compliance with Avaya allows Fonolo to continue to deliver a valuable solution that helps businesses manage the increasing demands of their contact centers, while making it easy for them to add call-backs to their call centers, web sites and mobile applications.”
— Shai Berger, CEO, Fonolo
Publish Date: March 22, 2016 5:00 AM
St. Patrick’s Day has long been considered a great excuse to pour yourself a cold one and celebrate all things Irish, but some of us have earned the right to party a little more than others.
For instance, call center agents have to put up with a lot all year-round. Customer demands are greater than ever before – 58% of consumers are more likely to tell others about their customer service experiences than they were 5 years ago – and much of the pressure is put on agents to ensure those experiences are in fact positive. But that’s not all; here are some other good reasons why you should reward your call center agents with a Guinness (or two) this St. Paddy’s Day.
They Smooth Over Customer Issues with Grace
Your call center agents handle customer issues all day long. From the pleasant to the unruly, they do their best to make each customer feel good by the end of the conversation. Being able to navigate through different personalities, and different wants and needs, is no easy task. Without them, you’re more likely to be confronted with a riot, rather than a celebration, on a day like St. Paddy’s.
They Have the Patience of a Saint
St. Patrick himself would have been impressed by a call center agent’s ability to keep calm during tense customer encounters. They are the mediators that keep your brand reputation alive by preventing angry customers from leaving, and making happy customers even happier. Statistically speaking, 73% of consumers say friendly customer service reps can make them fall in love with a brand. Now that’s something worth celebrating.
They Have a Sharp Eye for Detail
Agents pay close attention to each of your customers’ concerns, even checking in periodically before they have an issue to let them know how much they value their business. Staying on top of little details can be tedious and tiresome, but these workers see great value in going that extra mile. They also know that by being detail oriented they are more likely to avoid negative experiences with customers in the future. This is a win-win for them and for your business.
They Work When the Rest of the World is Asleep
Customer service has turned into a 24/7 job, and it takes a special kind of person to remain alert and greet customers happily in the middle of the night. While most of us are at home sleeping soundly or relaxing with a glass of wine, call center agents are waiting for the next customer to call in frantically asking why their flight was cancelled, or their laptop refuses to turn on. Being able to reach a human at any time of the day to fix our problems is a luxury that should not be taken for granted, and these workers deserve to be recognized for this convenience.
They Keep up in a Fast-Paced Environment
Call center agents can’t control their workload; they always have to be ready and alert to take a call. Most of us can plan our day and if we don’t finish our work, we can always reprioritize or take our work home. Call center agents, however, can handle calls at their own pace, but they cannot reorganize a customer’s demands to fit their energy level. They must adapt to this fast-paced environment of customer relations. That definitely deserves a Guinness.
The list could go on and on, but you get the picture. So, cheers to all those hard-working call center agents and a Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!
Publish Date: March 16, 2016 5:00 AM