Fonolo - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog
Did you know the cost of poor customer service is over $41 billion per year? Clearly, that number is too big to ignore. More than ever, businesses are competing to deliver superior customer service experiences. In fact, Zendesk reported that 82% of customers stopped doing business with a company because of bad customer service.
The best way of deciding how to improve performance at the contact center is to step back and look at it from a 360-degree view. It’s a lot to consider, which is why this whitepaper will help highlight the most popular areas being forecasted this year.
These 9 call center trends will give contact center managers a solid understanding of how they can help shift operations into high gear.
1) Customer Communication Will Move Across Channels
Let’s cut to the chase – omni-channel is here to stay and will only continue to grow in complexity. According to Forrester, 95% of customers use more than one channel to communicate with companies, while Accenture reports 65% of customers are frustrated by inconsistent experiences.
Today, customers can communicate through a number of channels: Web, chat, phone, email, and text, each of which need to support a positive experience. In order for your customer service agents to provide quality assistance in a multi-channel environment, companies need to start transitioning between channels in a much more sophisticated and intuitive way.
Contact centers must adapt to this holistic experience by deploying software that can easily escalate conversations from chat to voice, or from web to voice. Something to consider here is Fonolo’s Web Rescue and Mobile Rescue solutions. Both these provide an easy way for customers to transition to live assistance by requesting a call-back within a website or mobile app. It allows companies to track the customer journey while keeping the customer on their preferred channel!
2) The Cloud Will Reign Supreme
The Cloud Contact Center is predicted to become the number one platform of choice for many businesses in 2016. According to recent surveys, 18% of call centers moved to a cloud-based solution by the end of 2015. Gartner further suggests that in 2016, more than half of the Global 1000 companies will store sensitive customer information within the cloud. Therefore, companies will increasingly adopt virtual call centers due to improved security and efficiency.
While cost reduction is typically the main factor when investing in an enterprise solution – it’s no longer the sole motivator for moving to Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS). Other noteworthy reasons are:
- Speed of deployment
- Flexibility and scalability
- Ease of operations
3) Customers Want to Help Themselves
Harvard Business Review reported that 57% of customers visit a company’s website to resolve an issue but, due to poor user experiences, are forced to dial into their call center instead. Evidently this will shift in 2016, as self-service will become a key factor in any successful multi-channel strategy.
In the last 5 years alone, customer preference for automated self-service has doubled to 55%, and Gartner predicts that by 2020 customers will manage 85% of the relationship without any human interaction at all. In addition, the rise of mobile has led to the development of solutions that will revolutionize the way we communicate with customers in 2016. Forrester found that at least 45% of customers will abandon an online purchase if they can’t quickly find answers to their questions. Companies need to ensure that they provide quick resolutions to inquiries as customers are more frequently browsing the web with their mobile phones to locate information.
In this infographic, Salesforce reveals that 91% of customers would use an online support center if it were available and tailored to their needs. In 2016, this could be a worthy investment.
4) Video Chat Will Get More Face Time
Video chat is reportedly handling less than 0.2% of contact center traffic, but forward thinking companies such as Schuh and Amazon have already deployed video as part of their customer service strategy. In 2016, the demand for this type of service will only grow, and more companies will be emboldened to test its effectiveness.
When the customer requires a deeper, more technical experience, video chat is a quick and affordable way for agents to assist them. This system, although not new to social communication, is in its infancy as a tool in the contact center. An agent’s ability to share content and speak directly to customers, allows them to personalize the experience in ways that the majority of contact centers have yet to explore. In 2016 and beyond, video chat will emerge across a number of channels and in much more inventive ways.
5) Social Media is Synonymous With Customer Support
‘Go where your customers are’ has never been truer than it is today. Customers expect to find businesses on social networks – no exceptions. While only 3% of companies communicate on social media, it doesn’t stop customers from voicing their dissatisfaction through these networks. A study by NewVoice says 59% of 25-34 year olds share poor customer experiences online. That’s why it’s important for customer service agents to be present, active and alert on these channels. Social networks provide businesses with the opportunity to respond to customer comments and rectify their complaints instantly. The last thing businesses need is to have their name dragged through the mud without any way to defend their reputation.
Through contact center software solutions, like those provided by Aspect and Avaya, agents are now empowered to track and reply to any query sent to them via social platforms. However, this requires a social media strategy that is focused on both customer engagement and creating personalized experiences. Tweeting automated responses to customers is out of the question. Consumers are wise to those impersonal replies, which do nothing to help raise your customer satisfaction levels.
Don’t miss the last 4 trends! Download the full report below.
Publish Date: January 12, 2016 5:00 AM
Now is a great time to reflect upon how your call center has been performing, with an eye on making changes to enhance performance this year. Many trends will dominate the contact center industry, each one having a direct effect on consumer experience and employee productivity.
Not sure where to start and what will have the greatest impact?
According to Forrester, 95% of customers use more than one channel to communicate with companies! With that in mind, we cherry picked three critical trends that service leaders should fully understand this year.
Join our enlightening panel discussion and watch the LIVE conversation unfold!
We talk about:
- The Surge of Mobile Customer Care
- Self Service as a Consumer Preference
- The Impact of Social Media Support
Who should watch:
- VP’s & Directors of Customer Service
- VP’s & Directors of Contact Centers
- VP’s & Directors of Web/Social Media
- VP’s & Directors of Customer Experience
Publish Date: January 7, 2016 5:00 AM
Welcome to 2016, also known as the year of the customer! Gartner predicted that in 2016, “89% of companies will compete mostly on the basis of customer experience.”
Today, price and product no longer lead the way as a competitive differentiator, rather seamless and transparent experiences will rule the roost when it comes to brand loyalty. In fact, 86% of customers are willing to pay up to 25% more for a better customer experience.
So, what exactly do customers value the most when it comes to their experiences with a company?
According to a survey carried out by American Express, the most cringe-worthy phrases customers don’t want to hear are:
“We’re unable to answer your question. Please call xxx-xxx-xxxx to speak to a representative from xxx team.”
“We’re sorry, but we’re experiencing unusually heavy call volumes. You can hold or try back at another time.”
“Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold.”
It’s not hard to find similarities in these sentiments and to conclude that waiting on hold is by far one of the greatest reasons for customer dissatisfaction. More precisely, 25% of customers have switched companies purely because they’re tired of being kept on hold. In the last year, 67% of customers have hung up the phone out of frustration that they could not talk to a real person, and 75% of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent.
As much as Drake’s famous song “1-800-HOTLINEBLING” popularized the phrase, it’s origins are very different and slightly less glamorous. Customer service agents everywhere know exactly how it feels to bare the brunt of spikes in call volume aka “the hotline bling” and customers know the 1-800 number has always been a source of headache for them. So, will 2016 – the year of the customer – be the year of the 1-800-CALLBACKBLING? We think so and recent reports have proven they’re on the upswing for customer service in 2016.
Call-backs allow your agents to manage inbound calls and treat each customer service inquiry individually. In turn, they provide more customized customer service experiences, boost agent morale, and reduce the likelihood that customers will vent their frustrations using social networks. But don’t take my word for it, take a look at these webinars from Fonolo clients, Credit Union of Colorado and Suddenlink, after they deployed callbacks in their call center:
- How a Call Center Managed Spikes In Call Volume and Reduced Abandon Rates
- How a Call Center Eliminated Over 400 000 Minutes In Hold Time
Welcome to 2016 or better yet, the year of the call-back!
Publish Date: January 6, 2016 5:00 AM
Fonolo is proud to be a part of Call Center Week Winter, January 26-29, 2016 at The Rosen Center in Orlando, Florida!
At Call Center Week Winter, customer care professionals will learn how future success is determined by the ability to meet customer expectations in faster and more effective ways. It also gives attendees the opportunity to meet with more than 500 representatives from various industries including: call center/contact center, customer care, customer service, customer experience, operations, IT/Tech support and more.
Conference attendees can learn more about Fonolo’s cloud-based call-back solutions (while having a lot of fun!) by visiting booth #616.
We look forward to participating in the winter edition of Call Center Week and demonstrating how our cloud-based call-back solutions can help call centers reduce abandon rates, lower costs, and improve the customer experience.
More information about this event can be found at http://www.callcenterweekwinter.com/. For live updates and insights from the show, follow @fonolo on Twitter.
Publish Date: January 5, 2016 5:00 AM
We’re kicking off our vlog series with a holiday wrap-up featuring the worst hold-time offenders for 2015.
At Fonolo we track hold-time complaints through the twitter handle & hashtag onholdwith to help seek retribution for those suffering from long customer service hold-times.
In this video you’ll find out what companies made the naughty list by putting their customers on hold the most this year! Some may surprise you – others, not so much!
Check it out…
Publish Date: December 17, 2015 5:00 AM
It is critical to choose the right metrics to track in your contact center. Metrics drive your budget, the jobs of your agents and, of course, your company’s bottom line.
Today, we will look at “Average Call Time” also known as “Average Handle Time”. Its name is fairly self-explanatory, but there are important subtleties that need to be appreciated. Furthermore, we will look at the relative importance of this metric. If you’re tracking too many numbers, important signals can get lost in the noise so it’s important to prioritize. (TLDR: This one is not as important as many others.)
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.
1) Picking the Wrong Time Period
As with any metric that averages over time, the time period included in the average must be chosen carefully.
If you pick a time that is too long, you can mask important variability. Perhaps call duration spikes at lunch time – if you average over the day you won’t notice that.
But if you pick a time period that is too short, you will end up with data that needs to be aggregated yet again before it can be useful. It is tempting to create an “average of averages” but the results can be misleading. For more on this read, “Why is an average of an average usually incorrect?” or “Is an Average of Averages Accurate? (Hint: NO!)“.
2) Ignoring Root Problems
AHT is popular for two reasons:
- It is easy to understand and measure
- It closely tracks cost-per-call
Since most call centers are very cost conscious, reason two is very powerful. Variable labor costs are typically 80% of a call centers operating cost. If we take the average across those models, we see that the variable labor costs (“CSRs and Supervisors”) account for roughly 80%.
A research paper by Strategic Contact modeled 5 different kinds of call center situations and provides this helpful visualization. (Here’s the original report.)
The downside of this thinking is that the handle time of a call is an outcome. It is result of multiple inputs such as business processes, technology choices, agent behavior, caller attitude, etc. This is a very broad range! Basically, any functional part of your call center could have an impact on handle time. Thus, setting the goal of a “lower handle time” is not an effective plan. It’s better to focus on a fixing a more specific problem.
3) Misaligning Agent Incentives
Agent behavior is impacted dramatically by the metrics that management chooses to monitor. If agents are being graded on AHT, there is a risk they will rush through calls and not solve the problems. Many companies have found that de-emphasizing AHT will lead to increased customer satisfaction and first call resolution (FCR).
A great example of this trade-off can be seen in a webinar we did with Jeannie Sugaoka, Senior VP of Support Services, at Tech CU (Technology Credit Union). Watch it on-demand here.
We want our customers to feel cared for, and for every call to be ‘one-and-done’… so we don’t manage handle time.
This is one of those policy decisions that has powerful ramifications. The decision not to watch handle time, sends a strong signal to the agents about how they should approach calls and the kind of style they should use. It’s no surprise that Tech CU enjoys a very high customers satisfaction score (C-SAT).
How are you using Average Handle Time in your call center? Have you found a creative way to avoid the pitfalls listed here? Have you found other pitfalls that we didn’t mention? We’d love to hear from you!
If you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy our other metrics related posts:
- 5 Pitfalls When Setting Your Call Center Service Levels
- Finding the Right Service Level for Your Call Center
- 4 Call Center Benchmarks You Should Pay Attention To
Publish Date: December 15, 2015 5:00 AM
Here’s the story of Fred Clause, the customer who just purchased a TV from your retail store. Fred’s excited to have his new 60” Smart TV set up and ready for holiday entertainment. Suddenly Fred has a problem, his TV screen went black – nothing’s working! Fred double checks the manual – he did everything right. He pulls out his phone and does a quick search online to see if the can find a resolution – no luck.
Fred NEEDS human interaction, but he HATES the call center experience and LOATHS waiting on hold. There are even more people, just like Fred, calling your customer service for support. It’s about to get ugly. Unfortunately, you haven’t realized all the reasons why you just gotta stop leaving these poor customers on hold. Well, I’m here to help clarify it.
1) They Will Leave You for the Competition
Poor customer service is one of the biggest deterrents to brand loyalty. In fact, 72% of consumers say service drives brand loyalty and 48% say that the most critical time to gain brand loyalty is during the first impression. Once they’re happy, 78% of consumers will spread the word and tell others! If that’s not reason enough to improve your operations and eliminate hold-time, I’m not sure what is.
2) It’s a Bad Experience
The best way for a call center to stand out as a leader is through the customer experience. You CANNOT provide an exceptional experience if you leave customers waiting. When your phone service is not up to par, consumer frustration grows. Not to mention their rage doesn’t just end on the phone; customers will candidly share this information with the rest of the world using numerous social media channels. Brand related complaints are permanent and searchable – you need to avoid this.
3) It Effects Agents Too
More than anyone, it’s the front-line agents that feel the consequences of long hold-times. After all, it’s agents who continually experience the dissatisfaction of customers, irate from being put on hold and whose expectations have not been met. This can take a huge toll on morale, leading to employee churn and … you guessed it … a decline in customer satisfaction. The simple solution for happier agents? Give them happier customers.
4) #OnHoldWith Will Catch You
In this socially connected world there’s a growing army of unhappy and bitter customers venting their frustration on Twitter. We, the folks at Fonolo, created a way for consumers to productively use their ‘on hold with’ time and let companies know how they feel. We feel that greater awareness of the problem will increase the likelihood of change in the call center world. The moral of the story is you do not want to be listed on this site.
What You Can do About it
Making customers happy has to start at the very beginning of every interaction which, for most customers, is their call into your contact center. But when you put them on hold, 90% of customers will become frustrated and 60% will abandon a call after just one minute. Let’s focus on change this coming year. A simple call-back solution can correct this issue and lead to positive results for your call center.
Happy Holidays Everyone!
Publish Date: December 10, 2015 5:00 AM
Now that the end of the year has neared, we’ve evaluated what blogs you thought were the most captivating and helpful for advancing customer service. These blogs were chosen by you as the most popular Fonolo posts of the year! We’re so thrilled you enjoyed reading all of our educational content, and hopefully reading about our super cool call-back technology was fun as well.
Take a peak at the blogs that made our top 5…you might learn something you didn’t know the first time around!
9 Images Capturing Omni-Channel Customer Service
Here we tackle the challenges of the increasingly complex customer journey and how to deliver consistent service in a multi-channel environment. With rising consumer expectations for rapid and hassle-free customer service, companies are focusing more on resolving this challenge. In this blog, we use images to clearly identify what these challenges look like and how to resolve them.
Top 10 Customer Experience Trends for 2016
This handy whitepaper is perfect for those savvy customer experience evangelists that are looking to plan out their strategies for 2016. Separating your organization from the competition is no longer about price and features; rather, it’s about providing a high quality customer experience. These are the 10 key customer experience trends you should focus on for 2016.
Top 8 Customer Service Statistics for 2015
Did your company have a great year for customer service? Did these statistics point you in the right direction? Check out these 8 interesting stats to get you thinking about customer service and review what you think worked and what could be done differently in 2016.
7 Videos on Customer Experience Excellence
In recent years, consumers have become much more demanding of a flawless customer service experience. Delivering such an experience has become vital to business success, but understanding all the factors that contribute to a positive customer experience is daunting. Here we uncover 7 videos from industry experts to help frame your thinking.
The ROI of Call-Backs for Your Call Center
This is part one of a four part series where we explore the benefits of deploying call-backs in your call center. When deployed correctly, call-backs can deliver concrete ROI through several paths: lower abandon rate, shorter handle time, reduced telco cost and more consistent call volume. In this blog we explain the mathematical reasoning behind how lowered abandonment rates can save your company money.
Publish Date: December 9, 2015 5:00 AM
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 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.
1. Avoiding the Probabilities
The only way to properly model the service level in your call center is to use the Erlang equations. The equations themselves can be intimidating so it’s understandable that many call center managers want to avoid this topic. Today, most call centers have a workforce management tool that does the math for you, but you still need to understand the concepts behind the numbers or you can fall victim to some of the flaws listed below.
To get more comfortable with the concept, you can think of Erlang as a translator box, where you put in values like calls per hour, handle times, and number of agents available. These are “deterministic” values, in that they are easily measured. What you get as an output are the answers to “probabilistic” questions such as, “What are the odds a call will have to wait in a queue?” or “What are the odds a call will wait more than 30 seconds?”
Another important reason to be comfortable with Erlang is that it’s the only way you can do proper analysis of call volume “spikes”. For a walk-through of that kind of analysis, check out this blog post.
2. Picking The Wrong Service Level
The most common service level is “80/20”. Many people assume this standard is based on careful analysis which revealed that 80/20 was a good target to set. But that assumption is wrong and adhering to it blindly is not a wise choice. Sadly, the “myth” of the 80/20 standard is now deeply rooted in the industry, like an urban legend that can’t be debunked.
The obvious danger in picking a service level arbitrarily and then trying to meet it is that resources get allocated the wrong way resulting in more harm than good than good. For more on this read Finding the Right Service Level for Your Call Center.
3. Picking the Wrong Time Period
Like the rain forecast mentioned at the beginning of this post, a service level of “80/20” is underspecified. We have to also select a time period for calculating the average. Are we going to average over calls every hour? Every day?
This topic was at the center of a lively discussion on the Call Center Experts LinkedIn group last month started by Steve Mann of Metro Bank.
Call center consultant Rebecca Wise Girson said:
“The bigger the time period, the easier it is to ‘look’ like you’re providing a good customer experience. Measuring the percentage of intervals throughout the day that you meet your SL goal is a more telling metric than measuring only to daily, weekly or monthly averages.”
She goes into more depth in this blog post: The Cost of Having the Wrong Service Level Goal.
Another commenter talked about how organizations can game the system by using time intervals :
[managing] to a monthly or weekly SL goal… allows for many periods of poor performance to be ‘averaged out’. I’ve often seen organizations that play the averages to meet the SL goal by intentionally overstaffing periods (sometimes with overtime) just to make up for periods with low performance. This really just wastes labor dollars and does nothing to change the negative experience of customers who called during a period with low SL.
4. Doing an Average of Averages
So now we’ve picked a time limit (e.g. 20 seconds) and a percentage target (e.g. 80%) and a time period (e.g. 1 hour). Is this now a fully specified metric? Technically yes, but in practice, there’s another step before the metric is actually useful because now we have a set of 8 scores at the end of an 8 hour day. Are we going to average them together? That could hide important variability, as mentioned in the section above. But if we don’t somehow aggregate the data, we will have a hard time talking about performance over longer time scales.
A better approach is to agree on some kind of “compliance rate” where you calculate how many of the time intervals had service levels that met the target. For example: “We met our service level targets in 6 out of 8 time ranges today.” This could be further condensed into saying “We had a 75% compliance rate.”
Now we are finally able to state a fully specified goal for a call center: “We want to answer 80% of all calls within 20 seconds, averaged each hour, 75% of the time.”
5. Ignoring Outliers
Even if you’ve done all the right analysis and settled on a proper fully-specified service level for your call center, there’s another pitfall. The probabilistic nature of this metric means that it hides variability “under the rug”. For example, if your agents successfully met 80/20 all day, you know that 80% of the calls were answered in under 20 seconds. But you know nothing about how bad the other 20% were. Were their wait times 30 seconds or 10 minutes? This variability is critical.
In his new book, The Executive Guide to Call Center Metrics, James Abbott states “In today’s centers, variability is the largest driver of cost… the bigger the variation the more costly the operation.”
How can you incorporate this into your metrics? One way is to have multi-tiered service level. For example “We want to answer 80% of all calls within 20 seconds, and 95% within 40 seconds.” To be complete, this can be combined with the concept of a compliance rate from the section above. (And, of course, don’t forget to specify the time period for averaging!)
How are you using service level in your call center? Have you found a creative way to avoid the 5 pitfalls listed here? Have you found other pitfalls that we didn’t mention? We’d love to hear from you!
Publish Date: December 8, 2015 5:00 AM
Customer service teams are always looking for new ways to operate more efficiently. Ways that make the experience better for them, and better for the customers they’re serving. Technology is a quick answer when embarking on this task.
It’s important that you make it easy (and fun) for your customer service teams to provide quality support. Today, there are a number of great solutions out there to help your business manage its customer service needs. Let’s uncover 5 tools that get rave reviews and are sure to help your team operate more successfully.
Zendesk provides customer service and support ticket software. The web-based help desk solution is used by more than 60, 000 organizations worldwide. This popularity comes as a result of their “beautifully simple” user interface (UI), which is designed for convenience and scalability. Find out for yourself with their free 30-day trial.
Click here for user reviews.
Help Scout lets you manage all customer support emails in one place with features such as automated workflows, a knowledge base, and 40+ third party integrations. They offer a free 15-day trial so you can see how it works for you.
Click here for user reviews.
Freshdesk is a web-based help desk software that allows small businesses to support customers over email, phone, the web, Twitter and your company’s Facebook page. Learn more about Freshdesk using their 30-day free trial.
Click here for user reviews.
Engage customers on your website, guide them through a sales process or provide them with amazing customer service! Live Chat has the features to cover all of these needs and offers a free 30-day trial.
Click here for user reviews.
Desk.com offers multi-channel customer support to manage requests from social media, email, phone, chat, and more. Desk.com also offers free trial, but it’s limited to 14-days.
Click here for user reviews.
Publish Date: December 3, 2015 5:00 AM
In 2013, CCMC and NOVA1 Contact Centers conducted a Customer Rage Study which found that customer problem rates have increased by five percentage points over 2011 (50% vs. 45%).
The most compelling part of the study is why customer problems had increased. Companies were adopting upgraded programs to handle customer complaints, but unfortunately they were doing all the right things the wrong way (e.g. complicated automated response menus, no empowerment to customer care agents, under staffing, etc.). Consequently, when customers can’t get through to agents they turn to social networks to have their voices heard. The viral effect of social venting can be extremely detrimental to your company’s reputation. Therefore, it’s your job to reduce complaints before they escalate to viral defamation.
Here, we’ll uncover 10 ways to not only manage complaints, but eliminate them in the coming year:
1. Deploy new technology
Improving the software in your call center can help create better experiences for both agents and customers. The easier it is for customer service agents to do their job, the better they can handle customers. For example, implementing a call-back solution can help smooth out call volume when you’re faced with a spike in calls causing longer than normal hold-times.
2. Open up new channels of communication
If your business isn’t already using social media to communicate, there’s no better time than the present. In the 2013 National Customer Rage Study they found that more than a third of customers use social networks to complain. You can use social media to monitor interactions between you and your customers, and predict problems before they escalate to complaints. If you’re already using social media to communicate with your customers it might be time to explore new ways of interacting with them, such as using Twitter Polls to get their feedback periodically.
3. Provide a seamless user experience
If you saw a surge in complaints from customers about the ease and efficiency of your website or mobile platforms, it might be wise to step up your game in 2016. Along with making improvements to the user experience (UX), you can also integrate customer service widgets to support your product and curb user complaints.
4. Find creative ways to ask for feedback
As mentioned in the previous two tips, new communications makes it’s easier than ever to creatively uncover what your customers think of you. It’s never easy to ask for criticism but it’s the best method of resolving complaints and finding solutions. If your customers complained about your website’s UX – incentivize them with a discount code they can only use for web and ask them for feedback after completing the transaction.
5. Decrease call center hold-times
The most obvious customer complaint is with call center hold-times. The Customer Rage Study found that, “Although posting on the web about consumer problems has increased substantially, complainants still consider the telephone their primary channel for complaining by a margin of 11 to one over the internet (66% to 6%)”. This year, prepare your call center with the right tools to manage this. Fonolo offers affordable call-back solutions that can boost your contact center operations and decrease customer complaints.
6. Reward customers for their feedback
When a customer takes time out of their day to communicate with you, it’s a great opportunity to turn a somewhat loyal customer into a very loyal customer, and loyal customers are more likely to praise you than complain about you. The reward is up to you, but typically a discount that brings the customer back to your business is the most mutually beneficial.
7. Don’t make promises you can’t keep
When Comcast launched a media campaign telling its customers that they were going to “stop being the worst company” there was a fair amount of skepticism swirling around this promise – and rightfully so. After a year, they still remain high on our Top 10 OnHoldWith offenders list and customers regularly mock their twitter handle @ComcastCares.
If your company can’t deliver on a promise, you lose your customers’ trust, and without their trust you lose their loyalty. Ensure the promises you make are deliverable and completed in a timely fashion. If you don’t, you’re only giving customers more ammunition to complain.
8. Empower your staff
Your employees are your biggest asset and they can easily walk out on you. This affects everything from staffing, operations, and overall service levels, the result: customer complaints. Give your staff a reason to come into work every day. When your staff is happy, they’ll treat your customers better because the company’s success directly affects their own success (and their job security).
9. Improve internal communications
Communicate often and thoroughly within and across all departments. This way you can catch problems and create solutions before your customers can. Facebook recently reported that Mark Zuckerberg is still hands on with product development, and catches errors well before users do. No matter what level you are in an organization it’s important to keep your ear to the ground and play a role in making improvements, not only in your field of expertise but as an unbiased third party in other departments.
10. Log customer complaints
By tracking and logging complaints no one in your organization can use the excuse “I didn’t know that was a problem” or “I didn’t know how to resolve the problem”. Every complaint your company hears should have a case file and potential problem solving options to help eliminate further complaints. Plus, the more you’re reminded, the more you’ll never want to deal with that complaint again.
Now let’s “Cheers” to a customer complaint-free New Year!
Publish Date: December 2, 2015 5:00 AM
Fall is in the air, and with it comes the promise of Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is a time to put aside the cynicism and negativity of everyday life and be thankful for the upstanding customer service interactions that are sometimes ignored in the media in favor of more attention-grabbing negative headlines.
Here are 3 companies we should be thankful for.
1) Grateful to Lego
A seven year old named Luke (kids make for the best customer service stories!) was shopping with his dad when his favorite Lego figure dropped out of his pocket, never to be seen again. His dad suggested they send the Lego company an email requesting a replacement Lego figure, and they did. They were blown away by the response – not only did Lego respond to the email but they also sent three variations of the Lego figure that Luke lost AND threw in a bad guy for him to fight! I think I know what Luke will be playing with at the Thanksgiving table this year.
2) Thankful for Trader Joe’s
An 89 year old man was stuck at home in a winter storm in Pennsylvania. Too scared to take to the icy roads, he was afraid that he would run out of food. He called grocery chain Trader Joe’s to ask if they delivered. The customer service representative told him that normally they don’t, but because of his situation, they would make an exception. They even suggested various foods for his low sodium diet and dropped the groceries off at his doorstep 30 minutes later. The kicker? It was all free! Now, if only every grocery store would offer a one-time delivery option — how wonderful would it be to have Thanksgiving ingredients dropped off at your door!
3) Cheers to Jimyz’s
A man named Xander in a small city in Ohio took his car into an auto garage called Jimyz for a quick fix. When he went to pick it up, the mechanic had left him a handwritten note on stationary expressing his gratitude for being allowed to work on the man’s car. It was a simple gesture that only took a minute or two, but was so nice and sincere that it probably gained Jimyz a lifetime customer. Heck, maybe Xander will even invite the staff at Jimyz to dine at his Thanksgiving table this year.
As you get ready to prepare your cranberry sauce and potatoes, your stuffing and pumpkin pie, we hope you’ve enjoyed a look at some of the positive customer service experiences that we can all be thankful for!
Guest Blogger: Amy Clark
Amy Clark is the lead author and editor of two customer service blogs – I Want It Now, which examines the era of instant gratification, and Self Service Central, which provides her thoughts on how best to help customers assist themselves online . She also serves as Customer Success Director at WalkMe.
Publish Date: November 26, 2015 5:00 AM
Anyone who’s ever worked in customer service this time of year can understand the madness that looms ahead. Customers compete with each other to be the first ones out of the gate to score the best deals of the year. Consequently, if your company’s customer experience journey somehow interferes with providing a seamless transaction – resulting in a lost deal – there will be hell to pay. And it’s no secret that customer service agents bear the brunt of any customer experience catastrophe. This is why it’s so important to implement solutions that can alleviate the stress for both the customer and the service agent.
Where do you begin to prepare for a surge in consumer demands? Well, you can bet your bottom dollar that customers will attack every avenue of communication available to them in order to have their concerns addressed. This includes: social networks, mobile apps, online chat, and your contact centers. So, how can your business ensure each service channel is delivering successfully? It’s a holistic solution, a three pronged strategy if you will, but each can work independently if you haven’t jumped on the omni-channel bandwagon yet.
Check out these 3 easy-to-deploy solutions that can help keep your customers and agents calm, not only on Black Friday, but all year round:
Give callers the option to receive a call-back when hold times are too long. Let them “press 1 to get a call-back from the next agent”. The overflow of call volume will surely create an overwhelming amount of traffic in your contact centers. Despite proper staffing, you’re bound to run into some unexpected spikes and this is your way of saying: We want you to continue shopping, you don’t have to abandon your cart, and we’ll handle your issue ASAP.
Integrates Easily: Hooks into your existing call center infrastructure. All of your business processes remain the same.
Improves the Customer Experience: Give customers back what they value the most – their time. Let them schedule a call-back when hold times are too long.
Reduces Cost-per-Call: Realize lower handle times, abandon rates and telco costs.
Let customers easily connect to a live agent, directly from within your mobile app. With one tap on their smartphone they can request a call-back and avoid hold time. This is an effective and intuitive solution that can help eliminate cart abandonment and immediately have their issue addressed without searching for a customer service hotline.
Easy to Use: Give mobile customers a simple and intuitive way to request a call-back from a live agent.
Works with any App: Offer customers live assistance from within any mobile application on any platform.
Connects to Your IVR: Automatically navigate callers through the IVR. No need to install any additional hardware or software.
Enable customers to seamlessly transition from web to live assistance. Offer them a call-back and let them fast-track the IVR with just one click. Let’s face it, the majority of Cyber Monday deals will be done through web browsing. This is another great way to speed along any hiccups in the customer experience and complete the transaction in a timely fashion.
Connects Easily: With just a few lines of code, add a widget to your website that allows customers to request a call-back.
Works with Your IVR: Automatically navigate callers through the IVR based on their web context. No need to install additional hardware or software.
Empowers Agents: Pass customer information from web sessions to your agents and improve their efficiency.
If you’re not sure which solution works best for you or if you should deploy more than one, it’s a great idea to book a demo with a sales rep first, and keep calm, we’ll call you back ;)!
Publish Date: November 25, 2015 5:00 AM
Let’s get straight to the point – If you want a successful contact center, excellent customer service must be at the heart of it. An abandoned call is just the opposite of that. Whether customers are staring at their watches in a checkout line or tapping their fingers while on hold, the time they spend waiting diminishes the experience. Period.
Customers expect to receive service quickly and efficiently. It’s no secret that they hate waiting on hold, which is why they choose to hang-up instead. I’m certain you’re asking the question: Couldn’t they have stuck it out just a little longer to get the answer they needed? The answer is no. 60% of customers will abandon a call after just one minute of waiting on hold. The world is moving at a rapid pace and your contact center needs to keep up. (Don’t worry, I won’t be pointing the finger throughout the entire blog, I actually have a solution for you – yay!)
So, why did they hang up? Simple – your hold time was unacceptable. Long hold times mean lost sales, bigger service issues, and unhappy customers. Maybe you stayed within service levels, but the customer perception is really all that matters, and to them it was clearly too long. Maybe it was an unexpected spike in call volume – totally understandable and I know that it’s out of your control, but in that moment in time it changed the experience you delivered. This brings me to the golden question, “How can your contact center provide acceptable hold-times during peak season?”
Well, I have the answer for you.
Learn how Credit Union of Colorado reduced abandon rates by 40%, improved the calling experience, and seized the opportunity to manage unexpected spikes in call volume. You can read the success story, or watch the webinar below.
We talk about:
- Managing Spikes in Call Volume
- Improving Customer Satisfaction
- Lowering Abandon Rates
- Plus so Much More!
Who should watch:
- VPs & Directors of Customer Service
- VPs & Directors of Contact Centers
- VPs & Directors of Web/Social Media
- VPs & Directors of Customer Experience
Publish Date: November 19, 2015 5:00 AM
We hear about it every single day; customers stuck on hold for what seems like eternity. It’s a cruel reality, but at Fonolo we make it our mission to take customers off hold and bring them back into the real world. We’re fighting the good fight, for you – the customers – and you – the call center agents – and for customer service as a whole.
The journey to resolving a simple customer service issue should be just that, simple. Plus, there are better things you could be doing with your time than sitting around waiting on hold. Well, this November we’re MOtivated to take a stand. We’re challenging companies to give back for all the hold time customers have endured this year. Let’s break it down…
If you take a look at our Top 10 ONHOLDWITH offenders and calculate their total monthly wait times, you’ll see that these companies are wasting approximately 3,750,000 minutes on hold with customers per month. There are 43,800 minutes in a month, which means at least 85 people are collectively on hold for the span of an entire month, or in Movember terms, long enough to grow their very own bushy ‘stache! It’s pretty crazy to think that call centers are putting customers on hold for long enough to watch their hair grow – and that’s only 10 call centers.
Can you imagine if we tried calculating how much hold time is being wasted by hundreds of thousands of companies every single month? That’s a lot of mustaches!
In light of this, we’re challenging companies to apologize for their hold times by donating $1 to the Movember foundation for every minute a customer has to wait on hold. Yeah, that sounds like a big chunk of change, but time is money, and right now it’s the customer who ends up paying. It’s your chance to acknowledge that their time is not lost on you, and for a good cause.
I suspect many companies reading this are thinking, “Whoa, whoa, back it up just a second Fonolo. You’re being a tad unreasonable.” But when you’re on the other side, (Adele knows what I’m talking about), you understand just how much call center hold times can negatively affect your business. If you’re not sure, take a look at “10 Quick Tips & Stats About the Customer Experience” and it’ll become quite clear.
So, don’t you think it’s time to stop the “#onholdwith” madness and give your customers an experience they can remember? Instead of feeling guilty, stressed, and frustrated by customer complaints, do your business a favor and give your contact center a call-back solution.
Don’t forget to take on our Movember Challenge for a chance to put a smile (with or without a mustache) on your agents and customers faces!
Interested in eliminating hold time at you call center? Check out Thursday’s webinar!
Publish Date: November 18, 2015 5:00 AM