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PlayVox - Blog

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How To Improve Your Customer Service With Quality Assurance

Moving from a small business or “startup” mindset and stepping out into the possibility of rapid growth is a daunting experience for many small business owners. One day you’re successfully peddling your goods and services, adding clientele at a nice clip, and the next day you feel you’re losing control over the quality and consistency you aim to deliver each and every one of your customers. What's the deal?

Quality Assurance (QA) is a must

If you think Quality Assurance is a term reserved for major corporations, think again. Whether large or small, no company can possibly ensure positive customer service without first defining and measuring what it means. Consider the advantages of having a QA system:

  • Keep tabs on agent effectiveness. Monitoring your agents is the only way to be sure they're delivering customer service that aligns with your company values and priorities. This includes recording calls and evaluating them periodically according to an objective set of criteria. If your CRM system does not already include call recording capability, one can easily be integrated. Be sure to monitor interactions that occur on all of your channels, not just the phone. You can use this data to conduct performance reviews for individuals or in small-group discussions with a frequency that will ensure positive outcomes.
  • Offer incentives and bonuses for excellent customer care. Make sure your agent monitoring practices are used to reward rather than punish by using the results as a basis for bonuses or incentivizing top-notch customer care through a reward system.
  • Identify and correct training shortfalls. When you develop your training materials or practices, it’s difficult to anticipate every situation your agents will encounter. Monitoring agent interactions with customers for quality can be a mirror that shines back any training necessities that have been thus far overlooked. This could help you develop a training procedure/module from scratch or improve what you already have.
  • Coach and train on an ongoing basis. Use your QA data for individual agents to help them reach their full potential for providing high quality customer service. You can even integrate a coaching and monitoring system, such as Playvox, with your existing CRM system. Keeping an open dialogue with your agents about their strengths and areas for improvement can help to maintain an honest environment of mutual trust and engagement, resulting perhaps in better employee retention.

Whereas some companies struggle with how to begin measuring quality, others who have already implemented a system may wonder if it’s actually benefiting the company and its customers. There are several factors to consider when implementing or improving a QA program.

What are your standards of excellence?

To establish a QA system that is valuable to your company and its employees, you must begin with a clear definition of what your standards of excellence are. What do you ultimately want your customers to get out of their experiences with your company? These goals should take the form of broad statements that align with your company values.

For example: Every customer should feel valued as an individual.

How will you measure success?

Next, decide on the metrics which can best indicate your success toward these goals. Translating these metrics to KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for your service agents will give you a foundation for measuring and improving your customer service.

Create a scorecard using clear, objective, productive language that provides actionable insights for agents to improve. An example of an objective criterion for the aforementioned goal of customers feeling valued as individuals might be whether or not the agent asked for the customer’s name and used it at least once during the call.

Remember: Different channels require (slightly) different metrics.

Chances are, your customer care is being delivered through more than just the telephone. Chat, email, SMS, and social media interactions require slightly different skill sets and finesse than traditional phone-based service.

Language that sounds natural on the phone may sound stilted, or worse, rude, when expressed in text form. While your standards of excellence should remain consistent across all channels, measurement and assessment may vary by channel.

**9 Tips For Consistent Quality Across Channels**

How frequently should you assess for quality?

There are a number of factors to consider when deciding how frequently to assess quality for individual agents, departments, or your overall customer service workforce.

You may wish to bring agents together for a weekly or monthly review session which remains relatively informal, though productive.

**Coaching: The Art Of Providing Meaningful Feedback**

You may also wish to conduct quarterly and/or annual reviews of individual agents, especially as it relates to incentives or changes in pay. Regardless of your company size or approach to QA, monitoring with consistency is important for all stakeholders.


The satisfaction of your customers is the ultimate insurance plan for your bottom line. One bad service experience can turn a loyal devotee of your company into a vocal detractor to a captive audience of the social media masses.


When it comes to customer service, burying your head in the sand and hoping for the best is a recipe for mistakes that can shrink your customer base quickly and irrevocably. Don’t let the next customer service horror story told around a water cooler be about your company. Invest your time, energy, and money in assuring the quality of your customer service. Your customers — and your shareholders — will thank you.


Publish Date: June 23, 2017

Benefits Of Using Both CRM & QA Software Together

My father always says, “Work smarter, not harder.” And while he is a hard worker himself and has instilled this trait in my siblings and me, his point was nonetheless clear: Why work harder than you have to when there is a more efficient way to achieve the same results?


Thankfully for many of us in today’s workforce, technology does much of the heavy lifting. But harnessing that technology in the best way possible is an important part of having a well-functioning business operation, including customer contact centers.

Many companies have a system for managing their contacts with customers, or a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. Many also have a system of Quality Assurance (QA) in place to make sure their customers are getting goods or services at a consistently high standard.

But if your company is operating these two systems in isolation, then you’re working too hard. Thanks to the capability of cloud-based technologies to integrate well with one another, you can manage your customer relationships and your service quality with one combined system. Here are the benefits of using CRM and QA software in conjunction.


Why reinvent the wheel?

Your CRM system keeps track of every interaction your agents have with your customers, right? Inbound and outbound calls, as well as all messaging that takes place via text, livechat, email, and social media are logged and stored in your CRM system.

You use this information to keep track of your customer relationships, so why not also use it to monitor for quality?

By integrating a QA system to work in conjunction with your CRM system, you’re saving yourself the step of data collection and getting straight to the point of monitoring and adjusting for quality.

A QA system can record calls and store messages straight from your CRM system, while also providing a platform for measurement, feedback, and coaching of agents and their KPI’s all from one integrated system. Saving time and money are two very important benefits of using CRM and QA software in conjunction.


Control your data

The QA efforts of yesteryear involved hiring a third-party team to monitor customer calls to gather mountains of data and then organize it into “reports” deemed “useful” for companies to improve their service.

But integrating a QA system that works with your CRM means being able to customize the data you collect and what you do with it. With options available at the click of a button or the drop of a menu, today’s QA software is highly moldable to the evolving needs and priorities of your team.


Connecting the dots

Having a QA system that is totally separate from your CRM system fragments the natural flow of information and communication that exists in the modern, connected world of business today.

Think about it. You have a CRM system to manage relationships between agents and customers, and a QA system to manage relationships between agents and customers and management. It just doesn’t make sense to parse out the overall customer and company interactions in this way.

Of the many benefits of using CRM and QA software in conjunction is the ability to manage and evaluate the entire relationship web in which all company-related interactions take place. From customer to agent to management and even beyond, linking CRM and QA software means a fully integrated system that reflects the whole picture.


Don’t separate, integrate

Software integrations are becoming more and more seamless as cutting-edge business technology makes a mass migration to the cloud.

For example, industry behemoth Salesforce has an expansive list of integrations, so much so that it has formed its own “app cloud” from which customers can customize a suite of products that all work within the Salesforce portal.

Software companies and their offerings can now integrate with one another regardless of size and scope  to create a highly customized system unique to each and every company. Using a CRM system in conjunction with QA software is soon to become par for the course as companies take advantage of the smorgasbord of cloud-based software options available at their disposal.


Visible, ongoing feedback

QA software that is integrated right within your CRM system means agents can see their KPI specs in real time at any given moment. It also means that management can monitor, give feedback, and coach on an ongoing basis.

Rather than a QA overhaul periodically, your call center has constant access to the tools that ensure quality and continuous improvement  - ‘round the clock, across the weeks, and throughout the year. Steady data provides accurate measurement, and steady quality assurance provides consistent quality.

Agents who have access to a QA dashboard will view QA differently, engaging in self-monitoring and adjustment, with a greater awareness of the quality of service perceived by their customers.

Playvox is among the pioneers of QA software available on the cloud. Scalable for companies large and small, Playvox integrates with numerous CRM systems such as Desk, Salesforce, RingCentral, ZenDesk, LiveChat, and more.

**Boost your contact center QA with Plavox's 3rd party integrations**

With Playvox, incoming and outgoing calls and messages in your CRM system become valuable tools for measuring and improving quality. Agents can customize their dashboard to highlight particular KPI’s, management can give feedback, coaching, and (re)training all from one portal, and agents can even “gamify” their service to maximize their metrics.


CRM and QA: A united front of ongoing success.


Publish Date: April 5, 2017

4 Best Practices Of Using QA Software In The Contact Center

"This call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes" is a line we hear nearly every time we call a business.

However, how many contact centers actually follow through on the "assuring quality" promise? In a world where customer service is becoming increasingly important to a company's success, we can’t just stand still and not take action.

Contact centers that take the time to analyse these calls and other interactions are able to provide exceptional customer service and make improvements to their business model such as:

  • Increased customer satisfaction.
  • Streamlined customer service.
  • Engaged and high performing agents.
  • Improved first-contact resolution statistics.
  • Identifying ways to boost their bottom line.

For any contact center that wants to improve, they need to monitor its performance. Quality assurance software like PlayVox is one of the best ways to achieve this as it provides a simple, user-friendly solution for data collection, analysis, training and agent improvement.

Whether you are thinking about using quality assurance software for the first time or you are seeking to improve your own processes, here are four best practices for using QA software in your contact center.

1. Focus on agent coaching and training

A sign of an excellent quality assurance program is one that emphasizes coaching and avoids creating an "us vs. them" mentality. By using PlayVox's intuitive training program, contact center managers can easily create personalised coaching sessions that focus on that agent's areas of improvement.

A good training program is also crucial to empowering new agents and sparing them from feeling incompetent with knowledge gaps further down the line. While regular coaching sessions are important, it is necessary to make sure they are tailored as much as possible to improve agent engagement.

By focusing on tailored coaching, training and recognising your agents for good results, you will create an environment of ongoing feedback and highly skilled agents that will feel empowered to improve and deliver exceptional customer service.

2. Monitor across several channels

We are in the age of the omnichannel, and as a result, contact center agents are no longer just operating over the phone. These days there is also live chat, email or texts and your quality assurance program needs to extend to every channel where your agents interact with customers.

**6 tried and proven methods to creating customer connections through chat and SMS**


However, with the sheer mass of interactions that contact centers experience on a daily and weekly basis, it is important to make sure that your quality assurance software lets you quickly find interactions across platforms with personalised filters.

This will save managers and team leaders time and allow them to centralize and speed up the training and ongoing improvement process within your contact center. 

3. Detailed call monitoring and performance checks

The contact center industry is a wealth of information. An overwhelming amount of client data is collected on a daily basis through each and every agent-customer interaction. For some contact centers, tackling this mountain of data to train staff and improve processes can seem intimidating.

PlayVox QA assurance software helps filter this information so managers can schedule regular performance checks and keep their agent's customer handling skills under check. By referring to real statistics about the competency levels of their agents they can ensure performance metrics are being met.

Call monitoring also gives managers the opportunity to closely analyze calls and use them as valuable examples for problem-solving and impeccable customer service. For the agents, it gives them the chance to learn how to deliver perfect customer interactions and develop long-term relationships.

**6 harmful coaching practices that are hurting your customer service**


These regular performance checks help agents get feedback faster and adjust how they handle individual customer interactions to provide a higher level of customer service.

4. Efficient quality process

It's all good to have a quality assurance program in place, but is it time-consuming? How long does it take you to pull statistics on teams or individual performance?

To evaluate your agents faster, obtain quality statistical data on your team's performance - you need to eliminate the use of multiple spreadsheets and software. Doing so will streamline your quality assurance process and in turn, increase team productivity by providing agents with faster feedback and statistics on their meeting their objectives.

**Why you need to get rid of spreadsheets in your call center**

In conclusion

When done right, quality monitoring software in contact centers have the potential to increase sales, engagement, productivity and staff retention significantly. By implementing these best practices, you can make your call centres QA program count, and your customers will benefit as a result.


Curious to learn more about PlayVox's QA assurance software? Find out how we can help!


Publish Date: March 31, 2017

Boost Your Contact Center QA With PlayVox’s Third-Party Integrations

Assuring quality customer interactions is a priority for any company that expects to thrive and grow. In-house QA teams, third-party QA consultants, and closed, internal systems for monitoring contact center quality are soon to be relics of the past as QA, along with other customer service systems and platforms, moves rapidly to the cloud.


Playvox is quickly becoming a major player in the cloud-based QA technology game, and for good reason. Contact center agents and managers can receive valuable insights as to the quality of customer interactions from every channel, the result being a QA system that is affordable, scalable, collaborative, and ongoing.


The beauty of cloud-based technology is that it allows various apps and platforms to integrate seamlessly, allowing companies to custom-build their technology systems and solutions to meet their ever-evolving needs. The following are some of the third-party tools which Playvox has seamlessly integrated into its platform.



RingCentral is a cloud-based contact system which can operate through in-office phones as well as the smartphones and tablets of its users. Managers can easily add or remove users, locations, and devices; users can customize their settings and notifications.

The system displays at any time who is on a call and who is available, and users can quickly set up and invite others to conference via call or video.


Integrated into Playvox, all communication that comes through RingCentral can be monitored for quality, eliminating the need for transferring contact data to a separate QA system.



Zendesk is a support ticketing system that brings customer queries and issues from multiple communication channels together into one streamlined ticketing system. Agents can prioritize customer needs, work on resolving multiple support tickets at once, and collaborate with other team members to respond to the needs of customers.


Although Zendesk displays data such as how your company’s response time compares to the industry average, the integration can be added into PlayVox to bring a full suite of QA tools all in the same platform.


Desk (of Salesforce)

Boasting readiness right out-of-the-box, gathers customer support needs from various channels into one streamlined support ticket system that is accessible by employees wherever they are.

Desk’s strength lies in its scalability, making it a popular choice for small (but rapidly growing) companies.


Desk integrates easily with Playvox, bringing to agents and managers the ability to build custom QA scorecards and evaluate agent-to-customer interactions across multiple communication channels.



Salesforce has all the capability of omnichannel customer support, plus more. It can intelligently route customers to the right agent, catalogue and publish solutions to a knowledge base that everyone can access, provides the ability to screen-share directly with customers, and brings with it a host of sales and marketing tools.


Thanks to the third-party integration, contact centers can give agents real-time feedback and visibility with personalized dashboards tracking KPI’s. Managers can coach, (re)train, and monitor agent-to-customer interactions through the Playvox platform.



Talkdesk brags “all the benefits of enterprise call center software, without all the complexity.” Simple and straightforward, Talkdesk is a call center system with which you can easily establish a phone number, add agents, configure ring groups and IVR using drop-down menus, and make and receive calls.


Although Talkdesk itself does have call monitoring capabilities and customized reporting, integrating with Playvox brings the entire QA operation, complete with call monitoring, custom scorecards and user dashboards, coaching and training, all together. Data and workflows are automatically synchronized in real-time between Talkdesk and Playvox.



Like Talkdesk, LiveChat’s beauty lies in its simplicity. The name says it all. Live. Chat.

Customers visiting a website enabled with LiveChat service can exchange real-time messages with a customer service representative with one click or tap and a few keystrokes.


Livechat easily integrates with Playvox, making it possible to analyze these chat interactions for quality as part of a company’s overall QA strategy.



Intercom is a contact center solution with many features that help customers receive solutions in a timely and efficient manner via omnichannel support.

Team members can see a detailed customer profile alongside email messages and collaborate (visibly or behind-the-scenes) via a team inbox. Intercom facilitates a crowdsourced help center organized by titles, keywords, and ratings, and even initiates a live chat response anytime an article is rated as unhelpful.

In-app messaging online and via a company’s mobile apps brings available agents right to customers’ fingertips, wherever they are.


Intercom can be integrated with Playvox to gather agent-to-customer interactions in one place and monitor calls, chats, and emails for quality interaction.

If your company operates as though Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Quality Assurance (QA) are two separate entities, it’s time to embrace the integrated approach afforded by cloud-based technologies by linking Playvox to your existing system(s).

Check out our complete list of integrations here.


Publish Date: March 29, 2017

5 Ways Your Call Center Can Seduce Millennial Customers And Turn Them Into Raving Fans

Is your contact center prepared for the fastest growing consumer demographic? Millennials, generally born between the early 80s and late 90s are infamous for their short attention spans and social media addiction.

However by 2020, millennials will be spending 1.4 trillion annually, and if your contact center wants to see some of that cash flow, you need to adapt to the way this generation likes to do business.

Here are five ways you can evolve your call center to seduce millennials and have them ranting about your customer service all over their social media platforms.


1.Focus on mobile and social

If you want your contact center to evolve and be used as a resource for Millennials, being mobile and social are key. "With Millennials checking their phones up to 110 times a day, that is an important place to be for any brand," says Graham Knowles, Director of Sales & Enterprise Solution Architect at [24]7.


40% of Millennials prefer self-service to human contact, and it's not because they are antisocial. Millennials grew up with access to the world wide web of information at the tip of their fingers and are accustomed to going out and searching for answers on their own.


To meet this growing trend in the customer service industry, savvy call centers will invest in virtual bots, allowing the brand to be available on any chat platform, 24 hours a day, with personalized and custom answers for each and every customer.

**What are chatbots and how are they revolutionizing customer service**


However, Knowles warns that call centers shouldn't start the process of implementing a chat bot until you have discussed the following four questions:

  1. What are your frequently asked questions?
  2. What are your troubleshooting guides?
  3. What community forums can you leverage?
  4. Do you have any video walkthroughs?


2. Contact centers need fast response times around the clock

With 25% of Millennials expecting a response within 10 minutes of asking a question, contact centers need to develop a backup plan to handle customer service issues through the night.


Apart from implementing chatbots to field these questions after hours, contact centers also need to ensure a speedy response from the agents’ end as well. This translates to creating a unified chat interface strategy to prevent agents from hopping between different platforms, potentially losing information and wasting time.


"Did you get the information to them fast enough that they are willing to promote your brand and talk about how great their experience was? If not, you are doing only the status quo, which in 2017 means you are losing ground to your competitors," says Knowles.


It is because of this urgency that Knowles claims email is dead and organisations need to start thinking about how to get rid of it as a customer service solution. Doing so will ensure your customers don't become frustrated and anxiety levels don't rise when trying to find time sensitive information.


3. Authenticity is key with Millennials

With the introduction of millennials into the customer service space, gone are the days where scripted customer service was okay. Instead, they want an informal conversation that feels authentic, like they are talking to a friend and not treated like another business transaction.


"Take that canned experience and transfer it to a chatbot," says Knowles "Don't teach and train your agents to be robots. Good brands are taking their people and making them front and center because that is the interaction you want to have. You want your brand to feel real and not a corporate monstrosity."

**How to train agents to personalize customer service**


By adopting this personable approach into your contact center, you can help build trust in a generation that is notorious for being distrustful.


4. Don’t aim to engage with Millennials over the phone

Despite being attached to their phones, millennials see their devices as a mode of communication rather than a way to have a chat with a customer service representative.


With 41% of millennials saying they would be "truly satisfied" if they could use text messaging or SMS to connect with business, call centers need to evolve to meet this need by taking advantage of their live chat, SMS and social media customer service channels.

**6 tried and proven methods to creating customer connections through chat and SMS**


In 2017, the ability to authenticate and transact on messaging services will be essential to attracting Millennial customers, keeping them happy and racking up positive recommendations online.


5. Millennials want a multi-channel experience

Boomers only had a couple of options for contacting a call center years ago: phone or email. Today, with millennials immersed in the digital world throughout their day, they expect the same from brands.


Apart from being available at a whim, millennials also want businesses to be on their platform of choice. Contact centers that want to be at the forefront of customer service need to adopt a multi-channel customer experience to keep millennials happy, and so agents can move seamlessly between the platforms without losing any information in the process.

**How to choose the right channels for your omnichannel strategy**


There's no time like now to get your contact center prepared

By taking the time to evolve your contact center to meet millennial expectations, you can create a serious competitive edge and customer loyalty that will last a lifetime. So what are you waiting for?


By learning to close this generational gap between millennials and customer service, you’ll also be preparing to tackle Generation Z or as Lucie Greene, the worldwide director of the Innovation Group like to call them: "millennials on steroids."


Publish Date: March 24, 2017

Lowering Inbound Call Volume To Improve Your Customer Experience

Let’s face it: waiting on hold for customer service is annoying. You cringe through the cheesy music, sigh through automated messages that play at timed intervals, and check your call timer display obsessively to see just how long you’ve been waiting.

A call center team that wishes to spare their customers this agony has two options: hiring more agents or lowering inbound call volume. Whereas hiring brings with it a significant cost increase, reducing the number of calls coming in is not only cost-saving, but also more feasible than you may think.

Here are 6 ways to keep inbound call volume in check while improving the overall customer experience.


1. Make other channels accessible and inviting

Every interaction with a customer should include quick-connect options for further contact. If a customer receives a confirmation email, it should include a link or tab for connecting to livechat. If a customer is visiting the website, the company’s chatbot should initiate contact with a pop-up. If a customer is waiting on hold, they should be given options to connect in other ways. In short, every effort should be made to spread the volume of customers over multiple channels.

The more accessible the channels are, the more likely customers are to make a habit of connecting in ways other than the phone.

**Five benefits of providing omnichannel customer service within the call center**

2. Good omnichannel support and training

If you’re going to drive customers toward non-phone channels, then your contact center must be well-equipped, staffed, and trained to do so. The key to a successful omnichannel strategy is making sure all channels are well-integrated with one another, so that customers can feel comfortable switching from one to the other without fear of gaps, overlaps, or repetition in the transfer of information. Likewise, your contact center must ensure that adequately-trained agents are staffing all channels, and that replies, especially on asynchronous channels, are timely and effective.

**Customer service response and waiting time on social media**

3. Offer self-service options

Customers increasingly prefer self-service options anyway, so why not make this a part of your strategy for lowering inbound call volume? According to a recent Forrester report, customers’ reported use of internet or mobile self-service options rose from 67 percent in 2012 to 76 percent in 2014. The following self-service options may be helpful if your contact center is interested in lowering inbound call volume:

  • Detailed and easily-navigable FAQ’s allow customers to find an answer to their problem without being directed by a service agent. Your FAQ section should be more than just a handful of questions and answers thrown on a page; it should be a living document, constantly evolving and filled with links and tabs that are useful for organizing the information from the top down and from the bottom up.
  • Web portals for making account changes should be available to customers both online and through a mobile app.
  • Online tutorials for solving relatively simple tech problems allow customers to forgo the phone queue and get the job done on their own timetable with minimal interaction (read: friction) with customer service agents. These tutorials can take the form of YouTube videos or online documents or slideshows. The internet has become a smorgasbord of DIY content, so get your contact center in on the action.

And the best part of offering self-service options? Customers will learn how to resolve some of their own service issues, making them less likely to become an addition to your call volume in the future.

**Why you need customer self-service and how to do it**

4. Lean toward asynchronous channels

Agents who are on the phone have a very limited ability to multi-task. Real-time voice-to-voice interaction demands the agent’s full attention, and compared to some other channels, this is less than efficient.

Channels that are asynchronous, like chat, SMS, and e-mail, allow agents to handle more than one customer at any given time.

Agents on average can handle two customers at once via webchat, or a maximum of four without sacrificing service quality. So if presenting customers with options is part of your strategy for lowering inbound call volume (see #1), lean toward asynchronous channels that allow your agents to handle more customers in less time.

5. Optimize your IVR

Your IVR (interactive voice recognition) system can do much more for you than direct callers to the right department or agent.

The IVR system can also provide successful “exit points” for the customer that result in their not having to speak with an agent at all.

If there are simple clerical tasks that customers can complete themselves via touch tone options, make these a highly accessible part of your IVR call flow. This lowers the volume of calls arriving at your agents’ phones, and allows them to focus on more complex customer tasks and services.

**Call center software you need to get ahead of the competition in 2017**

6. Focus on FCR

A good FCR rate means the customer has no need to call back (at least, not regarding the same issue), thus cumulatively lowering inbound call volume in the future. In fact, A 15% improvement in FCR results in a 57% reduction in repeat calls. Moreover, this also has positive implications for customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. 12% of customers who have to call more than twice to resolve their issue will leave a company or brand behind.

**In with First Call Resolution and out with Average Handling Time**

Lowering inbound call volume has many benefits for your contact center. Not only can you cut costs, but customers will be less frustrated by waiting on hold. Finally, your agents will become more skilled and satisfied in their work by handling only the more complex calls.


Publish Date: March 17, 2017

How To Use Customer Satisfaction Surveys To Gain Actionable Insights For Your Call Center

Customer satisfaction should be at the forefront of any customer service entity, and that includes contact centers. There are plenty of templates to be found online that will help you to determine how satisfied overall your customers are with the service they receive, but these survey results amount to nil if they don’t lead to valuable changes in your day-to-day operations and overall strategy. Read on for a guide on how to use customer satisfaction surveys to gain actionable insights for your call center.

Use closed questions

To get an overall sense of your customers’ satisfaction, develop some closed questions to include in your survey-- that is, questions with predetermined answers from which your customers may select.

Results from questions like this are easy to compile and analyze, and looking at customer responses in big numbers might help you determine issues that a majority of them are experiencing so you can take action accordingly. There are, however, limitations to the authenticity and depth of such responses-- you are essentially asking customers which of your presumed answers they most agree with. Which is exactly why you should...


Use open-ended questions, too

Open-ended questions are questions without pre-determined answers from which customers must select. Basically, you ask some carefully crafted questions, and customers can write or speak their answers in their own words. You may be thinking that questions like these yield results that are lengthy, varied, and difficult to compile and organize; well, you’re right. But with this approach, big numbers (i.e. statistical data) take a backseat to more in-depth answers that are perhaps lower in overall quantity, but rich in quality.

Rather than analyzing the closed responses of thousands of customers, a modest collection of thoughtful responses can give you the actionable insight you need. Unlike multiple choice (i.e. closed) responses, you don’t have to wonder and assume what exactly the customer was thinking when he/she chose that response-- the customer has the opportunity to explain themselves clearly and completely, giving you a comprehensive account of their experience with your call center.


Design a question flow

Instead of just giving your customers a numbered list of closed or open-ended questions, put more thought into how these questions are sequenced. Just like your IVR system is designed to allow customers to “flow” through different sets of prompts based on their previous selection, your customer satisfaction survey can be organized into tiers or paths based on the answers that are selected.

**Creating an effective customer satisfaction survey to get more responses**


Begin with a broad, closed question like “How likely would you be to recommend our service to a friend?” with selections ranging from “highly likely” all the way down to “highly unlikely.” Based on how the customer responds to this, they can be directed toward subsequent questions set that begin to dig down into the reasons why.

Thusly, you will receive not only global, compilable, analyzable mass data based on the initial broad tier of closed questions, but you’ll also receive increasingly specific feedback about particular features of your service.

It may seem like a lot of work, but if you’re trying to figure out how to use customer satisfaction surveys to gain an overall sense of customer satisfaction along with specific, actionable insights, designing a system of tiered questions is the way to go.


You’ve got data. Now what?

Equally important to the way in which you collect your customer data is how you actually use it. You took the time to design your surveys, and your customers took the time to answer your questions; what a shame it would be for this goldmine of information to go to waste. Some companies, like surveygizmo, hold weekly meetings to analyze the overall results and read customer comments together.

Be sure to involve representatives from all levels of your call center (agents, supervisors, managers) and other relevant stakeholders.

If you’re working with a large staff, you can have employees break out into small groups to sift through comments and select the ones that are the most insightful toward making worthwhile changes, reconvening for another large group pow-wow at the end.

**Using data mining to improve the customer experience in your call center**


Involving agents themselves has the added benefit of increasing “buy-in” from them on company policy and improving customer satisfaction. Once you have determined problem areas, brainstorm potential solutions together and come up with an action plan that includes concrete changes in policy or procedure to exact the necessary change.

Note: Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Focusing on just a few key improvement areas will yield better results than trying to change many things at once. Be conservative, yet consistent, in your implementation of changes.


Don’t use customer survey data to reward and/or punish agents

Agents whose livelihood is threatened or enhanced by survey data are understandably likely to manipulate the results. At best, agents may be tempted to offer customers perks or discounts that fall outside of company policies. At worst, agents may pressure their customers to rate them highly.

In any case, giving agents a reason to pump up their scores can result in biased, unreliable data.

The challenge of how to use customer satisfaction surveys to gain valuable feedback for your company is entirely undermined in such cases.

Companies and customers do not always share the same perspective of the customer service provided by a company. To close that communication gap, thoughtfully construct your customer satisfaction surveys and use the results to make meaningful, lasting changes.


Publish Date: March 15, 2017

How Upwork Improved Their Customer Service And Upskilled Their Agents With PlayVox

Upwork is a premier freelancing website for business worldwide looking to hire and work with talented, independent professionals.

The company provides a diverse and dynamic working environment for its team of over 150 agents who work on-site and remotely to meet Upwork's customer service support expectations.

However, having a remote team meant they needed a unique QA management solution. PlayVox proved to be the right fit, providing Upwork with a comprehensive quality monitoring software designed to engage their agents and transform their remote call center operations.


1. Improved customer service and agent skills development

The modern customer is demanding with high user experience expectations. Upwork ensured optimal customer-agent interactions through their staff’s skill development. Using PlayVox's intuitive training platform allowed Upwork to hold immediate coaching sessions when needed  and the Knowledge Base allows managers to place useful trainings that can be used and referred to by agents at any point in time.


"A better prepared and knowledgeable agent translates to better customer experiences in general." explains Amanda James, Manager of Executive Escalations at Upwork, "PlayVox allows the agent to see the evaluation results, review the interaction and communicate with the evaluator all in one place. The impact of the improvement suggestions resonates as a result."


When agents are prepared and knowledgeable about policies and services, a great customer service experience is created organically.

2. Engage remote customer service teams

Uwork’s customer support staff operate remotely. And although this comes with many benefits, it can sometimes be a struggle to find the right mix of tools and a management style to effectively communicate with and engage remote teams in order to prevent them from feeling isolated or detached from the organization.

Upwork explains, "before PlayVox, there was very little contact between the CS and QA teams, which created some challenges."

To engage their remote teams, Upwork uses the PlayVox community wall to encourage team comradery and participation. "The community wall tool helps keep the agents engaged and interested in their own progress and improvement."

Engagement has also increased due to PlayVox's reporting tool, which has created a environment of friendly competition as agents can see the goals they’ve met and where they stand compared to their team members.


3. Integration with existing tools

Time spent switching between different applications is a serious productivity killer. Upwork wanted to improve their quality monitoring process by eliminating the unnecessary steps in the process.


With the PlayVox third-party integrations available, Upwork was able to integrate their existing software, InContact and ZenDesk, making quality monitoring a simpler task.


"The integrations are an amazing time saver," explains Amanda James, “everything we need to evaluate an interaction is within PlayVox. This has saved a great deal of time not having to toggle between local media players and PlayVox or Zendesk."

4. Eliminating spreadsheets

Looking to continuously improve their customer service, Upwork handled multiple tools to measure customer satisfaction which were needed to be aligned with their quality monitoring.

As Upwork's main focus lies in agent development and training, PlayVox was able to simplify the businesses training and evaluation processes, allowing them to focus on their team and expedite the evaluation process.

"Before, we used a combination of spreadsheets, email and screenshots to evaluate and communicate the results to agents and leads." explains Amanda. “[Now] our team is efficient, which allows us to also focus on fostering a collaborative relationship through contests, recognitions, and open discussions.”

PlayVox has collaborated with Upwork to link both the training and quality monitoring process in order to instantly measure the results and improve on them. As a result, it has helped Upwork accelerate its training and feedback, improving its customer service quality faster than before.


"Our processes have been simplified [...] PlayVox allows an expedited evaluation process. [Before] our previous processes didn’t allow for such collaboration and coaching services.”


Since choosing PlayVox as their QA platform of choice, Upwork has transformed their customer service. Their teams now have greater room for collaboration, measurable goals and progress that can be managed.


But best of all, Upwork's customers will continue to have access to highly skilled agents who can quickly and accurately solve all their queries.


Publish Date: March 10, 2017

5 Ways Virtual Agents Can Improve Website Customer Engagement

According to a survey conducted by IBM, 65% of Millennials do not want to deal with a live agent at all. To address this, call centers have begun experimenting with virtual agents or chatbots.

A virtual agent can reduce the workload on your support staff, keep your branding consistent and stop tickets from getting escalated to higher levels.

But what about customer engagement?

Customer engagement is now a priority for many call centers as it is no longer an option just to offer excellent customer service. These days, the customer's level of commitment to the company has become an equally important benchmark.

Engaged customers are loyal, visit more often and are more profitable. But how can a call center boost engagement? One method that is becoming more and more popular is through the use of virtual agents. Not sure what is a virtual agent or how they can boost customer engagement online? Read on and discover why this software is taking off in call centers around the world.

What is a virtual agent?

A virtual agent is a powerful contact center tool that uses a virtual character to engage with users and serve as an online customer service representative. The intelligent virtual agent can answer questions, provide information on products or services and pass customers on to live agents.

How can virtual agents boost customer engagement?

1. Improved customer service

According to a study by Aspect Software, 3 out of 4 millennial customers prefer solving their problems on their own.

This change in the consumer mindset sets the stage for customer service over the next couple of decades, and luckily, virtual agents can address this shift.

Virtual agents make it easier for users to access the information they need for them to make an informed decision and carry on through the customer journey. At the same time, if a VA is unable to answer a question satisfactorily, the customer will be transferred to a live agent, thereby improving the service experience by saving time and reducing high frustration levels.

**What are chatbots and how are they revolutionizing customer service**


2. Increase time spent on your site

It is no secret that a stickier website will help you attract more customers. The longer a customer stays on your site, the more engaged they will become, and the more likely they are to convert.

Virtual Agent's help customers convert by asking users a series of questions to determine the purpose for their visit. They can suggest tailored information that will place users on the right path depending on what stage of the customer journey they are in.

By deploying your VA this way, you can also help to reduce bounce rates and prevent users from landing on your page and clicking away a few seconds later.

3. Increase your conversion rates

Virtual agents aren't just excellent tools for customer service, but they also do wonders for your bottom line.

VA's can help keep users engaged throughout the conversion process in a number of ways. For example, a virtual agent can be programmed to prompt users if they need help by noticing if they are taking too long to fill out a form or complete the checkout process.

Or you can program your VA to help users overcome objections that lead to people not making it to check-out. Visitors inquiring your return policy and FAQs pages probably indicates they are ready to buy but want to read the fine print before committing.

                     **What does it mean to map the customer journey and how to do it**

By taking advantage of these VA capabilities, you will start to see an increase in conversion rates and a drop in abandoned shopping carts or incomplete forms.

4. Virtual agents are a valuable source of data

Virtual agents give you valuable insights into the minds of your customer. They are always collecting information in real time and as a result, have greater insight into the customer's problems.

By analyzing this data, you can assess where you need to make changes to improve the customer experience and keep the user engaged.

For example, if you start to notice that a lot of the questions posed to your virtual agent are about site navigation, you can use that information to make intuitive changes to improve their on-site experience.

You can also use this data to look at the timing of certain questions and how far into the customer life cycle they occur. This information can then help you circumvent any drop offs and design a better site that will foster a more engaged customer base.

5. Improve response times

Imagine you are on a website ready to purchase a new cell phone. But you haven't clicked that "add to cart" button yet because there is one missing piece of information stopping you. You need to know information about delivery times to make an informed decision. But it is midnight, and you are struggling to find an answer on the website.

This need for immediate and potentially decision-making information is one of the main reasons companies have started using virtual agents. With 75% of customers believing it takes too long to reach a live agent and more customers wanting their questions answered 24 /7, VA's play a vital role in meeting this customer expectation.

By having a virtual agent on your website, you can ensure your customers stay engaged by finding the information they need at whatever time is convenient for them.

At first glance, it can seem that delegating customer interaction tasks to a piece of software can be the exact opposite of engaging. However, now that you can answer “what is a virtual agent”, it is clear to see that virtual agents make a big difference in customer engagement, streamlining tasks and your bottom line.


Publish Date: March 8, 2017

How To Ensure Data Security And Privacy In Your Call Center

In today's world, data breaches are all too common. With all the valuable customer information contact centers collect on a daily basis, it is no surprise that a medium-sized call center can get hit with over 1000 fraudulent calls a month.

According to Matt Lautz, President and CIO at CorvisaCloud:"Identity theft is something all contact centers need to be cognizant of, and it's absolutely essential to take the right steps to verify who they are talking to."

Considering how much the contact center environment has evolved over the past few years and the rise of the omnichannel, it's more important than ever to assess the strength of our security measures and protect our customer's information from any security risks.

If you’re wondering how to go about ensuring data security and privacy, here are three ways your call center can secure sensitive customer information.

1. Strengthen your Q&A security protocols

In recent years, global call center fraud has increased by more than 45 percent. This spike in attacks can be attributed to social engineering - the use of deception to manipulate individuals into divulging confidential information.


With that in mind, it's more important than ever to equip your agents with security questions that only the authorized customers can answer. Here are some tips you can implement in your call center improve your Q&A protocols.

Ask open-ended questions

Safeguard your customer's information by asking open-ended questions. For example, asking a caller "Do you have a savings or checking account?" narrows the chances of the caller guessing the right answer to 50 percent. Asking an open-ended question like "What type of account do you have with us?" leaves room for other possibilities without giving anything away.

Ask questions with answers that aren't on documents

Avoid information that fraudsters can discover. It's all too easy these days for sensitive information to fall into the wrong hands. Handbags can be stolen, documents can fall into the wrong hands, or household bills are thrown into the trash intact.

To safeguard against such events, implement questions that only the genuine customer can answer and something that doesn't appear on documents.

For example, "How long have you had this account?" is not something a fraudster would be able to glean from stolen documents or credit cards.

Upgrade your security levels with voice biometrics

Voice biometrics is another identity validation technique that looks promising. It is based on using the caller's unique voice print and claims to offer high levels of security. For the customer, it makes the identification process easier and reduces the time spent going through the verification process.


2. Use multiple layers of protection

With the sheer wealth of information housed in contact centers, it is easy to understand why they have become such lucrative targets for data mining and cross-channel attacks. However, many of the preventative authentication methods fail because they do not provide a layered defense system.

"You have to assume that if criminals can get through one layer of authentication, that they can get through two, they can even get through three. But if you have multiple layers, up to five, and you're continuously authenticating that user and continuously looking at their activities against their profile, you should be in pretty good shape," says Avivah Litan, Vice President of Gartner.

Besides encrypting a customer's information, it's also important to encrypt information sent between agents or to clients via email. By having layered security on emails and other customer information you can safeguard against the following:

  • Ensuring the email cannot be intercepted
  • Unauthorized access if the email is sent to the wrong person
  • Unauthorized access from someone within the contact center
  • A compromised employee using stolen credentials

With no single authentication method sufficient enough to keep fraudsters out, it's important to make sure your call center has a layered defense system. This way, even if a hacker breaches one or two layers, it becomes increasingly more difficult for them to circumvent the entire security system.

3. Enforce a strong password policy

According to the 2015 Trustwave Global Security Report, 28% of security breaches were the result of weak passwords. Call center managers who want to know how to ensure data security and privacy should start with passwords for internal systems, self-service portals and passwords for individual documents.

Educate your agents and customers on the value of using strong passwords and the risks of having an easily cracked password.

As a rule of thumb implement the following changes to ensure your passwords meet high-security standards:

  • All personal computers, servers, firewalls, routers and other network devices should follow password complexity requirements and be changed every 90 days.
  • All passwords must be rendered unreadable using strong encryption.
  • When an employee leaves a company, passwords should be immediately changed to prevent unauthorized access.


These are just a few of the ways on how to ensure data security and privacy in your call center. By continually reviewing your security processes and being aware of what you are looking for, you can ensure your call center mitigates internal and external threats.

By applying these three security methods, you can help prevent your call center from becoming the next big security breach that makes headlines and avoid breaking that delicate balance of trust with your customers.


Publish Date: March 3, 2017

How PlayVox Can Improve Your Customer Service and Create Outstanding Service Experiences

Customers are demanding now more than ever. We live in a world that is a slave to the "we want it now" culture and customer service support centers that refuse to adapt are being left in the dust.

If you are looking for a proactive approach to improving your customer service, it starts with investing in the right software. Statistics show that the cost of bad service can be significant and call centers that want to be successful need to be able deliver the exceptional customer experience that is expected of them.

Going beyond monitoring, PlayVox customer support software gives call center managers the tools to manage staff and provide them with detailed insights into each and every customer interaction. With this data, customer service is able to monitor quality standards and improve their interactions in order to create a more positive customer experience.


What is PlayVox?

PlayVox is a customer service monitoring software designed to help businesses deliver an exceptional customer experience. PlayVox software allows you to monitor your customer service interactions while providing real-time feedback and reporting.

With PlayVox you can coach, train and motivate your employees to give your clients outstanding service across multiple communication channels.


What are the benefits of PlayVox?

  1. Intuitive Learning

Performance management is an integral part of a successful call center. However, too often managers have to develop, train and assess agents on numerous platforms and software.

PlayVox's unique training tools identifies areas of improvement in real-time and provides managers the flexibility to create customizable courses.


Another feature of the software is real-time customer to agent feedback. Agents don’t have to wait months for their evaluation to know how they are doing thanks to the real-time feedback they receive from their customers after they complete an interaction. This lets managers give more accurate evaluations and set dynamic goals without having to wait around and analyze the huge amount of data generated from all the interactions.


As a result, having tailored training and a real-time feedback system creates skilled call center agents who are able to respond faster to queries and provide a higher quality of customer service.

2. Skill development

An excellent development program helps employees address weaknesses, improve their performance and motivate  employees by creating a work environment that offers career growth.

With PlayVox's intuitive training platform, you can seamlessly introduce skill development into your call center. Our platform allows you to evaluate customer's interactions by creating scorecards while simultaneously providing feedback and identifying areas for improvement.

Through the PlayVox platform, managers can also create personalized coaching sessions and easily generate detailed performance reports to better view individual and team progress.

By creating an environment with ongoing feedback, staff can naturally and continuously improve little by little. You will have a team of highly skilled agents who can deliver exceptional service because they are aware of their strengths and weaknesses.

3. Team Motivation

Most people would agree that there is a direct correlation between agent satisfaction and call center productivity. However, call centers are also notorious for their high-stress environments, and it can become difficult to motivate a workforce in these conditions.

To address this issue, PlayVox created Karma Points, a point system for friendly competition. Points can be earned for various tasks and later cashed in for prizes. Gamifying work tasks not only help boost employee morale but also let managers give recognition where it is deserved.

It is an excellent way to transform your employees into an engaged community, committed to providing excellent customer service.

4. Increase Sales

These days customers have high user experience expectations. If you are using an outdated system that is mind-numbing slow and challenging for your agents to use, you will start bleeding customers.

By investing in call center tech like PlayVox, you can focus on sales efficiency and solve the day-to-day challenges in your call center. Our platform is adaptive and seamlessly integrates with CRM's and databases, making it easy for your call center agents to find the information they need - Fast.

5. Efficient Quality Process

Call center managers use techniques such as call monitoring and call scoring to enhance their quality control process, and it is easy to see why.  It is an effective tool for yielding both quantitative and qualitative data on how well that agent is performing.

However, depending on the size of your call center, this task can quickly become unmanageable and time-consuming. With PlayVox, our platform gives you a smarter, easy, and user-friendly approach to customer service quality assurance.

Evaluate more agents in less time, obtain quality statistics based on your team's performance and eliminate the need for spreadsheets. This will not only provide an efficient quality process for call center managers, but it will also increase team productivity and make agents more accountable for hitting their objectives.

If you’re looking to improve your customer service via quality monitoring and employee engagement, PlayVox can provide the tools needed to deliver an outstanding customer service experience.

Say goodbye to countless spreadsheets, platforms and software. With PlayVox, manage team engagement, skills development and training to increase your sales and create a streamlined quality assessment process.

Ask us for a demo today or try our 14-day risk free trial.


Publish Date: March 1, 2017

How To Maintain The Human Element In Your Call Center

Gone are the days where call centers are defined solely by ringing phones, putting customers on hold and taking messages. Today, the modern call center has evolved into an omnichannel beast that has disrupted the relationship between customers and companies.

To stay relevant with the digital savvy millennial generation, call centers have adopted new technology like social media, live chat and mobile applications. As a result of this shift in consumer behaviour, the role of contact center agents and customer engagement has changed.

However, that does not mean human interaction is dead. Technology can't solve everything. According to Accenture, 83% of U.S. consumers still prefer dealing with people over digital channels to resolve their customer service issues. Artificial intelligence can't replace human empathy or intuitively find creative solutions to complex problems.


Why your call center still needs a human element

“People buy from people they trust, and they trust people they like." - Garrison Wynn"

Every time one of your agents interacts with a customer, it is more than just spewing out words and phrases - it is an opportunity to build a relationship. Ultimately people do business with people they like and by creating a call center environment where callers feel appreciated you will increase customer lifespans.

**Quality tips for call center agents to please your boss and your customers**


Every human interaction also gives your agents a valuable opportunity to learn more about the customer's challenges, wants and needs. This insight can help you improve not only your customer service but your bottom line.


Here's how to make sure your call center maintains its human element in an increasingly digitalized world.

1. Don't blindly automate your processes

Peter Parker also known as Spiderman's Uncle Ben famously said: "With great power comes great responsibility."


Surprisingly, the call center world can learn a lot from this simple quote when it comes to implementing new business processes. While there are many benefits to using technology to streamline workflow, there is a fine line. Call center managers should be careful to avoid implementing a system that blindly automates everything and strips away the human element in the process.


Instead use the power of technology wisely. Don't let it dominate your call center to the point that customers no longer feel like they are dealing with people whom they can talk to about their problems. Doing so could cause a relational rift and destroy a customer-centric approach to operations.

**Is your IVR doing more harm than good?**


2. Give your call center agents flexibility

Just like no two snowflakes are alike, nor are people's problems. While we all have our standard processes that need to be followed, now and then a customer's problem requires a unique solution.


If a client is dealing with only artificial intelligence, this is hard to do. For now, only human-to-human interaction can work together to create a flexible solution that meets the customer's needs. Don't keep your agents sidelined on the bench.

Instead give them the authority to make on-the-spot decisions and exceptions.

Let your agents use their wealth of skill, knowledge and intuitive to foster a positive experience that will leave your customer feeling valued. It is a competitive advantage that all the technology in the world cannot offer you.

**How to train agents to personalize customer service**

3. Adapt and remove redundancy for improved customer service

Another way to improve the relationship between technology and the human element in your call center is to consider what technology processes you can remove. In a world where clients are quickly redefining customer service, it's important you listen to their needs to stay on top of your A-game. 

For example:

If an agent is free, it might be a good idea to remove playing the menu for a customer as it can be assumed they probably want to talk to someone if they have taken the time to phone.


It’s all about finding the balance between technology and human interaction. Phoning a call center to change a password is a simple problem that can be resolved with an automated procedure. However, if a customer has a question about a software glitch, that issue is far more complex and needs the human touch.


4. The human element reduces frustration

Artificial intelligence can only interact with a human until a certain point. AI does not pick up on all the subtle cues of human emotion. That's when a well-trained agent comes into the picture. 

**The secret to training a multi-generation call center**

Bots don't yet have the ability to fully assess a client's issues, relate to customers and diffuse a situation when needed.  Skilled agents and human interaction is still a mut to deliver personalized and well-crafted customer service that WOWs. 

Before you rush to automate all your processes and reduce expensive human contact, keep the best trained and emotionally intelligent agents onboard. It's thanks to them that you'll be able to provide that extra something special for your customers.

While innovation is needed to remain competitive and relevant, your human customer support will ultimately define your customer experience.


It's by focusing on building relationships, showing empathy and making your customer feel important that you'll be able to impress and succeed. And no bot can take that away from your agents. 


Publish Date: February 22, 2017

What Lies Ahead For The Contact Center Industry In 2017?

As the year unfolds, call centers are readying themselves for the next big thing in 2017. While technology stays at the forefront of call center trends, they have been fine tuned to make agents' jobs easier and client experiences more personal.

The following are six 2017 call center trends to keep an eye on.

More agents will work remotely

With the ever-increasing availability, sophistication, and cost savings of cloud-based technology, brick-and-mortar contact centers are soon to become a relic of the past.  In fact, it is predicted that 1 in 3 agents worldwide will work from home within just a few short years.

**10 reasons why you should have a remote customer service strategy**


Online training modules for agents are becoming the norm even for in-person contact centers, and agents working remotely can easily access these modules from home. The cost reduction potential of this move is huge: no need to pay rent or an office space, nor to heat, furnish, or maintain it.

Better yet, most people who work from home are already well-equipped to do so, and cloud-based technology brings the complex CRM software of call centers right to the computers that folks at home already own.

Home-based agents are less likely to miss work or quit. “This is because at-home agents are more satisfied with their work, benefit from the increased flexibility and save time and money by eliminating their daily commute.” A global home-based workforce means call centers can operate 24/7/364, and employees who are full-time, part-time, and on call means managers can staff and handle call volume more flexibly than ever. Clearly, employees working remotely will be among the top 2017 call center trends.

Customers will help themselves

Customers like having the ability to help themselves when they can, rather than having to reach out to an agent. The call center industry is beginning to respond to this customer preference with much more than just the IVR account services function.

**Why you need customer self-service and how to do it**


Customers of today want detailed, intuitive FAQ’s on a company’s website, along with video tutorials and self-service portals that allow them to click their way along a path to a solution. Customers can answer prescribed questions and select options along the way to navigate toward a solution, or, in complex cases, to a click-to-call button to reach an agent after all. Customers like the convenience of solving their problems themselves on their own schedule, without having to wait in a queue or speak with an agent.

And while the front-end work of designing such a system is certainly a complex and time-consuming effort on behalf of contact center administrators, in the long run companies can save money by freeing up agents to deal with only more complicated issues and “teaching” customers to solve some of their own routine problems.

The social media channel will (finally) be harnessed

Customer service provided through social media channels is by no means a brand new concept, but customers and companies themselves are realizing that the speed and pervasiveness of this channel have not yet been harnessed to reach its full potential.

Unfortunately, many companies are not meeting customers’ expectations for speedy, personalized, effective responses to customer needs via social media, and since media platforms are quite a visible place to make mistakes (or win fans), companies who are serious about topping their competitors will make this platform a top priority.

**11 steps to handling customer complaints on social media**


Training, staffing, and tapping into the available metrics of social media channels will be one of the top 2017 call center trends, offering companies who take advantage of this ubiquitous channel the opportunity to interact with customers and build their brand like never before.

Companies following 2017 call center trends will invest in workforce optimization systems

CRM systems are to omnichannel what WFO systems will be for managing agent teams.  Especially considering the rise in agents working remotely, companies need an effective system for managing not only call volume across multiple channels, but agent productivity, metrics, training, coaching, QA, and employee engagement. Companies like Playvox offer a suite of tools to keep the contact center workforce cohesive, productive, and effective, regardless of the scope or size of a call center and its service offerings.

Chat and SMS will continue to gain popularity

Companies who are worth their salt will put more resources into the chat and SMS functions of their call center. According to a report from Forrester, customers’ use of these messaging channels increased 43% between 2009 and 2012. As digitally-native millennials fill out the consumer market, this preference will only grow. Although perhaps not as highly visible as the social media channel for brand building, customers can easily take screenshots and share positive (and negative) chat interactions with a company to their various networks and platforms. Thus, brand image stands to gain (or lose) according to this channel. And contact centers love that agents can handle multiple customers at once on this asynchronous channel.

**Tried and proven methods to creating customer connections through chat and SMS**

Agents will become more highly skilled

As a result of self-service and tech gains, only the most complex customer issues will come to agents. Everyday issues will be resolved via self-service options. In addition, advanced chatbot technology will pave the way for the “cyborg” agent: a human agent paired with a machine-learning data-fed chatbot that advises the agent to make the best possible sales pitches or responses to customer issues or reactions.

As the line between human and machine in the contact center begins to blur, only agents with a firm grasp on modern technology will be able to compete for their share of the employment pie.

Customer service is more visible, more viral, and more versatile than ever. Contact centers need to stay ahead of the latest trends and technologies in order to compete in an ever-fierce, customer-centric service world.


Publish Date: February 17, 2017

How To Give Positive Employee Feedback In Your Call Center

As a call center manager, one of the most important parts of your job is providing feedback. Regular feedback helps agents to improve their performance, stay on track to meet their goals and ensure that basic business outcomes are met.


However, a lot of feedback advice or training programs often center around constructive or negative feedback. We often forget that providing positive feedback is just as important and needs its own focus.

Scott Halford, author of Be a Shortcut: The Secret Fast Track to Business Success sums up the need for positive feedback best: "Positive feedback stimulates the reward centers in the brain, leaving the recipient open to taking a new direction. Meanwhile, negative feedback indicates that an adjustment needs to be made and the threat response turns on and defensiveness sets in."


To be a successful call center manager, it is critical to know how to give positive employee feedback that will strengthen your team and reinforce the right behaviours in the workplace.

However, many of us are unsure how to go about it without coming across insincere or gratuitous. Here are five simple strategies to follow to help you give positive feedback that inspires and motivates your employees.

1. Timing is everything

For feedback to be productive and to make an impact on the employee it needs to be immediate. Don't wait until the person's next performance review to acknowledge an achievement or hard work. The human memory is faulty, and for positive feedback to take root it needs to happen at regular intervals and as soon as the commended action happens.


For example, if you want your call center agents to take the initiative more and rely on their good judgement instead of running to you with every single problem - praise that behaviour.


"Jenny, can I give you some feedback? When you take care of XXX issue, it takes the load off my back. Thanks for taking the initiative and solving the problem on your own. I appreciate it."

2. Be as specific as possible

If your go-to positive feedback line is "good job" it is time to broaden your horizons. Chrissy Scivicque from recommends the following when delivering positive specific feedback:

  •    Use the person's name.
  •    Describe the specific actions you observed or learned.
  •    Avoid ambiguous details.

For example:

"Sarah, I appreciate you staying at work last night to help with the backlog. I know you were not asked to go out of your way to do that and you put in a lot of time effort. It shows your commitment not only to your role but the continued success of our team as a whole. Thanks for that."


By ensuring your positive feedback matches the above criteria, your employees will know what they did to warrant praise and will feel as if you are giving genuine feedback.


3. Keep your negative feedback separate

While it can be tempting to use a positive and negative statement back to back - this approach often does more harm than good. It creates confusion with the employee and makes your feedback come across as insincere.

Employees will feel as if you have used the positive reinforcement as a means to soften the blow and won't focus on the behaviours you want them to repeat.

If your call center agent has done an outstanding job dealing with a difficult customer on the phone, praise them for that. You don't need to give them a constructive feedback comment on what they could have done better. If you do need to discuss areas of improvement, schedule that conversation for another time.

4. Don't focus on recognising only results

No matter which industry a manager is in, too often we get trapped into the bad habit of recognising results and not what the person did to obtain them.


When giving positive employee feedback, make sure you are articulating the effort and behaviour and not the results which are often out of the employee's control.


For example:

"Alison, I think your presentation impressed the client. We might have a shot at securing this new contract."


By keeping this in mind, you are still acknowledging the work that Alison put and that it is worthy of recognition, even if the call center does not get the new business.

5. Recognize how the behavior made a positive impact

If you are struggling to come up with positive feedback comments ask yourself these questions about the employee:

  •    How has the employee made your life easier?
  •    How has the employee helped the team or call center as a whole?
  •    In what ways has the employee gone above and beyond their job description?

Once you can answer these questions, you will be able to identify the positive ways the employee's work is affecting you, the team and the organization.


For example:

"Olivia, I'm glad to know that our team can rely on you in a time of crisis like this. It gives me peace of mind to know you are here and how much you care about the team and the call center as a whole."

By following these five simple strategies on how to give positive employee feedback, you will have a more motivated and focused call center. Your employees will experience greater job satisfaction, and as a result, your team will increase productivity and work together like a well-oiled machine, thus making the time to be more conscientious and regular with your feedback entirely worthwhile.



Publish Date: February 10, 2017

6 Tried And Proven Methods To Creating Customer Connections Through Chat And SMS

As unlikely as it may seem, creating customer connections can also be done via SMS and chat. According to a study on virtual relationships, people foster connections faster through virtual communication like SMS because they are not distracted by superficial distractions.


For call center agents to form deeper relationships with customers, they need to dig deep and figure out what the customer really wants. In order to do so, agents must understand how customers think and feel. From there, they can start crafting messages to build an emotional bond to keep them loyal and turn them into advocates.

1. Practice empathy in all your text communications

The first step in creating a connection with your customers is to practice empathy. Your customers want to feel validated and that you understand what they want.


To make sure your text or instant messages are empathic and are playing into your client's needs, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do our customer think when they see our messages and how does it make them feel?
  • Does our message invoke a need within our customers to complete an action?

It's also helpful to brush up on specific words to use in your text or instant messaging. Coschedule, a content management tool, has a list of over 500 words you can use to engage a variety of emotions.


Use phrases like:

  • “I appreciate your patience.”
  • “I see you have been a customer of ours for X years/months. That’s a long time!”
  • “If I were in your position, I’d feel the same way too.”
  • “Is there anything else, big or small, I can help you with today?”
  • “What can I do to make your experience with us better?”


By using emotional language that evokes empathy, your customers will start to feel like you understand them and an emotional connection will be formed.

**Why using emotional intelligence can improve

your customer service and how to use it**


2. Greet your customers with a warm welcoming

When a customer opts in to receive text messages from your call center, make sure you welcome them with open arms. Send them a welcome response to let them know that they are in the right place and you look forward to helping them.


You only get one chance at making a good first impression so make this initial message count.

Capture their attention to build a connection right away and don't forget to end with an engaging message to encourage your clients to either continue browsing or insert a link that they might find helpful.

For example: “Welcome to {Company Name}! Thank you for making an appointment to see us. Your details are as follows: 12 Willow Street, 12:pm on 14th March 2017. We look forward to meeting you! If you have any questions in the meantime please feel free to contact us on 060 123 1212 or browse our FAQ section.”


3. Celebrate your customer's life events

Another easy way to form a connection with your customers is to celebrate their birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. If you’re selling life insurance and the main member has children, send them a message on their child’s birthday with along a coupon of interest.

Or if it’s the customers anniversary as a client, let them know you appreciate their continued business with a freebie. You could even offer bigger rewards for customers that have been around for five, ten or even twenty years.


4. Educate your customers

Depending on the product you are selling, you could set up a chain of educational texts to inform customers about a particular topic that is relevant to the problem you are trying to solve.

You want to nurture your customers and you want them to be knowledgeable. As a result, these little educational texts are an excellent way to make them feel special while positioning yourself as an industry thought leader and a source of valuable information.

**7 common customer service complaints and how you can address them**

5. Help your customers out by sending reminder texts

We all lead busy lives and forgetting about an appointment happens to even the best of us. Help your customers out by sending out a reminder text messages.


If your business model doesn’t use appointments, you could use this type of text message to remind users to renew their policies, upgrade their cellphone contracts or to remind them that their premium is increasing in the next month or week.


Doing so will help them avoid missing out or getting cut off, puts you top of mind, and could potentially help you close sales.


6. Send a text when a customer visits your FAQ page

The first place customers visit when they are on a web page and have questions is the FAQ page. By setting up a rule that asks visitors on that page if they need help, call center staff can engage proactively and contribute to solving customers’ problems. It is a great way to dazzle them with exceptional customer service and help them move down the customer journey and close the sale.

With careful planning and training, your agents can begin creating customer connections through chat and SMS. Once you begin to practice effective empathy techniques, use emotive language, and become a part of your customer’s life, your agents will be better equipped to tap into the customer's hearts and minds and craft an unforgettable customer experience.


Publish Date: February 3, 2017

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