Talkdesk - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog
As a call center manager, you may have heard the word “gamification” in passing. What is this mysterious, multisyllabic buzzword and what impact does it have on your call center? Get your head in the game with Talkdesk’s guide to the pros and cons of call center gamification.
What is Call Center Gamification?
Call center gamification is the implementation of game mechanics in the call center as a way to motivate employee engagement and achievement.
Call center representatives are encouraged to compete to complete objectives and outpace other agents. Rewards are doled out based upon company culture, but may include recognition on leaderboards, badges and physical prizes like trophies.
Call center managers choose any of a number of agent or ring group-level metrics to gamify. These may include workplace metrics like hours worked, as well as any number of call center KPIs, such as:
- Average speed to answer
- First call resolution
- Number of dials
- Total talk time
- Average after call work time
- Percentage of calls handled by type
Individual agent scores for these metrics are displayed via individual computers, mobile devices or a projected screen for others to see.
Call center gamification can be put into place via a unique system devised by management, an in-software application or a third party service layered over an existing call center software solution.
Factors that Influence the Effectiveness Call Center Gamification
As with any new workplace tool, gamification comes with positives and negatives. The weight of each depends on the specifics of your call center. Let’s explore a few.
The success of your call center gamification hinges on your reporting capabilities. To call it “reporting-intensive” would be an understatement. If you are using an advanced call center software solution with robust historical and real-time reporting capabilities, gamification is no problem. If, however, your call center software is not able to reliably report agent metrics, gamification is dead on arrival.
The name of the game in call center gamification is competition. The more agents compete with each other, the better the system works. Companies will need to foster an environment of healthy rivalry for this to be effective. If participants begin to develop animosities and refuse to collaborate when necessary, there will be major problems.
Call center gamification requires that call center agents have access to the scores and stats of the agents who they are competing against. This helps agents benchmark their scores and ensures that there is a sense of fairness when awards are given out. Transparency in business is admirable and can lead to greater employee confidence in management, but is not necessarily appropriate for all company cultures.
In order for call center gamification to be seen as fair, only quantitative metrics should be used to judge merit. This is not an issue for many call centers, but could potentially be a challenge for certain companies who place a high value on qualitative measurements, such as written customer feedback.
Call center gamification can be tremendously helpful in getting new hires up to speed. Onboarding processes that involve games are likely to spark interest in employees and enable them to retain information faster. Once they’ve onboarded, however, new hires may be intimidated by call center gamification. If they find themselves immediately at the bottom of the scoreboard, they may become discouraged and more likely to churn.
Depending upon how the call center gamification is implemented, the game may require oversight from a designated call center manager. Just how much effort and time will be required from this referee will vary based on the call center and the gamification method.
Call center gamification attracts a certain type of employee – the kind of agent who is motivated by competition. This may limit your applicant pool and lead to a lack of diversity in hires.
Call center gamification can serve to motivate employees to come in day after day so that they can try to reach the top of the leaderboards. If, however, it starts to seem like only a handful of call center agents are able to “win” the game, those consistently at the bottom may actually lose motivation. If these agents feel that they cannot win, there will be no reason for them to play.
The numbers don’t lie. Call center gamification enables employees to have a clear view of the quantitative measures of the work of themselves and those around them. Some call center agents may try to game the system to make themselves look more productive. An effective call center gamification setup will be able to detect cheaters and report their dishonest behavior to management.
Call center gamification is a trending topic with the potential change the face of the call center. As gamification technologies and strategies evolve, we’ll see whether the pros outweigh the cons. For now, it’s a waiting game.
Talkdesk call center software comes equipped with advanced reporting capabilities out of the box – just the kind of robust functionality required for call center gamification. Request a live demo today.
Publish Date: February 5, 2016 5:00 AM
SaaStr Annual 2016 is going to be jampacked with excitement and thought leadership. We know our investor, Jason Lemkin, will squeeze content into every available second. And with three full days of events and more than 150 speakers, this year’s SaaStr Annual promises some serious bang for your buck.
You’ll be there to soak it all in, to swap insights with other forward-thinking businesspeople and to learn about the space from industry leaders. You need to be on top of your game all three days. Last year, maybe you followed the lead of Talkdesk’s leadership and put in a very intense 18-hour day of schmoozing, presenting and conviviality. This year, you’ll need to make it through three demanding days of handshaking, familiar faces and programming.
Pace yourself. Don’t get over-SaaSturated.
By the end of day one, your head is going to be full to bursting with ideas for how to improve your business. But your stomach, well, it will probably be empty. And I’m guessing that a glass of Merlot (or a cold one) wouldn’t hurt either.
When it’s time to unwind at the end of the day, why not follow the smiling Talkdesk faces four blocks down to The Royale? We’re hosting a curated, casual happy hour. The guest list will be kept short, the food will be free and the drinks will be yours for the taking.
What does it mean to get the Royale treatment? It means escaping from the booths on the expo floor and sinking down into a comfy leather booth with a craft cocktail in hand. It means playing a game of pool with a few new friends and some of the ringers from the Talkdesk team. It means getting a feel for the city of San Francisco without having to hop on a congested cable car or complain about rent prices.
After a long day of expos at SaaStr, Talkdesk’s happy hour will help you unwind. Chat with like-minded individuals about SaaS, the Super Bowl or something entirely different. No pressure!
If you’re in the market for information about the world’s leading cloud-based call center software, of course we’ll be happy to oblige. We’re proud of our product’s ability to improve your customer experience, but we’re also human beings who’d love to have a beer with you.
You won’t be able to miss us as you exit the building on the first day of SaaStr Annual. And why would you want to? We’ll be there to show you the way to the bar!
Join us at Talkdesk’s Saastr Annual Happy Hour.
Publish Date: February 5, 2016 5:00 AM
This guest post is written by Talkdesk’s Director of Customer Success Blaire Fernandez.
As your company grows and changes, so too will the needs and structure of your customer success team. At every new phase of development, you will need to set different objectives. Meeting the objectives you set for yourself is a matter of putting the appropriate practices into place to motivate customer success team members. One such practice is the bonus.
At Talkdesk, our customer success team is best-in-class, not only because of our thorough application process, but also because of our conscious effort to set up systems to help them succeed. Our team is an important driver of Talkdesk’s growth and stability.
To that end, a quarterly bonus has been put in place on the customer success team to drive the most productive, quick and efficient behaviors. As the director of this team, I am confident that this program will deliver nearly immediate results that will help position Talkdesk for future growth.
At Talkdesk, there are four contributors to this bonus, two of which I will call floating criteria and the other two I will call constant criteria. The constants are retention rate and customer success manager (CSM) performance as assessed by individual portfolio of customers.
In the first quarter that Talkdesk CSMs had a defined bonus structure, one of the floating criteria was resultant from our company’s transition from monthly contracts with customers to annual commitments. The upshot was that CSMs were bonused based on the degree of success they had in shifting their existing accounts to the new annual commitments.
The second floating criteria at this time was the percentage of Executive Business Reviews (EBR) completed. Our ERB protocols had just been established and it was imperative that we got this process up and running with a strong start. This was factored into bonuses as a way of incentivizing outstanding performance.
In the next quarter, Talkdesk’s customer success team shifted its focus to driving revenue, both directly and indirectly. Directly, CSMs facilitated upsell handoffs to the sales team, who then worked closely with the CSM to utilize the existing reference. The decision to involve sales was strategically designed to discourage customers from thinking of our CSMs as upsellers working off of a quota. The handoff was a much smoother way for the customer success team to capitalize on a growth opportunity while remaining a trusted advisor. Our customer base represents the single largest sales opportunity in our company, so it was critical to incentivize the customer success team to tap into this potential.
Indirectly, CSMs helped to build out the marketing infrastructure that would then assist the sales team. Principally, this required CSMs to actively recruit accounts to serve as references and/or participate in marketing programs and assets such as case studies, videos, quotes, logos, guest blog posts and webinars. It was crucial to incentivize CSMs to seek these permissions via the bonus system because this kind of task, although critical to future sales, can often end up on the backburner if not specifically promoted.
Looking to the immediate future, our customer success team will continue to leverage our evolving quarterly bonus structure to drive attendance at Talkdesk’s first annual conference, to ensure that customers are involved in customer advisory boards and to increase the level of customer engagement within the Talkdesk application.
In the more distant future, the bonus criteria may level off and become static, but that’s difficult to imagine at this point. Every quarter comes to us full of new goals and new chances to make an impact. So far, we’re taking every chance we get to help drive our company’s performance.
Hopefully these ideas will be useful to new customer success managers looking to implement a bonus program. Bonuses can be tremendously helpful in driving results and encouraging CSMs to spend time on the activities that are most impactful to the company.
Publish Date: February 4, 2016 5:00 AM
When it comes to customer communication, one size doesn’t fit all. Customer preferences for channels vary based on a range of factors. So which channel should your company use?
At Userlike, we often get the question, “Why should we try live chat support when our customers can already reach us over the phone?”
Our answer is that phone and live chat serve different purposes. A customer may want to reach out via phone today, but live chat tomorrow. Why not give him both options?
Let’s take a look at their different strengths so you can learn how your company can make the most out of both channels.
Let’s distinguish written communication from verbal communication, with live chat support falling into the first category and phone support into the second. Each has its pros and cons.
The advantage of verbal communication is that you can perceive the nuances of conversation. Making a joke, for example, is easiest via a verbal interaction. Every cold-calling salesperson knows that when you manage to make the prospect laugh, you’re in a good position. The disadvantage of voice, however, is that it doesn’t leave a record. A helpful phone support representative’s advice can go in one ear and out the other.
Compare that to written communication where it’s harder to add human subtlety. Make a joke and you’ll risk being misunderstood, and it’s hard to assess the appropriateness of making one in the first place. Also, writing is slower than speaking – especially when you’re not experienced with a keyboard.
One of the main advantages, however, is that written conversations are easily saved – you store them outside of your head. They’re also searchable with keywords and sharable with other support agents. A recorded phone call is like a black box compared to a live chat support or email support ticket.
Another important factor to consider when evaluating the optimal uses of your support channels is the time between the production and consumption of the message. In a standard face-to-face conversation, production and consumption coincides. In most contact channels, however, there’s at least some time between the two. The more real-time, the more personal the channel will feel.
Phone offers the closest experience to face-to-face communication because it’s the only support channel that offers both the customer and representative a connection in real-time.
Live chat support also operates in real-time. Or at least it can. Messages sent over chat can be read and responded to right away. The advantage of live chat support is that messages don’t have to be read immediately if there is some reason that either the customer or support agent needs to focus their attention elsewhere. Live chat participants are able to multitask without sacrificing the essential elements of their interaction.
Understanding where (or rather, on which device) your customer conversations will be taking place is essential as consumers become both more digital and more mobile.
Phone is obviously a convenient channel for the mobile age, since consumers can call a support team from anywhere. Yet troubleshooting technical issues that require you to make changes on your mobile device while talking to a support representative on your phone can make things a little tricky.
Live chat support is made for exactly this purpose – to help people navigate an issue while they’re on the web. For many businesses, their website is the core of their product. When there’s a question, live chat offers the most context, making it easier to resolve customer issues.
Phone is obviously the most intimate of contact channels. When you want to make a personal touch, you either meet in person or talk on the phone. If you throw a party and invite me over Facebook, I might come… if I have time. Invite me by giving me a personal phone call, however, and I’ll make sure I’m there.
Because of this, phone is especially valuable in industries where trust is important, like finance or healthcare. It allows for close contact and the construction of interpersonal relationships, the strongest foundation for customer loyalty.
Live chat support is less intimate than phone support. Although it’s in real-time, you aren’t able to hear someone’s voice and pick up on all the cues that come along with a verbal interaction. Certainly, live chat is more intimate than other support channels – notably email – but it’s not the best option when you’re looking for that personal touch.
Most people aren’t comfortable striking up a conversation with a stranger on the street. Evolutionary psychology explains this fear by our ancestors’ lives as hunter-gathers – when every stranger from outside the group formed a potentially lethal threat.
The contact barrier of a phone call can also be considerable for some customers. Close to 5% of people in Western societies suffer from so-called ‘telephone phobia’, a social anxiety for making or taking phone calls. Although these are the extreme cases, picking up the phone can sometimes require more effort than customers are willing to exert. It takes time to look for a phone number and many people dread sitting in a call queue.
For live chat support, the contact barrier is considerably lower. Few people have a problem chatting with a faceless internet stranger. (This explains the prominent role of chat in the online dating industry.) Besides, a chat is only one click away, so there’s not much of an effort involved in starting one.
Research by Software Advice offers insight into which channels are suitable for which customers and questions. They conducted a survey on customer preferences with companies that offer both live chat and phone support as customer service channels, to help companies make more informed decisions about implementation.
First, it shows that phone is the overall preferred contact channel. Live chat isn’t far behind. By neglecting to implement live chat support, companies cut the favorite contact channel of around 40% of customers.
Second, the study shows that there is significant difference in people’s channel preferences based upon the content of their queries. For more personal issues, like financial queries, the intimacy of phone support is preferred. On the other hand, when it comes to simple and shopping queries live chat support is almost at an equal level as phone support.
Some subtlety is added to this picture when we take the age of the customer into account. We see that live chat support is most popular for simple queries, with the majority of people aged 18 – 44 preferring to use live chat to have these answered and those from 45+ preferring the phone.
Phone and live chat support each offer their own unique strengths and weaknesses. Instead of weighing either/or, why not offer both?
By offering both, you offer a channel for all type of queries and all type of customers, canceling out their weaknesses. By adding live chat support, for example, you can reduce the pressure on your hotlines by absorbing the simple queries – freeing up energy for your phone reps to focus on the more complex ones.
Because of their unique properties, practices in customer communication differ a lot between phone and email. Combining them effectively is an art in itself.
That’s the topic Talkdesk invited me to talk about in our joint webinar “How to Combine Live Chat with Phone Support.” Click the button below for a second chance to watch the webinar in case you missed it!
Publish Date: February 3, 2016 5:00 AM
Can you believe it’s already February? As usual, the arrival of a new month means the arrival of some brand new Talkdesk features. This month we’re excited to introduce some awesome call center software features our product and engineering teams have been working hard on.
We’ve all been in this situation before: You call in to a customer support line and wait for half an hour before finally being connected to an agent. After spending a good 10 minutes explaining your problem to the agent, you’re suddenly disconnected due to bad cell service. You call back only to discover that you’re at the end of the call queue once again. Not only are you going to have to sit in the call queue one more time, you’ll also likely need to spend another 10 minutes explaining your problem to a different agent. The end result? Wasted time and a frustrated customer.
If this call center were powered by Talkdesk, the situation would unfold differently. As soon as you called back after your call dropped, our new intelligent reconnect feature would attempt to reconnect you with the agent who had picked up your initial call. If that agent could not be reached, then you would be sent to the front of the call queue to reduce waiting time. The result? One happy customer!
Enhanced Contact Search
We know that contacts are one of the most important components of your call center software. Having an easy way to manage and view contacts is crucial to providing a good phone experience. That’s why we’ve greatly improved our contact search functionality in this month’s product release. For instances when you’d like to filter your contact list with specific number parameters, Talkdesk can now support partial number matches. This means you are also no longer required to enter an entire phone number to search your contacts list.
Our latest search enhancements make finding the right contacts a breeze. Not only will you be able to match phone numbers with higher efficiency, you can now also do so with greater speed. This ultimately provides greater visibility over your call center contacts for easy management.
Unsuccessful Queue Callback Message
One of Talkdesk’s most beloved call center features is queue callback. Instead of having customers stay on the line during their wait, this feature allows callers to opt in for a callback when they’ve reached the front of the queue. But what happens if the customer’s callback request could not be completed? Our new greeting improves the caller experience by allowing admins to customize the message customers hear when their callback is unsuccessful.
This latest addition to Talkdesk’s roster of custom greetings is useful because it provides more clarity for callers. Instead of leaving customers hanging, call center admins will have the opportunity to explain why the call was not received. Confusion is minimized and the additional transparency will make for a better caller experience.
Caller Connection Tone
Occasionally, calls will get off on an awkward start. There are many reasons for this, but one of the most frequently cited scenarios is when an agent begins a call by talking over a greeting that was already playing. Talkdesk’s new caller connection tone reduces the likelihood of this ungainly situation by playing a sound for the agent when their call is connected. Only heard by agents, this tone can be enabled for calls from current, new and/or all customers. This ensures that current on-call procedures can be maintained and avoids potential confusion for agents.
The first few seconds of a phone call with a customer often set the tone for the rest of the conversation. With our new caller connection tone, agents can start every call with confidence. After all, there’s nothing better than knowing that your customer can actually hear you!
We hope you enjoy our new call center features for the month of February! Check in with the Talkdesk blog every Wednesday this month for in-depth posts on these new features.
For more information on these and other Talkdesk enhancements we’ve made this month, please read our Feburary 3, 2016 release notes.
Publish Date: February 3, 2016 5:00 AM
Breathe deep. Can you smell the crisp February air? It’s the month of love (and presidents, I suppose). So why not make February the month your customers learn to love your customer service?
Talkdesk’s weekly Customer Service Excellence Review pulls together trends and insights from around the web in the realm of customer service. The goal here is to provide you with ideas about what your company can do to work towards customer service excellence.
Welcome to this week’s Review. Let’s see what we were able to dig up for the first week of February.
Why Customer Service Is More Important Than Ever
Business 2 Community || January 28, 2016
Customer service is an “old-fashioned value” that isn’t going anywhere. Despite all the changes in the marketplace, customers have continued to value a personalized approach. Customer service will always be necessary, but customer service excellence is what separates the wheat from the chaff. This post includes tips for success, including doing damage control on your current customer service and understanding the customer experience.
4 Ways To Get Word-Of-Mouth With Customer Service
CustomerThink || January 26, 2016
Modern customers know how to make their voices heard, particularly via social media. This means that achieving customer service excellence can have a ripple effect into marketing efforts. This post runs down a few methods for getting your customers to act as brand ambassadors, including asking for feedback and being available when your customers need you.
The Rising Tide Lifts All Boats: A Customer Service Story
Hoteliers Blog || January 31, 2016
These two short stories underscore the idea that all employees serve as brand ambassadors, regardless of their stated roles. The metaphor, “a rising tide lifts all boats,” is meant to explain that a customer’s good experience with an employee can also positively impact their entire view of the company. The opposite is also true, so choose your customer service representatives carefully!
Publish Date: February 2, 2016 5:00 AM
At a startup, every year is transformative. There’s the year you come up with the idea. The year you get funded and quit your day job. The year you launch. Each one of these events moves your company to a new, distinct phase. For Talkdesk, 2015 wasn’t the year we launched, the year we quit our day jobs or the year we got funding, but it was transformative all the same. Looking back, the Talkdesk of January 2015 is unrecognizable compared to the Talkdesk of December 2015.
From our incredible founding at a hackathon in 2011 up to this year, we bootstrapped our company. We paid rent, payroll and servers out of our initial revenue, borrowing office space and sometimes living space, just to get by. In 2015, all that changed.
In late 2014, we received seed funding from Storm Ventures, our office space was tiny in Silicon Valley and shared in Portugal, and our team was comprised of 28 individuals who worked around the clock. We are ending 2015 146 team members strong, with beautiful offices in downtown San Francisco and Lisbon, and DFJ and Salesforce Ventures added to our list of backers.
So what happened this year? To put it simply, we built out a real company. It all started with our team. We attracted like-minded executives and team members who believe in the customer experience above all else. These are the kind of people who are committed to Talkdesk’s original vision of providing customers with the highest quality product and support.
Our new team members see what we saw when we were eating $2 tacos every night while bootstrapping this company: The call center market is a $22B industry filled with legacy players. Ancient call center platforms are slowly dying, leaving room for new, cloud-based platforms like Talkdesk. Call center software doesn’t have to be clunky, complicated and expensive. It can be as simple as Slack, as robust as Salesforce and innovative as Google. Our vision is to build and iterate on a real-time customer interaction platform for both sales and service.
It’s this vision that attracted DFJ, Salesforce Ventures and our other investors. Salesforce, the giant in the cloud industry, was in our shoes just 15 years ago, competing with Old Guard players like Oracle, SAP and Siebel. Like us, they believed that the enterprise software of the future should be easy to deploy, use and modify. Like us, Salesforce patiently won over individual customer after individual customer on their way to becoming the market leader. The support of Salesforce Ventures and our other investors has been invaluable in assisting us in our rapid growth in 2015.
This year represented a turning point in the life of our company. We’ve come a long way from that hackathon. Stay tuned. 2016 promises to be an even bigger year.
Want to be a part of Talkdesk’s future? Apply to join the team here.
Publish Date: February 1, 2016 5:00 AM
Super Bowl Sunday is rapidly approaching and this year’s a big’un. Super Bowl 50: The Golden Super Bowl. The game is being played in the Bay Area this year, which really brings new meaning to “Let’s get ready to rumble.”
Talkdesk’s headquarters are here in beautiful downtown San Francisco. The whole Talkdesk team is prepping for the game – whether that means buying chips and dip, doing superstitious rituals or just trying to figure out where Queen B might be staying before she kills it at the halftime show.
So, in honor of the game that has made my commute considerably more squished, I thought I’d run down the starting line-up of call center software. Let’s imagine that your call center is a football team. Who (or what) plays each role?
The Ball = Customers
The ball itself is the most important thing in the game. It is, at once the most powerful and the most powerless object on the field. It relies completely on the help of the players to get where it’s going. Everything in the game revolves around that ball.
So who does the ball represent? Your customers are the football in your call center’s game. They are the heart of all the action and the center of all your attention. Your team cannot survive without taking care of that ball!
The Coach = Call Center Management
The life of a football coach can be stressful. They have a great view of the field but can’t fix problems directly. They have to leave it up to the players to do what needs to be done. One of their biggest strengths comes from their headset, from which they can send commands out to players.
So who’s the coach in your call center? This one’s a no-brainer: The call center manager is the one who’s presiding over all the goings on. He looks at the overall picture and makes recommendations to the call center agents. The coach’s headset is still a headset in this comparison. The call center manager can use call monitoring and call barging software to communicate with players on the field.
The Referee = Reporting Functionality
The referee is a behind-the-scenes player in the game. He’s there to make sure everything’s running smoothly. Most of the time, this can be accomplished by keeping his head up, but sometimes he needs to go to the instant replay.
So who’s the referee in your call center? Your call center software’s reporting functionality. This is an essential part of any call center software solution that enables both managers and agents to track their productivity. The numbers don’t lie, so there’s no disputing these calls.
Quarterback = IVR
The quarterback’s job is respond to cues on the field and deliver the ball to the appropriate receiver. It’s up to the quarterback to know who that person is.
So who serves as the quarterback in your call center? The interactive voice response system (IVR). The IVR’s job is to route customers to the resources they seek. This means listening to voice or dialed responses and then filtering the call.
Running Back/ Wide Receiver/ Tight End = Call Center Agents
These three positions exist to catch and/or carry the ball into the endzone. They’re the final step to a touchdown. When the center passes the quarterback the ball, the quarterback is looking for a running back, wide receiver or tight end. Which one he chooses depends on what’s happening on the field.
So who plays the role of ball-catcher/carrier? Your call center agents. They are the ones that are really putting in the work to score those touchdowns. Which one the IVR chooses is based on skills-based ring groups. Customers are sorted by the IVR and sent to the most appropriate ring group.
Touchdown = First Call Resolution
The goal of football, like most sports other than hackey sack, is to score. There’s only so many ways to score in football; the best one being the touchdown. Getting a touchdown means that the ball has been delivered where it needs to go for the maximum number of points.
So what’s the touchdown of your call center? A high score on the call center KPI first call resolution is the closest match to a touchdown your agents are going to get. First call resolution is when a customer’s call is resolved correctly on the first attempt without requiring escalation or a call back. In other words, your agents getting it right the first time. Victory dance!
There you have it. Football as a metaphor for call center software. Upon careful reflection, how’s your team doing? If your call center software was a football team, would it be here in San Francisco getting ready for the Super Bowl?
Not sure that your call center software is ready for the big leagues? Draft some new players. Test out Talkdesk’s call center software solution today.
Publish Date: January 29, 2016 5:00 AM
The future of customer service is already at your doorstep. Today’s customers are nothing like those before them, more impatient, picky and demanding due to the advent of online experiences that allow for speedy deliveries, on-demand viewing and instant communication. For this reason, the competition to retain and engage your customers gets hotter every year. How will you set your brand apart from the pack in 2016?
Here are just a few ways you can start to provide even better customer support and experiences for the modern customer this year:
If you’re not offering some combination of phone, email and live chat support, then you’re missing out on a huge market. Not all customers are the same, and you shouldn’t expect them to all want to reach out to you in the same way. Make yourself available to your customers through the channels they use most by offering omnichannel support. In order to figure this out, identify your customer journey and test drive what it feels like to contact your own customer support. This should give you insight into what channels make the most sense for your product and audience.
It’s no longer enough to simply offer voicemail with the typical line we’ve all heard too many times, “Leave your message after the beep.” When your customers contact support it’s because they want and need their issues to be resolved immediately. If that wasn’t the case then they would have let the issue slide or tried to troubleshoot it themselves. Being available for your customers isn’t about your convenience, it’s about theirs. Modern customer support tools help you monitor times of high and low ticket volumes so you can more easily ramp up your staff as needed. Leverage support agents in different timezones to sustain 24/7 availability without missing out on catching z’s.
Your sales and marketing teams are already making data-driven decisions with their CRMs and marketing automation tools, so why shouldn’t you? Use the reporting and metrics dashboards in your helpdesk or cloud-based call center software to keep track of your KPIs such as average wait times, backlog volume and service level. Instead of making drastic changes without any insight into what’s performing and what’s not, use your reporting dashboard to find out which changes to make in your customer service team that will have an impact.
Your 2016 goal to provide better customer support is achievable! Remember: you’re not in this alone; your customer support team is there to help you. Start the new year on the right foot and give your customers the service they deserve.
Publish Date: January 29, 2016 5:00 AM
We are pleased to announce that we have been named the Cloud CRM Solution of 2015-16. Our cloud-based call center software is industry-leading and ever-improving. We are grateful that the Cloud Awards program has recognized of our pursuit of excellence.
The Cloud Awards celebrate innovation and achievement in cloud computing. This year, over 300 organizations from around the world were considered for awards. These companies run the gamut from large to small, established to startups. Categories of awards include Best Cloud Infrastructure, Data Innovation of the Year and B2B Customer Excellence.
“We have striven to single out innovative organizations which we feel will continue to impress not only into 2016 but well beyond,” said Cloud Awards organizer Larry Johnson. “The stories of our winners – and our shortlisted organizations – are not even half-told.”
Talkdesk competed against JobDiva, ClearSlide, NewVoiceMedia, SugarCRM, Workbooks Online Ltd and Five9 in the Cloud CRM Solution category. We are proud to be listed at the top of this outstanding group of companies.
Since our product’s inception in 2011, Talkdesk team members have worked towards one aim: providing a better call center software solution to our customers. The call center market is a $22 billion industry filled with legacy players. Our innovation has been to move the call center of the future to the cloud.
“By creating our solution in the cloud, we have enabled our customers to leverage modern, easy-to-use and powerful call center software from anywhere on earth,” said Talkdesk CEO Tiago Paiva. “Further, creating our platform in the cloud has allowed us to seamlessly integrate with other cloud technologies, such as Salesforce, Zendesk and Desk.com.”
Our cloud-based call center software grew at pace with our company this year, which is to say, by leaps and bounds. As we scaled from 28 team members to 146, our product took on new features and functionalities faster than ever before. 2015 was the year Talkdesk really made a splash. It is fitting, then, that we were given the Cloud CRM Solution of 2015-16 Award.
“We are honored to have received the Cloud CRM Solution of the Year Award. This achievement comes on the heels of a transformative year of incredible growth for our company. Recognition from the Cloud Awards program is a good reflection of the appreciation we have already recieved from our customers old and new,” said Paiva.
We would like to thank the Cloud Awards for this honor. We look forward to impressing the judges again next year!
Interested in testing out our award-winning call center software solution? Request a live demo today.
Publish Date: January 28, 2016 5:00 AM
Voicemail is a common feature in telecommunications. You’ve likely dealt with voicemail at some point through your landline phones or mobile devices. Voicemails are a way for callers to leave a spoken message when the intended recipient is not there to pick up the phone.
Most people think of voicemail in a personal context, but they are professionally important as well, particularly as applied to call centers. Unconvinced? This post will hopefully change your mind.
What is call center voicemail?
Voicemails are messages that callers can leave for businesses when no call center agents are available to take calls. These messages can then later be reviewed and assigned to agents for follow-up. For call centers that would like to find a balance between being available for callers and efficiently handling customer inquiries, voicemail can be a great option.
Talkdesk call center software allows you to configure voicemail across the entire call center, for specific phone numbers or for individuals with an extension or dedicated line. This allows teams and individuals to customize how and when they would like to interact with callers. Currently, the available voicemail options are:
- Enabled at all times
- Enabled only during business hours
You can also give callers the option of leaving a voicemail from the call queue (queue to voicemail). This is particularly convenient for callers as it allows them to exit a queue while still relaying their message to agents. For call centers with a waiting time limit or maximum queue size enabled, callers will automatically be sent to voicemail once the threshold is reached.
What’s voicemail transcription?
If activated, Talkdesk’s voicemail transcription feature automatically creates a speech-to-text file of all newly received voicemails. Once a voicemail has been transcribed, it will be available for viewing from the “Voicemails” tab in Talkdesk. Managers can also configure an email notification to be sent with the transcription attached for quick viewing.
Voicemail transcription can be particularly handy for moments when you are unable to listen to a voicemail, but still would like to know what information was relayed. With transcriptions, you’ll be able stay on top of voicemails, even when you’re not available for calls.
What can I do with a voicemail once it’s been received?
Once a voicemail has been received, call center managers can assign it to the team or agent best equipped to handle the inquiry. To set up email notifications for voicemail assignees, simply configure the appropriate automated workflow. This will ensure all voicemails are reviewed and handled in a timely manner.
After agents have followed up with a voicemail, they will be able to update the voicemail message’s status as either open or closed. Encouraging agents to regularly update voicemail statuses will give teams the visibility needed to stay current with calls.
How can I keep track of all my voicemails?
The “Voicemails” tab in Talkdesk will display all the voicemails your call center has received. You’ll be able to filter these voicemails by their read/unread status with our new voicemail filter. By default, Talkdesk automatically saves all voicemails received, but managers have the option of setting a voicemail expiration time of one, three or six months as well.
For call center managers who would like a more granular look at voicemails, Talkdesk provides several relevant metrics for phone numbers and ring groups from the Reporting tab. These metrics can be used to make educated decisions on staffing and call center configuration. The voicemail metrics currently available include:
- Voicemails Left During Business Hours
- Voicemails Left Outside of Business Hours
- Voicemails Left from the IVR
- Voicemails Left from the Waiting Queue
Why should I enable voicemail?
As mentioned above, voicemail is a useful call center software feature for teams who would like to maintain availability for callers while increasing efficiency. Here are the top three reasons your call center should have voicemail enabled:
1. Personalized Service
When callers are able to leave a voicemail with the details of their inquiry, agents will be able to follow up with crucial information already in mind. This allows agents to tailor conversations to the caller and the inquiry, ultimately driving customers satisfaction and loyalty.
2. Prompt Service
When agents already have the details they need before following up with a caller, they’re more likely to resolve the issue before even having to call the customer back. Back-and-forth between agents and customers will be minimized for a speedy resolution.
3. Enhanced Caller Experience
Simply put, voicemail is a convenient option for callers. Long queue times can be frustrating, and giving callers the option of leaving a voicemail instead can be a welcomed alternative. Customers can then rest assured knowing their call will be returned as soon as possible.
What are some best practices for voicemail?
To ensure all your customers have the best phone support experience possible, here are three voicemail optimizations you can make in just a few minutes:
1. Record a Customized Voicemail Prompt
While Talkdesk’s default voicemail prompt works in a pinch, we highly encourage you to record your own customized prompt. No need to hire a professional voice actor; anything other than the typical robotic voice will do just fine. Customized prompts add a personal touch to your call center, while also humanizing your company.
2. Enable Voicemail Notifications
Email notifications are an easy way for agents to be alerted of new voicemails. The emails can be customized to include various data points and go out to specific ring groups or agents. Setting them up is simple and fast; there’s no reason not to have them in place!
3. Configure Voicemail Triggered Automated Workflows
With over 25 business tool integrations, it’s easy to fit Talkdesk into your routine. Our automated workflows can even help agents perform various tasks based on a number of voicemail triggers. Play around to find the workflows best suited for your team.
Voicemail is a powerful tool in your call center software toolbox. It can be leveraged to increase agent efficiency and promote customer satisfaction. With Talkdesk’s out-of-the-box advanced voicemail functionality, your call center will have everything it needs for optimal performance.
Interested in exploring the utility of call center voicemail? Request a live demo of Talkdesk today.
Publish Date: January 27, 2016 5:00 AM
Another week, another step in the direction of customer service excellence. Welcome to Customer Service Excellence Review #13.
Loyal readers will know that Talkdesk rounds up customer service insights from around the web each week. The idea behind the Customer Service Excellence Review is to provide food for thought. Take a nibble of what we’re serving on this week’s platter and see if it suits your fancy.
We hope you enjoy what we’ve cooked up this week. Bon appetit!
Measuring Customer Satisfaction Shouldn’t Be Complicated
Help Scout || January 21, 2016
Help Scout provides a simple guide this week to gauging customer happiness. Instead of seeing customer satisfaction as a large, ominous entity haunting your steps, break the process down into three easily handled parts. Central to Help Scout’s advice is asking customers in a systematic way about their experiences and then calculating your Net Promoter Score (NPS). Collecting both quantitative and qualitative feedback is essential to improving customer satisfaction.
6 Tips to Make Customer Service Managers Lives’ a Breeze
GetResponse || January 25, 2016
The job of a customer service manager is not easy. They juggle the demands of their agents as well as those of their customers. This post lists out a few ideas for improving the employee experience of customer service managers. These employees are essential to the health of your business, so it’s worth giving GetResponse’s ideas more than a passing thought.
Highlights From 2015 National Customer Rage Study
CustomerThink || January 23, 2016
CustomerThink blogger Jeff Toister examines the salient points in the 2015 National Customer Rage Study. From our perspective as a call center software company, we’re particularly interested in the fact that the phrase that participants found most annoying was, “Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold.” Following closely behind at 45% was, “We are currently assisting other customers. Your call will be answered in the order in which it was received.”
Publish Date: January 26, 2016 5:00 AM
It’s the end of January and your resolve in your New Year’s resolutions is still going strong. You’re exercising daily, boning up on your Spanish language skills and doing your very best to call your mother. While starting new habits can be daunting, it’s changing the old ones that’s a real challenge.
Many New Year’s resolutions are related to giving up crutches. Activities like smoking, drinking and consuming your weight in chocolate pudding every day are no-brainers for change. But what about the subtle stuff, the things that you don’t even realize you’re relying on too heavily?
What if your call center software provider is a crutch?
As a call center manager, you know that your call center is the heart of your company’s customer service strategy. If your call center doesn’t do its job, everyone else is going to be out of theirs. And what (or who) runs your call center? Yes, your agents. But at the core of it all is the call center software itself.
Your current call center software solution is working, but what happens when it doesn’t? How can settings be managed and changed when your business needs something new? Herein lies the rub: The software you’re using now requires handholding.
Look, I like to hold hands just as much as the next girl, but I don’t want to be forced to do it every time I cross the street!
It’s time to get real about breaking the habit of having to reach out to your call center software provider each time you need to make a change. Here’s why:
1. Ain’t nobody got time for that
It takes time to get someone’s help; time you could otherwise be using to serve your customers. When your call center software settings are customizable without external help, you don’t have to waste a single moment seeking assistance.
2. Rooftop yoga
Don’t be a stuffy old fuddy duddy in a suit. Slap on some yoga pants and work on your flexibility. When you free yourself of a cumbersome call center software solution that requires a thousand steps to change one thing, you’ll find that all of a sudden touching your toes doesn’t seem so unreasonable after all. Adapt to changing conditions rather than standing stiffly.
3. Like stealing candy from a baby
A user-friendly call center software solution reduces effort. With one-click customization, changing your call center settings is a breeze, a walk in the park and a cakewalk combined.
4. Be a big fish
Ever heard of indeterminate growth? It’s this crazy phenomenon where certain animals, including most fish, just don’t stop growing. This as opposed to, say, bears, who only get so big and then they stop (thank heavens). Don’t be a bear. Be a fish. Grow and grow and then grow some more. When your call center software settings are customizable, you can grow unencumbered. Don’t get stuck in the fishbowl of rigid call center software. Use a solution that scales with you (pun intended).
5. Who better than you?
The expert on what your call center needs is staring at you in the mirror. The representatives of your call center software solution might be lovely people, but they don’t know what it’s like to walk in your shoes. Cut out the middleman; adjust your settings yourself.
The solution is clear. Your late-January New Year’s resolution is to stop relying on your call center software provider when you need settings changed. Don’t be held back!
It’s a new year; why not a make a new strategy?
Publish Date: January 25, 2016 5:00 AM
Being a call center manager can be a challenging job because it requires both juggling the increasing demands of customers and coordinating the logistics a naturally chaotic and fast-paced environment. The lives of call center managers are made much easier when they are able to identify inefficiencies and areas for improving productivity in their call centers. Acting on this information in turn can have a positive impact on customer service quality.
For this reason, we’ve put together a slideshow outlining the top call center Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that will help call center managers improve the performance of their team. In this slideshow you will learn:
- The six call center KPIs every call center manager should be measuring.
- Actionable tips for improving your KPIs.
- The average values Talkdesk users had for their call center KPIs in 2015.
View the slideshow here to run a more data-driven call center.
Publish Date: January 22, 2016 5:00 AM
This post is written by Talkdesk’s Director of Customer Support, Scott Allison.
Have you had a bad experience with IP telephony or are you too hesitant to even try it? You’re not alone. Many professionals don’t believe this new technology (also known as VoIP) is reliable enough to be used in business.
Much of this sentiment stems from the fact that most people first experience VoIP technology using consumer services like Skype or FaceTime. While these services can be great, they are also free, and the old adage that you get what you pay can sometimes ring true.
But, given a more sophisticated technology, can VoIP be reliable enough for business communications? Yes, absolutely, with the proviso that you need to have the right expectations.
A VoIP system is not a landline telephone. The two share some traits but are notably different in a few ways. With the exception of cables that are physically damaged by external forces (trees, rain, squirrels, etc.), your traditional home or office phone connection is completely reliable; it works every time you pick it up, with uninterrupted connectivity. That’s a tall order for a VoIP system.
Then again, the copper wires needed for a landline are pretty expensive. If VoIP hadn’t come along we’d all still be paying for these old-school circuit-switched connections.
VoIP has brought flexibility, cost-effectiveness and competition to the telephony marketplace. Nearly all of us are benefiting from these new services and lower costs.
But still, some have had poor experiences with VoIP. We’ve all experienced that robotic voice on Skype, or audio cutting in and out on FaceTime.
In order to understand why this can happen, we need to look at how data is transmitted via VoIP.
Analog landline phones are a technology that is largely unchanged since its invention in the late 1800s by Scotsman, Alexander Graham Bell. Telephones are connected to each other via two wires. Think back to those black and white photos of switchboard operators. Their job was to manually connect callers. They way they did this was to connect a jack plug at the end of your pair of wires, to another subscriber’s pair of wires, also terminated in a jack-plug. It was that simple.
Long distance calls just included more telephone operators and more jack-plugs, but still it was a direct connection of two wires, all along the route. Over time, all that really happened to improve this signal system was more automation, and digitization at certain points, to increase voice quality over long distances. But even though the voice call was converted to a stream of 1’s and 0’s, there was still a dedicated physical path for each call.
Once the internet became ubiquitous, software engineers wasted no time in trying to transmit analog voice over internet protocols (VoIP).
A quick lesson in how data is sent and received over the internet is required here:
The internet is a loosely connected network, and in between you and the web server, there could be thousands of miles, and many routes, none of which you have any control over. You don’t need a dedicated channel open in order to view pages from a particular web site. You press a hyperlink, the request is sent, and you get a response. You can sit there for a minute reading the page until you click a link to go elsewhere, but during that minute, you didn’t take up any resources on the internet.
Let me explain using an analogy with a highway. In the circuit-switched world of telephony that Bell dreamed up, every call requires a dedicated lane. In the world of the internet, highways are like the ones in the real-world: anyone can access the road, change lanes, and there are often multiple routes to the destination. It’s pretty efficient, for the most part. It’s certainly a lot more efficient than a dedicated lane for each driver!
Now, the thing that makes internet work brilliantly is something known as “transmission control protocol” or TCP. TCP ensures that no matter where you’re downloading a file from, all of the data gets to you. If there’s a pothole on the road, or an accident in the right lane, retransmission of data will occur.
Here’s the challenge when it comes to using the internet to place calls: In order to transmit analog sound on the internet, the audio first needs to be converted to a digital stream, you first have to convert the audio to a digital stream, which is then chopped up into packets of data. Those packets then head out on to the “information superhighway” (as we called it back in the 90s!).
Unfortunately if there’s a bump in the road and that data is lost, or retransmitted, it’s a big problem. Remember, VoIP is supposed to be transmitting a live conversation you’re having with someone. VoIP doesn’t use TCP because there simply isn’t time to retransmit data when it’s live. When you download a normal file, it might be annoying to see that file download buffering, but a few seconds delay in the completed download will be unnoticeable. Conversely, if a part of your phone call disappears or is late in arriving, you’re going to notice, and you’re going to be unhappy. This is the heart of why some people don’t like VoIP.
Happily, networks and bandwidth have improved so much over time that the problems we see nowadays are not often related to potholes in the highway of your Internet Service Provider (ISP). The most common cause of poor audio quality is at the end of connection. In other words, it’s the user’s Local Area Network (LAN). Assuming you have a decent ISP, if you’re having problems with VoIP you’re going to need to look in your own backyard for the solution.
So where does this leave us? We’ve proven the efficacy of VoIP, but pointed out the flaws in LAN. The answer, my friends, is blowing in the WiFi. Or rather, the ethernet.
Want to learn more? Stay tuned for the second part of this three part series: “Ethernet Killed the WiFi Star.”
Publish Date: January 21, 2016 5:00 AM