Talkdesk - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog Page 6
How many contact center jobs is enough? It’s something that plenty of companies struggle with. On one hand, it’s not acceptable to force customers to wait too long on calls because not enough agents are available. On the other, it doesn’t make sense to have agents sitting idly at their desks.
One of the primary roles of a call center supervisor is to determine how many agents are necessary to do the job well. Here are some things to questions when it comes to staffing your team:
Are you treating customers brilliantly?
The biggest question about the number of contact center jobs at a company is simple: what will make customers the happiest? It doesn’t take an expert to know that customers want to be treated as well as possible. It also doesn’t take an expert to realize that more agents translates to shorter wait times, more flexibility and quicker resolutions to problems.
On top of everything, it makes financial sense to prioritize current customer retention over new customer acquisition. The customers who benefit from shorter wait and response times will be more inclined to continue purchasing a product or service and are also more likely to make a recommendation to a friend and increase spending in the future. That said, facilitating brilliant customer interactions are well worth the investment.
Are you ready for success?
No matter what product or service a company offers, every company has goals regarding the number of customers they want to attract in the future. Hopefully every company hits those growth goals, but it’s not enough to merely attract customers; those new buyers have to stay loyal to create revenue. If there aren’t the right amount of new contact center jobs to service those new customers, they will likely leave for a competitor quickly.
Companies need to anticipate the growth of their customer base when it comes to these positions. Having the right number of agents too late is the same as not having the right number of agents at all. Proactively hiring contact center agents will provide better service than reactive hiring 10 times out of 10.
Every company and industry has busy and slow periods. Classic examples are retail during the holiday season and accountants in March and April. These ebbs and flows don’t come as surprises, they’re predictable from year to year, so a company’s contact center jobs should reflect the need for increased service during these seasonal rushes.
Beyond having a team of support agents ready for the busy seasons, companies also need to consider the time it takes to have those agents trained and capable of providing exemplary support by the time the rush hits. This timeline is different for every company, but should be calculated as part of the effort to scale appropriately.
Share them with other teams
The primary job of a contact center agent will always be to satisfy the customer, but today’s industry leaders are finding ways to integrate customer service into more job functions. If a company’s contact center is fully staffed with 12 agents, it might be beneficial to fill 14 contact center jobs so the extra employees can work with other teams to make sure the voice of the customer is heard across each of the relevant teams.
In the end, the optimal number of contact center jobs available isn’t an exact science, but it’s a concept each company needs to put effort into forecasting correctly. Having the right number of contact center jobs is a big step on the way to maximizing the impact of a support team.
Publish Date: January 23, 2017 5:00 AM
To welcome the new year, we’re excited to announce a brand new Talkdesk product line: Callbar. We’ve been working on this release for months and we’re thrilled to make it available for agents everywhere today. Read on for more details about Callbar.
What is Callbar?
Callbar is the fastest, most reliable way to handle Talkdesk phone calls. It’s a web application that allows users to make and receive phone calls from anywhere on the desktop. Unlike the Talkdesk CTI Widget, Callbar is not confined to a single browser tab. This means you can use it wherever you need it, streamlining workflows and providing agents with more flexibility and time to focus on the customer.
Why should I use Callbar?
We created Callbar to provide maximum flexibility for contact centers. Modern agents are no longer working out of just one application — they’re using a variety of different tools throughout the customer service process. Callbar fits in seamlessly with agents’ existing workflows while continuing to log data, regardless of which application is currently open on the desktop.
In addition to facilitating agent agility, Callbar also provides new features such as single sign-on (SSO), native contact creation, adjusting audio settings and more. One of our favorites is the ability to take notes directly in Callbar during a call. This feature increases efficiency by eliminating the need for agents to switch between applications while speaking with a customer. All notes are then automatically associated with the call to streamline after call work.
Can Callbar be integrated with any of my business applications?
Yes! At this moment, we offer Callbar computer telephony integrations (CTIs) for Salesforce, Zendesk and Desk.com.
Our Callbar CTIs can be set up in just minutes and offer all of the functionality our existing CTI widgets provide, including: automatic call logging, screen pops, click-to-call and more. Because Callbar CTI operates as a browser window independent of any third-party interface, we are able to incorporate additional functionality that otherwise would not be available.
How can I deploy Callbar?
The first step is to download Callbar. It is free to download for all Talkdesk users from the Google Web Store. Deploying Callbar is simple and fast. All contact centers supervisors need to do is have agents download Callbar and log in with their Talkdesk credentials or via SSO. Once signed in, Callbar is intuitive enough to use with little or no training. Check out our Knowledge Base for instructions for setting up Callbar CTI for Salesforce, Zendesk and Desk.com as well as an entire section dedicated to getting the most out of this new agent experience.
Want to experience the new Callbar, but don’t have a Talkdesk account? Request your free trial today to see why hundreds of agents have made the switch.
Publish Date: January 17, 2017 5:00 AM
Have you heard that 2017 is the Year of the Chatbot? Blogs and thought leaders are buzzing about the next big development in support. Microsoft declared “bots are the new apps” at the BUILD developers conference. Twitter unveiled new Welcome Messages and Quick Replies that can interact with customers automatically and direct their inquiries automatically. Computer programs are the new customer support agents, the news is everywhere.
These AI services are at the business-friendly extremes of cost and bandwidth, two significant improvements for your contact center. Companies in all industries are considering a move to revolutionize their customer interactions by botsourcing routine communication: updating a delivery status, placing simple orders, fielding basic information requests, etc.
It could be time for your company to implement bots for customer service. If you’re interested, we’ve got a chatbots breakdown to go through some of the finer details. There are definitely some tasks that bots can do just as well as humans, maybe even better or faster. For those items, it makes sense to utilize chatbots. For others, the high-touch approach is more appropriate. Customer support agents are crucial and AI is a distraction.
Will you use bots in 2017 or won’t you, that’s the question. Or is it?
The decision about using bots isn’t the end of the thought process, it’s the beginning. There’s another big question to ask once you’ve decided to save agent bandwidth by incorporating chatbots: what do you do with that extra agent bandwidth? That’s where bots will allow the best support teams to shine.
Think about booking a hotel room before the year 2000. If you were planning ahead, you had to get the phone number and call to make the reservation. Not a big deal, but it meant that a vast majority of the hotel’s incoming conversation was transactional.
In 2017, most people book rooms through websites or apps, but hotels still get the same volume of phone calls. It seems like every time I check in or out of a hotel in the last couple of years, an employee at the desk is on the phone with someone. The conversation has shifted away from bookings and toward more personal requests: asking about a late checkout, booking local activities, ordering breakfast in bed.
Regardless of how technology has improved and what your company decides about chatbots, there will always be customers to support and customer support agents eager to help. The bigger question isn’t about how you can use bots, it’s how you can evolve your customer service strategy to best support your customers. Maybe bots will help. Maybe they’ll create more hassle or frustration. Maybe bots can be used for some tasks but not for others. That’s all for you to determine.
If you find a way to use AI to meet customer needs faster and free up more time for your agents, great. But don’t just be satisfied with that result, use the extra time to do more for the customers. Chatbots can’t just be a way to answer requests quickly. The real benefit is that forward-thinking companies can utilize agents to respond to a wider range of new requests.
In short, the long-term effect of chatbots won’t be to replace customer support agents, it will be to handle the most basic tasks and leave those agents free to serve the customers in new ways. There will always be a place for person-to-person interaction, in fact, a huge majority of customers prefer that. But the tasks performed by those agents will adapt to customer needs.
Publish Date: January 10, 2017 5:00 AM
New and more advanced technology is dramatically changing the way customers and companies interact. Processes that used to be laborious and manual are now becoming automated, which can be cheaper for a company and faster for the customer. However, there’s a serious risk of causing more confusion or even injecting additional friction into the customer’s experience.
From the standpoint of a consumer, new technology is drastically improving the concept of self service. Touch-screen tablets or kiosks can make some processes wildly more efficient. Interactions with a limited range of outcomes, like ordering lunch from a restaurant, paying for groceries or checking into a flight, can be done quickly and completely without using an employee’s time. In those instances, technology has benefited both the company (cheaper) and the customer (quicker).
But the kiosk is far from the final point in this technological evolution. If IBM’s Watson can beat Ken Jennings at Jeopardy and Siri can make a reservation at a restaurant (soon a car might be able to drive you there on its own), there has to be a use for this technology to facilitate transactions for businesses and their customers. As AI improves, the range of tasks that can be performed by a machine increases.
Some day soon you will be able to plan a vacation simply by making a request into a computer or phone. Saying the words “book a flight for two to New York next weekend; I’ll need a hotel too … and tickets to Hamilton!” would fire up voice recognition software that translates those requests into actions and completes the booking without any additional work from you.
That type of innovation would definitely be an improvement for consumers, but for the companies involved, there would still be customers to support. Maybe the hotel staff would need to accommodate someone’s stay for an additional night or the theater would need to reschedule the show because a storm caused a power outage. No amount of technological advancement could possibly fix air travel.
In short, the way that technology is improving might change the dynamic between companies and customers, but it doesn’t change the baseline need for customer support. That will always exist. As more companies embrace new technology, the focus will shift from fulfilling transactions to proactive customer support.
Consumers’ technology will continue to enhance what they are capable of handling on their own, but it’s up to companies to use the same advancements to develop new processes for customer support. The support leaders of the future will predict what customers can do with their devices and what they will need help with.
The customer support teams that thrive with new technology will be the ones that re-think customer journeys and customer support processes based on the way customers will use technology, not the way they have been using it. As always, companies who think of the customer first will see the best results, but as the pace of technological change quickens, the gap between great support teams and average support teams will only widen.
Publish Date: January 5, 2017 5:00 AM
Customer support centers have changed. What was once a process-heavy transaction machine has evolved into an agile network of agents who respond primarily to unique support incidents. As the industry has changed, so have the tools that agents use to keep customers happy.
Talkdesk is proud to be on the cutting edge of customer support technology, replacing dated, complicated traditional support tools with a simple, intelligent contact center. As the technology improves, the expectations of customers are increasing … and they’re right. They should expect more.
At Talkdesk, our top priority is our customer’s customers – the people actually calling in to receive support. We make the product for you. With that in mind, here are a few things we think you should expect to never have to say to a support agent again:
- Your name: Our software identifies incoming calls and automatically pulls up your account information, including your name.
- Your phone number: Have you ever had to give your phone number to an agent before? It’s nonsensical. Caller ID has been around for a long time, you shouldn’t have to waste your time with useless introductory questions. Even if your number isn’t in a company’s contact list, Talkdesk allows the agent to create a new contact from a call without having you repeat the information.
- Your email address: You get the idea.
- Your account number: Talkdesk includes integrations that allow agents to skip past all the introductory information of a support call so you can get right to the heart of the issue. You’re not calling to tell them your account number, you’re calling to have your issue resolved.
- Your most recent purchase: If you call in to a support line, it shouldn’t take 10 minutes to describe your problem. Talkdesk’s integrations mean agents should be able to pull up your transaction history and have your most recent order open in seconds.
- The last time you called: Agents using Talkdesk can see the entire history of calls you’ve made. Hopefully you aren’t having to place several calls about the same problem, but if you do, the agent should know about it.
- “I told this to the previous agent”: Have you ever explained your issue to a support agent only to get transferred to someone else and have to relay the story again? We know that’s frustrating. That’s why Talkdesk allows agents to take notes directly on your customer profile. Talkdesk for Slack’s “Get Help” feature allows each agent to communicate with their team in real time, so other agents can contribute information without needing to transfer onto the call.
- “I had to wait for XX minutes to talk to someone”: Talkdesk Live tracks how long you’ve been waiting and displays that information to the support team. We can’t say that the technology will eliminate long wait times, but the agent who fields your call will definitely know when you’ve been on the phone for too long.
At Talkdesk, we want to empower our customers to solve their customers’ problems, not just collect their information. If you think your company could benefit from Talkdesk, sign up for a free trial to test it out.
Adam is the content marketing lead at Talkdesk. When he isn't working, he's probably reading or getting lost in Youtube holes.
Publish Date: December 8, 2016 5:00 AM
When calling large companies, instead of immediately speaking to a customer service agent, you’ll usually arrive at a phone tree system that asks you to make a series of numbered choices. This system is called an interactive voice response system, or IVR. IVR systems can be used to service high call volumes, reduce costs and improve the customer experience for everyone who calls in. But sometimes IVR systems are not the best choice for businesses.
Understanding IVR Technology
IVR systems allow companies to pre-record a greeting and gather information from callers using voice input or touch-tone keypad selections. From this information, the IVR system can then provide return responses in the form of voice, fax, callback or email. Usually IVR uses two types of technology to recognize what callers are asking for and route calls:
- Computer-Telephone Integration (CTI): This allows software to recognize a tone from a telephone keypad
- Speech Recognition Software: This type of technology allows a customer to communicate with the IVR system using a series of short voice commands such as, “pay my bill” or “check my balance” when you call your credit card company
Benefits of IVR Systems
IVR systems are commonly used to route calls internally within an organization instead of spending money hiring and retaining a salaried receptionist who only works 8 a.m to 5 p.m. Instead, an IVR system works around the clock so your customers receive the support they need, when they need it. IVR also saves money for a company because it reduces the phone time needed from customer service agents by providing them with some basic information before they enter the call or removing them entirely from the process entirely. An example of this is when you call your airline and automatically receive flight information without talking to someone.
Additionally, IVR systems aid companies in customer satisfaction by routing callers to the right agent quickly, depending on that agent skillset, language capabilities or expertise. Another benefit to an IVR system is that they can be used as an electronic notification system for remote employees. With the workforce increasingly moving toward telecommuting or global locations, IVR systems can trigger an alert to an employee’s cell phone, home phone or other form of contact until they are reached.
Reasons to Skip an IVR System
IVR systems can sometimes negatively impact your business because they may not work for a number of callers. Technology-challenged customers could have trouble following the prompts and options, and impatient younger customers could get frustrated with the time it takes to navigate multiple menu options instead of getting a quick response.
Sometimes, IVR systems can feel like customers are pushing a million buttons and or repeating their voice command over and over, only to receive a customer service representative who asks, “How can I help you today?” Some callers would rather quickly speak to an agent and bypass the IVR options.
Ting, a mobile phone company for individuals and businesses, is an example of one company skipping IVR and giving direct, quick access to a live customer service agent — and their customers love them for it. Check out what one of their customers has to say:
“[Ting’s] customer service is fantastic. Live human beings that answer within a couple of rings. [Their] techs are knowledgeable, friendly and follow up with emails. Most importantly they do what they say they are going to do.”
— Jeff DeVries, DeVries Companies
It’s become such a cornerstone of Ting’s business, that their “real person” customer service is one of the first value props you read about on their website:
No hold, no phone trees and no transfers. People are still getting used to this level of service.
Talkdesk supports an optional IVR, but they’re not for every company, so gather all the information you can and make the choice that works best for you.
Amy is an Account Manager at Talkdesk. When she's not busy at work, she enjoys cooking, browsing bookstores and going on hikes around the Bay Area.
Publish Date: November 18, 2016 5:00 AM
Your call center is an integral piece in your company’s customer satisfaction, sales volume and business efficiency goals. With so many critical business metrics tied to your call center, it’s easy to see why selecting the right technology and process is so important. At the most basic level, your call center needs to provide a way to talk to customers, route calls, and optimize customer conversations.
Traditionally, companies have used a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) phone system to manage internal and external calls. Whether your business already has a PBX phone system deployed or you’re currently researching a PBX phone system to launch, it’s important to understand that PBX phones are not a replacement for call center software, like Talkdesk. If you only use a PBX, you’ll be missing out on data and features that will improve your customer service metrics.
What is a PBX?
You’ve likely come across the need to use a four-digit extension to reach someone within an organization. This company is using a PBX phone system, which is a private telephone network within a business. PBX phone systems allow companies to split a single phone line into multiple internal lines, maximizing the ability to reach everyone within the company on only one paid phone line. This reduces company phone bills.
Analog PBX: Before the onset of modern internet technology, PBX phone systems used to exist over telephone lines and switches only. This is referred to as analog PBX, which is outdated technology. A typical analog PBX setup is comprised of a computer server, a manual control board and multiple lines that connect to an internal switching system that routes calls to individual phone lines throughout the company.
IP PBX: Modern PBX phone systems use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to make calls using the internet. IP PBX phones connect over an office’s Local Area Network (LAN), leveraging the same technology used to connect employee computers. IP PBX systems are superior to analog PBX systems because the internet allows them to use internet technology for next-level services such as integrating with customer relationship management (CRM) software.
What Makes PBX Different from Call Center Software?
Typically, a PBX phone system is not going to maximize your call center results simply because they don’t provide the features and technology the call center software does. Here are some call center software features that a PBX phone system is probably lacking:
Advanced Routing: Advanced routing allows you to provide a better customer experience by ensuring efficient service for callers. Call center software will use technology such as skills-based routing and interactive voice response (IVR) to route customers to the right location the minute they call. This minimizes the chance that a customer gets transferred to multiple agents during a call. Features such as queue callback and Intelligent Reconnect also create a more seamless calling experience.
Call Queuing: Let your customers get the help they need when they need it — offer them the ability to wait on the line for the next available agent rather than leave a voicemail. If your customers do decide to stay on the line, advanced call queuing options will let you choose a custom message or music to play for callers while they wait.
Live Call Monitoring: Listen to calls customers are making to your business in real time without the customer (or in some instances, your agent!) knowing. This call center software feature allows you to monitor call center quality standards and improve employee processes. Many call center solutions also allow you to perform call barging when necessary. This means managers can drop in on calls with both the agent and the customer to reduce call transfers and increase first call resolution.
Live Reporting: Use call center software to monitor the performance of your call center in real time. You can track important agent metrics such as average speed to answer and average wait time or get an on-demand overview of what’s happening in your call center in real time so you can monitor important business metrics.
PBX vs. Call Center Software?
If your company is just looking to communicate internally with each other or allow employees to have their own phone line without expensive phone bills, then a PBX phone system is likely sufficient enough for your business. However, if you’re looking to select a telephony solution for your call center that provides robust features to keep your customers happy and purchasing from your business, call center software is the way to go. Not only will you have a solution that can scale with your business as it grows, you’ll also be able to use advanced technology to improve your customer experience.
Amy is an Account Manager at Talkdesk. When she's not busy at work, she enjoys cooking, browsing bookstores and going on hikes around the Bay Area.
Publish Date: November 10, 2016 5:00 AM
Last week I read a great article by Bart Perkins, titled Is your service center too dependent on technology? The theme of Perkins’ post embodied in his last sentence is: “if you don’t meet customers’ criteria for an acceptable customer support experience, they’ll be gone before you can say ‘press 9 to speak to one of our better staffed competitors.’” This is becoming an increasingly important theme as many industries pivot to recurring revenue models and place a higher value on customer loyalty (makes sense considering it costs anywhere from 5-30x more, depending on which study you want to use, to acquire a new customer than to retain/sell to an existing customer).
Customer service is not a new idea, but it’s valuable to discuss for a couple reasons: 1) Trends are slow to implement. Just because a business sees the value in happy customers and knows it should be providing excellent customer service, doesn’t mean that company knows how to make this a reality. 2) I recently joined Talkdesk, a truly innovative company that is changing the way businesses think about service/support centers and their telephony solution addresses all of Perkins’ suggestions for improving service centers.
Perkins’ article is summarized into four main points:
1. Make self service attractive
Today most people can self serve to handle tasks such as reporting an issue, transferring money or checking on the status of an order. However, Perkins warns, “too much self-service can be a disservice.” For example, when a customer asks a question that isn’t expected or wants to perform an uncommon task, the value of a chatbot or self-service portal quickly becomes zero. This is why the best service centers allow customers to interact through their preferred method or combination of methods, including phone, SMS, chat, video or website.
Talkdesk addresses self service with omnichannel customer support, which takes a holistic view by attempting to create a seamless customer experience across channels. Some businesses today have multichannel support, which is a good start but multichannel support teams can become siloed. The phone support team isn’t in great communication with the email support team, so customers may get a totally different experience when interacting with each team. This can be jarring and present a disjointed front to customers.
2. Make it easy to access a knowledgeable person
You’ve probably had the experience of calling into a support line, providing information to an automated system, then having to repeat the same information to a real person and then getting transferred to another agent and having to repeat the same information yet again.
Just like Salesforce aimed to be the end of software, Talkdesk is putting an end to IVR through intelligent routing. Talkdesk uses routing APIs and integrations to leverage existing systems and customer data within a business to predict the customers’ needs. This allows Talkdesk users to route customers quickly and appropriately, but also with minimal information (or, in many cases, no information) from the customers themselves.
3. Deploy concierge service with care
This idea is along the same vein as the previous point. Don’t make it difficult to access a concierge service, like requiring customers to use a special phone number.
Again, Talkdesk solves this issue through its 25+ out-of-the-box integrations (and they’re adding more every day). This means that when your VIP customer calls your service line, they are automatically routed to the right agent the first time, with no need for a special phone line.
4. Organize the knowledge base
Perkins summarizes: “Well-organized knowledge bases are much more useful than knowledge bases that are allowed to grow organically, without curation.”
Although Talkdesk doesn’t help organize knowledge bases, it does organize call center resources more efficiently through ring groups. Ring groups optimize call routing and distribution by allowing contact center managers to easily apply unique tags to agents and phone numbers so callers are routed to the agent who is most qualified to meet their needs. You can also route callers to multiple agents at once, allowing small teams to immediately assist individual customers when necessary.
In short, Perkins shouldn’t be asking if your service center is too dependent on technology, but rather if your service center is too dependent on the wrong technology. Increasing dependence on chatbots and other technology that separates your customer from customer service agents is the path of least resistance. It’s easy, and if you never truly engage with your customer, you can often avoid issues/criticism in the short term; But it’s not the right thing to do and as many businesses are finding out it’s not the profitable thing to do. Ultimately, not providing your service center with the right technology is a double-edged sword: external customers will not stand for poor service and internal users will think poorly of IT.
Rishi is part of the Business Development team at Talkdesk and recently graduated from the University of Southern California. In his spare time you can find him with his German Shepard, Gopan, looking for a nitro-cold brew.
Publish Date: November 7, 2016 5:00 AM
As one of our most popular call center software integrations, Talkdesk for Zendesk helps businesses all around the world deliver quick, personalized customer support via phone. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce the arrival of a brand new component of this integration: Callbar CTI for Zendesk.
We first revealed Callbar during our inaugural customer experience summit, Opentalk 2016. Since then, the Talkdesk Team has been hard at work refining and enhancing the Callbar. Today’s release brings the vision we introduced at Opentalk to life. Read on to learn more about this exciting new app.
What is Talkdesk Callbar for Zendesk?
The Callbar is a lightweight web application that allows agents to make and receive phone calls from anywhere on the desktop. The app’s “floating” design ensures that it is easy to find, eliminating the need to search through multiple tabs for a dial pad when a call comes in. This means never missing a call again!
Today’s release of Callbar is designed to seamlessly integrate with Zendesk. With the Callbar CTI, agents can initiate calls from any phone number in Zendesk and log calls to Zendesk tickets. Agents can also take notes in the Callbar CTI that are automatically added to the appropriate Zendesk tickets. When calls are received, the Callbar CTI will display data on the caller beyond basic contact information. These at-a-glance highlights provide additional context around the call, such as how long the caller has been waiting. If needed, agents can then click on the caller’s name to initiate a screen pop of the individual’s Zendesk record, allowing them to personalize the call for maximum impact.
I’m already using the existing Talkdesk CTI for Zendesk. How is the Callbar CTI different?
While the original Talkdesk CTI resides exclusively in Zendesk, the Callbar CTI operates as a browser window independent from any third party interface. This makes it more stable and provides us with the ability to incorporate additional functionality that otherwise would not be available with the original CTI (ex: caller context information, note taking abilities, etc). The Callbar CTI released today is only version #1 of many more to come; as we continue to enhance the Callbar CT, new features will be added to ensure agents
How do I get the Callbar CTI for Zendesk?
The Callbar CTI is available for download now from the Google Chrome Web Store. Once you’ve downloaded the app, Zendesk admins can download the Callbar CTI Connector from the Zendesk App Marketplace to add click-to-call and screen pop functionality. The app takes only a few minutes to configure and requires little to no agent training to get started. Give it a try and let us know what you think!
FOR CURRENT ZENDESK CTI USERS: Please note that we plan to retire the original CTI by early 2017. For this reason, we encourage you to try out the Callbar CTI now (especially before the holiday rush starts!). Migrating to the Callbar CTI is easy to do and won’t result in any downtime for your call center. Follow the instructions in this Knowledge Base article to get started.
Will you be releasing Callbar for any other integration?
Zendesk is only the first integration for Callbar to be released. In the future, we plan to have a Callbar CTI for our most popular integrations as well as a standalone version. Stay tuned to the Talkdesk Blog to see updates as we make these exciting announcements!
Want to try out the Callbar CTI, but don’t have Talkdesk for Zendesk? Request a free trial now to start optimizing your customer support.
Tracy hails from Los Angeles and is a Talkdesk product marketer. She is an avid art lover and champagne enthusiast. When Tracy isn't hard at work, she enjoys traveling and feeding her relentless sweet tooth.
Publish Date: November 3, 2016 5:00 AM
If you aren’t letting your customers communicate with your business via text message, you’re not making them happy. According to a recent survey, nine out of 10 consumers would like to be able to use messaging to communicate to businesses — both from and to them.
The survey of 6,000 consumers in Europe, Asia and North America was conducted by Twilio, a technology company that allows software developers to integrate phone calls, text messages and IP voice communications into their web, mobile and traditional phone applications. The study also found that although most customers want to be able to communicate with the businesses they buy from via text message, nearly every business is not set up to offer this type of service to their customers.
Building Your Customer Communication Journey
Since texting is the most widely and frequently used app on a smartphone — 97% of Americans using it at least once a day — and customers prefer to communicate this way, text messaging is now a must-add to your customer journey. When you think of interacting with your customers, you should think of these interactions as the journey each person takes with your company. From the moment they hear about your brand to every interaction before and after a sale, this is your customer taking a journey with your brand. Communication is a big part of this journey.
For years, email has been a major component in customer communication. Then came social media in 2007 and since, every brand has been encouraged to add social media communication to their customer journey. Now with the popularity of mobile phones, text messaging and messaging apps, communicating with your customers via text message is the next must-do to keep up with rapidly evolving needs.
Implementing Text Messaging Communication for Your Business
If you’re ready to start the conversation internally and add launching text messaging communication to your plans within the next year, here is some advice to get started:
1. Get Internal Stakeholders on Board
Help your team understand the impact mobile messaging communication could have on your business by building a brief presentation to share internally and socialize the idea. This presentation should include statistics and studies on how important mobile marketing and communication is today. A ton of great content around mobile statistics exists on the web, so take a look around to see what is available.
2. Map Your Customer Journey to Include SMS
Lay out a plan on how text messaging will fit into your customer journey and communication experience — will you remind them about a service they’ve scheduled with you via text message? Will you send them alerts about their account? Will you allow them to communicate back with your company via text, or will they just receive one-way alerts? Will you use text messaging as part of an omnichannel customer support experience? Use a whiteboard to lay out exactly how this text interaction will feel to your customers, and you’ll be well on your way to ensuring it doesn’t feel disjointed or noisy when integrated with other communication you might already be doing.
3. Choose the Right Implementation Partners
Now that you’ve convinced internal stakeholders on the need for text messaging and you’ve built it into your customer journey, it’s time to find the right partner to get the job done and implement a best-in-class text messaging communication experience.
- SMS in Your Applications: If your business has a mobile application that you’d like to build text messaging features into, you have a few options. If you want to build it yourself, Twilio is a great partner, as previously mentioned. Alternatively, you can leverage a mobile SDK, which greatly reduces the development effort required.
- SMS-Based Support: If you’re interested in improving your customer support experience with text messaging, we hope you choose Talkdesk as your partner. Our cloud-based contact center software helps you connect with your customers via their channel of choice, be it voice or SMS.. In addition, our integrations with Salesforce and Zendesk allow you to send and receive text messages directly within your CRM or help desk solution.
If and when you do start communicating with your customers via text messaging as part of their customer journey, there are three important things to remember. First, make sure your customers know they are opting in to receive text messages from you. Second, remind them of the charges that could be associated with the text messages. And finally, give your customers the option to easily opt out, so you aren’t jeopardizing that positive customer journey.
Publish Date: November 1, 2016 5:00 AM
In today’s competitive professional marketplace, company culture is often the dividing line between keeping rock star employees or losing them to competitors. Some roles are particularly important to foster a positive company culture, and customer service agents in your call center are one of these critical roles. Your call center is the front line of your business and often the only people who will interact with paying customers. A positive, vibrant and collaborative call center is more successful than a group of bored, burnt-out customer service agents.
When building a call center culture, it’s important to take steps to recognize each agent individually, but also create a culture where everyone is working together for a common goal. Follow these tips we’ve gathered on how to achieve this goal and build a positive call center culture:
Add Healthy Competition
Games are a great way to boost morale and incite fun competition among agents. They can also do double duty for you by training your call center staff. Think of a goal that breeds healthy competition but also moves your business goals forward. Do you want to upsell more customers? Make this the purpose of the game. Do you want to retain more customers who threaten to leave? Make this the goal. Then pick a game for your agents to race against each other during a set timeframe. Or think about how you could leverage age-old games you played as a kid for your call center:
- Hangman: Set up hangman on a central whiteboard with a funny phrase. Each agent who reaches the goal gets a chance to guess a letter. Set a big, fun prize for the person who guesses the phrase.
- Bingo: Create Bingo cards for your agents where each card is associated with a goal. Every time an agent reaches the goal, they mark the Bingo square. The first to get Bingo for the day wins a prize.
To pull together the competition and make it easier for you and more centralized for your call center, consider implementing call center software if you haven’t already. This type of software can share real-time performance against key metrics with the entire organization so that agents know how they are performing both as an individual and as a team.
Despite the frequent customer interactions, being a customer service agent can feel like a lonely job. If you can get agents collaborating with each other, they’ll feel more connected to both the team and the company goals. Start building your call center collaboration by integrating your call center software with collaborative chat tools like Slack. When employees are able to chat with each other and keep in contact, it’s easier for them to ask for help, give fast answers, build camaraderie, get coached and avoid being alone, even if they aren’t physically co-located with their colleagues.
You can also create collaboration through training — send agents to a professional networking event, have them listen to a webinar or take online courses together then participate in a discussion afterward. Host monthly meetings where everyone is encouraged to share positive and negative feedback and kudos with their colleagues. Creating team projects or assigning tasks to groups of people can also foster a collaborative culture while helping to knock-off some bigger projects you might want to get done this year.
Ensure Your Agents Are Specialized
By offering specialization to your customer service agents, you’re accomplishing two things:
- Empowering agents to improve their skills and feel like experts, which should boost their job satisfaction
- Reducing call resolution times and increasing first call resolution since customers are being routed to exactly the right person to resolve their pain point.
Given that 67 percent of customer churn is preventable if the customer issue was resolved at the first engagement, it benefits your business to spend the money on training agents to become specialized. They’ll be able to solve issues on the first call and prevent customers from leaving.
Allow For Company Social Networking
A lot of great tools exist today to allow coworkers to chat and network online. Some of the most popular are Slack, HipChat or Facebook Groups. Set up an internal company chat and specialized rooms to share jokes, articles, kudos or company news. Create a private Facebook Group that agents can join and use to set up team softball nights, happy hours or celebrate birthdays. These types of social networking tools are how most people connect with their friends and family, so allowing your customer service agents to communicate with each other in these ways will help cultivate workplace friendships and goodwill.
Decorate the Office
If you looked around the call center, how does it appear? Are there gray walls and cubicles? If you have to sit in a cubicle on the phone for eight hours and look at gray walls, this probably wouldn’t be very motivating. It’s inexpensive to decorate a call center and can work wonders to boost morale. Think about how you can add motivational balloons and posters. Consider painting the walls an uplifting color. Add a “Quote Board” whiteboard where agents can write down funny things colleagues have said. Host an Adult Coloring Party after work or at lunch one day, then use all of the colored images to cover a boring, white wall.
Follow these five tips, and your company will have an awesome call center culture that every agent will brag about to their friends. This will increase employee job satisfaction, prevent you from spending money on finding and hiring new employees, and just make your company an overall better place to work.
Publish Date: October 20, 2016 5:00 AM
This year, bots and the rise of popular messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger have dominated online media conversations around trends in technology and communication. From Forbes and The Economist to Time magazine — everyone is talking about the artificial intelligence (AI) online chat tools that use a combination of machine learning and language processing to predict with more than 90 percent accuracy what someone types and needs.
This technology means some brands have started to leverage chatbots for customer service in the hopes of saving on call center costs. But are customers ready for bots instead of talking to a live customer service agent? And is it worth it for your company to invest in software that uses bots to solve customer service issues? Talkdesk surveyed over 2,000 U.S. adults to understand if the raved about chatbot trend translates to the end user: the people who need customer service from their favorite brands. Our survey results show that the chatbot frenzy in the media might not be aligned with how your customers feel when using chatbots.
What is a bot?
A bot — derived from robot — is any application that performs an automated task. They’ve been around since the beginning of the internet: malicious bots have delivered malware to computers and bots are what Google has used to find and add new web pages to their search engine. Chatbots, however, are what have caused bots to earn the limelight this year. Chatbots use artificial intelligence to hold a conversation with you and automatically complete tasks such as creating calendar invites, ordering food and purchasing the perfect shoes. As popular messenger apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Slack, Kik and WeChat open their technology APIs to developers who can create automatic bot apps, some of the world’s biggest brands such as Nike and Uber are beginning to integrate their services with messenger bots.
Customer Service & Chatbots
Chatbots are not just for fun in messenger apps — they’re being used in customer service technology too. If you’ve visited a brand’s website and noticed the little box that pops up with a photo of someone asking how they can help you, that is often an AI chatbot instead of live chat. AgentBot is an example of a customer service chatbot that offer these live chat popups to your customers. But how do customers feel about these chatbots versus the ability to call and receive live support on the phone from a human? Our Harris Poll survey yielded some interesting results:
- The majority of Americans (93%) agree that they value a company who staffs their customer support with people instead of bots
- Nearly nine in 10 Americans (88%) agree that their customer service experience is better because they engage with a live person instead of a bot
- Eight in 10 Americans (79%) agree that talking to bots is a waste of their time
- Men are more likely than women to agree that they can tell when they are talking to a bot instead of a live person (87% and 82%, respectively)
Given this data, you might want to rethink replacing your customer service with chatbots. However, bots can be a great compliment to your customer service process. Since bots can answer hundreds of thousands of service requests at a time, your customer service can appear to be 24/7 — even if you can’t afford to offer round the clock live support. And since 51 percent of consumers believe a business should respond to their queries around the clock, this kind of access is important to more than half of your customers.
Chatbots can also arm your customer service team with more information and make their job easier and quicker, therefore reducing call times and saving your company money. The trick is not to lose that personal touch over the phone, however, since most customers still really need and want this service.
Popular Bot Technology
As more chatbot apps are being created and integrated with messaging apps and customer service, and as artificial intelligence technology continues to improve, we can only expect bots to become an increasing part of our lives. Even if you’re not ready to use bots for your company’s customer service needs, it’s pretty fun to play around with some of them to automate tasks such as ordering flowers from 1-800-Flowers or an Uber to your restaurant using Facebook Messenger, or even ordering a Gordita Supreme for lunch from Taco Bell on Slack.
*Methodology: This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Talkdesk from August 3-5, 2016 among 2,027 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
Amy is an Account Manager at Talkdesk. When she's not busy at work, she enjoys cooking, browsing bookstores and going on hikes around the Bay Area.
Publish Date: October 5, 2016 5:00 AM
Deciding to outsource your call center operations is a big decision. Those who speak with your customers on a daily basis represent your brand and are ultimately the face of your company. With your reputation on the line, it is critical to choose a partner you can work positively with and someone who can help enhance your bottom line.
If you want to know which Business Process Outsourcer (BPO) partner is right for you, put a priority on doing your due diligence. Toward that end, here are six important things to consider when choosing a BPO to partner with:
1. Reporting and Visibility
What kind of reporting and monitoring capabilities does your call center software provide? Can you monitor your incoming calls in real-time to assess the performance of your agents? And what if one of your agents needs help in real-time? Do you have the ability to drop into a live call if necessary? How about your ability to analyze the big picture? Can you see real-time reports on your customer service level, number of calls in queue, etc.? And can you customize these reports to show metrics that are relevant to the specifics of your organization?
The software used should provide access to all your call center performance data anytime, anywhere with an internet connection, so you can maintain control over your call center operations. You can not afford to lose visibility into this critical data even if you are no longer the one managing the minute-to-minute operations of your customer service center.
2. Shared Philosophy on Customer Service
We know your customer service standards are high, but what about the standards of your BPO partner? You can (at least partially) gauge their level of commitment to customer service by how they interact with you. Are they responsive? Do they return your calls and emails promptly? Are they willing to take the time to help set up a system that works for you? Finally, are they able to provide references to other customers they have worked with who share your high standards of service quality?
3. Structural Flexibility
A major part of a BPO’s commitment to customer service is their flexibility and ability to customize their business structure to fit your needs. For example, your call center may require two tiers – the first tier for handling transactional inquiries (where is my order, etc.), and the second tier for more complex or unique questions. You may even discover a third tier (on the managerial level) for customer escalations. In this scenario, you might be comfortable outsourcing Tier 1, but you probably want to keep Tier 2 and Tier 3 in-house.
Does your BPO partner allow you to structure your customer service team the way you want it? How will you manage the routing and transfers between Tiers to ensure your customers feel like it’s all one organization they are working with?
4. Strong Application Integration Capability
Does your BPO’s call center software play nicely with other common applications your business uses? Critical customer data is often stored in systems such as Salesforce and Zendesk. By seamlessly integrating your call center software with your business applications, agents are now empowered with the information they need to deliver personalized customer service. Additionally, call data can now be easily correlated with CRM data for more detailed analysis on call center performance.
One of the worst things that can happen to your company (from a customer service standpoint) is for your call center to go down. When calls are not being answered, productivity suffers, and customers form a negative impression of your organization. This is why cloud-based call center software is quickly becoming an industry standard. When your call center operations are served from the cloud, they are no longer totally vulnerable to outages that may occur at one or more locations. Your call center data can be accessed anytime from anywhere in the world, giving you the ability to adapt in real-time to outages and other challenges you may be experiencing.
6. Ability to Rapidly Scale
There is a strong likelihood you are seeking an outsourcing solution for your call center operations because your company is in a growth phase. Perhaps you can no longer effectively support these operations in-house, which is why you’re looking for a BPO to partner with. If this is the case, you need a BPO that has the ability to scale rapidly to support your continued growth or support seasonal swings in business (such as major increases in call volume during the holidays).
When assessing your BPO, you need to ask a few questions about the scalability of the call center software: How easy is it to add (or remove) agents? What about adding (or removing) phone numbers? Or training/bringing on board new agents? If the software is intuitive, user-friendly, and enables rapid deployment, it can provide the necessary tools and support to allow the BPO to scale with you as the needs of your business change.
Thinking about these six points during your research and decision making process could go a long way in helping you choose the right BPO to be the customer service face of your company.
Publish Date: October 3, 2016 5:00 AM
Customer satisfaction surveys, or CSAT surveys, are commonly used in call centers to meaningfully measure how customers feel about the service received post-call center interaction. There are many ways to collect this customer feedback. Selecting the right method can allow your team to increase response rates, helping you better understand the effectiveness of your call center team and improve the service level.
A Quick Refresher
The most straightforward way to measure CSAT is to ask the customer to rate their satisfaction with your service and/or product. A single question survey sent after a customer service interaction can ask the customer this:
How would you rate your satisfaction with our customer service team on a scale from 1 to 5?
1 is very unsatisfied, and 5 is very satisfied
CSAT scores can be gathered via email, text message, or even immediately after a phone interaction.
How are CSAT surveys sent?
CSAT surveys should be sent immediately after your customer interacts with a customer service agent as gathering timely feedback on the efficacy of your call center will help you collect the most accurate response and enable an effective feedback loop.
CSAT Email Surveys
If your customer has email address on file, sending a link to your online survey in the body of an email at the resolution of a case is a simple solution. However, remember you must grab your customer’s attention as they open their inbox, get them to read the email, and click through to complete your survey. There are many points to potentially lose the customer through this journey, so be sure to optimize your copy, email and survey design.
CSAT SMS Surveys
Email inboxes are bombarded with online surveys. SMS is a direct, immediate alternative that allows you to target customers on the go. We’ve found sending surveys via SMS is the most effective method, resulting in a response rate of 25-30%. Automated surveys via SMS allow you to reach those customers that may not have an email address on file and are especially relevant for on-demand focused B2C businesses.
Getting set up to send SMS messages to your customers doesn’t require an investment in technology or training. There are solutions that will allow you to send the one-question CSAT survey directly in the body of your text message, requesting your customer to send their rating back via text message. These solutions can help automate sending surveys via SMS, and track open and click rates.
Interactive Voice Response CSAT Phone Surveys
Interactive voice response (IVR) is a technology that allows you to automate gathering information from your customer via voice and tones inputted via a phone’s keypad. In a call center, this is an obvious way to communicate a CSAT survey, post-call. Your call center agent can alert your customer, requesting they stay on the line for a brief survey. Since this can be done without the need to start a second interaction, it can be efficient. However, the response rate for IVR phone surveys is typically only 1-2%, so you are likely missing out on hearing feedback from the majority of your customers.
For more guidance on this topic, here are 12 best practices for creating effective call center IVR surveys.
Gathering CSAT scores in the most efficient and effective way will allow you to get an accurate pulse of your customer’s happiness – a worthy investment for the modern call center. This data provides results that help drive change and improvement across your team and your organization. If you would like to take a closer look at CSAT, we encourage you to check out this article on using CSAT to improve your call center.
Publish Date: September 26, 2016 5:00 AM
Remember the days when we would wait for that important fax to come in? You’d wait for your incoming fax to print, sign it, and then send it right on back to the recipient. Nowadays, we’re signing documents seamlessly and virtually online, via cloud-based software.
Times are changing behind the scenes in the call center world, as well. The last few years have seen many call centers taking the leap from on-site hardware to innovative, scalable, and resilient cloud-based call center solutions.
What is a Cloud-Based Call Center?
Before we explain exactly how cloud-based call center solutions are doing this, let’s make sure we understand what they are. Cloud-based call center software is accessible via the Internet and is hosted by a third party. All your team needs to use the software is an Internet connection. There is no need to purchase, install, or maintain any costly hardware.
Let’s run through six huge reasons why cloud-based software can drive more value by providing reliable, professional, and seamless experiences for your agents and customers.
1. Quick Setup, Low Investment
Cloud-based call centers are easy to deploy, with little risk. Traditional call centers require investing in costly infrastructure and technology, and take time to organize, program, and launch. With a hassle-free cloud-based system, you can create your entire call center in minutes – without hardware.
2. Empower a Virtual Team
Remote teams of call center agents in different time zones can greatly increase the customer experience, and reduce operational costs. Cloud-based services have become essential to virtual call center infrastructure, enabling remote employees to receive routed calls and connect to your company’s network from anywhere and at anytime. All an agent needs is access to the Internet!
3. Scale Efficiency, Not Costs
It can be a challenge to manage analog phone systems, especially when you have multiple call centers or customer service agents in different locations. Unlike with traditional call center infrastructures, scaling a cloud-based call center solution will not require a large capital expense and can be completed quickly.
Once your new cloud-based call center is set up, your team will have unlimited scalability. Adding more agents and purchasing new phone numbers can be done with a few clicks. This enables you to quickly react to changing business conditions, whether it be seasonal swings or unexpected incidents.
4. User-Friendly Systems
Previously it was enough to simply design software to get the job done. Nowadays successful software companies focus not only on getting the job done, but doing it in an intuitive way. Cloud-based solutions lead the way in user-centric design, providing users with technology that is advanced, yet easy to use. This allows call center agents to benefit from enterprise level functionality without the hassles of lengthy training on archaic systems and daily usability struggles. Ultimately both call center agents and their customers benefit from the associated productivity gains.
5. Integrate Easily
Call centers typically rely on multiple software solutions, yet integrating these solutions can be a hassle with traditional call center software. Virtual call center software companies such as Talkdesk offer one-click integrations with dozens of leading business tools. This creates a better agent experience by reducing duplicate data entry and increasing agent productivity. Additionally, supervisors now have access to data from multiple systems in a single location, which increases their ability to make data-driven decisions.
6. Take Cover
When a natural disaster or emergency occurs, traditional call center hardware is vulnerable. Damaged systems may cause significant downtime for your call center and leave your team with no alternative solutions. Rebuilding a traditional call center is costly and takes time. This outage can result in lost revenue and unsatisfied customers.
The cloud can provide cover. Since a cloud-based call center’s infrastructure is virtual (not on-site) your software and data is safe, allowing call center agents to work from anywhere in the world.
The cloud is a rapidly evolving technology and many organizations are taking the leap after considering the benefits and researching dynamic cloud-based software. When taking the leap yourself, look for cloud-based call center technology that can simplify complex systems, improve both your agent and customer experience, and help with the bottom line.
Publish Date: September 19, 2016 5:00 AM