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TTEC - Blog

Beyond the Bot Buzz: Balance Humans and Automation

There are plenty of buzz-worthy discussions happening in the customer experience space around automation, artificial intelligence (AI), bots, and the like. But just because you can automate something, doesn’t necessarily mean you should.
By putting the customer experience at the center of the discussion, companies can balance humans with automation to optimize interactions.
Customer interactions are becoming more digitally driven and automated to enable faster, convenient, precise interactions. People want a different way to interact with the companies they do business with, and bots are one way to achieve this.
Customers don’t want call centers anymore. At least not the way they exist today. And companies continue to digitize interactions to reduce costs.

  • Nearly half (42%) of global consumers predict that the call center will cease to exist by 2025.
  • 36% of call center interactions are a direct result of digital channels failing to provide answers.
  • Cost reduction and efficiency are top priorities among contact center leaders.
  • 44% of U.S. customers said they’d prefer AI chatbots for customer relationship management.

(Source: Conduent, Call Center IQ, Aspect)
Automated services are here to stay. So instead of "if," answer "how" to use automation in your business. As a guide, we recommend thinking in terms of "Big E" and "small e" experiences:

  • Automate repeatable small “e” experiences that reduce friction, improve convenience and speed.
  • Use humans for big “E” experiences that benefit from emotional, personal connections. 

Bots can’t replace the human value of empathy, cross-selling, or up-selling during an interaction. They won’t know be able to read emotional signals to stave off customer defection. They don’t themselves build a brand. And they won’t know when to take the conversation in a different direction when things diverge from the norm or get complicated. When in doubt, people will prevail.
Read more best practices in automation from both the customer experience and operational perspectives, along with vertical-focused recommendations in the TeleTech Quarterly Insights e-book, "To Bot or Not to Bot."

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Also, check out the most recent issue of our monthly customer experience eNewsletter, Dialogue.


Publish Date: June 2, 2017 5:00 AM

3 Steps to Harness the Power of Advanced Contact Center Analytics

Today, the proliferation of data from more and more sources is setting the stage for new, advanced decision making and therefore thrusting analytics to the fore. Organizations are increasingly leveraging analytical insights to deliver more personalized customer experiences at scale.
Contact center leaders are aware of these changes and are trying to determine how to use the available data assets to do a better job in serving customers quickly and efficiently. As such, forward-looking companies are implementing more advanced analytics tools, along with richer data sets to better understand their customers’ needs and make faster decisions. To make sure your company doesn’t get left behind, we’ve outlined a strategy to begin transforming contact centers into a modern insights center.
Identify your objective
The value of information is the cost of making the wrong decision. In this context, any analytics that can improve decision making, and produce better business results (e.g., increase revenue, reduce costs, higher NPS scores), is worth doing. 
The challenge is to identify the right analytics tools to best help your team meet its goals. The key stakeholders must therefore agree on what the primary objective is that they are focused on. For example, is the goal to increase operational efficiency or customer satisfaction? Answering this question will help determine the scope and direction of your team’s analytics strategy.
Aim for actionable insights
Analytical insights are important provided they affect decision making.  This implies the analytics are “actionable” and sufficiently timely (perhaps even in the moment) to make a difference.
For instance, journey analytics are uncovering insights regarding how customers interact with brands and where there may be opportunities to reduce unwanted friction.  Not surprisingly, there are often key differences in these journeys depending on what the care issue is and who the customer is.
Contact centers are also using new speech and text analytics tools to understand emerging customer care issues, identify potentially explosive legal issues, and assess customer sentiment, all in the name of improving customer satisfaction. These same tools can also be used to evaluate agent performance and assorted processes that are integral to operational efficiency goals. Other analytics are being used to assess, evaluate, and streamline operational processes, as well as measure agent performance, knowledge management systems, and learning programs.
Regardless of the type of analytics your team chooses to implement, contact center analytic efforts should be aimed at understanding three questions:

  1. What is happening with respect to activities within a customer case? 
  2. Which customers (e.g, first-time, returning, etc.) are impacted? 
  3. How do customers and agents feel about their experiences? 

Create a closed-loop” insights process
It is also important to create a sustainable system for collecting data, analyzing it, testing it, and deriving actionable insights from the data. There are several critical steps to creating a closed-loop process for doing this. 

Step 1: Map the existing data flows into and out of the contact center, and, based on preferred, pre-defined customer experience journeys, identify gaps in customer knowledge that could be filled by integrating data from other internal or external sources. 

Step 2: Build processes to export the contact center data to a centralized customer data repository on an ongoing basis so that everything that is known about customers’ attributes, attitudes, behaviors, and value can be leveraged from one location. 

Step 3: Analyze and model the consolidated data, and orchestrate specialized actions aimed, say, to maximize customer satisfaction while also achieving designated SLAs (service level agreements).  These orchestrated actions can (and should) include a wide assortment of champion/challenger tests to support continuous improvements. 

Step 4: Develop automated reports and dashboards that will display key metrics pertaining to the various interactions customers have with the brand, as well as the downstream behaviors that will determine the impacts on the business.  These downstream metrics could include customer satisfaction and Net Promoter Scores, customer retention rates, product purchase rates, revenue, and profitability.

Think of the steps as part of a continuous cycle in which data flows into a centralized customer data repository where it can be analyzed and tested to provide insights that further enrich the contact center and the rest of the organization’s understanding of its customers.

If you would like more information on how to harness the power of analytics in the contact center, check out our eBook, "Making the Grade: How to Convert a Contact Center into an Insight Center."

Like this post? Subscribe to our customer experience blog.

Also, check out the most recent issue of our monthly customer experience eNewsletter, Dialogue.


Publish Date: February 13, 2017 5:00 AM

Is it Time to Toss Average Handle Time?

When it comes to managing Average Handle Time (AHT) in any contact center, there are countless articles on how to reduce, optimize, and measure the time spent engaging with a current or prospective customer champion. However, companies that focus primarily on reducing AHT are wasting time and valuable resources; not to mention most likely negatively impacting the experience with the person with whom they are engaged.
Strategies that prioritize AHT rates fail to address the actual issue, which is how to properly incentivize teammates (employees) to ensure that customer’s needs and expectations are being met. Here’s how companies can modernize their AHT strategies and better align them with customer behaviors to deliver a more satisfying experience.
Average handle time is a widely used contact center metric that measures the total length of time it takes a representative to engage with a customer, across any channel. Having a low AHT suggests representatives who are assisting customers are highly productive. The belief is that when your brand ambassadors are encouraged to handle an issue as efficiently as possible, they are able to help more customers. And fast customer service means fewer customers are waiting and becoming irritated.

An obvious pitfall, though, to focusing on AHT is that it detracts from and overshadows other factors, such as quality. The more attention contact center managers (your customer experience stewards) and representatives give to low AHT rates, the less time they have for other concerns, such as examining the quality of their service.

Furthermore, AHT hails from an era when the telephone was the primary customer service channel. It was also a time when customers had few options in which to complain of receiving poor or rushed service.
But times have changed.

In a world that is increasingly digital-first, customers reach out to voice channels only when they have a complex issue or can’t find the answer themselves. Additionally, more and more simple inquiries are being handled by automated systems, intuitive self-service strategies tied to an optimized knowledgebase strategy, integrated mobile app support, and more. Essentially, we are headed to a place where Tier 1 support—handled mostly by human interactions today—is replaced with advanced technologies and more efficient customer engagement design principles.  Machines, bots, optimized process, and automation will essentially make “obsolete” the need for Tier 1 human interactions as we know them today, but more on this in an upcoming article.
As innovative organizations continue to “teach” their customers how to self-service their way through automated and efficient Tier 1 support, it becomes critically important to have a team of expertly skilled, customer-first brand advocates to support the more complex, nuanced interactions that become difficult to resolve.

Contact center representatives can answer questions that require more time to properly resolve and build a “customer for life” relationship. In other words, a model that prioritizes AHT rates is likely out of touch with the needs of today’s customers. And in an age of empowered, hyper-connected customers, companies can’t afford to be tone-deaf about the customer experience.

By the same token, AHT still has a role to play in the modern contact center—the challenge is balancing the value of the AHT metric with other metrics. For example, instead of prioritizing the number of answered calls or closed tickets, make sure associates understand that their performance also includes outcomes like customer satisfaction, minimal customer effort, superior teammate NPS results, or renewal rates. 
And when setting AHT metrics, look to contact center representatives who receive high marks in customer satisfaction as models. Gamifying the results your teammates achieve and presenting them to your team in real time builds teammate confidence, accelerates their performance, and challenges them to over achieve, while also bringing an element of fun and personal passion.  Doing so also helps align the AHT rate more closely with customer-centric behavior and practices. Additionally, consider setting a range of acceptable rates rather than just one rate. Armed with a range, managers can still track their team’s performance and identify outliers without employees scrambling to meet an artificial goal.
The bottom line is that to remain competitive, companies must be flexible and nimble enough to adjust their performance metrics according to the needs of their customers. And just because something worked well in the past, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will work today. Low AHT rates may have been the ideal goal several years ago, but customers—and the issues they inquire about—have changed. It is up to companies to respond to those changes and deliver better customer experiences before their competitors do. 

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Also, check out the most recent issue of our monthly customer experience eNewsletter, Dialogue.


Publish Date: November 10, 2016 5:00 AM

Greet, Love, Engage: Three Paths to a Stress-Free Live Chat Experience

When today’s customers seek help from a company, they want stress-free experiences. Navigating IVRs, repeating information, and being placed on hold can turn a frustrated customer into an irate one, which can ultimately lead to customer defection.

A common solution to these growing service woes is live chat. Live chat provides faster resolution times and quicker responses—overall, customers are viewing this as the most efficient way to get their issues resolved. Studies even show that live chat has the highest satisfaction levels for any customer service channel and it often leads to an increase in conversions.

In fact, Forrester views live chat as an increasingly profitable channel in which to engage customers. In a recent survey, 44 percent of respondents said that having a live person answer questions while they were in the middle of an online purchase was one of the most important features a website could offer. 

In addition to using chat to seek out help during purchases, customers choose chat for various reasons: when they can’t talk privately but they can type, when they need to multi-task, or when they can’t stop what they are doing.

Although chat technology is maturing and spurring consumer adoption, companies must approach the channel from their customers’ perspective. Therefore, they must think about their customers and build their solutions in the way that customers will want to use it.
At TeleTech, we believe these three best practices are critical to delivering the chat experience that customers want.

1. Don’t blast them with invitations to connect.  

When customers visit a company’s website and immediately get presented with an automatic invitation to chat even before they have a chance to browse merchandise, they’re likely to click off the invitation and the window to chat with them will be missed. 

Smart utilization of automated prompts intended to engage customers in a chat session at the right time can be much more successful. Prompts based on time spent on page, first-time visitors, if they arrived from a specific page, or based on words typed in the search box can serve as useful triggers for when to accurately serve up chat invitations. But ultimately, they should be used to understand the customers’ needs and help resolve their issue faster (and maybe even anticipate their next issue).

2. Provide associates with visitor behavior analysis. 

Companies can no longer just make chat available when their agents are available. Customers should receive chat offers when they’re stuck on a page or when they abandon their shopping carts. To chat smartly and at the right time in the customer journey requires associates to be aware of visitors’ online behavior before the chat session even begins so they can accurately understand what the customer might be looking for. Also applying breadcrumb data that details devices used, searches made, and other page views, as well as authentication details will help assemble accurate customer journey paths. Finally, by pulling in social, demographic, time zone, and geographic data, companies can match customers to the appropriate associates. Such information will also help the associate route the chat session to another associate who may be better equipped with the knowledge about a specific product the customer is inquiring about.   

Having this breadth of data will enable associates to act on customer needs in real time and in personalized ways by solving their issues, upselling them, and anticipating their next issue. Ultimately, the idea is to keep customers engaged in chat sessions and returning to the site for higher customer satisfaction and NPS.

3. Promote chat/text merging crossover.

Often times after chat sessions end, the customers may find that the steps or advice the associate offered didn’t actually work and their issue remains unresolved. To prevent this from happening and to promote first contact resolution, associates should habitually send customers texts messages following their chat sessions to confirm that their issues were resolved or give them the option to text back the same associate if they have follow-up questions or concerns.

As more customers begin using self-service functionality and relying on mobile to engage with brands, the more important it will become for companies to ensure live chat is always-on 24/7 and working to keep customers engaged and not the opposite. And as more and more customers experience live chat—and enjoy the convenience it offers—the more likely it will be for revenue and customer loyalty to also increase.

Like this? Subscribe to our customer experience blog here.

Also, check out the most recent issue of our monthly customer experience eNewsletter, Dialogue.


Publish Date: August 12, 2016 5:00 AM

Getting the Most From Customer Surveys

One of the most obvious outcomes of social media has been the willingness of people to share their opinions—both good and bad. According to a February 2016 study published by Ipsos Loyalty, 52 percent of consumers who had a bad experience with a brand told their family, friends, or colleagues about it while an even higher percentage (56 percent) of consumers shared positive experiences.

The number of social channels has grown so much recently that most everyone looks for some feedback, criticism, advice, or praise before every purchase. It’s amazing that even a customer’s experience eating a hamburger at a fast food restaurant can get someone to share what they thought of it. 

So, what does that mean for companies that have made sizable investments in collecting feedback from their customers? Traditional channels such as IVR, email, chat, and websites collect ratings based on questions about a customer’s interaction or purchase. Newer channels are using mobile devices to collect information through SMS and mobile apps, along with social media sites such as Facebook, Yelp, and TripAdvisor. 

As the variety of channels used for surveys continues to grow, so does the complexity to collect and understand what is being said about a company’s brand. Companies need to define how they will gather feedback, decide how to close the loop with a customer, and determine a data collection strategy that can help define business changes that can be leveraged to improve experiences.

Another interesting component when surveying customers is the type of feedback that’s provided. This is especially true when engaging customers about rating an interaction completed by an employee. Customers recognize many attributes about an interaction and an employee that can be fairly predictable. For instance, the question “Did the resolution of the interaction meet or exceed the customer expectation?” can result in feedback that is both positive and negative based on the context of the answer and how the message was delivered. 

The expectation of each customer is to fully resolve whatever issue he or she reached out to a company to solve. Consequently, the outcomes from these interactions are primarily dictated by process and procedures set up by the company. This is often shaped by whether employees are empowered to resolve a customer’s issue on their own. Meanwhile, how the message is delivered and the tone that’s used is also very important to customers. Along with being courteous, employees must exhibit behaviors that portray expertise and efficiency. If a customer questions what is shared with them, the customers will also question the integrity of the resolution, even the right one.

Survey strategies need to be built on pre-defined goals and anticipated outcomes. The purpose of a customer survey is not only to collect feedback but also to act on the feedback to improve the customer experience. A principal goal of survey design is to determine whether customer expectations are being met and how to get to the root cause if they aren’t. 

The outcomes are specific actions that are meant to address customer needs and to deliver better experiences. Here are a few tips to help improve your survey strategy and improve the impact from polling customers:

  1. Set up a data collection strategy that tracks the root cause over time. 
  2. Separate the process root causes from the employee delivery.
  3. Use survey feedback to enhance employee coaching and development.
  4. Quantify improvements with the associated ROI. Not just in terms of improvements to customer satisfaction ratings, but also in monetary amounts.

TeleTech is creating and managing VoC surveys for its clients and has a proven methodology for data analytics, survey deployment and governance, closed-loop techniques, and improving ROI. The outcome-based methodology takes an extremely complex environment of customer feedback and makes it easy for decision-makers to visualize customer impacts and improvements.

Like this? Subscribe to our customer experience blog here.

Also, check out the most recent issue of our monthly eNewsletter, Dialogue.



Publish Date: July 21, 2016 5:00 AM

5 Customer Experience Metrics to Track

A successful customer experience means different things across departments, which is why organizations need a standardized set of metrics to ensure they're meeting their goals. Customer experience metrics can help companies identify unsatisfied customers, lower churn, increase retention and loyalty, and reduce friction across the enterprise.

Despite the fact that measurement is deeply embedded in business functions like finance and IT, many companies still struggle with measurement when it comes to customer experience.

TeleTech recommends five key metrics when gauging the effectiveness of a company’s customer experience strategy.

1. First Contact Resolution

First Contact Resolution (FCR) sounds like it should be easy to measure, but many organizations find it difficult to even define the metric given how customers use myriad channels when engaging with an organization.

FCR metrics are necessary for root cause analysis and process streamlining. Call quality FCR determinations and FCR call stats are great for identifying training and coaching needs for associates and process improvement opportunities. FCR can be measured by QA call monitoring, IVR survey, or post-call or Web survey. Measuring First Contact Resolution is the first step toward customer experience improvement.
2. Average Handle Time

Average Handle Time (AHT) is a key measure for any contact center. In essence, it tells organizations the total time their associates spend with a contact.

Usually, a lower AHT implies that contact center associates are being efficient and quickly handling customer concerns. However, just because a call is shorter doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more effective.

There’s been a long-running debate over which metrics to use as an organization’s primary ones: AHT or FCR. The problem with AHT is that it tends to focus associates on speed of service rather than quality of service and omits the details about the outcome of the call. This often leads to associates rushing customers off the phone which ultimately leads to a poor customer experience. Oftentimes, a company will remove AHT as a performance metric only to find that FCR rates improve.
3. Net Promoter Score

Net Promoter Score (NPS) was first introduced in 2003 in Harvard Business Review by Frederick Reichelds’ article, “One Number You Need to Grow,” and relies on a single question, “Would you recommend our organization to a friend?” to understand customer loyalty.

Asking the ultimate question allows companies to track promoters (enthusiasts) and detractors (unhappy customers). Customers can be categorized based on their answer to the ultimate question. Although there are numerous pros and cons to relying on NPS to measure customer satisfaction, studies have shown a correlation between higher customer spend and improved NPS.

4. Customer Effort Score

The biggest cause of excessive customer effort is the need to call back multiple times to get an issue resolved. Companies can reduce this type of effort and measure the effects with a Customer Effort Score (CES).

Many companies believe they’re performing well in this regard, because they have strong FCR scores, but oftentimes they’re not addressing the effort that customers made beforehand to get their problem resolved through other channels.

By looking at customer interactions across the enterprise as a whole rather than examining individual interactions, companies can more easily identify areas where customers make increased effort to get issues resolved and fix the root cause or create a solution. 

5. Customer Satisfaction Score

The benefit of measuring satisfaction after each engagement is that companies can quickly see whether associates have resolved the problem and how happy the customer was with the customer experience that was delivered.

While this type of analysis is important, it’s critical not to focus solely on individual interactions. A great customer experience is made up of multiple interactions so organizations must measure overall satisfaction. Measuring the overall customer satisfaction is a better predictor of the likelihood of a customer churning.

Measuring customer experience has thus become one of the biggest challenges that businesses face. Considering the myriad interactions a customer makes across a company’s touchpoints, defining the right set of metrics to gauge customer experience success requires mapping all points of contact, applying a number of customer experience metrics, and integrating customer interactions. Only then will companies begin to gauge if they’re effectively delivering on the customer experience.



Publish Date: June 1, 2016 5:00 AM

The Ins and Outs of Creating Closed Loops

Communication, empowered associates, and more are essential to delivering comprehensive services.

Closing the loop. Bridging the gap. Businesses love using terms like these to describe efforts to provide excellent customer experiences. But what looks like a closed loop to a business leader might still look like an unanswered question to a customer. The challenge is to identify those holes and fix them in an efficient and scalable manner.

Let Customers Know You’re Listening

When it comes to acting on customer insights, for example, many companies collect customer feedback and make improvements based on the feedback, but often fail to close the loop by communicating those improvements back to customers. And if customers aren’t aware of those improvements, it’s as if they never happened. In other words, listening to your customers is not enough. Communicating with your customers could be as simple as following up on an email or message to update them on the change that was implemented. It is critical to let customers know they’ve been heard and that their suggestions were implemented.

Get to the Root of the Problem

Another example of an unclosed loop is when companies fail to address the root of an issue. If a credit card company customer, for instance, calls the company to question a charge, the associate could provide the answer and the company would consider that a closed case. But that may be only the beginning of the problem. Perhaps the customer is also unsure whether the payment will be processed in time to avoid a late fee and must call back. Or perhaps the questionable charge is a symptom of a larger cybersecurity issue and numerous customers received similar fraudulent charges.

Empower Associates to do the Right Thing

Companies must train customer service representatives to ask probing questions in a subtle manner. A customer service specialist, for example, could inquire about how the customer intends to use an external hard drive to recommend the hard drive with the appropriate storage space. Otherwise, the customer will most likely contact the company again when he or she needs to replace the product.

Performance metrics may also need to be updated so that associates are motivated to focus on customer satisfaction instead of less meaningful results like call completions. Additionally, companies should invest in technology like data analytics to identify patterns in customer complaints and flag problems before they escalate. Furthermore, automated solutions that connect a CRM system with data from a marketing or sales cloud could provide employees with comprehensive insights into the customer’s history with the company.

Covering all your bases as a company is about more than doing the right thing; it’s critical for retaining customers. While research has shown that even excellent customer experiences do not guarantee customer loyalty, studies have also shown that poor customer experiences or complaints are closely aligned with customer churn. In other words, companies should strive to give customers as few reasons to leave as possible. And that means closing the loop on the customer experience by making every interaction as convenient and frictionless as possible.


Publish Date: May 19, 2016 5:00 AM

Customers Don’t Care About Your Quality Assurance Checklists

Quality assurance (QA) is often the cornerstone of a contact center’s management efforts. QA practices help enhance the quality of a service team by ensuring associates are following company standards like using preferred terminology with customers and not disclosing private information.

Ideally, QA standards should focus on whether, and how effectively, associates are addressing customers’ needs and expectations. But these evaluations often turn into a checklist approach to QA follow-through. Customers, however, don’t care about QA checklists. They just want their support issues addressed promptly and completely. Such resolution requires alignment of QA and Voice of the Customer (VoC).

Part of the reason for the misalignment is that the checklists that associates go through often don’t match what customers want, which is personalized service, quick resolution, and knowledgeable associates.

Another reason is that many voice of the customer surveys are flawed in that they ask customers questions about their satisfaction with the brand and with the interaction they just completed. These surveys are most effective when they can uncover what the customer expected, identify root causes for any pain points prior to reaching customer support, and then drive the changes needed to deliver the experiences that customers want. 

Addressing what matters most to customers

To address gaps in the customer experience and meet customer expectations, contact center leaders should regularly evaluate those aspects of the customer service interaction that matter most to customers.

For instance, does an associate have total control over customer satisfaction outcome? In many cases, an associate does not, due to insufficient customer data available to them and scope to resolve a customer’s issue. Whether it’s receiving intelligent support, fast and complete problem resolution, or the empathy expressed by an associate, customer care leaders need to identify the most important aspects of customer care from the customer’s point of view and take the steps that are necessary in meeting those expectations.

Securing quality “anchors”

In addition to the aspects of the care experience that matters most to customers, organizational leaders should also pay close attention to the three quality anchors that customers look for when they engage with a care associate. These include:

  • Whether a care associate diagnosed the customer’s request or issue effectively and efficiently.
  • Whether the care associate resolved the customer’s request or issue to the customer’s satisfaction.
  • Whether the care associate communicated with the customer in a way that reinforces the customer’s expectations of the brand and the services that he or she pays for. 

Taken together, these three anchors can drive the right behaviors and align to the outcomes that customers express in VoC surveys. It’s also important to note that the degree to which customer care associates address these three anchors will align to both good and bad customer experiences.

TeleTech has built a framework using this criteria that has helped our clients move from poor quality-VoC alignment to very strong alignment. In one example, TeleTech worked with a major U.S. retailer to correlate quality with customer satisfaction. By applying a data-driven approach, we were able to help the retailer identify correlations between high QA scores for associates and high likelihood to repurchase/revisit (LTR) scores from customers.

Next Steps

  • Determine if your organization’s QA process is predictive of VoC outcomes.
  • Uncover areas for building customer experience into the company’s QA process methodology.
  • Drop quality parameters that force a checklist call flow between associates and customers.

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Also, check out the most recent issue of our eNewsletter.


Publish Date: May 2, 2016 5:00 AM

Answer Why Questions in the Contact Center to Improve Operations

There is an evolution happening within the contact center. Companies are moving away from simply handling volume efficiently and are beginning to answer the most important question: “Why are people calling?”
By better understanding why customers are calling, firms can identify and fix root causes of issues, thereby reducing the volume of contact center interactions, rather than just trying to incrementally improve how quickly or cheaply they handle current volume.
Firms are already going to great lengths to incorporate social listening, machine learning, and other high-tech approaches to gain real-time feedback and actionable insight. Yet, too often companies overlook the valuable information sitting under their noses in contact centers.
For example, many contact centers have escalation teams or processes designed to manage issues that can’t be resolved through standard practices. Instead of focusing resources on measuring and managing teams to deal with these types of issues, a company could spend time learning why certain calls might escalate in the first place. Then, it could focus attention on how to prevent an issue from ever getting to a point where it needs escalation.
Unfortunately, few contact centers are set up to operate this way. Too many are judged by how efficiently they conduct operations, leaving little time or resources left to consider tackling “why” questions.
Companies that focus on understanding why their customers are calling, versus just handling volume, can gain meaningful insights to improve the customer experience across the enterprise. Why did a call come in? Was it a product or service issue? Is something unclear in marketing communications, billing, or product instructions? If a call was escalated or unresolved, why? Was it something relating to the associate, the knowledge base, products or services, customer expectations, or something else? Answering these questions can streamline operations, ultimately saving costs in the contact center and in the company as a whole.
Where possible, create a real-time feedback loop with the information that’s collected. It’s not enough to find out why people are interacting if the information isn’t shared with decision-makers for days, weeks, or months. Create proactive, upstream activities quickly that act on the insight generated.
And many times, the issue has nothing to do with what’s happening in the contact center. Open the contact center doors to share insights with marketing, finance, IT, product development, and even the c-suite to make necessary changes that improve the customer experience. Change policies, develop different product features, or adjust marketing messages with the confidence that the decisions are being made based on customer insight.
Many readers will agree that gaining a deeper understanding of why people interact with the contact center is a good idea. But how can it be done? We recommend four steps to start on the path to learn “why:”

  • Use operational data to drive insights
  • Automate voice-of-customer (VOC) data gathering
  • Harness social media data
  • Mash up your data 

Learn more about how to answer “why” questions by downloading the TeleTech e-book: “Ask Why: The Secret to Turbocharging Contact Center Performance.”

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Also, check out the most recent issue of our eNewsletter.


Publish Date: March 14, 2016 5:00 AM

TeleTech Research Shines Light on Gaps Between Consumers and Brands

Are businesses focusing on experience areas that really matter to customers? That’s the question we sought to answer in the 2015 TeleTech Customer Experience Benchmark Report. The results show that customer experience is considered a critical business driver, but few firms are aligning to customer expectations.
We surveyed 176 customer experience professionals across a number of industries about their customer experience priorities and spending plans. The data was then compared to a similar survey of 3,515 consumers to gauge their perceptions of how businesses deliver customer experience.
The study found that a customer-centric culture ranks as the number one or two goal for customer experience leaders in all industries surveyed—health insurance, consumer banking, property and casualty (P&C) insurance, communications and media, technology, retail, and automotive. Other top customer experience strategy goals include improving workforce training, management and retention; conducting transformational change; and improving costs, efficiency and productivity.

According to the study, 96 percent of business respondents say they expect their amount of customer experience investment to stay the same or increase in the next three years. Mobile is expected to have the highest level of investment over the next three years, particularly for respondents in healthcare, banking, insurance, and retail. Companies will also invest in enhancing sales and digital customer experience capabilities.
Yet the research also showed that the areas important to businesses may not actually match customer expectations. For example, a surprising finding is that consumers prefer that companies invest in basic customer experience areas well ahead of mobile improvements. A 61 percent majority of consumers prefer that businesses invest in improving first call resolution as a top priority, followed closely by training employees to be empowered and knowledgeable (60 percent), and reducing complexity (transfers, people involved) when solving an issue during an interaction (44 percent). On the positive side, both groups agree that self-service should be considered a priority.
Mismatched CX Perspectives

Businesses and consumers agree that improving online self-service is most important, but the agreement stops there:

Long Live Voice

What’s also notable from the research is that business and consumers agree that voice interactions still dominate. Business respondents report that voice is not declining as a channel of choice, particularly for issues that are time sensitive or complex. Similarly, 72 percent of consumers believe that “speaking directly” to an associate is important, especially when they are in a hurry or when the issue is challenging. And most consumers report they are very receptive to it as a method of communication when it comes to making purchases or getting support. This is true for consumers young and old.

Download the complete 2015 TeleTech Customer Experience Benchmark Report eBook to learn how to align customer experience efforts to meet customers’ needs today and also quickly mobilize on what’s next to remain relevant in the future. 

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Publish Date: January 21, 2016 5:00 AM

The Retention Race: Three Ways to Redefine the Member Onboarding Experience

Open enrollment is almost over. As consumers sign up with healthcare plans as new members, it’s the perfect opportunity for payers to make them feel welcomed, empowered, and supported.

Here are three ways to successfully onboard new members within the first 90 days of enrollment:

1. Segment and personalize member interactions. 

Capturing important information is the solution to many health payers’ messaging woes. Collect the right data, and messaging will likely be more relevant and engaging. By thoroughly analyzing and segmenting the right data, payers can prioritize which members to contact with personalized messages. Data that helps companies understand the presence of chronic conditions or high-risk factors, for instance, should trigger a specific health risk assessment and allow members to engage with medical management opportunities. Having sophisticated analysis and segmentation in place can also help payers identify red flags like non-compliance with evidence-based guidelines or non-adherence with medications.

Next, identify which channels a member would prefer to use for communication and decipher which ones could resonate with different members. For members who are already engaged, remind them of additional ways they can optimize their membership, such as by sending wellness tips and reminders for preventive screenings. This segmentation doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact keeping it simple will likely deliver consistent messaging and fortify the engagement strategy.

2. Send a robust and cohesive welcome guide.

First impressions are important. Members tend to leave a plan because of a lack of engagement with their payer or with the plan’s features. Signs of an unengaged member include frequent physician switching, limited physician interactions, high out-of-network usage, and more. Avoid situations like this by getting off to a good start with a welcome campaign that relies on omnichannel communication strategies.

Set the expectation for the relationship by advising prospects of what they can expect during the first month and year of being a new member. Messaging should be consistent and coordinated across channels and ideally would be based on channel preferences established during the enrollment. 
Finally, highlight common questions new members have about their plans or create a checklist of the plan’s offerings that are helpful but not overwhelming. Here are three questions to consider when making the checklist:

  • How do I manage my health? What programs are available for me to manage my health? This may open the door for a health risk assessment or engagement in medical management programs for chronic conditions.
  • How do I manage my money? What are the cost-sharing implications for my new relationship? Members want to know if there are strategies to save money (in network, preferred tiers etc.), for instance, the difference between an urgent care center and an emergency room could be significant for the wallet. Additionally, most members aren’t licensed insurance agents and often don’t understand the relationship between co-pays, deductibles, and co-insurance. This is a great opportunity to educate members and drive health literacy.  
  • How do I manage my plan? Understanding how to navigate the health plan’s website and customer service environment is critical to keeping the member engaged. A plan can reduce frustration by educating new members on how to best accomplish what they need.

3. Provide real-time support.

The first few months of the member onboarding process is an opportunity to set the tone for a payer’s relationship with its members and create the bonds that will turn them into loyal customers and brand advocates. The last thing customers want is to be placed on hold or go through a complicated process to find answers to their questions.

Having associates on hand to quickly answer questions through multiple channels is important. Savvy payers enable members to find answers to their questions in real time through live chat, self-service portals, email, and the phone. They also respond promptly to complaints on social media and participate in online conversations about their brand or services.

A robust onboarding process starts at the sales and enrollment process and informs customers and allows them to take control of their options. And with only a few weeks left in the open enrollment period, now is a great time to reach out and begin setting the stage for building loyalty among new and existing members during the coming year. Also, remember that to sustain member retention year over year, payers’ engagement strategies must touch members on an ongoing basis. Only then will new members will become healthy and loyal ones.

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Publish Date: January 11, 2016 5:00 AM

Prepare for an At-Home Future

Today's contact center model isn't what it used to be. Traditional operations are evolving to be more flexible with a remote workforce. Home-based associates will grow by 60 percent over the next two years, with much of the growth in retail and communications, followed by healthcare, insurance, complex financial services, and utilities, says research firm Ovum. And it's for more than just voice—at-home associates are conducting Web chat, email, and social media interactions.
There are many upsides: Those who have made the move home report reduced overhead costs, lower attrition, and higher associate quality and retention, Ovum adds. It's not a decision to be taken lightly, however. Many companies are hesitant, citing efficiency, staffing, and security concerns.
We understand it's a big decision. And we also know how to help make the case for your organization. Here are five ways to make the most out of an at-home contact center operation.
1. Enjoy the wild (volume) ride. The more flexibility you have in ramping up or down quickly with a variety of dispersed staff, the better you will be at meeting service levels and delivering a great customer experience. For example, we worked with a company who encountered call volume of 240 percent above its forecast. We efficiently scaled up with highly skilled at-home reps, leading to a 22 percent lift in occupancy. Service levels were met three times as fast as with brick-and-mortar staff, and associates received eight of 12 annual product line CSAT awards.
2. Solve the talent equation. There are no geographical limits to recruiting, so the quality of the talent pool automatically rises. You can find the best employees for both part- and full-time work from anywhere. And with an average age of 40 and an average work experience of 11 years, work-at-home associates bring professional and life experience to their work, along with higher educational backgrounds.
3. Stay safe and secure. In my experience, information security is always the top concern when talking to potential at-home clients. However, there are plenty of technologies, processes, and procedures in place to prevent any data missteps. The quality of home-based associates and continuous training on security protocols help keep information security a priority for everyone.
4. Be more effective and efficient. Using at-home associates adds much more value to a business (and customers) than traditional contact centers. Along with cost savings, there are opportunities to elevate the quality of customer interactions. One company we worked with wanted a cost-efficient solution for seasonal spikes using onshore associates. With a blended traditional and home job part-time staffing model, the company increased in-chair occupancy by five percentage points, improved service levels by approximately 8 percent, and was able to provide U.S.-based resources to support consumers while simultaneously saving $1 million.
5. Never stop learning…virtually. The options for employee training and ongoing learning are expansive. The reduced expense, compared to brick-and-mortar training, allows for more breadth and depth of training. They include one-on-one mentoring, online courses, cloud-based knowledge sharing, simulated learning, and differentiated tools for groups or individuals.
These tips barely scratch the surface of the benefits of going "home." Looking for more data and evidence to make the business case in your company? Download the TeleTech eBook, Success Begins at Home, and visit the TeleTech At-Home Resource Center to learn more.

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Related Content:

eBook: Success Begins at Home

Resource Center: TeleTech At-Home

Case Study: Leading Wellness Brand Gains Flexibility and Expertise with Remote Support Staff



Publish Date: October 21, 2015 5:00 AM

Open Enrollment Essentials: How to Build Lasting Relationships with Members

Last year, the Affordable Care Act’s first open enrollment period delivered a wake-up call to many health insurance companies. Insurers who are accustomed to serving large employer groups learned that competing for individual customers requires a different approach to marketing and customer care. With the 2016 health insurance open enrollment period quickly approaching, the pressure is on insurers to further improve their strategies for retaining members and attracting new customers. This is particularly important for engaging individual health plan buyers who prefer to compare plans and rates. As such, health insurers need to cater more effectively to individual customers and address their needs and preferences.

The Obama administration set a goal for nine million people to sign up for health insurance last year, which the administration surpassed. More than 10 million people have insurance that they purchased through the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

However, insurers learned that the individual consumer market wasn’t as profitable as the market for employer groups. From what we’ve heard from clients and in the media, it turns out many new customers need more care than expected and payers across the U.S. plan to increase their rates for the next enrollment period. Rate increases will, of course, impact consumer choices, but there are other ways for insurers to compete beyond price.

Here are three tips to keep in mind when preparing for the 2016 open enrollment period and beyond.

Be Transparent

As consumers shop for health plans, information transparency will be critical for winning new customers as well as retaining members. People want to have a clear understanding of what is and isn’t included in their coverage. Make it easy for consumers to find this information on your company’s website or when speaking with a representative. While some customers prefer to do their own research online, many still want that human connection. Making associates available to quickly answer consumers’ questions about their options over the phone can be a huge differentiator.  

Gather Intelligence

To retain members, insurers must focus on the full end-to-end customer journey. There are many ways to do this, but our view starts with understanding the customer’s needs and preferences. There’s still very little data available about the needs of individual health plan buyers but companies should start by building on information from last year’s open enrollment period. This data is critical for identifying patterns in new members’ shopping behavior and expectations. For example, many people prioritize convenience and a company may learn that members prefer to access their member ID card through a mobile app, based on customer feedback and other insights.

Personalize the Experience

Building a one-to-one relationship with members is also crucial but it’s not something payers focused on in the past. Data management solutions can help payers streamline member information and bring a new level of personalization to its interactions with members. Humanify, for example, is a multichannel platform that allows companies to match customers with the type of interaction (chat, email, phone call, etc.) they prefer and keeps a record of the customer’s interactions and profile information to provide each member with a consistent experience.

While the individual consumer marketplace offers new opportunities to gain members, payers still have a long way to go in adopting a customer-centric mindset. It’s tempting to try doing everything at once, but remember that building customer relationships takes time. 

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Publish Date: September 17, 2015 5:00 AM

Four Steps for Raising Your Contact Center Intelligence

Customers today have myriad ways of reaching businesses from email and social media to video chat and the phone. As a result, customer and associate interactions are becoming increasingly complex while customers expect optimal services across channels.

Companies that fail to invest in customer service are missing opportunities to boost customer loyalty and advocacy and gain a competitive advantage. Contact centers, however, are in need of a renaissance in terms of resources and operations to provide customers with optimal experiences. When assessing your company’s service strategy, here’s how I suggest making contact centers more “intelligent” to improve customer experiences.

1. Clean up Your Data

The proliferation of channels and data often forces associates to navigate multiple data systems and extensions to find the information they need to help customers. This leads to delays and repeated requests for information which negatively impact the customer experience.

While business leaders may be aware that customers want to reach companies at their convenience through multiple outlets, it’s easy to underestimate the importance of data integration. Asking customers to revalidate information is annoying and creates a bad impression, but the more systems you have, the more extensions associates are running on their computers, which makes everything more complicated when they have to pull data from various places. Solutions that let associates and other employees access the information they need on one interface are ideal, many of which include data quality and cleansing tools.

2. Use Analytics to Identify Problem Areas

Once your company’s data systems are aligned, use that opportunity to find actionable patterns and insights. If you’re able to connect all your systems, you should look for the common threads that point to customer needs. Data mining and real-time analytics are just some of the tools that can help companies keep track of service interactions.   

For example, it’s common to record and document phone calls with customers but not all companies leverage this gold mine of customer insights. Savvy companies put analytics to work on determining through the calls they get what’s trending and what people are calling about. The contact center holds the heartbeat of a company and leaders need to listen to it.

3. Rally Associates Around the Right Metrics

Metrics can change the way employees approach a business and practically everything about a business is measurable, so it’s up to companies to prioritize the critical areas. Performance metrics like customer satisfaction scores or Net Promoter Score (NPS) are important for helping companies understand where they stand with customers, and help employees focus on providing better experiences.

NPS isn’t a perfect indicator of customer satisfaction but the point is companies should try to get the full picture when measuring their interactions with customers and not rely on just one metric.

4. Empower Associates with Proper Training

​Even as automated solutions get better at answering questions via text or voice, companies still need people to solve complex problems. Therefore, it’s crucial for companies to prepare associates with better training and the right tools. There’s no question that contact centers are changing, but there’ll always be a need for people who can solve complicated issues that involve gray areas. Companies can help associates in these situations by simplifying the chain of command or empowering people to make some decisions on their own, such as determining when to offer a disgruntled customer a refund or not.

By arming associates with the right technology and training, companies can turn a tedious experience into an opportunity for enhancing customer relationships.

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Related Content:

Blog Post: On the Path to Super Associate Success

Blog Post: The Contact Center of the Future and Its Role Delivering an Outstanding Customer Experience

White Paper: ​Masterminding the Contact Center of the Future



Publish Date: June 3, 2015 5:00 AM

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