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Article : Dramatically Reducing Total Email Response Time

Today’s competitive marketplace is placing extraordinary demands upon customer service organizations, sales teams and call centers. Managing the rapidly growing volume of email from customers can be a daunting challenge.

Key to managing the influx of customer email is reducing the average total email response time. This is the measure of how effectively your staff is replying to, or otherwise processing, email messages. For organizations that deal with a high volume of email, shaving seconds off the average total email response time can save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This white paper examines Total Email Response Time by breaking it down into its three component parts and explores ways to improve in each of these three areas.


The Total Email Response Time Formula

The formula for calculating total email response time is:

Routing Time
+ Agent Pending Time
+ Agent Effort Time
= Total Email Response Time

By acknowledging the independent nature of these three base metrics, we can examine the challenges of optimizing each and explore strategies for improvements that yield dramatic gains in overall email management efficiency.


Component 1 - Routing Time

Routing time is the time it takes for an email to be received into a group mailbox and be assigned to the agent that will be responsible for replying to it. Since not all emails are created equal, and not all agents are as adept at handling every type of customer inquiry, optimizing this metric presents a number of challenges.


CHALLENGES:

Ambiguous Message Assignment Responsibility
Corporate email messages often sit in public folders or group mailboxes waiting for someone to deal with them. This pre-assignment waiting period can be unnecessarily long due to a lack of constant agent visibility into the message backlog. Moreover, the typical public folder system makes no attempt to assign messages to agents; instead, it relies on agents to know what to work on and when. This contributes greatly to lengthy routing times.

This pooled approach to message management also means that agents can cherry pick the messages they want to work on, rather than dealing with them in a priority manner—such as the order in which they arrive.

Matching Message Assignment with Agent Skills
Routing time can increase dramatically if a message is passed from one agent to another in an attempt to find a colleague capable of dealing with the subject matter of the email.

Providing quality replies to customer inquiries starts with ensuring that agents get assigned messages they are capable of answering. In many companies, this assignment process is performed by a dedicated individual who triages each message and manually assigns it to the correct agent. This model is both labor intensive, and a processbottleneck that increases routing time.


SOLUTIONS:

Auto Message Assignment
For general email inquiries that can be handled by multiple agents, setting up an auto distribution process to assign messages directly to agents can greatly reduce routing time. Various methods such as round robin or load balanced distribution can be employed to help balance the workload between agents. Limits can be established to ensure that emails are parceled out in manageable chunks. This measure prevents any one agent from receiving an overwhelming volume of email.

Skills-Based Routing
Where specialist knowledge is required to handle specific email inquiries, using rules to route these messages directly to the agents who have the skills to respond to them will shorten routing times. Skillsbased routing helps eliminate the problem of messages bouncing from agent to agent in an attempt to find someone capable of responding.

Email management rules reflect agreed upon business processes and can be triggered by various elements of the message, including: subject or body content, standard message header information such as the From or To address, whether or not the message is a new message or a reply, whether or not the message has already been assigned to an agent, or any combination of these.

Message Thread Continuity

While companies should strive for first email resolution (where the initial reply to a customer’s inquiry completely resolves the problem without any secondary replies on the issue), many email exchanges become fullfledged conversations requiring a number of email messages back and forth to deal with the issue.

Depending on the kind of issues that need resolving, and the nature of the company’s business, secondary replies might be best handled by the agent who provided the first message reply. Since the agent is already familiar with the customer’s problem he or she will be more effective at answering followupquestions. By utilizing a system that automatically routes email replies to the previous owner, you can further reduce email routing time.


Component 2 - Agent Pending Time

Agent pending time is the amount of time between when an email is assigned to an agent and when the agent begins to compose his or her response. The average of an agent’s pending time represents the size of the message backlog that the agent is experiencing. Agent Pending Time is closely linked with Agent Effort Time since both occur after ownership has been passed to a particular agent. As such, improvements in agent effort time (composing appropriate replies more quickly) will also work to reduce an agent’s email backlog, but this section focuses in on efforts that can be taken before the agent begins working on the message.


CHALLENGES:

End of Day Replying
Often, agents that are tasked with replying to emails also have to take phone calls, respond to online chats and perform other tasks throughout the day. Replying to emails can easily become a lower priority function in the face of multiple demands on an agent’s time. The result is that an agent will often allow email to pile up all day, and then hurriedly work through the backlog at the end of their shift. Not only does this type of behavior increase agent pending time, but it often reduces the quality of email replies produced.

Scheduling Complications
An email assigned to an agent will only be processed if he or she is available to work on it. Meetings, doctor’s appointments, sick days, vacation days, etc., can present problems for an email customer service team if they are not properly accounted for. Messages assigned to agents that are out of the office will remain idle until he or she returns, causing an increase in average agent pending time.

No Radar
If a company doesn’t have realtime visibility into the pending backlog for each agent, then they can’t bring to bear tools and techniques that can streamline mail flow.

Prioritizing the Backlog
Every company will have customers that from timetotime need some extra care. Being able to prioritize the emails received from these customers can be very important. Taking step to ensure that these emails get responded to first will drive down the average agent pending time for this high priority group.


SOLUTIONS:

Schedule Time for Emails
Management needs to create and enforce policies that ensure email responding is an activity valued as much as the other agent tasks. The two most common methods for doing this are:

a) Creating aggressive email reply time performance goals for agents that require constant effort throughout the day to achieve (thereby eliminating the end of day replying problem).
b) Scheduling a specific period of time each day for agents to exclusively work at replying to email inquiries.

Push Reports to Agents
If agents are sitting on messages and replying at the end of the day, then start by publishing service level standards that dictate more aggressive reply time requirements for agents. Follow this up by publishing reports that show how each agent is performing relative to the service level goals. Ideally, your email management solution includes a number of useroriented reports that can be made available to agents. Consider offering incentives to agents for maintaining certain service level standards. This type of motivation can dramatically reduce average agent pending time.

Auto Re-Assign Old Messages
Since each agent will have their own pending pool of email messages to work on, it’s important that your email management system monitor each agent’s queue, and if a particular agent is falling behind, automatically reassign their messages to other users.

Auto Re-Assign at End of Shift
For companies running multiple shifts, and where agent continuity isn’t critical, consider automatically reassigning messages at the end of a user’s shift to the remaining agents that are still working. This will minimize the overnight carryovers and greatly reduce agent pending time.

Real-Time Reporting & Management Alerts
Realtime reporting on current email backlog performance is a critical tool in helping marshal the necessary resources to manage the email load efficiently.

In addition to realtime reporting, automatic alerts can monitor important metrics to keep you apprised of potential service level problems. Set alerts to monitor the depth of the current email backlog and the age of unanswered emails. These are the key metrics to help you avoid being out of covenant with your service level policy. Create an action plan for staff to rapidly rectify any backlog or age issues should an alert occur.

Use Rules to Automatically Prioritize
Some tasks, or customers, may require priority email queuing. Avoid having to manually triage each email that comes in by setting up incoming group mailbox rules that automatically move these priority message to specific agents or a special priority group mailbox. Agents can be coached to answer these emails first; ensuring current corporate priorities are being followed.

 

Component 3 - Agent Effort Time

Agent Effort Time is the total amount of time it takes for agents to craft the response to a customer email once they begin working on it. This includes the time spent looking up information about the customer, consulting with other staff members or internal systems, and composing the email response.


CHALLENGES:

Lack of Access to Information
In order for an agent to solve a customer’s problem, they often need to have ready access to the customer’s email history. Being able to see how past issues have been dealt with is often key to delivering a quality response to the customer. Cumbersome search mechanisms can delay the agent’s access to the information they need, increasing the average agent effort time.

Email Overload
Psychologically, people have a strong aversion to being overwhelmed. In fact, the stress associated with facing what appears as an insurmountable task (such as an enormous email backlog), typically causes a marked decrease in motivation and therefore productivity. This will have a significant negative effect on average agent effort time.

Continual Message Re-Invention
Most organizations receive customer inquires that fall into a handful of recurring categories: What do you charge? How do I return an item? How much to I owe? How do I change my address?

Agents that take the time to recompose what is effectively the same message over and over again will have dramatically higher average agent effort times.


SOLUTIONS:

Fast, Powerful Searching
Scrolling through thousands of messages in a folder in an attempt to find an old email is not efficient. Agents should use a message finding solution that offers multiple search criteria so that agents can quickly hone in on the exact historical messages they are looking for. Instant access to complete email audit trails will increase agent efficiency.

Throttle Message Distribution
Set a low maximum number of messages that agents can be working on at any given time. A low maximum setting, in combination with automatic email distribution, will keep the perceived workload for each agent to a manageable level. Controlling workload volumes will keep agent stress levels lower and motivation higher.

Standard Responses
Effective use of standard responses is the number one thing you can do to significantly reduce average agent effort time, and average total email response time in general. Used properly, standard responses can reduce agent effort time to a few seconds for a significant portion of the emails that agents handle. There is upfront effort required to build a library of standard responses based on commonly received questions, but these responses can be used thousands of times by every agent, so the return on this investment is enormous. It also has the added benefit of improving the overall quality of responses made to your customers.

Conclusion
As email continues to grow in popularity with consumers as a primary means of communication, it presents formidable challenges for companies to manage the timeliness and quality of their responses without incurring disproportionate cost increases. While each of the solutions outlined in this paper will incrementally provide efficiency improvements, utilizing an email management solution that delivers all of these benefits will dramatically improve the email effectiveness of any organization.


About Henry Lach:
Henry Lach is an experienced software executive with a reputation for vision and inventiveness. His ability to blend business savvy with technical acumen has benefited numerous companies over the years. Henry’s unique skill-set and depth of industry experience help make Training and Professional Services core strengths for emailtopia.

About Emailtopia:
Company Logoemailtopia specializes in helping organizations such as ING DIRECT, Omni Hotels, Broadway.com, and Ingram Micro manage their inbound email inquiries. With customizable rules, communications history, 3rd party integration and a powerful reporting engine, companies can feel confident that their valuable email interactions are not being lost, avoided, forgotten or mismanaged.
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Today's Tip of the Day - Be Prepared!

Read today's tip or listen to it on podcast.

Published: Friday, July 30, 2010

Printer Friendly Version Printer friendly version

2020 Buyers Guide Cloud Contact Center Solutions

Page: 123
1.) 
Premium Listing
NobelBiz Corporation

NobelBiz OMNI+
NobelBiz’s latest product, the OMNI+, is a state-of-the-art contact center software that allows companies – regardless of the number of employees – to offer more efficient, standardized solutions to their clients. With OMNI+ you can manage your accounts on all popular platforms (from voice, to email, social media, and web chat) using a single browser. The software also offers effortless navigation between communication mediums and all customer interactions can be easily monitored by supervisors without interfering in their agent’s work. As far as integration goes, the product can be installed and ready to use in maximum 72 hours and can easily be overlaid in pre-existing infrastructures.
PH: 760.405.0105


2.) 
Accordia Solution

Accordia Solution CIS
Accordia Solution is an innovative developer of seamlessly integrated cost-effective omnichannel Contact Center Solutions specifically targeted at the micro, small and medium operations.Our core business model involves the development and marketing of IP Telephony and IP Contact Center Solutions. We also strive to develop customer interaction solutions which include contact center and customer relationship management (CRM) that enhances Customer Experience Of The Future (CEOTF) and optimizes agent productivity.

Our flagship product, the Accordia Customer Interaction Suites (CIS), offers comprehensive functionality by helping your business meet and exceed the level of service in line with...
(read more)
PH: +603 5569 9816

3.) 
Arise Virtual Solutions

The Arise Platform
Arise is a pioneer of on-demand customer management business process outsourcing solutions, headquartered in Florida. Through the cloud-based Arise Platform, Fortune 50 and other companies connect to Service Partners who deliver authentic, loyalty-building interactions with their customers. Delivering radical flexibility to meet even extreme contact volume fluctuations, the award-winning Arise Platform is an innovative alternative to the traditional contact center.

4.) 
Astute Solutions

Astute Agent
Astute Agent gives your agents everything they need to work cases confidently and efficiently. This modern case management CRM is the preferred choice for Consumer Relations and Customer Care teams who support some of the world’s most prestigious brands.

Astute Agent balances agent efficiency with customer experience. Here’s how:

- Automated email responses
Using natural language processing, Astute Agent reads incoming customer emails and automatically supplies a response to agents to review and send.

- Auto-populated case fields
AI capabilities automatically suggest reason codes, product codes, and other case information, saving agents minutes per case.

- Time-saving case feat...
(read more)

5.) 
Brook Trout Solutions

CCaaS, SIP Trunking, SD WAN, Interconnectivity
Brook Trout Solutions provides Technology Guide services to help Contact Centers to the best possible solution for their business. This includes:
CCaaS: Talk Desk, Five 9s, Nice, Genesys and more
SIP Trunks: Many Global Providers to lower cost and improve operational efficiency
SD WAN: Connect to customers rapidly with the latest network technology to scale with flexibility.
Our service are at no cost to our customers. We look forward to meeting you!
PH: 800-886-9199

6.) 
Call Center Studio

Call Center Studio
Call Center Studio is the world’s first call center built on Google and is one of the most secure and stable systems with some of the industry’s best reporting. It is one of the most full-featured enterprise grade systems (with the most calling features, one of the best call distribution, outbound dialing features and integrations—including IVR, AI Speech Recognition, blended inbound/outbound calling and includes Google’s new Dialogflow and Speech API. Call Center Studio is the absolute easiest to use (with a 10 minute setup), and is the price performance leader with lower equipment cost and less setup time.
PH: +1 512-872-7565

7.) 
Call Tracking Metrics

CallTrackingMetrics is the only contact center solution with marketing attribution software built in. Our powerful UCaaS platform lets you know upfront who is calling in, what campaigns they were referencing, and their previous history with your company. Partnering this data with tools to automate and streamline your team’s workflow frees you up to focus on truly delighting your customers.

Conditionally direct calls, texts, chats and forms based on:

• Actions the customer has taken on your website
• Whether they’ve previously contacted your business
• Which agent they last interacted with
• Custom criteria unique to your business needs
• The location nearest to your customer

Say...
(read more)
PH: 8005771872

8.) 
Cloud Call Center Search

From AI - WFO and everything in between!
Cloud Call Center Search has spent hundreds of hours evaluating and vetting leading cloud software applications (Omni-Channel, Artificial Intelligence, Business Intelligence, Workforce Management and many others) and their actual use in the trenches with real-world clients. As a result, we understand the strengths and weaknesses of cloud-based call center software solutions. At NO charge, Cloud Call Center Search will match your organization with the cloud software providers that are the best fit to drive positive ROI in your customer experience, sales, and back-office operations.
PH: 800-741-2998

9.) 
Cloud IT Services GmbH

Dialfire
Dialfire offers you a complete call center solution that is simple and intuitive to use and adapts to your needs. It's completely cloud-based, saving you the hassle of setting up a phone system and installing software. In addition to predictive dialing and call blending of inbound calls, you can create personalized campaigns through an intuitive and easy-to-use interface. Features include automated workflows and full control over the agent screen.

You can see the full list of features here:

10.) 
contactSPACE

contactSPACE
Cloud contact software that makes customer contact pain free, so your team aren’t worrying about complex technology and can focus on what they do best. Take control, and design the perfect agent interface with a drag-n-drop visual editor. Combined with AI, leverage data-driven contact strategies to ensure the right agent is contacting your customers at the right time & on the right channel.
PH: +61288803111

11.) 
Content Guru

𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗺®
Content Guru makes engagement easy. A global leader in cloud communications solutions, we deliver off-the-shelf and bespoke customer engagement and cloud contact centre services, through the multi-award-winning 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗺® platform.

Europe’s largest Customer Engagement and Experience platform, 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗺, brings together intelligent automation, third-party systems integration, and on-demand scalability to enhance all customer communication functions. With true omni-channel engagement capabilities, 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗺 gives organisations the power to create consistent and seamless experiences for customers, inspiring loyalty and powering success.

12.) 
CSX Cloud

CSX Cloud
CSX Cloud provides a full omnichannel cloud-based turn-key customer communications solution as a service based on a monthly subscription with no long term commitments. Our easy to use solution and top-notch customer service makes it an easy choice to get started today.
PH: 18665474764

13.) 
Edify Labs

Edify Huddle
Edify connects businesses with customers and employees with each other. The company’s Business Communications as a Service (BCaaS) platform, Huddle, is the only one that unites unified communications (UC), contact center (CC) and communications platform (API) functionality in a single software solution that lets users move seamlessly among channels within one conversation. Edify removes all the risk of using its cloud-based platform with five free users forever, global availability, real-time redundancy, usage-based pricing and a 100% SLA uptime guarantee.

14.) 
Envision

Envision Click2Coach WFO/WEM
Data from phone, e-mail, web chat and social media interactions can help quickly identify patterns and trends, optimize operations and transform customer relationships. Envision delivers innovative software solutions, in the cloud or on premise, to optimize and engage your workforce. With our integrated line of Click2Coach products, customers get voice of the customer analysis, graphical dashboards, performance management, desktop analytics, speech analytics, interaction and compliance recording, quality management, workforce management and coaching and eLearning.

For more than 20 years, Envision has been providing award winning solutions to our customers that optimize customer experience...
(read more)
PH: 206-225-0800

15.) 
Fonolo

Call back / virtual hold solution
Fonolo's solution can eliminate hold time from your contact center without changing any business process.

Fonolo's cloud-based call-back solution sits above your infrastructure, giving callers the option to receive a call back instead of waiting on hold.

This results in lower abandon rates, handle times, and costs -- and a superior experience for your customers.
PH: 416-366-2500

16.) 
Geomant

Microsoft Teams Contact Centre
Geomant is enabling organisations to extend the power of Teams even further, to customer interaction with our Buzzeasy Contact Centre. Buzzeasy is a native Teams application that enables Teams users to handle customer interactions effortlessly, across multiple channels including voice, email, webchat and the most popular messaging platforms, such as Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, etc. By adding Contact Centre functionality to Teams, it becomes an all-in-one collaboration and communications platform not only for internal communications, but for customers as well, in an easy and cost-effective way.
PH: 01789 387900

17.) 
Integra CCS

uContact
uContact is an All-in-One contact center solution. Our unique one-on-one customer service makes us perfect for small to medium call centers. Rather than relying on multiple applications we will offer you: - Dialers (Inbound & Outbound)
- SMS, Email & Webchat in a Unified Inbox
- A Call Center Designed CRM
- Completely Customizable Reporting
- Gamification
- Recording
- Voice Broadcasting
- Quality Control
- Live Coaching (Spy, Whisper, Collaborate)
- Many More Features & an Open API.

18.) 
Intelligent Contacts, Inc

Intelligent Contact Center Suite
The Intelligent Contact Center harnesses the power of machine learning and predictive analytics to substantially increase agent productivity when compared to manually dialing.
Key ROI metrics:
• 4 predictive algorithms cut agent idle time in half and deliver right party contacts with fewer dropped calls
• Answering Machine Detection rates averaging 85-92%
• Unified Communication (calling, voicemail messaging, SMS, email, chat) that reduces operational costs through personalized automation and preferred channel delivery.
Core features
• 100% TCPA-compliant auto dialer platform
• Unlimited line capacity and instant scalability
• Call recording and data storage (included)
• No agent s...
(read more)
PH: 1 800 214-7490

19.) 
Lieber & Associates

Technology Acquisition Consulting
L&A provides vendor-independent counsel to select, contract for, design, test, and implement cloud and premise-based systems. The firm has experience with all major vendors and many smaller ones. Lieber & Associates' technology consultants are contact center systems specialists with several decades of experience each.
PH: +1-773-325-0608

20.) 
LiveXchange

LiveXchange is an online turnkey service designed to equip your corporation with the means to successfully develop and operate your own remote enabled contact center.
 
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