Four Contact Center Changes Here to Stay

Four Contact Center Changes Here to Stay

Creating a good customer experience can sometimes be challenging. Customers are now communicating differently than they did five years ago. A huge contributor of the change in customer interaction is the use of smartphones. With push of a button, a customer can ask a question, find a phone number, website or access social media. Customers are looking for immediate resolution when they reach out to a contact center.

Here are four changes for contact centers that are here to stay:

Social Media:

Allows customers to be connected with organizations and share information with others. If you have social media channels it’s extremely important to ensure you are communicating with customers.

Omni-channel:

Technology allows seamless reporting and combines all channels for support and communication. Customers don’t want to repeat themselves over and over. Omni-channel tracks all of their communication in one place. It also helps prevent internal reporting errors.

Virtual Agents:

Today’s technology gives virtual agents the tools for effective customer service. It used to be much scarier for business owners to have remote workers. Just a few years ago, contact centers were more centralized with all employees in house. Fast forward today and virtual agents with live monitoring software and screen recording allows supervisor can manage employees without being in the same building or worrying about whether or not the agent is working properly.

Self-service portals:

Empower customers to quickly resolve something on their own. Sometimes it’s unnecessary for a customer to have a live conversation when they have a quick question. Creating an FAQ list allows clients to do a quick search before contacting a live person.

As technology advances, we will see additional trends develop. CXM provides tools that supports contact center solutions while maintaining end user adoption. Your contact center doesn’t need to be left behind the times. Reach out to us today to schedule a demo.

Agent Training is a Never Ending Story

Agent Training is a Never Ending Story

It’s often assumed that once an agent is trained during onboarding they are masters at what they do from then on. However, the best agents are the ones that are provided continuous learning, training and eventually work with teammates as mentors. Here are a few tips about agent training and how you can provide ongoing education within your contact center.

Training is not a static effort

An organization cannot stop at just the beginning. As the customer journey is evolving constantly and products or services are developed agents require updated information. Take cell phones for example. Imagine if you hired someone 10 years ago and only trained them on how to handle the Motorola Razor or Palm Pilot. Those products are no longer even in existence. Now cell phones operate as mini computers (sometimes even computing faster than an actual computer). The customer has also changed. They went from being only able to utilize their cell phones for calls, games, calendars/to do lists, and texting. Today the customer utilizes more data through applications than ever before. As products and services develop, agents need to be able to keep up with the customer and receive ongoing coaching and training to ensure they are giving customers better advice and service.

Agents learn in different ways.

Some learners are auditory and require asking a lot of questions and conversation to comprehend information. They easily get bored sitting in a classroom or streaming through a slide deck. Visual learners usually require diagrams or pictures to understand. Finally, kinesthetic learners require repetition. Providing regular coaching and training that touches all three learning styles ensures your agents provide better customer service.

Provide a toolbox to give management efficiency and effectiveness.

Being able to quickly assess where an agent is in their skill set allows supervisors and organizations as a whole to assess gaps. If your team is green and needs frequent reminders about the basics of how your organization communicates and problem solves with customers then you may want to give them the small pieces of information with quizzes to ensure comprehension. A more developed team or agent may just need regular performance evaluations to ensure quality.

Although there are many ways to achieve proper agent coaching and training remember there are several experts who mastered policy adherence and management. CXM is one of those experts. We’ve been working with contact centers for over twenty years and develop our own software. No customer is the same. We work at helping your organization assess missing gaps. We then provide solutions to bring value to your contact center. If you’d like to learn more reach out to us at sales@cxmrecord.com or check out a few of our other resources like How to Solve the Biggest Problems with Quality Monitoring.

Four Ways to Have Better Conversations with Your Customers

Four Ways to Have Better Conversations with Your Customers

The customer journey begins with how an agent builds rapport. People buy from those they like and trust. Conducting better conversations with customers allows your organization to thrive. There are a few key points to building rapport. The agent needs to allow themselves enough time to open the conversation, understand the key points, and pace the flow of the call to allow the customer to receive timely service. Here are four ways for agents to have better conversations:

  1. Introduction and Greeting: The first few seconds of any call is key to how a customer will respond to an agent. Begin with greeting the customer and finding out their name. A great example of a company who does this is Hubspot. They make it a point to find out the caller’s name every time a client calls into support. Have your agent write it down immediately to ensure a personalized touch and then utilize it throughout the conversation.
  2. Understand Why the Customer is Calling or Contacting the Organization: By comprehending key points you’ll be able to better assist with handling the client. Being a good listener usually involves repeating back or paraphrasing what the customer is looking to accomplish. For instance, if they are looking to make a purchase it’s always a good idea to know what’s driving them. That way you can align their needs to a solution.
  3. Be Consistent with the Speed of the Conversation: A good rule of thumb is to match the customer’s pace. If they are speaking a little rapid, you may want to consider picking your speed up while maintaining friendliness. If they are softer and a slower talker match their tone so you do not overwhelm. A good way to ensure your agents are accomplishing this is to have the right tools in your environment for quality monitoring. Call recording, screen capture and live monitor give supervisors an efficient way to listen to calls and provide feedback to the agent.
  4. Closing Remarks and Action Items: Once you resolve the client’s needs it’s time for closing remarks. Ask them if they have any other questions or concerns and thank them for their time. If there are additional action items now is the time for a quick summary. Finally, call them by name as you say goodbye.

Remember, better processes make better agents in a contact center. Maintaining service levels and minimizing handle time while supporting a client’s needs improve overall customer satisfaction. If you are looking for ways to improve your contact center reach out to us at sales@cxmrecord.com.

Keeping Your Contact Center Customers Coming Back

Keeping Your Contact Center Customers Coming Back

The more often technology advances the quicker patience in the customer decreases. Contact centers are expected to solve more problems in less time. If they don’t, customers will choose to go elsewhere. Think about the last time you ate at a restaurant. Imagine you are waiting in a lobby for over 10 minutes and there is no one in line. Then, it’s followed by your server taking another 10 minutes to bring you water. When the food finally arrives it’s delicious. However, your server takes forever to bring you the check. Most consumers will choose responsive service in a timely manner over product and quality.

For an average contact center there needs to be a balance of friendliness, timeliness and problem resolution. Here are the top four reasons your customer will return:

  • Utilizing omni-channel service so that your customers can contact you on their means. Sometimes it’s faster for a quick chat message than constructing a long email.
  • Minimizing call transfers by routing the call to the right person who can assist.
  • Decreasing wait times to speak with agents.
  • Being able to resolve in an efficient manner.

Customer stickiness allows your business to not only maintain customers, but also grow new customers. One of the best ways to add new customers is through word of mouth of through current customers. If you are looking for ways to improve your contact center tools reach out to us today at cxmrecord.com.

Five Contact Center Issues That Can Deflate Your Profits

Five Contact Center Issues That Can Deflate Your Profits

Your contact center is the front line to your customers and is critical to the image of your company. In fact, customer service in your contact center can have a bigger effect on customer loyalty and sales than a new website, logo, or storefront.  People want to have their concerns heard and handled.  You may feel like resources are scarce, but it is easy to overspend in the contact center.  Here are five areas to evaluate and how you can find extra money and time in your contact center:

    1. Optimize Your Schedules. If you are still using Excel to schedule your agents, then you are likely over staffed by as much as 30%. Most call centers run multiple skills and multiple channels. Erlang cannot handle creating proper agent requirements across skills or channels. The result is a schedule with more agents than really needed to cover the work. Automated tools use complex mathematics to optimize agent requirements. They can be adjusted to optimize coverage or optimize costs. The tools can also provide suggestions on cross training opportunities to further reduce agent requirements.
    2. Monitor Schedule Adherence. A hidden cost in the contact center is agents not adhering to their schedule. Contact Centers not using an automated workforce management tool to track adherence tend to have 65-70% out of adherence rates, meaning only about 30-35% of the agents login or take breaks on time. Five or ten agents taking a break at the wrong time, coming back late from lunch, or just taking an unscheduled break, can back up call queues for the rest of the day. Using a tool to monitor schedule adherence and training the agents on the impact of adherence; will improve service levels, reduce occupancy, and reduce agent requirements to cover a specific shift.
    3. Understand Your First Call Resolution Rate. The contact center buzz word that certainly has value, but may not make sense for your contact center. First call resolution is the idea that the customer is satisfied in one call. Maybe your contact is a sales center and people call a first time to ask questions and then call back to make the purchase.  Or your service model is dependent upon a multi-call staging of resources.  For example, level one must verify and diagnose the issue before assigning it to the proper technical resource.  The important thing is that whatever your model, that customers can get to the right person or process easily every time.  If the customer cannot get an answer they are likely to seek it out on other channels.  For example, calling sales instead of service.  This begins to multiply the cost to serve the customer.  You end up paying three or four people that can’t solve the problem, instead of one that can.  Understanding call routing, transfers, and agent training are keys to reducing re-work and will improve customer satisfaction.  An effective call recording system is key to identifying why people are calling, why they are transferred, and why the call back.  Quality monitoring and coaching tools can be used to cross train agents or just ensure agents are properly trained.
    4. Limit Refunds, Discounts, and Service Upgrades. The customer is always right is only true when the customer is sincere. If your contact center is dealing in consumer goods, a percentage of your customers have learned what to say to get something free. If you are not recording calls, you will never know if or when these cons are happening. Did this person just call another agent asking for the same offer? Is there an agent training opportunity? Did they really have a price quoted for first class tickets, or are they just saying that knowing you cannot verify? In the travel industry, we see entire departments created around solving problems while the customer is travelling. Free upgrades, free excursions, and free beverages are just some of the soft giveaways frequently absorbed by the contact center. Without the proper recording and reviewing of calls, you will not know if this is a training issue with an agent or customers taking advantage of your desire to delight.
    5. Reduce Agent Handle Time. Your best trained agents take care of your customers, give extra, and still have a lower handle time than their peers. The idea is not to rush the interaction. In fact, you want to ensure the customer issue is resolved completely before ending any interaction. However, you can learn a lot from your best agents. Watch what tools they use, how they organize their desktop, and then share those best practices with your other agents. You can record your agents and use performance evaluation, coaching, and training tools to train your agents so they can quickly provide the right answers or identify the right resources. A ten percent reduction in handle time is the same as a ten percent increase in staffing.

CXM’s workforce optimization tools can help you achieve a more efficient contact center. Our team can provide ROI tools to help you find these hidden cost savings to improve your contact center and your bottom line. For more information call us at 866-400-4296 or cxmrecord.com. 

Five Key Concerns for Recording Outbound Contact Centers

Five Key Concerns for Recording Outbound Contact Centers

All call recording is not the same, and that is especially true if you have a blended or outbound contact center.  Outbound contact centers have unique technology, compliance rules, and scripting.  These systems are designed to optimize calling to attempt to ensure live connections with the intended recipient.  Being able to easily find recorded calls and deliver them for review, may not just be for quality assurance, but also proof of regulatory compliance.  Here are five key concerns you should know if you want to record outbound calls:


Know how technology works - Most blended contact centers use a separate dialer for outbound calls that may not be from the same vendor as their phone system.  If call recording is only connected to the phone system, recordings are one continuous recording for the entire calling session.  If call recording is only on the dialer, direct dialed or inbound calls are not recorded.  Having a system that integrates to both systems allows you to record all calls on your phone system and sub-divide dialer calls into separate recordings.  It is also important to be able to identify campaigns and other call statistics provided by the dialer.  This is especially important for regulatory concerns.  If you are audited, you want to be able to confidently present all of the relevant calls without providing information or calls that are out of scope.

Regulations can be costly – When taking inbound calls, notification is easily added to the incoming call greeting.  In outbound calling however, the first sound the contact hears is likely the agent.  This means that you have to ensure notification rules are followed.  There are eleven All Party Notification States; the remaining are Single Party notification States.  This means that either one or all of the parties on the call must know they are being recorded.  If you deal with callers across state lines, it is recommended to always provide notification of recording when making an outbound call.  This can take the form of the agent’s script in the call or by using beep tones that signal a recording is occurring.  Some systems also allow you to control recording by area code and you can choose to not record outbound calls for all party notification states.  In most cases, the need to protect the business interest and ensure great service will outweigh any perceived inconvenience associated with giving notification.

Recording data matters - Inbound call data is typically separated by skillset, caller id, or call queue.  Outbound calls are managed by campaigns and dialed number.  As such, your recording system needs to be able to capture the key data associated with the interaction to provide proper reporting.  You may also want to tag recordings with data such as disposition code, allowing you to easily identify successful connects for evaluation.  Your recording system should be able to tag the recording as an inbound or outbound call, so that the associated data can share common fields.  This makes searches across both inbound and outbound calls faster and simplifies reports.

Evaluation forms drive outcomes - When making outbound calls, the first 10 seconds can mean everything.  So the introduction and connecting with the person being called is more critical on an outbound call, that that of an inbound call. This difference in call structure and call plan should be incorporated into your evaluation process.  You also need to make sure how you evaluate the agents matches the goals of the call.  Collections, Sales, Marketing, Appointment Confirmation, and Healthcare calls all have different communication strategies.  As such, the evaluation needs to match that goal.  One example is patient confirmation in an outbound medical call.  In this case, it is important that the call recipient is confirmed as the patient and no information is given that might fall under HIPAA requirements.   This may contrast drastically from a collections call, where the call may quickly transition into collecting information in hopes of finding the contact that may be attempting to avoid paying a bill.  When these two are combined in medical collections, you can see where these objectives can compete.  Carefully reviewing how your evaluation questions drive behavior will ensure you have positive outcomes and stay in compliance.

Business logic identifies key calls – Embedded within quality monitoring software solutions, there are a few business logic tools that can help identify calls for evaluation or further consideration.  Outbound calls have call time length patterns than can be used to quickly isolate successful contacts.  For example, calls over 45 seconds may indicate a successful connection with a correct caller.  By using the minimum call duration feature in the business rules engine, the system can automatically select calls that best fit the profile of a successful call.  Calls that are exceeding the expected call time may be presented into a special review queue to ensure compliance and complete customer satisfaction.  Business rules can also filter out inbound calls that come in on the customer response queue versus general business contacts.   Business rules may also be used in order to control if and when you record internal communications.

Outbound contact centers have unique legal, technical, and operational challenges.  In many cases, government regulations require outbound contact centers to prove compliance.  This can result in a guilty until proven innocent situation, costing companies that cannot prove innocence a lot of money. By recording all calls, businesses can prove their compliance with regulations and their commitment to great service.  For more information on how CXM can help you in your outbound call recording, go to www.cxmrecord.com.