Monday, July 28, 2014

Customer Experience Tip #1: Make it Easy for Customers

We should be living in a golden age of customer service. The technology now available to companies and consumers should make doing business more efficient than ever before.

Unfortunately, the reality has not lived up to our expectations. Ask most consumers what they want from a company, and most will say they want their transaction handled in a way that is easy.

Contact centers would do well to listen to this. Whatever resources are being channeled into technology, personnel, training, best practices etc. should all be working toward the same goal – making life easier for your customers. There are some aspects of this that are beyond the call center’s reach, but where they can contribute to a positive customer experience, they should do so, keeping these objectives in mind:
  • Make it Easy to Learn About the Product – this is achieved through intelligent, well-trained agents who can answer questions
  • Make it Easy to Purchase and Pay for the Product – how efficiently can credit card information and shipping information be collected in a secure fashion? How aggressive should an agent be with upsell opportunities that will delay completion of the transaction?
  • Make it Easy to Contact the Company to Get Help and Support – that means no long waits on hold, no 10-12 rings before the call is answered, no putting customers back on hold after collecting some information, and no asking for the same information multiple times, as a caller is moved up a chain of support personnel before reaching the one that can actually address their situation.
Easy is always better. What can you do at your call center to deliver this type of customer experience?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

An Innovative Approach to Call Center Quality Monitoring

What is the objective of quality monitoring? For most call centers it is an effort meant to improve customer service by measuring agent performance and the efficiency of training and practices.

Call recording provides much of this insight, but the best quality monitoring program is one that integrates call recording, scorecards and screen capture, thus taking the entire program to the next level.

Quality Scorecards

Scorecards make it easier to identify superstar agents, and pinpoint the specific areas in which some agents may require additional training. By grading each portion of a call, from its length to the courtesy of the agent’s responses, managers have much better idea of where improvement is most needed.

Screen Capturing

Call recording insights are magnified by the data accessible through screen capture recording, which captures both synchronized voice and video of an agent’s customer interactions. Now if there’s an issue, a manager will know if it’s the agent that needs help, or if the desktop applications in place need improvement.

By using call recording and quality monitoring tools such as those included in Monet Quality, it is possible to capture not only the call itself but the activity that took place on the agent’s screen and score 100% of interactions, giving an accurate and comprehensive view of agent, team, and overall contact center performance.

Once these changes are put in place, the call center should see a positive impact on such KPIs as average handle time and first call resolution.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Why Call Center Recording is Essential

The addition of call recording capabilities to a call center delivers benefits far beyond the one that is most obvious – creating and storing a record of each customer encounter.

Whether assessed by itself or in conjunction with workforce management, call recording is an essential element in an efficient call center.

We’ve created a call recording whitepaper, which you can download here for free  that explores this subject in greater detail. In “Call Recording Software: Why It’s Essential for your Call Center,” you’ll discover:
  • How call recording improves the quality of customer service
  • The positive impact of call recording on agent training
  • How call recording helps increase productivity – and profits – by delivering the data necessary to improve call center practices
  • The ways in which recording calls ensure compliance and protects call centers from lawsuits
  • How call recording can help resolve HR issues
In addition, the whitepaper describes the advantages of incorporating call recording into a unified workforce management (WFM) solution that impacts forecasting, scheduling, adherence, quality, metrics and compliance. When all of these efforts are engaged, call center management have the resources necessary to take a more proactive approach to improving customer service.

Too expensive? Not when call recording and WFM are delivered in a faster and more affordable way via the Cloud.

Download “Call Recording Software: Why It’s Essential for your Call Center” now and learn how it might help your contact center.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Call Recording Health Check for your Contact Center

Do you use call recording (CR) in your contact center? If not, perhaps it’s time to explore the numerous benefits that this technology provides.

If you are enjoying the advantages of this technology, great! But there may be ways in which it can be augmented to provide even more benefits to your agents and your customers. These questions should help you determine if your call recording solution is being used to its fullest potential.

1. What calls do you record?
Is your system recording a representative sample, or is every call being collected and archived? While the first method might deliver solid statistical information, recording every call provides more insight into agent performance.

2. Are you using call recording for coaching and training existing agents?
This is one of the best uses for recorded calls. Managers can review recordings with agents, and discuss which aspects of the agent’s performance are on target, and which merit additional training.

3. Are you using CR for on-boarding of new agents?
Explaining company policies and procedures to new agents is one thing – providing recorded calls that illustrate those procedures in action provides a much more vivid and memorable means of instilling these practices into new hires from day one.

4. Is CR being used to gain more customer insights?

What could be a better indication of what customers want from your call center than the voices of those customers themselves?

5. Are you using CR to resolve issues and disputes?
Some disputes are inevitable. But with a recording of the conversation between agent and customer, the contact center has the means to either settle the issue, or prevent it from escalating into a legal matter.

6. Do you use CR in conjunction with quality assurance for a comprehensive quality monitoring system?
Quality assurance introduces a grading component into the call monitoring process. Recorded calls are randomly selected and measured against the guidelines and procedures at the call center. When CR and QA work together, the result is a system that increases productivity and improves adherence to corporate procedures.

To learn more, please watch any of the videos about call recording and quality monitoring.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

How to Automate Contact Center Quality Assurance

Download Whitepaper
If your contact center already has a solid quality strategy and plan in place, perhaps it’s time to combine that strategy with an automated quality assurance (QA) system. Not only will this streamline many of the benefits of your efforts, from agent productivity to customer service, it will also help to assure that QA is never overlooked as a business priority.

There are a number of benefits to automated QA – here are three of the most significant.

1. Call Scoring Forms
With automated scoring, it’s easier to aggregate any number of metrics based on specific objectives and goals. These forms deliver insight into customer satisfaction, compliance risk, agent performance and other key factors.

2. Alerts Based on Triggers
What information do you need to know about your call center, right away? With alerts set up based on these triggers, actionable alerts will appear on agent screens so any necessary changes can be made before they impact customer service. Set up as many as you believe are needed, and watch how productivity improves.

3. Reporting
Once the scoring process has helped to evaluate agent performance and customer satisfaction, the aggregated data is used for automated report generation. This provides managers with the information they need to identify training needs, respond to emerging issues and react to industry trends.

Almost every contact center attempts to find out as much as it can about its customers and how best to serve them. But when these quality assurance efforts are automated, the data is delivered more  quickly, more accurately, and in an organized format that will generate a faster response.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wanted: Call Recording Functionality

For many call centers, it is one of the most basic tools employed in the improvement of customer service, the establishment of industry regulation compliance and protection against potential legal disputes.

For other call centers, it’s the solution at the top of their corporate wish list.

According to a survey from the website Software Advice, call recording tops the list of desired software capabilities. And since 46% of call center buyers are just in the process of purchasing call center software for the first time, it’s logical to assume that many businesses are still doing without this vital component.

If your call center has not yet discovered the benefits of a call recording solution, or believe that adding this technology is too costly, it’s time to take another look at what call recording can do for your business – and how easy and affordable it can be with a cloud delivery model. We invite we to watch a short video about call recording.

“This call is being recorded for quality purposes”
Customers will not regard this standard call monitoring disclosure as an inconvenience or an intrusion, as a recording provides both protection and clarification if an issue should arise.

Calls that are recorded are calls that can be analyzed later to gauge the efficiency of call center agents. It is also a means to gather research on consumer trends that can be utilized in the formulation of marketing and sales strategies.

With a record of each call, management and call center trainers can evaluate agent performance on efficiency, courtesy, conversational style, proper use of scripted or company-approved responses and other key components.

Customer Satisfaction
Client disputes can usually be settled by accessing call center recordings to review the discrepancy. A recording clarifies exactly what both parties said, potentially saving the company from time-consuming and costly legal action.

And fortunately, lower IT costs and cloud computing have brought this technology within the means of most small and midsized call centers. With a subscription delivery model there is no large upfront cost, or other costs related to maintenance and regular updates and upgrades.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Contact Cetner Quality Monitoring for Beginners

Getting started with quality monitoring can be a daunting task, but it’s one that is necessary to improve customer service, particularly in such KPIs as first call resolution.

“We would do it,” claim some call center managers, “if it were easy, effective and affordable.” Good news – it is now.

Easy Quality Monitoring
No need for a team of IT experts to descend on your call center and begin a lengthy installation that will disrupt work for weeks. Forget the complex software implementation and simply access the quality monitoring tools you need form the cloud. Just start your subscription to quality monitoring in the cloud, and you’ll have everything you need.

Effective Quality Monitoring
There are several elements to a quality monitoring program, including call recording, screen capture and integration of scorecards. These parts of the whole must be able to function together, and the best way to make that happen is with a fully integrated solution that delivers the big picture, as well as the smallest details that contribute to its formation.

By using call recording and quality monitoring tools such as those included in Monet Quality, it is possible to capture not only the call itself but the activity that took place on the agent’s screen and score 100% of interactions, giving an accurate and comprehensive view of agent, team, and overall contact center performance.

Affordable Quality Monitoring
Again, the answer is a cloud delivery system, which requires no large upfront investment or expensive installation. Now, even smaller and midsized call centers can afford the tools they need to deliver a better customer experience.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The 2014 Call Center Software Advice Report

Every year, the Software Advice website conducts a survey among call center software buyers, to find out what’s on their minds. This year’s results are typically revealing.

Perhaps the most surprising stat from Software Advice concerns “software advice” – or the ignoring of it. Turns out that nearly half of all participants surveyed – 46% – are just now getting around to a software purchase. This may be related to company size, as more than 60% of participants have 10 or few users.

The most requested feature among these buyers is call recording (42%), specifically to boost quality assurance and employee training.

What are the most important goals at call centers in 2014? Improving efficiency ranked at the top, mentioned by 67% of respondents, followed by organization (61%).

Cloud-based call center systems were the preferred deployment model, as more companies begin to realize the cost and convenience advantages of software as a service.

However, 40% of buyers expressed no preference between the cloud and an on-premises solution. Perhaps once they realize the differences in scalability, the costs attached to software updates and upgrades, and how technical issues are resolved, it will make this decision easier.

Price will also become a factor here, especially given the large number of responses from smaller call centers. A cloud system puts the capabilities of quality assurance and workforce management within the financial means of small businesses – the kind that traditionally get by with spreadsheets (or worse, pencil and paper).

And since this technology can boost the efficiency of smaller call centers, these companies are now less likely to export their call center functionality to India. Keeping call center services close to home, and making them cost-effective, is not only great for the company, it adds jobs to the national economy. That’s the kind of benefit everyone can get behind.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Call Center Analytics and Metrics

“Analytics” is one of those terms that many business people use, even while they may disagree on its exact definition. In fact, one Gartner survey asked users what it means and they received a range of answers in response, from “online analytical processing” to monitoring call centers, to data mining.

For the purposes of this paper, we will define analytics this way: It is the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data. It also refers to the drawing of conclusions from the examination of that data. The objective of analytics is to describe business performance, and both predict and improve future performance.

Even amidst any lingering uncertainty over what is precisely meant by the term, it is indisputable that data analytics now plays a significant role in a wide range of industries, and call centers are certainly no exception. Every call center manager has a wealth of raw data at his or her disposal that can be used to identify patterns and make better business decisions.

Analytics can take many forms. The three that are most prominent for contact centers are Performance Analytics, Speech Analytics and Desktop Analytics.

Performance Analytics
Performance analytics focuses on call center personnel. How well agents perform their jobs, and how well they adhere to company policies and procedures has a direct impact on KPIs and other critical metrics. Managers should always be seeking out ideas to turn average agents into leaders, and great agents into superstars.

A performance analytics solution works by delivering insight into every encounter between an agent and a customer, through recorded phone calls and captured agent activity across all platforms. With this data, and the monitoring of KPIs  from adherence and average handle time to labor costs and shrinkage, managers can ascertain whether personnel, processes and systems are aligning to meet the call center’s performance goals.

Since staffing accounts for as much as 70% of most call center budgets, performance analytics provide actionable intelligence that can impact forecasting and scheduling. And by providing this information in real-time, call centers can become proactive, rather than reactive, to help managers make better, faster decisions.

Speech Analytics
Speech analytics, like performance analytics, offers insight into employee performance. But it also provides insight into a call center’s customers, which can lead to changes in policy and staffing to serve them better.

Sometimes called audio mining, speech analytics refers to the analysis of information from recorded customer phone calls. It is a more in-depth procedure that merely reviewing calls and categorizing them by outcome, as it also provides insight into why customers are calling, and how their needs can be better serviced.

The focus is on capturing the “voice of the customer” – demeanor, personality, words/phrases used most often – to extract recurring themes. Calls are then categorized accordingly, and analyzed for any recurring patterns. These patterns can help to identify the root causes of why some KPIs are not moving in the right direction.

For instance, if first call resolution is a problem, speech analytics may uncover the motivation for why some customers are compelled to call back – if the same issue is happening with numerous callers, there may be a way to address it before it becomes a issue, which should lower similar occurrences going forward. 

In addition, speech analytics can help boost sales (by identifying which approaches are having the greatest success) and boosting customer retention. 

Large call centers have employed these techniques for years, but the practice is now becoming more commonplace at smaller and midsized centers, a result of improved technology and lower costs for top-tier quality monitoring software. Now, the kind of advanced marketing intelligence that used to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars is not only more accessible and affordable through speech analytics in the cloud, it is also easier to set up and use.

Desktop Analytics
As technology has become more sophisticated, agents now work with a number of desktop applications designed to streamline daily activities, improve job performance and boost customer service. But expecting every agent to prosper equally in this scenario is like handing tennis racquets to Serena Williams and Stephanie from accounting, and expecting both to hit a 100 mph serve.

How well does each agent navigate the functionality of the call center’s software? How quickly do they type? Are they taking advantage of built-in shortcuts or getting to the same place through more roundabout means? More importantly, how are these delays affecting average handle time and other metrics?

Desktop analytics helps to pinpoint any knowledge or performance gaps, which can be corrected through additional agent training. At the same time, it can also identify any deficiencies in call center software that may be contributing to the problem. Error messages and slow page rendering can be just as detrimental to average handle time as a poorly training agent. These types of problems may go undetected for weeks or months, unless an agent describes the situation to his or her superiors. A few extra seconds’ delay caused by a technical issue, multiplied by the number of times that occurs per shift, per agent, per day, adds up to a serious problem.

With desktop analytics, seemingly minor but relevant problems are identified, as every event that occurs on the desktop is captured. A little fine-tuning can yield dramatic results.

Choosing an Analytics Provider
As there is some crossover in the data that is collected by performance analytics, speech analytics and desktop analytics, it makes sense to incorporate all of these functions into one workforce optimization (WFO) solution, combined with workforce management and quality monitoring. That also insures that the analytics data is highly actionable. For example, you should be able to change forecasts, schedules and other parameters based on analytic insights you get. Check out these videos to see call center metrics in action.

To avoid the substantial upfront investment that would typically be required to add these capabilities, contact centers should consider a cloud-based service. This also eliminates the need for a complicated and time-consuming hardware and software implementation. With a cloud-based WFO platform, a contact center can begin to benefit from analytics in as little as 30 days.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Call Center Makeover for a Better Customer Experience

Does your call center need a makeover?

Sometimes, bad habits or lax business practices can slowly and gradually infiltrate even the best of call centers, and the customer experience can suffer as a result.

When this happens, it’s time to consider a business-wide transformation that will get the contact center back on an efficient track. Such an effort should focus on three specific areas.

1. Culture
Successful call centers are customer-centric call centers. Is that the mission that informs how agents perform their job, how forecasting and scheduling is achieved, and how priorities are listed when it comes to staffing, budgeting and other business essentials? Putting the customer first can only lead to better performance.

2. Processes
When was the last time your call center processes were reviewed? Would a few updates or changes to agent scripts result in a faster and better customer experience? Taking a fresh look at how you’re doing business now, and bringing agents, managers, trainers and even customers into this process, may inspire new ideas that can make a positive difference.

3. Technology
Technology should be a primary source for delivering customer interaction insights. Workforce optimization solutions are big part of this. Do you have the right tools and are you utilizing those you have available to their full potential? These include workforce management, call recording, screen recording, quality assurance, desktop analytics and speech analytics. Is it time to upgrade current solutions or add new ones? The better a call center can utilize workforce optimization systems and other processes, the more optimized its service levels. Result? Once again, more satisfied customers.

Want to learn more? Take a moment and watch any of these demos to see if you need to improve your call center technology.