Monday, November 24, 2014

What You’re Missing Without Speech Analytics

Speech Analytics Dashboard
Call monitoring is essential for a number of customer service initiatives, from quality assurance and script compliance to measuring an agent’s performance vs. KPIs.

However, call monitoring without speech analytics provides only part of the data necessary to get the most from your agents. And if recent industry surveys are to be believed, there’s still work to be done in this area. Just seven percent of consumers reported that their experience dealing with companies exceeded their expectations. And more than 1 out of every 4 on average reported being transferred between agents, and still not having their issue resolved.

How can speech analytics improve these disappointing numbers? By providing additional insight into how agents do their jobs, call after call, day after day. Without that insight, developing effective training programs based on prioritized needs becomes more difficult.

Merging call recording with speech analytics can significantly boost lead conversion rates, as well as increase customer retention levels. At the same time, it’s a way to be 100% assured that agents are always in compliance with federal and industry regulations.

Studies show that a 10% increase in customer retention levels equates to a 30% increase in company value. Any opportunity to add or keep customers that is not acknowledged is one that, in effect, ignores potential sales and profits. With speech analytics, contact centers are assured of gathering all of the valuable data contained in every incoming call.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Do You Really Know What Customers are Saying?

Your contact center agents spend the majority of their time every day speaking with your customers. Sure, that means they hear what is being said, but does your business have the tools in place to analyze their comments and questions, and use this data to improve customer interaction and agent performance?

Call recording and monitoring is a good place to start. But with speech analytics, you’re adding another dimension to your call recording solution. Speech analytics digs a little deeper into content, identifying patterns and key words and phrases that can help to further refine customer service efforts.

Once the data generated is reviewed, managers can adjust agent scripts accordingly, and provide better answers to handle questions and concerns that are occurring more frequently.

Yes, this is something that might be addressed through call recording alone. Attentive agents can make note of recurring themes in calls, or provide a description of the caller’s demeanor during the call. But with this method, changes can only be made after the fact.

Today’s speech analytics software automates the search process for important words and phrases, and provides automated alerts when certain issues or opportunities arise. The faster these issues are addressed, the better the customer service.

It’s also fair to say that even the most qualified, experienced agents cannot mine each call for relevant data in real time. It’s simply more efficient to automate this practice so calls are instantly categorized by purpose and/or outcome, while the agent is clear to focus only on delivering a positive engagement. 

By combining the more precise capabilities of speech analytics, such as keyword spotting, with a more general review of how customers and agents speak with each other, a contact center is better equipped to proactively solve issues before they can impact the company.

Friday, November 14, 2014

What Traits are Most Important in a Contact Center Agent?

The hiring of new contact center agents is a critical task that can make a profound impact on the efficiency of your business, and the level of service your customers receive.

Chances are you already have a system in place for interviewing prospective agents. But are you sure you are looking for the qualities that are most important? If you find a candidate with these five skills, odds are he or she will become an asset to your contact center.

1. Quick Thinking
The agent will have a script to work from, but prepared statements will not cover every caller’s question or complaint. The best agents are those that react quickly and decisively to solve problems.

2. Clear Communication
When managers assess communication skills, the focus is usually on the speaking voice. Can this potential agent communicate clearly? Does he or she speak with intelligence in a pleasing voice, without a lot of hesitations and “ums” and “ahs”? But as call centers have evolved into contact centers, and agents may be required to engage customers on other channels, managers should also test a candidate’s written skills – particularly spelling and communicating ideas in complete but concise sentences.

3. Technology
How familiar is the potential agent with various technology platforms? How quickly will he or she become acclimated to the programs and software in your contact center?

4. Product Knowledge
There will always be a learning curve for new agents as they become educated on the products or services your company offers. But it is important that an agent grasp the essentials quickly. That may require homework – is your candidate willing to put in the time?

5. Personality
Agents don’t have to be happy or outgoing all the time to be successful. But the job interview is the time to assess an applicant’s manners, temperament and ability to empathize with the customers he or she may be assisting every day – these qualities are essential. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Monet WFO Live Receives Customer Experience Innovation Honor

Monet WFO Live - Workforce Optimization in the Cloud has been named a finalist for the 2014 Customer Experience Innovation Award presented by TMC’s CUSTOMER magazine. The award recognizes best-in-class companies setting the standard in delivering exceptional customer experiences.

It’s always rewarding to be recognized, especially when it comes from such a prestigious source. The TMC website is read by more than 1.5 million business and contact center professionals every month, and their publications, such as CUSTOMER, are as close to an official publication as this industry has.

CUSTOMER has been around since 1982. The contact center industry was much different back then and, today more than at any other time, it is technology that drives efficiency and customer service. So it’s especially gratifying to have our technology singled out for the contribution it makes at contact centers of all sizes and types.

Monet WFO Live  is a complete suite for call centers to automate workforce management, call recording, quality assurance and agent analytics. Call centers can quickly and easily optimize all aspects of their workforce with one affordable solution, resulting in better utilization of resources, better cost management and improved service levels.

Awards are great, but it’s the feedback from our customers that means the most. We know the difference that WFO Live is making in contact center efficiency because you have told us with your calls and emails.

If you haven’t discovered the benefits of WFO Live, find out more here.

Friday, November 7, 2014

5 Tips to Boost Quality and Performance in your Contact Center

The objective of boosting contact center performance is an ongoing one. While you may have weekly or monthly meetings with agents and managers to explore what is working and what needs attention, these are issues that should be part of your focus every working day.

Here are 5 more tips to discuss at your next efficiency meeting.

1. Redefining Quality
You may have a definition for what constitutes a quality customer interaction, but is that description shared by your customers? There’s only one way to find out – ask them. You may be surprised by some of the responses, and you may wish to incorporate their answers into your agent training.

2. Reward Outstanding Performance
If your contact center provides quality evaluation scores for each agent, turn that practice into a contest. High scores would receive drawing tickets, and once a month or once every quarter, a winning ticket can be drawn, and the winner would receive a cash prize, a dinner for two, or some other reward.

3. Don’t Settle for Average
Your contact center probably has an average performance level, which is adequate to get the job done. But too many companies settle for this, and only become concerned when the numbers drop. Make ‘average’ your baseline, and strive for something better. Before long, your new ‘average’ will be much higher than the previous standard.

4. Have Agents Choose Reviewed Calls

For training sessions, ask that each agent select a recorded call that went well, and one that could have been handled better. This helps with agent self-evaluation.

5. Post Calls Online
What better way to show how well your contact center treats customers than to make some calls available to the contact center team? These examples will also serve new agents well as a reference tool. If you want to learn more about how to easily record and score calls follow this link for an online tour.

Friday, October 31, 2014

How to Prepare your Contact Center Workforce for the Unexpected

“Planning for the unexpected” may sound like an oxymoron, but it’s an important aspect of contact center management.

Of course we can’t see into the future. But sometimes making an educated guess at future events is an important part of the contact center manager’s job. The crucial functions of forecasting and scheduling can help to eliminate uncertainty, by using available intelligence to predict the resources that will be necessary for customer volume.

Unexpected, or Just Poor Planning?
Whether a contact center experiences relatively steady calling patterns or frequent periods of uncertainty, a workforce optimization solution is the key component of forecasting future call volume. The access it provides to historical call history can help managers navigate the scheduling challenges posed by seasonal promotions, special offers and new, aggressive marketing tactics.

These regular practices, of drawing upon 1-2 years of call history, and uncovering call patterns that can predict future patterns, is the best way avoid unexpected circumstances. Such calculations are rendered more precise by including non-call activities as well, such as breaks, training, after-call work and internal communication.

A workforce management solution can also employ skill teams (skill sets, or skill groups) based on each agent’s capabilities to handle certain skills/queues/competencies.  This allows the forecast process to select the best skills combinations for either blank shifts to be filled later, or to place existing agents. It’s another way to plan ahead for whatever the next shift or day brings.

Visibility into agent activity is another priority. The contact center is made up of many employees. While the overall performance is driven by processes, and efficiencies, it is the individual performance of each employee that drives the engine. Knowing that, it is obviously very important and critical to have better visibility into the performance and activities of each agent.

Surprisingly, many contact centers still have not installed the tools that makes this possible, such as adherence dashboards, reports, status alerts and an AUX Setup to track overuse of ACW, lunches, breaks, or other non-productive or limited statuses.

What about factors outside the company and the contact center? Historical data may not exist for some of these, but it’s too simple to categorize them as “unexpected” and hope for the best.

Perhaps you don’t know exactly what the weather will be like tomorrow or next week, but you should recognize how it can impact call volume. If it’s bad, more customers are likely to stay home and shop. If it’s sunny and clear, call volume may be reduced.

How will call volume be changed by an election day, or a championship series with a team in your city? How is the national economy faring? Are the products or services your company sells more in demand when times are good, or when a recession looms?

Running multiple simulations and gauging the outcomes can better prepare contact centers for almost anything that comes along. Most surprises can be avoided this way.

When You Can’t Predict Everything
Still, unexpected events do occur: One of the top agents calls in sick at the last minute. There’s a glitch in the system that could not have been foreseen. There’s an increase in call volume that was not anticipated by the historical data. While a proactive approach to forecasting and scheduling always pays dividends, there are times when a manager will have to be reactive to a situation no one could see coming.

When this happens, it’s vital to have the tools to monitor activities and receive alerts, so managers can react quickly and make changes as necessary (and make sure those changes are communicated to all personnel). The two best weapons available to meet these challenges are utilizing the intra-day management and exception management capabilities of a workforce management solution.

Intra-day Management
Tracking schedule adherence for a shift or a day after they have ended is a missed opportunity to correct an issue more quickly. Monitoring intra-day activities, from lunch breaks to training sessions, helps to maintain service levels.

When the unexpected occurs, managers will instantly know the best way to react without sacrificing customer service.  Using a graphical display of agent schedules, a manager can drag and drop breaks, lunches and other exceptions to adjust the contact center schedule as needed. Real-time updates are instantly recorded, and any surpluses or shortages are displayed for any part of the day.

Exception Planning
The best workforce management solutions, such as Monet WFM Live, provide a fully integrated Exception Planner, with the ability to schedule exceptions such as vacations, training meetings, jury duty, etc. These can be scheduled far into the future or recorded as recurring exceptions.

While many of these activities can be documented days or weeks in advance, the Exception Planner also supports mid-day exceptions as they occur, taking them into account while choosing shifts and scheduling breaks.

The first step in planning for the unexpected is differentiating between those occurrences that are truly unexpected, and those that are not.

For some events you can plan ahead by learning from the past, using ACD call history, running scenarios in forecasting, training people on multiple skills and creating flexible staffing schedules. Such precautions make it easier to overcome certain challenges as they occur.

For other events that cannot be anticipated because they happen outside your control (such as call volume spikes or a flu bug infecting multiple agents) real time intra-day alerts to dashboards and mobile devices quickly notify managers, so they can make changes that will have an immediate impact.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Finding the Optimum Reports and Metrics

Example Report: Adherence by Time of Day
Do you have the right performance reports and metrics in your contact center?

The more information you receive from your performance management solution – KPIs, scorecards, alerts, dashboards, reports – the better equipped you will be to take effective action to better meet the customer service goals of the contact center.

But it’s helpful to know where to start, especially for those contact centers still acclimating to an automated solution that delivers an abundance of actionable intelligence.

These are some of the key reports to measure the most important performance metrics:

Agent Adherence
This is the report that lets you know if your forecast and schedule is on track, or is no longer being met. Even a minor fall out of adherence can impact service levels. Find out more about agent adherence in our previous blog post.

Agent Status
Track the agent's total times in each status, compared with what was planned in advance. Is the agent providing what is expected, or is there an issue with longer lunches, unscheduled breaks, too much time on non-call activities, etc.?

Hours Worked
This report provides additional insight into assigned activities. Any hour when an agent is on duty is considered time worked. Here you’ll find whether that time is being used for optimum productivity. 

Identify gaps in staffing to avoid abandonment spikes. This report can also help identify the underlying reasons why these coverage gaps occurred, from inaccurate forecasts to adherence issues to schedule/shift patterns that are not matched to the demands of the workload.

If you would like to learn more, please watch a recording of our recent webinar about workforce optimization and performance management.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

New Video: Workforce Management and Optimization in the Cloud

In case you missed our recent webinar about cloud-based workforce optimization, you can now watch it on demand in our webinar video archive. People who attended the webinar learned a great deal about the role of cloud-based WFO in improving:
  • Workforce management
  • Quality Monitoring, and
  • Performance Management
See yourself how Monet's cloud-based WFO can help gain more insights and improve the performance and service quality of your contact center.

Watch Video Now
We invite you watch the recorded webinar in its entirety at your convenience - just click the link above.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Five Reasons (Plus one) to use Screen Recording

Call recording is fast becoming standard practice in the contact center. Screen recording, which captures both audio and video of each agent’s desktop, isn’t there yet – but more contact centers are discovering the efficiency improvements and cost-saving benefits that can be derived from this technology.

A recent blog post from OrecX lists five reasons why contact centers should consider recording screen activity during customer interactions. It points out how some issues with customer service that would normally be attributed to human error can now be more accurately identified as a technology issue. Managers will also gain insight into how well agents navigate and interact with screens and applications, which also impacts customer service.

According to the blog, screen recording can:

•    Identify application or system breakdowns
•    Uncover areas where agent efficiency can be improved
•    Reveal unauthorized personal activity by agents
•    Identify PCI or HIPAA compliance issues
•    Record best-practice performance

To these benefits, we would add one more: screen recording provides a way to learn what customers want most from the contact center or the company itself, while also improving the overall processes of application use and service delivery.

There may be some “Big Brother” concerns among personnel aware that their activities are being recorded, so they should be made aware that screen recording also provides a means to reward outstanding agents. Those that are performing their jobs consistently should have nothing to worry about.

Friday, October 17, 2014

How to Improve Productivity when “Insourcing” Your Contact Center

After years of watching contact center jobs leave the U.S. for India and other foreign shores, companies are now bringing these positions back home. This article explains some of the reasons for this welcome phenomenon.

When outsourcing is replaced by “insourcing,” it’s great news for U.S. workers and for the customers of these contact centers, as they will now be treated to a better level of service.

But for the companies, there may be a challenge in upgrading contact center technology to what is necessary to remain competitive in this industry. Systems have become much more sophisticated in the last ten years, and it’s important to equip agents with the tools they need to prosper.

For most contact centers, the first priority would be an automated workforce management (WFM) solution, to replace the spreadsheets that may have sufficed in the past.

Productivity: WFM delivers a means to improve the productivity and cost-efficiency of the contact center by making so many vital tasks easier. These includes running simulations for more accurate forecasting, and scheduling that incorporates all call types and other activities. Exception planning, performance analysis, intra-day management, and other practices are streamlined through the real-time data generated by today’s WFM systems.

Cost: Of course, the last thing these companies want is a significant investment (in some cases $100,000 or more) in new hardware and software, on top of the other costs involved with insourcing. But with a cloud WFM system, a unified solution can be implemented quickly without a large upfront cost. Instead, users pay only a low monthly or yearly subscription fee.

Scalability: For companies bringing back multiple call centers in a gradual transition process, the cloud-based system offers additional advantages as well. A cloud platform provides maximum flexibility and scalability during this period, and is more easily deployed even across multiple locations. Since all data is stored “in the cloud,” it can be retrieved at any call center workstation.

With WFM, managers can spend more time managing all of the new agents in these new stateside facilities, instead of spending hours on Excel planning forecasts and schedules.