5 Ways RPA Enhances the Contact Center

Robotic process automation (RPA) uses software and robots to capture and parse data. In the contact center, RPA supports the IT department and streamlines workflows. Though some feel that jobs will be lost to RPA, the more likely outcome is that RPA will elevate contact center performance and help live agents deliver better, richer service. Here are five ways that RPA enhances the modern contact center.

1. A large volume of data can be moved quickly.

There are many reasons why contact center data may need to be moved: if the data comes from various databases but has to be combined in order to carry out a process; if databases have to be filled in with bulk information; or if data has to migrated from an old application to a new one. RPAs can manipulate data incredibly quickly, whereas manual entry would take up far too much time.

2. The customer experience is improved.

Having to ask for the same information more than once is frustrating for both the agent and the customer. RPA is able to collect information at the start of a query, then immediately add the data to any of the platforms the agent will be accessing. By eliminating the need for extra data entry, the agent can solve the customer’s problem quickly and move on to the next person in the queue.

3. Desktop automation improves employee confidence.

Rules-based desktop automation can handle specific employee tasks, turning employees into decision-makers instead of sidetracking them with basic duties like filing and updating customer information. When employees feel that they’re needed for complex issues, they’re more likely to be engaged with their job and devoted to customer satisfaction.

4. Time is maximized.

RPA allows for real-time data collection and analysis because it’s able to process information in mere seconds. Moreover, data processing via RPA is accurate, eliminating the need for time-consuming corrections. The contact center’s analysts can then devote more time to completing higher-level tasks.

5. Workflows are optimized.

There are numerous optimizations that result from RPA. Live agents can handle customers who need personalized attention. First Contact Resolutions rates are improved, as is accuracy. Following up with customers is also streamlined.

RPAs are bound to become the standard in contact centers. Knowing how to work with them and designing your processes around automation will help propel your customer service forward.

How to Improve Your Contact Center’s Live Chat Service

There are several different customer service channels available to customers, but the winner always seems to be the one that responds the fastest. Since web chat is both time-sensitive and personal, it’s often a customer’s preferred mode of contact. Here’s how to optimize customer satisfaction using live chat.

Make sure the chat is visible.

There’s a lot of information for visitors to look over when they’re on your website, but the live chat option should be obvious and easy to find. A pop-up window on the bottom of the page lets customers chat while still navigating around the website. Since the window is going to be small, make sure the font is large enough to read.

Only send an invitation if an agent is available.

Offering a live chat option at the right moment is key to engaging the customer at the best time. However, you should never invite the customer to a chat session if there isn’t actually a live agent available. Customers shouldn’t have to wait for help, especially if you reach out to them first.

Go off script.

Even though you want to maintain a certain level of professionalism, live chat conversations can lean toward the friendly and personal. The agent should introduce themselves and refer to the customer by name. Also, it’s okay to go off script if the customer asks detailed questions or if they’re upset and need the agent to show empathy.

Keep chat etiquette in mind.

Even though live chat is on the informal side, agents should still write in complete sentences; pay attention to spelling and grammar; and avoid slang. Paragraphs should be short and digestible, and technical speak should be avoided so that the customer can keep up with the conversation.

Make it quick.

Customers want their issue handled quickly on chat. Agents should make sure to respond swiftly whenever the customer sends a message. Conversation should be limited so that it doesn’t get in the way of solving the problem. Also, if the situation will take too long to troubleshoot on live chat, the customer should be given an alternate solution, like self-service or the number to the right department.

Live chat is helpful for customers who need to multi-task or want to get fast service. In order to deliver the service customers deserve, it’s necessary to know what they expect.

 

Self-Assessment and Self-Coaching for Quality in the Contact Center

 

Traditional quality management solutions support standard processes of scoring, assessment and coaching. Metrics such as average handling time (AHT) are calculated automatically, and quality assurance specialists score calls based on a standardized evaluation form and guidelines. Then these evaluations are reported to managers, who schedule sessions to review and support employees to improve their quality scores.

It’s a good system, and it works. But it could be even better. New quality management solutions offer capabilities that automate more quality processes than ever before. Analytics-driven quality assurance can analyze and score 100 percent of interactions and provide a more holistic view of contact center performance. Automated dashboards provide managers, evaluators and agents alike with insights into key metrics, and they further drive contact center goals and success. These solutions are fluid and robust. Their complex custom and out-of-the-box workflows also include automated self-assessment and coaching processes that enable employees and managers to further boost their performance.

The value of self-assessment and self-coaching has been confirmed by psychologists, educators and business experts. On its own, or combined with group and one-on-one coaching, self-coaching can improve performance. One study found that students who learned self-assessment strategies performed significantly better than those who didn’t. Self-coaching also has shown its value in a business environment, and evidence suggests that it can surpass peer coaching in effectiveness. Similar trends have been recorded many times, both in educational settings and in the workplace.

In the contact center, self-assessment and self-coaching can enhance and supplement more traditional coaching models, in which supervisors send personalized coaching feedback — such as links to knowledge resources, instructions and due dates — as needed.  Because quality is a vital factor in maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction, the added boost provided by self-assessment can determine the long-term survival of an organization.

The success of self-powered quality improvements for your employees depends on your ability to support them in their efforts:

  1. Train your employees to self-assess and self-coach.

Reviewing your own actions and thoughts isn’t always instinctive. Just as employees have to learn how to use scripts, technology and recording tools, they need to learn how to self-assess and to understand the value it brings.  Coach your employees on best practices, such as how to identify problem areas and deconstruct call recordings themselves. Be sure to explain why you are teaching them: “When we first start reflecting, it can feel like a burden,” explains teaching expert Starr Sackstein. “If students don’t understand why they are doing it, then it will seem superfluous to them. Thus, it is crucial that we communicate to students why we reflect.”

  1. Provide thorough, reliable information.

Don’t just teach employees best practices; give them the information they need to act on them. Ensure that they have regular access to up-to-date scores. People who are struggling frequently don’t know that they’re having trouble, according to the researchers who defined the Dunning-Kruger effect, a cognitive bias that causes individuals to assess their ability as much higher than it really is.

“…Incompetent people do not recognize —scratch that, cannot recognize —just how incompetent they are…. Poor performers — and we are all poor performers at some things — fail to see the flaws in their thinking or the answers they lack,” explains David Dunning.

Once people identify the areas that need improvement, they can correct themselves. This applies to quality management too. When employees have regular access to reports and dashboards reflecting their scores, they know whether they are performing well and when to reach out for additional support from peers or management.

  1. Articulate expectations and set criteria.

Learners need more than statistics about their own performance. In an educational environment, students are much more likely to self-assess when they understand what their teacher’s expectations are. To achieve this in the contact center, provide employees with clear outlines and guidance. Calibrate frequently so that everyone is working toward the same goal. Calibrations also improve the perception of transparency and fairness, which makes employees feel more confident that their efforts to self-direct will be rewarded.

Strong self-assessment and self-coaching skills can improve quality scores that in turn contribute to meeting and exceeding contact center goals. They’re natural additions to traditional training programs and, with the self-assessment automation capabilities now offered by top quality management solutions, are accessible to all.

 

Why Contact Centers Should Consider Visual IVR

Today’s tech-savvy customers are always on-the-go. With intuitive, fast, Internet-connected smartphones came the expectation to have just as simple and swift interactions with brands and customer service. Many customers prefer to troubleshoot on their own and, whenever possible, skip the wait on the phone or chat queue to speak with a live agent. Unfortunately, too many IVR menus provide routing to an agent instead of helping customers perform self-service.
In the past, the only IVR menus available were non-visual. Today, though, visual and touchscreen IVR is being adopted by modern contact centers. With visual IVR, the interface has a visual menu for customers to access. After logging in online or via an app, the customer can easily find their way through the menu. Not only are visual IVR menus easier to understand, but they’re faster, too. For example, a phone IVR menu may take 30 seconds to listen to, while it can take less than 5 seconds to scan a visual IVR menu and make a selection.
Various types of visual content can be included in a visual IVR interface, including:
•Tap-able menus
•Documentation and PDFs
•Forms
•Photos and videos (instructional, for example)
•Web pages
Visual Content and Comprehension
According to various studies, visual content can improve comprehension. Where a verbal summary of a menu option may be difficult to understand, a visual representation can be easier to interpret. This is especially useful for hearing-impaired customers. Customers can make quicker decisions, which means they can get quicker solutions.
Communicating with Live Agents
Every IVR menu should have the ability to chat with a live agent, either via the phone or online. Every move that the customer made throughout the IVR menu while conducting self-service can be communicated to the agent so that they can pickup exactly where the customer left off. Visual content can also be accessed and shared during a live call. For example, if the customer is having a problem with the website, they can send a screenshot to the agent while they’re on a live call with them.
Advanced IVR menus help contact centers manage their call volume, reduce wait time and increase customer loyalty, resulting in higher profits. At the same time, consumers can quickly access their account information, get routed to the right department, avoid long hold times and have an overall positive experience.

How to Choose Contact Center Technology

Customers have access to competing companies and tons of information at their fingertips. They can instantly interact with brands on a variety of channels at the same time, publicly announcing how impressed or disappointed they are with a company. Responding to customers immediately isn’t an option, it’s a necessity.
Open-Source vs. Proprietary Software
Many professionals appreciate open-source technology. However, while it’s still used by many companies and can be cost-effective for startups, it can end up costing the contact center more than necessary in the long run. Open-source technology is notoriously undependable and difficult to scale, and many contact centers find themselves having to eventually invest in a different, more efficient solution. Additionally, open-source software doesn’t have one entity in charge, so if you run up against technical difficulties it can be nearly impossible to get help (aside from scouring forums for advice or hiring a specialist). Proprietary software, on the other hand, is much more reliable and scalable, and it can be customized to fit your specific contact center needs.
Here are four parameters for choosing proprietary software:
1. Features
Know beforehand which features you’re going to need. Basic features include dashboards that show stats in real-time, call routing, IVR and an easy-to-use interface. You want everything in place so your team can answer support issues as efficiently as possible.
2. Flexibility
While you may need only basic features at first, there may come a time when you’ll need to scale or add extensions. Choose software that can grow and change with your contact center, and find out cost estimates for things like upgrades and customizations.
3. Programming
The software you choose will have to be implemented with your current system, which means it has to work with your programming language. While this isn’t usually a problem with modern, cloud-based software, you’ll want to consult your IT department to make sure everything can be smoothly integrated.
4. Support
The quality of the product won’t matter if the support team isn’t helpful. Read user reviews to find out about the reliability of their customer service.
Creating a positive customer experience is on the top of the priority list for contact centers. You won’t get a second chance to make a first impression. It’s necessary for support agents to have the best technology so that they can engage customers and create a stellar customer experience.

How to Motivate Contact Center Agents

There are several reasons to motivate contact center agents: hiring new staff can get expensive; training new hires means there’s lag time between when they’re hired and when they can start working; and company morale can decrease if there’s a high rate of turnover. Here are 5 ways to motivate contact center agents.
All of the tools your agents use, from software to hardware, should work flawlessly. Faulty technology makes it impossible for agents to be efficient. One necessary type of tool are those that reduce customer frustration. Agents can get frazzled after speaking with one angry customer after the other. Software that allows for queue callback or voicemail can make customers happy, which in turn delivers agents fewer frustrating inquiries.
2. Setup seamless automation.
Quality contact center software will automate manual tasks so that agents don’t have to perform them with every single call or chat. Data should also be synced across all customer service tools. When their workload is streamlined, agents have more time and energy to handle more pressing issues.
3. Help agents hone their specialties.
Instead of having all of your agents trained in every area, figure out the strengths of your individual agents and help them specialize. Some agents may excel at handling agitated customers while others will have in-depth knowledge of your products. When you have agents who are experts in certain areas, they’ll be able to answer queries and solve problems more quickly than if they only had limited knowledge of the niche.
4. Open the lines of communication.
Your contact center agents are the closest people to your customers. It’s important that your agents know they can speak with you openly. Not only will you hear great ideas you haven’t thought of before, but agents who feel valued and needed are more likely to perform well in their job.
5. Use analytics to acknowledge excellence.
With call center reporting, you can see how agents are performing. When you find an agent who spends a short time on calls and has a high FCR rate, for example, you can reward them for their performance. You can also see which agents have positive customer reviews and reward them accordingly.
When your agents are motivated and happy, they’re better able to deliver the sort of customer experience you expect.

4 Ways to Maximize Self-Service with IVR

The contact center’s primary goal is to help customers who need information, whether that’s completing a transaction, accessing their account or troubleshooting a product they’ve just purchased. Many of these needs don’t require a live agent and can instead be handled with self-service and IVR technology. Here’s how to help your customers help themselves.

Get to Know Your Customers

Determine the main reasons why customers get in touch with support. Then, setup custom IVR channels to handle those queries. Knowing customer requirements and coming up with coinciding self-service strategies will free up agents who usually field the same types of calls all day long. It’s important to track trends over time, too, because as products and services change and evolve, your customers’ needs will as well.

Automate the Simplistic

Simple or mundane tasks should always be included in your IVR menus. Providing customers with company information, like store hours, locations or directions, doesn’t require the help of a live agent. Additionally, tasks like updating account information or making a payment can be handled 100% via self-service. Even some in-depth technical issues can be taken care of with IVR, so long as the step-by-step instructions are clear.

Create Effortless Menus

If you’re offering customers want they need via IVR but they’re still not using it as much as you want them to, it could be because the menu options are too confusing. Company-speak is fine to use internally, but customers won’t understand technical phrases. Menu items should be basic and comprehensible to everyone.

Know When to Escalate an Issue

Self-service is only beneficial as long as the customer wants to handle things on their own. When they get frustrated, it’s time to have a live agent step in and swiftly handle the problem. When a customer is having trouble with IVR (for example, after trying more than once to enter information) or they specifically request to speak with a live agent, they should be transferred as quickly as possible.

IVR positively affects the contact center’s bottom line while providing customers with a communication alternative.

 

 

 

 

The Importance of Chatbots for Customer Service

Consumers are getting increasingly comfortable interacting online with artificial intelligence.  As a result, more and more brands are using chatbots and, furthermore, chatbot technology is evolving. According to Adweek, it’s possible that a majority of customer service queries will be answered by chatbots instead of humans by the end of the year.

Big companies see the value in chatbots: Facebook now allows for Messenger to work with third-party chatbots and Microsoft’s Bot Framework is a tool for building chatbots. Retailers, customer service departments and contact centers all recognize the importance of chatbots and must keep up with emerging technology to ensure their AI is as up-to-date as possible.

Chatbots seem to be most effective when combined with social messaging, where many of today’s consumers are spending their time, even more so than on social media itself. Additionally, young consumers prefer text and messaging for communication, which makes chatbots even more appealing. The key is to present them with interactive chat where they already are – on the social media or social messaging applications they’re already using. Customers are hesitant to download and learn new applications when they already have their preferred messaging apps.

What exactly do customers want from chatbots, other than accessibility? Chatbots Magazine published the results of a Bentley University study on the topic and found the following:

· Face or icon for the chatbot.
· Single search bar where all questions can be asked.
· Single chatbot instead of one for each department.
· Comprehension even if a question is asked in a “lazy” way.
· Simplistic speech that is still highly useful.
· Anticipation of what the customer’s next question will be.
· Patience no matter how complex the query is.

It’s expected that a growing number of brands will build their own chatbots to ease the burden of customer service on their live agents. Social messaging is expected to continue growing, too, which will make those new chatbots even more prevalent in daily customer-company communication.

Why Your Contact Center Should Be Multilingual

While many contact centers have English-speaking support agents, customers often need multilingual services. Customers that come from various locations around the world look to brands that can offer help in their native language. Here’s why contact centers should consider being multilingual.

1. English isn’t 100% comprehensible to everyone.

Even customers who speak English as a second language may have difficulty understanding complex sentences and ideas. The more in-depth their support query, the more likely it is that they’re going to have trouble communicating with an English-speaking agent. This can also cause problems when it comes to understanding things like terms of agreement or the ordering process.

2. Multilingual support gives contact centers a competitive edge.

In a market where many contact centers are not multilingual, offering support in different languages can give your business an edge. Having multilingual live agents, both on the phone and via chat, as well as a website that can be viewed in different languages are excellent marketing to

3. Speaking the customer’s first language enhances personalization.

Today’s customers want personalized, one-on-one support experiences. By being able to communicate with them in their primarily language, they’ll feel important and catered to. When a customer knows they’ll receive customized support, they’re more likely to reach out to an agent if they have a problem or question.

4. Communication will improve, which increases the chance of success.

It’s easier to cooperate with a customer if communication is clear. The customer will be able to understand that the support agent is working on their behalf and both parties will understand the other’s point of view. Fluently speaking the customer’s language decreases the chance of misunderstandings and, in turn, can help support agents increase the rate of first call resolution.

5. You’ll have a chance to analyze your market.

To decide which languages your contact center should support, you’ll need to analyze your market, possibly in a different way than you’ve done in the past. Determine the geographical areas that make up your target audience, then figure out which additional languages are needed to accommodate those customers. In addition to language, features like dialects and location-specific customs should be considered.

How to Deliver Multilingual Support

Knowing why you should offer multilingual support doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to setup your contact center to meet those needs. The first step is to recruit agents who have advanced language skills – knowing which languages you most need to support will help you narrow down your options. Offer help materials, like FAQ website pages and product support documentation, in a variety of languages. Utilize translation software for when multilingual agents aren’t available to serve a customer or to help agents communicate in languages that aren’t supported yet by the contact center. To track performance, add location- and language-specific questions to post-support surveys, such as, “What is your primary language?”

Brands that reach customers globally or that are looking to expand should prioritize multilingual customer support. Optimized customer support has a better chance of meeting customer needs, which promotes brand loyalty and credibility.

4 Trends that Improve the Customer Experience

When customer service teams want to differentiate themselves from the rest, they focus on improving and optimizing the customer experience. Companies are more than willing to go above and beyond for the sake of meeting and exceeding customer expectations. Here are four trends that will help distinguish your contact center.

Relying on Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere, from video games to the automobile industry. Customer service has been impacted by the increase in AI, too. This technology can be used to chat with customers about easy-to-solve issues, which frees up live agents for more difficult and complex matters. Automation with AI can reduce customer wait time, interact with customers and collect important data for the contact center to later analyze.

Implementing an Omnichannel Strategy

One major gripe that customers have is repeating themselves to various customer support agents in order to get an answer or have a problem solved. Channel integration isn’t the same as omnichannel service. Today’s companies can’t just respond to a customer, they have to know as much as possible about the customer and their problem beforehand in order to provide customized, relevant support. Customer service requires empathy and a human touch in order to connect meaningfully to the customer.

Analyzing Big Data

While much of the customer experience is about interaction and communication, big data still has a pertinent place in understanding customer behavior. Big data can actually help the contact center connect on a more personal level with customers. There’s so much information that can be tracked now, from customer behavior at every point of the journey to customer preferences regarding any number of attributes. Data helps customer support do things like figure out what a customer is going to want before they even ask for it and determine the best way to reach a customer on the channel of their choice.

Providing Real-Time Communication

Using things like AI, which can automate several processes, and ominchannel strategies, which can cut down on the length of time it takes to solve a problem, gives customer support agents the extra time to handle some queries personally. Real-time communication, specifically via mobile and social media, is in demand, especially by younger generations who are used to communicating in these ways. Being able to provide immediate support improves the customer experience and builds trust in customers.