ICMI Contact Center Expo and Conference Summary (Part 2)

There was a buzz on the show floor during exhibit hall hours at the ICMI Contact Center Expo and Conference. The organizers kept the hall open during times when there weren’t any formal conference sessions scheduled. This concentrated timeframe gave exhibitors greater access to the contact center professionals in attendance, keeping them constantly busy discussing their solutions. In this second part of our coverage, we examined the perspectives of PSS Help, Salesforce Service Cloud and TCN.

In what ways do contact centers need to change to more effectively serve the needs of the connected customer?

Tony Porter, Chief Marketing & Sales Officer, PSS Help Innovation is now the battlefield of customer experience and engagement. It is playing an increasingly important role in how customers think about their providers and creating huge opportunities and challenges that simply didn’t exist 2 or 3 years ago. The key IT and operational agenda for the past 15 years has revolved around business-as-usual stability. This has changed. Making the most of consumer technology and responding to changing consumer behavior is now mission-critical.

Customers now often have better technology than their service providers. Most customer
‘relationship processing’ is soon going to move out of the enterprise and onto the consumer’s device. Routine tasks such as service complaints, account balances and delivery scheduling, will soon be completed directly from the device.

Consumer devices are evolving rapidly; their use is changing even faster. “Customer Power” delivers insight into what this innovation means for businesses, and how to create a culture that makes the most of rapid technological change. These ideas are viewed as key challenges over the next few years.

Bobby Amezaga, Director, Product Marketing, Salesforce Service Cloud There’s an app revolution underway. This is how consumers are engaging with companies, and frankly, expect to engage. It is important to deliver service experience your customers expect in your apps.

We need much better quality self-service. It should be easy, natural, and self-explanatory. The smartest companies are increasingly looking to self-service as key component to their Tier 1 service strategy. But what is this experience like for your customers? Can they find/get the answers they need, or do they expend more effort than necessary by having to contact you, because they could not help themselves?

We need to increase the immediacy of response. Get the right answers in the hands of your customers quickly on their channel of choice, whether they are finding it themselves or it is being delivered to them.

We must empower agents more than ever before. Not just providing them with the information and tools they need, but providing reps with the intelligence and context they need to solve customer issues in a more efficient, personalized, and productive way. Also, how do you unlock the institutional knowledge that lies in your agents’ and employees’ minds and empowers them to be more collaborative in solving customer issues? If you can do this, you can ultimately deliver a better agent experience. You can reduce the amount of effort it takes for agents to help your customers. This drives agent satisfaction and allows the agents to deliver the kind of service experience that inspires customers for life.

Bryce Payne, VP of Sales TCN Contact centers need to provide an increased level of training to better equip their agents to deal with various channels. Contact centers also need to embrace emerging channels or risk losing existing or prospective customers that might fall within that new space. When a contact center embraces these other channels, it’s critical to become fully immersed and not abandon new inquiries that might come through or be divergent to certain requests. Taking the initiative to become educated on a new vertical makes a significant difference in improving the overall customer experience.

How can organizations align technology, operations and people to deliver a consistently excellent customer experience?

Tony Porter  Consumers are often better informed, have better tools, more choice and can be more adaptive than the enterprises that serve them. There is a huge gap in investment between consumer and enterprise technology…and customers are adapting to this change more quickly than organizations. Consumers expect to be able to communicate in the way they want, where they want and when they want.

Social Me, Customer Power and these disruptive innovations have created what we view as a new Apex Social Predator. ‘Social Me’ is the digitally enabled consumer with a single blended experience across devices and activities such as home, work and social life. They are able to take advantage of channels and systems in order to manage their relationships with organizations in the same way that they do their social networks. More and more of us are becoming Social Me without thinking about it or being aware of it.

The difficulty of doing business with a company has become a critical factor.  We are becoming less patient about the quality of service. A study at the end of 2014 suggested that these new digital consumers (Social Me) look at their phones more than 220 times a day. This is primarily because there are questions that have to be asked at the same time and each different department has an input to the answers.

Customer experience has to be a team effort. The team also needs to have representatives that are not traditionally involved in shaping the business. These include front line staff, process and product owners, the customer and the finance department

Although you hear a lot about Customer Experience, most organizations still face the challenge of managing to deliver it well. This is because the whole organization is engaged in the customer experience but only certain silos are involved in its planning.

This leaves companies with 5 key issues. Without the right answers, you cannot align your organization to effectively deliver the most appropriate experience to the situation.

  • What do we mean by our appropriate Customer Experience?
  • How does it relate to our processes and compliance?
  • How does it relate to our technology?
  • How do we cost it?
  • How do we improve it?

Bobby Amezaga  Organizations can position themselves to deliver consistently exceptional customer service by aligning people, leveraging technology and putting people in teams. It’s important to align people and empower them and create a collaborative space (e.g. new agents with experienced agents to share expertise).

Technology should also be leveraged to create a space and culture of collaboration, and people should be organized into teams. At Salesforce, we develop technology with the ‘SCRUM’ methodology by placing people together physically in the same space and utilizing Chatter as our built-in collaboration layer.

Bryce Payne  TCN’s advanced cloud-based technology allows our internal staff and operations to operate as close to the ideal as possible. True efficiency exists when all levels of an organization are trained and knowledgeable to work in unison with one another, which ultimately ensures optimal customer experience. When inefficiencies exist, the service representative and the customer are both left with subpar experiences. By leveraging TCN’s Platform 3.0, organizations are able to eliminate the need for complicated hardware and improve connectivity between agents and customers, increasing efficiency without having to bring on board additional staff.

What do see you as the difference between multi-channel and omni-channel service? How do your solutions help enable companies to more effectively engage customers across multiple touch points?

Tony Porter Multi-channel operations were basically having a call center and a web site, so the customer could choose how to contact your business. Moving toward a truly integrated omni-channel strategy that provides a single, blended experience across the customer’s choice of channels and devices can dramatically reduce the cost of contact center operations. Integration can help you resolve existing problems around disjointed service, where each new channel simply adds another way to get a bad experience. Instead, an omni-channel strategy will allow you to join the dots, to get a complete picture of the customer.

At PSS, our clients tell us that the #1 problem in developing their channel contact strategy is a shortage of skills. This is the major roadblock in moving forward with innovation and delivering projects on time and in budget. PSS can provide immediate and flexible access to a wide range of expertise across leading call center technologies, whether you need a single specialist for a day or team for a year. We provide hundreds of thousands of hours of resources that reduce costs and risks, while speeding up time frames and maximizing the rewards of innovation.

Bobby Amezaga  Multi-channel is simply the ability to deliver service on more than one channel. Omni-channel takes it a step further and requires the delivery of a consistent experience as customers move across and within channels. The key to delivering this is having a complete, 360-degree of your customer in a single location. This provides the context needed for agents to resolve customer issues more quickly and in a more personalized way. Service Cloud provides agents with a unified, 360-degree desktop view of the customer, giving them the tools and context they need to deliver a great and consistent experience across any channel.

Bryce Payne  While multiple touch points are important, we’re focusing our attention on one of the most important ones, being voice. Although many providers aim to be the “jack of all trades,” they often end up providing mediocre or mid-level service experiences. Voice interaction is still the most highly used and developed channel to date; therefore it must be treated with expertise. We have plans to enter into the SMS and social space in the near future.

What specific benefits does your solution or service deliver that differentiates it from other offerings in the marketplace?

Tony Porter  Many manufacturers have already ended or are now ending support for their contact center systems, which initially looks like a costly problem. But it does not mean end of life – PSS provides a third party support alternative that delivers better support and reduces the total cost of ownership.  “End of Life” does not mean end of value.

Whether it’s IVR, ACD, Dialer or Call Recorder, we can support it. Given the need to keep up with the latest innovations, a stable technology is becoming more valuable, not less.

We provide an alternative approach. Unlike technology vendors, PSS occupies a unique position in supporting both platform and applications throughout the enterprise, regardless of the manufacturer. PSS not only helps fix the contracted problems, but takes responsibility to resolve any interfaced solutions, such as Web Services/CTI/PBX. PSS Support provides support that is 24x7x365 as standard where first call response is with a skilled PSS engineer.

Not only can customers feel better about support but we have heard that typical cost savings are between 30-40%.

Bobby Amezaga  In recent years, customers have requested innovation and have been asking less about features. On our part, we’re constantly asking ‘where do our customers need us to go?’ We don’t just get our answers by consensus. We use focus groups, make site visits and meet with leaders-not just CEOs, but those with day-to-day involvement, such as VPs of customer service and the like. We evaluate needs to see what best fits in our roadmap.

With this in mind, the Salesforce platform fosters continuous innovation, which we officially unveil 3 times per year. These updates are enabled by enterprise cloud computing, something that on-premise cannot deliver. The Salesforce platform has enabled a 40% increase in productivity and a 40% increase in customer satisfaction because it enables customers to innovate. Salesforce Service Cloud is a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, rated high for both “completeness of vision” and “ability to execute.” These ratings recognize both how Salesforce listens to its customers’ needs and is extremely responsive.

Bryce Payne, TCN In the fast-paced world of call centers, it’s critical to have the most up-to-date technology and processes in place to ensure optimal efficiency. TCN’s cloud-based call center technology is setting itself apart with the following features and benefits:

  • TCN Platform 3.0 VocalVision – a virtual call center technology for the visually impaired.
  • TCN Competitive Analytics – a new full integrated business intelligence analytics solution for our cloud-based call center suite, Platform 3.0.
  • Pricing model – pay-per-use affordable pricing model
  • True cloud SaaS – An “always-on” cloud-based delivery model provides customers with immediate access to the latest version of the platform. In addition, it gives them the ability to quickly and easily scale and adjust to evolving business needs.
  • Blended agents – Our Blended Inbound/Outbound feature maximizes agent efficiency.
  • Efficiency gains – An independent study proves that TCN’s platform excels in efficiency and productivity on various factors, including agent calls per hour and Right Party Contact (RPC).

TCN is always keeping an ear to the ground to hear what customers are saying and to see how they can incorporate feedback into making TCN’s technology even more tailored to fit our customers’ needs.

How do you help companies reduce costs, increase functionality and build roadmaps to their future by guiding them through the stages of technology transition?

Tony Porter PSS offers complete 3rd party support with a wide range of flexible solutions to extend the life of existing infrastructure. In addition, we provide transition capabilities that help customers understand the role of innovation and its impact on migration projects

We also have a range of innovations that integrate with existing technology to more efficiently manage a business and improve the customer experience.

Desktop – Developing and delivering agent desktops and increasing their functionality

Visual IVR – As part of a Multi-Channel/Omni-Channel strategy Visual IVR is one of the new ways to link a company’s contact center to its website and apps creating a seamless omni-channel experience

Monitoring – Setting your goal to having a single pane of glass view to measure the customer experience across disparate systems

Reporting – Develop an approach to be able to quickly and easily view end-to-end reporting across the whole contact center infrastructure

Call Recording Compliance – Developing an approach to strategies and technologies to stay one step ahead of regulatory compliance requirements

Customer Experience – Practical services to help understand, manage and improve the customer experience, specially designed to build a bridge between Customer Experience, business process and technology

Can you explain the concept of “predictive support” and how Salesforce Service Cloud empowers agents to both anticipate customer needs and resolve issues more quickly?

Bobby Amezaga: There is an unprecedented amount of data being generated: 90% of the world’s data was created in the past 2 years. So, how do we use technology to extract the signal from the noise? Service Cloud is making an investment in harnessing big data and has built intelligence into the Agent Console with the following:

  • Intelligent Business Processes: Dynamically assign cases to agents based on skill set, case history, presence or communication channel—email, web, phone, video chat or SMS. Using advanced workflow automation, the Intelligence Engine can also trigger any business process, such as escalating cases beyond the support department to sales or marketing.
  • Intelligent Workload Management: Automatically distribute and manage agent workload to respond to the unpredictable demands of omni-channel support. Rather than relying on a manual process to fill an agent’s queue with cases, Intelligent Workload Management will automatically distribute cases to agents based on their expertise to handle specific types of cases, as well as their caseload, to maximize their productivity. For example, Service Cloud will suspend pushing cases to an agent if they’re on a video chat or factor in how much to decrease the workload for an agent who will soon be on break.
  • Seamless Omni-Channel Customer View: Customers can start a conversation on one channel and seamlessly transition to another without having to continuously identify themselves, rehash the problem or bring a new agent up to speed. A customer with an open email case who requests a video chat will automatically be routed to the same agent working on the email case for a seamless service experience.

Service Cloud also serves up similar cases that are recommended cases that may help an agent solve a case they are currently working on, automatic recommended next steps, and serves up relevant articles to help with a case.

How does your TCN cloud-based Platform 3 combine intuitive technology with flexibility to enable businesses of all types to build their bottom lines?

Bryce Payne: Because TCN is 100% cloud-based, organizations are able to make instant changes to their own IVR and inbound/outbound campaigns, all from their computer without the need to bring on additional IT resources. This ability to give end users in-house control speaks to the ease of use and flexibility of our technology. This in return adds to bottom line efficiencies.

The monitoring capabilities track agent-customer interactions, allowing organizations to monitor campaign success and make business decisions based on performance reports.

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