Author: crmxblog

4 Contact Center Trends for 2019

As we move into 2019, one-time contact center fads are now becoming necessary technologies and solutions. In the past, things like video how-to guides and futuristic voice detection were interesting add-ons to the traditional contact center. Today, they’re necessities, and the contact centers that don’t add at least some of them to the mix risk falling behind. Here are four technologies to consider using in your contact center

Enhance your knowledgebase with different types of media.

Text-only answers to FAQ are just one type of solution you should be providing in your knowledgebase. Not everyone learns best by reading alone, which can cause customers to contact a live agent even if the answer they need is right there in your FAQ section. To truly help any and all customers troubleshoot their problems, enhance your knowledgebase with advanced how-to articles and tutorials, plus animation, infographics, videos and any other format they’ll find useful.

Use AI to create a more personalized experience.

AI can be used to create a more personal customer experience in a way that lets the customer interact more humanly with technology. Face and fingerprint recognition can be used to place orders, or voice detection can be used to more naturally talk to chatbots. With advanced AI, though, comes more risk, which is why contact centers may have to improve their security as they employ AI technology.

Optimize the live chat window for mobile.

Even if live chat is available via the mobile website, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s optimized for mobile ­– for example, it could still take up just a portion of the web page, making it super tiny on a mobile screen. A mobile-optimized live chat page will take up the entire screen to maximize text and it will have a minimalist design to streamline the conversation. Push notifications are another must-have so that the customer doesn’t have to stare at the window until they receive a response.

Give VIPs a separate phone number to call.

When your VIP customers need to contact an agent, you want to make sure they can reach someone and have their problem solved right away. Give them a separate phone number or extension to call. They’ll get premium service and they’ll be quickly connected to your most experienced agents. Even complicated or specific issues can be solved without routing them to different departments or agents.


5 Ways to Use AI in the Contact Center

Artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t about replacing live, human agents with robots; it’s about supporting the agent by handling more routine issues so customers can get live help for their complex issues.

Here are 5 ways contact centers can use AI.1. Replace simple IVR processes.

1. Replace simple IVR processes. Basic IVR can do something like transfer a call to the sales department. AI takes this several steps further thanks to machine learning and natural language processing, allowing it to understand what the customer is saying (as opposed to just giving the customer a string of choices). AI can get rid of annoying queues and “If A, then B” action sequences and replace them with smarter, more human interactions.

2. Act as an agent assistant. AI can function as an assistant by sitting on the desktop, collecting customer info via a bot that’s currently serving the customer, then alerting the agent about what their next steps should be. This goes back to the overall purpose of AI to help the agent perform better and to work smarter instead of harder.

3. Be part of the quality assurance team. AI solutions can analyze agent and customer conversations and give live feedback to team leaders and QA teams about both what is being said and how it’s being said. AI listens and interprets more than just words  it can also ascertain stress level and clarity of speech.

4. Help stabilize workforce management.AI can not only predict upcoming spikes in communication based on data but it can also recruit agents to fill in the gaps in the schedule. Also, since AI can handle a number of more basic customer needs on its own, it reduces the number of employees needed at any one time and levels out major peaks and valleys.

5. Improve the customer experience. AI can analyze the customer journey to determine where the hottest touchpoints are as well as different areas for improvement. It can also understand customer patterns and predict experiences in order to deliver an excellent experience before the customer even realizes what they need next. AI is finding its way into all sorts of brands, organizations and business processes. One of the places where it’s making the most impact is in the contact center. Managers are using AI to create better experiences for everyone, from agents and supervisors to the customers themselves.

5 Important Contact Center Metrics for Agent Productivity

As a contact center manager, you can’t just wing it. You have to know which metrics to measure and how to use them. Here are 5 contact center metrics related to agent productivity that may be critical for you to track.

1. Average Call Abandonment Rate. This metric refers to how many calling customers hang up before reaching an agent in order to give the customer a great experience, they need to actually stay on the phone! The issue could be that agents aren’t getting to the call in time or that the IVR has too complex a queue.

2. Average Time in Queue. This metric takes the total time callers are waiting in the queue and divides it by the number of calls that are answered. If customers are waiting for too long, you can find a way to make agents more efficient (like gamification) or consider adding a callback service.

3. Inbound Contacts per Agent. This metric measures the inbound contacts an agent handles, which isn’t limited to calls but also includes chat, email, social media and texts. You’ll be able to see how efficient your agents are and also figure out where they can make improvements. It’s possible they need help handling a certain type of interaction, like live chats, but are adept at all others.

4. Average After-Call Work Time. There’s going to be some amount of after-call work for the agent to perform, but if this is eating up too much time, you need to know about it. Yes, your agents have to do thorough, accurate work, but taking extra time cuts into time they could be spending with another customer. Monitoring this metric could tell you if the paperwork is too complicated, if the agent needs additional training or if there’s a lack of motivation.

5. Occupancy Rate. Occupancy rate gives you a bird’s eye view of an agent’s productivity. It includes all duties related to customer contact, including the contact itself and after-contact work. This metric is pretty straightforward: if the occupancy rate is too low, that means the agent is spending work time doing something non-work related or something for work that doesn’t involve customer contact (like training or another type of duty).

Other important contact center metrics for productivity include average speed of answer, average handle time, first call resolution and service level.

Intouch Insight predicts 2019 Predictions

1- CX management will shift from reactive to proactive. Customer experience and voice of customer programs are designed to collect data from multiple channels, collate and analyze the data and provide retailers with the information they need to respond to clients. Typically, retailers react to customer issues, by merely closing the loop when something has gone wrong – attempting to “fix” the problem. However, reacting to a negative experience will no longer be enough. In 2019 retailers must proactively manage their customer experience, or risk becoming obsolete. There will be more focus put on proactively acting on customer insights, anticipating issues before they happen and predicting opportunities to improve the customer experience. CX platforms will need to support organizations at whatever stage of action their company is at, and will need to scale to maximize ROI on CX investments.

2- Acquisition of key players will result in new technology options. The recent acquisition of Qualtrics by SAP is a signal that there will be more acquisitions in 2019. But what does it mean for customers? History shows that most acquisitions fail, post-acquisition integration takes longer, and consolidation of key departments (e.g. customer service, product development) leads to poor customer service and slower product development. As a result, customers will turn to faster, more nimble companies that are better able to focus on their needs.

3- Mainstream adoption of cutting-edge technology will redefine the CX landscape. Artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) will become ingrained in the customer experience. Using technology like connected sensors, retailers will generate more location-level insights about CX. This will help them understand how physical location environment contributes to customer satisfaction, CX, revenue, upsell, etc. The more data that can be automatically extracted, the more insights retailers will have to make the right CX and business decisions.

2019 is going to be an exciting year for the customer experience management industry but technology providers will have to step up their game to bring forward truly innovative and collaborative solutions. Service providers will need to work closely with their customers to ensure they are putting the right practices in place, to not only meet but anticipate their CX needs. Nailing the CX program in 2019 will impact a retailer’s profitability for this year and the future.

4 Reasons Why Gamification in the Contact Center Works

Customer satisfaction is about much more than the products or services the customer receives – it’s about how they interact with customer support even when situations are challenging or frustrating. In order to continue pleasing customers, agents have to stay motivated, which isn’t always easy. With gamification, contact centers have found fun, unique ways to keep morale (and performance) high.

What is gamification? It’s a workplace strategy that uses game and play activities to motivate employees and to measure their progress. Here’s why it works:

  1. Training is more fun and interesting.

Training can be a slog and it can also be intimidating. With gamification for training purposes, new hires can feel like they’ve already been put to work – challenge them to learn a new technology quickly or to revise current customer support techniques. If agents see they’re productive and valuable right from the beginning, they’ll be more motivated once they start their job for real. Presenting training in a gamified way can also keep their attention more than something like a lackluster training video might. Gamification can also help employees retain the knowledge better.

  1. Employees compete with one another in a healthy, productive way.

Gamification relies on healthy competition to get agents working harder and smarter. Incentives like bonuses and rewards motivate agents and also force them to pay attention to how other agents are doing their job, which helps them learn from one another. In order to not favor certain employees over others, management can continually mix up the goals so that every employee has a chance to shine.

  1. Management can assess agents at their best.

When gamification works, agents are motivated to work as efficiently and productively as possible, which then provides important data for management to assess. Seeing an employee’s results when they’re performing to the highest of their ability can uncover weaknesses or strengths and give management an honest view of what to expect. For example, it may show management that a certain agent is simply not right for the job even when doing their best or it can uncover advanced skills you didn’t know an agent has.

A happy workforce is a productive one, and gamification introduces everything from training to improved performance in an appealing way. Gamification methods can help you get the most out of the investment you made in your agents.


3 Useful Ideas for Contact Center Workforce Management (WFM)

Agents are the ones on the front line of your contact center and they hold a lot of your business’ success in their hands. Agents are costly, too – according to Tenfold, they can account for up to 70% of a contact center’s expenses. Here are three ways enhancements in WFM can make the contact center more efficient (and socially conscious).

  1. Spot and handle employee problems as soon as possible.

Intelligent business tools can give a bird’s eye view of your contact center, showing management when there may be a slowing down in performance by an agent. Management can then decide how to tackle a problem, like by finding out if there are any issues that are affecting the agent or giving them new goals to strive for to boost performance. It’s not always easy for management to know when morale is flagging, so knowing when their performance starts to dip is a good indicator that something may need your attention.

  1. Make in-the-moment decisions thanks to real-time data.

With real-time monitoring of agents and content needs, management can pinpoint chunks of free time that can be better used for other tasks, like training or complex customer service issues. Also, by seeing fluctuations in demand, management can find out if any agents are interested in voluntary overtime or time off, and those schedule changes can be made on the spot. Ultimately, any time data is viewed in real-time, changes to the workforce can be immediately made to mix up staffing or pull agents for special projects or training.

  1. Use statistics to adhere to affirmative action guidelines.

Socially responsible contact centers have to make sure that they’re following affirmative action guidelines. The more employees you have, the harder it is to stay on top of these demographics, though. WFM tools can gather diversity metrics to give you realistic data about your workforce in terms of age, disabilities, gender and race, highlighting gaps you didn’t know where there. You can use this information to guide future hiring if you feel that your contact center could be more diverse.

In Conclusion

Even contact centers who are their most efficient today have to keep an eye on cost pressures. WFM tools let contact centers reduce the number of agents while using the ones they do have in a way that focuses on their strengths.

Eight major developments for 2019

  1. Companies will begin to treat customer support and communication as an integral part of the product, brand and service. Companies are beginning to take notice that you can create a cult-like following if you take care of your customers and don’t treat customer support as a checkbox or a cost center. It’s long overdue that companies view customer support as an integral part of the product, brand and service.
  2. Blending of different technologies in cloud computing space is going to continue and accelerate. In the computing cloud space, we’re seeing a trend of companies integrating their technology with devices like Alexa and Google Home that consumers speak into. We see brands, solutions providers and devices coming together and this will evolve faster and faster. Unless communications solutions providers fully leverage new capabilities and services, they’re not going to be in the forefront very long.
  3. Organizations will continue to move to cloud-based customer support solutions. Cloud-based solutions expedite digital technology progress at an exponential pace. Think about supporting new products, customers, and locations. Which companies are consumers going to recommend to their friends, family and co-workers? It will be the companies that have the best customer onboarding, support and transparency. We believe that the recipe is for non-analog, true digital, cloud-based, multi-channel, auto-scaling support communication platforms. We expect Web RTC to continue to make inroads here. From a deployment standpoint, even large, complex contact centers can be deployed in three to four weeks via a robust cloud service platform, compared to four to six months for legacy technology-based solutions.
  4. Companies will realize the need to up their game in how they provide support in their mobile apps.
    Quality of service needs to become a priority. Most mobile apps today have poor customer support. It’s a very dated concept to present a default phone dialer that pushes the customer outside of your mobile app. When a customer is in your app, you have access to a wealth of information about them. It is particularly crucial for connected devices (e.g., Nest, Noon, Fitbit) and on-demand services such as food and grocery delivery to provide in-app support. Support solutions need to leverage available customer data to streamline information exchange and resolve disappointing experiences where customers feel their time and effort are wasted providing answers to a company that should already have access to their information.
  5. Context-aware solutions maximize what we know about a user.                          The recipe for achieving delightful end user support experiences are to minimize average support session durations and maximize agent effectiveness. In-depth awareness of end user context is becoming an increasingly important ingredient. This requires the ability to evaluate key available customer data and detect specific context patterns in real time, at any given point in time. The way to optimize the end user experience is to enable the contact center to assess a customer’s current context, for an expanding set of scenarios, and to leverage that intelligently in support. We see this evolving relatively quickly into a standard end user expectation over the next few years.
  6. Customer service will become progressively more user profile and data-driven (the way marketing has).
    Marketing communications service providers have established deep capabilities and proven results in the last decade, in part by optimizing their communications strategies around finely honed sophisticated user profile segmentation. As a logical extension to context awareness, leveraging and maximizing the available data about each customer can offer real differentiation opportunities for the modern contact center. By drawing insights from basic profile metrics like lifetime customer value (LCV), evaluating core customer historical data, channel and more advanced preferences like voice or personality of the support entity, it’s possible to elevate support experiences, strengthen brand appreciation, increase LCV, and help drive positive organic social media reach and impact.
  7. Companies will continue to move to a single support center solution.
    Operating a contact center by combining multiple technologies, e.g., especially different communication channels and services will come with increasing opportunity costs. The longer a contact center relies on different core technology solutions, the greater the gap to competitors with modern single contact center platforms. The single contact center platform offers a variety of growing benefits across several disciplines, including the ability to:

○        Offer modern customer support experiences via seamless in-session cross-channel support

○        Optimize agent workflows via cross-channel adapters (i.e., calls, chats, messaging)

○        More effectively manage agent resources across channels

○        Provide visibility into comprehensive cross-channel dashboards, with quick actions to adjust to overall contact center conditions

○        Apply simplified, deeper and more comprehensive routing logic across all scenarios and channels to reduce time to resolution and leverage skilled agents more effectively

○        Provide out of the box, cohesive and integrated reporting and business intelligence across the entire suite of contact center operations, including across channels, virtual and human agents

○        Work towards a single 360-degree customer view by enabling data flows and integrations from the contact center across business units within a company, rather than just within the contact center

Automation of processes will have more impact than AI.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are overhyped for many real life applications, including the contact center industry. For example, instead of trying to identify specific patterns in images or data (an AI/ML sweet spot), it will be much more useful to increase the volume of satisfying self-service support sessions through intelligently applied automation to resolve common questions and provide guided user flows through defined business processes. By leveraging human intelligence primarily for those support scenarios that can’t be effectively automated, call center operations will be further optimized.

Blog Contributor – Anand Janefalkar, CEO and Founder of UJET,

4 Contact Center Technology Trends to Pay Attention To

Knowing the tech trends that have been overtaking the market is different from actually making moves to adopt those trends. Don’t be like so many other contact centers out there that lag behind when it comes to customer expectations and contact center trends. Instead, stay on top of the newest technologies and solutions to improve the customer experience now and in the future.

Here are 4 contact center trends to know now and as you move into the new year.

  1. Migration to the cloud.

The cloud itself isn’t a new technology, but more and more contact centers are realizing the importance of migrating their system to the cloud. If you stick with your on-premise contact center system, you’ll limit your ability to manage several locations and to add more communication channels.

  1. Full adoption of omnichannel.

Just like with the cloud, omnichannel isn’t exactly a new idea, but now contact centers are actually taking the steps to make it a reality (instead of just educating themselves about its benefits). The silos that exist between billing, customer service and support have to be broken down, as do the separations between your assisted service and self-service channels. Slowly rolling out omnichannel solutions only keeps data siloed (and customers annoyed) for longer; instead, find the right technology that will let you marry all of your channels at the same time.

  1. Smarter IVR solutions.

IVR is one of those technologies that’s always seeing new innovations and improvements. These include:

  • Better personalization based on context to resolve more issues within the IVR
  • Identifying customers from caller ID to reduce the number of necessary identification steps
  • Speech recognition to determine level of stress beyond curse word cues
  1. Better testing methods for chat bots.

Chat bots are now being used by contact centers for first line interactions, which means you also need more advanced ways of measuring outcomes. A/B testing, which has traditionally been used just with digital marketing, is now used to optimize chat bots so they can continue to offer more advanced support.

By combining a willingness to be adaptable with a culture of constant improvement, your contact center can continue to keep up with technology changes, now and in the future. You’ll also set yourself up as a strong competitor in the industry while retaining both your workforce and your customer base.

What You Should Know About Migrating Your Contact Center to the Cloud

Your contact center’s customer experience platform is powerful. It’s used to design customer journeys; carry out and keep track of interactions; and follow through on your many business goals, such as improving FCR and reducing churn. Running a contact center also means always understanding what customers want now and being able to update the experience you offer to meet those changing needs. Migrating your platform to the cloud, either in full or partially, is one way to handle this type of constant change. The cloud keeps your operations agile, reliable and scalable so you can continually adapt.

3 Benefits of the Cloud

  1. You won’t have to allot nearly as many resources or as big of a budget to the cloud as you do to an on-premises platform. You can then focus the resources on things like measuring and analyzing data; creating or improving the customer journey; or adding new interaction channels your customers are using.
  2. The cloud provides unlimited flexibility whether you need to scale up or down based on fluctuations in demand. You can do this without even thinking about things like what your licensing allows or how much processing capacity the platform has.
  3. Innovation is much easier to take advantage of with a cloud-based platform. You can quickly and easily add new channels, test different integrations or try out modern technology like AI.

How to Embrace the Cloud-Based Contact Center

Knowing all of the benefits the cloud offers doesn’t make it easier to make the change, and switching over to the cloud, even partially to start, is a huge step. There are a couple of different ways to start embracing the cloud, allowing you to either go full steam ahead or start at a slower pace.

If your current on-premises platform has a cloud alternative, you’ll have a streamlined way to migrate your platform to the equivalent cloud version. Another option is to commit to a hybrid model for now, meaning you’ll migrate certain functions to the cloud while keeping other functions on-premises for the time being.

Moving your processes to the cloud is an excellent way to meet the challenge of a constantly changing industry. With different migration options, you can find the one that best suits your business and goals, and you can start adopting the cloud without disrupting business operations.

What Contact Center KPIs Are on Your Dashboard?

A dashboard is an area of the Agent Desktop that displays abbreviated, at-a-glance metrics that help both agents and supervisors easily monitor important areas of work, such as the amount of time agents spend doing after-call work, how many inbound calls have been handled, and so on. Like a game scoreboard, a dashboard provides real-time updates of key values—in this case, selected metrics—that are helpful to agents and supervisors. Most contact centers use metrics to boost agent and team performance and increase the quality of the interactions handled.

The names of these metrics are typically abbreviated so that more can fit in a small space. Supervisors will get to know these names as they go about their day-to-day operations.

It’s possible to display any combination of these metrics. The ones that get displayed on your Agent Desktop dashboard really depend on the needs of your contact center, agents, teams, and services.

Bright Pattern, for example, offers these dashboard metrics, which offer snapshots of everything from handling time, outbound calls dialed, and inbound calls received to dispositions, calls in the queue, and team success rate.

Real-time dashboards provide a broad view of everything that affects customer service and satisfaction:

  • Status: Where are the customers now—in IVR, on hold, waiting, being helped?
  • Abandonment: How many interactions were abandoned or dropped?
  • Dropped calls/chats: How many interactions were dropped, and why?
  • What’s in the queue: How many customers are waiting to be helped?
  • Service level: How many calls and interactions have been accepted and handled today?

A Contact Center Driven by Insights

KPIs provide the insights you need for improving agent engagement and elevating the customer experience. The customer experience hinges on empowering agents with the right training, tools, and service model. Bright Pattern’s omnichannel contact center software helps empower agents with unique tools that facilitate better conversations, boost agent performance, and deliver higher returns in customer satisfaction and agent engagement. Having a unified and powerful Agent Desktop that displays important KPIs helps to keep supervisors focused on teams and agents focused on customers.

You can learn more about how monitoring agent metrics can help improve agent engagement and customer service by downloading the e-book.