Cloud Software

5 Easy Ways to Reduce Customer Service Costs

Bog contributed by Bright Pattern

How can customer service leaders meet increasing expectations for delivering great customer experiences while keeping operational costs in check? Hiring more agents is only part of the equation. The other part is to use advanced digital technologies to modernize contact center operations, reduce costs, and boost customer engagement.

Here are some suggestions compiled by Forrester Research on how to remake the contact center into a customer engagement center:

    1. Make self-service more interactive with chatbots. Adding an option for live conversation can help customers that might be getting “stuck” in self-service.
    2. Examine the customer’s digital journey. Use analytics and other methods to track customer behavior on websites and mobile apps. Finding pain points that may be driving higher call volumes, and explore ways to make the customer journey better.
    3. Add robotic process automation (RPA). These bots can simplify and streamline routine processes like customer onboarding, which reduces the cost per customer and leaves agents free to handle exceptions or complex inquiries.
    4. Give your agents virtual assistants. Agent-facing bots can help agents perform better by shadowing conversations and proactively suggesting next steps to resolve calls quickly and successfully.
    5. Use AI to optimize resources. Essential behind-the-scenes operations like call routing and field service scheduling can be offloaded to AI-based processes that speed up performance while also analyzing trends to develop further service improvements.

Using one or more of these digital transformation strategies can help contact centers maximize their

5 Must-Ask Questions When Choosing a Cloud Solution for the Contact Center

When was the last time you took a good look at your contact center and vowed to give it the update it needs? Regularly taking the pulse of your contact center, particularly when it comes to the software you use and how efficient it is, will help you remain competitive in the industry and relevant to your customers. Once you know the improvements that need to be made, you can find a cloud solution that meets your needs. Ask yourself the following questions when choosing cloud software.

  1. Will it support our omni-channel strategy?

Any software your contact center uses will need to support all of the channels your customers use to interact. This includes text, voice, web and social media. Additionally, these channels need to work flawlessly together so that you can provide omni-channel, not just multi-channel, service.

  1. Will the cloud solution remain up-to-date as time goes on?

The last thing you want is to be under contract with a cloud software provider who lets their service become antiquated. A quality cloud solution vendor will regularly add new features so that your contact center can remain on the cutting edge and continue to serve customers’ changing demands.

  1. How is uptime ensured?

A cloud solution that has too much downtime is going to be a major problem for your contact center. Ask your vendor about their service level agreement (SLA) for uptime. A certain amount of uptime should always be ensured.

  1. Is the vendor reliable?

Problems are bound to occur. When they do, you want to know that your vendor will be available to help you sort them out as quickly as possible. First, make sure the vendor has plenty of availability. Then, ask about the process they use to problem-solve.

  1. What will happen as the contact center expands?

Your contact center is going to change and, hopefully, grow with time. The cloud solution you choose will need to evolve and adapt along with your contact center. It should also be able to scale so that you won’t have to find a new cloud solution as you grow.

Have you hit a wall with your current software solution? It may be time to move to a cloud-based solution. Your contact center will get the modern functionality needed to quickly and properly serve today’s customers.


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.

Learn from this Sample Customer Journey: Booking a Flight to Boarding the Plane

Today’s customer journey considers the beginning-to-end experience that the user follows to complete a task. Often, the journey involves numerous channels and devices that all must interact with the customer wherever, whenever and however they want.

Air travel can be exhausting, both physically and mentally, especially if the many plans that have to be in place don’t come together. Delayed or canceled flights, difficulty scheduling backup flights, lost luggage and missed connections are just the beginning of the travel headache. Done correctly, the customer journey of a person who’s traveling can be greatly eased with intuitive messaging and thoughtful touch points. Consider this modern customer journey for the traveler:

• Book your flight online well in advance to secure the best ticket price.

• Receive a push notification from the airline’s mobile app that allows you to check-in the night before your flight.

• Choose the way you’d like to receive your boarding pass (saving it to your phone, via email, etc.).

• At the airport, visit a kiosk to scan the boarding pass on your phone and then print your baggage ticket.

• Show security your digital boarding pass.

• Receive immediate flight status updates through your preferred contact method (text message, email, app push notification, etc.).

• While on the flight, go to the airline’s website on your phone, tablet or laptop to watch movies.

Traveling of the past was often rife with long lines to get to an agent at the airport, paper boarding passes that can get easily lost and difficulty keeping up with the latest flight changes. The reason the new, digitally-enhanced customer journey flows so well is because the airline (or booking service) the traveler uses offers online and mobile access; remembers personal information, allowing the company to send customized alerts to individual travelers; has multiple digital options for doing necessary travel tasks, then syncs those options (saving the boarding pass to your phone then scanning it at the luggage tag kiosk); and generally keeps travelers in-the-know regarding their trip. Once on the flight, the company is further able to keep the traveler happy and entertained by offering in-flight Internet service and other types of free entertainment.

This type of customer journey takes into account the cornerstones that customers need: consistent and proactive service, optimized features, collaborative options and seamless transitions.

How Real-Time Analytics Monitoring Improves the Contact Center

Real-time data helps businesses run smoothly. Being able to see the truth about how your company is performing moment-to-moment lets you understand the reality of your business. When you know where you’re losing as well as where you’re winning, it’s easier to appropriately adjust and monitor the contact center’s daily functions. When day-to-day functions are made more efficient, productivity can increase. Here are six benefits of real-time analytics monitoring

1. The quantity and quality of calls can be tracked.

Real-time monitoring allows the contact center to know exactly how many calls are being handled by agents, plus how many calls are currently in queue. The supervisor can see how many calls are being worked on and resolved by specific agents, and conversations can be listened in on to find out how they’re being handled. At any point, the contact center can track a call in real-time and then step in if the agent seems to be struggling. By closely monitoring calls, you can determine where a specific agent or a group of agents need more work.

2. Assess the changing value of a customer.

Customers will change their value to a company as they continue to purchase items or as they become dissatisfied with the products or level of service they receive. When a customer changes how frequently they purchase, real-time analytics can immediately update the customer’s status. The next time the customer contacts an agent, the agent will know how valuable the customer is. If the customer has been purchasing more frequently, they can be moved to VIP status. If they haven’t been purchasing as frequently as in the past, they may need an incentive in order to trust the company more.

3. Analyze waiting and idle time.

The amount of time a customer has to wait to have their problem resolved is a huge part of the customer experience. The longer the wait time, the more upset the customer may get, getting the customer-agent conversation off to a bad start. While an agent may need extra time to resolve a problem, the customer only cares about how long the process is taking. With real-time analytics, the wait and idle time for each agent can be assessed.

4. Quickly manage long queues.

At times, the contact center will be understaffed or inundated with calls, live chat requests, and emails. During these times, real-time monitoring can show you which agents are idle, allowing you to redirect calls that are currently in queue to those agents. Team members can quickly be reallocated in order to meet a surge in demand.

5. Find out how long it takes for agents to handle queries.

Contact center agents are tasked with resolving issues in the quickest way possible without lowering service quality. With real-time analytics, you can see how long agents are spending on each customer. You can then work with the agents who regularly take a long time with customers in order to lower their average resolution time.

6. Take advantage of cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.

When a customer has recently bought a product or service, the contact center agent has an opportunity to cross-sell or up-sell. Real-time data can track what the customer has recently purchased and then automatically populate other products or services that they may be interested in. The system may also prompt the agent to offer the customer a better version of the product they’re ready to purchase at a higher price point.

6 Benefits of a Cloud Contact Center

The premise-based contact center requires hardware and software that have to be purchased, setup, updated and maintained. Equipment and maintenance can be costly, and an HR or IT department is usually required to manage the system. When the hardware or software becomes outdated, it will have to be replaced, which is another large investment.

Cloud-based contact centers, however, are subscription-based. The hardware, software and maintenance is controlled by a third party provider. You won’t have to spend money on special routers, servers, hardware, software or in-house staff. The cloud-based system can be accessed online from anywhere. Here are six benefits of switching to the cloud:

  1. Accessibility Everywhere

Cloud-based CRM can be accessed no matter where you are in the world. The CRM industry is fast-paced and it’s necessary to keep data up-to-date by the minute. Data that hasn’t been updated even within the past hour can already be irrelevant. Not only are cloud-based CRM systems accessible from wherever you are via a number of Internet-connected devices, but the system will also update in real time.

  1. Simple Setup

Software-based CRM systems require a lot of time and expertise to get up and running. Installing software on hundreds or thousands of machines can be time-consuming. With cloud software, employees can signup, login through their browser and immediately get to work. Plus, the purpose of cloud CRM systems is to have every agent be able to use it. While quick training may be helpful, there’s no reason to spend hours training agents on how to use the system. Modern cloud systems are intuitive and user-friendly.

  1. Less Overhead

Cloud contact centers avoid the large, upfront payment that’s the norm with premise-based software. The monthly subscription will remain the same, covering everything from storage and access to maintenance and support services. Plus, since cloud CRM systems don’t require the same type of IT attention that software does, you won’t have to pay high maintenance costs.

  1. Hassle-Free Upgrades

Traditional software requires routine upgrades, which can cause problems with other software that’s not compatible. With the cloud, upgrades never result in compatibility issues because the program doesn’t actually live on your device. If you want to scale your business, the cloud-based system will scale with you, often without no added cost. You can add more agents and buy more phone lines without paying anything extra. As your business changes because of something unexpected or simply due to seasonal fluctuations, your cloud system can change along with it.

  1. Automatic Backup Protection

The cloud automatically backs up your data in order to keep it safe. If a disaster or emergency happens, your contact center information won’t be vulnerable. Even if one cloud server goes down, another cloud server will immediately take its place, making it possible for you to continue working.

  1. Remote Workers

Cloud-based CRM systems allow you to employ remote contact center agents. This is especially helpful if you need agents to provide service to customers in different time zones. So long as the agent can access the Internet, calls can be routed to them from the contact center’s network. Telecommuting has its perks: employees are happier, overhead is lower and the hiring pool is larger because you’re not required to hire people who live in a certain location.

Cloud-based CRM software can streamline business practices, improve the customer experience, give you a better pool of candidates to hire from and increase your bottom line.