Customer Interaction

Customer Loyalty Can Take Your Business to the Next Level: Here’s How to Get It

Business ownership can feel like a constant hustle, especially when you’re first starting off. Many self-employed people spend a huge portion of their time scraping together projects for the future in order to make sure they continue to have business down the line. Some of this is inevitable, but your long-term goal should include building up long-term security.

One great way to do this is by focusing on building up customer loyalty. You don’t have to scrape for more clients if you know the clients you currently have will keep using your services. There are several techniques you can use to make this happen. Here are a few tips from CrmXchange on how to nail it:

Make Time for Clients

Don’t let the basics fall to the wayside. When it comes to earning customer loyalty, your best tool is always quality time and personalized work. You need to make sure you get solid facetime (whether in person or via video) with your client in order to fully understand their needs and make the best possible product for them. Virtuallinda points out that continuous check-ins throughout the process can save you from the process going awry and lets the client know you truly care about their needs.

However, it can be hard to commit this kind of time to your clients when you’re still juggling other business tasks. If you or your staff are too hurried to feel like you can give customers the time and energy they deserve, there’s something missing elsewhere in your processes. Turn a critical eye to your everyday tasks to see if you can streamline things. If you’re stumped, you might need to hire more workers, or work on expanding your business acumen. Taking some classes can provide insights into better business practices, especially if you return to school for your MBA, which will provide deeper understanding of management, leadership and decision making.

Create Expandable Services

One major issue that might be standing in the way of customer loyalty is focusing on one-off projects. Self-contained work can be great when you’re first getting started, but it has inherent drawbacks. If you want to try to get a long-term client, try to think of ways you can offer to extend services past a project’s finish line.

For example, if you’re a graphic designer who has made a solid logo for a new business, you could allow that relationship to end once the logo’s complete. However, it may make more sense to offer social media graphic design services as ongoing work. After all, as Social Media Today notes, businesses tend to perform better on social media when they’re producing their own visual content — you can build your style into their brand and keep their business for the long run.

Remain Consistent and Professional

Customer loyalty can be challenging to build and easy to lose. It’s extremely important to remain consistent and professional, no matter how long you’ve been working with a client. It’s easy to take business relationships for granted, but doing so can backfire quickly.

For example, you might put a consistent client’s work on the back burner while tending to new leads. If you lack project management skills, this can ultimately end in neglecting your long-standing clients’ work, missing deadlines, or turning in lackluster products. Everyone has a bad day once in a while, but if you make this kind of mistake repeatedly, even long-standing clients will walk.

Customer loyalty can help you create secure and consistent income. However, it takes serious legwork to get it. These tools can help you build relationships that take your business further. And if you’re looking for services to make your business better, check out the contect from CrmXchange.

[2021 Data] 99 Customer Experience Stats & Trends Defining This Decade

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world economy in a variety of ways. For one, it has significantly accelerated the process of digital transformation. The number of online customer interactions went through the roof.

This has forced lots of businesses to channel their resources towards delivering better online experiences. The customer-centric approach, backed with customer data and customer satisfaction metrics, is now the new paradigm.

However, only 17% of customers believe that brands listen to their feedback. Almost one in ten customers rate their recent customer experience as poor. And, not surprisingly, poor customer service is the primary reason behind customer churn.

Tidio surveyed 1,000+ consumers to explore customer experience trends that will define this decade.

Here’s some of what they found out:

  • Delivery time – 78% of online shoppers mention fast shipping as the most critical aspect of the online shopping experience.
  • Fast customer service – 44% of shoppers expect that the average response time from customer service should be below 5 minutes.
  • 55% of online shoppers aged 18-24 won’t buy from poorly performing websites (poor product photos and slow website loading times).
  • 46% of Gen Z buyers are willing to pay more for the same product if they can shop in their favorite online store.

A complete study with a list of 99 Customer Experience Statistics & Interesting CX Trends: 99 Customer Experience Statistics & Interesting CX Trends [2021].

Prioritizing Customer Experience in Every Aspect of Your Business

“Who’s your boss?”

You might immediately think of your manager or the CEO. Or, if you own the company, you might proudly say, “Me!” However, there is someone else who is above you in the chain of command — your customers!

You might not think of your customers as the boss, but they are the reason you make money and are successful. So while you don’t necessarily have to cater to every customer’s whim, you do need to build your business around the customer experience (CX).

How do you prioritize customer experience in every aspect of your business? Let’s take a look.

Marketing

Marketing is the beginning of your relationship with any customer. The goal is to focus all of your marketing messages on the customer’s needs and how you can be the solution to those.

Donald Miller of StoryBrand takes it a step further. He says that every aspect of your marketing should be focused on telling the story of how your customer is the hero. Your business is the sidekick that will help them achieve their mission.

No matter how you go about it, it’s essential to ensure that your customers feel they are the center of your marketing message. Start with fully understanding your target market, and then speak directly to them. Otherwise, you won’t be able to connect with them and bring them into your circle of influence.

Your Website

Your website is part of your marketing, but we’re listing it separately because people often won’t come to your website unless you’ve already connected to them in another way.

Once your marketing brings someone to your website, what do they experience there? Having excellent UX design is an important part of not only keeping visitors engaged on your website but also ranking well in search results.

Google wants to deliver the most relevant, high-quality content available each time a user enters a query. When you have a great user experience on your website, your site will be in sync with what Google is trying to offer. As a result, you’ll rank more highly.

Review your website. Are the menus easy to read and understand? Can you navigate the website on a mobile device? Are your message and offer clear within the first few seconds? If so, you’re on the right track.

Product or Service Design

Every product or service should be designed to solve a specific problem that the customer has. The more precisely you target your product or service, the more successful you will be at selling it.

Unfortunately, some folks get tied up in what they want the design to be, rather than what the customer is looking for. They can add too many features, too little training, or create an unattractive behemoth.

Both services and products face another question. Should it be a subscription or a one-time delivery? Many businesses love subscription-based services for the consistent cash flow and retention rates. You can also offer a lower price point, which is attractive to many consumers.

However, some customers want to own what they pay for rather than feeling like they’re renting it. Only by doing the right market research will you know if your customers would prefer a subscription or ownership model.

Customer Service

You’d think that an excellent CX in customer service would be a no-brainer, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. In fact, so many consumers have a poor customer service experience that excellent service is a selling point and can retain customers for years.

Is your customer service department an afterthought or a focus for your business? How do you treat, train, and pay customer service staff? Is the culture of your company that customers calling in are “complainers,” or do your staff focus on delighting everyone?

A lot of major corporations handsomely reward salespeople but almost ignore customer service departments. But, as it has been said, “Sales without service is like stuffing money into a pocket full of holes.”

Don’t make that mistake. After the sale, your relationship with the customer has only just begun. Excellent customer service can retain them, turn them into customer advocates, and boost repeat sales.

Prioritize Employees

We’ve been talking about customer experience up until now, so why mention prioritizing your employees?

Very simply, the employees you have will define the customer experience you’re able to offer. Happy, satisfied, and engaged employees will work hard to delight customers and create a world-class experience. Disengaged, unhappy, and disgruntled employees will drive customers away.

You have a great deal of control over how your company culture and how employees experience work every day. Do you add meaning to daily tasks by explaining how they fit with the mission and make a difference in others’ lives? Do you pay appropriately and have benefits that employees look for? Do you encourage career advancement and continuing education?

The better you take care of your employees, the better they will take care of your customers. That’s why the employee experience is at the center of the customer experience.

Focus on Customer Experience Today

Making customer experience a priority in every aspect of your business doesn’t happen automatically. It takes research of relevant data, focus, and a commitment to your real boss — your target market!

If you want a truly successful business, it’s essential to focus on CX. Targeted marketing will bring in the right audience, and a website focused on your customers’ needs will convert them into buyers.

Of course, to sell well you need product or service design on par with what customers expect and enjoy. Finally, excellent customer service will turn buyers into repeat customers and brand advocates.

Which of these areas needs the most attention in your company? Today’s the day to make a difference.

Why the Customer Service Industry Needs to Embrace Virtual Reality

When it comes to customer service, the industry is in a major shift to more digital tools and features. While you can still hop on the phone and call someone for help, the customer service industry is embracing technology and new channels of enhanced experience unlike ever before.

One of the most promising areas of expansion for customer service companies is virtual reality. While the exciting technology might not sound like it’s a natural fit for the world of customer service, utilizing a VR app to provide an expanded customer service experience is proving to be a major boost for companies coming out of the pandemic and planning for the future. Here’s why the industry needs to embrace virtual reality as a new norm. 

The Future of Customer Service is Contactless

When we think of exceptional customer service, our minds tend to go to a begotten time of face-to-face specialized and personalized experiences. While the personal touch is certainly an influential aspect of customer service in 2021, the in-person experience is no longer a necessary element to a great interaction. Much of customer service is going contactless. Thanks to things like chat features and in-browser phone service, most of our experiences take place virtually nowadays. 

Still, the chat boxes and phone calls lack the certain personalized experience we still crave. This is where virtual reality fits in quite nicely for the needs of the customer service industry. A large number of industries that rely on customer service elements can benefit from embracing VR. By using virtual rooms to interact with customers, companies are able to build a more meaningful connection in these interactions and arrive at conclusions or solutions more quickly. 

WIth virtual spaces, we don’t feel like we’re missing out on anything as a consumer. You’re still able to get a face-to-face experience that is embedded in a digital environment that offers easy access to tools and resources that might be related to the inquiry or question at hand. Likewise, VR provides companies an option for proactive customer service that can enhance shopping and searching interactions in a big way.

Offering More Options to Users for Proactive Customer Service

Customer service in the digital world is more than just fielding complaints and questions. VR offers companies the option to enhance the customer experience as a means of providing better service. Everything from virtual reality spaces for digital showrooms to using VR to interact with products from home can help make customers feel more knowledgeable and prepared to make a purchase. 

Believe it or not, the brick and mortar experience we value for being a superior standard for customer interactions can be recreated to great effect in the virtual reality space. Customers love VR peripherals for shopping. New options like Walmart’s VR shopping experience can mimic the best parts of in-person interactions between customers and a business but provide the additional benefits of digital technology.

The best of both worlds is possible for customers thanks to VR customer enhancements. The same goes for employees who also play a vital role in the customer service process. 

Building a Better Customer Experience By Enhancing Employee Satisfaction with VR

Lastly, it’s worth noting that great customer service is only possible when employees are satisfied and fulfilled with their working experience. VR’s impact on employee satisfaction within customer service can be just as impactful as focusing on what the customer needs. 

When it comes to using VR to focus on employees, things like putting these advanced tools in their hands can increase their effectiveness. These resources help to give employees more solutions at their disposal to ensure they’re set up for success. By doing this, you’re not only taking advantage of the points listed above that focus on the customer experience. Employees that have access to VR for their roles in the customer engagement process are better suited to uphold a company’s values and vision for great service. 

Utilizing VR in customer service is a vital step in the evolution of what the industry is capable of accomplishing. Making steps now to embrace the technology means putting a new standard on the treatment and service of industries that spread across all of the working and professional world. 

Learn to Identify the Five Interaction Categories that are Most Effectively Handled by AI-Powered Virtual Agents

Just about everyone has an IVR horror story to share. Being forced to listen to repetitive menus. Getting stuck in an endless cycle of trying to navigate through options that don’t meet their needs. Wanting to throw the phone against the wall in frustration after hearing an automated voice announce, “I’m sorry, but I didn’t get your response.”

We all know the limitations of IVR systems. Yet too many companies still seem bound and determined to deploy antiquated, poorly designed call automation that not only doesn’t work well but is difficult to implement and expensive to maintain. This makes even less sense when there is a more time- and cost-efficient option available.

Over the past several years, the evolution of conversational AI and delivery over the cloud has enabled businesses to go far beyond the boundaries of traditional IVRs. Companies of all kinds are automating more conversations than ever before while maintaining…and often improving … the customer experience by adapting omnichannel solutions utilizing AI-powered virtual agents.

Even in the earliest stages of development, AI-powered virtual agents were able to handle many tasks that were formerly the sole province of live agents. Conversational AI enables virtual agents to automate the routine and repetitive call types that formerly took up much of a live rep’s day. The same type of simplified experience can be scaled to chat and text channels as a unified application. Virtual agents are powered by a centralized cloud-based AI “brain” that connects to a business’ customer data via APIs. With the broad variety of available tools to replicate the best live agent behavior, virtual agents exceed the capabilities of touchtone IVR, directed dialog, and simple chatbots for customer service.

Producing more productive conversational AI solutions is an ongoing process that requires constant monitoring and refinement. This involves machine learning, building out language models, customizing and weighting the acoustics to grammars on every single question to match the phrases companies think they heard versus what they know they are listening for to get the best possible speech recognition. Most suppliers start by focusing on the voice channel, which offers the greatest potential for rapid ROI. They then move onto scaling the application digitally to accommodate chat or text.

The most effective virtual agents can communicate at the real-time pace of a conversation, understand complex dialogue, and perform in a fashion that emulates a company’s top agents on all channels. While every contact center has a pool of live agents, whether in-house or remote, forward-thinking companies now have a pool of AI-powered virtual agents to handle the routine calls and chats that don’t require complex critical thinking or judgment. By doing so, these organizations are positioned to upskill their live front-line reps to handle only the interactions that genuinely require human intervention.

SmartAction, a recognized innovator of purpose-built AI-powered Virtual Agents for customer service, has found that in its experience of designing and deploying new AI-powered virtual agents for voice interactions, the self-service application consistently falls into one of five distinct categories. They have validated this formula with more than a hundred clients encompassing hundreds of use cases across 12 industries.

What are these categories? SmartAction will detail them in a complimentary live webcast, appropriately  entitled “The 5 Categories that Rule Virtual Agents”  on CrmXchange on Thursday, October 1st at 1:00 pm. They will show businesses how to understand and to broadly classify its interactions to ensure that a live human agent should never handle the ones that can be best addressed by AI-powered virtual agents. Among the areas to covered are:

  • Determining which specific categories are best suited for exclusive AI applicability
  • Comprehending the top use cases driving conversational AI adoption
  • Real-world examples from 6 leading companies

The presenters are industry veterans with proven expertise in helping organizations deliver frictionless customer experiences via conversational intelligence. Brian Morin, CMO, SmartAction has been instrumental in helping the company achieve its status as the top-rated Virtual Customer Assistant solution on Gartner Peer Insight and distinction as “The Leader in AI-Enhanced Self-Service” by Frost & Sullivan. Mark Landry, SmartAction’s VP of Product, began his career as a Lucasfilm intern  and become an award-winning screenwriter for Nickelodeon, The Disney Channel, and Amazon Studios. He is a CX designer who has designed human-to-AI interactions for more than 100 brands including DSW, AAA, Electrolux, Choice Hotels, and others. They will be joined by Marilyn Cassedy, Director of Customer Success, SmartAction who oversees the relationships with high-level clients to ensure they are receiving full value.

Register now for this eye-opening webcast. If you are unable to attend the live presentation, a link to the recording will be posted within 24 hours after the presentation.

Make Sure that Customers, Agents and Managers Can Navigate the New Normal… and Beyond

At first, it seemed like a sudden squall, roiling every channel in which companies do business. Customer service leaders hung on to the till for dear life to weather what they thought to be a temporary tempest that would soon take them to calmer waters. As time continues to go by, some elements have stabilized a bit, but it is clear we are dealing with a sea change in the way businesses of all sizes need to deliver a consistently superior customer experience.

While successful organizations will navigate the wave of transformation in the workplace, those that continue to do business as usual will flounder along the way. But what defines the demarcation line between simply treading water and charting an informed course? It involves leveraging strategies and CX solutions that enable their workforce to adapt, their customers to have their needs met, and their businesses to thrive.

It has become more critical than ever to listen more carefully to what customers are saying. Updating the contact center by taking advantage of AI and automation capabilities which provide a powerful resource to uncover insights and opportunities for optimizing customer service. Intelligent use of these technologies enables on-the-fly research to better comprehend changing dynamics and new pain points as well as determine innovative approaches to address them. CX leaders who effectively apply AI and automation will create value for consumers. Companies that can create seamless   interactions between assisted self-service and a hybrid workforce will have a distinct competitive   advantage in an environment where customers often struggle to reach businesses.

A study last year in the Harvard Business Review found that the average American consumer spends 13 hours a year stuck on hold trying to resolve problems. The study also revealed that disgruntled customers who need to make two or more calls to resolve their issue, often simply just give up. More than three-quarters of consumers come away “less than satisfied” with a company’s customer service. In many cases, companies set up their customer service operations to make it more difficult for irate customers to gain satisfaction.

One vital way to diminish growing frustration levels is to ensure that front-line personnel are fully engaged and empowered to effectively answer customer calls. This entails both giving them the right knowledge management tools to do their jobs as well as providing employees and supplemental remote workers the real-time assistance necessary to collaborate with each other from multiple locations.

Maintaining compliance in the face of rapidly changing regulations and diverse team locations is also an important element in staying afloat. But how can managers ensure the proper procedures are being followed in a time when they have far less oversight into the daily activities of their agents?

Improved capabilities to listen to customer conversations via AI and automation…engaging and empowering the workforce to optimize productivity and responsiveness…being vigilant about keeping compliance with a staff situated in diverse locations These are the three cornerstones of navigating the new normal and thriving in the time beyond the pandemic.  Customer engagement and cyber intelligence specialists Verint will present a series of three in-depth webcasts on these crucial areas spaced over a one-month period on CrmXchange.

Entitled “Modern Solutions and Best Practices to Make Life Easier for Agents, Managers, and Customers,” the series will kick off on Tuesday, September 29th at 1:00 PM ET with a session on “AI Powered Analytics Drive Exceptional CX with Human and Digital Channels” which will examine such vital issues as:

  • Determining what types of issues cause the most customer frustration, and how to fix them
  • How businesses can see a unified view of their customer service across channels
  • How can you understand your customer and user intents to drive a successful self-service strategy?

It will be presented by Daniel Ziv, VP, Speech and Text Analytics – Global Product Strategy, Verint and Tracy Malingo, SVP of Product Strategy, Verint.  Daniel has extensive expertise in helping companies achieve significant ROI by improving performance and quality, while enhancing customer engagement. Tracy has an extensive background in strategic and operational vision on conversational AI, having also served as president of NextAI, where she was instrumental in guiding the technology into the mainstream. Register now

The second presentation, “Empowering the Workforce and Maximizing Productivity” will take place on Tuesday, October 13 at 1:oo PM ET. It will focus on making sure that both remote and in-person representatives have everything they need to fulfill their roles as the face of an organization. Among the topics covered will be

  • How to keep employees engaged by giving them the right tools to effectively do their jobs
  • Ensuring that employees have the opportunity to collaborate with each other from multiple locations
  • Providing real-time assistance to help the growing number of work-from-home agents answer customer calls effectively.

The speakers are consummate professionals: John Chmaj, Sr. Practice Director, Knowledge Management, Verint Global Consulting Services, is a seasoned veteran in the KM field. He has worked in all phases of the customer support process, including telephone and online support, technical writing, applications development, and worldwide knowledge systems design. He will be joined by Jon Allen, VP & GM, Communities & Web Self-Service, Verint. Register now for this session.

The final webcast in the series “Ensuring Compliance in the New Normal” is set for Tuesday, October 27 at 1:00PM ET. It will examine the emerging disciplines involved in effectively maintaining compliance with teams now scattered across diverse locations where it is often more difficult to keep track of what agents are doing on a day-to-day basis. Attendees will learn how to:

  • Take a proactive approach by making it easy for a company’s agents to consistently follow the correct processes
  • Monitor employees’ activities and productivity even when they are working remotely
  • Ensure the company can capture, store, and analyze the interaction data necessary to prove compliance and investigate issues

This important how-to presentation will be delivered by Verint’s Directors of Content Marketing, Kelly Koellicker and Iain Dawes. Kelly’s focus on contact center workforce engagement solutions, coupled with Iain’s extensive expertise on compliance and ability to tell comprehensible, engaging stories covering a wider variety of subject matter will make for an entertaining and informative session. Register now for this session

Register for all three for this transformational webcast series. If you are unable to attend any of the live webcasts, a link to the recording will be posted within 24 hours after the presentation.

Unearthing the Most Important CX Initiatives for 2021 Requires Going Far Beneath the Surface

It’s always been a tried and true topic for seminars and webcasts to divine the most significant changes and new directions in a specific industry. Until now, when someone set out to predict what the major trends might be in the following year, they could often just look at what was being forecast in the previous year and update the syllabus of such educational offerings by integrating any new ideas that may have been introduced in the interim.

Of course, viewed through the prism of the world we are now living in, that notion seems like a quaint anachronism, as irrelevant as the Jetson’s 1960s vision of a future of flying cars that fold into briefcases. The clichés used to describe the current situation in the CX/contact center world are mounting …the world has been turned upside down, the way we do business has changed forever, we are living in a new normal, etc. But however tired we may be of seeing these aphorisms, they reflect an undeniable reality. Organizations of all types must find and implement innovative methods to address customers’ momentous needs today to build enduring relationships in the era when Covid-19 is just a jarring memory.

Simply stated, the pandemic has triggered a re-evaluation of the meaning and purpose of customer care. Over the past few months, the emphasis on complex examinations of customer journeys and satisfaction metrics have been supplanted by a focus on the gravity of ensuring that consumers can get the information they need when they need it. Consequently, businesses are now changing the way they will measure and deliver the customer experience in 2021. The sudden transition calls for a new perspective that extends beyond familiar metrics, existing processes, and technology silos.

With the disruption in the workforce due to the lockdowns and furloughs, can businesses be counted on to provide service which makes empathy, understanding and concern integral elements of every interaction? Can CX leaders rapidly reposition themselves to react to the likely long-term alterations in consumer behavior that will undoubtedly come about from this crisis? The challenge is to pivot, innovate and transform operations in a way that enables organizations to not only stand out from the competition, but create new standards of service that truly address the evolving needs of the customer.

In this environment, any educational program that attempts to identify the most critical developments in the next year of the customer experience universe must take a totally fresh approach. On Tuesday, August 11th at 1:00 PM ET, CrmXchange offers a complimentary Best Practices Roundtable discussion that will provide an in-depth examination of the elements that have now become front and center in importance. “CX Megatrends to Watch in 2021” will be presented jointly by experts from two solution providers with demonstrated expertise in revamping contact center operations. Steve Chirokas, Director, Product and Channel Marketing, CallMiner, and Laura Bassett, Senior Director, Product Marketing, NICE inContact, will team up and tap their extensive backgrounds in providing guidance and strategic direction to industry leaders.

The topics to be discussed include:

  • Why Work-from-Home affects the customers’ perception of a brand and the ways that getting it right can positively influence loyalty
  • How to manage remote workers for increases in productivity and enhanced CX
  • In what ways can customer insight, using emotional metrics combined with AI agility, aid agents in taking the next best compelling action
  • How to build momentum toward in-the-moment voice of your customer insight and ensure that responses make for dynamic personalization
  • How to recognize and prioritize digital strategy
  • Specific reasons why moving to the cloud decreases uncertainty during a pandemic

Register now for this enlightening roundtable discussion that will give you updated guidance on what lies ahead. If you can’t attend the live presentation, a link to the recorded webcast will be provided 24 hours after it has been completed.

How Can Businesses Ensure They’ll Reach Customers When So Many Don’t Answer Their Phones?

It happens to nearly all of us every single day: the mobile phone buzzes and we encounter an   unrecognized number and simply don’t answer. It could be an 800 number, an out-of-state exchange or a spoofed number that seems recognizable but is often just one that has been created to seem as though it’s local.

Phone scams are far from a new phenomenon. They have plagued landline customers for years. But with the increase in smartphones, just about everybody has their device on them just about all the time — creating a plethora of opportunities for fraudsters to attempt to con them with false claims, bogus pleas for help, phony free vacations, and frightening assertions that the recipient is about to have their social security account cut off or is facing imminent arrest.

It’s widely assumed that it is exclusively the elderly who fall for these ploys. But these scams are growing more and more elaborate, and nearly anyone can be victimized. In fact, according to the Federal Trade Commission’s recent annual data summary of consumer complaints, 40% of Americans in their 20s reported frauds that cost them money, while 18% of fraud victims aged 70 or older reported they’d been fleeced our funds by a scam.

Another growing issue is the preponderance of robocalls. Over the past several years, the rise of these frustrating recorded pitches has been the focus of lawmakers and consumers alike. In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission prioritized their initiative to stem the spread of illegal robocalls, adopting a new set of rules designed to protect consumers from unwanted robocalls, allowing phone companies to proactively block calls that are likely fraudulent because they originate from certain types of phone numbers. But even with these updated regulations, robocalls continue to be a major problem. It is simply too easy and inexpensive for rogue overseas companies to use them as a tool to get their foot in the door without fear of prosecution.

With all of this going on, is it any wonder that more consumers than ever seldom swipe their mobile phones to answer? A 2019 Zipwhip survey and report (n=520 U.S. adults) found that 87% of respondents said they ignore phone calls from unknown numbers “often” or “very often.” However, this burgeoning rate of call avoidance can be a double-edged sword for consumers and legitimate businesses alike.

In this environment, people often ignore important calls for reasons such as confirming deliveries or medical appointments, miss out on receiving critical information from financial institutions, or learning about legitimate offers from companies with which they already have a relationship.

The problem has only grown worse since the onset of the pandemic. An April 2020 survey of 1000 U.S. mobile phone users by communications transparency provider First Orion revealed that 75% of people said they’d missed an urgent call; nearly a third of those reported they’re missing more important calls now than before the crisis. Eighty five percent tried to return crucial missed calls, only to find it challenging to get someone on the line. First Orion also found that 5% gave up altogether and went to the physical location to resolve their problem – ultimately putting them at a greater risk of contracting the virus.

Is there a way for businesses to verify their identity on each call and allow consumers to be confident that it is a legitimate communication? Learn about an elegantly simple solution in a complimentary webinar on CrmXchange. On Thursday, July 9 at 2:00 pm ET, First Orion will present The Empowered Caller – How to Build Contact Center Success with Call Enhancement, Matt Rateliff, VP of Sales Enablement for First Orion will host the webcast, accompanied by Chris Lindsey, Division VP, Marketing Information Systems, Globe Life Direct to Consumer. It will examine the real-world benefits experienced by Globe Life in using the Call Enhancement solution to make it clear there’s a trusted business on the other end of the line. Among the topics to be explored are:

  • How branding outgoing calls with the company’s business name and logo can increase answer rates and sales
  • How to build customer loyalty and trust with enhanced calls
  • How call enhancement helps call center agents complete more actions and drive revenue

Find out how easy it is to set up call centers for success from the moment the call is made. Register now: if you cannot attend the live webcast, a link will be sent to all registrants 24 hours after it is completed.

Adapting Workforce Optimization to Meet the Rapidly Changing Priorities of Contact Center Operations

In normal times, workforce optimization is a business approach that utilizes advanced contact center technologies to improve customer experience while boosting overall operational efficiency. WFO includes…but is not limited to…automating processes, creating greater data visibility, ensuring compliance, performance management, recording, surveying, eLearning, speech analytics and solving staff-related business problems.

Now, businesses and government agencies are either requiring employees to work from home or redirecting call traffic to employees in less affected regions to handle spikes in interaction volume during the COVID-19 outbreak. Of course, this has led to additional considerations in terms of people and priorities, such as:

  • Increasing the focus on risk assessment and controls
  • Greater emphasis on employee communications, policies, and messaging to ensure that front-line personnel are kept abreast of all pertinent facts
  • Updating QA monitoring and reporting procedures to incorporate the activities of an elevated number of remote workers
  • Improving agility and flexibility while enhancing agent empathy

With the non-stop changes everyone is currently experiencing—constant uncertainty about what might happen in the immediate future, shifting schedules for work and school, caring for family members and overriding concerns about ongoing health risks—employees are often exhausted by the effort required to simply maintain a sense of consistency in their lives.

This rapidly evolving scenario is spurring a greater sense of urgency for businesses to promote employee engagement and prevent morale from cratering among both remote and premise-based agents. Companies are creating policies on the fly to make necessary adjustments during the transition. Among the strategies to be addressed are minimizing uncertainty by more meticulous tracking of outcomes to better predict results. Agents also need to be given higher degree of empowerment. This can be abetted by ensuring they are equipped with the tools and information necessary to do their jobs.

Taking the necessary steps to stabilize and improve workforce performance during the current crisis will be outlined on Tuesday, July 7th at 1:00 pm ET. CrmXchange offers a complimentary roundtable webcast on Best Practices for Workforce Optimization. It will highlight proven approaches and actionable insights to help optimize efficiency in contact center environments.  Among the topics to be discussed are:

  • Using WFO tools to help agents safely make the return to the office
  • Managing hybrid workforce of remote and onsite workers
  • Incorporating regional COVID-19 related safety regulations into business practices
  • Spending time wisely – Establishing more frequent touchpoints to ensure agents continue to feel connected
  • Keeping agents motivated by sharing successes and reward achievements

The roundtable will feature presentations from two experts from leading WFO solution providers. Rich Correia, Director of Product Marketing, NICE will share his expertise in deploying the right products to meet changing need. Kelly Koelliker, Director, Content Marketing for Verint will provide insight on adapting the most effective contact center workforce engagement solutions.

Register now for this targeted and topical roundtable discussion. For those who can’t attend the live session, a link to the webcast will be posted 24 hours after it has been completed.

How Can Companies Provide a Human Touch and Ensure Consumers’ Calls are Answered During a Crisis?

By now, we are all only too aware that contact centers have had to adjust to a new paradigm. Thousands upon thousands of formerly premise-based agents have transitioned to become home-based agents, often in the face of dramatic spikes in call volume.  While companies and front-line personnel are struggling to gain their footing in this unprecedented environment, they must not lose sight of one important truth. On the other end of each call is an individual who is likely to be in a crisis which requires more attention and consideration than it ever did before.

Even before the onset of the current situation, PwC research revealed that 59% of worldwide consumers surveyed believed companies had lost touch with the human element of customer experience, and 75% of respondents preferred to interact with a human as opposed to dealing with an automated system. Given the isolation and uncertainty of what is now referred to as the “new normal,” no one can blame consumers for being even more insistent on service with a human touch.

In a CX space based on people and relationships, taking care of customers has always been a top priority. But even as the sense of urgency has ramped up, sheer volume has resulted in extended wait times and higher customer frustration levels. This also affects agents adjusting to working at home while trying to keep up with the non-stop flow of calls. They may be dealing with consumers frantically trying to cut off automatic payments due to job losses, or people calling with critical inquiries about rapidly shifting business policies that cannot always be resolved online. Effectively handling customers in these fraught situations requires agents to make an added effort to do more intensive listening, apply faster thinking, keep their patience and take every necessary step to ensure that callers feel that a connection has been made.

In all cases, customers must be treated in a way that makes them feel valued. Much of this responsibility falls on the organizations involved, including updating websites and self-help portals more frequently and adjusting their scheduling to deliver higher service levels. However, given constantly changing conditions and rising demand, even that may not be enough. A March, 2020 Bloomberg Business report noted that hold times to reach a customer representative at Capital One were in excess of 20 minutes, based on calls placed by Bloomberg. That compared with an average of 41 seconds in 2018, according to a study from MyBankTracker. While the early gory stories of multi-hour wait times may have ameliorated somewhat as businesses have had time to adjust, it is safe to assume that they remain higher than in previous years. Undeniably, this is a phenomenon that doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon.

Customers who feel neglected or disrespected will remember their negative experience long after the pandemic has been resolved. The question for executives and managers of contact centers in every conceivable vertical is whether their operation is optimized to handle burgeoning demand. One perhaps obvious way to deal with increased volume is to implement a call-back feature.

On Thursday, June 25th at 2:00 PM ET, Fonolo, a pioneer of cloud-based call-back solutions, will present a complimentary webinar on CrmXchange entitled “How Your Contact Center Can Meet Customer Service Demands During COVID-19.” Shai Berger, Co-Founder and CEO of Fonolo and Chris McLean, Fonolo’s VP of Strategic Accounts, will explore the most significant challenges now being faced by contact centers and how to meet them. Topics will include:

  • Tips and tricks for managing ongoing obstacles to providing service with a human touch
  • The most actionable tactics for contact centers suffering from staff shortages
  • How to manage ongoing high call volume

Berger is recognized as an innovator and thought leader whose mission is to educate the CX/contact center industry on how to improve the customer experience. McLean is a long-time contact center veteran who specialized in building lasting relationships. They will also conduct a demonstration of Fonolo’s call-back solution which reduces the frustration of long hold times, leads to more satisfied callers, and helps create a more profitable contact center.

Register now for this timely and informative presentation. If you cannot attend the live webcast, a recording will be posted 24 hours after it has taken place.