Customer Service

When Creating a Better IVR Experience Has Become a Simple Process, Why Do Some Businesses Continue to Frustrate their Customers?

IVRs (Interactive Voice Response) is a ubiquitous and often misunderstood contact center technology that provides many undeniable benefits. First and foremost, it eliminates the need for a switchboard operator to answer incoming calls, presenting callers with a menu of options to choose from, attempting to answer frequently asked questions, routing calls and in many cases, helping to deflect call volume from overburdened agents. Beyond the obvious advantages of time saving and 24/7 availability for customers, it enables functions such as providing bank and stock account balances and transfers, selective information lookup, simple order entry transactions, and more.

IVR systems are mainly comprised of telephony equipment, software applications, and a database along with supporting infrastructure. A business can either run its IVRs in house by purchasing the necessary software and hardware or choose to contract with an IVR hosting service that charges an ongoing fee.

Over the years, the IVR has become one of the most widely used products in contact centers, with a recent Call Centre Helper survey finding that usage is growing year-on-year, with 86.1% of contact centers installing such a system.

Of course, it’s far from all champagne and roses. For many consumers, IVRs are the technology they love to hate. Just about everyone has at one time or another been caught up in the maelstrom of a poorly programmed system that just takes them in a never-ending circle with no hope of resolving the issue they called in about. Comedians have had a field day lampooning the “Please listen carefully because our menus have changed” drone that callers encounter before often being overwhelmed with a laundry list of confusing options. IVR systems have been criticized for being an impersonal, impenetrable barrier between customers and live agents, whose jobs they have been accused of putting at risk.

Contributing to this disconnect is the fact a significant percentage of contact centers that implemented the technology a while back simply hasn’t made enough… or even any… changes to improve it. In fact, another Call Centre Helper poll found that 10% of organizations had never reviewed or updated their IVR systems, with another 10% saying they didn’t know the last time they had done so and another 14% revealing it had been more than a year.

Call routing through IVRs has evolved dramatically since the early days of basic menus and limited capabilities. Most companies have long since implemented advanced IVR systems that incorporate speech recognition software which enables customers to communicate more effectively by verbally expressing their requests instead of punching in numbers. When first introduced, such systems were a double-edged sword: callers became frustrated and angry at voice recognition systems that didn’t recognize their questions. Constant improvements in conversational AI and better voice recognition driven by natural language processing have made updated IVRs a far more valuable tool. In addition, language generation applications now provide the capability for the IVR to deliver more conversational responses.

All the elements are in place to offer an enhanced IVR experience that drives improved customer journeys. Yet, many companies are still in the dark about how to use IVRs to increase efficiency and deliver better business results. On October 24, CrmXchange is offering a complimentary webcast entitled “When Customers Call, Will Your IVR Be Ready?” presented by cloud communications specialist Plum Voice. Nogol Tardugno, VP of Customer Success for Plum Voice, will demonstrate specific steps to be taken to reduce customer frustration by deploying an optimized IVR. Among the topics to be discussed are:

  • How to easily create IVR voice applications with no need for complex coding
  • How to use permission structures that facilitate collaboration across technical and non-technical staff so that every member of the team can contribute to delivering an improved customer experience
  • How to put data to work to gain a better understanding of how end-users interact with the company’s voice application enabling it to continuously identify areas for improvement
  • How to effectively collect customer feedback and link it to specific customer-agent interactions

Register now for this demo session: those unable to attend live can download the webcast approximately 24 hours after it is completed.

Robotic Process Automation: Bridging the Widening Gap Between Customer Demand for Service and Real-Time Agent Availability

Driven by the instant gratification offered by ubiquitous handheld devices, consumers want all their issues resolved a minute ago and any other questions answered instantly. In the current contact center environment, these constantly rising expectations have reached a level where it’s simply no longer always humanly possible to meet them.

While call routing and scheduling software are constantly improving, even these solutions have difficulty keeping up with the demand for agent availability in real-time. Add in the ongoing corporate mindset of lowering costs and keeping headcount to a minimum and you often have the proverbial irresistible force meeting the unmovable object.

Fortunately, there is a rapidly emerging technological transformation that is changing this seemingly insoluble equation. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) gives companies the capacity to meet the growing challenges of maintaining service levels while improving efficiency and providing greater bandwidth. RPA automates the routine, repetitive and time-consuming tasks that can slow contact centers down to a crawl, enabling front-line personnel to pay greater attention to more complex interactions that require empathy and a human touch in decision-making.

The improvement starts from the point of contact. In traditional contact centers, when a customer reaches the agent, he or she needs to identify them within the system to get the necessary information such as status, order number, pending support tickets and more This puts the agent in the awkward position of having to interact with the customer while simultaneously toggling from one system to another. Multiple logins can also further slow down the agents, as can silos pertaining to different systems.

By implementing RPA, contact centers can significantly diminish the time required to identify a customer in the system, viewing all necessary details associated with them in one screen. When customers don’t have to wait for the agent to load all the details, it reduces the average call duration, contributing to an improved customer experience.

In addition, the technology can make it far easier to make necessary data updates to a customer’s account during an interaction. Instead of having agents entering data manually across multiple fields in different systems — a tedious and error-prone process– RPA enables integration of data across various fields of associated systems using a single agent entry. RPA can create auto-fill templates that enable simple copy-pasting of information, with limited human intervention. Integrations with CRM and other third-party tools almost totally eliminate the need to spend time on cross-application desktop activities. RPA can also help consolidate customer information over a variety of channels, giving agents information they need to help the customer no matter what touch point the conversation is taking place on.

What is the economic impact of RPA for businesses? According to a KPMG study, use of RPA in financial institutions can help reduce operational costs by as much as 75%. “In terms of its potential to reshape the economy, it will be as significant as the Industrial Revolution,” said noted industry analyst Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting “It’s going to create a whole new class of employees, a technically savvy generation of workers coming from the Millennial and Generation Z cohorts. The AI/RPA revolution will be a game changer for companies that welcome the opportunity to improve the timeliness and accuracy of their work processes.”

Fluss will present a detailed analysis of the economic advantages, operational efficiency gains and customer experience enhancements made possible by RPA in a complimentary CRMXchange webcast on Wednesday, October 16 called “Attended Robots Improve Productivity and Agent Efficiency.” Among the topics covered will be

  • An explanation of what RPA entails and present top use cases in the contact center
  • A discussion of the effect of RPA on employees
  • An outline of best practices for implementing RPA

The webcast, sponsored by NICE, is complimentary and those unable to attend it live can download it approximately 24 hours after it is completed. Register now.

Melding AI and Virtual Assistants with Humans: The Right Formula for a Superior Customer Experience

By now, just about all of us have encountered an automated system when reaching out to a contact center. According to research cited in a 2017 IBM Watson blog, by 2020, 85% of all customer interactions will be handled without a human agent. Sometimes, such systems work flawlessly: the bot or virtual assistant (VA) understands customers responses easily and the conversation progresses smoothly as they either get the information they expected or complete the process they hoped to finish. In some cases, customers may not even be sure they are interacting with an automated entity.

But while AI continues to provide increasingly beneficial results in the contact center environment and to grow in its capabilities to emulate human behavior, it is not yet the be-all, end-all technology that can resolve every issue. In some instances, the AI system simply can’t process the information that customers supply, leaving them ensnared in a loop of repetitive responses….and the resultant frustration can have immediate and serious consequences. NICE inContact’s 2018 CX Transformation Benchmark, revealed that only 33% of consumers found that chatbots and VAs consistently made it easier to get their issues resolved.

This is precisely why it’s critical to ensure that empathetic human intervention is readily available.

When the human touch is needed, it must be prompt, proactive, professional and above all, responsive to the customer’s needs. While many contact centers are increasing their reliance on AI solutions to reduce headcount and deliver rapid ROI on their technology expenditure, they are also learning that not having enough caring flesh-and-blood agents ready to complement their electronic counterparts can result in diminished loyalty and customer churn. Establishing the right balance between an effective, continuously updated AI program and humans who can seamlessly step in at just the right moment is a necessity in an environment where customer satisfaction has become the most significant business differentiator.

Having the capacity to train an AI system to determine the exact point in a conversation on any touch point where the customer needs to be handed off to a live agent is the most important factor in the process. Analytics plays a key role: data gathered within each individual interaction can provide a treasure trove of relevant information enabling managers to better understand what sets a customer on edge, what makes them feel more comfortable in a conversation that is not going well and what can ultimately drive them to take their business elsewhere. Having the right intelligence readily available also enables management to also pinpoint necessary adjustments in policy, procedure or verbiage.

Of course, as AI increases in intelligence through machine learning, it can also provide additional value-added suggestions such as which department is best equipped to assist customers based on analysis of their specific needs. Leading-edge AI solutions can pair such customers with an individual agent with the right skill set to guide them to successful resolution of their issue.

Companies investigating either implementing or upgrading an AI customer service solution need to develop a strategy that offers optimal potential to enhance customer relationships and improve the quality of interactions on all touch points. In addition, they must explore ways to strengthen collaboration between self-service entities and live agents.

On Thursday, October 3rd at 1:00 PM ET, CrmXchange will present a Best Practices Roundtable on Seamless Customer Experience: Combining AI VA with Live Agents, featuring experts from leading solution providers NICE inContact and Verint. Among the topics discussed will be:

  • Current AI adoption trends: how to get the most of early AI investments
  • How is AI impacting customer service today and what’s ahead in the future?
  • Where AI can add the greatest benefits
  • How to define and implement the right mix of automation and human touch—without damaging consumer trust and undermining relationships in the process of digitization.

This informative roundtable webcast is complimentary and those unable to attend it live can download it approximately 24 hours after it is completed. Register now

70% of U.S. Employees Hold Positive View of Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace Today

Despite recent doom-and-gloom anecdotal reporting, a nationwide survey of 1,001 workers in the United States (U.S.) finds that 70% have an upbeat attitude toward new workplace technologies involving artificial intelligence (AI), such as chatbots, robots and augmented reality. Only 5% say they dislike new technology for putting their jobs at risk today. In fact, 32% of U.S. respondents feel AI will have a positive impact on their job in the next five years, increasing from 26% today. Just 19% of those surveyed express fear that AI/bots could swallow their jobs within the next decade.

These findings stem from new research by Genesys® (www.genesys.com) into the attitudes of employed Americans regarding the rising adoption of AI in the workplace. Genesys conducted an identical survey in six countries — the U.S., Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand — for a total of 4,207 participants.

The picture isn’t all rosy, however. While 75% of Americans surveyed say they are “rarely” or “never” threatened by new technology at work, one quarter do feel unsettled by it. Happily, only 4% “always” feel threatened. This is fairly similar to respondents in Germany, the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand, but in Japan that figure jumps to 12%.

Is AI a Friend or Future “Frenemy”?

While 52% of U.S. workers surveyed say AI has not yet affected their jobs, that number falls to 29% when asked about a five-year timeframe, with expectations for an increase in both positive and negative effects. Part of the reason for the low percentage of AI’s current impact? It’s not as ubiquitous in the workplace as many people would believe. Among U.S. respondents, 68% say they are not yet using tools that leverage AI; surprisingly, there is not a noteworthy difference between large and small companies.

Survey results also shed light on AI’s influence on employee social interaction, ethics and upskilling, with worker attitudes varying according to age, company size, job status and job function. The overall impression? Employees have a generally positive view of technology now, but are less certain if technology enabled with AI will be their friendly co-worker in the future, or a “frenemy.”

“The survey findings substantiate a long-held Genesys belief that a blended approach to AI is best in customer contact centers as well as the workplace in general,” said Merijn te Booij, chief marketing officer for Genesys.

“Some jobs will evolve as human work combines with the capabilities of AI. The key for organizations adopting this intelligent technology is to help employees understand its potential to make their jobs more fulfilling by taking the mundane, easily automated tasks off their plates. This opens the door for more employees to apply skills AI just can’t replace – like creativity, leadership and empathy.”

Considering 27% of Americans say they simply cannot predict the impact of AI on their jobs five years down the road, and only half feel they have the skills to compete effectively, it’s increasingly important for companies to closely monitor the pace of AI adoption and employee training programs to address it.

A few additional U.S. findings related to overall attitudes toward AI include:

  • Two-thirds (66%) of the U.S. cohort say technology makes them more efficient in their jobs. This response is exactly the same across the three age ranges surveyed.
  • 8% of U.S. employees say they dislike new workplace technology such as AI and bots because it takes away their easy tasks.
  • More part-time U.S. employees (25%) fear AI will take their jobs within 10 years than do full-time workers (18%).
  • Surprisingly, exactly twice as many (26%) of the U.S. employees in the youngest cohort (ages 18-38) fear replacement by AI within the next decade as do their over-55 co-workers (13%).
  • Nearly 70% of U.S. employees trust their employers to use AI in an ethical way.

Survey Methodology and Participants

Within the U.S., a total of 1,001 adults completed the online survey in April. Respondents were evenly divided into three age ranges: 18-38, 39-54, 55-73, with women accounting for 65% and men 35%; less than 1% did not categorize by gender.

Approximately 80% of those surveyed have full-time employee status with the remaining 20% working part-time. Respondents came from seven categories of company sizes, with a total of 42% employed in companies of fewer than 250 employees.

While U.S. survey respondents work in a wide variety of industries, 77% fell into one of 11 functional job categories: Administrative, Assembly Line/Manufacturing, Customer Service/Retail, Doctor/Nurse/Caregiver, Education/Training, Finance/Accounting, Food Service, Human Resources, Marketing/Inside Sales, Media, and Driver/Transportation Provider. The remaining 23% fell into an “Other” job category.

For a copy of the full survey data, please contact genesys@sterlingpr.com

Seven “Must Have” Capabilities for Customer Service Applications

Written by Basabdutta Chakraborty

In the era of technological advancement, customers have endless choices of what products and services to purchase. To capture and maintain a higher market share require companies to create a meaningful corporate distinction. One way to accomplish this goal is by delivering a superior customer experience—one that capitalizes on the first impression about the brand and carries through on every interaction thereafter. To bring the best customer experience to life, consider these seven essential features:

  1. Omni-channel – Most customers seek the ability to engage from any channel of their choice from any device—email, telephone, chat, SMS, web, social or mobile app. To support a consistent experience across all the channels in the user’s journey, agents need to be able to respond to any inbound voice/text inquiries seamlessly. Therefore, to increase the productivity of an agent, a call center software needs to include a single user interface, where all inbound messages are tracked as tickets with contexts.
  2. Efficient ticket management – In order to resolve customers’ issues and queries efficiently and effectively, there are several factors to address:
    • Context and History. For each ticket, customer information and past ticket history should be available to the agent with relevant context.
    • Categorizing. Based on the ticket type, agents need to capture specific information, and perform grouping, merging, linking, cloning, and filtering.
    • Intelligent routing. Automated workflow can be configured to assign and route inbound tickets based on the agent’s skill, knowledge and workload.
    • Knowledgebase support. Depending on the issue type, relevant knowledge articles should be automatically shared with agents to provide better assistance.
    • Timely alerts. Based on Service Level Agreements (SLA) priority, agents and their supervisors should be notified on time.
    • Collaboration. Often complex issues require inputs from multiple agents. A live discussion forum can help them to collaborate instantly.
  3. Unified interface – While engaged in an interaction with a customer, an agent might require navigating through multiple systems. To minimize the screen switches, a unified user interface brings relevant applications to a single desktop. In this way, the agent can focus on the customer as opposed to the complexity of multiple systems.
  4. Self-service and chat-bots – In many cases, today’s customers prefer to resolve their issues themselves. Self-service options and capabilities empower customers by providing them with online searchable knowledge articles, FAQs, and discussion forums. Chatbots, on the other hand, help customers with informational and transactional inquires in a personalized fashion. Customers, however, should still have the ability to escalate to a live agent seamlessly in case of a complex inquiry.
  5. Personalized recommendations – Customers really appreciate it when they feel a representative is interested in them. The system should be capable of displaying personalized, targeted messages to the CSRs to assist them to develop a deeper bond. For example, while engaged in a conversation with a customer, if a CSR proactively says, “Ms. Smith, your credit card is going to expire in a month” or “your renewal is pending,” these personalized outreaches help build appreciative customers and long-term relationships.
  6. Predictive analytics – Knowing the next move of customers, ahead of time, is becoming increasingly more critical. Predictive analytics is the tool that measures customer satisfaction and determines future trends by analyzing past transactions and call history. Thus, businesses can identify potential threats in a customer’s journey and can take appropriate corrective actions. Similarly, the huge amount of call center data, such as average call handle time, ticket volume, etc. can predict if any agent’s performance needs to be improved or any additional staffing is needed or if the system’s performance should be enhanced.
  7. Cloud based application – Given there is a steady internet connection, a cloud-based customer service platform is undeniably a smarter choice than an on-site one for the following reasons:
    • It is easy to scale. Adding agents is just a matter of subscription, and so is spinning a new instance. It’s just a few clicks, and no infrastructure changes are required.
    • It is flexible. Agents can assist customers remotely, from any internet-connected device. Admins can make configuration changes and publish real-time.
    • It performs well and is stable. Most of the cloud providers ensures 99 percent+ uptime.
    • It saves infrastructure and maintenance costs. No hardware equipment is required. Patch, data backup-recovery are taken care of by the provider. It is secure. Dealing with personalized information of customers requires stronger data security and privacy, which is safeguarded by cloud applications.

    Key contributor to business growth – Customer experience is an important contributor to business growth. When done well, companies earn the trust and loyalty of their customers. Technology can provide the features that enable CSRs to do their job efficiently and effectively. The real success, however, comes from the commitment of the top executives to make customer experience excellence a key corporate initiative. When this happens, business and IT teams align on the strategy while defining the unique business and technical needs of their organizations. Continuous feedback from CSRs is a critical input in this process. Together they can build a better customer experience—one that enables them to stand out in the marketplace.

In the era of technological advancement, customers have endless choices of what products and services to purchase. To capture and maintain a higher market share require companies to create a meaningful corporate distinction. One way to accomplish this goal is by delivering a superior customer experience—one that capitalizes on the first impression about the brand and carries through on every interaction thereafter. To bring the best customer experience to life, consider these seven essential features:

  1. Omni-channel – Most customers seek the ability to engage from any channel of their choice from any device—email, telephone, chat, SMS, web, social or mobile app. To support a consistent experience across all the channels in the user’s journey, agents need to be able to respond to any inbound voice/text inquiries seamlessly. Therefore, to increase the productivity of an agent, a call center software needs to include a single user interface, where all inbound messages are tracked as tickets with contexts.
  2. Efficient ticket management – In order to resolve customers’ issues and queries efficiently and effectively, there are several factors to address:
    • Context and History. For each ticket, customer information and past ticket history should be available to the agent with relevant context.
    • Categorizing. Based on the ticket type, agents need to capture specific information, and perform grouping, merging, linking, cloning, and filtering.
    • Intelligent routing. Automated workflow can be configured to assign and route inbound tickets based on the agent’s skill, knowledge and workload.
    • Knowledgebase support. Depending on the issue type, relevant knowledge articles should be automatically shared with agents to provide better assistance.
    • Timely alerts. Based on Service Level Agreements (SLA) priority, agents and their supervisors should be notified on time.
    • Collaboration. Often complex issues require inputs from multiple agents. A live discussion forum can help them to collaborate instantly.
  3. Unified interface – While engaged in an interaction with a customer, an agent might require navigating through multiple systems. To minimize the screen switches, a unified user interface brings relevant applications to a single desktop. In this way, the agent can focus on the customer as opposed to the complexity of multiple systems.
  4. Self-service and chat-bots – In many cases, today’s customers prefer to resolve their issues themselves. Self-service options and capabilities empower customers by providing them with online searchable knowledge articles, FAQs, and discussion forums. Chatbots, on the other hand, help customers with informational and transactional inquires in a personalized fashion. Customers, however, should still have the ability to escalate to a live agent seamlessly in case of a complex inquiry.
  5. Personalized recommendations – Customers really appreciate it when they feel a representative is interested in them. The system should be capable of displaying personalized, targeted messages to the CSRs to assist them to develop a deeper bond. For example, while engaged in a conversation with a customer, if a CSR proactively says, “Ms. Smith, your credit card is going to expire in a month” or “your renewal is pending,” these personalized outreaches help build appreciative customers and long-term relationships.
  6. Predictive analytics – Knowing the next move of customers, ahead of time, is becoming increasingly more critical. Predictive analytics is the tool that measures customer satisfaction and determines future trends by analyzing past transactions and call history. Thus, businesses can identify potential threats in a customer’s journey and can take appropriate corrective actions. Similarly, the huge amount of call center data, such as average call handle time, ticket volume, etc. can predict if any agent’s performance needs to be improved or any additional staffing is needed or if the system’s performance should be enhanced.
  7. Cloud based application – Given there is a steady internet connection, a cloud-based customer service platform is undeniably a smarter choice than an on-site one for the following reasons:
    • It is easy to scale. Adding agents is just a matter of subscription, and so is spinning a new instance. It’s just a few clicks, and no infrastructure changes are required.
    • It is flexible. Agents can assist customers remotely, from any internet-connected device. Admins can make configuration changes and publish real-time.
    • It performs well and is stable. Most of the cloud providers ensures 99 percent+ uptime.
    • It saves infrastructure and maintenance costs. No hardware equipment is required. Patch, data backup-recovery are taken care of by the provider. It is secure. Dealing with personalized information of customers requires stronger data security and privacy, which is safeguarded by cloud applications.

    Key contributor to business growth – Customer experience is an important contributor to business growth. When done well, companies earn the trust and loyalty of their customers. Technology can provide the features that enable CSRs to do their job efficiently and effectively. The real success, however, comes from the commitment of the top executives to make customer experience excellence a key corporate initiative. When this happens, business and IT teams align on the strategy while defining the unique business and technical needs of their organizations. Continuous feedback from CSRs is a critical input in this process. Together they can build a better customer experience—one that enables them to stand out in the marketplace.

CX Transformation Benchmark Study from NICE inContact

The 2019 NICE inContact Customer Experience (CX) Transformation Benchmark gauges the changing attitudes of business contact center leaders and consumers in key areas of customer experience. The report compares global findings to the 2018 consumer wave of the study, and includes year-over-year findings for the US. Results reveal that businesses are confident in artificial intelligence’s (AI’s) role in delivering exceptional customer service experiences, but they overrate their own CX performance. Compared to consumers, businesses overreach when estimating their own net promoter scores (NPS), overrate their own CX success, and underperform when it comes to delivering seamless omnichannel experiences.

The results reveal that businesses are confident in artificial intelligence’s (AI’s) role in delivering exceptional customer service experiences, but they overrate their own CX performance. A few of the core findings from NICE inContact’s CX Transformation Benchmark include:

  1. Significantly more US businesses now offer automated assistants / chatbots online, at 54% compared to 44% the prior year.
  2. 63% of contact center leaders agree that chatbots and virtual assistants make it easier for consumers to get their issues resolved
  3. While 93% of businesses agree that consumers expect companies to provide a seamless experience when moving between channels, only 24% of businesses globally give themselves an excellent rating on allowing consumers to switch seamlessly between methods of communication.

To read more: http://get.niceincontact.com/Q219-CX-Transformation-Benchmark-Business-Wave.html

 

How Will Contact Center Channels Change in 2019?

Customer-centric businesses are working harder than ever to support all of the channels that their customers want to use. That’s why 84% of companies who consider themselves to be customer-centric have a heavy focus on supporting mobile channels for a greater customer experience. COPC reported that mobile care increases by 41% in 2018 alone.

The results from the 2018-2019 ContactBabel Report, as shown, illustrate that as mobile becomes more widely used by end users, channels like email, telephone, letter, and fax are expected to decrease in interactions. The channel with the largest expected increase in interactions for 2019 is web chat, with 56% of survey respondents believing there will be an increase. Social media customer service and SMS followed with 46% and 36% expecting an increase in interactions.inbound channnels

Both the need to retain strong CX strategies around traditional channels like email, voice, and IVR, and the need to add new channels has companies wondering how to create and run a true omnichannel contact center that empowers agents and delights customers. The ContactBabel Omnichannel Report walks though more stats from their survey, which could help you in your omnichannel journey.

inbound calls 2019

With traditional channels like voice, email, and chat, as well as channels like SMS/text, video, in-app, social messengers, and bots, Bright Pattern is the only true omnichannel provider that can be turned on in just days!

5 Strategies for an Enhanced Customer Experience

Customers don’t hesitate to talk about a negative experience with a brand ­– they tell their friends and, more importantly, post critiques online for the rest of your customers to see. Even one bad experience can spoil a customer to a company forever. Customer experience has to be a top priority for contact centers in order to promote satisfaction and loyalty.

  1. Treat all interactions with the same care.

There isn’t one type of feedback that’s more important than another ­– they’re all valuable and important. If you’re going to have various communication paths set up – Twitter, email surveys, live chat – you need to be available and responsive on all of them with the same amount of attention. Otherwise, consider if that channel is important enough to keep.

  1. Invest in cognitive computing.

Cognitive computing technology takes natural language processing a step further ­– it can tell how a person is feeling by analyzing the sentiment behind what they’re saying. The agent can then adjust their responses in order to improve the customer’s mood to either neutral or happy before the call is over.

  1. Allow all employees to make decisions.

Unless there’s a legitimate reason why an employee can’t resolve a situation on their own, give your agents the power to make key decisions. For example, if discounts or refunds are usually offered to customers who meet certain criteria, allow your agents to present the offer without having to transfer the customer to a supervisor.

  1. Offer excellent advice for the individual customer.

If you have advice to give, give it! The customer experience is largely based on building relationships. Customers will trust you if you give them valuable advice even when it’s not directly promoting one of your products or services. Creating a loyal customer can be more important than getting another sale right this second.

  1. Make self-service obvious and easy.

You can build a solid relationship with a customer without speaking with them one-on-one. Remember, the company overall is developing the relationship; the relationship isn’t between the agent and the customer, necessarily. Many customers want the option of self-service. Knowing they can accomplish a task on their own can boost the sentiment they have for your company.

When you put customers at the center of your business goals, you’ll be in a better position to deliver the quality experiences they demand.

3 Innovations in Customer Service

Technical advances have done a lot of wonderful, game-changing things, but they’ve also made it much easier and quicker for customers to complain. This has forced brands and contact centers to amp up their customer service strategies. These innovative customer service ideas could have a major impact on the customer experience.

  1. Let customers test products or services before purchasing them.

Free trials can go a long way towards landing committed customers. Trying before buying isn’t yet the standard across the board, but it should be. By letting customers try out your product or service for a limited time, you tell them that you believe so much in what you’re selling that you know they’ll get on board. Contemporary customer service is all about making the customer’s life easier. Let them wait to pay until they’re sure they want to make a purchase.

  1. Use videos to answer complex questions

The more complex a FAQ, the more text you’re going to need to answer it. A lot of customers aren’t going to take the time to read a lengthy blog or social media post, which means they’ll either (a) go without finding their answer, which won’t leave them as satisfied as possible, or (b) call to speak with a live agent, which puts more pressure on your staff. An excellent alternative is to record a video that answers the question. You can solve the problem in less time than it would take to read the answer, and videos are also highly shareable, so your customers can help you spread the word.

  1. Make it easy to do even unwanted actions.

Stellar customer service shouldn’t end when a customer wants to switch providers or go with one of your competitors. You should still treat the customer well even if you’re going to lose their business – treating them well at this stage could actually convince them to stay with you or come back at some point down the road. Transparency should be embraced at every stage, even if the customer wants to close or delete their account. By doing something like hiding the “delete account” button, you’re getting in the way of the customer having an easy, seamless interaction with your brand.

 

Impactful customer service strategies are thoughtful, too. By combining innovation with high-level awareness, you can appeal to the customer’s emotions while meeting their tech-savvy needs.

What’s on Your Supervisor Screen? Agent KPIs to Watch

In your day-to-day contact center operations, everything under the sun can be measured, reported on, and popped to your screen. When you’re bombarded by data, only the most-used KPIs deserve a spot on your agent desktop. How do you know which KPIs are the most valuable to your team, contact center, and business?

A Key Performance Indicator (KPI), also called a metric, is a value that you can measure, one that shows just how effective your business is at achieving its goals. If your top business goal is to boost customer satisfaction, for example, you’ll probably want to keep an eye on KPIs such as call abandonment rates, survey responses, average handle time, and so forth. Contact centers use metrics to collect specific data from every interaction, service, queue, agent, survey, and more.

In any contact center, the real-time metrics that supervisors use on a daily basis generally fall into common categories, such as these:

  • Agent metrics
  • Campaign-specific metrics
  • List metrics
  • Service metrics
  • Skill metrics
  • Team metrics

Nestled in each category, there can be dozens, if not hundreds, of metrics, and the ones that matter really depend on your company’s goals.

Your Agents, At-a-Glance

Do you know what your agents are doing, right now? Supervisors need dashboards and wallboards with real-time KPIs that signal which agents and teams need to be monitored. And when there are 50+ KPIs to choose from, how do you know which ones are the most important? The more metrics you add to a dashboard, the less useful a dashboard becomes. In this blog, we will focus on some of the most-useful real-time agent metrics for contact center supervisors to watch.

Agent State

An agent’s state indicates whether or not the agent can handle an interaction. It may seem basic, but this information is very useful to the supervisor monitoring a team of agents working both in-house and remotely. Agent State provides an at-a-glance look at whether agents are ready, not ready, busy, idle, or doing after-call work. For agents in the Not Ready state, this metric also provides the reason (e.g., lunch, break, meeting, etc.).

Agent State shows what every logged in agent on your team is doing right now. If all your agents are busy, you know why the queue is filling up with calls, or why callers are still on hold. Likewise, if all your agents are ready yet the queue is backed up and customers are not being helped, you have reason to suspect your services are not running.

Time in State

Time in State is how long (in minutes and seconds) an agent has been ready, not ready, and so forth. Generally, supervisors will know what duration is acceptable for service calls, chats, breaks, and after-call work, and the Time in State metric will give them a cursory view of who’s working as expected, who’s slacking, and who needs help. For example, the supervisor may want to check in on an agent who’s been in the Not Ready state for 24 minutes, with no reason given.

ACW Time

After-call work (ACW) consists of all the tasks that agents must do before they can complete the interaction, tasks such as setting a disposition, creating contacts, writing notes, setting follow-ups, and more. These tasks are important but tedious. Agents in the ACW state cannot handle a new interaction until this work is done.

ACW Time can show you which agents and teams are not accepting new interactions because they’re still working on the old. High ACW time can indicate it’s time to relieve your agents of this type of work and automate the tasks instead.

Sentiment

Displayed as faces that are happy, neutral, or angry, sentiment provides a quick glimpse at the general mood and satisfaction level of your customers, in real time. It’s not the sentiment of your agents. Happy faces mean happy customers, and angry ones spell low customer satisfaction and poor reviews.

When agents chat with a customer, for example, the system is utilizing Natural Language Understanding and other cognitive technologies to assess the customer’s satisfaction level. Positive keywords, statements, and expressions become happy faces in the supervisor’s monitoring screen and in the agent’s active interaction. Sentiment is also saved in interaction records and chat transcripts such as this.

The sentiment of an unhelpful chat session would immediately appear on the agent’s screen within the chat as well as on the supervisor’s screen. A slew of angry faces in the supervisor’s list view of active agent interactions means the supervisor should monitor those agents and step in to help.

Customer Satisfaction

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) is the average result of surveys where the customer satisfaction question has been answered. The best way to know how your customers feel about your service, agents, products, or anything else, is to ask them.

Net Promoter Score

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is the percentage of points for all surveys where a response was given for the contact satisfaction question. The percentage is calculated out of the number of interactions, where surveys exist, by subtracting the percentage of promoters (values 9 and 10) by the percentage of detractors (values 0 to 6).

You want to have a high NPS at all times. Customers are more likely to respond positively to a contact satisfaction question if they had a good experience with a knowledgeable, helpful agent. For contact centers, NPS is key way to measure success

Contact Center Driven by Insights

Agent metrics provide detailed information about agent performance and customer satisfaction. These KPIs provide the insights you need for improving agent engagement and elevating the customer experience.

After all, 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 Bright Pattern e-book.