Customer Service

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.

Meeting the New Challenges of Employee Training, Coaching and Engagement

Since the contact center agent is the face and voice that often defines a company in the eyes of existing and potential customers, workforce recruiting must focus on identifying vital traits, skills, and abilities in individuals. But even when those who meet the highest qualifications are put in place, they must be trained, continuously coached, and kept actively engaged to be successful.

Companies which can recruit and retain qualified and motivated front-line personnel are positioned to operate more efficiently while building customer loyalty. According to a McKinsey report, “Failure to keep talented employees can have significant repercussions… attrition can erode customer satisfaction while increasing operating costs. Each new agent hire is estimated to cost the contact center $10,000 to $20,000 in training, direct recruiting costs, and lost productivity during ramp up.”

Taking every step to keep top performers onboard is now more critical than ever. Although many consumers have become comfortable with online self-service tools, once they decide to call into the contact center the issues are almost always more complicated to resolve. Since people are already frustrated at being unable to find answers on other channels, they are on edge from the moment when an agent picks up the call.

This dilemma has only grown more acute during a crisis in which many customers are already panicked. According to a recent blog on CrmXchange by Uniphore, 60% of consumers said they were given different or conflicting information on current conditions from the news, leaving more questions than answers. Adding more fuel to the fire is that customers are often faced with longer wait times as companies adapt to a new wave of work-at-home agents. Nearly 40% who were put on hold with a company after calling about crisis-related issues stated that they were annoyed or frustrated.

Further McKinsey research suggests a need for companies to take a proactive stance when interacting with their contact-center employees by focusing on engagement and finding ways to increase their comfort and happiness wherever they are working. They found a startling difference in outcomes. Engaged and satisfied call-center employees are:

  • 8.5x more likely to stay than leave within a year
  • 4x more likely to stay than dissatisfied colleagues
  • 16x more likely to refer friends to their company
  • 3.3x more likely to feel extremely empowered to resolve customer issues

So how does a company ensure that these valuable assets are happier and more productive? Actions in three areas can have a major impact– targeted coaching, employment of updated training techniques and applying proven strategies to enhance employee engagement —and they are available for all contact centers to take.

A focused educational alternative now makes it possible for a business’s entire workforce planning team to benefit from the latest innovative thinking without ever having to take so much as a step away from their home offices.

CrmXchange is presenting a premier online virtual conference: Techniques for Training, Coaching and Employee Engagement, to be held from June 15-19. The event is being produced in conjunction with the Quality Assurance and Training Connection, (QATC), a membership association created specifically for quality assurance and training professionals in the contact center environment.

The web conference is structured to benefit contact center leaders at all levels – supervisors, managers, directors, and VPS. The fully interactive event enables attendees to meet with industry experts and colleagues who will answer questions in real time while providing updated strategies and techniques. The schedule is designed to provide direction to meet the changing needs of businesses transitioning to a greater percentage of work-at-home agents but will also provide guidance for companies still maintaining on-premise employees.

Among the topics to be covered in-depth are:

  • Learning how to work in a remote world
  • Best methods for coaching and training remote and on-premise agents
  • How to optimize agent performance in the new reality
  • Developing an effective instructor competency program

The event will kick off on Monday, June 15 with a focused keynote address entitled “Do Better Work – Finding Clarity and Camaraderie in a Remote World.” It will be presented by Max Yoder, CEO and Co-Founder, Lessonly who will offer stories of the best ways for businesses to navigate the path to working from home, providing specific examples of how to foster understanding, accountability, and progress from disparate teams.

Other areas to be explored in this targeted, complimentary virtual conference include:

  • How to Foster Agent Engagement and Human Connection Through Coaching Your Remote Contact Center Team in a Post-Pandemic World
  • Nurturing Employees to Become Ambassadors and High Performers
  • Agent Coaching and Engagement for Remote Service Excellence
  • Creating a Solid Gamification Strategy to Engage Employees Near and Far

In addition to the educational sessions, attendees can visit the booths of leading suppliers in the online exhibit hall. They can then download white papers, videos, product data sheets and other vital content from leading solution providers and organizations such as CallMiner, NICE inContact, Calabrio, NICE, Lessonly, C3 Software and Sharpen.

Register now at no cost for the complete four-day event: there is no limit on how many people a company can sign up. For those who cannot attend the live presentations or have the time to visit the exhibits during the event, links to all sessions and the exhibit hall will remain open for one full week after the event is completed.

Discovering the Value of Attended Automation as a Digital Transformation Tool to Enhance the Productivity of Remote Agents

It was a transition that was already in progress before the current emergency unfolded. The migration to a reduced population of work-at-home agents, coupled with the unprecedented spike in demand for information, has dramatically accelerated the need for digital transformation. While just about every business already knew it had to digitize its operations to remain competitive, many are now scrambling to get up to speed.

Three key process automation technologies: Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Cognitive Intelligence and Attended Automation are the core elements in any digital transformation initiative. Attended Automation is the orchestrator that binds them together by ensuring that agents are aligned to both customer-facing and back-office processes. It acts as a kind of digital personal assistant to all employees, giving them real-time, context-specific guidance when needed in interaction processes.

In its truest form, Attended Automation is comprised of software robots that reside in each employee’s desktop. These robots have cognitive intelligence that enables them to navigate the dynamic desktop environment: a robust functionality that empowers them to bubble up when they sense an employee needs guidance. They communicate with employees via intelligent, interactive screens that are fully customizable.

When businesses adapt Robotic Process Automation (RPA) or chatbot solutions to support both the automation of repetitive tasks and the accessibility of self-service channels, the central focus will continue to be on humans. It is live people who are responsible for the proper functioning and sustainability of these solutions. Applying Attended Automation technology to customer-centric operational processes further augments the role played by humans.

Attended Automation was initially designed to work in collaboration with live agents to enable them to focus on high-value tasks that require a human touch. But with the need to keep business continuity in crisis mode becoming the new norm, it has also become a tool to allow people to achieve their full potential while helping them adjust to organizational change. This in turn helps companies maintain service consistency and process efficiency while keeping their growing number of remote agents on-target.

Learn more about the benefits by attending a complimentary webcast presented by NICE on CrmXchange on Tuesday, May 19 at 1:00 PM ET. It’s entitled “Keep Your Remote Agents Engaged and Productive with Intelligent Attended Automation” and will be delivered by Karen Inbar, Director of Marketing for NICE Advanced Process Solutions, an expert with a 20-year track record in the high-tech field, including stints at leaders such as Microsoft and SAP.

Among the topics she will address include using intelligent attended automation to:

  • Positively impact service operations and consistent delivery within a new distributed working environment.
  • Enable remote agents to adapt to their new working environment during an uncertain and turbulent period.
  • Practical ways in which intelligent Attended Automation helps agents stay informed, productive and empathetic to customer issues.

Register now at no cost for this timely and informative webcast. If you are unable to at attend the live session, a link to the webcast will be posted within 24 hours of the presentation.

The Key Ingredients to Increase Brand Loyalty

By John Thompson, Head of Business Development, Americas, Sitel Group

What does it take to keep customers loyal to a brand? A loaded question with a variety of correct responses. Today, we are going to be focusing on the four key ingredients that directly impact the customer experience as it relates to brand loyalty: transparency, employees, change and corporate social responsibility. Let’s dive into the recipe.

Providing Transparency

Earlier this year, Burger King released the infamous moldy burger campaign to promote the fast food chain’s efforts to eliminate artificial preservatives and other additives from its menu. Did the rotting burger look appetizing? No. Did it catch people’s attention? Yes.

The eye-catching image set Burger King apart from the dozens of fast food commercials consumers are inundated with each day. The vision itself of a moldy burger wasn’t mouthwatering, but it told the consumer much more about the values of the brand. The fast food chain was breaking the mold (pun intended) and changing things up for the betterment of the consumer. Not only was the advertisement catching the average viewer’s attention, it was being honest with customers in a bold way.

While unconventional, this marketing tactic focuses on appealing to customers by offering complete and utter transparency. No, the burger did not look appetizing, but it told a bigger story of how the brand was committed to showing the efforts it was taking to deliver fresh and real food, by being real with the viewers.

Engaging Employees

Happy and loyal employees equal happy and loyal customers. A large portion in the recipe for the success of delivering a standout experience to consumers is by making sure that your employees are engaged. This starts with training from the get go. In fact, more than one in three (37%) U.S. employees would leave their job if they weren’t offered training to help them. So, what does good employee training look like?

It begins with teaching employees how to properly communicate with customers. While this may sound like a given, more than half (51%) of employers don’t offer soft skills training like how to speak to a customer or client effectively. Whether it be stepping up in line to order a tasty burger or dialing the support number on the back of a product, the way employees interact with customers in these mundane moments can leave an everlasting impression of the brand. In order to establish customer loyalty, it is pivotal to train employees in the art of communication.

Adapting to Change and Demonstrating Corporate Social Responsibility

Fresh ingredients mattered to Burger King’s customers, so it got rid of preservatives to appeal to the desires of a largely health-focused audience. The brand demonstrated how to adapt to your markets to keep customers loyal. Especially in these uncertain times, adapting to the wants and needs of your market matter more than ever.

The landscape for how brands market to customers is changing each and every day because of COVID-19. One brand that is getting it right in the CSR (corporate social responsibility) messaging category is Coca-Cola. The beverage giant recently launched an ad in Times Square that communicated the importance of social distancing with the message, “Staying apart is the best way to stay connected.” Rather than shying away from addressing the current health crisis, Coca-Cola faced it head on and used its platform to communicate an important message to its customers.

Adapting to change and conveying messages that align with the current concerns of your market matter enormously when it comes to establishing brand loyalty. Customers like to engage with brands that are making a difference. In fact, 70% of customers want brands to be positive contributors to society.

In order to keep business thriving in crowded marketplaces, brands must find ways to keep customers loyal. The practices above are necessary to implement. Brands that focus on building customer relationships and delivering an unparalleled CX will have the loyalty of their biggest assets – their customers.

John Thompson

As Sitel Group’s Head of Business Development, Americas, John Thompson has a passion for customer engagement and how the adaptation of virtualization and digitization complement traditional global contact center strategies. This passion stems from Thompson’s 15 years’ experience in the customer experience (CX) industry. Throughout his career, he has held a variety of leadership positions and has co-founded two start-up companies. Thompson holds an MBA from Creighton University and a bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University. He resides in Omaha, Nebraska.

Infusing Digital CX With Human Intelligence

In today’s contact centers, there are plenty of avenues for using technology to provide a great customer experience. How can we make sure to maintain a personal touch? In the live Virtual Conference webcast, Dave Hoekstra from Calabrio demonstrated how to infuse digital CX with human intelligence to create a meaningful customer experience for not only your customers, but for your agents as well.

In today’s contact centers, we are constantly hearing the terms “AI” and “machine learning”. What does all of that mean? Really, we are talking about the ability for machines to display human-like intelligence; a concept that CX has fully embraced in recent years. Years ago, customer service was strictly face-to-face. Over time, the customer experience has evolved into omnichannel experiences for the customer such as e-mail, chat boxes, and SMS messaging. In 2020, IoT data will grow at 50 times the rate of other data. CX must keep up with this trend, however, it is vital to maintain humanity in these exchanges.

Customer expectations for CX are increasingly rising, demanding instant responses, personalized services, and omnichannel experience. With these rising expectations, maintaining customer loyalty is more complicated than ever.

The problem is that most businesses don’t know what their customers want. Why? Because they are simply not listening. Only one in four companies actively use their customer feedback, while only one in three actively use their customer interaction analytics. Ninety-eight percent of invaluable customer intelligence is sitting on the shelf. Businesses must turn this information into actionable intelligence to push them toward their goals.

Here is what we know: customers prefer human contact. Eighty-six percent of customers claim they prefer human contact to chat bots. Seventy-one percent of customers said they would be less likely to use a brand if it didn’t have customer service representatives available. While many believe phone contact is dying, calls to businesses are expected to exceed 169 billion per year by 2020. In response, businesses must humanize their customer relationship.

As previously mentioned, businesses are sitting on a goldmine of information. Using sentiment analysis, businesses can take information such as recordings from phone calls to identify human emotion in order to really understand what is going on in the day-to-day processing of our customers.

Another focus area is employee and agent empowerment. By empowering human intelligence in the contact center, businesses can drive an agent-centric approach while giving their employees the flexibility and balance they need. The integration of AI in this equation provides a personal assistant to your employees rather than taking their place. Thus, improving work-life balance, allowing for flexible planning and scheduling, and happier agents. That’s the key: happy agents lead to happy customers.

AI Assistance may also improve training and development. This can include VoC (Voice of the Customer) training, automated quality monitoring, a more intelligent way to schedule training opportunities, and cross-functional job training. Businesses are still living in an environment where operations are siloed because agents’ skills are very specific. Enter: training across job functions. Here, businesses can get ahead of the curve by recognizing where their employees’ strengths and weaknesses are before they are out in the field.

All of this leads to more empowered employees. Employees that are more engaged are:

  • 8.5x more likely to stay than leave within the year.
  • 4x more likely to stay than dissatisfied colleagues
  • 3.3x more likely to feel empowered to resolve customer issues

It’s time to hear your customers out. First. audit your technology stack. Take a look at all of the different ways your customers can get in touch with you and figure out what works best. Second, tap into the conversation to gain a comprehensive view of the customer. Finally, focus on your people. Customers matter but so do your agents. It’s time for companies to focus on the people who are engaging customers on a day to day basis. CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE WEBCAST

 

Finding an Easy Formula to Do the Math is a Challenge for Contact Centers

When you google “contact center metrics,” there’s no shortage of suggestions to peruse. Lists of varying numbers of suggested metrics to be monitored pop up on the screen: 7, 13, 20, 27.  But which are the right ones for a company’s specific environment? The across-the-board metric cited is First Contact Resolution (FCR), which is a standard that just about every contact center views as critical to maintain and improve.  Similarly, Customer Satisfaction ratings, while not always quite as simple to define, are also a universal target to be monitored.

But it gets murkier from there. Many other commonly cited metrics, such as service level or average handle time, are not always directly comparable across channels; and evaluating teams that share some — but not all — queues is not always a precise process.  An ICMI study revealed that 39% of contact center leaders struggle to identify and measure key performance indicators.

A deeper understanding of metrics and how to calculate them helps a business set the right targets and reach goals to support its mission and vision. Each measure used to help determine how teams are performing needs to be understandable and actionable to individual agents, supervisors and management alike.  When all parties agree on what is important, a company can consistently track performance and see where to improve processes and training to help its agents do better.

Having this level of clarity on goals and metrics and knowing how they’re tracking towards those goals, creates employees who are more engaged with their work and empowered in their roles. A Dale Carnegie infographic shows that companies with more engaged employees outperform companies without engaged employees by 202%, and have customer retention rates that are 18% higher, according to loyalty strategy research by Colloquy.

Setting goals to measure performance can be somewhat tricky. Targets should not be so difficult to attain as to make them daunting for agents. There must be flexibility and compromise in determining how to balance between goals that appear to compete with one another, such as average handle time – where saving and time and reducing cost is paramount – and customer satisfaction, especially in cases that involve more complex interactions. When creating scoreboards to measure agent performance, businesses need to ensure that goals are instantly comprehensible and ready to act upon. They also need to make sense mathematically in tracking drivers across all contact channels including traditional, social, and mobile.  It’s helpful to use the same classification system across all interactions and equip agents to use it consistently.

Of course, simply knowing which metrics to use and how to score them is not the be-all, end-all for optimizing agent happiness. Going back to Google, one would find an astounding 147,000+ results for “benefits of a happy contact center agent”. The major areas of focus in these listings range from the obvious: “why agent satisfaction is important,” to the ubiquitous “fun things to do to keep agents happy” and the more specific evaluations of software and services to promote agent satisfaction.

Companies must be proactive in their approach to building models that are consistently accurate in predicting probabilities and outcomes in their contact centers. Models that are less than precise lead to failure to maintain desired service levels and result in cost overages. Businesses need to find innovative but proven methods to calculate the proper variables and the right things to look for in developing analyses that result in accurate forecasts.

Data abundance and complex operations make it challenging to develop, implement, and present clean, clear reports and on-target analyses. Over the next several months, agent-first solution provider Sharpen Technologies, developers of an always-on contact center platform built for the enterprise, will present a comprehensive series of complimentary webcasts on CrmXchange.

The four sessions are designed to demystify the process of determining the right metrics, show businesses how to measure and accurately analyzing contact center performance, and to implement those analyses across the operation so the entire organization stays focused on excellence. It will culminate in a discussion of how to put together the most efficacious math models for contact center executives and managers to glean actionable insights.

The first webcast in the series, “Attributes of Solid Contact Center Performance Metrics – and Attributes of Poor Ones”  will take place on Thursday, March 5.

The second,” Learn How to be Great: Helping Agents, Supervisors, and Execs Perform,” will be presented on Tuesday April 21.

The third session, “Setting Performance Goals and Scorecards,” comes up on Thursday, August 13.

The final presentation “Building Great “What-If” Models and the Resulting Analyses for the CEO” will be delivered on Tuesday, October 20.

All webcasts will be jointly presented by Ric Kosiba, Chief Data Scientist and Adam Settle. Chief Product Officer, Sharpen Technologies. Ric’s vast background of expertise goes back two decades to Bay Bridge Decisions Technologies which he co-founded in 2000. In that role, he developed the contact center industry’s first “what if” decision engine, a complex set of algorithms designed to forecast proper staffing levels. Adam is an experienced education professional skilled in Sales, Coaching, Team Building, and Training. He combines his extensive knowledge with hands-on experience as a trainer at Apple and Angie’s List.

Register now at no cost for the individual presentations or the complete series. Each webcast is at 1:00PM ET. If you cannot attend the live presentation, a link to the recorded session will be available within 24 hours.

How Analytics Enable You to Bring Your Company Closer to the Customer than Ever Before

There are divergent opinions in what technologies are most effective in creating a better customer experience, but one thing that just about every expert agrees upon is analytics can be  a real game-changer.

According to a recent Harvard Business Review Analytics Services study, published in Forbes magazine;

  • 70% of enterprises have increased their spending on customer analytics solutions over the past year.
  • 58% of enterprises are seeing a significant increase in customer retention and loyalty as a result of using customer analytics.
  • 60% use real-time customer analytics to improve customer experience across touch points and devices as extremely important today.
  • 44% of enterprises are gaining new customers and increasing revenue as a result of adopting and integrating customer analytics into their operations.

The move toward greater use of analytics has been swelled by a wave of converging technologies including artificial intelligence, the internet of things (IoT), and cloud computing. The exceptional speed and precision advanced customer data analytics continue to improve at an exponential rate, making them a must-have for businesses seeking to forge stronger connections with their audience.

As further noted in the Harvard Business Review Analytics Services study, the number of corporate executives who responded to the study indicated that the importance of having the capability to use customer analytics to improve customer experience across all touch points rose from 60% in 2018 to a projected 79% for 2020.

But it’s an oversimplification to just state that analytics can be beneficial to businesses. Analytics tools encompass a broad spectrum of categories and technologies that needs to be understood and evaluated before being implemented and integrated into a company’s CX strategy.

Can text and speech be analyzed in the same way? Why or why not and how should companies be thinking about text analysis vs. speech analysis? Both text and speech analytics enable organizations to optimize customer engagement by looking deeper into interactions its agents have with customers, regardless of channel –phone, email, chat, social media, or surveys as well.

Speech analytics uses speech recognition software to convert spoken words of recorded calls into text where analyses can be performed. When used effectively, it can help identify the reason behind a call, the products mentioned and the caller’s mood. Sophisticated speech analytics software can analyze phrases used by customers to quickly identify their needs, wants and expectations and indicate areas that need improvement for front-line personnel.

Text analytics is the process of transforming unstructured text documents into usable, structured data. It works by deconstructing sentences and phrases into their components, and then examining each part’s role and meaning using complex software rules and machine learning algorithms. One can analogize it to slicing and dicing piles of diverse documents into easy-to- interpret data pieces. By more closely examining communications written by–or about– customers, business can identify patterns and topics of interest, and follow up with practical action based on what has been learned

Desktop analytics offers contact center managers a method of capturing and analyzing user activity at the desktop level. The data gathered about individual application usage and across applications can not only impact the customer experience but ultimately affect the IT resource budget as well. It resides on each individual agent’s desktop, compiling a list of every application, URL, and more the agent accesses during the day. This empowers companies to determine if contact center personnel are adhering to standards and see how well they are relating to customers.

Leading analytics provider Calabrio will take a deeper dive into the constantly growing use of analytics—and examine its specific role in enabling companies to become more customer-centric—in two complementary…and complimentary…webcasts on CrmXchange.

The first of the two presentations –“The Beginner’s Guide to Analytics” –will take place on Thursday, February 20. Presented by Contact Center Analytics Consultant Mark Fagus of Calabrio, it will explore such key topics as:

  • The differences between speech, text and desktop analytics
  • Analytics technologies, such as LVCSR (Large-Vocabulary Conversational Speech Recognition), Phonetics and STT (speech-to-text)
  • The top 10 analytics business use cases

The second webcast –Unlock Customer-Centric Intelligence on Thursday, March 12 will expand on how companies can make the most out of using analytics by empowering themselves to reach higher levels of comprehension by developing new insights to deal with their customers. Brad Snedeker, Director Product Marketing, Calabrio, will delve into features that companies can use to their advantage, including:

  • Embedded analytics – learn how analytics have been surfaced throughout the application to provide easy access to key insights without having to go outside everyday workflows
  • Unified, self-service dashboards – compelling and personalized insights within dashboards that can double as homepages
  • Enterprise KPIs – out-of-the box performance management tools
  • Speech-to-text enhancements – find out how to achieve increased accuracy and speed of transcription

Register now for the first or second of these informative Calabrio webcasts….even better, sign up for both! Each will take place at 1:00 pm ET: if you cannot attend the live presentations, you can download each one 24 hours after it is completed.

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.