Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiJune 23, 2020
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5min540

Customer experience is known as the pillar of a company’s success. To ensure that the experience is at the top level each time, customer care centres are prepared for the usual surges in demand.

Customer Care Managers are the ones who have to maintain that the experience is always impeccable, since at least one-third of the customers would walk away from a brand they loved after just one bad experience. It goes without saying that the pressure is high – just one brand’s mishap is enough for customers to have their needs met by the competitors.

We are creatures of habit

Every year, the holiday season is known as the peak customer demand that lasts through January with surges in purchases, returns or exchanges and bargain hunting. To deal with the work overload, retail is typically recruiting extra staff from late summer, providing a two-month training and all systems are go until January when demand slowly decreases.

The tax submission routine is slightly different in terms of the period in the year but nonetheless – the same process is expected at the same time each year. With a predictable structure given in the previous examples, the team can easily plan and prepare for it.

Prepared for the unexpected?

Once in a while, something out of the ordinary happens. The surge in customer demand at the unexpected time calls for an urgent roadmap rewrite. No matter which sector your organization belongs to, you have to take care of each and every employee and each and every customer, otherwise, the results could be just as sudden as the cause.

The unprecedented situation that has hit the world prompted so many shifts in our day-to-day life. Employees had to work from home due to safety reasons simultaneously coping with rapid changes in consumer behaviour.

The frontline staff is under the most pressure – dealing with the unexpected in their customers’ lives as well as in their own. Technology plays a big part, especially for contact centre staff that has to process a huge amount of customer inquiries so equipping the customer care centre with the right tool can be critical for achieving customer satisfaction.

The human aspect is second to none

No matter how advanced technology is involved in the customer journey, the human aspect cannot be excluded. The experience humans provide is simply unmatched. In reality, technology is there to aid human interaction, not to replace it entirely.

Supporting customer care centre with the right tools can be of enormous benefit to the staff and can alleviate the pressure of customer demand. Adding Interactive Voice Response (IVR) recordings, chatbots, and auto-responses to your customer care centre adds vital resilience to your customer care centre. This way staff can resolve issues quickly and effectively, by prioritising interactions that require a full human approach.

Results are on the other side of the problem

Having to deal with the unprecedented surge in demand, the frontline staff suffers high levels of pressure. Besides supporting your staff with the right technology to help them solve problems faster, it is crucial to appreciate and recognize them, as their work is what keeps your organisation going.

The actions you take in situations like these are what makes or breaks your business. Your customers can remember you as a brand that went above and beyond or they can easily forget you if you didn’t put 101 percent effort when they needed it.

How do you plan for the unplanned?


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiJune 10, 2020
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3min1266

The findings of the survey show that 71 percent of UK contact centres were not fully ready for remote working under the lockdown restrictions.

The recent nationwide survey conducted by the global leader in cloud customer experience and contact centre solutions Genesys in partnership with a customer experience technology specialist, IST, surveyed 150 UK contact centre executive and managers.

According to the results, only 29 percent of the businesses said that their contact centre were fully prepared for remote working.

Two-thirds (66 percent) had to invest in additional hardware such as laptops, networking devices and media servers. Twenty-eight percent of UK contact centres had to purchase additional remote-working licenses and an additional 14 percent had to incorporate new automation. Increased call volumes called for new port licences which were purchased by 9 percent of contact centres.

More than 80 percent of the surveyed managers said that 75 percent of their contact centre staff transitioned to remote work and more than 50 percent of the managers said they have all of the contact centre staff working remotely.

On the other hand, around 60 percent of UK contact centre managers say cloud contact centre solutions helped their contact centre operate even better under COVID-19 conditions than under normal circumstances, with 38 percent of the managers choosing cloud solutions over on-premises software.

Mark Armstrong, sales director for commercial and mid-market at Genesys: “The pandemic has put contact centres in an unprecedented situation. Businesses needed to either move staff remote, or ensure strict social distancing regulations in the workplace.”

“While businesses were addressing the health and safety of their workforce, they also needed to deal with an increase in demand. Leveraging technologies such as the cloud has provided businesses with the tools to handle the challenge, whilst ensuring high levels of service to consumers.”

When it comes to challenges of the unprecedented circumstances, ensuring staff wellbeing was the biggest challenge to transitioning to remote working, according to 58 percent of contact centre managers. The restraints of their current technology were the major obstacle for 35 percent of the managers, while an additional 34 percent were worried about the effectiveness of their workforce.

According to interaction data from the cloud contact centre platform Genesys Cloud, UK businesses faced an increase of 33 percent in customer service inquiries between Q4 2019 and Q1 2020. To deal with the increased demand, businesses chose a number of solutions – 34 percent opted for chatbots to provide quick answers to frequently asked questions. Almost 30 percent wanted to incorporate robotic process automation (RPA) in assisting agents, while 25 percent sought implementation of voice biometrics to identify callers and save agents time.


Simon JohnsonSimon JohnsonMay 19, 2020
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9min1022

Video conferencing has been established as a new communication norm since the majority of the UK population began working from home.

Whether it’s conducting work meetings or catching up with friends and family in the evenings and at weekends, major players such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts are some of the technologies fostering face-to-face interaction, albeit through a camera.

So, while this form of communication has temporarily become the go-to for many of us, will it continue to be in the future?

According to figures released in March, yes.

Pre-COVID-19, the global video conferencing market was expected to nearly double over the next seven years, growing from $6.1 billion in 2019 to $11.56 billion by 2027. The technology isn’t new and has been a trend since the early days of Webex and GoToMeeting, but continued growth is being maintained by business leaders’ desire to improve productivity and reduce international travel. Video conferencing offers real-time, face-to-face interaction anytime, anywhere around the globe.

However – when it comes to customer service – ask most people to describe their typical interaction with a brand and they’ll likely give examples of telephone calls, emails, or maybe even text-based chat. Video doesn’t even come into the equation.

But as consumers become more comfortable with video conferencing in their work and personal lives, will we see more businesses turning to video to provide customer support? All signs point towards “go”.

Here are some of the reasons why I believe a video revolution in customer service will occur. The business benefits will be too irresistible to ignore.

1. The human touch

Live video chat will represent a powerful evolution of live text chat and phone support. By providing video support, customers are more likely to feel that they are receiving undivided attention – and that they are important to the brand.

This in turn will help drive customer loyalty, provide a more ‘human’ customer support experience, and ultimately enables the business to build deeper connections with its customers.

2. Effective problem solving

Today, video tutorials are already an integral part of customer self-service. It is much easier and quicker to watch a video explaining how to solve any product issue, than it is through reading text or images. Furthermore, these guides can help build engagement and offer a personal touch across the customer life cycle.

However, while they are a great asset for solving common problems, it is not an efficient use of a business’ time to make a video guide for every single issue that could arise with a product or service.

Let’s take an internet service provider (ISP) as an example here. If your internet connection keeps cutting out and you need assistance, a tutorial video on how to reset your router or test your internet speed would be helpful.

However, if this fails to solve the problem, it is likely that you will need to call your ISP and explain the issue over the phone. If it’s a technical issue, this can present a challenge for both the (let’s assume, non-technical) customer and the (technical) agent, and could likely result in the agent sending out a technician to solve, what could have been, a fairly straightforward fix.

Had this been a video call, the agent could have combined live video chat with a screen sharing tool – simultaneously reviewing the problem in real-time and testing solutions on-the-go. Not only would this have saved the ISP both time and money, it also enables agents to build a closer relationship with the customer, and the customer to get back online much sooner, with less hassle.

3. Scale and stand out from the crowd

While many large businesses may not have the infrastructure to efficiently run live video customer service just yet, it is likely that it will become a key solution for those that provide a premium service and want to differentiate by offering a more personalised and real-time experience.

It is a cost-effective way for companies, especially those who are looking to expand their customer bases and scale-up, to provide an ‘above-and-beyond’ service.

4. Laying the foundation for future technology

Of course, video isn’t the only innovation currently being explored in the domain of customer service.

Applications of augmented reality (AR) and voice assistance (VA) are still on the horizon but could soon provide a wealth of opportunity to brands when it comes to sales and customer support.

For example, in future, businesses could use AR-enabled devices to make agents appear in a customer’s own environment – making the interaction appear more human and natural – imagine a scenario where support literally appears beside you and shows you how to overcome the ‘blue screen of death’.

We’re already seeing the huge benefits this technology can bring to customers – IKEA has had enormous success with its IKEA Place augmented reality app which helps shoppers visualise how the furniture will look inside their homes.

Investing in a video platform now will help companies keep pace with changing customer demands and enable them to use the learnings and infrastructure to deliver a superior support experience, once technology such as AR becomes more accessible for customer service.

Will it become the norm?

The business benefits of using video conferencing for customer service are clear. However, for it to really catch on, it will have to be both more effective and more efficient than traditional support channels.

Customers will always want to maintain the shortest route to an answer or solution, and they will likely sacrifice the human experience to get there. This doesn’t mean that humanising the customer support journey isn’t crucial, it is, and video conferencing has an important role to play in this.

It will, however, need to be part of a wider omnichannel strategy, and used to augment, not replace, existing self-service support channels.


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiApril 23, 2020
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2min1131

The global leader in experience management leader Medallia inc has recently announced the initiation of agreement to acquire Voci Technologies, the AI real-time speech to text platform, with the finalisation date in May 2020.

The acquisition will result in joined forces of Voci’s leading real-time speech capabilities and Medallia’s robust experience management platform, promised to deliver a rich view of the customer.

As majority of companies engage with customers via phone more than any other channel, Voci’s technology analyses the signals in real time, which enables contact centres to gain insights exclusively from customer calls. The company’s platform generates complex language models based on calls transcription to provide insights such as emotion, gender, sentiment etc.

Voci’s technology provides contact centres with valuable customer insights, as well as allowing them to operate at higher levels of impact.

Leslie Stretch, president and CEO of Medallia said: “Voci transcribes 100% of live and recorded calls into text that can be analysed quickly to determine customer satisfaction, adding a powerful set of signals to the Medallia Experience Cloud.”

“At the same time, Voci enables call analysis moments after each interaction has completed, optimising every aspect of call centre operations securely. Especially important as virtual and remote contact centre operations take shape.”

“Our whole company is delighted to be joining forces with experience management leader Medallia. We are thrilled that Voci’s powerful speech to text capabilities will become part of Medallia Experience Cloud,” said Mike Coney, CEO of Voci.

“The consolidation of all contact centre signals with video, survey and other critical feedback is a game changer for the industry”, adds Coney.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 2, 2019
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2min1214

UK headquartered systems integrator Geomant , which specialises in contact centre technology and digital engagement solutions, has acquired US-based Inova Solutions.

Inova, now known as Inova Solutions – a Geomant Company is a global provider of real-time performance management and visual communication solutions, known in the industry for its wallboard technology. The acquisition culminates a successful ten-year trading partnership between the two organisations and is part of Geomant’s ambitious growth strategy.

Ákos Vécsei, Geomant CEO, said:“In working with Inova over the last ten years, we have seen a commonality of approach, which means customers of both organisations can be confident that the service they receive from us will be even better, as we combine forces.”

Geomant has confirmed its plans to invest in, and further extend the functionality of Inova’s solutions following the acquisition, integrating them with Geomant’s own contact centre and digital engagement software.

Mari Mitchell, President of Inova Solutions added: “We are committed to helping our contact centre customers solve operational problems. Now we can solve more problems, not only for our long term and very loyal Inova customers, but for other organisations that will benefit from the advanced technology and system integration capability Geomant offers.”


Daniel OrdDaniel OrdMarch 28, 2019
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19min1639

Daniel Ord is the Founder of OmniTouch International, and one of the global Contact Centre industry’s most influential figures. 

With over 30 years of experience under his belt, Daniel is bringing his expertise to a wider audience with a new Masterclass on High Performance Management for Inbound Contact Centres. The two-day Masterclass will take place in Manchester in July, and in London in October. 

 

The more complex the Contact Centre ecosystem becomes – with multiple channels of communication, omnichannel ambitions, and increasing customer expectations – the more the fundamentals matter.

This is because once you have mastered Contact Centre operations, you will have a solid framework on which to ‘hang’ your decisions – whether that’s people, technology, or Customer Experience.

A Contact Centre expert would be expected to accurately answer the 15 Contact Centre operations questions presented in this article. 

This should be without any reference, discussion with others, or looking up the answers.

It’s not that the questions are easy – they’re not!  It’s that to be a master of the environment requires very particular know-how, and once your Contact Centre folks have this level of know-how, performance will improve – guaranteed!

So give these 15 questions a go. For each question select either A, B, C, or D, and there is one correct answer for each one

To find out your results, simply email your answers to daniel.ord@omnitouchinternational.com, with the question number and the answer  you selected.

It should look like this:

1.  A

2.  B

3.  A

4.  C

Etc. 

Good luck!

1. Which of the following contact types require the use of service level to determine staff requirements

   I: Outbound calls

   II: Email (with 24-hour response time)

   III: Live chat/Text chat

   IV: Walk-ins

A. I only

B. I and IV only

C. II and III only

D. III and IV only

 

2. Which of the following is the industry standard service level?

A. 80% answered in 20 seconds

B. 90% answered in 30 seconds

C. Industry standards only exist for vertical industries (e.g. financial services, telecommunications, insurance, etc.)

D. There is no industry standard

 

3. A Call Centre has recently established KPI targets. The Service Level objective is 80% answered in 20 seconds and the Average Speed of Answer (ASA) objective is 10 seconds. The Call Center also plays a prerecorded announcement for all callers prior to queuing. Given this information, which of the following statements is true? 

A. The Call Centre is measuring typical callers’ experience more effectively than call centres that measure service level alone

B. Setting both Service Level and ASA targets is not appropriate

C. To be most meaningful, ASA should be measured as an end-of-day average

D. The timing of ASA should begin as soon as the prerecorded announcement starts

 

4. Given the following information, what is the abandonment rate for the week (Monday – Friday)? Total calls answered for the week: 9479. Total calls abandoned for the week: 702. Monday’s abandonment: 10.4%. Tuesday’s abandonment: 7.4%. Wednesday’s abandonment: 5.4%. Thursday’s abandonment: 3.4%. Friday’s abandonment: 7.0%   

A. 6.7%

B. 6.9%

C. 7.2%

D. 33.6%

 

5. When managing the queue in real-time, which of the following real-time statistics should you look at first?

A. Agent status

B. Longest current wait

C. Number of calls in queue

D. Average time to abandonment

 

6. Which of the following statements is TRUE?

I. Occupancy is the percentage of time agents spend talking to customers or completing after-call work

II. Occupancy is a result of random call arrival

III. When service level increases, occupancy increases

IV. When Occupancy is very high for extended periods of time, agents tend to work harder to clear out the queue 

A. II only

B. I and II only

C. II and IV only

D. I, III, and IV only

 

7. If an Agent arrives 30 minutes late to work on calls or live chats, which of the following actions would benefit the Contact Centre the most (assume the Agent is unable to consult with his/her Team Leader on the most appropriate action)?

A. Stay 30 minutes extra at the end of his/her shift

B. Skip his/her morning and afternoon breaks, each of which is 15 minutes

C. Come back from his/her hour lunch break 30 minutes early.

D. Take his/her breaks and lunch as normal and leave at his/her scheduled time

 

8. Which one of the following statements is FALSE?

A. Measuring the number of calls handled by an Agent is a good productivity standard

B. Adherence to schedule is the single most important productivity measure for a Contact Centre Agent handling Service Level-based contacts

C. When adherence to schedule improves, Service Level improves as well

D. Most of what drives the Average Handling Time lies outside the control of the Agent

 

9. Which statement is the MOST important?

A. To achieve productivity objectives, Agents will need to sacrifice a bit on quality                          

B. Average Handling Time is the most important productivity standard for an Agent

C. All Contact Centres use internal monitoring to calculate their quality scores for Agents.  

D. It is possible to design standards that enable Agents to achieve both quality and productivity objectives                                

 

10.  The best definition of Time Series forecasting is:

A. A method where the past is a good basis for predicting the future

B. A method which is only used in rare circumstances

C. A method that covers the qualitative side of forecasting

D. A method that doesn’t require judgement

 

11.  What variables does Erlang C require to perform staffing calculations?

I. Average handling time

II. Call volume

III. Number of abandoned calls

IV. Service level objective in seconds

A. I and II only

B. I, II and III only

C. I, II and IV only

D. II, III and IV only

 

12. Your Call Centre supports email and is expecting 200 email messages to arrive between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.  The average handling time of email messages is 8 minutes. Your promised response time is 4 hours. 

Assuming the Agents can work uninterrupted on these email messages only, which of the following staffing scenarios would meet your response time objective for these email messages?

I. 4 Agents working from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

II. 9 Agents working from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

III. 14 Agents working from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

IV. 40 Agents who each spend at least an hour working on email from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

A. II only

B. III and IV only

C. II, III and IV only

D. I, II, III, and IV

 

13. Which of the following are factors you need to incorporate in a  monthly labor budget?

I. Is my Agent in the building?

II. What is the monthly average Occupancy rate?

III. Is my Agent on a break?

IV. Is my Agent on leave?

A. III only

B. I and II only

C. I, II and III only

D. I, II, III and IV

 

14. Which of the following KPI results can be determined by looking at only ACD reports?

I. Service Level

II. Average Speed of Answer

III. Abandoned Calls

IV. Adherence to Schedule Percent

A. I and II only

B. III and IV only

C. I, II and III only

D. I, II, III, and IV

 

15. When forecasting call volume, you should use:

A. Calls answered

B. Calls answered plus calls abandoned

C. Calls offered discounted for multiple attempts from individual callers

D. All calls offered




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Customer Experience Magazine is the online magazine packed full of industry news, blogs, features, reports, case studies, video bites and international stories all focusing on customer experience.


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