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Industry News and Best Practices

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It seems like everyone is talking about artificial intelligence (AI) and how it is effecting our lives at home, at work, as well as how we communicate, shop and consume media. And AI is changing the customer experience!  With the capability to not only process data, but predict insights and drive business decisions, AI will be the cornerstone in the future of customer service for customers and your call center agents.

 

Click here to see the full infographic for The Role of AI in Customer Experience.

 

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We are delighted to announce that CallMiner Eureka – our Post Contact Interaction Analytics Suite - has been shortlisted for the 2018 Call Centre Helper “Top 10 Contact Center Technology” awards.  

 

You can help us make the ‘Top 10 list’ by voting for Eureka HERE.

 

It will take you less than 1 minute to cast your vote, and as a result you will help to give recognition to CallMiner Eureka and help other contact center managers make informed decisions about the technologies they invest in.

 

So, if you and those using Eureka can please provide your vote and ask your colleagues to do the same, it would be greatly appreciated. The winning products will be announced in late May 2018.

 

Voting closes on 6th April and we'd love your vote – VOTE HERE!

 

Thank you very much in advance for your support.

Conversational commerce is changing the way customers interact with brands and companies. Younger generations, like millennials, look at the transition as a valuable one because it utilizes technology they rely on every day, their smartphones. Overall, customer culture is evolving, and consumers have a desire for more accessible communication methods that let them interact with businesses when they want and from wherever they are.

 

What is conversational commerce?

The term, conversational commerce, was initially published by Uber’s Chris Messina on Medium and since grown significantly. It refers to the use of messaging apps for shopping, communicating, and overall interaction with businesses. This method of communication gives consumers a way to chat, make purchases, ask questions, and get help from companies without having to call them during specific hours.

 

Some businesses have built-in message systems in their mobile apps, and others utilize Facebook Messenger and chatbots. Most recently, companies such as Dish and Capital One are partnering with Amazon Echo which acts as an interface with individual companies through voice commands.

 

Since the use of messaging continues to rise for personal and business use with more than 1.4 billion messages sent in 2015, conversational commerce is simplifying the customer journey. Businesses that are quick to embrace this new form of communication will quickly establish a loyal following and increase revenue as a result.

 

How will conversational commerce impact businesses in 2018?

While conversational commerce is a step in the right direction for consumers’ needs, there are areas of concerns for businesses to consider. To successfully implement a conversational commerce strategy, each of the below should be reviewed and a plan created by company leaders.

 

1. Analyzing customer conversations at every touch point.

The increase of communication options makes it easier for more of your customers to connect with you, but it also increases the number of conversations your call center agents have on a daily basis. Depending on how you currently track and analyze calls, the influx may create a burden for your quality assurance team.

 

Companies that want to expand customer interactions to more than one user interface need to invest in a call center analytics solution that can automate the tracking process. Analytics solutions automatically capture every conversation including voice, text, social media, and emails and transcribe the information into a central database. The database stores 100% of these customer conversations so businesses can research and identify trends that occur over time.

 

When used successfully, businesses become more proactive at fixing product issues, increasing staffing when necessary, creating new services, and educating their team on best practices.

 

2. An increased opportunity for fraud.

Hackers spend their days looking for new ways to make money. The introduction of conversational commerce gives them just that. But, now instead of trying to hack into an account online or via the telephone, they can now use messaging to access account details.

 

Call centers will need to tighten or create new security strategies to prevent hackers from accessing sensitive information. By establishing procedures including ongoing security upgrades for apps and account authentication by the user, they are less likely to experience a cyber breach. Speech Analytics can also help identify behaviors of fraudsters and prevent them from completing transactions.

 

3. A need for new analytics.

In the past, your call center may have tracked customer satisfaction, first call resolution rates, or average handle time. With the increase of messaging to communicate will create a need for new metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs).

 

With this new technology, call centers will also need to track which communication methods create the happiest clients, first-message resolution, average response time, and the number of conversations via platforms to properly staff the customer service.

 

What steps can contact centers take to keep up with the transition?

Any business that wants to grow and expand in 2018 and beyond should be looking at conversational commerce today.  Decide how you want to or can integrate it into your existing procedures. Do you already have the avenues in place such as a Facebook business profile where you can build a chatbot through messenger to manage customer purchases and conversations?

 

From there it is important that your brainstorm with your customer service team, managers, and leaders on how it will impact you internally. Will you need additional personnel? Can you move current team members around to fulfill the needs? What type of training do employees need? Will there be any holes in the customer service strategy to consider?

 

Lastly, make sure you have a call center analytics system that lets you track, record, analyze, search, and customize reports that calculate overall contact center and agent performance. This is the one way to understand how conversation commerce impacts your customer satisfaction, revenue, and bottom line.

 

Conversational Commerce is here to stay. The digital avenue it opens for businesses to deliver personalized and speedy service will not go unnoticed in the future of customer service.

 

How have you/do you plan to incorporate Conversational Commerce into your business?

 

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CallMiner CX Intelligence Summit in Boston, April 10

Submissions due Friday, March 16

 

We are excited to offer this opportunity to speak at our upcoming CX Intelligence Summit. We have one remaining 45-minute session open for a great speaker and content.

Please send your proposed session titles and descriptions to marketing@callminer.com by Friday, March 16 for consideration. We will let you know by Monday, March 19 if you have been selected. For your participation we will cover your travel and hotel costs for the event.

Topics should support the event theme – Elevate CX with Intelligent Insight

  • For Customers:
    • Discuss how you have accelerated speed to CX intelligence with Interaction Analytics
    • Use of interaction analytics across channels to improve all areas of the business is a plus
    • Quantifiable results are a plus
  • For Partners and other Subject Matter Experts:
    • Share best practices and trends in measuring and improving customer experience in this age of the customer
    • Share new technologies that assist in better servicing the customer including, but not limited to Interaction Analytics, Voice Biometrics, AI, Bots, Omnichannel engagement
    • Share case studies, examples of your customers or other organizations that are employ any of the above with measured results in better experience

Check out the summit website for full details about the event.

 

We look forward to receiving your proposals!

“I don’t understand how my organization can use speech analytics.”

 

This is a statement I hear often from those who don't have speech analytics, as well as those who do. Speech analytics has the potential to transform an organization and its relationships with customers, but organizations seldom harness its power to make that happen. The reason is the journey to speech begins without adequate planning, preparation and understanding of how to use the technology.

 

Typically, speech neophytes start off by using it to grab low-hanging-fruit issues in an attempt to show ROI. After this fruit is picked, they run out of quick-hit ideas and get bogged down in what to tackle next.

 

Here's what I hear:

  • “My boss told me to start using speech analytics and make it work, but I have no idea where to begin, even after reading the user guide.”
  • “We built out our first project and not really sure where to go next”
  • “We’re struggling to have meaningful impact on the organization”
  • “The executive sponsor who implemented speech didn’t share the vision with anyone and has since left, so nobody knows what to do with it.”

 

Speech analytics isn’t "just" software. Rather, think about it as an innovative methodology that can alter the way we think about solving problems. At least, it has that potential, but newbies get caught up in their limited definition of what constitutes a "problem." Invariably, when I've asked organizations, “What’s your definition of a problem?” the answer I receive is, “A problem with agents.”

 

While speech analytics can solve some agent problems, restricting ourselves only to agent problems devalues its potential. Until we see "problems" as more than just agent issues, we won't leverage the power of speech analytics to solve many other types of enterprise problems. Once this concept sinks in, it will open up a whole new world to you, and speech analytics will become the first tool to reach for – whether it’s a large scale project or quality monitoring.

If you’re new to speech analytics and are beginning to assemble a vision but aren’t sure how speech analytics will fit into your organization, it’s paramount that you craft a blueprint for its use. Otherwise, you might find yourself struggling in only a few months and speech analytics could end up being a piece of shelf ware and that’s a surprise no one wants to see.

 

About MainTrax

MainTrax is a leading provider of speech analytics professional services to organizations that use speech software to improve business results. Visit our website here.

 

WHAT IF SPEECH ANALYTICS DIDN’T HAVE TO BE SO HARD?

 

MainTrax is excited to join Lawson Concepts to announce a NEW one-of-a-kind speech analytics “blueprint that works” workshop that will help take your organization to the next level.

 

 

 

Join us in Chicago June 26-27

 

 

Visit Our Website

 

 

Download Chicago Workshop information (pdf)

Defining BPO Automation

Business process outsourcing (BPO) of operations and responsibilities by companies to third-party service providers is widely employed in the business world. Its main advantage is to increase a company’s flexibility in how it deals with its targets and goals, whether measured through cost or time efficiency, and the practice is typically found in internal business functions such as human resources, finance and accounting.

 

Business process outsourcing (BPO) of operations and responsibilities by companies to third-party service providers is widely employed in the business world. Its main advantage is to increase a company’s flexibility in how it deals with its targets and goals, whether measured through cost or time efficiency, and the practice is typically found in internal business functions such as human resources, finance and accounting.

 

BPO Automation, refers to the application of robotic process automation (RPA) software  and it is a rising force in the field of customer-related services such as contact centers.

 

Examples of BPO Automation in the Call Center

At its core, BPO automation is designed to improve efficiency and productivity, reduce margins and overhead, and increase performance toward targets and goals setup by contact center managers. This is done by reducing the amount of work needed on actions that are consistent and repeatable: automation is most effective when dealing with numerous repetitive tasks. This makes BPO Automation particularly effective in scenarios such as:

 

  • Initial customer contact: this is a time when agents might notoriously struggle to jump from one system (basic customer profile information) to another (prior order histories, current order status etc…). With the right RPA automation workflow in place, the system could reduce the complexity associated with numerous logins, copying and pasting data, and searching for resources in manuals and training notes.
  • Ongoing customer engagement: it is often while trying to make changes to users’ accounts while on the line that agents make mistakes. Trying to update customer accounts based on the outcome of the call, selecting the right upsell, and validating customer satisfaction when they are pleased with the call are all actions that can easily rely on robotic process automation, therefore enhancing the agent and customer experience.

 

Benefits of enabling BPO Automation for Call Center Agents

Interestingly, one area where RPA can help is through by streamlining the management of multiple systems and applications for agents. Below are some of these benefits:

 

  • Retaining customer focus: the repetitive tasks of moving data, checking and re-keying can simply be automated, allowing agents to stay focused on the call and thus improving their customer-focus. The right workflow automation could streamline the amount of systems agents need to juggle during a call, and remedy to customers’ most frustrating complaint, namely: “why are you asking for the same information again?”
  • Improving agent productivity: similarly, an RPA could integrate data into the right fields, freeing time for agents to focus on their goals and targets, therefore elevating service levels and agent productivity.
  • Maximizing data accuracy: By linking numerous systems, automated solutions can process real-time consumer data that is validated and checked accurately, always keeping customer records up to date and error-free. Agents can rest assured that their information is up to date, and they do not have to worry about entering data in the wrong fields, for instance.
  • Empowering agents: far from rendering agents obsolete, the right RPA software can let managers and agent take control of their workflow thanks to intuitive and visual approaches.

 

BPO Automation & Speech Analytics

BPO automation and speech analytics is a powerful duo for further enabling contact centers improve agent performance and the customer experience, boost operational efficiency, improve regulatory compliance and increase sales. Speech analytics automates the Quality Assurance (QA) process and monitors 100% of customer interactions. Rather than having to listen to full recordings of calls, speech analytics automatically transcribes, categorizes, tags and scores all interactions saving staff endless hours of manual QA.

Final thoughts

While most of us think of automation as a technology solely reserved for the manufacturing and robotics industries, the truth is that software automation is now increasingly relied upon in a variety of fields, including contact and call centers. Business process outsourcing seems unlikely to slow down in the near future, and even if the topic is hotly debated by the press, it is still an effective method of increasing company flexibility, reducing overhead and increasing ROI.

 

In conclusion, while some commentators seem to believe that contact centers as we know them will disappear sometime in the future, others are more confident that the skills of agents can never be matched by software. In any case, combining a human workforce with BPO automation and speech analytics could be a very promising answer for call center managers worldwide.

 

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o matter what industry you serve, one thing is certain; call centers can’t deliver a positive customer experience without the right agents in place. Hiring the right team can make or break any call center, but it takes more than just reviewing qualifications during the hiring process. Leadership and management teams have a responsibility to maintain morale and keep agents happy after they are hired.

 

 

When a call center builds a team of trained agents, the last thing they want is for the agent to quit or move on to another company. Agent attrition is an ongoing problem for many call centers across the country. According to Gartner, agent attrition is at its highest during their first 90 days on the job and is a result of being overwhelmed by the responsibilities.  The cost of losing an agent, depending on their experience and responsibilities ranges from $1,500 to $20,000.

 

The good news is that agents are more likely to remain at a call center when they are happy, and studies show that happier employees are actually more productive. Taking steps to create happy employees becomes a significant win for call centers with:

  • Decreased recruitment and training costs
  • Improved productivity
  • Better customer service
  • Increased customer retention

 

The big question is how can call center managers and leaders keep their agents happy? We have put together a list with seven tips to help keep your agents happy below.

 

1.       Skip the micromanaging.

When managers micromanage employees, it can be detrimental to the well-being of any call center. Agents want to feel like management trusts their capabilities. To do that effectively, managers need to have quality leadership skills that inspire employees to perform at their best.

 

Managers can inspire employees by empowering them to make decisions without having to gain approval first. Create a policy that lists the types of decisions call center agents can make on their own. Train and educate them on how to make these decisions effectively. By doing so, a call center increases morale and creates a better customer experience which results in higher profits.

 

Implementing speech analytics software is another way to minimize micromanagement, because the software tracks what is happening in the call center based on your criteria. Managers can review and monitor calls from their office to identify an areas of concern. The software also gives agents access to their call data, giving them the ability to self-manage their performance. If an area of their call receives a low score, they know to adjust without being told which makes them feel empowered and requires less effort from management.

 

2.       Create recognition guidelines.

Recognizing employees for their hard work or going above and beyond is beneficial. But, not every individual likes public recognition. You can recognize employees through rewards, incentives, and public praise. Before you institute a recognition program, it is best to uncover how they want to be recognized. When it comes to negative or constructive criticism, it is crucial these conversations are held privately with the individuals.

 

3.       Schedule team-building events.

All work and no play is never fun. Agents work better when they enjoy what they are doing and build solid relationships with co-workers. Hosting team building events like office luncheons, socials, or offsite events provides agents a place to talk about their lives, let their walls down, and they learn how to better communicate with others on the team.

 

Companies can also increase agent engagement through gamification by instituting a structured game and rewarding points based on data tracked in your speech analytics software. If you want to improve first call resolution rates, you can create a game that rewards agents for certain steps they complete on a call. The points can then be redeemed for certain prizes or activities.

 

4.       Don’t stop educating them.

Agents need knowledge of the products and services you offer. Let’s face it, in today’s fast-paced environment, products and services often change quickly or without notice. Make it a point to continuously offer training, so they don’t get blindsided by customer calls or inquiries.

 

Call centers that use speech analytics can review real-time data about individual agents or the entire agent team. The data provided makes it easier for managers to identify specific areas on which the whole team needs training. Since no two agents have the same amount of experience, speech analytics software also lets managers personalize training for individual agents based on call scoring and monitoring.

 

5.       Create a positive culture.

A positive culture breeds positivity from among agents. When negativity breaks into your environment, it festers and makes team members miserable. To create a positive culture, managers need to model the desired attitude. They also need to proactively minimize negativity by listening to agent concerns.

 

In the past, managers had to manually track agents’ performance or judge them based on a small, random sampling of interactions. Since there was no consistency or evidence of concerns, negative performance conversations could quickly result in a negative assessment of the employee. With speech analytics, managers gain access to objective data regarding performance on 100% of an agent’s interactions, resulting in fairer treatmentof each agent.

 

6.       Promote from within.

Not every member of a call center agent team wants to remain in the same position indefinitely. When new positions become available, giving agents the opportunity to apply and interview for the spot shows that you value their longevity with the company. To make promotions like these possible, managers should constantly be looking for and molding the next leader through knowledge and trainings, so they are prepared.

 

7.       Supply the tools they need. 

There is nothing worse than setting expectations of high-quality and quantity customer service for agents and then not supplying them with the right tools. Up-to-date technology like phones and computers are just one piece of the puzzle. They also need easy access to knowledge bases, customer management systems, and feedback on their performance. Interaction or speech analytics software gives agents access to the information they need to improve the customer experience and gives management objective performance data on each agent to that they can tailor coaching and training to their specific needs. By automating the Quality Assurance process, speech analytics also helps improve contact center efficiency, regulatory compliance, and sales and collector performance, which, in the end, also affects agent happiness and customer satisfaction.

 

Keeping call center agents happy offers many benefits. If you’re currently suffering from high attrition rates, there is no overnight fix to solve the current struggles it creates. Implementing these tips is a good starting point to invoke change in your call center and experience increased productivity, decreased expenses, and create a consistently positive customer experience.

 

What tactics do you use in your organization to keep agents happy

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Employees are arguably the biggest asset of any business. Without the right team in place, businesses can’t properly serve their customers. For call centers, employees are also the biggest expense making how they spend their work time increasingly important to managers. While you can hope that they are actively working every minute of the day, the truth is they probably are not.

 

What is Call Center Shrinkage?

Call center shrinkage is the number of hours an employee is paid but not productively working. Breaks, lunch, meetings, and absenteeism keep agents from their number one responsibility, answering calls. While some of these workday interruptions can be planned for like vacations, others like sick days cannot. Every second an agent spends not answering phone calls directly impacts your bottom line, customer experience, and call center metrics like speed of answer and customer satisfaction.

 

How do you Calculate Shrinkage?

There are two types of shrinkage, internal and external. Internal shrinkage is lost time caused by internal operational choices like mandatory trainings, meetings, and system downtime. External shrinkage includes factors out the business’s control like vacations, sick days, and paid holidays. Shrinkage is used by call center managers to properly staff agents.

 

To calculate shrinkage, you need the following data for the year:

  • Total hours of shrinkage
  • Total hours of available work time

 

When you have these numbers, you can plug them into the below equation:

  1. Shrinkage percentage= (Total hours of shrinkage/ Total hours of available work time) x 100
  2. This will give your shrinkage percentage to use in the below formula when calculating number of agents to schedule:
  3. Number of employees needed/(1-shrinkage percentage)
  4. For example, if you need 100 agents and your shrinkage percentage is 25 percent.
  5. 100/(1-.25)= 133.33
  6. You would need to staff 133 employees to have full coverage of phone calls.

 

How can you Eliminate Shrinkage?

Shrinkage can be deadly to a call center. If there are not enough agents to answer calls, customers get frustrated and hang up before being addressed. This can cost you money and cause a bad reputation if it’s ongoing. As a call center manager, you need to take a proactive approach in reducing shrinkage. Here are six tips that can help eliminate shrinkage:

 

1. Track Schedules.

One way to calculate the amount of internal shrinkage is to require agents to clock in and out while working. The best way to track this is by using a cloud-based application where employees login on their computers. Using a computer based application works best because employees are guaranteed to be at their work station.

 

These apps allow employees to mark when they take breaks, attend meetings, or participate in trainings. Managers can run reports weekly or monthly to see the amount of time employees spend away from the phone involved in alternate activities.

 

2. Break it into Categories.

Tracking employee’s daily activity should be detailed to gain better insight. Within your time tracking app, you can create categories for different types of interruptions. This way you can identify if employees are being pulled away for too many meetings/trainings, or if they are abusing lunch or break privileges.

 

3. Discuss Chronic Absenteeism.

A team is only as strong as their weakest link. Constant sick days and requested time off by one employee can cause problems within the entire team. Identifying employees that take numerous days off is just the start of a solution.

 

Managers should also hold a meeting with these employees and discuss how it impacts the team and business. The underlying cause for call-offs may be a short-term problem. If it isn’t, it is vital that you make a plan with the individual to change it moving forward and hold them accountable.

 

4. Use Analytics Software.

When call center agents spend large amounts of time being pulled from their desks to research or track down information it impacts your efficiency and increases shrinkage rates. You can minimize this with the right customer interaction analytics software because it acts as a central hub for client information, knowledge, resources, and real-time data. This eliminates the need for employees to leave their desks for answers. Analytics software can also help you track less obvious sources of shrinkage – like systems that are not optimized or the causes of high average handle times and long periods of silence on calls.

 

5. Engage Employees.

Keeping employees engaged and excited about their job is especially hard in call centers because of the high stress levels. But, when employees enjoy going to work, feel empowered, and valued, they are less likely to call off unexpectedly.

 

6. Promote Health and Wellness.

According to the World Health Organization, an employee’s health is directly impacted by their workplace. More and more workplaces are promoting and creating a culture based on healthy life choices. When employees embrace these choices, they take fewer sick days and are more focused at work.

Properly managing shrinkage increases productivity, employee happiness while creating a better customer experience and improving your bottom line.

 

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Businesses face a variety of challenges every day from increasing sales to maintaining a good reputation and establishing a team culture. Perhaps, no challenge is as important as creating an exceptional customer experience for individuals that call your business. Manifesting a positive experience for every customer is the key to increasing sales, maintaining your reputation, and retaining great employees.

 

Plenty of businesses know customer experience is essential, in fact, 89% of marketers expect it to be their key differentiator in 2017. Now is the time to find a way to fine-tune your customer experience strategy if you want to stay ahead of your competition. Customer interaction analytics, call management, and IVR routing are some of the solutions businesses use to improve the customer experience.

 

What is IVR?

IVR is short for interactive voice response and is an automated call answering system. When customers call businesses with IVR, they answer a series of questions using voice recognition or their touch-phone telephone keypads. Ideally, the IVR system collects this information to determine the type of the call and routes the caller to the department or individual best-fitted to handle the call.

 

What are the Benefits?

When IVR is set up correctly, it benefits to your business and customers.

 

  • Reduce on-hold time.

IVR routing gives customers options the minute they call you instead of having to wait for an operator to pick up.  In addition, if there is a wait time to connect with the appropriate representative, IVR offers a callback feature. The callback feature lets the caller claim their place in line without staying on the phone. They receive a call when the representative is free from previous calls.

  • Improve first call resolution rates.

There is nothing more frustrating to a customer than calling a business; waiting for an answer, only to find out the answer didn’t help them. In cases like these, customers usually call back angry. IVR helps manage incoming calls, so they get to the individual most qualified to solve their problem.

  • Offer service around the clock.

Some IVR systems automate various tasks or call types without requiring customers to speak to a live agent. You can customize your IVR to share balance information, payment due date, or a website URL where they can find their answer.

  • Personalize every call.

One feature of IVR is the caller id software. Representatives know who is on the phone and why there are calling before they answer. This allows them to personally greet the caller when they answer.

  • Connect customers to the right department.

Collecting information about the reason for the call allows the IVR system to connect callers with the right department and get their question resolved the first time.

  • Increase customer satisfaction.

When calling a business doesn’t seem stressful or require a lot of effort, customers are typically more satisfied with their experience. Satisfied customers are more likely to return for future needs, refer others, and share their experience with others.

  • Eliminate wasted resources.

Time and money are two critical components every business needs to continue to grow. Wasting either can be detrimental to success. IVR systems increase call routing efficiency and eliminate time spent by representatives handling calls beyond their qualifications.

  • Increase company profits.

All of these benefits combined directly impact your business’s bottom line.

 

IVR & Speech Analytics: The Perfect Duo

Some businesses think using either IVR technology will answer all their customer experience struggles. While an IVR system offers many benefits, delivering exceptional customer experiences across the entire customer journey requires more.

 

Speech analytics gives businesses the ability to transcribe all customer interactions into one searchable database. With speech analytics, businesses can pinpoint root cause of each call and trends across all calls without supervisors having to review recording or review entire transcripts. If an influx of calls occurs because customers are struggling with using a new product, a business can quickly identify this. In turn, they can create new product training pieces to fix the issue and eliminate the excess calls.

 

Speech analytics or customer interaction analytics lets you also look at e-mail, live chat, and text messaging. Seeing data from all touch points gives you a well-rounded view of your customer, their needs and their opinions on products and services.

 

Final Thoughts

Your customer experience tells customers exactly what they can expect from you moving forward. If it’s anything less than desirable, your business reputation and success will falter. Adding IVR and speech analytics to your call center operations will improve the customer experience as well as save you time, money, and increase your customer service efficiency.

 

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Not all call center metrics are created equal. Any call center manager worth their salt knows that you should be measuring what goes on inside your call center. But the empirical data you gather is only as good as the questions you are asking. And finding ROI starts with understanding what you need to be measuring in order to get business results.

 

Depending on whether you are gauging performance for an inbound our outbound call center, different metrics are key. Below, we break down some of the most important of each, and then offer some observations about how to best go about measuring them.

 

Inbound Call Center Metrics

Inbound call centers are usually service related, and focused on a customer issue.  Therefore, inbound call center KPI’s are mostly focused on customer satisfaction.

 

First-Call Resolution (FCR)

This measures the percentage of customers who are able to have their problem solved the first time they reach out to a company. It can be measured either by calls that did not need to be transferred, or if the customer did not call back within a certain timeframe.

 

Research suggests that there is a direct, linear correlation between FCR and customer satisfaction, making this one of the most important call center metrics to track.

 

Service Level

This metric gives an understanding of the speed with which customer calls are being answered by agents. They are expressed in tandem as a percentage of calls answered within a certain amount of time.

 

This is extremely useful for understanding how many agents need to be working at any given time. For example, if a call center is able to answer only 20% of calls within 5 minutes, it’s an indication that it needs to hire more people. Conversely, if 100% of calls are answered within 5 seconds, it’s a sign you might be able to have a few less agents on the phone.

 

Contact Quality

This metric is used in order to assess the interactions the call center is having with customers. Organizations should build their understanding of Contact Quality by monitoring agent calls, as well as customer feedback.

 

There should be a consistent and systematic method for collecting this data (such as rating courtesy and professionalism on a 1-5 scale). Once that process is in place, measurements can be taken to better understand the effects of changes made to improve performance.

 

Outbound Call Center Metrics

Outbound call centers are focused on reaching out to potential customers and creating interest in a product or service. They are more of a performance marketing center, and so the metrics used will generally reflect costs vs. value:

 

Cost of Customer Acquisition

This metric measures the amount of money your call center spends in order to acquire a customer. This is one of the most important metrics because it shows how much money the business is putting into a call center or call center agent vs. how much it is getting out.

 

Lead to Sale Conversion Rate

This metric measures how many leads are actually being turned into paying customers. This can be weighted depending on the quality of any given lead, but will give an idea of how effective the call center or an individual agent is at doing the job.

 

Average Handle Time (AHT)

You are paying your agents to get the most out of every minute they are working, and monitoring the average handle time, or how long they are spending with customers, is important. AHT is in some ways an important subsection of Cost of Customer Acquisition, since it gives insight into how much money a call center or agent is bringing in per minute of operation. It is important to note that what should be measured is the appropriate average handle time, which is not necessarily always the fastest.

 

Inbound & Outbound Call Center Metrics Are All About Improving Efficiency

Although inbound and outbound metrics are measuring different things, they have a single purpose.

 

These metrics are about understanding how much money your call center is making per dollar spent. For inbound-focused centers, this means looking into how satisfied customers are through a variety of different prisms. Outbound centers will be keen to know how quickly and efficiently leads are being converted into sales.

 

But regardless, metrics come down to understanding the nuts and bolts of performance what it takes to streamline operations, improve efficiency, and grow revenue.

 

One technology that can help call centers create a baseline and chart improvements on KPIs is speech analytics. It automates the Quality Assurance process through automated monitoring and analysis of 100% of customer interactions – phone, email, chat, and social. It provides data on first call resolution, average handle time, issue root cause and many other call center metrics.

 

Related Resources:

 

What KPIs are important to your business and how are you measuring them?

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There are many modes of customer service (phone, in-person, email, etc.). But, when done well, chat is by far the best.

It reduces customer effort, increases customer satisfaction and answers customers’ questions quickly. Plus, it’s less costly than the phone, is more immediate than email, and it amplifies conversion by showing up on your website just when customers are about to bail.

The thing is… usually chat is NOT done well—meaning these advantages are rarely realized. As antidote, here are 5 things that chat masters always do to ensure their chats are profitable and lead to customer experience success.

Customer Service Chat: 5 Ways to Improve

  1. Skip the empty questions. Customers are chatting for answers, and while chat can be conversational, get to the point. “How are you doing today?” and other space-filler questions are usually read as tedious hurdles the customer must endure, rather than niceties the customer enjoys.
  2. Be specific and reference the customer’s situation immediately. If the intake form shows why the customer is chatting, don’t ask the customer to repeat themselves; instead move into relevant, clarifying questions that show listening.
  3. Use the customer’s name; it’s a small way to show the customer you care and are focused on them.
  4. Make sure the customer has all the facts they might not have thought to ask about. This could include information about timeframes, what to expect next, or how to customize the product.
  5. Tell the customer you’re following up with an email and then do it. This gives your customer a reminder of where they were and gives you a way to add context and value; it’s a win-win. The value you add could be links to other resources, interesting facts about social trends in your industry, etc. The point is to bridge the customer’s initial inquiry to the products and services your company provides.

Of course, your associates can have the best tips and tricks along with the most extensive training but if you don’t measure how often and how well they act on that information, you can’t prove (or disprove) the quality of your customer service. And let’s face it, the world is full of good intentions and terrible execution.

At Interaction Metrics, we provide robust, highly accurate customer feedback programs and customer service evaluations with optimizations. With meaningful metrics and elemental analysis, we remove the biases and other flaws that obstruct customer experience success.

Say hello to get the 1 number you need for customer experience success.  Or, just say hello because you’d like to exchange ideas about how to improve the customer experience.

Call centers are used by many businesses to field incoming calls and make outbound calls. The agents tasked with call management are usually engulfed in an endless stream of conversation, documentation, and follow-up. The constant activity can leave agents feeling unsure about their performance, and if the structure is too chaotic, you may not be sure of your overall performance as a call center.

 

The best way to track agent and center performance is through a call center metrics dashboard. Dashboards show information about call performance, so you know exactly where improvements need to be made.

 

How to Build a Call Center Dashboard

Deciding to use a metrics dashboard in your call center isn’t a system you flip a switch to turn on. There are critical steps to follow in building a great dashboard.

 

1. Know your goal.

What problem do you want your call center dashboard to solve? Do you want your agents to see their performance scores in near real-time? Does your executive team want to measure operational efficiency? These are two different goal types and require different views.  Once you have a goal, you can design it to track the metrics that matter most to your business.

2. Brainstorm what metrics matter.

Sit down with those that will use the dashboard to brainstorm which metrics matter most. Call center agents may want to see how they are performing against others which supervisors may prefer to see metrics on the whole team.  Look at metrics that affect individual and group performance. But don’t overlook metrics that improve operational efficiency, compliance, customer experience and sales/collector revenue.

3. Make it easy to navigate.

The easier it is to navigate and understand, the more likely it will get used.

4. Create unique dashboards for departments.

If you have a need for dashboards for several departments, don’t be tempted to create one for all. Segment the metrics into unique dashboards for each department. This way contact center supervisors can see data on their agents and team’s performance and executives can look at the overall performance without seeing too much at once.

 

Makeup of a Great Dashboard

 

There is still the challenge figuring out what metrics add value to your overall business operations. Here is a list of the most valuable metrics to include on your call center dashboard:

1. Average Handle Time

The average call handle time is the average time spent taking care of incoming calls from beginning to end including any activities after the call is finished.  If average call handle time is high, you may need to adjust processes or add additional resources for your agents to use.

2. First Call Resolution

First call resolution (FCR) measures how well you help customers the first time they contact you without having to follow up later. If you have a low first call resolution rate, you know to look for trends causing it. Sometimes, your auto-attendant or IVR isn’t optimized, or calls get routed to the wrong department. Knowing you have an FCR problem is half the battle in fixing it.

3. Call Abandonment Rate

Abandoned calls measures the number of callers that hang up before they reach a call representative. Tracking this key metric tells you when your staffing is too low during call peak times. It also shows you if a particular agent isn’t answering as many calls as other agents which gives you a chance to review their calls for necessary improvements.

4. Average Hold Time

The average time a customer waits on hold before being connected with a live agent can be detrimental to your customer satisfaction score. Tracking it lets you see if average hold times are higher at certain times during the day or year. Once you know the trends, you can increase the number of agents fielding calls.

5. Customer Satisfaction

Every company takes a different stance on measuring customer satisfaction. Since customers are the lifeblood of your business, we think this KPI is vital to track. Customer satisfaction measures how the customers feel about their call outcome. Are they happy? Will they refer others to you? Are they upset that the call wasn’t resolved?

6. Agent Performance

Using speech analytics software, you can review agent’s individual calls for silence, angry tones, or red-flag terms that you don’t want used. Combining this with average handle time, abandon calls and other metrics lets you score their overall performance.

 

Final Thought

A call center dashboard delivers significant value to your agents and departments. To maximize its potential, make sure you customize the output for the end user.

 

What is on your call center dashboard?

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Driving Down Contact Center Costs and Driving Up Efficiency with Interaction Analytics

There comes a time in every business where owners need to find ways to improve overall performance. Many businesses choose to focus on their bottom line by decreasing expenses. Reviewing expenses line by line on occasion is a good business practice, but it doesn’t always increase efficiency. Sometimes it causes businesses to be ineffective and defeats their original goal. For better results, you need to take a balanced approach by looking at both expenses and existing inefficiencies.

 

“You have to spend money to make money” is a common phrase used in the business community. While that doesn’t mean you should invest in every opportunity that promises a return, it does mean if you invest wisely, you will reap the benefits. Most successful businesses with contact centers use interaction analytics software to improve their operations and eliminate wasted expenses.

 

What is Interaction Analytics?

Interaction analytics are the result of turning your “raw” client information like conversations and purchase history into a searchable database to better understand your customers’ wants, needs, and areas of dissatisfaction.  Businesses use this valuable information to make better decisions that directly impact performance.

 

Interaction Analytics Fills the Gap

When used to its fullest capability, interaction analytics helps businesses achieve success.  Take a look at our best tips to drive downs costs and increase efficiency with interaction analytics.

 

  1. Tracks all Customer Conversations
    Most businesses today offer multiple ways for customers to connect with their brand in addition to phone calls. Live chat, text message, e-mail, and social media are becoming increasingly popular. Tracking conversations on multiple platforms manually and compiling them into one central view is virtually impossible.

    The best interaction analytics software solutions capture these conversations automatically. It also transcribes them into one searchable database, saving you and your agents from wasting time that is better suited to improving the customer experience and generating revenue.

  2. Optimize Calls and Tasks
    To optimize something is to make a process perform as well as possible. In a contact center, your biggest source of inefficiency results from incoming calls. Simply managing calls by directing them to the next available call representative can be inefficient.  Optimizing the incoming call process to route calls to the agent best suited to address customer needs saves time and money.

    One method to accomplish this is to add Interactive Voice Response Technology (IVR) to your call system and linking it to your interaction analytics software.  Customers answer a series of questions when they call about the reason for the call, their name, etc. and are then routed to the representative most equipped to handle their specific need. When calls are properly optimized you reduce expenses through better first call resolution percentages, lower handling times, and fewer misdirected calls.

  3. Review Conversations
    It is not feasible for managers to listen to all agent conversations. In fact, most businesses are resourced to only listen to between 1-3%. With interaction analytics, 100% of conversations can be monitored, categorized and tagged for specific language or long periods of silence. With a simple search, analytics will return all calls with the segments of the transcript and recording flagged based on the KPIs set by the business. That way managers do not have to spend countless hours listening to only a random sampling of calls hoping that those that they listen to will actually contain the language or other KPIs they are looking for.

    Managers can review these calls and look for reasons for the silence or tagged words and put together a plan to minimize in the future. By reducing silence, you also reduce the average time it takes to handle a call (AHT) and can customize scripts to address and eliminate problem conversations.

  4. Record and Score Conversations
    Providing agent feedback is critical to their continued success. Reviewing and scoring incoming calls is time-consuming. Interaction analytics automatically transcribes all phone calls and scores them based on specific criteria that you create. Managers can spend more time on other important tasks such as coaching and training.

  5. Avoid Complaints and Fines
    The call center industry is laden with compliance rules and regulations. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued more than $5 billion in fines in its first five years. There was a record $23 million in HIPAA fines collected in 2016, a 379 percent increase from the prior year. In 2016 there were 4,860 Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) litigations, a 31.8% increase over 2015. Deviating from requirements can cost you from $100s to $1000s in fines per infraction. Manual sampling of recorded calls provides little to no prevention of non-compliant behavior or protection against litigation. With Interaction analytics, contact centers can score every call to identify risk based on the content of the conversation.  It allows you to track escalation language, identify training opportunities and ultimately reduce the number of regulatory complaints and fines.

  6. Create a Better Customer Experience
    According to Forrester, 72% of businesses say improving customer experience is a priority. If you are not one of them, you risk being surpassed by your competitor. Customer experience is on its way to being the leading differentiator between businesses. Interaction analytics gives you an inside look at what your customers want and expect from you.

    Smart businesses use this data to create a positive experience for every customer. By paying attention to their wants, customers are more likely to return for future business and refer others as well. Retaining customers is more cost-effective than marketing new ones and converting referral prospects into customers is less costly as well.

Final Thoughts

Interaction analytics is a powerful business tool when used to its fullest capabilities. These are just six of the ways investing in interaction analytics software can save your business time while increasing efficiency and revenue.

 

Tell us how you are optimizing contact center efficiency and revenue with interaction analytics.

 

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Defining SMS Technology

While most individuals are familiar with SMS (short message service), not many people will spend much time thinking about its larger definition. It is, in fact, a web-based software as service (SaaS) technology, and as such it can be used for more than communication between two phone users. Thanks to its standardized communication protocol, companies can therefore leverage the power to send and receive messages by reaching customers and users in an unobtrusive and engaging way, making SMS an ideal tool for Contact Centers.

 

Why use SMS for Contact Centers?

According to a Forbes article, text messages now outrank phone calls as the dominant form of communication for most US users. This is particularly true of the younger generations, and especially Millennials, who appear to rely on text messaging 68% more than on voice calls.

 

This insight should convince contact center managers that this method of communication will become increasingly prevalent in the coming years. Below are other reasons to integrate SMS into your Contact Center infrastructure:

 

  • Enhanced customer satisfaction: the unobtrusive nature of SMS makes it a perfect communication method for users who need rapid and efficient replies to their queries. Customers feel in need of the communication process, and it provides them with more self-service options than via phone.
  • Reduced inbound queues: Since SMS allows customers to request call backs, they can actually reduce the pressure on queues, which in turn makes for a faster and smoother customer experience for phone users.
  • Accelerated workflow: Agents can send out automated responses much faster than with standard calls, alleviating the effort needed for the team as well as any subsequent database updates.
  • Flexibility: Whether it is to confirm the details of an appointment, provide reminders for contract renewals or simply to highlight new products and services, the SMS format has the advantage of being extremely versatile. This means less training for agents who can simply adapt their message according to the offer instead of having to learn every detail when explaining them via phone.
  • Extra revenue stream: SMS can also become an excellent marketing tool as a sales channel. The ability to secure the customers’ interest and to provide extra downloadable content makes it a great technology to find leads.
  • Improved quality monitoring: A great advantage of SMS technology is that it allows Contact Center managers to gain fantastic insights into their data. By integrating this reliable communication channel with speech analytics, businesses can automatically categorize, tag and score all conversations and even monitor sentiment.

What to look for in a Contact Center SMS solution?

Like with any other communication channels, your contact center needs to ensure that SMS technology is implemented with the right features. These include:

  • Outcome based SMS: the ability to send a message via trigger after a call is made (appointment reminder, for instance).
  • Bulk outbound SMS: for sending large groups of messages at once.
  • Support for MMS: enabling multiple media support for pictures, audio and videos as well as text.
  • Data-merging: allowing agents to merge customer data when sending a SMS based on a template.
  • Inbound keyword support: the ability to reroute received SMS to certain campaigns, effectively sending customers to the right agent.
  • Suppression list: to ensure phone numbers are validated.
  • Delivery receipts: an important feature for monitoring the status of the SMS. Typically, you will know whether it is in route, failed or delivered.
  • Interactive Voice Response (IVR): an advanced option that allows customers to self-service via SMS - typically found with cinema ticket vendors, for instance.
  • Premise-based Vs hosted kit: you should be able to choose whether your SMS modems and hardware should be on-site or whether you want your vendor to host them for you.

 

Final Thoughts

While less established than live chats, emails or phone channels, SMS is proving to be a reliable and potentially increasingly popular technology for contact centers worldwide.

 

By deploying SMS technology as an integral part your contact center infrastructure, you will not only be able to benefit from additional data, but will also make the most from what could be a predominant communication channel in the future.

 

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