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Frank Sherlock CallMiner, VP, International, Sales discusses his recent experience at CCW 2017 Conference Europe.  Specially discussing delivering next generation customer experience through an Omnichannel Contact Centre.


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Call center managers are constantly looking for metrics to improve their agents' performance. First call resolution has come front and center in that regard, and for good reason: According to Deloitte, customers identify FCR as one of the top 3 most important factors when rating their satisfaction. Companies are creating more programs to monitor FCR, but how can you beat the competition and improve that metric without buying any additional technology?

Focus on your agents to improve FCR

1. Lower turnover rate: In customer service roles, turnover can be as high as 35 percent according to HR magazine. Call centers pay the price, with 41.8 percent of these businesses losing at least $25,000 per year due to churn, as noted by International Customer Management Institute's Annual Report. High turnover can also cause additional lost revenue due to lower first call resolution rates: New agents that are unfamiliar with your product may leave customers feeling frustrated and unwilling to work with your company in the future.

This turnover may occur for several reasons. One of the most important is an improper fit between agents and call centers. To help reduce turnover, call centers need individuals with the emotional makeup that will succeed in an environment that is, for many, extremely stressful. Employees that are a good fit—and therefore stay longer—can draw from their training and on-the-job experience to more successfully resolve first calls with customers when compared to newer representatives.

fcr-wo-tech.jpgReducing turnover is a low-tech way to boost first call resolution rates.

2. Empower your employees:
Strong, empathetic leaders give their employees the opportunity to find creative solutions. And in an age where customers still long to speak to a human being, not a machine, employee empowerment can go a long way when looking to boost FCR. In practice, that means setting aside enough time to make sure your agents are fully trained and pairing them with a mentor that can work with agents daily to give them real-time feedback when resolving issues on first calls.

3. Play a Game:
Ah, gamification. We've discussed this topic before on EO, including how it can improve call center performance. But did you know that call center managers can go low-tech with this, like using a whiteboard? Your goal is to rouse a bit of competitive spirit amongst your agents. For those that prefer the tech route, there are many programs that motivate agents to score well on metrics like first call resolution. The challenge with gamification, as our past EO article mentioned, is to find the right mix of  business goals and incentives agents will respond to.

First call resolution is clearly an important metric that offers insight into customer satisfaction. However, Deloitte's survey—while placing FCR in the top 3—showed customers rated the accuracy of information as a much more important attribute. While it is important to monitor first FCR, full customer satisfaction is a multi-faceted process with no quick fix. Looking to your people and improving their wellbeing will likely contribute to higher first call resolution rates.

How will you improve your first call resolution?

Contact centers are just looking for love. They want their customers to adore them, striving to provide the best customer experience so these customers will return month after month. But if customer engagement rates plummet, managers are bereft, left wondering what went wrong. Was it you, the customer, or was it the contact center?


For some contact centers, the harsh reality is that they're part of the problem. Before they wallow in heartbreak, they can also be part of the solution. Honest self-assessment is critical for boosting and maintaining customer engagement. So how can contact centers improve?


Before making any changes, leaders need to examine the current model to see what isn't working. Are they reaching out on social media, where most of their customers ask questions? Does the product fit the market? If contact center managers can answer all these questions positively, yet they're still seeing sinking customer engagement rates, they may have to take a closer look at their agents. Are agents receiving enough training? And enough feedback?


Constant feedback helps both managers and employees

In order to be a customer's ideal call center match, leaders need to make sure they are honestly reflecting on and assessing their agents' strengths and weaknesses. Real-time analytics can be a good place to start. Bernard Marr, writing for Forbes, noted how these types of analytics programs can identify calls where agents excel and highlight the types of calls agents struggle with. However, ranking agents can become counterproductive: For the agents that are struggling, they don't know how to improve. Instead, managers can take analytics data and pinpoint specific instances where agents can improve. Importantly, managers are relaying this information instantly, as opposed to in annual performance reviews.


Call center analytics work to give real-time feedback. Employees today are looking for leaders that will give them consistent feedback, fast. Typical performance reviews - usually given yearly - are no longer enough for employees. They're interested in more of a commitment. According to Chris Duggan, CEO of Betterworks, writing for Fast Company, employees see constant feedback as a way to gage their improving performance. By using performance analytics as well as giving constant feedback, managers and employees alike are more likely to see results. That is enough of an incentive to encourage both parties to continue. Having an agent's improvement become a conversation, instead of an evaluation, also cuts down on the overhead needed for a formal review.



Strong performance analytics can help contact centers find customer love.


Another way contact center managers can work with their agents is by adopting a coaching mentality. That can start small, by simply checking in with agents. That keeps the lines of communication open, giving agents the opportunity to bring forth questions and ideas for how they can better improve their performance. If analytics reveal a common area of improvement for several agents, managers can work to strengthen training for their teams.


Honest self-assessment is the cornerstone to success for any contact center. When managers and agents can identify areas of improvement and work together through training and coaching, they can find love - and engagement - with their customers.


How will you help your agents improve their self assessments?

In our most recent white paper, we explained how companies can move beyond interaction analytics to an omnichannel world. The guide emphasized how to ensure that omnichannel efforts move in the right direction and deliver the best possible results. One of the biggest challenges here is making sure that the company's data analytics are not bound by silos. Without that expansiveness, an omnichannel customer experience will always remain out of reach.

But the relationship between analytics and omnichannel can go the opposite way, as well. In other words, companies shouldn't solely look to analytics as a way to achieve and optimize omnichannel. Instead, they should also consider how omnichannel can boost their Engagement Analytics efforts and results.

Omnichannel Data

In the previous white paper, we noted that there's significant overlap between the challenges of taking advantage of big data analytics and achieving omnichannel. In both cases, organizations must grapple with massive amounts of raw information, all of which needs to be brought together and analyzed to reveal useful insights.

That doesn't have to be a detriment, though - it can be an opportunity.

In our new white paper, we talk about how companies can move their interaction analytics beyond the contact center. Critically, we focus on the potential for customer intelligence opportunities, where interaction analytics can yield information that leads to improved operations throughout a business.

"With omnichannel, a company will have much more extensive customer data to work with."

For those companies that have or are in the process of achieving true omnichannel capabilities, this potential is even more pronounced. After all, omnichannel is all about creating customer touch points and engagement opportunities on whichever mediums your consumers prefer, as well as across those channels. When that happens, a company will immediately have much more extensive customer data to work with. Applying interaction analytics to that wide-ranging raw data can provide insight that not only guides customer support improvements in the contact center, but also lead to more effective and innovative efforts in countless other departments and areas.

The Path Forward

So how can companies embrace all of these advantages?

For starters, they need to ensure that an omnichannel mindset is pervasive throughout the organization. This means overcoming silos and implementing the necessary tools, including Customer Journey Analytics.

Then firms must take the next step and prepare to apply interaction analytics to all of these new touch points.

Undoubtedly, this can prove to be a challenge. Informatica Blog contributor Joe McKendrick recently emphasized that one of the most daunting and time-consuming barriers companies face is developing a "data analytics culture." Citing a PricewaterhouseCoopers Coopers report, McKendrick noted that only with an analytics-focused culture will firms be able to ensure that all personnel - not just customer engagement professionals - successfully use the relevant tools.

And then, of course, there's the question of the tools themselves. Companies need to look for analytics solutions that are specifically designed to collect and analyze data from omnichannel environments.

For more insight into interaction analytics' value outside the contact center, check out our latest whitepaper. And let us know: What plans does your company have for omnichannel analytics?

Organizations, big and small alike, draw strategies and build cultures that seek to fulfill customer requirements. Talent management is the preferred and exploited tool used to drive organizational health and customer satisfaction. However, what most companies overlook in the rush to gain a competitive edge and stay relevant in a digital age is their human capital. Interestingly an organization’s satisfied staff is likely to outperform the competition by 20%; so says a SnackNation article.

Employees who feel satisfied with their jobs, the parameters of job satisfaction still remain respectful treatment, compensation, benefits, and job security; are 12% more productive. Of course, the dearth of the right talent at the right place is making CEOs press organizational issues. Instead of only chasing new target markets, employers need to focus on retaining and nurturing their current talent pool.


In a dynamic business environment, talent can be turned into a competitive advantage for businesses if paired with strategic workforce planning, states a McKinsey article. By leveraging workforce planning, organizations validate their capability and capacity to drive home the planned business strategy.


Filling In The Gaps

According to an Accenture research, 61% of employees feel under-skilled to transition into a digital business. This shows that companies will have to invest the time and effort to train their staff better to allow for business strategies to be translated into business operations. Breaking away from the stringent silos and blurring the boundaries of responsibilities and making your workforce acquire multiple skills are the ways to overcome this hurdle. Think of the financial crisis that led banks to lay off their front-office jobs and gave rise to a need for regulatory staff.


Businesses need to provide agility to their teams for them to be able to transition from one role to another, without their business outcomes taking a hit.


Rewarding Change

Nine out of ten companies still depend upon the performance of an employee to evaluate their appraisals. According to a McKinsey article, companies such as Microsoft and GE are giving these dated methods of performance evaluation a miss as they lack a process that allows regular feedback and the necessary training.

Companies are implementing performance management software that helps profile separate individuals, instead of deciding according to the average employee performance. By using better data, some companies are severing the ties between performances and compensations entirely.


Changing leadership profiles

Strategic quality monitoring looks to revamp the entire organizations and not just the lower tiers of the structure. Leaders too need to rise to the occasion in order to drive the changes they envision. 

According to a McKinsey article, in order to coach people to be different, the coaching to has to undergo change. Leverage performance management software and include these practices that are likely to deliver the desired results –

  • Change the way in which feedback is provided
  • Back feedback by actual instances
  • Discuss scope of improvement

Implement a talent strategy that drives in-house growth to experience actual business efficiencies. As Accenture pointed out, people and not just technologies will drive growth in the age to come.

The Internet of Things and predictive analytics - these two technologies have an almost unlimited number of potential applications, and are already upending countless industries. Research and Markets estimated that the global IoT market will reach $660 billion by 2021, representing a 33 percent compound annual growth rate through that time. Similarly, the worldwide predictive analytics market is on pace to hit$9.2 billion by 2020, at a CAGR of 27.4 percent, according to Markets and Markets. As both the Internet of Things and predictive analytics continue to pick up steam, their impact is only going to widen, as well as evolve.

All of this is almost certain to have a major impact on the customer experience. We discussed some of the customer engagement aspects of the IoT-specific developments in a previous blog. Today, we'll take a look at how these two technology trends will combine to shift the customer experience more toward self-support and personalized guidance - and how companies will need to adjust to this new landscape.

IoT and Predictive Analytics, Hand in Hand

To a significant degree, the IoT and predictive analytics are a natural match. After all, predictive analytics is all about deep data mining to find insights that can offer projections for the future, and the IoT inherently collects massive amounts of raw information on an unprecedented scale. If utilized together, organizations can learn much more about their customers' preferences and behaviors automatically.

The CX Impact

By using this data-driven insight, organizations will be able to offer a more personalized and self-supported customer experience while maintaining or even scaling back on human involvement.

"IoT and predictive analytics are a natural match."

Initial examples of this trend are easy to find. For example, Target recently launched a pilot beacon program in 50 stores which sends out coupons and deals in the form of push notifications to shoppers' mobile devices - a concept closely tied to the machine-to-machine interconnectedness of the IoT. And while it's not clear how tailored these recommendations will be to individuals, the retailer did tell TechCrunch that it is collecting data from its mobile app to better understand its customers' shopping behavior. Such awareness naturally lends itself to predictive analytics.

The same sort of development is occurring in the contact center. For example, Gartner's Michael Maoz told Eptica that the IoT will allow businesses to "remotely monitor operations, statuses, and service levels - effectively by-passing the need for consumers to request repairs or servicing."

"Customer analytics can determine which customers most likely require support."

From the predictive side, customer analytics solutions may be able to determine which customers are most likely to require support with a specific issue or product, and then reach out to deliver that assistance proactively. This can take the form of a video, webinar or email.

Ultimately, customer engagement success in the future will depend on companies' ability to embrace and incorporate these technologies into their customer support services throughout omnichannel environments.

How will your company use the IoT and predictive analytics in the next five years?

The robots are coming. And they're looking to help make your customers happy. Artificial intelligence has become a tool that contact centers have used with more frequency to work with customers. In a previous article, we delved into whether technology can surpass human intelligence. In this article, we look into how artificial intelligence is improving a customer's satisfaction when they reach the contact center.


AI aims to mimic human behavior

Take, for instance, the chatbot. These robots can quickly respond to basic requests and questions from customers. These bots use audio analysis and natural language processes to create a seamless experience for customers. Additionally, these robots can learn from previous behavior. Watson, the AI from IBM, is using its ability to adapt by answering customer questions and assisting agents for Genesys, a customer experience and engagement company.



AI like Watson continues to improve the customer experience.


Chatbots fit into a typical image of artificial intelligence. However, there are other forms of AI that can analyze interactions between agents and customers. This analytics programming has moved from reactive - with agents and managers reviewing calls to improve them in the future - to real time to predictive programming. The Wall Street Journal noted how these programs can assist agents by identifying changes in a customer's tone as a conversation is happening - and importantly, can suggest alternative methods for an agent to interact with a customer. These AI programs have the ability to tell us when something isn't going according to plan when talking with a customer. This, according to The Wall Street Journal, is because it's listening for certain conversational markers, much the way an impartial observer would whip his or her head between a couple trading insults, anticipating the fight that will ensue.


Companies like PTP Inc. are looking toward the future of artificial intelligence: They want computers to recognize a customer's number - or a customer's voice - and streamline the situation to suit their needs, avoiding unnecessary steps in the process. The contact center that can do this could use AI to differentiate from their competitors.


However, don't expect your contact center agents to be replaced with computers. PTP noted that AI will continue to be a tool for humans, instead of a replacement, for one simple reason: Computers are not emotional creatures. They can recognize that a customer is talking quickly, but artificial intelligence doesn't have the capability to display empathy or a sense of humor to ease tension (or to identify the tone involved in things like sarcasm). As a result, the computer can't help.


The benefit to leveraging AI is the way it can improve companies' relationships with their customers. If certain organizations are able to do this faster than others, the rewards could be substantial.


How can artificial intelligence improve your customer interactions?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is an agency of the United States government set up after the financial crisis of 2008 in order to protect the rights of consumers in the financial services industry. The goal of the CFPB is to develop a financial services sector in the United States that is characterized by transparency, fairness, and responsibility. This post explains the importance of the CFPB and shares some best practices on how your company can stay compliant with the CFPB.


Read the full blog post here:…

Managers and employees alike know the benefits of high employee engagement. When prioritizing our needs in the workplace, we value a pleasant work environment over a big paycheck, according to a recent British study conducted by the Association of Accounting Technicians. For managers looking to boost engagement, the key is to find the combination of perks and culture that helps build that high level of engagement. In an attempt to increase employee engagement, employers have tried a range of solutions. Some, according to Andre Spicer at The Guardian, insist that fun is the solution. Here's their reasoning: Creating a fun atmosphere will make employees more willing to spend more time at the office. Call center managers have worked to incorporate fun in the form of gamification. A bit of healthy competition can increase employee engagement.

Other companies focus, instead, on how well a prospective employee fits in with the company culture. Micah Solomon, writing for Forbes, is skeptical. He looks at Zappos, long known for their focus on company culture, as a tale of warning. The company's efforts to identify candidates who align with its values put too much weight on those attributes and too little on the skills needed to excel at the job. So if slides at work and company culture aren't methods of improving employee engagement, what is?

Create a higher purpose, instead of entertainment

Instead of simply having fun at work, employees want to work with higher purpose. Think of the bosses who earn the loyalty of their subordinates. Employees stay late because they like their manager and want to do right by him or her. Which begs the question: What are these leaders doing that leads to that employee engagement?

Associate professor Amy Cuddy and her colleagues at Harvard Business School have researched the best way for leaders to build relationships with employees. The best managers, they found, show a combination of strength and warmth towards their employees. It's important for leaders to be approachable, but also firm. They trust their teams. And, very importantly, they give credit where credit is due. How can you apply that to your contact center agents? Managers can make a point to give positive feedback to agents in order to reinforce the behavior.

That positive feedback loop is crucial, noted Justin Bariso for Managers may have different ways of expressing this praise: Some will offer more difficult customers to these agents or they may prefer to take the time to check in with their employees in a more casual manner, as opposed to a formal review process. Or a simple "nicely done" is the preferred method, depending on the employee. When employees receive genuine praise - not hot-air flattery - they are more willing to continue what they are doing. Additionally, employees take that feedback and place it in a greater context within a work environment. If a manager disrespects employees, the praise that follows will likely fall on deaf ears.

Giving genuine feedback is key to building relationships with employees.

What can managers and leaders do to boost employee engagement as they look towards 2017?

  1. 1. Have fun in moderation

Putting time aside for employees to bond is a great way for them to feel engaged. Your employees will appreciate the effort to honor a work-life balance.

  1. 2. Show some warmth - but don't be afraid to be strong

For some managers, displaying that warmth may mean becoming more vulnerable with their employees - which can be tough. It can also be as simple as taking a deep breath and asking one of your agents about their weekend and really listening to their response.

  1. 3. Compliment agents like you mean it

Giving genuine praise for a well-handled call can go a long way in making employees feel appreciated. And that will keep them engaged with the company.

Here's to ringing in the new year with a fully engaged team.

Waltham, MA — March 1, 2017 — CallMiner, the leader in speech and customer engagement analytics solutions, announces today that The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), an American Christian television broadcast and production company with ministries and humanitarian services operating around the world, has selected CallMiner Eureka speech analytics to enable better experiences for the broad range of people engaging with the ministry. Over 250 prayer center agents in three locations – Nashville, Virginia Beach and Manila, will be using the Eureka system.

Read the full Press Release here:…