Call Centers Can Do Better: Study

September 30, 2015

New research just released by some contact center industry leaders confirm what many have suspected: there are gaps between what contact center customers want and what is actually delivered. But the good news is that, with a little thought, those goals are within reach.

That’s the gist of the report jointly released by the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) and cloud contact center leader inContact. The study — “Smarter Service for the Connected Consumer: Delivering Customer Experience Excellence in the Contact Center” — delivers both insights and supportive data to help improve operations and move contact centers past the status quo.

According to a joint statement by ICMI and inContact, “The report reveals important findings, providing a glimpse into what today’s contact center professionals stress as important, unimportant and what changes they find necessary.” These items were categorized into four key sections, critical to understanding the foundation for excellent customer management, and are worth a look:

Customer Service is the New Marketing: “It’s important to have sound, reliable and desired products that are competitively priced but, products can be rapidly commoditized,” the report notes. Customer service finds itself in the spotlight as the competitive differentiator and epicenter of the organization.

Contact Centers are a Critical Touchpoint: Contact center leaders recognize that their centers play an integral role throughout the customer’s journey, but less than a quarter of contact center leaders believe that their organization provides a consistent customer experience across that journey.

Data Steers the Contact Center: “Metrics should be a measurement of success that indicates how close a contact center is to achieving its goals,” the report indicates. Many contact centers make a detrimental mistake by focusing so intently on their metrics that they forget to consider whether they are actually measuring success.

Perceptions Can Be Jarring: Some surprising numbers turned up in the survey. To wit:

  • 80 percent of consumers believe companies put more effort into selling than they do providing excellent customer service;
  • 86 percent of consumers are very likely to switch companies if they experience bad customer service;
  • 69 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for a product or service with a good customer service reputation. Surprisingly, 35 percent of contact center leaders disagreed with that observation.

There are even more insightful findings. To see the information or to download the full report, click HERE.

Online Shoppers to Get Help from Top Call Center Provider

September 24, 2015

Even though Autumn has just begun, savvy retailers are already gearing up for the coming holiday sales season, and one in particular has taken steps to assure that its call center efforts are up to the task.

InContact, a leading provider of cloud contact center software and contact center agent optimization tools, has announced that a major online retailer is moving its contact center operations to inContact’s cloud platform.  

The company – which, according to inContact company protocols was not named — has tripled in size over the past year and expects to have more than 2,000 domestic agents and up to an additional 3,000 agents with the planned opening of a Philippines contact center in 2016. “InContact’s proven speed to implement and scalability … were the key factors for the company’s decision to move 650 agents to the inContact cloud,” the company said in a statement.

Paul Jarman, CEO at inContact, echoed that sentiment. “The flexible nature of inContact’s cloud solutions, combined with the cost-effective, pay-as-you-go billing model, are ideal for the varying needs of this growing enterprise-grade company,” Jarman said. “Handling seasonal traffic fluctuations is crucial to retailers in the short term while our platform flexibility is able to meet the long-term business and capital expenditure goals of rapidly expanding operations.”

According to reports from both parties, inContact’s new customer will implement its multi-channel Automatic Call Distributor and fully integrated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solutions, which are the key building blocks of the inContact Software as a Solution platform.

“The ACD offers a universal queue for all multichannel interactions allowing the company to support customers in their preferred communication channel including voice, chat, email and social media,” the company noted. “InContact’s IVR system, which is seamlessly integrated with the ACD, offers customers self-service options while ensuring their needs are addressed by the most skilled and appropriate agents for their individual needs.”

InContact was named as Market Leader in the 2015 Ovum (NewsAlert) Decision Matrix.

Outsourcing Leaders, Others Expected at ICUC Confab

September 22, 2015

Contact center luminaries from far and wide are making plans to head to Salt Lake City next week for the 11th annual InContact User Conference (ICUC). The show, one of the largest in the contact center industry, kicks off Tuesday, Sept. 29, featuring three days chock-full of seminars for everyone.

“This annual event brings together customers, prospects and partners, who will have access to more than 72 breakout workshops and sessions, a full day of technical training, along with a user experience lab,” inContact said in a statement. “The three-day event will explore opportunities for cloud innovation at an unprecedented time of rapid change in the customer service arena.”

The conference will feature presentations by a number of industry insiders, including Sheila McGee-Smith, President and Principal Analyst, at McGee-Smith Analytics; Justin Robbins, Senior Analyst and Community Services Member at ICMI; Sheri Greenhaus, Managing Partner of CRMXchange;  and Chris Lawson, Managing Partner at Lawson Concepts.

“ICUC is our biggest event of the year, where our active, passionate user community comes together to share best practices, learn about our latest innovations and network with our growing ecosystem of cloud partners,” said Paul Jarman, CEO at inContact. “This year’s entire agenda is geared to providing contact center professionals with the tools to create customer journeys that are legendary.”

Jarman’s statement was in reference to this year’s show theme and title, “ICUC 2015: Legendary Journeys Ahead.”

This year’s keynote session will feature noted author and consultant Chip Bell, who will present on “Innovative Service.” Bell has helped many Fortune 100 companies with customer strategies that focus on the needs of today’s customers, who are, as those in the industry know, notoriously selective and outspoken. He is a world-renowned authority on customer loyalty and service innovation.

ICUC 2015 will feature three role-based session tracks and three product-based session tracks, each of which is customized for professionals within the contact center industry, along with the specific product applications. Complete information and registration information about the event can be found HERE.

At Home or Outsourced, Contact Centers Need to Monitor Their Actions

September 18, 2015

In addition to all the myriad rules and regulations about call centers today, there are few issues more vexing than “compliance.’ What is it, and how does one achieve it? It’s a murky area for sure.

That may be one reason why longtime industry insider and compliance expert Mike McAlpen recently penned a blog on this very issue.

“The good news is that many of these compliance traps can be addressed fairly easily, without a lot of additional resources,” McAlpen wrote. “I always tell people that before they assume that they’re fine, they should invest in at least a short consultation with a local attorney specializing in security and compliance.”

That’s wise advice for any company that has even an inkling of concern as to whether they’re in full compliance with local and federal regulations. But McAlpen goes a step further and lists some important questions all call center managers should ask themselves. To wit:

Do you record your calls, and take credit information? If you do, be careful. “You need to be aware that it is against PCI (NewsAlert)-DSS standards—the Holy Grail of credit-card processing security—to store the secret CVV2 number (the three- or four-digit number often listed on the back of the card)—at any time, in any way, no matter what level of encryption or encapsulation is used,” McAlpen notes. If your company regularly records the entire call, you’re probably storing this information in your recordings. That will put you out of compliance, and could lead to problems down the road.

Do you store credit information for repeat customers? Again, top PCI-DSS consultants commonly say that “nothing should stick” within your systems—meaning that credit card information and other sensitive data should not be stored.

Do you record your agents’ calls? Most companies announce (or they should) that incoming calls are recorded. Outgoing calls? Not so much, even though most states require that those called also be so notified. If you’re not doing so, McAlpen suggests, you might well be in compliance-violation. Look into it, and adjust accordingly.

Call-monitoring might be an issue: “Some contact center software lets supervisors listen in on conversations. The ‘whisper’ option lets managers speak to the agent—so the caller can’t hear the supervisor—to give directions about how to handle the call. ‘Barge’ lets supervisors listen and break into the call if they feel it’s necessary,” McAlpen says. But again, in some jurisdictions, these options are subject to regulation. Be sure you’re not inadvertently violating the law when a supervisor logs in.

McAlpen concludes that these are “fairly easy, low-cost or no-cost suggestions that any contact center manager can easily implement. They put you in a much better compliance position, and can help your firm stay out of trouble.” But it’s NOT doing so that can land you in trouble. Isn’t it worth a few minutes to brush up and see how and where the law applies? Better now on your own, than later with the lawyers involved.

Contact Center Options Increase: Are You Prepared?

September 15, 2015

With the ongoing rise of social media in the contact center, new challenges are popping up daily for the agents on the front lines. Which ones are stepping up to the plate, and which are falling behind?

It takes a savvy manager to spot and groom the superstars, and know which people need a little more help so that they don’t quit in frustration.

That was the gist of the thought behind a recent blog post by Annette Miesbach, Product Marketing Manager at cloud contact center leader inContact.

“Even with the most intuitive interface on earth, and the best-skilled and motivated agents in existence, your agents will need training when deploying new channels,” Miesbach noted. “All channels are not created equal – just because your agent is a champion handling phone calls does not necessarily mean they are equally stellar when sending an email, handling a chat, responding to a text or interacting via social media.”

With years on the front lines, Miesbach knows what she’s talking about and offered up some suggestions for managers looking to best capitalize on these new technologies while at the same time, helping their employees stay motive and up to speed. Her suggestions are worth sharing:

Know Which New Channels ‘Make Sense’: “If your customers are mainly baby boomers, then 60 percent of them still use the phone for contact center interactions,” she notes. “On the other hand, if the majority of your clientele is Gen Y, understand that more than one-third of them use the social media channel.” Prepare accordingly.

Even ‘Proficient’ Agents Need Updating: The fact that they personally use SMS does not mean that they should adorn business texts copiously with smiley faces and emoticons, Miesbach says. “Train your agents how to properly represent your brand. Templates for email interactions or chat can expedite handling and keep the tone appropriate and consistent.”

Start Slowly: By starting with just one or two chat contacts at a time, for example, Miesbach says you’ll allow the agent to familiarize themselves with the new channel and interface. They can learn how to deliver quality interactions first, then ‘up’ the quantity by handling more concurrent contacts.

But Plan for a Ramp-Up: With experience comes confidence. As your agents get used to new technologies, they’ll naturally become more proficient and comfortable.

Create ‘Classes’: Those agents who catch on quickly will become your “Specialists.” Those who need more time will become “Generalists”, with the opportunity to move up the ladder as their skills increase.

The new technology is here to stay. How well your people adapt to it can mean the difference between growth and decline. Plan accordingly.

InContact Raises Its Game with Customer Service App Update

September 11, 2015

InContact has rolled out the new version of the “inContact Agent for Salesforce” on the Salesforce AppExchange. It’s designed to empower businesses to connect with customers, partners and employees in a better way. “InContact’s Agent for Salesforce v3.0 now supports the email and voicemail channel, native Salesforce case routing, Personal Connection ‘no-pause’ automated outbound dialing, and embedded agent user interface that provides access to all channels,” the company said in a statement.

Agent version 3.0 is built on the Salesforce OpenCTI toolkit and is a native Salesforce application, designed to make deployment simple and effortless. Combined with inContact’s Personal Connection automated outbound dialer and ProactiveXS data synchronization system, users can control their automated outbound campaigns right from within Salesforce, using native objects and features.

“The connection between Salesforce and the inContact routing engine is at the core of both the customer and agent experience. With the two together, users can utilize entire context to provide true personalization that is key to a modern customer journey,” the company added.

“Customer service excellence is no longer only validated by one current interaction,” noted Paul Jarman, inContact CEO. “InContact Agent for Salesforce can help agents understand the series of interactions across multiple touch points and channels that constitute the customer journey.”

Added Ryan Ellis, VP of Product Management of AppExchange for Salesforce: “By leveraging the power of the Salesforce1 Platform, inContact provides customers with the proven social, mobile and connected cloud technologies to accelerate business success.”

For those interested in seeing the new app in action, inContact will be exhibiting at booth #N1729 at Salesforce’s Dreamforce 2015 conference in San Francisco next week. InContact will also be presenting in a session with Arizona State University (ASU) on “Delivering Best-in-class Multi-Channel Customer Support Anytime from Anywhere.” More information is available HERE.

Is Newer Better? Contact Centers See a Makeover

September 09, 2015

With the way that technology keeps rapidly advancing, anyone who hazards a guess as to how things will be next year is basically just taking the clichéd shot in the dark. So imagine trying to look five years down the road? One writer has done just that, and he’s come up with some interesting insights.

CustomerThink is a U.K.-based global online community of business leaders striving to create profitable customer-centric enterprises. The site serves 80,000+ visitors per month from 200 countries. In a recent opinion piece on CustomerThink.com, Andrew Lamrock, Director of Enterprise Intelligence at Call Journey, listed what he said were his “10 Top Predictions for the Contact Center of 2020.”

“Contact centers don’t always represent a shiny jewel in the company’s crown. However, as the pressure mounts on brands to offer excelling customer service, they are becoming a focus of the battle for client’s satisfaction,” Lamrock said. “Considered as a touchpoint of growing importance, contact centers are bound to make an interesting subject of a [Customer Experience] makeover.”

Here’s some of what Lamrock predicts:

Forget the Voice/Chat/Email Divide: “The contact center of the future will present a unified front,” he says. “Whether the customer will be contacting a company via phone, email, chat, live chat or social media, every agent will have a full view of the recent interactions and queries.”

An Army of Specialists: To remain relevant, companies will be forced to offer their customer a quick-fix. In years to come, first tier employees will become redundant. “After stating their inquiry into the new breed of Natural Language Processing IVR, customers will be connected directly with a technical specialist, able to help them on the spot, with no need for further transfers,” Lamrock says.

Conversation Analytics Will Be Everywhere: Lamrock believes analyzing every bit of information available will become a mantra of the future companies. “Data gathered by call centers will become an intrinsic source of information for the company’s decision makers.”

Uber-Style Employment is Next: Employees will be trained and tested online, Lamrock believes. They will be given Uber-like online profiles where their skills will be graded by both monitoring algorithms and clients.

Community & Loyalty Will be Rewarded: The focus will be shifted from achieving desirable metrics to helping customers, and to inspire engagement most agents will be given more autonomy. “Offering opportunities to move up in ranks beyond the contact center hierarchy will be crucial to stop valuable agents from leaving,” Lamrock notes.

In short, the contact center of the future will combine the best of what we have today and whatever the next five years brings. The bottom line will be a better experience for callers, and a higher profile for contact centers in general. To see Lamrock’s full blog, click HERE.

Caveat: Make Your Outsourcers Aware of Federal Regulations

Caveat: Make Your Outsourcers Aware of Federal Regulations

September 02, 2015

The TCPA was enacted in 1991 but has received a lot of attention lately because of recent Federal Communications Commission actions that heighten its powers.

A recent blog post from Cindy Williams at The WORKS discusses these changes at length. She notes the altered definition of the “autodialer,” new rules governing the reassignment of telephone numbers, consumer consent and revocation, updated rules for text messages, and exceptions to all the above in the case of emergencies.

First, the definition of what constitutes an “autodialer” has moved from devices which currently have automatic dialing capabilities to any device that could, in the future, have such capabilities. Any smart mobile device or application could fall under this vague description. As TMC (NewsAlert) noted in a past review, this means that litigation could react to any such devices/applications and argue that businesses have used them improperly. It places a heavy burden on businesses to closely watch their actions — no matter the originating hardware or software.

Reassignment of numbers has also taken on new facets. If a phone number has moved from one consumer on a calling list to a separate consumer, businesses have only one chance to contact such individuals before they must remove said consumers from their lists. Williams points out that businesses could get in trouble for violating this condition even when they did not intend to violate it. If a consumer does not make the business aware of reassignment, litigation could come to the offending business for its actions even in the face of ignorance.

Consumers are also now required to provide express written consent that they wish to receive live calls, recorded calls, or text messages. They can also revoke their consent by any “reasonable means” such as written or verbal declarations.

Finally, businesses get some reprieve with one-time text messages. If consumers provide consent, businesses may send them specific information consumers have agreed to. In addition, businesses may have some leeway when sending “emergency” calls or texts such as fraud alerts. But consumers will still have the power to verbally opt out of these emergency communications.

These updates are meant to protect consumers, but they can restrict the actions of businesses in ways that could cause them undue hardship. Therefore, opponents have been vocal about what this could mean for any business with a dedicated call center. Nearly every industry will feel the hit of these regulations, but since they have only been around for a few months, their real impact may not be clear for some time.

UCCX: How to remove a language directory with special characters in Prompt Management?

Hi,

 

In UCCX 10.6.1.10000-39

 

Applications / Prompt Management I have a directory with special characters that I would like to delete. When I try to delete the directory I get :

 

Access Denied

Unified CCX does not allow special characters because security protocols restrict their use. Click the Back button in the browser to perform configuration

 

Do I really open a tacl to this ???

Outsourcing Achieves Greater Heights via the Cloud

September 01, 2015

Business process outsourcing (BPO) is generally the contracting of a specific business task to a third-party service provider. But more recently it has taken on a narrower focus, and in the world of technology it’s become synonymous with contact centers. A BPO is usually implemented as a cost-saving measure for the needs a company requires, and its use as a contact center fits the bill.

If you take the ubiquity of contact centers and add in the convenience and security of the cloud, you have a powerful reason to combine the two. As such inContact, a leading provider of cloud contact center software and contact center workforce optimization tools, has just announced that a fast-moving BPO firm — with more than 250 call center agents supporting multiple industries — has selected inContact’s complete cloud platform for greater efficiency and expedited growth.

As per usual inContact company protocols, the business preferred to remain unnamed.

“We’ve seen an upswing in BPO interest for our complete cloud contact center solution over the past year,” said Paul Jarman, inContact CEO, in announcing the deal.  “Because the BPO market is highly competitive, they need a solution partner who can provide high flexibility [and] high reliability with an attractive pay-as-you-go cost structure to a fast-growing business.”

And it would seem inContact fits the bill perfectly. The company’s cloud contact center solution includes advanced multi-channel routing with the Automatic Call Distributor and Interactive Voice Response system that supports inbound, outbound and blended voice as well as email, chat, SMS, social media and CRM work items.

“This new client selected inContact’s powerful Workforce Optimization suite to manage and streamline their contact center operations,” inContact said in a statement. “With inContact cloud WFO, this BPO can improve the efficiency of their agents through detailed performance reporting, scheduling and analysis of key business metrics.”

This is the second big ‘get’ for inContact in as many weeks. Earlier in August, the company announced it had aligned with a major county government to replace its premise-based contact center system with the inContact cloud solution.

Clearly, inContact knows what it’s doing in the cloud and contact center space, and others are taking notice.