Even Outsourced Centers Need to go ‘Omni-Channel’

December 31, 2015

As contact centers continue their reach-out to make themselves all things to all customers, one idea getting a closer look is that of becoming “omni-channel.” While many call centers like to consider themselves multi-channel – that is, offering numerous options and ways for customers to reach them – they need to consider that those same customers are miles ahead of them. Hence, they need to go “omni-channel.”

In a recent blog post, U.K. Tech Writer Clare Angood took a deep dive on the issue and came up with some good point on why the move makes sense.

“At the time the term ‘omni-channel’ entered the customer service lexicon, most industry professionals were still getting to grips with its predecessor, multi-channel,” she wrote. “It should be no surprise, then, that many continue to see it as little more than an outgrowth of that. When they think omni-channel, they think multi-channel with panache. And yet it’s so much more than that.”

Angood notes that omni-channel is a new way of building a relationship between consumer and brand, and one that’s “becoming more and more important as the digital revolution gathers pace.”

She cites a recent Xerox survey that found some 54 percent of consumers would be willing to spend more if it meant getting better customer service. So the desire is there; businesses just need to step up to meet it. So what exactly is the difference between the two?

“In the multi-channel paradigm, success meant being able to deal with one problem using your call center, another through your mobile app, another in social media and so on,” Angood says. “To make the move to omni-channel, you need to stop thinking in silos about the support pages on your website or the specific call center software you use. The customer should come first, and you should recognize them as a single person regardless of channel.”

But an omni-channel contact center also needs to be seamless.

“When the customer makes the leap from one channel to another – from a community forum to a call with an agent, for example – there should be no noticeable disconnect,” she suggests. “The agent should know exactly where they are in their journey, what their query is and why it hasn’t been solved yet.”

So the work CAN be done, but it will take a commitment on the part of the contact center. The payoff will be happier, more loyal customers.

Call Centers Striving for Higher Quality

December 29, 2015

One of the biggest buzz-phrases set to take the call center industry by storm in the New Year is ‘Quality Management.’ While many within the industry already consider themselves adept at making sure quality remains high, there are further steps everyone can take to make sure that’s the case across the board. One of those steps is effective calibration.

In a recent blog post Gerald Sinclair — WFO Practice Manager at Uptivity, an inContact company – looked at the value of calibration and the impact it can have on a “quality” effort.

“Calibrations ensure fairness for your internal staff, from a strategy perspective, and help deliver a consistent customer experience,” Sinclair wrote. “The goal of calibrations is to ensure that everyone who is responsible for call scoring is doing it consistently and fairly.”

His suggestions and ideas on the issue are worth a second look:

Choose Your Calibration Type: Sinclair notes that both “traditional” and “Digital / Hybrid” calibration choices are available. It’s incumbent upon the leader to choose the best for their respective company.

Include Your Management: “Management is driven by KPIs and financials, so it is important that other stakeholders understand their perspective and how call handling affects the bottom line,” he notes.

Include Your Agents: “Agent inclusion is a vital strategy for establishing agent buy-in and promoting self-improvement,” Sinclair says. “Encourage your agents to voice their feedback, concerns, opinions, and front-line insights.”

Leverage your Quality Standards Definitions Document: “This document outlines, defines and provides examples for the questions on your evaluation form,” Sinclair says. As such, it’s important to know what it is, how it works and how to best utilize it.

Be Consistent With Your Calibration Frequency: “For maximum effectiveness, calibrations should be held consistently with an established frequency,” Sinclair suggests. “More frequent calibrations are needed if there are changes to the program, new staff, or deviation percentages.”

Sinclair has other timely suggestions, available HERE on his blog post. But his bottom line is, getting everyone on the same page when it comes to careful calibrations can only work to the benefit the whole company.

CSQ removed from UCCX 8.5 stuck in Real Time Report – Supervisor Desktop

Hello – I recently removed a CSQ from UCCX. Call flow works properly etc. but the Old CSQ is still visible in Supervisor Desktop and appears, stuck in time.  Any advise on how to clear this is appreciated.

Empirix, inContact Join for ‘Better Sound’

December 22, 2015

It doesn’t matter how quickly an operator picks up a customer call in a contact center. If the voice quality if less than stellar, an agitated customer will fast become a disgruntled one.

That might be one reason why cloud contact center leader inContact has joined forces with Empirix (NewsAlert) to deploy the latter’s IntelliSight solution. Empirix’ solution underpins the ability to validate performance of its new Voice as a Service (VaaS) offering and provide greater levels of transparency to customers.

The plan is for Empirix to monitor the voice connection quality of inContact’s Voice as a Service (VaaS) offering. This comprehensive monitoring will include detailed reporting of the mean opinion score (MOS) to inContact and its customers. The VaaS announcement was part of inContact’s recent release of its cloud contact center platform at the annual inContact User Conference (ICUC). VaaS represents a significant opportunity for inContact to leverage both its carrier-grade infrastructure and cloud contact center platform to provide a comprehensive solution for customers.

“Our new Voice as a Service offering builds on inContact’s unique strength as the only contact center provider with a global, carrier-grade network,” said Paul Jarman, CEO of inContact. “Voice is a critical channel for customer satisfaction and quality interactions. We turned to Empirix to provide standard industry benchmarks, expanded monitoring tools and a best-in-class voice quality offering for contact centers.”

According to both companies, to help provide visibility across the network and ensure the best possible quality for voice calls, inContact turned to Empirix for its expertise in network performance monitoring and reporting. The solution integrated within the inContact platform is comprised of E-XMS and IntelliSight. E-XMS is a probe-based monitoring system deployed at key points in the network to follow communication events from start to finish, regardless of network technology or service delivery method. As a result, E-XMS delivers clarity around the complex factors affecting customer experience and overall network performance.

“Empirix solutions play a critical role in enabling inContact to monitor and manage the VaaS environment to ensure the best possible customer experience,” said Kambiz Vahdani, Empirix’ VP of Sales for the Americas. “By leveraging IntelliSight, inContact will be to provide its contact center customers with unparalleled visibility and performance.” 

Call Center Leaders Primed to Move

December 17, 2015

A recent report from research giant Frost and Sullivan (F&S) has shown that total revenues from hosted/cloud contact center solutions in North America have already surpassed on-premises product revenue in terms of annual spend for this year. That’s good news for those in the cloud contact center space, but there is still work to be done.

“In terms of installed base penetration, on-premises contact center systems still have an edge over hosted solutions, which translates to a huge opportunity for the latter’s market growth,” F&S noted in a statement.

The demand for best-of-breed cloud applications will be particularly strong in the mid- to large-sized enterprise market where companies will look to source new and add-on capabilities as cloud services, while retaining some of their core systems on-premises, F&S said.

According to researchers, the North America Hosted/Cloud Contact Center Report finds that the market earned revenues of $2.17 billion in 2014 and expects it to reach $3.66 billion by 2019. The hosted/cloud model, comprising best-of-breed and full-suite interactive voice response (IVR), automatic call distributor (ACD), chat, outbound, and agent performance optimization (APO) applications, has emerged as the preferred deployment model for contact center applications. While hosted IVR will continue to have the largest revenue share in this market through the forecast period, hosted ACD, hosted chat and hosted APO will have much higher growth rates.

“Small- and mid-sized contact center organizations are showing a marked preference for full-suite cloud contact center solutions to reduce costs and integration complexity as they move more applications to the cloud,” observed Frost & Sullivan (NewsAlert) Contact Centers Principal Analyst Nancy Jamison. “However, with more than 60 providers offering a range of best-of-breed, suite and point solutions, customers often feel overwhelmed by the profusion of choices.”

The report concluded that owing to the intensifying competition among pure-play cloud providers for mindshare and the challenge mounted by premises vendors, telcos and outsourcers have step up their marketing and sales efforts to remain competitive in this market.

Cloud Contact Center to the Rescue

December 15, 2015

In the world of “materials handling”, time really is money. If you can’t get the requested products to an anxious customer in a timely fashion, you’ve not only lost the sale but probably lost a customer for life, as well. That may be one reason why a major facility expert and materials handler has chosen to adopt inContact’s unified cloud platform for all its contact center needs.

The company – which, according to inContact company protocols was not publicly identified — will implement inContact’s “scalable, cloud-based contact center solution, robust reporting platform, superior quality monitoring, and multichannel offering throughout several locations across the United States,” according to a release.

The facilities expert reportedly has 300 agents in five contact centers and dozens more in remote and at-home locations, and is primed to utilize inContact’s flexible Cloud Contact Center Platform comprised of the company’s multi-channel Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) and a fully integrated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system.

“InContact gives our customers the power to achieve their customer experience goals through unifying all resources into one dynamic platform,” said inContact CEO Paul Jarman, in making the announcement. “Our suite of cloud-based products will allow this new client to increase reliability, enhance functionality and provide the best customer experience possible.”

InContact’s best-in-class ACD will allow the new customer to scale its business easily by providing skills and proficiency-based routing for both inbound and outbound interactions, with support for voice, email, text, chat and social media channels. “The IVR system provides callers with self-service options and allows customers to select a call-back when an agent becomes available rather than waiting on hold during times of high call volume,” inContact said. Additionally, inContact’s easy-to-use cloud platform includes simple modifications for adjusting to rapid and drastic changes in customer service traffic.

It’s worth noting that the company also chose to utilize inContact Quality Management, which provides customers deep insights into agent performance, helping to facilitate continuous improvement to their customer service processes. The inContact cloud-based solution also features multi-level redundancies and Disaster Recovery measures to ensure uninterrupted operations even when experiencing typical outage-causing conditions.

Sportswear Maker Now Able to Answer the Call

December 10, 2015

With the Christmas holiday shopping season in full swing, retailers are seeing a crushing load of calls to their contact centers. Those that prepared for the onslaught will see the results when the shopping eases. Those that didn’t prepare will pay the price.

One company that saw a need and tackled it head-on was Columbia Sportswear, a Portland, Oregon-based outdoor wear company. In a recent blog post, Gavin Gustafson — Communications Manager at cloud call center leader inContact – talked about how Columbia wanted to grow its own call center rapidly, but had a myriad list of needs it also wanted to be addressed.

“Offering outstanding customer support is a primary mission for outdoor apparel manufacturer Columbia Sportswear, but their PBX (NewsAlert)-based system had long been a bottleneck for their contact center and IT teams,” Gustafson wrote. “In 2010, Kristina Coker, Enterprise Mobility & Telecommunications Engineer, created a Request for Proposal (RFP) with a long wish list of ideal characteristics of a new contact center system.”

That list included:

  • Support for a wider range of communication channels
  • Scalability to satisfy seasonal call volumes
  • Flexibility to handle growth
  • Resiliency to outages
  • Quick and simple access to live call statistics
  • Easy-to-use, allowing business owners to make system changes as needed.

Columbia was about to acquire new offices, so supporting these additional locations was important. It was also noted that e-commerce was being added to their website so the company needed to support SMS, chat, email, and click-to-call functionality. “We had a lot of changes on the roadmap, and we needed a solution that was stable, flexible, and scalable for our call center,” Coker told Gustafson.

InContact was able to provide everything Columbia needed, and more.

“With inContact, Columbia can manage agents in multiple buildings, states, and even multiple countries on a single platform regardless of physical location, team size, call volume, or other normal constraints of a PBX-based solution,” Gustafson said. “Furthermore, Columbia’s contact center managers are no longer dependent on IT to make simple or complex changes.”

Now, Columbia’s managers can get detailed reports that measure agent performance and live call statistics in real time. Previously, they had to pull data from three separate systems so they often ended up with reports that painted different pictures, because the process was inconsistent.

Columbia Sportswear has seen the following results since implementing inContact cloud solutions:

  • Talk time reduced by an average of 20 seconds;
  • Sales orders increased 56 percent and revenue 59 percent;
  • Earned a customer satisfaction score of 93.6 percent while absorbing and handling a 34 percent increase in call volume;
  • 1,346 man hours saved for the year.

For more information on how Columbia Sportswear improved their customer service operations with inContact Cloud Solutions, you can download the comprehensive case study here.

When Outsourcing, Choose Your Workers Wisely

December 09, 2015

It’s a given in the industry these days that call center agents can make or break a relationship with a customer. Customers usually call when they’re unhappy about something, and their conversation with the agent can either leave them feeling like they just spoke with someone who really cared, or feeling like they’re done with that company altogether. And remember, once a customer leaves, there are only two chances they’ll return: Slim and None.

So it would seem that a prime opportunity exists for companies to take a call center and expand it into something  greater; a marketing opportunity.

That’s the opinion of Jason Wesbecher, Chief Marketing Officer for Mattersight, a company devoted to the “Chemistry of Conversation,” and all things call center related.

In a recent blog post at Business 2 Community, Wesbecher looked at the value a good call center can return.

“Historically, the call center and customer service have never fallen under the marketing umbrella, but as more and more companies realize the impact that it can have on their brand, that’s starting to change,” he noted.

To make his point, Wesbecher looked at different aspects of the call center where he believes change can be implemented for the better:

Analytics: “The field of marketing has become incredibly data driven, and it’s time for call centers and customer service to step up to the plate,” he said. “Companies need to implement technology that can transform all of that raw call data into actionable insight to help them understand and improve the effectiveness of their call centers.”

Engagement: “Engagement marketing is all about connecting with people – which is exactly what call center agents do every day,” Wesbecher noted. “Beyond traditional, transactional personalization techniques, agents should also be taught the importance of understanding and shifting communication styles to best meet the needs of the customer.”

Journey Mapping: Marketers use journey maps to understand how customers move from gaining awareness of their brand to eventually purchasing from them. Similarly, call center agents must be able to navigate the journey that their customers take from the onset of a problem or inquiry. “Knowing the steps that the customer has taken to try and resolve the problem on her own, and what information the brand has or hasn’t given her, can help the agent pinpoint where the customer is in her journey and more to resolve the issue,” Wesbecher said, “as well as make the customer feel that she is in capable hands.”

Personalization: Marketers are sending increasingly targeted and personalized messages to consumers. Call centers need to do the same, and it doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. “Simply proactively acknowledging their past purchases can go a long way toward making customers feel valued,” he said.

In short, the answer can be found at the end of a phone line, but training your agents to do and say the right thing is the critical piece of the puzzle.

UCCX ANI Lookup

Hello all,

I’m looking to write a CCX script that can route calls based on the calling number. E.g. If Calling number 3034117911 call to the CCX trigger the script check the Calling number and route that call to a certain Resource Group or Agent every time, if the agent is not available queue it in the default queue. I know how to do this on inidivual based Calling Numbers but the problem i am having is that i have a pool of 160,000 + numbers. What would be the easiest way to accomplish this?

UCCX simple Holiday check with time of day.

We have a call center that closes early on some holidays so I was in need of adding a time of day check to my holiday check, but I was struggling to find an answer on the internet. I started experimenting with a way to add the time of day check to the holiday check. I ended up working out a different way of doing a holiday check that does not use and XML document. To me the script seems much cleaner and I am able to add a time of day check to it. It is also clear in the script what days are holidays without having to reference a second document. I am not sure why more people do not use this method is there something I am missing. I have tested it and it works perfectly. Below is how I built the script. Now bear in mind this is a sub-script referenced by the actual call group script.

I started by creating two variables.

Date | string | “”

 

todayIsAHoliday | Boolean | false      This matches the same variable from the parent script that will play the holiday message.

 

Then the first step in the script is a “set” step.

Set date = D[now]        This is used to make sure the date shows in an easy to match format.

 

Next I use an “If” step where I list out the days that are holidays using (date == “11/26/15” || date == “1/1/16”)

 

If true I use the “Set” step to set todayisaholiday to true.

 

If false I go to another “If” step where I list out the days the call center closes early. If it is true the it goes to a time of day check for open hours do nothing and the rest set todayisaholiday to true.

 

False does nothing and then the script ends.

 

This logic is much shorter and simpler than reading an xml doc and then doing an increment loop to hit all the holiday entries.