The Top ROI of Outsourcing Your Contact Center

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

When speaking with potential clients about outsourcing their customer service departments, the conversation inevitably boils down to finances. The goal for most customers, in other words, is to provide the best customer service at the lowest possible cost and they want to know exactly how outsourcing will save them money in the long run.

It’s during this process that customers actually take a deep dive into their contact center expenses, and are often shocked to see all the ways they are hemorrhaging money on a monthly basis. Oftentimes, they discover hidden expenses that they had not previously considered due as a result of being removed from the day to day operations of their departments.

Here are the top financial returns that you can generate by outsourcing customer service operations to a third party solutions provider:

Less staff: Hiring customer service agents can be a very resource-intensive process. It takes a great deal of time to find high quality agents — something that C-level executives aren’t always aware of. Agents are expensive, and they require a great deal of onboarding and training. What’s more, contact centers typically have high turnover rates as they are seen by employees as temporary positions. So hiring is an endless and laborious ordeal. When outsourcing, you won’t have to worry about any of this. You can rest assured knowing your contact center is fully-staffed with high quality agents at all times.

Reduced technology management: A tremendous amount of contact center overhead is typically allocated to technologies like business phone systems, customer relationship management systems, computers and data center services. These technologies require hefty capital and operational expenditures — if you choose to buy them outright. You will also have to worry about making upgrades at periodic intervals, too. What’s more, many contact centers require placing an extra tax on overworked and overburdened IT teams. By outsourcing, your agents will have all of the technologies they need to perform high quality service while sparing you from having to pay for them individually.

Improved cybersecurity: Today there is a massive effort among businesses to protect their sensitive data. This is especially important in the contact center, which can serve as a direct portal for cybercriminals to hijack sensitive consumer data. Outsourcing is a cost-effective and reliable way to ensure that your sensitive consumer data is protected with the latest cybersecurity safeguards. This is a huge return, especially when considering the skyrocketing costs of cybercrime today.

Stronger data usage: Most customer service teams today lack the resources to manage data effectively, resulting in missed opportunities. But contact center solutions providers specialize in processing, managing and distributing data. By outsourcing your customer service operations, you can obtain greater value from the information you are collecting on a daily basis.

Consider Extending Your Customer Service Hours

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

As you continue to look for ways to optimize your 2018 customer service strategy, you may want to take a hard look at your contact center’s hours and consider keeping your department open later into the evening.

Many customer service departments, in other words, close too early in the day forcing consumers to wait until the following business day to resolve their issues.

Simply put, this is a bad look for a business. When customers cannot speak to a service representative, or solve their issues on their own using an automated system, it leaves them in the dark. And when this happens, they may be more liable to seek out the services of competitors.

For this reason, it could be a good time to start keeping your contact center open later.  Here are some of the top benefits in doing so:

  • Improved customer loyalty: So many organizations today are failing to offer strong after hours care that consumers have come to expect poor service late at night. As such, there is an opportunity here. If you provide great after-hours service, you will improve your chances of building customer loyalty which will in turn translate into higher profits. You can “wow” your customers by providing strong and flexible after-hours care.
  • Faster resolutions: When customers can solve their problems conveniently after hours, it reduces the number of issues that agents need to deal with in the morning. Agents can get to work answering incoming calls, instead of backtracking and returning phone calls. This can lead to reduced wait times, and faster issue resolutions.
  • Lower operating costs: Encouraging customers to solve their problems late at night will lead to reduced monthly communications costs, as you will have fewer callers waiting on hold to speak with agents. Spread out your inbound communications, and watch as your monthly phone bills plummet. It can be an effective way to save money, if you go about it in the right way.

A growing number of businesses are also outsourcing their contact center services to third party solutions providers, offering fully-managed systems, experienced service professionals and data-backed strategy.

How Your Business Can Provide Better Customer Service

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

It’s that time of the year again when new reports start streaming in about how companies are handling their customer service. Usually, the reports are mixed.

One report, for instance, shows that energy companies have a lot of work to do in repairing consumer relations. Phone, travel and financial companies are also falling behind in their customer service efforts.

This begs the question: How can companies that are failing in customer service turn things around? It’s not always easy to know what adjustments need to be made. Oftentimes, businesses will attempt to make impactful changes but they will actually do more harm than good.

Here are some common questions, for instance, that business leaders typically struggle with when trying to overhaul their customer service strategies:

  • Do our customers want to speak with live agents?
  • Should we be more active on social media?
  • How can we improve agent friendless?
  • How can we drive more sales in our contact center?
  • What technologies should I be investing in this year?
  • Is my contact center safe from cybercrime?

As you can see, there are many different questions that can arise during this process and it can be very difficult to know which buttons to press as you revise your strategy. And different industries, it should be noted, require different types of customer service solutions. There is no one size fits all customer service strategy that you can implement.

What you can do, however, is outsource your customer service to a high quality contact center solutions provider. By doing so, you can streamline all aspects of customer service and put your operations in the hands of a dedicated team of trusted professionals who know how to communicate with customers and drive sales.

Remember: A failing grade in customer service is not the end of the world. It’s an opportunity to turn things around — especially if all of your competitors are offering poor customer service, too. If your industry is notorious for poor service, like pay TV or energy, consider rebuilding your image as a customer-friendly organization. It simply requires a shift in strategy and attitude, and a willingness to try something new.

To get the process started, consider outsourcing your customer service operations to a third party contact center solutions provider. You will get access to premium agents, high quality infrastructure and much more. It’s a simple way to transform your customer relationships.

So if your business is failing in its customer service efforts, consider making 2018 the year that you become a customer-centric organization. Then, watch the dollars pile up.

Ready to Change Your Contact Center Strategy?

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

It’s often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. But in the contact center space, this can sometimes be standard practice. Many customer service administrators recognize that they need to make important changes, but they are afraid to disrupt operations and so they keep going through the motions year after year with little sign of improvement.

So the first step towards improving your contact center, therefore, is to accept the fact that your department needs to change. Once you make a clear goal to improve operations, you can then confidently do what is necessary to establish a stronger, leaner and more impactful department.

Take my advice: The fastest, safest and most affordable way to improve your contact center is to put your department into the hands of a trusted third party solutions provider.

Outsourcing to a full-service contact center solutions provider will give you access to high quality customer service agents that would otherwise be difficult to find, as well as premium and fully-managed infrastructure, data-driven strategy and a service level agreement-backed quality guarantee. By outsourcing your operations, you can reduce monthly costs and turn around your sales and marketing strategies almost overnight.

Other exciting benefits to outsourcing include:

  • Flexible interactive voice response (IVR): Many businesses today are using outdated and inefficient IVR systems that are error-prone and difficult to update. Contact center solutions providers specialize in providing managed IVR services along with flexible, custom call scripting.
  • Business continuity: Another great benefit to outsourcing your contact center is that you can establish business continuity, for seamless network failover during weather events. Third party contact centers are stored offsite, where they are safer from accidents.
  • Fewer headaches: Say goodbye to headaches like seasonal hiring, agent reviews and customer complaints. All of these issues will be managed for you.
  • Reduced strain on IT: Outsourcing your contact center will free your IT workers to focus on other pressing network-related issues.

Here is a word of caution as you go about this process: Try to change your contact center on your own, and you could risk making the wrong adjustments which would be detrimental to your organization. There are countless technologies to invest in, and strategies to embrace that can prove to be much more trouble than they are worth. This is not a task where it pays to guess. You have to use careful planning in order to get the results you are looking for.

Tips for Keeping Your Contact Center Agents Engaged

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Ask any manager about the hardest part of his or her job, and you will likely hear the same response: Keeping team members engaged and motivated at their desks, and committed to doing great work.

It’s well known that employee engagement is vital for success, especially in a contact center setting. Employee engagement, in this sense, refers to the emotional connection that employees have to their jobs. Employees need to feel like their job is interesting and meaningful in order to stick around.

What can you do to improve agent engagement? Here are some tips for keeping contact center agents excited about coming to work in the morning.

  1. Place a premium on good agents: First, make sure that you are giving agents the respect that they deserve, by recognizing them as vital contributing members to the success of the organization. Agents have hard jobs, fielding call after call throughout the day assisting customers and driving sales. The more you value them, and the better your company treats them, the more they will give back to your organization in terms of effort and loyalty. Don’t look at the contact center as a place for entry-level workers, but experienced professionals who know what they are doing.
  2. Ask for feedback: How can you show your workers that you appreciate their efforts? One way is to ask for their honest feedback about their roles as communicators, as you look for ways to improve operations. By asking for feedback, and then forming and following up on improvement plans, you can make sure everyone has a voice to express their ideas.
  3. Celebrate victories: Business mogul Mark Cuban used to walk through the cubicles at his company MicroSolutions and hand out $100 bills to sales associates after a record sales month, or similar special occasions. By taking the time to celebrate small victories, you can keep your employees excited about coming to work and striving to do better.
  4. Hold regular reviews: Even if your department is autonomous, it’s a good idea to hold reviews from time to time to hold team members accountable and make sure they are reaching their goals. Let your employees know you are committed to improving their careers and positions.
  5. Encourage team building: Great teams are built on trust and cooperation. It’s vital for employees to get to know one another, so they can feel comfortable relying on one another throughout the day. Consider hosting special team building sessions and social events where employees can get to know each other.
  6. Use real-time reporting: Sometimes, a bit of pressure and oversight is needed to keep team members producing at a high level. Consider using a real-time reporting suite throughout the day to keep agents on track and motivated to hit their numbers.

 

How to Avoid Sluggish Winter Sales

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

At last, the busy shopping season is over. We made it through yet another holiday sales rush. But now, for some businesses, the real challenge begins: The post-holiday sales slowdown.

Sometimes, business can crawl to a standstill after the holidays as the long winter months set in and consumers try to rebound from the holidays by paying down their debts. This period typically lasts until Valentine’s Day, which is the first major shopping event of the year.

Is your business in danger of suffering from the post holiday sales slowdown? You don’t have to throw in the white flag for the first quarter. Here are some things you can try to boost profits in the coming weeks:

Capitalize on tax cuts: This year, many American businesses and consumers will be receiving bigger tax refunds. Keep this in mind for your winter marketing strategy, and consider offering deals to attract buyers to spending money with your organization.

Go mobile: Digitalization is a top trend that businesses will be experimenting with in 2018. Most businesses are doing this by creating mobile apps. Now, you don’t have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars or wait several months for an app to be made. If you have data, you can pump it into an app maker platform and make your own mobile solution. Apps make it faster and easier for customers to engage with your business.

Eliminate time waste: Round up the heads of each department, and make an effort to identify the biggest time-wasters. Encourage your team to eliminate time waste, in order to boost productivity and drive sales. Marketing and sales departments should look to automation to take over time-consuming tasks like updating contacts lists, sending marketing assets and scheduling meetings.

Overhaul your contact center: Use the slow winter season to outsource your contact center operations. By planning an outsourcing project now, you can have a new and improved system in place when sales pick back up again at a future date. Outsourcing to a third party contact center solutions provider is a guaranteed way to drive more profits and ensure customer satisfaction.

The Holidays Are Over…Now What?

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Another holiday season has come and gone. Now, your company is back to work and staring down the year ahead.

What comes next? With so many things to do, it can be difficult to plot a course of action for 2018.

Here are some action-items that you should strive to tackle over the next few weeks:

Keep the momentum going: The holiday season may be over, but now is no time to slow down. Consider offering post-holiday sales, contests or giveaways to keep up with your competitors and drive further profits. Tax season is here, and consumers will be cashing in their checks and looking to spend them. During this time, it’s imperative that you have a fully-functioning and reliable contact center in place to engage with customers during the sales process.

Analyze your data: One of the most common issues that we hear today from business leaders is “Help! We have all of this data, and we don’t know what to do with it!” Many businesses, in other words, doubled down on their data collection efforts during this year’s holiday season but have no actionable plans for processing and utilizing the information. Instead of hiring a data scientist, which can be very expensive or putting your IT team to work digging through information you may want to consider outsourcing your data management needs. Many companies specialize in helping businesses to understand their information and maximize their return on investment.

Form a spring and summer strategy: Look ahead to the busy spring and summer month ahead. Do you have enough staff members? Are your technologies up to par? These are questions you should be asking right now.

Look for ways to cut your budget: As you plan for the future, look for some ways that you can slash costs in the coming months. This is especially important if you are managing a large contact center, with a great deal of overhead. If you are spending more than you are bringing in, you should seriously consider outsourcing to a third party contact center solutions provider.

Plan ahead for next year’s holiday rush: Finally, take a look back at the last few weeks. How did your team perform this holiday season? When analyzing your data, and reviewing conversations, you may find some areas that are in need of improvement. Again, this is where a contact center solutions provider can help. Instead of spending money on seasonal agents next year, outsource operations and focus on other priorities.

Review your cybersecurity: Even if you made it through the holidays unscathed by cybercrime, this is no time to slow down. Review your cybersecurity strategy with your IT team and your employees to make sure everyone is aligned with the most recent information. This could save you from a massive data breach.

Do You Really Need ‘Passion’ in Your Contact Center?

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Most customer service experts today will tell you that “passion” is one of the most critical elements that a contact center can have. But what exactly does it mean to be passionate in a contact center setting?

Passion, in this sense, refers to the attitude of your customer service employees. The idea is that if you fill your contact center with people who are excited and enthusiastic about customer service, and their roles as customer communicators, it will result in higher satisfaction ratings and improved sales.

Just recently, for instance, we saw what passion can do for a team when American league MVP Jose Altuve  –  the smallest, but most exciting players in baseball — helped launch the Houston Astros to a World Series title. His constant enthusiasm, and love of baseball, helped elevate the Astros to a much higher level. As Altuve proved, passion can be highly infectious — and it can galvanize a team and make them much more effective.

Here are some more benefits to hiring passionate workers:

Better conversations: Think about what it’s like talking to someone who is upbeat and in a good mood, versus someone who sounds grumpy. When the person you are talking to sounds passionate and like they truly want to help you, it results in a smoother and more pleasant conversation. The tone of an agent’s voice, as well as their energy and enthusiasm, can go a long way in shaping the direction of a conversation. A good rule of thumb is to trust your gut feeling when interviewing employees. Go for customer service employees who are easy to talk to, and upbeat.

Remember also that the people answering your phones will literally be the voice of your brand. What do you want your brand to sound like?

Faster resolutions: Passionate and friendly-sounding agents also serve another purpose: They help resolve customer issues faster. An agent, after all, can be one of two things — a road block, or a fast-late to issue resolution for a customer. If an agent and a customer get off on the wrong foot, it can result in an argument, an escalation or a hang-up. And none of these are desirable outcomes during a customer interaction.

Stronger teamwork: Going back to the Altuve reference, teamwork is imperative for success in a fast-paced customer service setting. Workers need to be comfortable communicating and relying on one another to solve problems. No customer service agent should be an island. People who are passionate about their jobs are usually much more willing to help others and solve problems as a group.

 

Break the Endless Cycle of Equipment Upgrades in Your Contact Center

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Your business is experiencing the same problem over and over again: You invest in a new technology, and then get a notification from the vendor at some point in that product’s lifecycle that it’s time to upgrade to a newer, more expensive solution.  It’s a never-ending process.

This is a huge problem, especially when you like using certain products and don’t see anything wrong with them. Technology vendors, however, have you hooked.

Vendors, in other words, are notorious for their “end of life” announcements. Oftentimes, they will give you a choice: Keep using your existing product, but say goodbye to critical security patches and updates, or shell out money for their fancy new solution.

It’s an endless game that unfortunately leaves customers like you out in the dark.

So this begs the question: How can you avoid the endless cycle of equipment upgrades, without sacrificing your need for data security and high performance equipment?

As it turns out, it’s easier to break this cycle than you may think. All you have to do is outsource your department to a third part contact center solutions provider.

A third party contact center solutions provider will spare you of this burden by removing the need to buy or manage any of your own customer service equipment. When you outsource to a third party provider, you will get access to high quality, hosted infrastructure managed by a dedicated team of knowledgeable IT professionals.

You will save money, reduce the burden for your IT team and improve your chances of uptime. Also, you will no longer have to worry about negotiating with vendors or making tough decisions about your technologies.

Then, once you outsource your contact center, you can turn around and flip your existing equipment to a refurbished technology provider. There are many companies that will pay for used equipment like computers, chairs, servers, racks and cables. So it’s a way of taking your old, expensive equipment and putting it back to use. Just remember to always wipe your equipment of any data before re-selling it or you could get hit with a data breach down the line.

The most important thing to remember here is that you have options regarding your customer service strategy and the technologies that you are using. Your vendors are playing hardball, and you can too—by outsourcing to a dedicated third party contact center solutions provider.

It’s a cost-effective and reliable way to improve customer service and save money.

To learn more about how InfoCision can help you break the endless cycle of equipment upgrades, click here.

Key Year-End Customer Service Questions to Ask Yourself

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Now that we are in the home stretch for 2017, it’s a great time to take a few minutes and reflect on your business’s overall customer service performance over the last 12 months.

Is your contact center doing all that it can to serve your customers and grow your business? It could be time to make some critical changes to your strategy, in order to maximize your chances of success in 2018.

Take a few minutes to ask yourself the following questions:

How healthy is my donor ecosystem?

It’s important to look beyond your bottom line and consider some additional factors when assessing the overall health of your financial ecosystem. Sure, your organization is making money from donor contributions right now. But do you have a strong plan in place to ensure consistent, long-term revenue?

Analyze your year over year donations, for instance, and see how people are contributing over time. You may identify some gaps or inconsistencies that need to be addressed, or patterns that could indicate inflation. Remember that you have to maintain and nurture your donor ecosystem with effective marketing in order for it to keep yielding strong results. Otherwise, you could burn through your contributors and wind up in a serious rut.

Are we using the right technologies?

Another thing that you’ll want to pay close attention to are the technologies that you are bringing into your contact center. It’s not always about purchasing the latest and greatest solutions. Sometimes, you can do more with less. Spend conservatively, and research thoroughly before making any new purchases. Also, think about the team that you have in place and put more attention into building an amazing community of customer service agents. It’s better to spend money on top-tier employees than it is to invest in top-tier technologies.

How can we reduce costs?

With all of the attention surrounding customer service today, it’s easy to get carried away and start spending beyond your means in your contact center. If your department is spending more than it is bringing in, though, this is a problem. If your contact center is getting too large, and too expensive, it will only be detrimental to your organization in the long run.

Many businesses are choosing to improve their contact centers by outsourcing to third party solutions providers offering cutting-edge technologies, hosted infrastructure and premium agents. It’s a way of guaranteeing success, without spending too much on a single department.

It’s a risk-free and cost-effective approach to customer service—and one that is guaranteed to produce stronger results for your business.

To learn more about how your business can benefit from outsourcing customer service to a third party contact center solutions provider, click here.