Tips For Building Trust With Your Customers

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

“If people like you they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you they’ll do business with you.”— Zig Ziglar

I’ll never forget the time that I received an account statement in the mail from a company, and noticed a discrepancy in its billing policy. The company had made a rate adjustment, and failed to notify me of the change.

Suffice to say, I was not happy about this. But my anger was less focused on the rate adjustment, and more on the fact that the company failed to contact me in any way about the change. My initial response was to pick up the phone and immediately call customer support for an explanation.

The issue was eventually resolved. But as time went on, I couldn’t shake the lingering doubt in my mind about the organization I was doing business with. Eventually, I decided to take my business elsewhere.

Part of why this feels so bad to a customer is that customers are used to being held to the strictest standards about billing and usage policies. For some businesses, services will cease when customer payments stop. So when customers do everything they are supposed to, and the company lets them down, it’s setting a double standard. You can’t punish a customer for failing to do something, and then do the same thing back.

What can you to do build trust with your customers in your contact center?

Here are some tips:

Protect your data: In one study, 76 percent of customers reported they would take their business elsewhere due to negligent data handling practices. As such, companies need to do everything in their power to prevent data leaks from happening. Around-the-clock network monitoring, cutting-edge cloud security tools and expert IT workers are all necessary for preventing cybersecurity issues.

Always keep promises: Sales associates and marketers tend to have a reputation for making exaggerated offerings to customers. To prevent this from happening, all sales and marketing assets should be reviewed by management and possibly even legal for accuracy and compliance. And all customer communications should be spot-checked to ensure that agents are making appropriate offers.

Always ask for input: One of the best ways to show customers that you care about them is to ask them for input about your company, its products and its services. By allowing the customer to give back, it shows that you value their opinion and are actively striving to make the customer better. It may seem like a small step, but it’s an important one.

Outsource: Sometimes, the easiest way to do something is to hire a company that specializes in providing that service. By outsourcing your contact center operations to a third party provider like InfoCision, you can rest assured knowing that your customers are in good hands with expert agents who are using the best technologies on the market.

To learn more about InfoCision, click here.  

 

 

Tips For Building Trust With Your Customers

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

“If people like you they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you they’ll do business with you.”— Zig Ziglar

I’ll never forget the time that I received an account statement in the mail from a company, and noticed a discrepancy in its billing policy. The company had made a rate adjustment, and failed to notify me of the change.

Suffice to say, I was not happy about this. But my anger was less focused on the rate adjustment, and more on the fact that the company failed to contact me in any way about the change. My initial response was to pick up the phone and immediately call customer support for an explanation.

The issue was eventually resolved. But as time went on, I couldn’t shake the lingering doubt in my mind about the organization I was doing business with. Eventually, I decided to take my business elsewhere.

Part of why this feels so bad to a customer is that customers are used to being held to the strictest standards about billing and usage policies. For some businesses, services will cease when customer payments stop. So when customers do everything they are supposed to, and the company lets them down, it’s setting a double standard. You can’t punish a customer for failing to do something, and then do the same thing back.

What can you to do build trust with your customers in your contact center?

Here are some tips:

Protect your data: In one study, 76 percent of customers reported they would take their business elsewhere due to negligent data handling practices. As such, companies need to do everything in their power to prevent data leaks from happening. Around-the-clock network monitoring, cutting-edge cloud security tools and expert IT workers are all necessary for preventing cybersecurity issues.

Always keep promises: Sales associates and marketers tend to have a reputation for making exaggerated offerings to customers. To prevent this from happening, all sales and marketing assets should be reviewed by management and possibly even legal for accuracy and compliance. And all customer communications should be spot-checked to ensure that agents are making appropriate offers.

Always ask for input: One of the best ways to show customers that you care about them is to ask them for input about your company, its products and its services. By allowing the customer to give back, it shows that you value their opinion and are actively striving to make the customer better. It may seem like a small step, but it’s an important one.

Outsource: Sometimes, the easiest way to do something is to hire a company that specializes in providing that service. By outsourcing your contact center operations to a third party provider like InfoCision, you can rest assured knowing that your customers are in good hands with expert agents who are using the best technologies on the market.

To learn more about InfoCision, click here.  

 

Is Your Contact Center Baby Boomer Friendly?

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

In a recent blog post, we discussed the importance of marketing to millennials in your contact center. As we explained, millennials will eventually bypass Baby Boomers in terms of overall spending power and so it’s crucial to offer services they find appealing and easy to use.

This doesn’t mean, though, that you can neglect the changing needs of your aging Baby Boomer customers. Baby Boomers, after all, still make up a tremendous portion of the American population — and possibly your customer or donor bases. Data from the most recent U.S. Census shows that there are at about 76.4 million Baby Boomers.

The good news is that Baby Boomers aren’t all that far behind millennials in their demand for cutting edge technologies that save time and increase convenience. For example, 59 percent of seniors have made a digital purchase in the last three months. Over 28 million seniors now have a Facebook account. And 45 percent of people over the age of 45 choose live chat because they believe it’s convenient.

Here are some other interesting statistics about Baby Boomers:

  • 83 percent of younger Boomers (51 to 59) use the Internet. 76 percent of older Boomers (60 to 69) do so as well. Conversely, 97 percent of millennials use the Internet.
  • 91 percent of younger Boomers own a cell phone as do 87 percent of older Boomers.
  • 66 percent of younger Boomers have broadband at home, while just 60 percent of older Boomers do.

At the same time, there are definitely older Baby Boomers out there who do not want to use new technologies like live chat and social media and much prefer the old fashioned method of picking up the phone and speaking to a live agent.

Every customer is different and so we can only generalize up to a certain extent. The most important thing you can do is to offer a variety of technologies and support services, to ensure that all customers — regardless of their age or needs — can resolve issues quickly and in a way that they find to be easy.

For this reason, it’s important to use big data to your advantage. Drill down into the core needs of your target market, and build your customer service department around them.

One of the best ways to ensure that your customer service department is flexible and responsive to customer needs is to outsource operations to a third party solutions provider. InfoCision, for instance, drills down into customer data and uses the information to build short and long term marketing and customer support strategies.

To learn more about InfoCision, click here.

What Happens After You Outsource Content?

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Outsourcing a major part of your business like your contact center is a big undertaking. You will experience a big shift in the way your company operates, and possibly in your day to day schedule. So it’s important to have a roadmap planned to guide you through the process and make sure everything goes according to plan. Outsourcing projects, after all, can pick up steam very quickly.

At this point, let’s assume that your contact center outsourcing project is well underway. Your customer service team has long been notified about the change and re-allocated, and operations have been handed over to your new contact center solutions provider.

Here’s what you should do next:

Re-assess your service level agreement (SLA): If there is one thing we can’t stress enough, it’s making sure that your team has a solid understanding of the services it will receive from the contact center provider. As such, it’s important to take another look at your agreement even after it is finalized. You may notice some small mistakes in the contract that slipped through during negotiations, or important details regarding uptime and maintenance. Now is the time for team members to submit questions and resolve issues before the project continues. Some contracts, it should be noted, come with a temporary exit window.

Wipe your infrastructure: Your former contact center may have a lot of hardware sitting around, and some of it may contain sensitive customer data. Before you reassign or sell these machines to a third party reseller, make sure your IT department wipes all of the data from them. Otherwise, customer data could fall into the wrong hands — and you may not know it. Oftentimes, companies who rush to throw out their hardware suffer from data breaches months or years after getting rid of their equipment. Taking this simple step could save a great deal of trouble down the road.

Set up a meeting to discuss strategy: Contact your new customer service team, and introduce yourself. During this meeting, you’ll want to focus on forming a long-term donor outreach plan, customer service goals and basic program expectations. Let the team know that you want to be kept in the loop with reports and possibly even regular calls. Communication is one of the most important parts of outsourcing, and a strong contact center solutions provider will make it easy to keep you updated and informed.

Begin your new journey: Now it’s time to think about yourself for a moment. By outsourcing content, you will clear more room in your schedule to devote to higher-level customer related tasks. Are there any new projects that you have been looking to take on?

Do you have any questions about outsourcing? Click here.

How The Federal Government Can Improve Customer Service

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Over the last several years, customer service has emerged as a top priority for most organizations — at least in the private sector.

Unfortunately, the same thing can’t be said about customer service in the public sector.

In 2016, the federal government finished last in customer service in a group of 21 major industries. What’s more, the federal government generated five of the eight worst scores of the 319 brands that were studied.

Now, this is a huge issue for two reasons: First and foremost, communication is a major pillar of democracy. In order for government to be effective, responsive and fair, citizens need to be able to contact agencies in a timely manner. At the same time, it’s also a nightmare for organizations doing business with the federal government.

As such, the White House Office of American Innovation has made it a priority to improve customer service for citizens and customers of the federal government. According to the President’s Advisor, Chris Liddell, several several strategic, multiyear projects are now in being planned to overhaul its current systems. The goal is to give public sector customers and American citizens the same treatment that they experience in the private sector.

Of course, this needs to be done in a way that is cost-effective. The federal government is looking for ways to trim expenses across all levels and agencies — not to add more.

Just look at what’s happening in the federal data center space as an example. The government has been focusing on consolidation and cost reduction over the last several years, and will most likely continue to do so. Right now, for instance, there is bipartisan support for extensions to the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA). These extensions will be included in the House’s version of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. If FITARA extensions are passed into law, we will see more data center consolidation, greater transparency and risk management and regular IT portfolio and program reviews.

Contact centers are notoriously expensive to build and operate, and so the government should strongly consider avoiding any future builds or infrastructure upgrades. Instead, it makes more sense for the government to outsource customer service operations to domestic third party contact center solutions providers. By outsourcing its contact center operations, the federal government will be able to experience immediate and lasting performance gains while also eliminating ongoing heavy capital and operational expenditures.

What’s more, contact center solutions providers can offer the federal government ongoing support and assistance for processes like determining which channels to offer customers, measuring progress and ensuring system uptime and stability.

InfoCision is a domestic contact center solutions provider offering small teams of experienced agents, access to cutting-edge infrastructure and even in-house legal assistance.

For more information about InfoCision, click here.

Five Things That Can Go Wrong When Managing Your Own Contact Center

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Your small business is growing quickly, and soon it will require the support of a full-fledged contact center — meaning you have a decision to make about whether to outsource operations or keep them in-house.

Now, it may seem like a good idea to keep your contact center operations under the watchful eye of your own trusted team members. But if you think through this a bit, you will find that this may not be the best course of action.

Here are five things that can go wrong by keeping your contact center in-house:

1. Security could become a nightmare: From a security perspective, managing your own data center will be a major burden for IT as they will be responsible for the ongoing monitoring and patching of all critical infrastructure.

What’s more, there is no guarantee that keeping data in-house is any safer than working with a third party vendor. Research shows, for instance, that about 43 percent of all data breaches come from inside actors. Understand that your team members — even the most trusted ones — may not always act with your best interests in mind, especially when handling valuable customer information. Conversely, outsourcing will provide you the added buffer of a service level agreement (SLA) which will help protect you legally in the event of a data security incident.

2. IT could become stretched too thin: What happens when IT gets overloaded? Nothing good. Unless your employees are willing to work nights and weekends, some maintenance tasks may get neglected which could expose the business to a variety of threats. After all, you can only fit so much work into one day. Turnover is very high in IT, and if you push your employees too hard they may flock to greener pastures.

3. Costs could skyrocket: As a small-to medium-sized business, you lack the bottomless budget of a large enterprise. And this will make things difficult, as there are an enormous amount of expenses to cover related to employee overhead. For instance, you will either have to section off part of your current facility for your contact center, or purchase new space. You will also have to create extra room in your data center, too. Then you will have to hire agents, pay benefits and outfit them with computers, headsets, chairs and customer relationship management (CRM) software. And these are just some of the expenses you can anticipate!

4. Your job will get a lot more stressful: When managing your own contact center, you call all the shots — from the agents you bring in, to the customers that you call. Managing a contact center can be an enormous responsibility, especially when it comes to purchasing new technologies, renewing contracts and planning long-term strategies. So if you opt to manage your own contact center, make sure to factor in plenty of extra time for researching, negotiating, interviewing and managing daily operations. This is no small undertaking.

5. You could fail: With great responsibility comes the unfortunate reality that you may not succeed in your customer service goals. And customer service administrators typically have very short leashes for achieving expectations, and turnover is very high in this industry.

 If you manage your own contact center, and fail, the responsibility is ultimately on you. If you work with a contact center solutions provider and fail, you can simply fire them and re-strategize.

This last part is important. A high quality contact center solutions provider like InfoCision will ultimately come with less risk—and much greater reward.

To learn more about InfoCision, click here.

Key Takeaways From Verizon’s Recent Data Breach

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

A security incident at one of Verizon’s technology partners recently resulted in a massive data breach for the wireless giant.

The data breach primarily affects customers who placed service calls during the last six months. Up to 14 million customers may have been exposed, although Verizon claims only 6 million unique customers were actually affected.

Sources indicate that the data was lifted from an unprotected Amazon S3 storage server that was being operated by the vendor. Customer records were stored in log files, and were spread across six different folders. The records included customer names, phone numbers and personal identification numbers (PINs). However, many more fields were exposed as well like account balances and the Verizon services that customers were using.

At this point in the investigation, experts are still looking into how the data was stored on the server. Right now it’s apparent that there was an access control issue.

“Verizon provided the vendor with certain data to perform this work and authorized the vendor to set up AWS storage as part of this project,” a representative from the company stated. “Unfortunately, the vendor’s employee incorrectly set their AWS storage to allow external access.”

This story is an important lesson for customer service administrators who are now considering outsourcing their operations to third party vendors.

Now, you shouldn’t fear working with third party vendors. In fact, most companies will go to great lengths to protect your information. After all, their business depends on it. It’s actually safer, in most cases, to work with a business process outsourcer rather than to manage your information on your own.

What you don’t want to do, though, is leave anything to chance with your sensitive information. If someone else is storing and managing your data, it is in your best interest to stay informed about how they are protecting it. Don’t assume that your vendor will always operate with your best interests in mind — follow through, and make sure that they are doing so. Otherwise, you could wind up in the same position as Verizon.

To avoid any complications, make sure that cybersecurity is a priority for your vendor before you sign any agreements. Include your IT team during negotiations, to ensure that they are comfortable with the vendor as well. Your IT advisors will know what to look for when selecting a vendor and their input could go a long way in helping you avoid a messy partnership.

So remember: What happened to Verizon could happen to any company. But through communication and visibility, it can also be avoided.

Want to learn more about how InfoCision protects customer data? We would be happy to explain further.

To learn more information, contact us today!

Is Your Contact Center Millennial-Friendly?

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

If there is one thing that just about every company is obsessing over right now, it’s trying to market to the millennial generation, or the group of consumers born between 1980 and 2004.  This is the group that will eventually replace the Baby Boomer generation in terms of spending power.

“One of the largest generations in history is about to move into its prime spending years,” explains Goldman Sachs. “Millennials are poised to reshape the economy; their unique experiences will change the ways we buy and sell, forcing companies to examine how they do business for decades to come.”

Now, there are a few things you have to understand about millennials if you want to market to them effectively. Millennials, after all, do things a bit differently.

According to Goldman Sachs, many millennials are actually shunning the idea of ownership altogether — especially when it comes to things like luxury items, cars and music. Many are open to alternative ways of consuming goods and services, without having to own them. For instance, ride sharing services are very popular among millennials right now. Why pay for a car when you can have instantaneous access to one whenever you need it? For this reason, businesses need to think creatively when marketing towards millennials. They may not be as receptive to traditional ideas as older customers.

Research also shows that millennials’ love of technology is reshaping how retail items are sold. Reviews, product information and price comparisons are now easy to access — and as Goldman Sachs explains, millennials are seeking brands that can offer the most convenience at the lowest cost. 57 percent of millennials, it should be noted, will compare prices in-store.

As such, the Goldman Sachs report explains, having a strong brand isn’t always enough to close sales with millennials. Buyers are researching “beyond the brand” in order to find products and services that closely align with their core needs and beliefs.

So, what can your contact center do to ensure strong experiences for millennial customers?

A few things come to mind. Flexibility and responsiveness are both critical elements for connecting with this group of consumers. Millennials, for instance, are the ones who have championed the telework revolution. They are fully-mobilized, and many work on different schedules— meaning they require service outside of the realm of the traditional contact center hours. They also love knowledge bases, FAQ sections and live chat systems.

Here is one thing to keep in mind, though: Millennials aren’t set in stone. Their attitudes and believes will change tremendously a year or two from now, and so it’s vital to remain flexible and aware of their needs. Businesses need build marketing strategies around fresh, relevant data in order to ensure that they send the right messaging to their customers and connect in meaningful ways.

Do you need some assistance connecting with your millennial customer base? To learn more about how InfoCision can help, click here.

Every Business Needs Live Customer Support

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Over the last few years, a troubling customer service trend has been spreading among businesses. Many organizations are now choosing to abandon traditional contact centers in favor of solutions like online knowledge databases, email and chat systems. The theory is that customers would rather solve their own issues, rather than take the time to call in and speak with live agents.

Now, in theory this may seem like a good idea: Avoid opening a resource-intensive contact center, while still providing a way for customers to resolve their issues in a timely manner. In reality, though, it doesn’t work. It just makes customers angry when they can’t get in touch with live agents over the phone. Phone support is a basic, integral part of the customer experience — and it’s not right to take this away from customers.

Aside from the operational complications that will arise if you eliminate your contact center, there are other pitfalls that you will need to consider as well. For instance, it’s very difficult to enable outbound communications when you don’t have a contact center. Yes, sales associates can work remotely — but they are far less effective, as it’s harder for managers to monitor and coach them. Outbound communications tend to work best when you have small teams of agents working closely together as cohesive units. After all, customer service requires teamwork. It’s not a one person job. And when you enable remote work, elements like teamwork, trust and collaboration can all get lost.

Plus, there are far fewer risks from a security and privacy perspective when managing an onsite contact center. This is particularly true for healthcare companies that must adhere to strict Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) regulations.

It’s also worth considering the value of customer engagement — and the total price that a business will pay by not having a contact center. Customer interactions, after all, can be very lucrative. This is the whole basis behind the “customer journey,” or the idea of following a customer throughout their journey with your enterprise, nurturing their interest in your brand and eventually pushing them to point where they feel comfortable making repeat purchases.

If you remove the contact center, you remove a vital piece of customer support — and you risk leaving every one of your customers’ journeys to chance.

For these reasons, it’s absolutely critical to offer customers access to a reliable and efficient contact center — a place where they can come with questions, concerns and ideas. A high quality contact center will benefit the company as much as its customers.

By partnering with a contact center solutions provider like InfoCision, you can stay under budget while still providing amazing customer service. To learn more information, click here.

Top Predictions for Customer Service

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

One of the most important parts about running a contact center is looking into the future and trying to predict upcoming trends that will impact your business down the road. The customer service industry moves very quickly, as consumer needs can change with little to no warning and new, cutting-edge technologies are constantly being brought to market.  So it’s important to always have a finger on the pulse of what is happening in the industry around you to avoid falling behind the competition.

With this in mind, here are some predictions that I believe will be impacting customer service in the near future:

Demand for omnichannel will increase

In recent years, demand has grown significantly for omnichannel service, which involves providing a seamless customer experience across many different platforms including mobile, desktop, telephone and social media. Demand for omnichannel service will intensify even more over the next few years, as connectivity improves and more connected products reach the marketplace. Consumers will expect customer service to be as fast,   simple and reliable as connecting to the Internet.

Cybercrime will continue to evolve

Think cybercrime is bad right now? It’s going to get even worse, as threats like botnet-style attacks, malware and identity theft continue to evolve and become more sophisticated. And contact centers, with their wealth of consumer data, will be targeted more than ever as this happens. It’s going to get very difficult for the average business to effectively respond to the volume and intensity of cybercrime in the near future. For help, many businesses will turn to third party solutions providers offering affordable access to managed services and secure infrastructure.

Automation will increase

Many contact centers are already using automation in some form or another to help with daily operations. The most common examples on the market right now include chat bots, automated attendants and sales and marketing automation platforms — all of which use a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and customer data. While there is growing concern that robots will put human agents out of work in the future, I believe that there will continue to be a need for live agents in customer service.

Planning for change can be very daunting, especially if you are overworked and are struggling to get through your day-to-day responsibilities. It helps to have the assistance of a leading contact center solutions provider, to guide your business and ensure that it remains on the edge of innovation.

A big part of what we do here at InfoCision involves helping businesses to plan for future customer service needs. Our team can help you identify what elements of your customer service strategy are working, and what needs to change.

To learn more about InfoCision, click here.