Are You Chasing the Wrong Metrics?

You’re going on a trip to a new place three hours away, so you plug the address into your GPS and hit the road. Unwittingly, you type the right address, but in the wrong town. But without any proper context for your surroundings, you only learn of your mistake after you arrive at the wrong location, hours out of your way.

These kinds of things happen all the time. We get so focused on the data in front of our eyes that we don’t stop to look at the big picture, or to see if our data is really leading us where we think we’re going.

The same can certainly be true in the contact center, where you’re practically swimming in data. It can all be used to help drive new initiatives, support your bottom line and improve your ability to provide superior service. But if you’re chasing the wrong metrics, you may not know it until it’s too late.

If you’re not sure where to focus your attention, here are several suggestions to get you started.

First contact resolution rate: Customers are happy when their inquiry is resolved without having to repeat themselves or have their call transferred. In addition, it ensures that extra resources aren’t needed to resolve one person’s issue.

Forecasting accuracy: Modern contact center solutions empower businesses with predictive modeling for call volumes, which in turn provides a template for staffing needs. If your forecasts are accurate, it is likely you have the right number of people for the job, which in turn means happy customers and agents. If your forecasts are off, you may want to consider scaling up through outsourcing.

Cost per call: Your agents are both your greatest asset and your greatest liability. A well-trained and enthusiastic agent can transform service and foster lifelong business relationships. A poorly trained agent can send customers running for the hills in a matter of moments. Cost per call helps you determine how well your agents are being utilized, and to what ends. Follow this figure and you’ll have more control over your labor.

What else can you learn when you dig into the right data behind your contact center operations? Click here to learn more.

 

For Fundraising Campaigns, Still Nothing Like the Human Touch

Few contact center leaders will question the idea that artificial intelligence is set to be a staple of their operations for years to come. Not only can chatbots or virtual assistants make your customers lives easier, but it can make life easier for your agents as well.

Despite the nearing ubiquity of artificial intelligence, not every function of the contact center is best served with these tools.

This is particularly true of fundraising campaigns. Most people don’t like being solicited to begin with, and even fewer started the day looking for a way to lighten their wallets. As such, you have to tread carefully when engaging with potential donors.

So the question is, can you trust artificial intelligence to be able to strike the right tone with donors, balancing the need to generate as much funding as possible without alienating the individuals that your campaign relies on?

Even if you could, what does it say to your donors? While not all will take offense, some may feel slighted that you couldn’t be bothered to reach out yourself when asking for something as personal as a donation. Contact center leaders must take these subtle attitudes and behaviors into consideration when launching a new fundraiser if they hope for lasting success and strong relationships with their donors.

Of course, there is a time and a place for innovative contact center technology. But in the case of fundraising, there’s still nothing like the human touch. To see how your contact center can reach its full potential with the right blend of tools and people, click here.

The Curious Case of Carter Wilkerson

Late last year, 16-year old Carter Wilkerson hopped on Twitter to ask a seemingly innocuous question to fast-food titan Wendy’s: how many retweets would it take to earn him a year’s supply of free chicken nuggets?

Playfully, the restaurant’s social media team immediately jumped on the opportunity, tasking the teen with reaching 18 million retweets before it would accept Wilkerson’s terms. With an empty stomach and a catchy hashtag–#NuggsForCarter—a viral sensation was born.

Fast forward a few weeks, and Carter Wilkerson had reached over 3.5 million retweets. Not 18 million, but enough to beat the world record previously held by Ellen DeGeneres. Wilkerson quickly found himself a viral media sensation, making appearances on news networks and even getting the opportunity to meet DeGeneres herself, on her own TV show.

And though Wilkerson was roughly 14 million retweets short of the original goal, the media attention was too much for Wendy’s to ignore. Just over a month after the initial challenge was issued, Carter Wilkerson got his free chicken nuggets.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking Wendy’s was just being generous. One six-piece chicken nugget order costs just $1.79. Assuming Carter ate Wendy’s nuggets three meals a day, every day, for a year, Wendy’s would have to put up a total of $1,960.05. Not a bad expense considering that the campaign generated $6.72 million of marketing revenue through retweets and $450,000 in earned media value.

Not a bad return for 140 characters.

This isn’t just an interesting story, though. It’s a lesson for any contact center leader who has scoffed at the importance of social media, or the notion that there’s not a clear enough ROI to expand operations to include a dedicated social team.

But with social media interactions set to grow from 4 percent to 9 percent in 2019, the case is clear. Social media is here to stay, and your organization must a plan in place to adopt today. To learn more, click here.

Three Misconceptions About In-House Contact Centers

There’s no debate that having a robust customer service department is integral for success in today’s business landscape. But while this much is certain, there remains a striking divide among customer service executives as to how to provide that support.

While there has been a massive migration towards outsourcing of contact center operations, many businesses are still keeping their operations in-house. There are a variety of reasons that businesses continue to do this, but in many cases the arguments in favor of in-house support are driven merely by misconceptions about what is truly possible when utilizing disruptive contact center solutions.

Below, we have listed three of the most common misconceptions about in-house contact centers today. If these sound familiar to you, it may be time to consider outsourcing a portion of your customer service strategy.

We have more control when we keep our operations in-house- security, features, agents, etc.

Many people will mistake proximity for control. Just because you have agents in-house, using your company’s phones and headsets, that doesn’t mean you’re in control. Who’s managing the back-end logistical and IT issues? Who’s keeping your security patches up to date? And how are your agents going to perpetually train and learn if you’re constantly scaling your staffing to make due on your limited budget?

Outsourcing can provide you the extra agents you need in a pinch when it’s time to focus on training. But beyond agents, you’ll also be able to turn your attention away from the minor headaches associated with managing and maintaining your operations and focus on results—not control.

Other departments can’t communicate without in-house contact center-marketing/sales

It is true that contact centers act like the nerve center of your business operations. As such, it is easy to see why wary contact center leaders would be concerned about silos developing without an on-site contact center. However, the right partner will find a way to integrate into your system for more seamless communication between departments.

It’s an either/or proposition

Sometimes, contact center leaders are paralyzed by the idea that they must abandon all on-premise contact center operations in order to migrate to a hosted alternative. Fortunately, this doesn’t need to be the case. Whether it’s a seasonal spike in call volume or you’re rolling out a new marketing campaign, you may be best suited with a partial scale up to ensure appropriate staffing without breaking your budget.

Don’t let common misconceptions guide your contact center operations. To learn more, click here.

The Best Place to Outsource In the U.S.

When you decide to outsource your contact center, the world becomes your oyster. Suddenly, you can partner with a company anywhere, from Algeria to Zimbabwe. With any location, like with any business, there are benefits and complications. Even if you’re just looking to branch out into another state, your results are liable to vary. If you’re uncertain as to where you should look to outsource within the States, we’ve got a few suggestions for you below.

Ohio: Ohio is centrally located between Chicago and New York, and serves as a major corridor for business. making it an optimal place to find high-level candidates. Yet, outside of these major cities, prices may be more cost-effective for budget-conscious businesses. Further, with 12 locations in the Ohio area, InfoCision has left an indelible mark on the Ohio region.

New York:  It’s hard to argue that “the city that never sleeps” wouldn’t be a great place to outsource your contact center and its 24-7-365 strategy. You’ll have access to great candidates and partners, too, but you’ll certainly pay top dollar for anything in the metro area.

California: Speaking of access to talent, California is in just as enviable a position as New York. Whether it’s Silicon Valley, San Francisco or Los Angeles, there are ample opportunities to connect with innovative partners.

Florida: Florida has a saturated call center market led by Tampa, the nation’s leader. Contact centers in Florida will always have agents on hand to step in, but with the extreme heat and yearly weather issues, operational disruptions could offset your advantage from time to time.

To learn more about what you stand to gain by outsourcing, click here.

Marketing and Sales, They Go Hand in Hand

It is certainly logical to expand your contact center capabilities to light a fire during a new sales campaign. It also makes sense, in the customer-centric world we live in, to be prepared with extra support for customer service agents tasked with putting fires out.

But in the hustle to provide additional support for a demanding sales force and overwhelmed service department, it is often the case that marketing gets left in the dust.

Businesses that hope to succeed in a connected, interoperable world cannot afford to compartmentalize in this fashion. In fact, when the right contact center solutions are deployed at the right time, you’ll be able to break down silos so that your marketing, sales and service initiatives work to build each other up for maximum impact.

Continuous feedback for real-time response

As the nerve center of your business, the contact center is an optimal place for marketing and sales to converge. Your contact center can conduct personalized inbound or outbound marketing efforts around a new initiative, gathering real-time feedback from consumers and responding to inquiries immediately. Integration with your sales force will enable you to respond to problematic trends and tweak your campaign accordingly.

Turn challenging issues into customer wins

A frustrated customer communicating with your contact center is at a crossroads. The story can end badly, with a lost relationship and a bad review rant disseminated across social media for a cascading negative impact. Or, if guided by a highly-skilled agent, the customer can truly be heard, helped and happy. These customer wins can be useful if viewed through a marketing perspective, while also demonstrating the value of an integrated approach.

Consistency is about staying on message

What happens when your marketing team, sales team and customer service team aren’t reading from the same script? You end up with lots of confused customers and lost sales. From the C-Suite to the contact center, your success hinges on your organization’s ability to stay consistent with your brand, your message and your offerings.

To see how InfoCision can help your business, click here.

Customer Service Spring Cleaning

Spring is in the air, and that means it’s time to clear out the clutter and do some spring cleaning in your contact center. Take a hard look at everything your team is doing, and re-prioritize to ensure you are doing all that necessary to run a lean and efficient operation.

As you perform your customer service spring cleaning, here are some things you should consider:

Organize your data: Is your business getting all that it can out of the information it is collecting and processing? It could be time to review your data strategy and form a fresh approach for spring. Consider linking your customer relationship management strategy with your business phone system to streamline the process.

Review your cybersecurity strategy: Perhaps your business is in need of a cybersecurity overhaul. Are you giving your employees proper education and training? Don’t trust that they will know what to avoid online. Round up your IT team and get everyone up to speed about the threat landscape.

Slash your budget: How much money are you spending on customer service? The truth is that you could be drastically overpaying if you are managing an in-house operation. Consider outsourcing to a third party contact center services provider to reduce the cost of overhead.

 

Teamwork: A Critical Need for Contact Centers

Many contact centers today are operating as siloed environments, where agents show up to work, put on their head sets and start fielding calls until they either break or go home. There isn’t much strategy or planning involved.

If your business has fallen into this trap, it’s worth considering shaking up your strategy. When customer service agents become siloed at work, it can lead to several negative outcomes. For starters, it’s bad for team morale. When employees don’t feel connected to the team, it could cause them to move on and find better opportunities. Plus, it makes it harder to ask other team members for help when it’s needed. They may start forming their own strategies without consulting other team members when making difficult customer decisions.

Make no mistake about it: The more your agents can work together as a team, the better it will be for your department and your customers.

It should also be noted that in the contact center, it’s not just about what happens on customer calls that counts. Just like a sports team has to practice together, customer service agents need to prepare and communicate during their down time to provide great service.

Could your team improve the way it works together? Here are some ways to improve teamwork in your contact center:

Encourage socializing: Teamwork won’t just happen on its own. And you can’t force it. In order for agents to work well together, it’s important that everyone gets along and feels comfortable approaching one another. When you work with great people, the rest falls into place naturally. So have a team lunch, a happy hour or even a bowling night. Play a game to break the ice. Just do something to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between your employees. This will help build a team-driven culture, which is extremely important for success.

Share notes: Make sure that your customer relationship management system makes it easy for agents to include notes. It should be more than just metric-driven. Consider using cloud-based communications software, too, so that agents can ask questions and interact with one another throughout the day.

Build an open environment: Tell your agents that it’s okay to ask questions and reach out to one another for support. As an industry, we need to abandon the belief that it’s not okay to ask questions. When employees are afraid to ask questions, they are more liable to start forming their own ways of doing things much to the detriment of the entire team.

What Is a Data-Driven Marketing Strategy?

Mixpanel CEO Suhail Doshi was once quoted as saying “Most of the world will make decisions by either guessing or using their gut. They will either be lucky or wrong.”

We can apply this quote to the customer service space where many companies are still using outdated and ineffective strategies that aren’t backed by supportive data. When contact center managers lack data-driven insight, they instead rely on guesswork. This can be very risky, especially if someone is in charge who  may act impulsively or lack experience.

The truth is that this world is becoming increasingly digitalized, and there is an abundance of data that can be easily accessed and utilized in the contact center. There is no excuse for contact center administrators to be ignoring all of this easily-available information. In fact, refusing to use data could be considered an affront to your customers. They deserve the best experiences possible, and this requires using data.

A data-driven marketing strategy can be characterized as one that:

Leverages customer insight: The vast majority of businesses today are collecting information about their customers  and target audiences but aren’t using it effectively. A data-driven customer service strategy is one where information flows into the enterprise, is processed in a customer relationship management (CRM) system and shared during interactions. Your customers are giving you all the clues you need to provide great service. It’s just a matter of digging through the information and organizing it to uncover trends.

Never stagnates: The business landscape is constantly changing, and customer demands shift by the day. So often, companies will  continue doing the same things year in and year out and then wonder why they are suddenly irrelevant in their space. When you embrace data-driven strategy, you are constantly looking out for the next opportunity at hand. It’s like getting in shape. Once you start, you have to keep doing it. There is no stagnating in business!

Is forward-thinking: A robust data-driven strategy requires looking as far as you can into the future, and making important decisions to prevent problems before they happen. For instance, you may start to notice that your customer engagement is declining on a particular social channel. Using data, you can get a better sense of why that is happening and determine whether it makes sense to  go in a different marketing direction. This can save time, and prevent you from wasting resources. It can also prevent your competitors from gaining a leg up.

Here’s the tough part: Nobody is going to force your business to use data. You have to consciously make the decision to shift your strategy. It’s going to take some work, but it could be the most important thing you do for your business.

Achieving An Automation Balance in Your Contact Center

There is no denying the fact that customers today want to be able to help themselves when trying to resolve business issues. According to one study, for instance, 51 percent of customers prefer to have self-service options available on a company’s website.

As we move forward into the digital era, though, and automation becomes increasingly interwoven into our everyday lives, many businesses will struggle to understand how to effectively implement it into their operations.

Right now, for instance, questions abound like how much automation is too much, and whether customers will appreciate it or dislike it.

Take, for instance, the example of Uber. The company is infamous for offering in-app customer support. It’s very difficult to speak to an agent directly as the company encourages customers to first seek problems within their app. Many customers get frustrated when they cannot connect with a live agent. After all, some customer service issues cannot be solved with push-button ease. Sometimes, a customer just needs to vent. And if you take away their ability to do that with a live agent, he or she may choose to go to social media to do it publicly.

The trick is to strike a balance in your contact center, where customers have the option to easily select self service or communicate directly with live agents. Here are some ways that you can strike an automation balance in your contact center:

Don’t make customers jump through hoops: With every self service portal that you offer, there should be an immediate line to a customer service representative available. Customers should always be able to press the 0 button and speak with a live agent— no questions asked.

Use click to call: There’s nothing wrong with pushing customers to an online self-service portal first, before they call your company. But if you do this, make sure they understand they are still welcome to call at any point. Consider putting a click to call button on your website using Web real-time communication (WebRTC), so that customers can immediately connect with live agents over their browser while combing through the knowledge database.

Dig through your data: Consult with your Web management team and get a sense where customers are going for answers first. For instance, when they go to your website, are customers going to your contact section first in search of a telephone number, or are they going to the online knowledge base? You should also do this with your phone’s interactive voice response (IVR) system. Use advanced analytics to determine whether your IVR system is helping customers, or whether they are opting out to speak with a representative. Avoid guesswork whenever possible.