Whether in English or Spanish, at InfoCision’s contact center in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico we adapt and connect on a personal and cultural level to whomever is on the other end of the line. Employing only the finest people, our agents are mature – averaging 30+ years old – with 95% being college educated. Our turnover is less than 6%, meaning that we train peak performers and keep them. Each is intensely focused on quality, sales performance and optimal customer care. In short, we do everything possible to guarantee a positive customer engagement with every call!
As a leader in your contact center, you’ve likely done due diligence on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). While you’re familiar with the concept, you may not be certain on which are the most important for your center to regularly analyze.
Below, we’ve laid out some of the most critical metrics that you should be tracking to optimize your contact center.
When measuring your Customer Experience, consider the following KPI recommendations:
–Average Time in Queue. It goes without saying that your customers are continuously looking for the quickest resolution. Know that if you can’t provide them with that, a competitor will.
–First Call Resolution (FCR). Your center’s FCR is a telltale sign for how knowledgeable your agents are.
–Customer Satisfaction. Whether this includes a survey at the end of the call, or a follow-up email after the resolution, it’s important to circle back with your customers to ensure their expectations were met. They’ll appreciate your concern, and you’ll have solid feedback for your center and brand.
When measuring your Inbound and/or Outbound Calls, look at:
–Abandon Rate. For legal and compliance reasons, it’s vital to keep a close pulse on your agent availability and call abandonment.
–Calls Handled. Be sure your agents are making the most out of their time on the clock.
–Call Disposition Codes. Tracking these codes will allow you to reference the reason, outcome, and so forth for the call.
When measuring your Efficiencies, examine your:
–Forecast Accuracy. Not being properly equipped for the ebbs and flows of call volume can dig a big hole in your pocket. Forecast your calls accurately to ensure your staffing levels adhere to your staffing needs.
–Average Handle Time (AHT). This metric is important for multiple reasons. For one, it’ll help you determine your center’s staffing levels. Understand though, your AHT is not a measure of success – as faster isn’t always better. It’s important to find the harmonious balance between calls that are handled rapidly and those that have exceeded in length.
Lastly, measuring your Cost entails knowing your:
–Cost Per Call. Following this metric is beneficial in determining the value of your center. If your inhouse center isn’t making a solid profit, consider an external vendor.
–Agent Attrition. The contact center industry has some of the highest attrition rates in the workforce. Ensure your employee retention is on par to avoid excessive expenses on employees lost.
As a full service, turnkey direct marketing solution, partnering with InfoCision means you’ll have access to our robust reporting and metric management through our Command Center and Business Intelligence group.
To learn more about InfoCision’s services, visit www.infocision.com
If your company looks at your contact center as an expense rather than a return on investment, it’s likely you underestimate the critical role contact centers play in delivering outstanding customer service. Understand though, your contact center is the best way to keep a pulse on your customer satisfaction and experience, from acquisition to retention, and even win-back. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to build a successful business case on investing more in your Customer Experience.
Consider the following reasons as to why you should be outsourcing your contact center to build your brand:
1. When you outsource with a trusted vendor, you are able to focus on your core function and let the vendor do what they do best, which brings us to the next point:
2.The executives and operational management of outsourced contact centers have specialized industry knowledge and best practices.
3. Flexibility and scalability is crucial. Your in-house center is doing its best, but it simply can’t compete with what others offer. Partnering with a contact center like InfoCision allows you to quickly ramp up or dial back in size, depending on what your call volume looks like. This type of efficiency reduces your cost per call, and keeps customers happy by minimizing hold times.
4. Bilingual capabilities are vital in connecting with your audience. According to the most recent census, Hispanics make up over 17% of the US population – and that number will only continue to grow. If you don’t have bilingual capabilities, you’ll likely see your brand take a hit.
5. Last, but certainly not least, we are living in an economy based on experience. If your customer service is anything less than exceptional, your customers will take their business elsewhere. Take care of them, meet their expectations, and have consistent touch points to ensure that the loyalty is there between your valued customers and your brand.
In a society full of tweets, texts and typing, it may come as a surprise that phone calls remain the preferred channel of communication when it comes to your brand’s customer service. Tried and true, customers prefer actual voice communication for a plethora of reasons, but above all else, simply because it is the easiest option when looking to connect with a brand’s customer service department.
Consider this: When you are trying to get a hold of an organization’s customer service department, more times than not it’s because you have an urgent problem needing to be resolved. From a customer perspective, you don’t want to be typing in circles to a chatbot trying to explain your issues. Further, sending emails back and forth is even more time consuming than the chatbot. Yet, if you simply call into the customer service department, an agent is able to quickly look up your profile and guide you to a resolution.
More so, depending on your brand’s target market, they may not all be internet-savvy, or even have access to the internet. According to this study, only 66% of U.S. adults ages 65+ are using internet, making it worthwhile to stay accessible with offline communication.
Reasonably so, your brand’s voice communication can be the distinguishing factor amongst your competitors. Show your customers that you value them by giving them exceptional live-person interaction rather than a chatbot or IVR system. In doing so, you will create a positive customer experience, and in turn find increased satisfaction and loyalty.
The take-away: Understand that voice communication, done well, is vital to your brand’s success and can set your brand apart. Finding the right contact center partner to handle your voice communication is critical in fostering your brand’s growth.
To learn more on how InfoCision provides the highest quality contact center solutions, visit www.infocision.com
Picture this: You’re driving home from work and pondering what to pick up for dinner for your family. To your left, you see a drive thru with those famous gold arches, and to your right is a health foods grocery store. You’re contemplating whether you should spend a quick $15 on some greasy fries and burgers – or, if you should spend a few extra bucks and pick up some nutrient dense eats from the grab-n-go counter at the health foods store.
If you’re vested in providing the best for your family’s health, you’d undoubtedly hang a right and run into the grocery store over the cheaper, fast-food option. You get what you pay for, right?
Now apply that thinking when you’re partnering with a contact center. If you’re trying to cut costs in outsourcing your customer service, you can likely expect to be cutting corners, too.
Contact center pricing directly corresponds to the quality of service you will be receiving; The pricier contact center has higher quality agents – with higher education, which lends a hand to a higher wage expectation, and uses higher quality technology. In short, the price point they charge is a direct correlation to the money they put into their employees and infrastructure.
Sure, you could go with the cheaper route when outsourcing – but then you’d be dealing with the “greasy cheeseburger and fries” version of a contact center provider… and swim suit season is just around the corner.
It’s been said time and time again that effective communication is key to any successful relationship. While applicable to the conversations between you and your children, significant other, and coworkers – one of the most important places for this principle to occur is within your contact center.
So, how can something so vital to success get lost in the daily shuffle for your agents? It’s instilled in call center representatives to follow their script when attempting to extinguish customer service fires, yet, words spelled out in a script don’t always convey the proper empathy that your valued customers are yearning – rather, they sound quite robotic.
Empathy and active listening are a duo that go hand in hand – think peanut butter and jelly… You don’t split up combination like that, and if you do, the end results aren’t as great.
For an agent to properly empathize with their customer, said agent must be actively listening to the customer’s frustrations and complaints. Exhibiting active listening in a call center entails asking follow-up questions to fully catch the fine points, not interrupting or cutting off the customer while they express their concerns, and occasionally repeating back what the customer has stated . While active listening may require a bit more time conversing between agent and customer, the customer will always appreciate the extra mile your agent has taken – building brand loyalty and cultivating future conversations.
Coach your agents on the importance of active listening and watch the results come back in a tenfold.
Global businesses are utilizing contact centers to enhance the customer experience in increasingly complex ways. Customer choice is behind the wheel, driving contact centers towards greater emphasis on consumer needs and preferences. Deloitte’s Global Contact Center Survey provides insights from over 450 contact centers, shedding light on how business is changing for the better.
Now a top priority, customer experience is driving contact center growth even more so than operational expansion. Customer experience and expectations are a key driver for 88% of the contact centers studied in 2017, with improvements in customer satisfaction (46%) outweighing revenue growth (3%) in importance.
Today, companies are reporting that customer feedback (54%) will motivate core business decisions moving forward. How will they do it? Technologies such as text analytics and social media listening are improving in quality, streamlining the process of feedback collection. For the customer, businesses view ease and accuracy of information (66%) as most important to future contact center interactions.
2.Complexity and Diversity of Channels
Context of contact and mediums for customer engagement are adding to the complexity and diversity of contact center interactions. Phone contact is expected to fall from 64% to 47% over the coming years, with chat and social media expanding as channels for customer engagement. Advancements in technology such as “chat bots” are predicted to streamline integration challenges, growing to an estimated 16% by 2019, up from 6% in 2017.
Survey respondents have a major thing in common: investment in new technologies for return interactions. Advanced analytics (66%) and voice of the customer (54%) top the list of emerging capabilities that companies seek to invest in over the next two years.
Contact centers expect web capabilities (29%) and mobile applications (23%) will generate the greatest return on investment. What’s the main challenge to realizing investment potential? Integration of existing systems (63%) for the ultimate omnichannel customer experience, along with budget (56%) and change management (55%) for overseaing company transformation.
Focus is placed on improving talent for all survey respondents, citing the use of analytics (73%) and training programs (63%) as the key initiatives towards boosting staff. Outsourcing as a strategic method has reached a state of equilibrium, and flexible work programs are popular in the retention of employees, with 52% of companies planning on undertaking the initiative over the next two years.
The Moral of the Story
Maximizing the potential of technological advancements and its integration with multifaceted channels is improving the customer experience for corporate contact centers. Quality of talent is a developing initiative towards growth. And with customer experience at the forefront of contact center executives’ minds, the customer truly is “always right.”
As a small- to medium-sized business (SMB), do you have the resources in-house to support today’s customer service demands? For instance, are you prepared to deliver consistent, seamless customer experiences across multiple channels? The evolved customer of the Digital Age expects to connect with companies by the digital channels they already use in their daily lives.
This can be a daunting goal for many SMBs—both operationally and financially. Upgrading your contact center facilities and technology to accommodate new channels and services can be an enemy to profits. In response to commercial pressures and technological opportunities, a new contact center model has emerged: the virtual contact center. For SMBs and larger enterprises, this model may defray costs and increase customer satisfaction.
In the model, Customer Care Communicators work remotely using a VoIP communication system and cloud-based services. A virtual contact center can consist of many operations, including home and satellite offices, which are linked together and managed as a single site. This allows for greater efficiencies, significant economies of scale and the opportunity for performance improvements.
The model has both risks and benefits, which must be assessed independently by each business considering the option.
Your case for transitioning to a virtual contact center must take into account the following three fundamental factors: customer satisfaction, reliability and security, and platform openness and flexibility. Do your due diligence as follows:
- Assess challenges and goals: Build a case by examining your current capabilities, plans for growth and customer satisfaction. Look at barriers to achieving your KPIs and delivering great service. Evaluate your existing platform and assess what’s missing and what upgrades should be a priority.
- Determine costs: What are budget requirements over time? You can subtract hardware costs and add savings from scaling up and down flexibly. You’ll have costs for agents, supported channels and analytic functions.
- Define metrics: Assess current analytics and KPIs to determine which can apply to a contact center in the cloud. How will you measure customer experience and operational efficiency?
As you assess whether the transition to a virtual contact center is right for your business, consider the additional benefits you may gain:
- Larger pool of skills
- Balanced work across locations
- Widely deployed and managed skills
- One-time easy and flexible forecasting and scheduling
- Increased global coverage
- Standardized application deployment
- 24/7 agent availability
- Dynamic choice of outsourcers
While cost savings are the primary driver for many transitions to the cloud, keep these other benefits in mind as well—especially as you look at risks, which can be significant. For example, you may experience increased staff turnover if home workers are not self-starters. In addition, the transfer of knowledge and training can be challenging in a virtual environment. Remote workers will also require more attention from supervisors to ensure they don’t feel isolated from the business—and from corporate values and standards.
If the pros outweigh the risks for your organization, you’re on your way to building your contact center in the cloud.
Once you’ve hired, onboarded and trained a new Communicator, you’ve invested a lot of time, energy and money into their employment with your organization. Losing an associate is a near tragedy, certainly a disruption to the workflow, a decrease in productivity and an expense.
Unfortunately for the industry, average contact center turnover ranges between 30 and 45 percent—with some centers having almost no turnover, and others centers having turnover in the triple digits, according to QATC.
Many factors contribute to churn—from a sense of isolation to job stressors to lack of motivation. Research studies indicate that the rate of turnover varies by area of the country, employment factors in a specific region or city, and by industry. Turnover is much higher in routine, order-taking positions or in outbound telemarketing where burnout is high. It’s lower in more specialized, higher-level jobs and also lower in union environments.
Replacing a frontline employee costs about $10,000 to $15,000, QATC reports. Understanding the various costs involved, contact center supervisors make it a priority to retain employees.
Here are 10 strategies that will help you reduce attrition in your contact center:
- Hire the right people: This is a demanding job. Make sure you hire people who can handle it. Look for strong people skills, and someone who can remain calm and polite even in high-stress situations.
- Recognize top performers: Set high expectations—with attached rewards, and clear guidelines on how to merit them.
- Invest in professional development: Don’t let employees stagnate or become bored. Give them the option to cross-train for several jobs and/or switch tasks from time to time.
- Provide continual feedback: Make sure employees feel valued. Personalize praise to the worker—and do it consistently.
- Establish an employee work balance program: Be flexible and give your employees options for creating their own schedules.
- Integrate employee activities: Create a pleasant work environment by building comradery among employees. Encourage them to work together toward goals.
- Align employee mission, vision and values: This starts at the top with company leaders. Identify your values and enforce them with your actions. Make sure employees understand the mission and vision for the organization, and keep everybody pointed in the right direction. Hold people accountable for breaches of policy and standards.
- Encourage employees to voice their feelings and opinions: Get to know your employees. Learn what motivates them and about their lives (without prying). This will make the workplace feel like a supportive community, and help you craft personalized incentive programs.
- Create a positive company culture: Many of the above strategies will contribute to a positive company culture, which is important for employee enjoyment of and engagement with their work.
- Provide tools and training: Enable employees to maximize their potential and achieve goals by giving them the technology and training they need for success.
As a contact center manager, you may feel you’ve done everything in your power to drive employee performance—from sound hiring practices to training to fostering a conversational culture—yet some of your staff are still not achieving expected outcomes.
You want your Communicators to be actively engaged in driving contact center success, which requires a high level of job commitment. This goes beyond the parameters of job satisfaction, such as salary and work/life balance. Employees must also enjoy their work and believe that they are contributing to the greater good. This feeling of “plentitude and pleasure” is a necessary component of job commitment.
Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a noted expert on positive psychology, is renowned for his influential and widely cited research on the notion of “flow.” He describes flow as a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. It’s comparable to “being in the zone,” where even hunger and other temporal concerns are ignored.
Everyone has had the feeling at one time or another. Csikszentmihalyi says people are happiest when they are in this state. This can easily be observed in high-performance athletes who have reached the summit of a mountain or finished a marathon.
A flow state can only be achieved when certain conditions exist, such as challenge-skill balance, clarity of goals, immediate and unambiguous feedback, loss of self-consciousness and an autotelic personality—one in which a person performs acts because they are intrinsically rewarding.
Csikszentmihalyi and his associates have found that intrinsically motivated people are more likely to be goal-directed and enjoy challenges. When people are motivated from within to optimize and enhance their own happiness and well-being as a result of challenging experiences, they have a personality construct that Csikszentmihalyi calls “work orientation.” It is characterized by endurance, cognitive structure, order, play and low impulsivity.
A high level of work orientation is a good predictor of goal fulfillment—more so than any environmental influence, says the psychologist. So how can managers help their employees achieve a state of flow? Csikszentmihalyi tells us that four criteria are required:
- Clear goals that demand clear answers
- Answers that require intense concentration and commitment
- Equilibrium between the challenge and the capacity
- Immediate recognition after the challenging task has been accomplished
Managers who ensure these criteria are met in the contact center are likely to build employee engagement. Your Communicators certainly have challenges you can leverage. Make sure they know exactly how to meet those challenges, and that they have the training and tools they need to do so. Continue to develop their skills across the organization and recognize their successes in a timely manner. By these means, you’ll create flow in your contact center.