Is Your Contact Center In Compliance with Local and Federal Regulations?

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Earlier this year, a leading website domain operator was hit with a class action lawsuit when a consumer claimed that the company sent him unsolicited advertisements via text message.

The plaintiff is now arguing that the operator violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) — a complex law established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that regulates how companies are allowed to communicate with consumers about products and offerings.

The operator admitted that the text messages in question originated from a third party marketing agency that the company hired to manage an outbound texting campaign. As of right now, the case is still unsettled but I wanted to weigh in on it because there is an important lesson to be learned for customer service administrators, regardless of who wins:

Companies today need to be very, very careful with outbound communications because consumers have little tolerance for practices that seem overly-aggressive, intrusive or “spammy.”

As this case demonstrates, some consumers are actively looking for opportunities to penalize companies for behavior they deem to be inappropriate.

What’s more, the TCPA is just one of a long list of regulations — state and federal — that you need to be aware of. For instance, there are state-specific Do Not Call lists as well as state-specific requirements for things processes like monitoring and recording authorization, among others. At the same time, there are certain exemptions that you can capitalize on.

Of course, some companies regularly experience class action lawsuits from their customer outreach campaigns and treat them as little more than a drop in the bucket. But this is not the right approach. In addition to being expensive, class action lawsuits can be very damaging to a brand, and they can alienate customers and shareholders. And for a small to medium-sized business (SMBs) that lacks the financial resources of a large enterprise, the damage resulting from financial penalties, court fees and lost customers could be disastrous.

With this in mind, stop and consider who is overseeing your business’s outbound campaigns. How much experience do your internal sales and marketing managers, or your business’s outbound contact center solutions provider, have in dealing with the underlying legal complexities that you are facing?

At InfoCision, we understand that outbound communications can be very complicated. But it’s also an important aspect of business growth. For this reason, we provide our customers with direct access to a team of experienced legal professionals who work tirelessly to ensure that all campaigns operate in strict accordance with state and federal telecommunications laws.

These legal experts empower our customers to confidently — yet conservatively — reach out to consumers when they need to. Our legal professionals are second to none.

To learn more about our legal & compliance expertise, contact InfoCision today.

The Impact of Speech Analytics in the Contact Center

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Speech analytics is a powerful tool for improving customer service. It turns every phone call into a valuable source of customer data. Collectively, it provides a holistic view of the thoughts, feelings and desires of a company’s customer base. Contact center managers can use insights gained to improve performance metrics, better and more quickly handle customer issues, and even make changes to existing products that can boost sales. In short, the technology gives users a competitive advantage over non-users.

So, what is speech analytics? In a nutshell, it’s the process of analyzing recorded calls to identify words and detect emotions. In the contact center, speech recognition software is used to quickly identify the calls that need attention. It then communicates information about these calls to the customer care Communicator, who is then in a much better position to handle the issue. This often shortens issue resolution time and call duration.

A reduction in average handle time improves service and can even increase company profits.

Since its introduction in 2003, the scope of speech analytics, which was originally called audio-mining, has evolved to amplify the voice of the customer beyond what could be gleaned from representative samplings. The tool evaluates 100 percent of calls, and has the ability to amass, organize and evaluate large amounts of unstructured data available through customer interactions.

With a big picture perspective, managers can more easily recognize trends in customer interests and needs. They can leverage the information gained to develop new products and/or enhance existing ones, ultimately driving sales.

Managers can also use speech analytics to ensure compliance with many regulatory and consumer protection requirements. It can even work to increase revenues when used for debt collection.

In addition, the technology ramps up quality assurance with real-time monitoring of agent engagement and script compliance. It can gauge the effectiveness of greetings and closings, and isolate words, phrases or tone of voice that signal customer dissatisfaction—while there is still time to save the relationship.

Consider speech analytics for your contact center if you would benefit from a better understanding of why your customers call in. The technology will give you greater knowledge about key behaviors on the parts of your Communicators and customers. This will help you pinpoint coaching or training opportunities for the former, and acquisition, retention and upsell opportunities for the latter. What’s more, the technology will give you greater insight into the customer sentiments that most impact your customer relationships.

Speech analytics can turn the contact center into a fountain of information for the whole business. Its applications are growing, and it is positioned to become an indispensable industry tool.

 

Gain Contact Center Efficiency With Desktop Automation and Analytics

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Your Communicators all possess different skill levels. So, how can you best identify who can do what, as well as where training is indicated, to improve the quality of customer care and maximize profitability? As you embrace omnichannel and seek to improve the customer experience, how can you ensure that frontline staff become more productive problem solvers and relationship builders, rather than process navigators and tool users?

To address these concerns, contact center leaders are adopting next-generation unified desktop technology. The solution includes not only dynamic scripting to help Communicators articulate a cohesive brand message but also call recording and analytical features that generate performance metrics for supervisors. The technology also works to eliminate time-draining manual tasks for employees.

A recent ContactBabel study, “The US Contact Center Decision Makers’ Guide 2016,” as a matter of fact, finds that 10 percent of the 221 contact center managers and leaders surveyed rank back-office automation as the most important technology, from a list of 25, over the next two years—second only to omnichannel.

Unfortunately, most of today’s contact center processes and systems are only loosely integrated, leading to flawed views of performance and issues. For example, ContactBabel reports that voice of the customer projects often run into difficulty when attempting to track the customer journey across departments, processes and channels.

This situation has been exacerbated by the high level of resource required to ensure that disparate solutions can leverage data into a cohesive whole. The addition of new communication channels (e.g., live chat, email and text) only makes integration more urgent.

Unification of various workforce optimization tools gives businesses the chance to break down information silos that are preventing the optimization of the customer experience, as well as reduce user complexity. Today, for example, even after successful call completion, systems—from customer accounts to warehouse stock systems to CRM to credit/debit card applications—may require input from Communicators to initiate necessary back-office processes. Often times, such complications put accuracy and maximization of revenues at risk.

A simple change of address, for example, in a non-unified environment can be a time drain, requiring alterations to several databases. ContactBabel reports that Communicators spend an average of 10 percent of their time each hour in after-call work, which costs the industry $20 billion each year.

A unified desktop automation and analytics solution addresses this challenge by allowing faster processing of calls, as well as reducing training times and improving customer satisfaction. Communicators work with a single desktop application tailored to their specific needs, which pulls in only the right data and applications from disparate systems and presents them on a single screen. In the background, business rules and workflow make sure that the right back-office processes happen without agent intervention.

In 2017, eliminate manual, error-prone tasks required of Communicators by deploying next-generation workforce optimization solutions that automate their duties. This will help you gain contact center efficiency and free up staff to focus on the customer.

Maximize Use of Analytics to Optimize Customer Relationships

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Analytics has taken the identification of contact center issues from gut instinct—or random sampling as managers walk the floor—to a science. It can help contact center leaders get to the root cause of problems, better enabling their resolution. In concert with the right applications, analytics can be used to ensure the optimal duration and profitability of a customer relationship.

As the application of analytics advances, it will be used to predict customer needs and behaviors to the point where contact center managers will be able to proactively deliver appropriate services—even before customers realize they need them!

Using data inputs—such as product use behavior, purchase history, Web and mobile clicks—contact center analytics will become a strategic tool for businesses. Managers will be enabled to provide white-glove service to their most valuable customers, as well as identify which customers have the potential to become majorly profitable—and serve them equally well.

To realize the full potential of contact center analytics, it must be combined with sales and marketing analytics. These business units have traditionally used analytics to better segment prospects for marketing purposes. The new opportunity is to use the data inputs from across the organization to better inform business decisions. With insights gained in this more holistic manner, contact center managers will understand how to engage and support customers throughout the relationship life cycle.

So, where do you begin the process of maximizing analytics for your contact center?

First of all, your company must be completely digitalized—to the point where nearly every customer touch point is accessible for analysis. Otherwise, missing data can skew analytics and set you up for a fall. Second, the contact center must put customer experience—not reducing handling times or reducing costs—at the center of its strategy. After all, you don’t want to let a customer slip through your fingers while you tally interaction expenses. Finally, the entire organization must be onboard with creating a culture where customer engagement is its main purpose and function. This last point is necessary to reduce organizational boundaries that might limit the sharing of meaningful data.

Once your organization is set up to optimize customer satisfaction, contact center analytics will be a far more strategic tool. You’ll gain a deep knowledge of customer drivers, and know how to best address them to strengthen relationships.

How to Move From Data to Insights to Action

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

As a business leader, you are told often enough to harness the data in your organization to drive more-effective decision making. And maybe you’re thinking “easier said than done”—and you’d be correct.

It’s a struggle in today’s business environment to rein in data when more and more of it arrives every day. Yet the amount of data doesn’t change the fundamental executive decision-making premise: Understand the market to determine how and where to best compete.

So, how do you get from vast compilations of data to pertinent insights that can grow your business?

To win customers, you need data and analytics to show what they want at the times when they are bent on going somewhere, or learning, doing or buying something. You must be able to identify those instances and act on them wisely. Companies that excel go beyond analytics; they build insights they can use to develop truly relevant customer experiences.

Take the following recommendations into consideration:

Integrate data: First, you need to achieve a single view of your customer base. Only then can you ensure optimal product offerings and the most effective communication strategies. Mix together multiple sources of customer and marketing data—from email response rates to data from in-person meetings—with a strong focus on demand generation, to enhance the customer experience. Continually use data and analytics to test your effectiveness. According to a recent study by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, some companies that have captured the full customer journey by integrating multiple sources of data are generating up to 8.5X higher shareholder value.

Stay ahead of the curve: Second, use analytics to generate new value for customers whenever they reach out to your brand, not just to strengthen marketing effectiveness. Continually develop more-sophisticated analytics capabilities and applications, as the ability to gain competitive leverage from analytics is declining as more organizations develop capabilities.

Leverage tools: Sophisticated technology tools allow you to drive customer satisfaction in diverse ways—from your website’s ease of use, to on-time delivery, to actual product performance. This is where analyzing social media and direct customer feedback is especially beneficial.

Broaden marketing scope: Eliminate enterprise market­ing divisions and vertically integrate their roles within each line of business to break down organizational barriers to improving customer experience. This will entrench marketers into a par­ticular customer experience and concentrate their attention on each phase of the customer journey. This includes moving from a product-centric to a customer-centric focus. In today’s market—full of smart and demanding consumers, as well as product commoditization—trying to compete by managing costs won’t do the job. Instead, apply formal customer value measurements to drive and evaluate changes.

Build a team: Create a team of analytics professionals who understand not only data but the technologies that help to amalgamate data into a cohesive whole. Beyond that, place more emphasis on the data than the analytics team, meaning determine the questions the data should answer before setting your analysts free. Otherwise, you could end up with massive amounts of data that actually cloud business implications instead of offering clarity.

A disciplined approach to analytics will garner you an improved customer experience. Just as with any decision-making process, optimize analytics to obtain the desired results.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Why Social Listening Is Your Secret Weapon

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Listening is harder than talking, both for people and for businesses. Stephen Covey, author of the top-selling 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said that most people listen with the intent to reply, not to understand; we’re usually just waiting until the talker finishes so we can have our turn to speak. That’s not really listening.

Businesses usually do more talking than listening, too. Finely crafted messages appear on Facebook, in ads, and across other marketing content, but there hasn’t been much real listening going on. Without it, there’s no way of truly understanding your customers, making it difficult to give them what they want.

Thanks to social media, the idea of “listening” is finally being heard. Social media platforms offer a wealth of information as to what people are saying about a brand. Companies can also learn what their customers are searching for, where their customers are, and how their competitors are faring. This information can be used to create more personalized marketing content that targets specific audiences.

Just like the traditional form of listening, however, social media listening takes patience, and a willingness to hear what people have to say.

Taking it one step further, social listening becomes social intelligence when business leaders use what they’ve heard to drive business actions. For instance, to plan future innovations in flight technology, GE used Twitter conversations to understand passenger expectations. Visa, too, leveraged social media insights to extend its reach to a new target market of small businesses. And after listening to Facebook and Twitter, General Mills decided to drop artificial flavors and colors from its cereals.

Listening may not always yield business-altering insights, but if companies use these opportunities wisely, they can be assured of one thing at least: Customers will appreciate the chance to be heard, which is a win no matter what.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Predicting Customer Service Success: The Importance of Data Analytics

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

I think most would agree with this suggestion:  consumers expect customer service agents to know how to efficiently solve any and every problem at hand. Due to the fact that agents aren’t mind readers, supplying your contact center with the right tools to better identify future customer inquiries is critical in reaping full ROI.

Recent research suggests that advanced business intelligence directly improves customer experience as well as contact center services ROI. According to Dimension Data’s “2015 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report,” 57 percent of companies relate improved customer service experience levels to ROI, while 75 percent of contact centers can now pre-identify and segment their customers. It’s evident that contact centers’ improving ability to predict customers’ future behavior and, in turn, offer a catered experience to each segment is an important correlation.

Guarantee your agents are prepared for any type of customer by instating these three forms of business analytics:

Predictive Models: Foresee the imminent behaviors of particular customers by compiling past transactions to create a customized model. Learn from past consumer actions by using those experiences to better prepare for the next. The customer is bound to appreciate the personalized attentiveness of an experienced Communicator.

Market Segmentation: Use your contact center’s abundance of incoming data to organize your consumers. Grouping certain consumers based on personality and historical tendencies saves time and money. This allows for improved Communicator assignment, as the agents most experienced with specific groups can be strategically assigned in order to ensure the best customer experience.

Customer Profiles: The ways in which we are able to use data are nothing short of incredible. Contact centers receive massive amounts of information about customers through inbound customer service calls and/or outbound calls to prospective non-profit donors. Leverage this data in order to create customer profiles based on the similar attributes detected in specific groups of consumers. These profiles will give businesses an edge in predicting future behaviors.

Hiring mind readers isn’t a realistic goal, but we can provide our employees with top notch business intelligence for a best-in-class customer experience. Learn more about business analytics strategies that can help augment your contact center services ROI.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the American Teleservices Association (ATA). He also donates his time to serve on several University boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s higher honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.

A Great Customer Experience Starts Behind the Scenes

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Like any critically acclaimed theater production, the key to its success is in the actors’ and actresses’ delivery. But, the delivery wouldn’t amount to much without a director’s guidance and a production team working tirelessly behind the scenes throughout the play. Believe it or not, the same amount of credit can be attributed to the behind the scenes work at contact centers.

Without this behind the scene work, like proper training and demographic call scripts, Communicators wouldn’t be able to execute their customer service interactions with such success. So, how does a best-in-class contact center perform to such a high degree? The answer is in the team’s use of analytics.

The office flow of any given corporation hinges on departmental duties. Each division works towards providing quality results in order to reach a single goal defined by the company as a whole. It’s easy to lose sight of this goal when each team is so focused on its single specific duty. In this case, assembling a team primarily focused on researching and presenting data analytics in a simple to understand fashion is beneficial in staying on track of customer service goals. At InfoCision, this is called the governance team.

Mark Rodio, our director of governance, describes his approach to sharing valuable data information to business leaders in this season’s “Marketing Solutions” magazine:

There is so much data available, it can be challenging for busy leaders to infer what is going on in a concise fashion. So we use different tools to present data visually, ensuring it’s easy to understand, and identify what’s important.

Data analytics is the driving force behind quality of customer service. Instating a team of research experts to comb through big data results will directly serve in enhancing customer service methods. Think back to the theater production team for a moment; without the director’s vision and an experienced set crew, the overall execution of the play would flounder. The same is true in customer service–without arming your Communicators with knowledge and tools supported by hard evidence, customer service interactions will unfortunately fall flat.

Trusting in the applied expertise of your behind the scenes crew will shine through in your final production. Click here to learn more about the importance of data analytics.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the American Teleservices Association (ATA). He also donates his time to serve on several University boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s higher honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.

How Call Center Analytics Influence Positive Customer Experiences

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Many may be unaware of this truth, but the secret behind exceptional customer service has not only to do with expert Communicators, but much to do with hard facts provided by data analytics. In an era where tempers are running shorter but quality of customer service is rising in importance, more support is needed in order to provide agents with the best possible preparation.

Using actionable data to augment your customer service success is a major component in providing a positive customer experience. Business intelligence offers your company an edge as the data collected allows for understanding a customer base on a deeper level through analyzing key trends and preferences.

Our very own VP of Call Center Analytics Mike Shonk elaborated on this in InfoCision’s latest edition of “Marketing Solutions” magazine:

 We’ve seen over the last five or six years that the rate of customers picking up a random call has dropped considerably, from as much as 55 percent of our audience to as little as 35 percent today in some time periods…Our opportunity is to figure out when they’ll be most receptive to the conversation.

Monitoring the time of day certain demographics are most likely to answer their phones allows the role of Communicator to become more accommodating and less invasive. As such, the improvement opportunities, which become available when digging into business analytics, should be top priority for companies looking to get ahead in the customer service industry.

Paying close attention to your data is equivalent to paying close attention to your customers; after all, you wouldn’t have such a wealth of data to work from without them. Use your collection of data to measure the success rate of call scripts as well as how receptive certain Communicators are to specific demographics. Let the numbers show you how to tweak your scripts or reassign your agents to better serve your consumer base. Even the smallest adjustments can make the biggest difference if the customer feels that a Communicator is speaking to them on a more personal level.

Did we spark your curiosity? Learn more about the benefits business analytics can offer your company.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the American Teleservices Association (ATA). He also donates his time to serve on several University boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s higher honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.