Three Contact Center Technologies to Be Thankful for This Year

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Thanksgiving is a time of reflection and giving thanks. While we are all thankful for friends and loved ones, there is also plenty to be thankful for as a contact center manager—like the invaluable tools that ensure high contact center services ROI.

Help yourself to a warm piece of pie and a plate of stuffing (or two) and count your blessings for these time- and cost-saving contact center technologies:

Call blending: Outbound productivity is crucial, especially for charities or non-profit organizations during the end of the year when the need to reach prospects/donors is at an all-time high. Call blending helps maximize contact center productivity by running several programs simultaneously so that Communicators can make outbound calls when inbound activity slows down—all without compromising performance. A quick tip: look for a system that adheres to state and national laws regarding abandonment of outbound calls.

Brand customization: Tailoring your solutions to your brand helps streamline calls for better overall efficiency. For example, at InfoCision, we have internally developed our own proprietary CRM application—Inscription—that can be customized to fit the needs of any of our clients by offering everything from comprehensive customer profiles to screen pops. Bottom line: a one-size-fits-all contact center solution just doesn’t work.

Remote call monitoring: With so many employees today choosing to work from home, tools that enable quality assurance analysts and contact center managers to evaluate performance and make adjustments as needed regardless of location is key. And employees who work from home can show their own appreciation to employers for this opportunity by increasing productivity.

There are so many great contact center technologies available today that most managers are probably thankful for more than just three. Click here while you take a break from the turkey and gravy, to explore more contact center technologies and the competitive advantages they offer.

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.

 

Technology Spotlight: Examining Tools for Targeting

As a contact center manager you understand that employing polite, intelligent workers is a good start on the road to success, but it is far from a final destination. Instead, to keep up with the competition and stay relevant, businesses need to employ technological solutions that help them more efficiently target prospects for onboarding and current clients for upselling and cross-selling opportunities.

A one-size-fits-all approach is generally ineffective in any area of business, and the same is true for marketing. Although your overall brand message should be consistent, it should be disseminated to different consumers in varied ways for maximum effectiveness.

Think about what your sales and customer satisfaction numbers would look like if you could walk into customers’ living rooms and solve their problems or offer them just the right product or service they need to make their lives easier. Metaphorically, that is exactly what InfoCision tries to accomplish with our multichannel marketing partners. What follows are a few examples of Business Intelligence technologies we offer that can boost your contact center services ROI by helping you engage customers on a more personal level:

Big Data Analytics

Without the necessary tools, a contact center wastes an incredible amount of actionable information that can be used to improve businesses processes across an entire organization. Every interaction contains information about the customer, but without technology that breaks that mountain of data into digestible chunks it is essentially worthless. Data analytics from InfoCision dive deep into customer data to highlight useful information that can be used to enhance any marketing campaign. Additionally, oftentimes analytics can uncover trends you may not have spotted—like an increasing number of callers confused about their bills—and get it sorted out quickly.

Predictive Models                                                                 

Imagine knowing what customers want before even they do. Once you have the pertinent data you can begin to use it to anticipate customers’ needs. Predictive modeling is the process of using customer data to predict future behaviors. Using these models, InfoCision can accurately determine which individuals are most likely to purchase a product or service. Armed with that information, you can simultaneously increase revenue and customer satisfaction by offering customers items they truly want and need.

Market Segmentation and Demographic Scripting

Market segmentation is the process of taking a list of people and grouping them together based on shared attributes. By targeting the right people, your organization can increase cost efficiency and drive response. It makes no sense, for example, to market products and services to a college graduate the same way you would a 75-year-old grandparent; the two most likely lead completely different lives with different priorities. Once you have the Business Intelligence you need, you can create varied telemarketing scripts for these customers—or let a multichannel marketing partner like InfoCision help you do it.

Implementing these tools can be difficult if they are not part of your core competencies, and that’s where a multichannel marketing partner like InfoCision comes in. Click here for more information on our Business Intelligence solutions.

 

Don’t Have Time to Screen Call Center Agents? Let Us Worry About That

In this fast-paced, 24/7 business world, your company has plenty on its plate—from marketing your products and services to handling finances to fulfilling orders to empowering your employees. In fact, more than half of small business owners still don’t have time to maintain their own website, according to a survey conducted by Google and Ipsos. With only so many hours in the workweek, your company might also not have the time, resources or experience to effectively screen call center agent candidates.

But there’s no need to fret as outsourcing with a trusted, strategic marketing and communications partner can help offload not only the screening process but hiring and training, too. It’s a perfect alternative for significantly improving contact center services ROI. For example, here at InfoCision, we are committed to hiring well-trained Communicators with professional experience that your company can enjoy the convenience of tapping into. These professionals will relay your company’s unique message to customers to help establish and sustain long-lasting relationships, boosting your brand value.

So what exactly differentiates our Communicators from typical call center agents? First off, rather than hiring inexperienced or non-committed individuals, we employ established professionals who are seeking career longevity and success. They are dedicated, experienced, mature and motivated. Here’s the evidence:

  • They are 42 years old on average and have a typical tenure of more than 4.5 years.
  • Almost 80 percent are full-time employees and two-thirds are a family’s main provider.
  • There are performance-based compensation opportunities, resulting in inspired and professional employees.

Furthermore, Communicators undergo meticulous, client-specific training so they become brand experts by the time training ends. And based on the Communicators’ passions, we are able to match them with their areas of interest, such as our customer care, political,  or nonprofit divisions. In addition, calls will be channeled to the most knowledgeable Communicators for specific inquiries because first call resolution, along with quality of customer service, are our top priorities.

We hope that your fast-paced business will consider taking advantage of our professional Communicators to ensure that customers and donors leave every call with a positive view of your enterprise. Click here to explore more.

Are All Your Departments Working Together?

Using a Band-Aid to cover up recurring issues and inquiries simply won’t cut it anymore in customer service. Today’s contact centers need to do more—and it all starts by collecting customer service feedback. Such input can be used to improve existing processes across an entire company, thereby driving contact center services ROI.

For instance, if feedback reveals that there’s a consistent mistake in the billing department and customers are calling about it repeatedly, then the contact center needs to recognize this trend and alert the necessary personnel. In many ways the contact center can serve as the gatekeeper for customer sentiment, helping to educate other divisions about ways they can do their jobs more effectively and remedy common customer issues.

To enable the contact center to hold such a role, companies ought to invest in a state-of-the-art call center solution that can aggregate and decipher data, making it easier to address problems in real-time, or close to it. After all, if you don’t invest in the latest technology, customers might not return; in fact, 86 percent of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience according to a CEI survey.

So how can you make sure your contact center is looping in other departments, working together to ensure that consumers get the quality of customer service they demand? Let’s took a look at a two critical ingredients to making sure all of your divisions are rowing in the same direction:

Program Reports: The more information captured from callers, including their common complaints and queries, the easier it is for departments like billing or product development to make adjustments and course correct. For example, InfoCision offers numerous standard reports that analyze crucial aspects of a call center program. These reports look at customer information updates, fulfillment activity, agent-call distribution, call disposition, sales analysis and more. If there’s a common thread through these reports—for example, if customers repeatedly say their packages are not arriving in time for the holidays—then the contact center is able to loop in the delivery department, which can investigate the issue and resolve it quickly, instead of weeks or months down the road.

Customizable Solutions: With flexible software, your contact center can create comprehensive customer profiles with information that is important for your company. For instance, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution, such as InfoCision’s Inscription, will better serve your customers’ needs by tracking and recording interactions. Sales personnel and C-level executives can utilize this data to pinpoint ongoing customer trends and identify growth opportunities. For instance, your CRM adds value to every single call when your agents end interactions by asking customers what issues the company should focus on for the remainder of the year. Based on those responses, reps can gather the information with the state-of-the-art software and relay it to the correct department.

Interested in learning more about improving your contact center services ROI? Check out InfoCision’s call center solutions today!

Are You Protecting Your Contact Center Investment?

As an executive, you are quite familiar with resource management. When you earmark your company’s hard-earned money for a project or purchase, you expect to see a return on that investment. When you hire a new employee, you expect that individual to produce results.

When it comes to the contact center, however, many decision-makers simply aren’t as demanding as they are with other aspects of their business. But those companies not taking advantage of potential contact center services ROI are missing major opportunities because today’s customer service Communicators can boost revenue—if they have the right tools.

In the past, customers generally called the contact center to ask a question or lodge a complaint, but many contemporary consumers reach out for product information or may even be interested in making a purchase. The key to taking advantage of these opportunities is making sure representatives either have the answers to questions at their fingertips or the means to quickly get the call to somebody who can help. Today’s best-in-class contact center vendors have the technology to give Communicators what they need, including:

  • Skills-based routing, which ensures the most complex calls are handled by the best agents and inquiries about billing or product development go to the appropriate personnel.
  • Customer relationship management that includes customer profiles, screen pops and custom scripts for various scenarios, providing the Communicator with the information he or she needs to get maximum value out of every call.
  • Call blending that boosts productivity by allowing Communicators to make outbound calls when inbound activity dips.

If you make the commitment to maintaining a contact center—on your own or partnering with a multi-channel marketing partner—it just makes good business sense to protect and maximize that investment. No executive likes to pass up the opportunity to increase revenue, and with the right technology in your contact center, there’s no reason you have to.

Going Back to School on Contact Center Best Practices

With autumn around the corner, students across the country have grabbed their backpacks and headed back to school for a new year of learning.

For the first few weeks of the school year teachers will review old material to ensure students remember what they learned last year before they move ahead to new topics. In that spirit, we decided that a refresher course on best practices for generating greater contact center services ROI would be a good idea. So let’s start the review!

Have the Right People Answering Calls

Hiring inexperienced or undertrained contact center employees may save you a little money upfront, but in the long run it’s almost certainly going to negatively impact your bottom line. Cultivating relationships with customers and putting them at ease on calls requires an acquired skill set that takes a combination of robust training and work experience. That is why InfoCision works harder to ensure our Communicators are as well prepared as possible to speak to customers. Our contact center workers:

  • Have an average age of over 40 years; an average tenure of more than 4.5 years; and 78 percent are full-time employees
  • Receive up to four months of client-specific training and are brand experts by the time training is complete
  • Are provided the opportunity to earn performance-based compensation and, as such, are committed to the highest level of professionalism

Take a Multichannel Approach 

The ability to gather and analyze large quantities of information is quickly becoming a prerequisite for contact center success. Trying to provide customers with great service—and take advantage of possible opportunities for cross-selling and upselling—without big data analytics today is akin to stumbling around in the dark. Although it may seem like an overwhelming task, a multichannel marketing partner like InfoCision is equipped with the technology and know-how to sort through the noise and pull out actionable data from the mountain of information contact center interactions create.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

We hope you’ve enjoyed our brief trip back to the contact center classroom! To find out more about what InfoCision can offer your business, please contact us.  Your company may make a fantastic product or offer a great service that customers love, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that running a contact center is one of your core competencies. Trying to learn how to operate a contact center on the fly or simply “winging it” is not a good idea, just as another company trying to replicate your business model without the necessary expertise would likely end in failure. InfoCision has decades of expertise in customer service and multichannel marketing and can help you establish a first-class contact center.

Embrace Big Data Analytics

Today’s customers expect to be able to reach your company through email, phone calls, social media, direct mail and every other channel known to man. That is an expectation your organization must meet, unless you’re willing to risk losing these consumers to competitors that offer multichannel service. Customer service and marketing are evolving, and the only two options a business has are to adapt or struggle mightily.

 

Happy Employees: The Underrated Business Key

A positive work environment filled with happy employees makes going to work every day a much more pleasant experience. But what some business owners may not know is that happy, more fulfilled workers are also more productive.

The proof is in the numbers: revenue for Fortune’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For” increased by an average of 22.2 percent last year. So, how can companies create happy workers? Here are a few of the best ways:

Help with work-life balance

Providing employees with a work-life balance helps ease employee stress, particularly in a highly pressurized environment like the contact center. Communicators like to feel cared for by their employer, and when they do, businesses tend to see improved contact center ROI. Companies can help foster that feeling amongst their employees with benefits like:

  • Wellness programs
  • On-site childcare
  • On-site fitness centers

Reward excellence

Acknowledgement of a job well done is often an extremely meaningful experience for an employee. Offering rewards and recognition for employees who achieve at a high level not only makes that individual feel appreciated, but it also inspires other workers to step up their game.

Always keep the office door open

Employees find comfort knowing they can talk to their superiors about issues in the office or non-work-related issues. Open dialogue is critical to creating an atmosphere where workers feel comfortable speaking their minds. Honest, accurate feedback is always the best way to improve operations, but if employees don’t feel safe expressing opinions, making those improvements becomes much more difficult.

Of course, these are just a few of the ways businesses can help create a culture of happiness. As every company is different, the most important thing is not the specific approach a company takes but rather that it truly values employees. With a win-win for employers and employees, everyone is happy.

Contact Center ROI in the 21st Century

Perhaps the three most sought-after—and often elusive—letters in business are ROI. Companies are constantly on the lookout for ways to increase investments they make in any aspect of their business, and the contact center is certainly no different.

After years of feeling around in the dark for solutions that drive contact center ROI, businesses finally have access to evidence-based strategies that have been proven to work. In other words, companies willing to move their contact center operations into the 21st century stand to boost their bottom lines.

For example, according to a recent study by research firm McKinsey, better marketing analytics can increase returns by 10-20 percent. Companies that use business intelligence organizations can drill down on what specific tactics work for different demographics and achieve one-to-one marketing for each individual prospect or existing customer.

End-to-end customer relationship management (CRM) is also a “must-have” for businesses looking to boost returns in the contact center. With software that tracks customer information and interaction history, contact centers can increase efficiency, boost revenue and cut costs in a number of ways, including:

  • Reducing hold times, thus allowing Communicators to handle more calls
  • Identifying new sales opportunities that help generate more revenue
  • Creating customized scripts and best practices that help foster great customer relationships

In today’s multichannel environment, more is expected from the contact center than ever before. Facilities are tasked with providing top-of-the-line customer service, closing sales, compiling and analyzing information and more. Fortunately, for contact center managers feeling the pressure of expectations, taking on a multichannel marketing partner can provide the tools necessary to send ROI soaring.

So, is your company’s contact center ready to fly?

Three Keys to Contact Center ROI Success

If your contact center has been simply plodding along operating at an adequate but monotonous level, perhaps it’s time to re-examine your approach. Every organization would like to generate a greater contact center ROI, driven by hard statistics like the one from a CEI survey stating that 86 percent of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience.

But if building or expanding these customer communication hubs isn’t one of your core competencies, you may be struggling with exactly how to create those experiences. Fortunately, at InfoCision, we’ve been helping businesses maximize their return on contact centers for over 30 years. Here are our “must-haves” for organizations looking to start on the road towards ROI success:

Customizable solutions

A once-size-fits-all approach is generally not a good idea for any aspect of business, and the same holds true for contact centers. With flexible software like InfoCision’s proprietary CRM solution “Inscription,” your contact center can create comprehensive customer profiles consisting of only the information you deem important for your Communicators. You can also create a script that relays a specific brand message and tweak that message on the fly as circumstances dictate.

Ability to fine tune processes

At InfoCision, we believe in testing contact center and telemarketing strategies before they go live on a full-scale basis. We test the program step by step in a controlled environment, making improvements based first and foremost on results. Only once results are optimized in a controlled setting do we roll out in full.

Ongoing Quality Assurance (QA)

Establishing quality is only the beginning for contact center success. A multi-tiered approach to QA ensures that everyone from managers to expert Communicators to trainees do everything possible to keep customer service at the highest levels. Additionally, an independent group of QA professionals is critical as an outside, objective observer and brings added, much-needed perspective.

Click here to learn start boosting your contact center ROI with help from InfoCision.

How a One Stop Shop Contact Center Solutions Provider Can Help Maximize ROI

For years, contact centers consisted primarily of agents who fielded incoming calls and did their best to resolve customer inquiries or concerns. As contact center managers are well aware, however, businesses today are expected to interact with customers through a variety of channels, both for inbound and outbound communications.

In other words, the contact center is changing. Your business needs to keep up to ensure both operational and financial sustainability, and that means maximizing the return on investment (ROI) of your contact center services. Fortunately, there are comprehensive solutions available to help companies do just this.

So, what kinds of solutions are at business owners’ disposals? The kinds offered by a one stop shop contact center technology vendor that help streamline operations. That’s because these types of solutions free businesses from the hassle of relying on several different providers for the capabilities they need. A comprehensive suite of contact center solutions offered by an all-inclusive vendor enables you to capitalize on your business’ strengths and close the gaps on any potential areas of weakness.

For example, if you know that self-service is going to be a huge 2014 initiative of yours, you can optimize for interactive voice response (IVR) over in-person consulting without a hitch. After all, almost half of companies currently offering Web or mobile self-service reported an increase in site traffic and reduced phone inquiries, according to research from CRM Magazine. Perhaps you want to improve your own site traffic; with a one-stop-shop vendor that offers everything your call center could need, that’s never a problem.

A comprehensive, fully baked solution also helps improve the return on investment of your agents’ time. Consider the following:

Faster Resolution Rates: We’ve all been caught in the tangled web of call center transfers. Think back on the experience yourself: did it make you want to stick with the company or ditch it? In fact, 26 percent of consumers have experienced being transferred between agents without any resolution of their problem, according to the 2012 Global Customer Service Barometer. In an age of instant gratification, a faster resolution rate is an absolute must and is an outcome afforded by a vendor who offers a plethora of contact channels for use.

Happier Agents:  A recent study commissioned by WhitePages found that 60 percent of contact center managers feel they are unable to deliver actionable customer service information to agents due to data overload and a lack of focus on customer satisfaction. This lack of focus will do everything but motivate your agents. And, according to ICMI’s 2013 Multichannel Agent Report, 85 percent of contact centers believe that happy agents make happy customers. Bridge this gap by not only providing next-generation multichannel contact center services, but effectively training your agents with the right tools and strategies to optimally use them. Taking both of these steps is what will ultimately yield higher ROI of your contact center services.

Contact center ROI is no joking matter. If your company isn’t keeping up, it’s slipping farther behind in the game. What’s your plan of attack?