The Phone is Still Vital for Your Business

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 increase satisfaction and loyalty.

The take-away: Understand that voice communication, done well, is vital to your brand’s success and will be the distinguishing factor between your brand and its competitors. 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

Key Takeaways from Deloitte Global Contact Center Study

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.

 

1.Customer Experience

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.

 

3.Talent

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.”

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.

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.

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.

 

 

 

What’s the Best Way to Scale Your Contact Center?

As a small to medium-sized business, customer service is not a top concern for you right now. All of your customers are being managed by an in-house contact center, which seems to be getting the job done pretty effectively.

There’s just one issue: Your contact center has limitations. And right now, it’s not capable of scaling with your rapidly-growing organization.

Just think what will happen if you…

  • Double in size in a short amount of time;
  • Go viral and become visible to millions of new potential customers;
  • Experience a PR issue;

Any one of these events could cause a massive spike in customer traffic, taxing all of your critical customer-facing infrastructure — from your customer database to your phone lines to your agents who answer phones and email.

For this reason, it’s time to start thinking about contact center scalability before you run into an unexpected issue and realize you don’t have the right pieces in place to handle the influx in traffic.

One of the most affordable and effective ways to scale your contact center is to outsource operations to a third party provider offering flexible, hosted infrastructure and premium customer service agents. In doing so, you will be able to scale up—or down—as needed without spending excessive amounts of money. Outsourcing is a widely-adopted practice used by organizations large and small.

From a scalability perspective, here are some of the top benefits to outsourcing your contact center to a third party provider:

Business continuity: Once your business grows to a considerable size, customer interactions will be constant. You will receive incoming emails, phone calls and chat messages around the clock. So it’s vital to work with a provider that can ensure business continuity and disaster recovery, so that you can avoid unnecessary downtime. Downtime is terrible for customer service, and can be very expensive.

On demand capacity: Third party contact center solutions providers can offer flexible network capacity, ensuring that you have enough storage and bandwidth to accommodate all of your customers. The last thing you want to do is experience a capacity pinch.

Shorter wait times: When contact centers lack the necessary infrastructure and support, call queues can back up resulting in longer wait times and unhappy customers. This can frustrate customers, and cause them to look elsewhere for support. By outsourcing your contact center, you can always have the right number of agents in place to handle incoming calls and give customers the attention they demand.

Remember that in business sometimes you have to make strategic decisions before issues arise. Instead of getting blindsided by a lack of capacity, consider being proactive and outsource your contact center to a dedicated third party solutions provider.

Using Influencer Marketing to Generate Sales

Right now, your company is most likely taking a traditional approach to sales by targeting large groups of people at a time. For instance, you may decide that you want to sell to college students. So, you collect data and use it to shape your digital and marketing initiatives in hopes of attracting unique buyers.

Here’s the problem, though: This strategy doesn’t always work. In fact, many businesses today are failing in their marketing efforts due to a lack of visibility and transparency. What’s more, traditional advertising is a thing of the past. Consumers don’t respond to posters and billboards like they used to, and now they are aware of the content marketing game too.

If you want proof, just take a look at the last article you posted on LinkedIn. Sure, it may have gotten a few likes or comments. But did it actually drive any sales? We’re willing to bet that it didn’t.

Another approach is needed, and now many businesses are embracing a strategy called influencer marketing which is a fundamentally different concept from what most companies have been using.

Influencer marketing works by targeting influential people with large groups of online followers, and rewarding them for promoting your products. For example, think of a YouTube celebrity with 2 million followers. That person may choose to wear a designer shirt, which then exposes the product to all of his or her followers. In doing so, the influencer acts as a sales associate whether or not they know it — especially if they drive large volumes of sales.

A major reason why influencer marketing works is because it’s based on trust. Consumers, in other words, naturally trust brand influencers. If it’s done correctly, influencer marketing does not come across as advertising but rather sharing. Consumers naturally gravitate to products that they trust, and when they see them being used in a real life setting, it amplifies the products and makes them seem desirable.

That’s not saying that you have to abandon your traditional marketing strategy. After all, influencer marketing is still relatively new and has its share of challenges. Right now, for instance, companies are struggling to track, monitor and reward brand influencers. It’s a developing industry where there is still a lot of room for growth and innovation.

The best way to use influencer marketing, therefore, is to deploy it alongside your existing campaigns. It’s all about taking a multi-faceted approach and finding out what works for your brand.

Instead of trying influencer marketing on your own, it helps to have the assistance of a third party contact solutions provider to manage the operation for you and guarantee strong results.