Top Contact Center Technologies to Know About

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Technology procurement can be one of the hardest parts about running a contact center. With so many solutions to consider — from least cost routing (LCR) to workforce management — it’s not always easy to cut through the noise and understand what your facility should actually be using.

There’s no room for guesswork when signing contact center service agreements, though, as the decisions you make will directly impact the performance and stability of your department. Invest in a low budget, cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution, for instance, and everything from agent productivity and happiness to customer satisfaction could be negatively impacted.

For this reason, it helps to partner with a contact center solutions provider that understands the complexities of the market, for sound advice about purchasing.

Here are some technologies that we have been recommending to customers recently:

Artificial intelligence (AI):  AI — or the ability for a machine to mimic human thought — is now being used for a variety of purposes in the contact center. For instance, AI can predict things like whether a new lead will turn into customer, and how an agent should go about contacting him or her with an offer. And on the agent side, AI is also being used to analyze customer interactions. It provides agents with direct feedback about variables like the speed, pitch and tone of their voice — and whether they are connecting effectively with customers.

AI is one of the most exciting technologies in business today, and more and more businesses are using it. According to a new study, 45 percent of retailers plan to add AI in order to enhance the customer experience.

Chatbots:  You can’t mention AI without mentioning chatbots, which are automated messengers that use AI to process user queries and respond intelligently in near real-time. Right now, chatbots are most commonly used in website live chat boxes and automated text messaging applications. Chatbots are easy to build, highly reliable and capable of working alongside agents in the contact center.

Knowledge management: Put yourself in your customer’s shoes for a moment, and imagine that you have a question about your company. You look online, but the answer is nowhere to be found. What do you do? You either pick up the phone and ask for an agent (which takes extra time) or you search for the answer on Google (which could lead you to another provider). To avoid these pitfalls, many companies are now setting up knowledge bases on their websites that serve as libraries for customers to access information. This is an example of self service, another big buzzword in the contact center industry today. The great part about knowledge bases are that they are easy to set up and manage, and they don’t cost much.

Do you have questions about contact center technologies? We’re here to help. To contact InfoCision, click here.

How Is Your Business Performing? Look to the Contact Center for Answers

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Here is a question to ask: Why do companies use contact centers?

Most people would answer by saying that the contact center is a place for generating customer growth and retention. And this is absolutely correct. But it’s not all that the contact center is good for.

The contact center is also provides a direct window in the overall customer experience. It’s a place where customers can go to:

Openly vent: Let’s face it: Customers get mad sometimes, especially about issues like billing, late deliveries or quality of service. And for people who don’t like to openly post on social media, the contact center serves as a nice outlet to let their emotions out.

Instead of getting downtrodden about negative customer interactions, though, look at it from a different perspective. Sometimes, customers are right — and when they are, their advice should be taken just as seriously as someone sitting on the company board. After all, if one customer recognizes something that needs to be changed, chances are hundreds or thousands of other customers do, too.

Share ideas: To that point, consider the fact that while you may only have a handful of employees in your research and development (R&D) department, you have many more customers who are actively thinking about your company on a daily basis.

Customers, in other words, don’t always call into the contact center with complaints. You can learn a remarkable amount of insight about how they are interacting with your products and services just by listening to their call recordings. So it’s helpful to have agents stay on the lookout for creative use cases, and ideas that could spur innovation and please customers at the same time. When these opportunities arise, they should be passed along for consideration. It won’t hurt to listen.

Become brand advocates: There is a big difference between being excited about a brand, and being a brand advocate — or, essentially, a public super fan of a company. For most customers, though, there needs to be a catalyst that transforms them from a loyal customer into a brand advocate. And that catalyst could be something as simple as a positive customer service experience that takes place in the contact center.

Customers in this “tier” are as good as gold for a company, as they will openly share their experiences with others. If you go out of your way to make them happy, you could turn them into a brand advocate in the process and gain more unique customers.

As you can see, contact centers can serve many different purposes. To learn more about how InfoCision can help make the most out of your contact center, click here.

Three Creative Ways to Maintain Donor Interest Throughout the Year

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Imagine you are trying to grow a garden in your back yard. You would have to spend a fair amount of time watering, weeding and feeding the plants in order to reap a bountiful harvest. You can’t just leave a garden unattended for several months and expect to have a positive outcome.

The same thing is true when maintaining a pool of financial donors. It requires a great deal of ongoing maintenance.

This is true for a few different reasons. First and foremost, there will be other organizations vying for your donors’ contributions throughout the year. So if you want to stay at the top of their list, you need to hold their interest. Always remember, too: In fundraising, as with investing, past performance is no guarantee of future results. A donor may be extremely generous one year, and equally as conservative the next. You never want to assume anything before heading into a fundraising campaign.

So, what can you do to improve your chances of success?

The trick is to keep supporters interested and thinking about your brand in between fundraising campaigns. By strategically reminding them what it is they love about your company, you can turn the process of making a financial contribution into a voluntary task that the donor simply needs to be reminded of, rather than something he or she needs to be convinced to do on the phone.

Here are some creative ways that you can maintain donor interest throughout the year:

Host small events: Donors may be more inclined to contribute to a fundraiser if they feel socially connected to the cause. Strengthen these social bonds by hosting small, fun events like dinner-dances, group trips to local sporting events or even a 5k road race.

When it comes time to take donations, you could also consider using a social network like Venmo, where donors can make their contributions public if they choose to do so. This could help build momentum.

Send small care packages: Everyone loves receiving personalized snail mail (especially when it’s something other than a bill). Try sending a small, but useful gift that your donors will continuously use so that they will always be reminded about your brand. You can never go wrong by sending things like caps, t-shirts and pens — all of which are relatively inexpensive if you buy them in bulk.

Distribute targeted content: One of the most cost-effective and useful ways of sparking donor interest is to send targeted creative content in the form of newsletters, email blasts, snail mail and social content. In doing so, make sure to minimize content that feels overly-promotional and instead focus on issues that really matter to your donors. For instance, a non-profit that is trying to end hunger may share stories of the people that are directly benefitting from donor contributions.

So think outside the box! By trying these strategies, you could lay the groundwork for a very successful fundraising campaign.

Five Things You Will Find in Every Winning Contact Center

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

I once had a conversation with an athlete about the difference between playing for a winning and losing organization. What he said stuck with me.

He explained that when you’re in a losing environment, where your organization isn’t doing well, it’s easy to get negative about things. Teams, he said, can forget what it’s like to win. And when this happens, it’s hard to reverse the momentum. The only thing that helps is a victory.

Businesses are especially vulnerable to this pitfall. When profits are down, tensions tend to run higher and employee performance can be negatively affected. For this reason, it’s very important to keep an eye on morale.

Of course, if your team has been down for a while you may have forgotten what it’s like to be immersed in a winning environment. So here are five things you will find in every successful contact center:

  1. Strong leadership: Contact centers are fast-paced, noisy and complex. They require a great deal of communication and organization. Without structure, a contact center is doomed. And for this reason, it’s important to have not just one, but an entire team of leaders on staff.
  2. Data-driven strategy: Data is like GPS navigation system for a contact center. Use it. Rely on it. The right data, if properly analyzed and interpreted, can help identify trends and opportunities that would otherwise go unrecognized.
  3. Strong legal advice: Data centers are under tighter scrutiny than ever before when it comes to legal compliance. There is no room for guesswork when planning an outbound campaign, as mistakes could lead to heavy fines and penalties.
  4. Teamwork: If agents are coming to work in the morning, putting on their headsets and checking out, something is wrong. Agents need to feel comfortable talking with each other and working through problems, so that they can resolve them efficiently when customers are waiting for answers. Teamwork is also critical for building short and long term outbound strategies.
  5. Communication: Imagine being on the phone with a prospective financial donor, and learning that he or she is a huge baseball fan. This is the type of detail that needs to be entered into a repository, and shared with other team members. Even the smallest details can go a long way in helping to understand and connect with customers.

If you’re ready to turn things around in your contact center, here’s some good news: It’s as easy as making a smart business decision and outsourcing to a contact center solutions provider like InfoCision.

To learn more about InfoCision, click here.

Top Threats Facing Contact Centers Today

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

For many customer service administrators, cybersecurity is still somewhat of a new concept. That’s because in the past, before cybercrime became a major problem, it was primarily a job reserved for data center managers. The average customer service manager had little to worry about in terms of threats beyond small-scale computer viruses.

This has changed over the last several years, though, as cybercrime has evolved into one of the top existential threats that businesses are now facing.

As a result, we are seeing a noticeable shift in how enterprises are handling cybersecurity. All of a sudden, cybersecurity is everyone’s problem — especially in the contact center, which is a magnet for criminal activity.  In fact, Gartner recently referred to the contact center as a common “weak link” in enterprise security which is terrifying when considering the range of sensitive customer data that is typically harbored there.

Here are three of the top threats facing contact centers today:

  1. Social engineering: According to Pindrop, contact center fraud increased by more than 45 percent between 2013 and 2016. Ironically, this is due to increased security and payment cards and other channels. Criminals are now resorting to social engineering to carry out their plans. Researchers claim that a contact center that receives 40 million calls per year can expect to lose between $17 million and $27 million in fraudulent transactions annually.
  2. Insider threats: The larger the contact center, the more agents will be handling sensitive account information. It can be much harder for managers in this type of environment to check in on agents and make sure they are following the rules regarding data management. And sometimes, the most trustworthy employees are the ones that can cause the most damage. What’s more, insider threats are responsible for 43 percent of data breaches.
  3. System vulnerabilities: You don’t have to be using the latest and greatest software in your contact center to achieve great results. However, it’s very important that you are using software that is at least up to date with the latest security patches and updates. And all contact center infrastructure — whether it’s stored on-site or in a hosted cloud, needs to be actively monitored for intruders. Keep in mind that 98 percent of WannaCry ransomware victims were running Windows 7 systems. And many are believed to be bootleg versions that lacked proper security updates.

InfoCision goes above and beyond to protect customer accounts. We use high quality network monitoring to protect against malevolent threats and inside agents. And our teams are purposely kept small, so that we know who is handling sensitive information at all times.

By taking this approach, we are able to offer all customers superior contact center security.

To learn more about InfoCision, click here.

Five Ways InfoCision Can Make Your Life Easier

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

As a customer service administrator, you have one primary job: To ensure that your business’s customers are happy and loyal to your brand.

While the contact center is the best tool that you have for maintaining strong customer relations, the fact is that it can be very difficult to manage. In fact, it can act as a barrier to success if not carefully maintained.

For this reason, more and more customer service administrators are outsourcing their customer service operations to contact center solutions providers like InfoCision.

Here are five ways that InfoCision can make your life easier:

  1. Guaranteed results: Right now, you are responsible for making the tough decisions in your contact center. You have the final say, for instance, when hiring new agents and developing new strategies. It’s a lot of responsibility to carry on your shoulders, especially with no way of guaranteeing strong results. With InfoCision, though, you will receive a service level agreement (SLA) backed performance guarantee. Take the pressure to perform off of your team, and put it on InfoCision!
  2. Happier donors: Right now your agents are struggling to keep your financial donors happy, and contributing to your cause. As a result, your agents may be pressing a bit and alienating some of your biggest donors. InfoCision’s high quality Communicators specialize in maintaining excellent donor relations, while also driving results during campaigns.
  3. Less strain on IT: Uptime, stability and security are all critical in the contact center. Just a few minutes of downtime, after all, can lead to major losses in productivity and it can also make things very difficult for customers who need speedy resolutions. By outsourcing your contact center to InfoCision, you will make things easier for the IT —enabling them to devote more time to other areas of the business.
  4. The latest software: Contact centers today require the latest technologies to run at a high level. InfoCision’s contact centers are stocked with the latest hardware and software, and best of all you don’t have to shop for it or negotiate with vendors. We do all of the heavy lifting for you. InfoCision will even maintain this infrastructure in our own facility.
  5. Worry-free legal compliance: There is no room for guesswork when reaching out to customers. There are many laws and regulations governing how businesses are allowed to communicate their products and services, and they can be confusing. InfoCision provides access to a strong team of legal experts who ensure that all work is done in a way that aligns with local and federal laws.

So as you can see, outsourcing to InfoCision makes a lot of sense. Your contact center will gain access to the critical resources that it needs, and your life will get much easier in the process.

To get started, click here.

 

IVR Is Only Helpful When It Works Properly

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Self service is now a major buzzword in the enterprise communications space. It’s become widely accepted that customers should have the ability to resolve issues on their own when they want, instead of being forced to speak with a live agent over the phone.

By offering self service, contact center administrators can save money on monthly telecommunications expenses while also improving the overall customer experience (CX).

One of the most commonly-used self service technologies is interactive voice response (IVR), or auto attendants. Since the early 1980s, businesses have been using IVR to greet customers over the phone and direct them to their in-call destinations. IVR is commonly used for tasks like checking account balances, making payments and updating contact information.

There’s just one problem, though: Many businesses are now using outdated, inefficient and buggy IVR systems that do more harm than good for callers. Under-performing IVR systems can be very frustrating for customers, as they can serve as a barrier to service rather than an enabler.

So if your business is using an IVR to greet callers, make sure to take the following precautions:

Keep live operators on standby: Some questions simply cannot be answered by an automated attendant, and require the help of a live operator. To a customer, there’s nothing more frustrating than continuously pressing the “0” button to speak with a live agent, only to be denied the ability. Always have a live agent on standby to step in and help when he or she is needed.

Offer multiple self service options: IVR, like any technology, is not perfect. It will occasionally break, and require maintenance. It’s also not ideal for some customers with disabilities, who may have trouble interacting with the automated system. For this reason, it’s important to offer online self service in places like live chat or frequently asked questions.

Make authentication easier: Customer authentication is a big deal right now, as contact center fraud is skyrocketing. Many businesses, though, are still authenticating customers using traditional methods like personal identification numbers (PINs), passwords and Social Security numbers. Instead, companies should consider using advanced — and simplified— authentication technologies like voice biometrics which allow customers to log in with the sound of their own voice.

One more thing to keep in mind is the scripts you are using to greet customers. Contact center administrators should have the ability to quickly and easily update IVR scripts as needed, in order to respond to events and provide updates for customers.

By working with InfoCision, you can rest assured that your company’s IVR system will always be in top working condition. We offer access to premium self-service technologies, for guaranteed customer satisfaction.

It’s Never Too Late to Turn Your Customer Service Strategy Around

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

I often speak with executives who are caught between a rock and a hard place trying to improve their company’s customer service strategy. While most business leaders today recognize the importance of being customer-centric, the fact is that it can be very difficult for a company to change its reputation — especially after years of neglect.

That’s because negative interactions don’t simply disappear anymore, as they did in the past. Now, customers have social media at their disposal to sound off about negative experiences. Bad reviews can easily compile and turn into baggage for a company, which can reflect terribly on the organization as a whole.

Understand, though, that while the process of repairing a brand’s reputation may be difficult, it’s not impossible. There is always an opportunity to turn things around and win back customers, regardless of what occurred in the past.

In order for this to happen, though, change needs to come from the top-down. It’s not as simple as telling agents that they need to be friendlier or more engaging, or ordering managers to crack down on performance. Instead, there needs to be a fundamental shift in how the organization views its customers. Customers should be treated like gold regardless of who they are talking to. And employees should come to work in the morning feeling great about helping customers, and wanting to go out of their way to keep them happy.

So, how can you pull your company out of its customer service rut?

If you’re serious about making your company more customer-centric, you won’t be able to do it alone. First you’ll need to drum up support within your organization. Start a customer service improvement task force, and compile evidence to build a case about how poor contact center practices are harming your organization.

Start by analyzing customer complaints, and randomly spot-checking calls and chats for quality purposes. Comb the Internet looking for feedback on consumer advocacy websites. Then, link these small details together to form a big picture overview of how customers are being treated on average.

Your next step will be to form an improvement plan that you can share with your shareholders, C-suite members and managers.

As you do so, now is a good time to consider outsourcing your customer service operations to a contact center solutions provider like InfoCision. We can help assess what is working with your current strategy, as well as what is not. Then, InfoCision will provide you with the Communicators and services that you need to provide stellar service.

Take my advice: Sometimes, the easiest way to fix a problem is to outsource it to an expert provider offering guaranteed results.

To learn more about how InfoCision can help your business, click here.

 

Three Reasons Your Last Fundraising Effort Failed

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”      Henry Ford

Let’s be honest: Your contact center’s last fundraising effort was a giant flop. And now, you’re worried that your next campaign is going to be just as big of a disaster.

It’s time to turn things around — and you can start by taking a fresh look at your previous campaign as you look for key areas that you want to improve.

Granted, there are many different areas to hone in on. Here are some possible reasons why your last fundraising effort may have failed:

  1. Poor donor cultivation: Pull up your notes, and take a look at the outreach initiatives that occurred between your most recent campaign and the prior one. Did your agents spend enough time cultivating donors by sending them things like follow-up messages containing and targeted content? If not, then it’s time to consider implementing this strategy into your next campaign. According to Google, for instance, 57 percent of people who watch a nonprofit video will proceed to make a donation.
  2. Sloppy execution: How did your agents perform over the phone when reaching out to donors? There is little room for errors such as mispronouncing names, or using the wrong tone during a call. Go back and pull up some random call recordings, analyze customer feedback, and look for some pointers to have your agents improve on moving forward. Execution is critical for success with fundraising.
  3. A lack of targeted insight: One of the biggest reasons why fundraising efforts fail is because of a lack of targeted insight. For instance, running an end-of-year sales campaign seems like a no-brainer. After all, research shows that one third of annual giving takes place in December, and 12 percent of all giving happens during the last three days of the year. But dig a bit deeper into your customer data, and you may identify additional opportunities for engagement that could be even more rewarding. At InfoCision, we have an entire team of Business Analysts, dedicated to developing the most effective data acquisition tools, allowing our clients to better pinpoint and enhance donor experiences.

Fundraisers are complicated and there are countless ways to steer the project off course. It’s beneficial to consult with an expert contact center solutions provider such as InfoCision, that specializes in developing market-driven donor outreach strategies and then executing them on-site using the latest, cutting-edge technologies and highly-qualified agents.

To learn more about InfoCision’s approach to fundraising, click here.

Who Is Communicating With Your Financial Donors?

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Meet Jack: Now 15 years out of college, Jack owns a very successful business and earns a significant income. As such, he — like many other alumni — enjoys giving back by donating money to his former school whenever he can.

The thing is, Jack is not a cash machine. He is a person, with thoughts and feelings. Like most people, Jack wants to feel appreciated and like his time and effort is making a difference for his community. The moment he feels unappreciated, his generosity is liable to cease.

As this example shows, donor relations can be a major challenge.

In other words, while all customers require exceptional care, financial donors need to be treated a bit differently. You can’t simply contact your biggest financial contributors once in a blue moon, ask for money and then stop communicating with them until the next time rolls around. The trick is to make donors feel like they are part of a larger team of contributors who are highly valued, respected and needed.

If you have been struggling with this process, you have come to the right place. InfoCision has mastered the art of donor communications. In fact, our Communicators raise more money over the telephone than any other company in the world.

Here’s why we are so successful at helping companies raise money:

We take a comprehensive approach to fundraising, by offering lifecycle programs (like acquisition, cultivation, retention and win-back), as well as inbound call handling, volunteer and event recruitment, event-based large scale telethons, full service fulfillment and direct mail.

Our donor outreach program is the best in the industry, because our team puts a massive amount of care and attention into it. So when you partner with InfoCision, you’ll get much more than a contact center solutions provider but a team of highly-trained experts who know how to drive results. And most importantly, you’ll have access to a team of strategic thinkers who will take a market-driven approach to communications.

Perhaps most importantly, InfoCision will protect your ecosystem of donors. After all, they are not infinite in numbers. You only have a certain number of people you can contact for help, and a poorly-managed campaign can cause a great deal of damage down the road if you are not careful.

InfoCision will respect your donor ecosystem, ensuring that it will keep giving back to your organization many years down the road. We will form a short term, as well as a long term plan for business growth and development.

So with this in mind, consider who is running your current donor outreach campaigns. It’s time to take a fresh approach to fundraising.

To learn more about how InfoCision can help your business, click here.