Tips For Building Trust With Your Customers

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

“If people like you they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you they’ll do business with you.”— Zig Ziglar

I’ll never forget the time that I received an account statement in the mail from a company, and noticed a discrepancy in its billing policy. The company had made a rate adjustment, and failed to notify me of the change.

Suffice to say, I was not happy about this. But my anger was less focused on the rate adjustment, and more on the fact that the company failed to contact me in any way about the change. My initial response was to pick up the phone and immediately call customer support for an explanation.

The issue was eventually resolved. But as time went on, I couldn’t shake the lingering doubt in my mind about the organization I was doing business with. Eventually, I decided to take my business elsewhere.

Part of why this feels so bad to a customer is that customers are used to being held to the strictest standards about billing and usage policies. For some businesses, services will cease when customer payments stop. So when customers do everything they are supposed to, and the company lets them down, it’s setting a double standard. You can’t punish a customer for failing to do something, and then do the same thing back.

What can you to do build trust with your customers in your contact center?

Here are some tips:

Protect your data: In one study, 76 percent of customers reported they would take their business elsewhere due to negligent data handling practices. As such, companies need to do everything in their power to prevent data leaks from happening. Around-the-clock network monitoring, cutting-edge cloud security tools and expert IT workers are all necessary for preventing cybersecurity issues.

Always keep promises: Sales associates and marketers tend to have a reputation for making exaggerated offerings to customers. To prevent this from happening, all sales and marketing assets should be reviewed by management and possibly even legal for accuracy and compliance. And all customer communications should be spot-checked to ensure that agents are making appropriate offers.

Always ask for input: One of the best ways to show customers that you care about them is to ask them for input about your company, its products and its services. By allowing the customer to give back, it shows that you value their opinion and are actively striving to make the customer better. It may seem like a small step, but it’s an important one.

Outsource: Sometimes, the easiest way to do something is to hire a company that specializes in providing that service. By outsourcing your contact center operations to a third party provider like InfoCision, you can rest assured knowing that your customers are in good hands with expert agents who are using the best technologies on the market.

To learn more about InfoCision, click here.  

 

What Happens After You Outsource Content?

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Outsourcing a major part of your business like your contact center is a big undertaking. You will experience a big shift in the way your company operates, and possibly in your day to day schedule. So it’s important to have a roadmap planned to guide you through the process and make sure everything goes according to plan. Outsourcing projects, after all, can pick up steam very quickly.

At this point, let’s assume that your contact center outsourcing project is well underway. Your customer service team has long been notified about the change and re-allocated, and operations have been handed over to your new contact center solutions provider.

Here’s what you should do next:

Re-assess your service level agreement (SLA): If there is one thing we can’t stress enough, it’s making sure that your team has a solid understanding of the services it will receive from the contact center provider. As such, it’s important to take another look at your agreement even after it is finalized. You may notice some small mistakes in the contract that slipped through during negotiations, or important details regarding uptime and maintenance. Now is the time for team members to submit questions and resolve issues before the project continues. Some contracts, it should be noted, come with a temporary exit window.

Wipe your infrastructure: Your former contact center may have a lot of hardware sitting around, and some of it may contain sensitive customer data. Before you reassign or sell these machines to a third party reseller, make sure your IT department wipes all of the data from them. Otherwise, customer data could fall into the wrong hands — and you may not know it. Oftentimes, companies who rush to throw out their hardware suffer from data breaches months or years after getting rid of their equipment. Taking this simple step could save a great deal of trouble down the road.

Set up a meeting to discuss strategy: Contact your new customer service team, and introduce yourself. During this meeting, you’ll want to focus on forming a long-term donor outreach plan, customer service goals and basic program expectations. Let the team know that you want to be kept in the loop with reports and possibly even regular calls. Communication is one of the most important parts of outsourcing, and a strong contact center solutions provider will make it easy to keep you updated and informed.

Begin your new journey: Now it’s time to think about yourself for a moment. By outsourcing content, you will clear more room in your schedule to devote to higher-level customer related tasks. Are there any new projects that you have been looking to take on?

Do you have any questions about outsourcing? Click here.

Revolutionize Your Contact Center This Summer

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

It’s July, which means freedom is in the air here in America. As a customer service administrator, though, it can be hard to think about freedom when you are bogged down managing a contact center that is struggling to meet its cost, operational and performance goals. Instead, you may be feeling trapped — and helpless.

Why do contact centers fail? Oftentimes, it’s due to one or more of the following issues:

High Costs: It’s not much fun having to pinch pennies in the contact center, but this is the reality for many organizations. Contact centers can be very expensive to operate, when factoring in the cost of hiring and overhead, as well as capital and operational expenses for hardware and software. Next to the data center, the contact center is arguably the most expensive part of a company, but has the opportunity to act as the highest revenue-generating aspect.

Heavy turnover: Heavy turnover remains a top challenge for contact centers, with the overall industry average hovering between 30 and 45 percent. Many people see high turnover as normal, when in fact it can be controlled. It doesn’t have to be an expensive and time-consuming ordeal.

Unreliable networks: The contact center is responsible for many different business processes, from outbound sales to customer support and issue resolution. When goes wrong in the contact center, like a network or power outage, it can bring progress to a standstill and directly impact the bottom line — especially if you lack real-time network troubleshooting tools.

Legal complications: Contact centers that lack on-site legal professionals are more likely to make mistakes during outbound campaigns and when solving customer issues. Mistakes can lead to costly Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) violations, which can come back to haunt you years later.

Poor planning: Fundraisers need to be carefully planned and executed using refined data. Organizations that attempt to rush into fundraisers without a carefully executive strategy are much more likely to fail.

Here’s some good news, though:

You don’t have to fix all of your contact center’s problems by yourself. You can outsource your department, just like any other business process, to contact center solutions provider like InfoCision — saving you the trouble of having to conduct a massive, in-house overhaul while also guaranteeing improved results.

A contact center solutions provider will streamline every aspect of customer service. You won’t have to worry about things like hiring agents, purchasing or maintaining infrastructure or digging through the weeds with legal issues.

Plus, you may be in a position to downsize your company’s office space and save money on rent. So there are additional ways of saving money.

Ultimately, nothing will change until you take action. To learn more about how InfoCision can revolutionize your contact center, click here.

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.