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.

 

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.

What Is a Data-Driven Marketing Strategy?

Mixpanel CEO Suhail Doshi was once quoted as saying “Most of the world will make decisions by either guessing or using their gut. They will either be lucky or wrong.”

We can apply this quote to the customer service space where many companies are still using outdated and ineffective strategies that aren’t backed by supportive data. When contact center managers lack data-driven insight, they instead rely on guesswork. This can be very risky, especially if someone is in charge who  may act impulsively or lack experience.

The truth is that this world is becoming increasingly digitalized, and there is an abundance of data that can be easily accessed and utilized in the contact center. There is no excuse for contact center administrators to be ignoring all of this easily-available information. In fact, refusing to use data could be considered an affront to your customers. They deserve the best experiences possible, and this requires using data.

A data-driven marketing strategy can be characterized as one that:

Leverages customer insight: The vast majority of businesses today are collecting information about their customers  and target audiences but aren’t using it effectively. A data-driven customer service strategy is one where information flows into the enterprise, is processed in a customer relationship management (CRM) system and shared during interactions. Your customers are giving you all the clues you need to provide great service. It’s just a matter of digging through the information and organizing it to uncover trends.

Never stagnates: The business landscape is constantly changing, and customer demands shift by the day. So often, companies will  continue doing the same things year in and year out and then wonder why they are suddenly irrelevant in their space. When you embrace data-driven strategy, you are constantly looking out for the next opportunity at hand. It’s like getting in shape. Once you start, you have to keep doing it. There is no stagnating in business!

Is forward-thinking: A robust data-driven strategy requires looking as far as you can into the future, and making important decisions to prevent problems before they happen. For instance, you may start to notice that your customer engagement is declining on a particular social channel. Using data, you can get a better sense of why that is happening and determine whether it makes sense to  go in a different marketing direction. This can save time, and prevent you from wasting resources. It can also prevent your competitors from gaining a leg up.

Here’s the tough part: Nobody is going to force your business to use data. You have to consciously make the decision to shift your strategy. It’s going to take some work, but it could be the most important thing you do for your business.

How to Win Back Customers

We often speak about the “customer journey” or the overall experience that a customer has with an organization. The customer journey starts when a customer first interacts with a brand, and continues each subsequent time.

Here’s the thing about the customer journey, though: As much as we want it to be a predictable process, the customer journey is anything but that. Customers, in other words — even loyal ones making repeat purchases — may stray to competitors and explore other brands from time to time. And there is no guarantee that they will come back.

For marketers and sales representatives it can be challenging trying to understand why customers leave — when one minute a customer seems happy, and the next they are simply gone. A customer may decide to delete his or her account, cancel a subscription or stop contributing to a fundraising campaign with little to no warning.

When this happens to one customer, it may not be that noticeable. But when it starts happening in large numbers, it can be very troubling. Understand, though, that it’s possible to win back unhappy customers and make them fall in love with your brand again.

Here are some things you can try:

Stop the bleeding: I encourage you to take a holistic approach to customer care. When problems arise, and customers are unhappy, you need to get to the root cause and fix it. Perhaps your prices are too high, or you made a recent change in a product. Or, maybe your customer service department is in need of a new retention strategy. So when a customer cancels a subscription, deletes an account or stops making repeat purchases, don’t be afraid to ask why they are unhappy with your company and what you could do to serve them more effectively. The best way to do this is through email, or even snail mail. Just make sure to always thank customers for their time and feedback.

Ask customers to come back: A few weeks or months after you send out the above-mentioned survey, don’t be afraid to send a thank you note back to the customer, letting him or her know that you have taken his or her feedback into consideration and would love to have them back. You can use this opportunity to offer incentives, too. If you don’t ask customers to come back, they may not think to do so on their own.

Don’t make the same mistakes twice: Use the information gleaned from customer surveys and online reviews to make your company better. The last thing you want to do is win a customer back, only to have him or her leave for the same reason! For instance, if a customer unsubscribes from a service because they are receiving too many emails, don’t start spamming them again. Use insight to make your brand more in tune with customers’ needs.

The Top Financial Returns You Can Expect When Outsourcing Your Contact center

The phrase “digital transformation” continues to be one of the hottest buzzwords in business right now, as organizations across all vertical markets are actively looking for ways to improve efficiencies, slash operating costs and drive stronger profits.

Digital transformation is a phrase that you commonly hear in the data center, but it’s now being applied to all areas of the enterprise — especially in the contact center space. Traditional contact centers using legacy infrastructure, after all, are extremely expensive to own and operate and many businesses today — particularly small to medium-sized organizations — are struggling to keep them up and running at a high level.

As such, a growing number of businesses are now outsourcing operations to third party contact center solutions providers. And they are experiencing strong financial returns in the process.

Here are some of the top financial returns that your business will experience by outsourcing the contact center:

Less overhead: Imagine not having to pay for things like rent, utilities and building maintenance in your contact center. A contact center solutions provider will eliminate overhead in your department, giving you extra capital to pump back into important things like research & development.

Zero CAPEX or OPEX: Another major benefit to outsourcing your contact center is that you will avoid having to continuously purchase and upgrade your infrastructure — like your agents’ machines, headsets and customer relationship management (CRM) software. Your contact center solutions provider will guarantee that you always have access to the latest and most powerful contact center hardware and software on the market, for a fraction of what it would cost you otherwise.

Fewer salaries: Contact center agents can cost a lot of money, especially when hiring large teams of them. Again, this can be easily outsourced — eliminating the hassle of having to hire and pay agents, while still benefitting from a full, and high quality, workforce. What’s more, contact centers tend to have higher turnover, which can be very expensive.

Legal protection: This is one of the biggest hidden ROI of outsourcing your contact center. Businesses tend to run into trouble with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) when performing their own customer outreach initiatives, as regulations are very complex. When businesses attempt to form their own customer outreach strategies, often they will make mistakes that can lead to costly class action lawsuits. Contact center solutions providers offer in-house legal teams, to offer guidance for customers and mitigate costly legal problems.

More satisfied customers: Ultimately, outsourcing your contact center will result in happier customers. Contact center solutions providers specialize in keeping customers satisfied and resolving their issues. So businesses can spend less money in the long run, while drastically improving their chances of generating positive service reviews, and fostering loyal customers.

Why You Should Be Selective About the Agents You Are Hiring

Art critic John Ruskin once stated that “quality is never an accident, it is always the result of an intelligent effort.”

The same thing can be said about contact centers. High quality customer service is never an accident, either. It takes a great deal of research, planning, communication and hard work to achieve success.

Hiring, for instance, is one task where it pays to take your time and be selective about your decisions. Customer service agents, after all, have a great responsibility to keep customers satisfied and making repeat purchases or donations. Also, agents are often the first touchpoint for customers when interacting with a company. First impressions are important, and can go a long way in determining how a customer feels about a company. The agents you hire will literally be the voice of your brand.

Here are some things to consider when hiring agents:

Attitude is important: You want to fill your contact center with agents who are positive, friendly and enthusiastic. Look for agents that you think will be able to show up every day genuinely happy to help customers. As you interview a candidate, pay attention to how they are able to carry on in conversation. Ask yourself if the person you are talking to is someone you would want to be interacting with your customers.

Are they hungry? For outbound communications, it’s essential to fill your contact center with team members who are hungry to drive sales and keep donors happy. Such roles should be filled with agents that have consistent track records of proven success, and a can-do attitude to grow the business and achieve amazing results. What’s more, hard-working and highly-driven individuals are great for team morale. They make others work harder, and inspire them to be better.

Teamwork is important: Many questions will arise over the course of a business day that go beyond the scope of the customer service agents and need to be escalated. It’s therefore critical to staff your contact center with people who aren’t afraid to ask questions and rely on their team members. Agents tend to run into problems when they attempt to solve complicated problems on their own, and wind up making promises they cannot deliver.

Contact center hiring can be a time-consuming process. It’s something that you and your managers simply may not have the time for. It’s for this reason why so many businesses today are outsourcing their contact center operations to third party contact center solutions providers. Outsourcing your contact center is a great way to get the high quality service that you want, at an affordable price.

 

What Can Happen When Customer Service Goes Right

Earlier this year, a 16-year old named Carter Wilkerson became an overnight online sensation when he publicly challenged the customer service department at fast food giant Wendy’s on Twitter — and won, in a big way.

It all started when Wilkerson took to Twitter and asked Wendy’s how many retweets he would need to receive a full year of free chicken nuggets. Wendy’s, which has a reputation for being vocal — and at times, even sassy — on Twitter, tweeted back with a figure of “18 million.” Wilkerson responded with a confident “consider it done.”

As it turns out, the request went viral.

After Wilkerson unexpectedly racked up about 3.42 million retweets, the company caved and declared him a winner. Now, Wendy’s is honoring Wilkerson’s full year of chicken nuggets, and is even making a $100,000 donation in his name to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

Wilkerson — who now has over 100,000 followers on Twitter — is continuing his cause on his own website, nuggsforcarter.com.

The lesson here is very simple:

Sometimes, it’s okay to have fun with your customers online. Listen to everything that your customers have to say, and keep a sharp eye out for opportunities like this when they arise. Let your customers know that you are paying attention to what they have to say, and pounce on opportunities that will make great human interest pieces.

Here are some of the ways your brand will benefit:

Greater customer loyalty: When current customers read about stories like Wilkerson and his free year of chicken nuggets, it fosters their feelings of pride and brand loyalty. It makes them feel great about doing business with your brand, and encourages them to share the news with others. Stories like this remind customers why they love the brand in the first place.

Increased engagement: What does just about every company brand want today? Increased audience engagement. Some companies are practically begging customers to interact with them more. This type of activity encourages customers to reach out and interact with the company. Ultimately, it generates free marketing.

Thought leadership: By responding to Wilkerson, and granting him a full year of free chicken nuggets, Wendy’s took a leap of faith. And in doing so, they reminded us about the need to keep trying new things in customer service. Wendy’s has proven that its customer service department is responsive and highly in-tune with its customer base. Wendy’s is setting an example for all other fast food chains to follow. And it’s hard to put a price tag on the type of return that this will create for the company.

What Happens After You Outsource Content?

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.

Social Media Platforms Pave the Way for Improved Digital Customer Care

Have you heard the story about the passenger on JetBlue whose seat-back TV screen wasn’t working? Clearly disappointed (though not angry), he tweeted the view of a static screen and said it was his first complaint about his favorite airline.

In minutes, JetBlue had tweeted back: “Oh no! That’s not what we like to hear!” And in less than a half-hour, the once-unhappy passenger had received a credit for the non-working TV, and tweeted his delight at the excellent customer service.

Social media customer service, or social care, has become a reality that no business can afford to ignore. With more people spending more time on social media, it’s quickly becoming a preferred method of communication. The number of tweets targeted at brands is also increasing, which clearly means it’s time for businesses to direct their attention to this new method of customer service.

Twitter, in particular, wants to become a more formal customer service channel for your business. Earlier this year, it announced two new tools to help businesses provide better service on its platform, including easier transitions from public tweets to private messages, and a new feature called Customer Feedback, which lets people privately share their opinions with a business after a service interaction.

The ease of use, combined with the proven success rate—companies that use Twitter as a social care channel are seeing a 19 percent increase in customer satisfaction!—should be all the encouragement you need to give it a try. And it won’t be hard to beat the competition: Twitter customer service data shows that, as of February 2015, 38 percent of customers’ tweets receive no response at all from the company.

Although the majority of customer service interactions are on Twitter, Facebook isn’t far behind. Facebook, too, recently added new features for managing customer communications, including the ability for people and businesses to exchange private messages, and a way for marketers to organize customer comments on a page.

Social care encompasses more than just solving problems—it creates stronger connections with your customers. That’s what superior customer service is all about.

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