Team Empowerment in the Contact Center

Everyone can agree that it’s important to empower your workforce but developing best practices to boost retention and morale in the contact center space is critical. At InfoCision, we have decades of experience, which equates to a plethora of time-tested, valuable ideas.

With the holiday season in full swing, it’s a time like no other to evaluate how your management team offers appreciation and encouragement to everyone on your workforce, especially including your team on the phone. From gamification and e-cards built-in our screens each day, to holiday-themed grand prize giveaways, we motivate our agents to provide excellent customer service in every call. However, empowerment is more than just the stuff money can buy. It’s:

    • Building an environment where people genuinely want to come to work – a place that fosters self-esteem, builds confidence, and feels like family
    • Believing in the values of the organizations and brands we’re asking others to support
    • Having supervisors and managers who practice empathy and active-listening, remembering birthdays and asking about sick grandkids
    • Visiting the call center floor regularly with senior management who are invested in acquiring feedback from agents, in person, themselves
    • Focusing on finding solutions within an atmosphere of remarkable teamwork, not just debriefings venting about common challenges
    • Ensuring your team has the tools they need to offer an unmatched customer experience

     

  • Genuine job satisfaction comes from more than appreciative Christmas cards, offering team lunches, and coordinating cheesy holiday festivities. True empowerment is generated through a culture of operational excellence, in a commitment to the continual and sincere encouragement and inspiration of your workforce – not just during the holidays, but throughout the entire year.

It’s Time to Start Planning New Strategies For 2016

Believe it or not, the final months of the year are upon us and before you know it, we’ll be consumed by the holiday season. Before you and your employees get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s important to start planning new strategies to improve the quality of customer care and drive contact center ROI.

Though it’s only October it’s important to start planning for 2016 now as successful strategy takes dedicated time and effort. Review over the past year’s details (i.e. contact center metrics such as average handle time, call resolution, and call abandonment) to set goals and build strategies that will ensure the upcoming year is a success.

So what are some ideas for driving contact center ROI in 2016? Below are just a few strategies we suggest putting on your radar for the coming year:

  • Integrate support channels: Not every consumer is the same. Some like to speak directly to a Communicator via telephone, while others prefer live chat. To make sure that you cater to all consumers, make integrating customer care support channels (automated, digital and live Communicator) a priority in 2016.
  • Utilize more technology: There is an abundance of cost effective technology available that can greatly improve customer care and drive contact center ROI. Ramp up your use of these intuitive technologies, such as predictive analysis, to ensure you remain on the cutting-edge as the new year unfolds.
  • Consider integrated marketing solutions: Contact center leaders must lend more attention to integrated marketing solutions to raise more awareness. For instance, becoming more familiar with social media channels will be integral come next year.

Start off the new year on the right foot by planning strategies that are going to take your contact center to new heights in 2016.

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.

Customer Care Industry More Optimistic Than Ever Before

There’s no denying the fact that the customer care industry has gotten a bad rap over the years, as today’s consumers have higher expectations than ever before. In fact, a recent survey from Parature, found that 53 percent of consumers have higher expectations for customer care than they had a year ago.

Fortunately, the customer care industry has turned over a completely new leaf. According to the aforementioned survey, 67 percent of people surveyed feel that customer care is getting better rather than worse.

That’s because savvy organizations are finally recognizing and responding to consumers’ needs. What’s more, organizations are leveraging sophisticated technology that allows them to better understand these needs.

With more resources available, there is a world of opportunity for businesses to improve their customer care, improve contact center ROI, and outpace their competitors. Below are several ways in which organizations can do just that:

  • Personalize customer care: Buyers crave personalized brand experiences. In fact, the majority of consumers would allow companies to collect personal data in exchange for a more personalized customer experience. Using a person’s name is just one small step you can take to improve customer care. Other small steps include, providing custom content and personalizing feedback requests.
  • Leverage available data: Believe it or not, you’re sitting on mounds of valuable information that can help you improve customer care. For example, data derived from remote call monitoring technology can help you evaluate Communicators performance, and make any adjustments necessary to the script. Don’t let all this available data go to waste, use it to improve each and every interaction.

The customer care industry is finally on the path to positivity and prosperity. Get an edge on competitors by taking advantage of the resources available to deliver superior customer care.

You can learn even more about how technology can take your customer care to the next level by joining me at the upcoming IT Expo in Anaheim, California! I’ll be co-presenting a session called “Designing Your Technology Strategy to Take Customer Care to the Next Level” from 2:30 to 3:15 on October 6th. Click here to see the full agenda and to learn more about my presentation. I hope to see your face in the crowd!

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.

Do Your Agents Pass the Stress Test?

Imagine for a moment you’re on the line with a taxing customer; at the same time you’re in the midst of searching for an answer for another caller all while your call queue is steadily building. There are so many tasks at hand you simply don’t know where to begin or how to prioritize. Sound stressful? This is a day in the life of the average contact center agent—it’s not exactly a piece of cake.

In fact, according to ICMI research 87 percent of contact center leaders acknowledge that their agents experience a moderate to high level of stress during the work day. As such, supervisors must make a priority of coaching their employees on how to handle daily stress. After all, when anyone is put under excessive pressure without escape they’re bound to fly off the handle. But, for contact center agents, bundling up their anxiety until they burst can result in serious repercussions and damage your organization’s quality of customer care.

For example, 65 percent of 1,000 consumers surveyed in a recent Parature report said they have cut ties with a business due to just one poor customer care interaction. So imagine the consequences that a strained and frustrated agent could produce for your contact center—increased customer churn, decreased ROI or detrimental reviews.

In order to sidestep stress straight from the beginning supervisors should train their agents how to manage a stressful phone call in the moment. Here are a few tips managers can pass on to their agents:

  • Make more connections: If you want to have a pleasant customer interaction, put forth a pleasant attitude. Express your understanding for the customer’s complaint or concern and then go the extra mile to initiate a real conversation, whether it’s about the weather or last night’s ball game. All too often, consumers forget the agent on the other end of the line is a human being—remind them of this and you may see a change in their attitude. And as a result, you can turn what started out as an anxiety-ridden phone call into an agreeable conversation, at the very least.
  • Do your homework: Ensure that you are extensively educated about the brands you’ll be representing on the phone. A difficult request will only become that much more impossible to handle if you aren’t well-informed on even the most niche facts about the business you’re handling. Simply put, a well prepared agent is a content agent.

Supervisors must ensure agents can pass the “stress test” before they go live on the phones, because even when stress levels mount it’s your quality of customer care will that will shine through and ultimately set your brand apart.

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 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 has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s highest honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.

Exploring the Multichannel Marketing Ecosystem

As of late, the preferred method of customer service isn’t necessarily through the telephone. Consider the consumer habits of millennials—a generation highly reliant on Internet and mobile-based communications. In fact, a survey from the customer service tech analysis company Software Advice revealed that 56 percent of respondents aged 18-34 prefer communicating via live chat rather than phone.

These generational insights mean businesses should explore the benefits of multichannel marketing services. Nevertheless, opening up business across multiple channels does not mean immediate bolstered profit. It takes time and nurturing to provide best-in-class customer service over several platforms.

A recent report from Forrester suggests that today’s consumer takes “many paths as they solve problems, activating business capabilities in unpredictable ways.” As such, it is important that when activating these different paths, businesses are able to harmoniously maintain the volume of new inquires generated from additional channels along with those that are already set in place.

In order to provide effective multichannel customer service you must ask the same questions as you would in telecom services. Is this service reliable? Are consumers engaged? Will the chosen channel reap the expected ROI for my business?

You can guarantee the answers to the above three questions are ‘yes’ by ensuring your multichannel marketing solutions includes these three important components:

Integration: The integration of a new customer service channel should be seamless if it’s going to be effective. Solutions such as rapid response routing allow for such flawless implementation. When a customer’s information is entered through an online service, an automated phone call is prompted. While the customer is entering information a representative is already working to further handle the specific details of the process, order or move. As a result, two customer service channels are married in order to produce an even stronger customer support system.

Personalization: Consumers seek immediate engagement with Communicators as soon as the phone is picked up. In other words, the last thing they want is to be put on hold. In the same sense, when a customer sends an email a response is anticipated; it won’t benefit your brand to provide an email address with poor responsiveness.  Build your brand loyalty while assuring customers that an email service, for example, really works by providing real results. Aggregate the customer’s specific information and include this in your emails. Make your customers aware of your business’s attentiveness through personalized response.

Time Sensitivity: What truly gives a company a competitive advantage in the customer service industry is timeliness.  It’s a real brand differentiator when a company not only follows up, but follows through in a timely manner. If your brand is going to offer a live chat or email solution, make sure you have the workforce to support these channels. If a customer sends a message to a live chat service only to be left hanging, the likelihood of that customer’s return is slim to none. Combat poor customer retention by offering up speedy responses.

Multichannel marketing services are a great idea for any business’s customer service support. Options in addition to the telephone make way for increased customer engagement. Just remember: extra channels require extra attention in order to succeed.

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 and PACE, formerly known as the ATA. He also donates his time to serve on several University boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s highest honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.

Getting Comfortable With the Outsourcing Model

As a contact center manager, you may be kept busy all day conveying guidance and instructions to agents. If that’s the case, you may want to step back from your hands-on approach for a moment and take a bird’s eye view of the service you’re providing when customers reach out to you. Is your team hitting the mark to ensure maximum contact center services ROI? If your analysis determines that your contact center struggles in this regard, you may need to head in a new direction.

Partnering with a third-party contact center service provider may be your answer. Does the loss of control that such a change may bring concern you? If so, know that the perks will far outweigh any challenges. In fact, many organizations are turning to the outsourcing model—and enjoying customer service benefits and considerable cost savings as a result. This is evidenced by Everest Group research that shows that the global third-party contact center market grew at about 7 percent in 2013 to reach almost $75 billion. Since 2009, per the report, the contact center outsourcing market has witnessed steady growth with increasing contract activity.

So why does partnering with an experienced third-party company, like InfoCision, make sense for your business? For one, outsourcing core contact center processes and workflows will allow your organization to provide 24/7 customer service at a price point that won’t break the bank. When contact center costs, such as for operations, infrastructure, overhead and labor, are significantly reduced—that is, being handled by an external service provider—the savings can be significant.

What’s more, customer service quality can be enhanced through a third-party arrangement. For example, at InfoCision, quality is the cornerstone of our contact center outsourcing program; each of our facilities hold 48 to 72 workstations with a 9-1 Communicator-to-supervisor ratio. This ratio inherently assures that contact center programs will be executed seamlessly, remain compliant with government regulations, and that Communicators will adhere to high-quality standards.

At InfoCision, we ensure our services are defined by excellence so our clients receive the very best contact center assistance and the highest possible ROI for contact center services. Click here to learn more.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the American Teleservices Association (ATA). He also donates his time to serve on several University boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s higher honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.

Choosing a Contact Center Partner: Why Experience Counts

Understanding organizational limitations is a crucial requirement for a successful executive. If you’ve determined that your organization needs some outside assistance from a multichannel marketing partner to boost your contact center services ROI, you probably did so with the understanding that operating a call center is not among your core competencies.

You won’t have any shortage of options out there as you look for potential partner organizations: So how do you make a decision? As in any business relationship, vetting the vendor to determine how successful it’s been previously is always a good idea.

In the contact center space in particular, taking a close look at an organization’s history is crucial; the industry has and will continue to evolve quickly, so it’s important to know that a potential partner has been able to successfully adjust to new trends and technologies through the years.

In addition to adjusting to the industry as a whole, contact center services vendors with a history have had time to refine their hiring, training and quality assurance best practices. For instance, InfoCision provides exceptional Communicators—rather than merely call center representatives. These professionals are more than agents; they become true brand ambassadors for your business after receiving several months of training on your specific messaging. In other words, Communicators feel more like your own employees rather than outsourced workers.

Now you may be asking: “Does experience alone ensure a partner will meet my needs?” The answer is no, but an experienced partner with a proven track record of excellence and success guarantees a partner will do right by your organization. So be sure to do your homework before you sign on the dotted line.

If you’re interested in learning more about InfoCision’s history, click here.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the American Teleservices Association (ATA). He also donates his time to serve on several University boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s higher honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.

Get to Know Your Customers Better in 2015

You know your loyal customers’ names and contact information, but do you know them on a truly personal, customized level? For example, when an individual contacts your company, do you know over what channel that interaction took place? Do you know what channel your customers prefer to use when communicating with your service representatives? Do you have information handy about their buying habits, preferences and behaviors so that you can better guide them during the purchasing process and create future offers based on that information?

As the new year quickly approaches, you should be thinking of ways both big and small to bolster customer engagement within the contact center. Strengthening customer engagement should be a recurring goal within your service facility, both within and beyond your trusty customer base .This all starts with investing in the right tools and technologies. For example, the following solutions can not only increase customer engagement, but can also lift your contact center services ROI:

Multichannel marketing solutions: Do you want to make 2015 the year you start addressing customers by name in email marketing messages as opposed to “Dear valued customer?” How about increasing upselling and cross-selling in a way that speaks personally to customers as opposed to just pushing a random product? Advanced multichannel marketing solutions let you reach customers via inbound and outbound telemarketing, email marketing, social media and direct mail, enabling you to connect with customers on a more individualized level.

Demographic scripting: In 2015 you should be focusing on facilitating calls between Communicators and customers so that they are tailored to meet specific needs, wants and interests. After all, a 65 year-old man living in the Midwest will require a different message and conversation flow than a 26 year-old woman living in New York City. Call scripting is vital for establishing these individualized connections.

Data analytics and predictive modeling: The more customer data you gather and analyze, the more insight you have into how consumers are behaving. Predictive modeling takes big data to another level entirely by actually predicting future behavior based on past occurrences. Using this technology, your business can determine which customers are most likely to be interested in a specific offering.

Customer profiles: Customer profiles are created using data that has been collected about a customer over multiple interactions with your brand (e.g., purchasing a product, responding to a phone call, etc.). A customer profile is a hand-crafted asset that provides deeper insight into each and every customer as well as enables you to more specifically market to your existing customer base.

Customer loyalty is the ultimate sign of a stellar company, but you need to be showing your devoted customer base why they should remain dedicated to you. Make a concerted effort to get to know your customers better next year and you’ll find a world of opportunity waiting for you.

Click here to learn more about how InfoCision can help you better know your customers through demo scripting, customer profiles, market segmentation, business intelligence and analytics and more!

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the American Teleservices Association (ATA). He also donates his time to serve on several University boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s higher honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award

Contact Center ROI in the 21st Century

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three Keys to Contact Center ROI Success

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

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

Customizable solutions

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

Ability to fine tune processes

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

Ongoing Quality Assurance (QA)

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

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