Legal and Compliance – A Driving Force Behind High Quality

In the Call Center industry, some very complicated regulations and laws have been established at both state and national levels, in attempt to protect the consumer.  InfoCision employs expert legal counsel to ensure we stay apprised of new and updated regulations.  InfoCision is regulated by many entities – from individual Secretary of State offices to the FEC, and we strive to accommodate all regulations. We work directly with our IT, Governance, and Business Analytics teams to ensure we meet compliance standards, while continuing to make and take the highest quality calls in the world.

Our Legal and Compliance team represents 3 main areas of focus: contracts, compliance with telemarketing laws, and nonprofit/fundraising registration.

    • Contracts –  

      Any organization we do business with is required to have a contract.  We review all contracts to be sure that legal requirements are met and that InfoCision and client interests are protected.

    • Compliance with Telemarketing Laws –

      When it comes to compliance with telemarketing laws, we employ expert attorneys to ensure we stay up-to-date on any new regulations. We have many IT processes and procedures in place to ensure we are calling who we are allowed to call, at the appropriate times, and with the correct disclosures.

    • Nonprofit/Fundraising Registration –

      The third main essential piece of the department is nonprofit/fundraising registration.  Each state has its own set of regulations and requirements it demands from nonprofit organizations.  We are required to register as a professional fundraiser in 44 states.  This license gives us the ability to fundraise in the corresponding state but also comes with a series of requirements that we have to abide by in order to remain in good standing with the states.  This process typically requires us to submit any contract we sign with a nonprofit organization to the state and, in turn, report financials on the campaign.  This way, the state is aware of how much was raised and, of those funds, how much InfoCision and the charity received.

InfoCision has never aimed to be the biggest call center company in the world, just the best. Quality comes first to us in every facet of our business, and our Legal and Compliance practices are certainly a driving force in our ability to handle all calls in the best manner possible, achieving stellar performance and ROI for our clients.

Legal and Compliance – Drives High Quality; Legal and Compliance – Drives High Quality

Five Ways to Improve Your Customer Experience This Year

In the customer care space, there is always room to improve. Even if you’re part of a company that’s proven success year after year, you can still be doing something more to intrigue potential customers and surprise and delight the existing ones.

As such, there is simply no better time to ramp up your customer care strategy than the first few months of a fresh new year. With that said, let’s explore some key ways that you can improve the customer experience this year…some of them might be easier than you think!

  • Build more relationships: This tactic doesn’t require advanced technology or a complex strategy. It simply involves employing Communicators that are dedicated to their roles and excel in connecting with consumers on a deeply human level. In other words, to build stronger relationships this year you must continuously remind your Communicators to simply act human rather than a robot merely reading from a script. Simple changes like this can drastically improve your performance.
  • Pay closer attention: This means both supervisors and Communicators must stop and smell the roses more often. In the customer care world it’s all too easy to get caught up in a whirl-wind of a never ending call-queue and forget to be truly present during conversations with consumers. Practicing active listening can noticeably improve problem solving skills, as employees are challenged to think on their feet while remaining calm and collected.
  • Be consistent with quality: Making sure that every Communicator is as well-trained as the strongest employee is crucial to maintaining consistency. After all, employees should be able to answer the questions and resolve the problems of any customer, not just the ones of which they are most comfortable. As such, cross training employees to be well-versed in a multitude of specialties is critical to maintaining a high quality of customer care across the board.
  • Take advantage of technology: In 2016, contact center leaders and their employees must fully embrace technology. Ignoring the tools available on your computer is no longer acceptable, as technologies, such as predicative analysis or skills based routing, will be necessary to advancing your level of accuracy when speaking with customers. As well, utilizing technology in the contact center will help you maintain relevancy and keep up with, if not out pace, your competition.
  • Evaluate services frequently: If you aren’t already auditing your customer care strategy then you’re making a mistake. Executing audits regularly will help you pinpoint any problem areas and address them much sooner than if you had remained unaware of the situation for a longer period of time. As such, using a third-party auditing service that provides detailed feedback and agent scoring will help contact center leaders guide employees who are struggling and commend those who are doing well.

Make this year one to remember, and one that your customers will too! Heed the tips above and you’ll be on the right track in no time.

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.

Three Steps to Improving Your Quality Control

In our recent blog post titled, “Are Your Agents on the Same Page?” I offered some advice on how to ensure your agents produce consistent results across the board. After all, inconsistency among agents can lead to customer dissatisfaction, because speaking to an enthusiastic customer care agent and receiving a lackluster and blatantly uninterested agent the next time you call, is an unfavorable experience for any customer.

To ensure your agents are delivering results that meet your standards and align with your contact centers’ mission to provide a high quality of customer care, measured steps must be taken. Namely, a sound quality control strategy must be put in place.

Creating a documented, repeatable quality assurance strategy is essential to maintaining high-level results. Your strategy should include a way to simply track agent progress both individually and as a group as well as customer satisfaction rates. And to take it one step further, you should also welcome third party feedback from a quality assurance expert for an unbiased assessment.

Here is a deeper look into what a successful quality control strategy looks like as broken down by tier:

Tier One: The starting point of your quality management plan should include regularly assessing agents’ basic skills. Specifically, agents should be evaluated on phone etiquette, ability to handle data entry and ability to follow the provided scripts. Contact center managers must ensure every agent is performing these tasks to the ability of the strongest agent, and establish a culture in which every agent is continuously learning and improving.

Tier Two: Before you can truly move on to the second stage you must ensure you have quality control experts on your team. That is, team members who are experts in the contact center space, have years of experience and whose sole function within the company is to provide guidance and support for your agents. As such, your second phase of quality assessment should require agents to undergo regular trainings with these experts. In doing so, agents can gain insight from a respected peer of whom they can rely on for continuous feedback.

Tier Three: Utilize third party assessments to garner a well rounded evaluation of your contact centers’ overall quality.  Oftentimes supervisors and other team members are too close to the agents to pinpoint small errors that might contribute negatively to a contact centers’ quality on a whole. These experts know what cues to listen for and can offer insight from a customers’ perspective.

It takes more than occasional team meeting to guarantee consistent quality of customer care. Rather, the best route to continued success starts with a well-drafted quality assessment plan.

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.

Are You Spending Enough Time on Quality Assurance?

When’s the last time you received a well-rounded view on the quality of your contact center’s procedures? If you don’t use a regular method of quality assurance to stay abreast of recurring issues—think frustrated customers and ill-informed agents—then you aren’t serving up the best possible quality of customer care.

Rather than turn a blind eye to your staff’s most pertinent pain points, tackle them head on by implementing a powerful quality assurance strategy. For example, devote time—whether it’s weekly or monthly—to address common struggles your agents experience. Moreover, continue this assessment by drilling down into the shortcoming of individual agents. By offering personalized and consistent assessments—and training for those who need it—your quality of customer care efforts will improve.

Now that we’ve covered the importance of quality assessment, let’s discuss the fundamentals. The key steps to building an effective customer care evaluation strategy involve:

  • Offering consistent basic training: As a contact center supervisor you must constantly enforce your establishment’s core competencies. This means offering best-in-class phone etiquette and quick and efficient problem solving skills, to name a few.  The only way to ensure your agents are functioning at their highest capability is to check in on their consistency in these areas. By monitoring your agents’ basic skills—and subsequently providing on-going training using automated scoring cards, online educational tools and insights gathered from speech and desktop analytics—you can assure more consistent customer care across the board.
  • Accepting feedback from external auditors: It’s always a smart idea to get a second opinion on important matters, like the quality of your contact center best practices. As such, getting an expert’s feedback—like a call center quality skills analyst who evaluates your agents’ ability—on your call center procedures will augment the impact you have on your customer care outcomes. As a supervisor you might only hear the agent’s side of the interaction at times; however, an expert whose primary goal is to provide feedback from the customer’s perspective will provide actionable and balanced insights for continued learning and improvement.
  • Providing individualized agent training: Even if an agent is showing exemplary skills, when it comes to quality of customer care, there is always room for improvement. As such, tending to the weaknesses and building on the strengths of individual agents is an important asset to a comprehensive quality assessment strategy. Without quality monitoring, it will be impossible to see whether individual agents are functioning at a high level—for example, their call queues are never full and they remain poised under pressure—while some agents are stuck in the mud. These types of agents, for example, may be unable to attend to large call volumes or difficult customers.

Ensure your quality of customer care is continuously top-notch by implementing a strategic quality assessment program. Want more customer care tips? Read more of our blogs, 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 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.

Getting More Out of Your Contact Center Than Just Great Service

Customer service is now among the most important factors in all of business—that is a simple fact. A recent report from Walker, in fact, revealed that customer service will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by 2020.

As crucial as customer service is, though, today’s contact centers must help organizations do more than satisfy customers to achieve full value. To maximize contact center services ROI, organizations must be able to gather and analyze data from customer interactions that helps them improve processes across the board.

Take the following scenario as an example. Your call center agents—or Communicators, as InfoCision calls our own customer service professionals—are receiving an unusually high volume of customer inquiries about billing errors. Of course it’s important to resolve each individual’s issue, but if a trend is developing it is equally important to have the tools necessary to get to the root cause of the problem and fix it.

Quality assurance programs and business intelligence allow supervisors to recognize patterns faster and easier than they would be able to just by walking around the call center floor. In the aforementioned scenario, for example, when your contact center management team is alerted to the abnormal number of billing questions coming in, he or she can take the issue to the billing department. The billing team can then check to see if there is a glitch with software or some other snag that could be causing confusion and quickly correct the problem before the next cycle of bills are sent out.

A contemporary call center should be multi-faceted and deliver information that helps improve operations across your entire organization. But if running a call center is not one of your core competencies, maximizing contact center services ROI may be easier said than done. In that case, it may be time to look into partnering with a contact center services provider like InfoCision.

Click here to learn more about InfoCision’s storied history in the call center business.

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.

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.

When It Comes To Service, Your Customers Have a Long Memory

If you have been keeping up with our blog, by now you are well aware of the impact that customer interactions have on business. In this same vein, you know that top-of-line quality of customer service is critical for improving customer retention, which in turn has profound power over your company’s bottom line.

According to a recent survey conducted by Zendesk and Dimensional research, a stunning 39 percent of consumers will avoid a vendor for two or more years after a bad customer experience. Meanwhile, 55 percent will simply switch to a different product or company following a negative interaction. This same study also reveals that consumers are far more likely to share experiences than they were even five years ago when things go awry with a brand.

What these numbers boil down to is that customers are likely to remember how they were treated by your organization—and for longer than you expect. Here are three ways you can avoid becoming a bad memory:

Real-time interaction

Nothing makes a customer happier than getting quick answers to pressing problems. On the flip side, it’s why obscenely long on-hold times are always frustrating and why customers continually press zero in the IVR menu. Today’s technology makes it possible for customers to visit a company’s website, chat digitally or even request a call back from a representative so that questions are answered quickly: bottom line. Skills-based routing, for example, ensures that complex calls are received by the Communicator best equipped to handle that particular inquiry. Getting the most seasoned agents on the most difficult calls helps boost first-call resolution rates and, consequently, customer satisfaction.

Customized CRM

Customer service representatives spend a sizeable amount of their day seeking information needed to effectively manage customer interactions, according to a recent Aberdeen report. That is precious time that can be reclaimed, however, with the right CRM solution. Comprehensive customer profiles and customized scripting that pop on screen as soon as an inbound call number is recognized allow Communicators to skip the tedious and irksome process of asking the customer for personal information and move right into providing personalized customized service.

Quality assurance

Like anything else, call center processes need a regular checkup. Program supervisors that conduct skills assessments each month and independent quality assurance teams that remotely monitor representatives are two ways that managers can ensure that their facilities are embracing constant improvement. To help foster this, supervisors can engage in training exercises with Communicators. For example, a supervisor can play the role of a caller during a mock interaction to give a Communicator a more realistic idea of what a live customer call will actually feel like, from the simplest to the most complicated scenario.

Rather than biting your fingernails at the realization that consumers today have the memory of an elephant when it comes to customer service, take it as a grand opportunity to distinguish your brand. After all, customers remember outstanding service just as they do poor interactions. In fact, 52 percent of customers are more likely to repurchase from a business following a good experience, according to Zendesk.

We all want a strong reputation, in life and in business. By taking advantage of the many solutions at your company’s disposal, you can be certain your brand will be remembered – for all the right reasons.

Quality Assurance Drives Higher Return on Your Contact Center Investment

From improving customer service levels to aiding in brand management, the benefits of a comprehensive quality assurance system can have a big impact on the bottom line of your programs

quality assuranceIn business, the word “quality” is often thrown around. But what does “quality” really mean in the contact center industry and what are the benefits for companies who utilize high quality teleservices provider.

Having a robust and comprehensive quality monitoring and assurance program helps to provide companies with a higher return on investment through a number of different avenues, according to Brian Feisthamel, director of quality assurance at InfoCision Management Corporation, including:

  • Increasing customer satisfaction and Communicator productivity by ensuring that all necessary information is being captured correctly on each call.
  • Helping Communicators understand how to improve their techniques so they can better connect with the customer from the first phone call, which leads to increased sales and donations.
  • Aiding in brand management by ensuring that all agents are consistently delivering the same messaging and a high quality customer/donor experience.
  • Allowing quality assurance staff to recognize opportunities to improve scripts, which can help drive additional revenue through increased cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.
  • Ensuring the ability to quickly scale up and match existing quality and performance metrics.

Read more from Feisthamel on how quality assurance provides a boost to ROI http://www.elabs6.com/c.html?ufl=6&rtr=ons=eju,14k5f,4rew,g7p2,hl7m,8qfr,cwk8

We’d love to hear your thoughts on call center quality, so please leave a comment with your tips or suggestions.

Fundraising Part 3: Compliance and Nonprofit Fundraising

So far in the first two posts in our fundraising series, I’ve covered some different ways professional fundraisers help nonprofits to raise funds, through acquisition campaigns and by enhancing long-term donor value.  These approaches require a great deal of strategy and creativity in getting the right message to the right donor at the right time through the right channel.

However, there is another service professional fundraisers provide for nonprofits, without which all those things I listed above would not matter; I’m talking about regulatory compliance.

Regulatory compliance in the direct marketing industry is complex, but highly important

A successful long-term direct marketing strategy is built on the foundation of adherence to the myriad of laws and regulations put in place by the applicable government entities.  All of us are familiar with Do Not Call laws and the emergency of teleservices guidelines over the last ten years, but it’s much more than that.  The federal government and each individual state has very specific regulations for every kind of direct marketing campaign, including traditional mail, phone calls, email, text messaging, etc.

Nonprofit organizations focus on raising funds with the best intentions to make a tremendously positive difference for our world.  However, the fundraising campaign must be implemented in tune with federal and state regulations.  There is no room for error and regulators are not sympathetic to misunderstandings of statutory requirements.  Given the tremendous scope of regulatory issues that must be managed, staying compliant can be a daunting task for any organization.

As a marketing partner to Nonprofit organizations, InfoCision has invested millions of dollars in technology aimed at preventing compliance failures, and dedicated practitioners whose only job is to stay updated with regulatory issues and keeping our clients protected.

This can be a huge burden off the shoulders of nonprofits, and it’s yet another part of the reason that so many choose to partner with dedicated professionals to contact their donors.

Another aspect of compliance that a professional marketing partner like InfoCision should handle is the filing of information with the government agencies – and this information becomes part of reports that are public record.  In my final post in this series, I will discuss how consumers can read this information to make good decisions with their fundraising dollars and avoid confusion over what the numbers mean.

 

Click here for Fundraising Part 1: How Nonprofits and Professional Fundraisers Partner to make a Difference

Click here for Fundraising Part 2: The Professional Fundraiser and Nonprofit Relationship

Click here for Fundraising Part 4: Using Information to Make an Informed Choice as a Donor

New Ideas are Vital to Corporate Growth

Innovation is essential for a company to grow and remain competitive. New ideas, whether they are simple and help save costs, or complex and grow and transform the business must be encouraged and rewarded.  Every valid concept that can be implemented to improve an aspect of the company is important to overall success. At InfoCision we have always solicited every employee to tell us about their ideas through our Working Smarter Program, which has a monetary reward. This program has paid off with InfoCision saving hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in direct cost and/or efficiency improvements.

On more than one occasion, our President and CEO Carl Albright has commented about the number of great ideas our staff comes up with, and how the key to implementation is first getting the right people dedicated to following up on priority projects.  Our technical teams recently developed a new forum for employees to share their ideas and I am truly excited about the opportunities it will bring to us at InfoCision.

How We Work Smarter

To help turn employee ideas into reality, we have implemented a new program called “The Idea Center.” This is a simple intranet site where employees are able to submit an idea, have it reviewed by the executive steering committee, and then see it through to implementation.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Each month our IT team holds an “Idea Review” meeting where the executive team will listen to any idea that has been submitted.
  2. The executive team will provide feedback and direction as to whether or not the idea should become a project.
  3. The executive team will again review cost, time and other important factors to determine if it would be a wise investment
  4. The executive team will then assign the idea to the appropriate group for implementation.

What it means to our clients

The overall goal at InfoCision has always been to provide our clients with the highest quality and ROI, which requires us to be innovative, efficient and quick to follow-up on important concepts.  One of the three principles our company was founded on is working smarter; this means looking at every idea, big or small, analyzing it and determining how to improve for the better. We take everyone’s ideas into consideration and it really does give us an advantage. If anyone has an idea of how things could be more efficient, it’s those that work in the middle of the situation on a daily basis, so we take their opinions to heart because you never know who is going to come up with the next great idea that impacts the company! How do you feel about the concept of an employee “Idea Center”? Do you have any suggestions or benefits that I didn’t mention? What are some or examples of programs like this that you have seen in the past? Get the conversation started below!