Home > Columns > CRM Columns

Call Center Week Report Part 1


Presented By: CRMXchange

In a time when customers are continually rewriting the rules of engagement, forward-thinking companies are exploring every avenue to deliver consistently superior service. The 16th annual Call Center Week took place June 15-19, 2015 in Las Vegas at the Mirage, offering a clear vision of the latest strategies to create truly customer-centric organizations. More than 175 leading vendors presented innovative solutions for real-world growth and transformation to attendees from every type of contact center operation.

CRMXchange caught up with some of the most interesting suppliers on the exhibit floor to gain their perspective on the evolving marketplace and discuss their specific applications. Many shared similar views on what needs to be done to improve customer centricity and employee engagement, but each had their own individual take on how these goals could best be achieved. In this, the first of several reports on one of the industry’s most high-events, we spoke with solution providers in vital touchpoints including social customer service, chat, IVR and omni-channel coordination.

While many organizations say they understand the importance of being customer-centric, only a select few have committed to making it an ongoing business standard. What are the three most critical measures that need to be taken to integrate a customer-focused approach into a company’s day-to-day activities?

egain.june2015 Ashu Roy, CEO, eGain Going by the adage of ‘what gets measured gets managed,’ we believe that this is the preferred way to get started: 1.Measure: Establish a small set of metrics to assess the state of customer health. Examples would be customer SAT score (explicit, implicit, or inferred feedback), NPS, or customer effort score.
2.Manage: Include these measures in team and company goals.
3.Monetize: Make these measures part of the incentive structure of all employees.

helpsocial.june2015Matt Wilbanks, CEO and Co-Founder, HelpSocial Invest in systems that can handle many channels of communication, especially social networks. Social has become another way to communicate and consumers are demanding support there. It’s time for the contact center to own their responsibility with social response.

Data shouldn’t be siloed anywhere. Use platforms with open APIs that can connect the data sets and make appropriate information available to anyone that impacts customers (hint- that’s everyone). Information that provides better situational context is amazingly helpful at getting to a meaningful initial response and ultimately a resolution faster.

Hire well, invest in great training and trust the employees you’ve tasked with keeping your customers happy. Customer service agents should be empowered to make decisions to do what’s right for the customer in a given situation. There are many great examples of this - look at Rackspace and Zappos. They are leaders in their industries because they empower their front line. If you worry about CSRs making decisions, you should be worried about them speaking with your customers at all. Quality support starts speeding up when you remove unnecessary layers of control.

heywire.june2015Paul Henderson, CMO, HeyWire It’s crucial to make it easy for customers to engage with your business at their moment of need. If it’s difficult to communicate or the right channels are not in place, problems that could nicely be handled one-on-one may instead blow up in public social channels. The same goes for suggestions and opportunities – by making it easy for customers or prospects to provide feedback “in the moment,” companies can benefit from customer input.

Actually talk to your customers – not just sales and support people. One best practice is to rotate everyone in the organization through manning support lines, listening in on customer calls and doing customer survey or net promoter results callbacks.

Focus on metrics. Actively measure customer satisfaction, defect trends and other metrics like net promoter score on a regular basis. Review top customer complaints and also customer praise. Communicate quotes verbatim to staff so people get true feedback, and celebrate the things you are doing right!

voxperitus.june2015Kevin Brown, Managing Director, VoxPeritus It’s all about data - accuracy and completeness. Customer data has to exist across every step of a customer journey. It must be integrated across channels to provide an accurate and holistic view of customers.

-Customer acquisition and churn rates: Are you relevant and are you delivering what your customers believed they were buying from you?
-Employee turnover rate: Directly related to sustainability of customer focus.

Delivering a superior customer experience often involves knowing more about the priorities and needs of individual consumers. What do you see as the key factor in enabling companies to make their customer interactions more personal?

Ashu Roy We believe that there are four steps in the process of customer journey management: Instrument, Analyze, Gain insight, Intervene.

Matt Wilbanks In customer service, understanding the full context of the situation can be the difference between delighting a customer and losing them to a competitor. The agent should be fully aware of prior interactions with the company (from all channels), what happened before, are there special handling instructions, are they a VIP, etc. This is what the “omni-channel” experience is all about. Being able to help a customer in any channel, across channels and having access to all the appropriate contextual information at the same time.

Paul Henderson There’s a big push to save money in company contact centers with technology such as automated interactive voice response (IVR) and short-code-based automated text message blasts with auto response. This automation of customer interactions is great for the company, but not for the customer. Customers want the personal touch — human-to-human. Technology can enable this, but there still needs to be a focus on dialogue and real conversations.

While technology can be used to enable human interactions more effectively, you can’t take your eye off the “people” factor. New technologies that can help with this include two-way conversational texting services that let businesses converse with customers over texting (the preferred channel for mobile consumers). Many companies are also adding “live communities” to their service offerings so customers can go online and ask questions from the company and, equally as important, other users. This still offers one-to-one feedback and services, but is enabled for scale by technology.

Kevin Brown The key element is data. Without complete and accurate data, personalization is not possible.

What do you consider the two most important strategies that businesses can leverage to make the most significant impact and lasting progress on improving employee engagement?

Ashu Roy Provide clear goals including customer experience metrics; and analyze the journeys of employees, too - Make things easy for them. Empower your people with personalized knowledge via team-sourcing.

Matt Wilbanks There are two steps. We believe the first one starts with hiring very well. If you don’t hire people who are naturally passionate about helping others, you’re fighting an uphill battle from day one. People who want to help people will volunteer their best because they care.
Step 2 is about empowerment. The front line needs to know they’re trusted to make decisions on behalf of the company without having to go through endless layers of bureaucracy. If they believe they’re valued and that they’re part of a team doing meaningful work, that will show up in engagement levels. If you’re worried about giving your front line the ability to make decisions, see step 1.

Kevin Brown Make engagement a goal, not a buzzword. Increase communication quality and quantity with employees. Too many companies prioritize management metrics over employee communication: we see it as cultural sickness that is pervasive.

What differentiates your service or solution from others available?

Ashu Roy There are three elements: It offers comprehensive, rich apps, and an open CEH (customer engagement hub) platform. The second is closed-loop optimization (analyze, intervene, and manage) omni-channel capability across digital and voice channels. Our third differentiating factor is open APIs to leverage existing systems of record (CRM systems or CTI systems). Also, clients and partners can create value-added solutions using our platform APIs.

Matt Wilbanks We’re perhaps the world’s first social tool with an open API. A social team could use our web and mobile apps as a standalone monitoring/response system, but if they want to scale social capabilities/data across the business to other teams and apps, that can be done very easily. The contact center is a great example of a place where we’re integrating social capabilities within tools that were never designed to support social channels or a social support workflow. This means businesses can bring social into their call centers and continue to use their current tools without disruption.

In social customer service, fast response times are critical, but they need to be effective as well. HelpSocial combines customer data with the live social feed so the agent can instantly recognize a customer and understand how they should reply and what needs to be done. This reduces the number of responses needed to resolve an issue and provides more opportunities to delight customers and create an amazing experience.

We built our solution originally for customer service. It was never supposed to be a product or a business - it was a tool we built to solve the inefficiencies a team experiences when providing support on social channels. The idea of making quality social support fast and consistent can be felt throughout the tool - it’s so simple to use and doesn’t require a team to adjust their processes to fit the tool in.

Paul Henderson  HeyWire is focused on enabling customers to connect with businesses (and vice versa) via text messaging. The world is going mobile and texting is the #1 activity on mobile devices. This means that companies that want to provide the optimal user experience have to recognize and embrace the texting solution. When a company decides to adopt customer texting, they need a holistic solution that can enable all of their customer-facing employees while also supporting their corporate compliance requirements. HeyWire LiveText provides enterprise-class scalability, archiving, CRM and contact center system integration alongside other features that support business needs. HeyWire provides a range of out-of-the-box apps that address the needs of contact center agents, office workers and mobile field personnel, all linked through a common cloud platform. This focus on “enterprise” needs and “solutions” rather than APIs differentiates HeyWire LiveText from others in the marketplace.

Kevin Brown Our perspective comes from many years of managing truly global leading contact centers, and designing solutions to sort them. Furthermore, we are brutally honest with our customers, to the point of being the complete opposite of "Yes Men." If we're making you uncomfortable with our analysis of your current business then you're likely getting good value for your money.

How does the eGain customer engagement platform provide a complete view of multichannel service interactions to give agents the information they need to more effectively resolve issues?

Ashu Roy The platform incorporates six key elements:
1.Digital collaboration
2.Knowledge everywhere
3.AI Reasoning, offering next best action
4.Analytics to operationally identify bottlenecks
5.Customer context
6.APIs and connectors

How does HelpSocial real-time web and mobile monitoring enable companies of all sizes to prioritize social media messages and pinpoint the right agents to deliver timely and appropriate responses?

Matt Wilbanks There are many features that help with prioritizing social comments from custom filters highlighting posts only from customers to alert keyword settings that bring important comments front and center. Our open API can also work with the routing systems built into other tools. For example, a contact center tool that can logically route a phone call or live chat to the appropriate agent can receive a live social post from our API with the information that tells the routing system exactly which agent to whom it should be sent. Rackspace has been able to use our solution to help determine the dollar value of social media service.

How does HeyWire LiveText enable companies to improve both agent productivity and customer satisfaction by adding SMS messaging to their existing support infrastructure?

Paul Henderson The HeyWire LiveText Agent app is specifically designed to seamlessly integrate into contact center agent consoles and adds SMS messaging to multi-channel customer service environments. It also text-enables existing 1-800 phone numbers so that customers can call – or TEXT directly – the same, familiar sales and service lines they use today.

Agent productivity is enhanced by:
•Converting phone calls to lower-cost text messaging
•Better productivity due to more parallel work by agents
•Faster fix rate and better first-time call experience due to clearer, written communications
•Higher closure rates due to less phone tag
•Ease and speed of answering FAQs with prepared text
•Customer satisfaction is improved by enabling the #1 mobile communication channel that allows:
•Better support experience for mobile and digital consumers
•Lower time in queues and lower call abandonment rates vs. phone and chat from asynchronous responses (customers can gather information or do other productive things while awaiting agent responses)
•Improved customer loyalty driven by better support and less frustration, leading to increased word-of-mouth business referrals and lower turnover/churn

How does VoxPeritus help companies determine the right metrics to upgrade IVR and Routing performance?

Kevin Brown This is a key skill that comes from 23 years of IVR design and routing development. At a very high level, we gain agreement on true costs of operations. We follow through with highly accurate analysis of current operations, utilizing speech analytics to provide hard numbers that point to root causes. We then apply a very strenuous test of simplicity to ensure the lowest customer effort possible. We have honest discussions about number of skills and the costs to consolidate them.

We bring in data from previous engagements to provide strong estimates of expected outcomes. And finally, we love to structure our contracts to share risk/reward.