Archive for September, 2017

Recorded agent greeting – the grey area of automation

Posted on: September 21st, 2017 by viktorvarga No Comments

Automation, as we all know, saves time. But is it really always true, and do mechanised features such as a recorded agent greeting really help contact centres provide a better user experience?

What is a recorded agent greeting?

Hello, my name is Peter, how may I help you today?”: a perfectly acceptable way to begin a conversation with a caller who’s just dialed your customer service line. But whether it is better for this greeting to be recorded or said in person, is already an arguable question.

A recorded agent greeting allows agents to create a voice recording in which they introduce themselves and greet new callers. This recording is then automatically played to a caller as soon as they choose the appropriate IVR menu, and before they are connected to the agent in question. Depending on the phone lines they support, a single operator can create several different recordings with different messages and/or different languages. In addition to this benefit, companies claim they use a recorded agent greeting for a number of other reasons. All of these reasons seem valid and logical enough at a first glance. But the reality of the situation is that recorded agent greetings fall into a grey area of automation.

Why is a recorded agent greeting bad for your call centre?

In our opinion, recorded agent greetings not only fail to make communication with customers more personal or effective. They can actually achieve the exact opposite effect. Don’t forget that saying “Hello” and “Goodbye” are the first and last interactions your customers have with you over the phone. As this Forbes article perfectly describes and illustrates:

People remember most clearly the first and last thing that happens to them.

So let’s shatter some of the myths around the benefits of a recorded agent greeting.

Personalised messages

A recorded agent greeting is supposed to be a revolutionary way to create a personalised, ever-welcoming experience for the customer. In reality, however, it often leaves a customer feeling insulted at not having been greeted in person. And what is more welcoming than someone taking the time to say hello in person?

Always fresh and friendly

It’s true that a recorded agent greeting guarantees a happy-sounding and friendly result. But don’t forget that there can often be a big difference between the agent’s voice in a recording and the subsequent voice of the live agent waiting to receive the call. Not only because of the natural variations in a person’s voice at any given moment, but also because of factors such as tiredness, stress, or illness. A noticeable contrast between a recorded agent greeting and the ‘real thing’ can ruin the effect of the recording.

Is this a real person speaking now?”

Recordings can be confusing. All of us have experienced how uncomfortable it is to start speaking to someone you call after you hear their voice and think they have picked up the phone, only to realise it is an answering machine instead. It’s a natural reaction for people to start speaking once they hear a voice at the other end of the line. And once they realise it’s only a recording and need to start over again with the real person…well, it can be irritating, to say the least.

It saves time…

… except that it doesn’t, actually. When a customer calls the contact centre and picks the needed option in the IVR, the system chooses a free operator and starts their recorded agent greeting. Once it has started, both the customer and agent wait in line for the recording to be over so they can proceed with their conversation. And as you can imagine – “Hello, my name is Peter, how can I help you today?” takes exactly the same amount of time to say on a recording as it does if said in person, with the only difference being that both the customer and the agent spend this time listening in silence.

Gives an agent time to check data

While a customer is listening to the recorded agent greeting, the agent can check the customer’s details in their system. However, the agent will most probably still need to ask clarifying questions and have some information confirmed. Asking questions and getting acquainted with the customer’s case in a personal conversation is still a much more effective way of bringing about a positive result to any interaction.

In theory, a recorded agent greeting should provide many benefits. Not only to those working in the call and contact centre industry, but also to customers who appreciate receiving a personalised and friendly greeting. In reality, however, this seems not to be the case, proof being that the majority of call centres seem to prefer avoiding using recorded agent greetings in their everyday operations. It’s true that recorded agent greetings allow agents to be spared the monotonous and tiresome task of repeating the same sentence over and over again at the beginning of every call. But this is probably the only real benefit of implementing such a feature in your call centre operations.

If your contact centre aims to provide a truly personalised and friendly service to your customers, then there can be no better way to begin any conversation with your customers than with a greeting delivered by one of your agents in person. After all, what could be more personal than a friendly “Hello, my name is Peter, how may I help you today?” spoken by a real, living and breathing person?

Telesales with a unified approach: a case study

Posted on: September 14th, 2017 by viktorvarga No Comments

Telesales teams often struggle with handling the large volume of incoming calls that occur immediately after advertising their products or services on TV. Here is how Gigashopping, a company based in Portugal, solved this problem.

“Impulse shopping” – the previously-unplanned decision to purchase a product immediately after customers are exposed to it – is a well-known buyer behaviour characteristic. The number of incoming calls to a company’s telesales team usually rises significantly straight after telesales channels broadcast the company’s advertisements. Due to impulse shopping, it can be hard for telesales agents to physically process all incoming calls, and many customers need to be manually called back, which is a time-consuming task for the contact centres agents. This is what Gigashopping, an international telesales company based in Portugal, had been experiencing before they contacted VCC Live to ask them to help their agents with processing the large amount of incoming calls and callbacks they were receiving. In particular, Gigashopping, which operates in both Portugal and Brazil, was looking for a solution that would allow supervisors to oversee the work of internationally-based agents within a single software environment. Unifying the way Gigashopping handles their operations and introducing a new predictive dialler helped both supervisors and agents meet the challenges raised by the waves of impulse shoppers.

Our latest case study shows how VCC Live’s cloud-based solution for contact centres helped Gigashopping to process more calls, increase their number of successful deals, implement a holistic approach to their international telesales operations in both Portugal and Brazil, and meet their international telesales goals. Read the case study by visiting the Case Study section on our website. In the upcoming months, we are delighted to share many more examples of the benefits our clients experience with our solution. Discover the many possibilities VCC Live has to offer to its clients.

Security and quality – the indispensable parts of product development

Posted on: September 6th, 2017 by viktorvarga No Comments

Change is an inseparable part of corporate governance. But every company needs to be able to meet the security-related challenges which changes in quality assurance and information handling raise.

 

The law of continuing change

Change is not only unavoidable, it is of chief importance in the business world. Every day, enterprises need to deal with changes in manufacturing, finance, processes, operations, and all other areas of business which are an inseparable part of progress. But when working on updates and changes, or rethinking strategies and releasing new products, questions regarding security and data safety are raised. Every update or a new product release has an impact on company operations, and can seriously affect corporate image. Whether this impact is big or small depends on how timely unexpected events and unforeseen results are handled.

A number of methods and practices have been designed especially to help companies and enterprises proceed go through change and new release processes, and perform them in an expert, and most of all secure, manner. Some companies use applications or online platforms to track every task and its results through a ticketing system. Others use less modern means such as paper-based forms and templates. Each method, however, has the same purpose: to follow through a process with strict control points, and to oversee the smooth development of products and services, and their safety and security levels. This type of control allows for discrepancies to be filtered on time, and for smoothly-working elements to be strengthened and developed further. It is also of key importance when involving third parties, such as vendors or service and storage providers. Not only do you need to ensure that all involved parties adhere to and use the right level of security and quality management within their own organisation, you also need to oversee the quality of their work, based on your own quality and security standards and processes.

As a software development company we believe that the security of our customers’ and clients’ information and data is of the utmost importance. As one of Lehman’s laws of software engineering says: “Systems that are used must change, or else they automatically become less useful.” Inspired by this rule, we constantly work on improving our services and products, while also always aiming to keep the security of our solutions at the highest possible level.

 

Meet change – securely!

Receiving an unbiased expert evaluation is crucial in software development, especially when it comes to the security and safety of programs and applications. Every software development company has a number of options open to it to ensure the right amount of security is applied in their solutions and releases: OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project), Quality Assurance processes, and strict testing with a first and second pair of eyes. All of these options aim to help software developers update their existing products or develop new ones, while staying focused on quality and security. We have already shared an article on the importance of seamless testing processes and involving certified testers dedicated to this important task, and how VCC Live’s in-house testing processes are carried out (you can read the article here). Below we share our views on some more aspects of Quality Management and Information Security Management that we concentrate on within our own organisation:

  • realistic timeframes – the development of flawless software products requires time. It is not only important for development teams to have enough time to create a product, as testing and quality assurance activities, as well as the need for updates that may result from them, also require time to be performed. A software solution can be sent back many times for corrections, making it impossible for developer teams to release the finished product within a short time frame. If this process is put under pressure, it may lead to unfortunate events and high security risks, such as information leaks, data theft, and so forth. While it is important to have release date schedules, it is also important to remember that PDCA methodology, important for every management process, contains not only a Plan in its name – it is also important to Do, Check, and Act, meaning you should carefully check for any risks and act to fix them before it’s too late. Which brings us to:
  • continuous improvement – it is very important to make sure that quality assurance processes within the company are always adhered to, as they provide the basis for organisation improvement in the future. Information and experiences during the testing and quality assurance period should be recorded and shared as lessons learned among the involved parties, to help develop a process of continuous improvement. Being open to users’ feedback and experience is also important, and such feedback should not only be always welcomed but also taken seriously, because if it isn’t the development company risks losing its users’ trust in their professionalism.
  • secure coding – as a part of continuous improvement, secure coding practices provide invaluable help for software developers and programmers in finding alternatives in coding and reducing or eliminating vulnerabilities in their product. Secure coding is an extremely important part of every software developing process and should not be taken lightly – if defects and logic flows in the software are not taken care of, they can lead to serious security issues.
  • customer data security – when releasing applications or products that process customer data, such as personal details, bank card information, or any other form of customer data, it is not just of the utmost importance to make sure this data is processed securely, you need to make sure that data is kept safe at all times and will not be leaked to any third party, even in the event of hacker attacks. This is something an experienced etchical hacker can be of great help with.
  • business impact analysis – when working on several features or functions, or on configurations or bug fixes, it is extremely important to coordinate the testing and release readiness not only of each separate element, but also of their combination in one comprehensive product as well. Different features must not only be tested individually, the ready software or application needs to overgo a strict business impact analysis process to ensure that the combination of features works seamlessly together, having no negative impact on users, information handling, or business. If even one single element is proven to be unsecure, this can jeopardise the safety and reliability of the whole product, leading to information and data leakage or product unreliability.

All flows” is a saying that refers to the constant change through which the world goes. And a changing world affects companies and businesses as well. While new developments are a good thing, helping enterprises expand and become prosperous, they can also be the reason for them to fail if not handled securely. Businesses should not be afraid of change, rather they should learn to control it safely and take full advantage of it. It is OK to hold back on product releases if they are not yet fully ready. It is OK to stop a process if it comes with too many risks for customers. But it is never OK to jeopardize the security of customers’ data and their trust.