Archive for August, 2018

How to Nail Social Customer Service – What You Need to Know

Posted on: August 30th, 2018 by dorarapcsak No Comments

Customer service is the lifeblood of any business: in fact, the way you support your customers can make or break your business.

Over the last years the rise of social media platforms has completely changed the face of customer service, paving the way for social customer service. Indeed, customers today can contact customer service departments via social media platforms as well.

And as the growing popularity of social media seems unstoppable, relying on social customer service is not an option anymore; it’s a must for forward-thinking businesses.

Below we’ve outlined how your business can nail social customer service. Make sure to check it out and take a deep dive into the new opportunities created by social media!

Create dedicated accounts on your social media platforms

Promoting your services via social media by showing customers that you actually care for them is a great strategy, however, we believe it’s best to keep your marketing messages separated from your customer queries.

If you’re serious about leveraging social customer service, then it may be a good idea to create a dedicated social media account to handle customer queries. By doing this, you’ll be able to increase your reputation and help your customer service team better manage your incoming queries.

When creating a separate account for social customer service purposes, always make sure to use your main account to let customers know where they can ask for help.

Create a process and assign the right team

Social customer service may sound like a piece of cake, but in reality, you’ll need clear processes and a dedicated team to successfully handle your social queries.

First of all, you’ll need to define KPIs for your social customer service. There’s no doubt that the most important KPI you’ll need to set and measure is reaction time. Always bear in mind that on your social media platforms customers can see how much time it takes for your business to respond to queries. In fact, according to Social Business News, 81% of Twitter users expect a same-day response to their questions and complaints, so you better keep this number low.

Furthermore, as customer queries and responses are visible to everyone on social media, you’ll need to have a team of customer service representatives who can decide on which queries should be resolved in public or private.

Finally, make sure to assign customer service reps to your social media platforms who are able to find the correct tone of voice. Don’t forget that the language used on social media is usually informal so chances are your Gen Z’ers will totally nail your social customer service.

Listen to your customers – and not only to their problems

As already mentioned, customer service has changed a lot over the years. Amongst other things, customers now expect to be offered proactive support. Customers are more likely to come back to brands they can truly engage with, and luckily you can now rely on your social media platforms to start a conversation with them. 

The success of social customer service lies in listening to your customers – and not only when they’re experiencing an issue. You may not think so, but reaching out for your customers’ opinion and creating a conversation with them will greatly help you improve your product development process. After all, it is customers who use your services, so don’t miss out on this great opportunity!

Furthermore, by using social media channels to listen to your customers and proactively react to their opinions, you’ll be able to easily make them reassured that they’re valued by your company. We call that a win.

Leverage the power of humor with social customer service

As they say, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  

As we all know, conversations on social media channels are in the public domain but is it a blessing or a curse for businesses? Well, it can be both, depending on how you handle your channels.

Let’s admit it: however well-organized your business is, you’ll make mistakes every now and then. And if your business has a social media presence, chances are some of your mistakes will go viral.

Luckily, these awkward situations can be turned into success stories with some wit and humor (by making sure you are not crossing the line of professionality). In fact, going viral on social media especially with a success story is one of the best ways to boost your reputation.

If you’re still not convinced, check out these brilliant social customer service replies.

These days most businesses want to establish themselves as a playful brand, and it seems to be working fine. Resolving awkward social media situations with humor will really help you stand out from the crowd. Just make sure to team up with your communications team as they’ll be able to help you advise how to effectively handle such situations.

As you can see, social media is a playground for smart businesses. You’ll just need to learn the rules of the game. Make sure to follow our tips and start providing better support by leveraging social customer service.

How Digital Transformation Is Reshaping the Customer Journey

Posted on: August 29th, 2018 by Gábor Kocsis No Comments

Digital transformation is a hotly-debated topic for businesses across a wide range of industries.

As today’s connected customers expect tailor-made customer service, businesses started to deploy ever-sophisticated technology solutions in order to keep up with these new demands. Digital technologies indeed continue to be on the rise, leaving companies with no choice but to adapt to the new business world shaped by digitalization.

There’s no doubt that embracing new technologies in the customer journey is essential to meet customer needs.

In this article, I’ll talk about how digital transformation is constantly reshaping the customer journey and help you better understand why it’s essential for your business to plan an effective digital transformation strategy. Make sure to read on!

Digital transformation – beyond the buzzword

One thing is for sure: digital transformation is the busiest buzzword in the business world at the moment. But before I go deeper into the topic, let’s have a quick look beyond this popular buzzword. Digital transformation means deploying digital technologies into all areas of a business in order to raise the value they deliver to their customers.

Considering that these days it is customers who dictate the rules, it’s no surprise that innovative companies spend a fortune and a great amount of time to digitize their customer journey.

The truth is that thinking digital is not the future, it’s already part of our everyday lives. Take Uber, for example, and how it revolutionized the way people hail taxis. Or let’s take a look at Amazon’s first cashier-less Go store and how it shook up the retail world.

And if you’re still not convinced why your business needs to invest in digital transformation, let the numbers speak for themselves: an MIT study has shown that companies that have already implemented digital transformation are 26% more profitable than their competitors.

The greatest advantage of digital transformation is that it allows your business to measure customer satisfaction throughout the customer journey. In addition, by digitizing your customer journey, not only will you be able to determine whether you managed to meet your predefined objectives but also set new goals for the next quarter based on your current results. If you think long-term, it’s definitely your recipe for success.

In fact, digital transformation is about making things simple, enjoyable, and engaging for the customer at each touch point.

For instance, let’s say, your customer needs to open a bank account. Without having a digitalized customer journey, what they can do is to visit the nearest bank branch and spend several hours there waiting, filling out papers and then waiting again…

But, why would you make your customers spend their valuable time filling out papers when you can digitize the whole process? In fact, by digitizing your customer journey, you can reduce the time needed to open an account from several hours to 15 minutes. Yes, really.

As for embracing digital transformation, it’s worth mentioning Africa where the banking sector is fully digitalized and mobile banking allows customers to send, receive and store money with a single click using their mobile phones.

It’s clear that the financial industry has already started to digitize their processes. While not so long ago financial companies heavily relied on paper-based documents, by now most of them use a number of technologies to digitize paper documents. Some companies even started to identify their customers based on their digital photos.

It’s a win-win situation as customers do not need to spend time filling out and signing paper-based documents, and organizations are able to increase their productivity by using digitized documents.

And this is exactly what digital transformation should be about: addressing customers’ pain points and deploying technology to sort them out in a way that allows increasing productivity.

Think digital and transform your customer journey

As mentioned above, customer journey is now dictated by today’s digital customers. Due to the easily available information and a variety of options on the market, this new kind of customers expects to receive efficient and seamless customer service within seconds.

So, if you’re thinking of digitizing your customer journey, always bear in mind that you’ll need to do it in order to meet your digital consumers’ expectations.

And if you finally decided on to digitize your customer journey, then it’s time to invest in comprehensive technology that will allow you to speed up your processes. Could technology, for example, is critical to digital transformation. In fact, cloud-based solutions are cost-effective and can be easily integrated with other applications, allowing you to meet your customers’ needs as fast as possible.

Furthermore, collecting and making good use of data accumulated at your organization is another important step in digitizing your customer journey. In fact, data analytics will allow you to better understand your customers’ behaviors and needs, and thus add personalization to your customer service. These days, customers expect you to deliver a fully personalized customer service for them, so if you haven’t started to personalize your customer journey yet, now is the time.

Nowadays, more and more businesses are recognizing that customer journeys begin on one channel and end on a completely different platform. Indeed, embracing new communication channels, such as SMS, webchat or social media platform is an important part of digital transformation. This multichannel communication allows businesses to personalize their customer service by letting customers communicate with them via a number of platforms.

Technology is indeed a prerequisite when it comes to digital transformation, however, it is a common mistake I’ve experienced many times that businesses forget about the human factor when they digitize their business processes.

The truth is that however up-to-date your technology solutions may be, bear in mind that your customers will always need the human element in the customer journey.

So, what do you think about digital transformation? Make sure to share your thoughts with me in the comments section!

Call Center Fraud: How to Prevent Social Engineering

Posted on: August 24th, 2018 by dorarapcsak No Comments

The concept of call center fraud – such as social engineering that typically targets call centers—is nothing new. What has changed is the ever-more sophisticated techniques that are used to fool people in order to gain valuable information from them.

Social engineering is considered one of the most dangerous cyber threats around, and for good reason: contrary to computer hacking, which targets mass information, social engineering targets individuals.

The reason for this is simple: it’s much easier to fool people into revealing confidential data than try and hack their computer and steal that same information.

It’s true that everyone learns best through their mistakes, but when your business is at stake, I think we can all agree that it’s better to play it safe.

We already talked about in a previous article what you need to do in order to prevent cybercriminals to break into your systems.

So, in this article, we’ll focus on the human factor and highlight how you can prepare your employees for a possible social engineering attack. I trust you won’t want to miss out on this one!

Why call centers? Being the bullseye in the target

Before we dig in, let’s quickly look at what “social engineering” means. Social engineering is the act of manipulating people into divulging confidential information with the aim of using it to carry out fraud. Amongst other things, social engineering can involve phishing, elicitation, intimidation and pre-text scenarios.

And when you consider that professional social engineers prefer targets that offer a low risk of being discovered, and have the potential for high payoffs, it quickly becomes clear why the call center industry is one of their main focuses.

The first and foremost reason why cybercriminals target call centers is the enormous amount of data call centers process and store. This customer data can include personal information, such as account details, as well as highly confidential information, including passwords and credit card information.

Secondly, let’s face it: it’s much easier to fool people than computers. Considering that today’s up-to-date technology solutions are based on highly secure systems, it’s no coincidence that cybercriminals started to target people rather than try and hack those same systems.

As already mentioned, social engineers target individuals, and often refer to sob stories, such as a divorce or the death of a spouse, to manipulate agents into providing account information. The results of 200 social engineering test calls carried out by TraceSecurity shows that 25% of calls led to a Total Comprise, meaning that testers managed to gather enough information to access accounts by taking advantage of call center employee’s empathy.

Turnover levels in the call center industry, as I’m sure you will be aware, are still extremely high, and in most call centers agents literally come and go. As a result, sensitive and confidential information can easily end up being handled by untrained staff. Of course, that’s a great opportunity for social engineers, as it is much easier to convince untrained staff to provide cybercriminals with valuable information.

Due to the above-mentioned factors, the chance of social engineers being caught in the act when targeting call centers is comparatively low. And thus there is simply no reason why you should think they are going to stop targeting call centers anytime soon.

So, how can you prevent social engineering affecting your call center?

Mitigating the risks of exposure to call center fraud such as social engineering needs to be a top priority for any forward-thinking call center.

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of comprehensive technology that provides 100% security for your systems. An advanced encryption system, for instance, can encrypt and decrypt data without employees having access to your valuable information.

But while investing in the latest technology solutions is a prerequisite for any business, unfortunately on its own it’s not enough.

In fact, security starts with your employees. You can have all the latest security technology in the world, but if your agents are not well-educated about different forms of cyberattacks, chances are that the consequences will be disastrous.

Therefore, make sure to provide your agents with frequent security awareness training sessions. During such training sessions, the main goal should be to help agents learn how they can recognize and react to different forms of social engineering. (Also, don’t forget that GDPR also came into effect on 25th May, so educating your staff about data privacy and security is now more important than ever.)

Once you have proper technology and well-educated staff in place to help you maintain security at your call center, it’s time to test your procedures. Social engineering tests in particular allow your business to review how easy it potentially could be to gain information from your call center agents.

And as cybercriminals continue to evolve their methods regarding call center fraud, if you want to keep your data safe, repetition is the key to success.

Security risk assessments, security awareness training sessions and social engineering tests need to be both frequent and up-to-date.

Call center fraud, such as social engineering, poses a huge threat to all kinds of businesses, and call centers, who accumulate an astonishing amount of data, are definitely no exception. So make sure you really try and follow our tips, as they will help ensure your call center employees don’t fall victim to social engineering attacks.

Articles and entries on vcc.live/blog do not constitute legal advice. Should you have any legal questions, please contact your lawyer or legal advisor. VCC Live® will not take any responsibility or liability for any damages, disadvantages or losses that may arise from the results of any interpretation of the contents of the blog.

International Debt Collection: Key Challenges and Best Practices

Posted on: August 23rd, 2018 by dorarapcsak No Comments

These days businesses provide their customers with the option of purchasing their services worldwide with just a single click, but ensuring that customers pay on time seems to be an uphill battle.

As a result, however, cross-border debt is also on the increase. And what businesses often forget is that international debt collection is a complex process that differs from country to country.

Collecting international debt is no easy task, so it’s essential to try and rely on a number of factors that will help make your procedures easier.

In this article, using my experience of working with clients who have their debt collection operations in a number of countries, I’ll show you what the main challenges of international debt collection are, and what techniques you can introduce to make your processes easier. So, here we go with the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of international debt collection!

What are the main challenges of international debt collection?

There’s no doubt that collecting outstanding debt is a real pain in the neck – especially if you need to collect cross-border debts from foreign customers located around the world.

Considering some of our clients dealing with debt collection processes in more than 5 countries, one of the main challenges of international debt collection is definitely the ability to measure and compare the performance of debt collection between particular countries.

In fact, the methods of collecting debt, rate of willingness to pay, supported payment options, salary ranges and regulations vary from country to country, making it a very challenging job to measure whether a company’s debt collection operations are actually bringing in profit or instead making additional losses.

For example, in Hungary and Poland 40% of outstanding debts are paid over the phone, while in other European countries this method is rarely used. Furthermore, in certain countries debt collectors utilize SMS messages in order to notify debtors of their outstanding debts, while in other countries SMS is not considered an official notification.

Another major international debt collection challenge is that debt recovery process rules are regulated at a national level, and companies need to be aware of the different country-specific rules and regulations.  

For instance, in most countries, it is prohibited by law to pay outstanding debts by credit card as it means transferring debts from one bank to another. On the other hand, in other countries settling debts by credit card is allowed by law (although it is not recommended).

As if that were not enough, courts also operate differently in different countries, so when companies have no choice but to take a debtor to court they may face significant obstacles depending on the country’s individual regulations.

In Australia, for example, courts refuse to take action on outstanding debts that are older than six years. However, in Hungary, this limit can be five, three or even one year, depending on the type of outstanding debt.

In order to reduce the impact of the above-mentioned challenges, companies tend to carry out their international debt collection processes from one central point. In other words, they operate their debt collection processes in, let’s say, 5 countries from one premises.

In such cases, having debt collection agents who speak the language of the debtors well enough to be able to deal with financial and legal terminology is of the utmost importance. And of course, finding and hiring such a workforce is another great challenge for companies that cope with international debt collection, especially if the languages in question are not widely used.

Finally, if your company has debtors who are located in several continents, different time zones will also make your processes more complicated. Handling negotiations across a number of time zones and reaching a customer on the phone who is located on the other side of the globe can easily turn your processes into a never-ending nightmare.

As such, if your business wants to collect debts from customers based around the world, then you’ll certainly need to rely on debt collection agents who will also be available outside regular business hours.

Best practices that make international debt collection easier

I could certainly go on with my list of further challenges, but let’s instead look at some best practices that will definitely allow you to improve your international debt collection processes.

So, here are my top tips to turn your debt collection nightmare into a profitable business:

1. As we already discussed, finding agents with the appropriate language skills is not an easy task at all. Furthermore, there’s no doubt that being a debt collection agent is not on the top of the list of employees’ dream jobs.

These days, companies all around the world struggle with labor shortages, so you’ll really need to go the extra mile in order to lure the best-suited debt collectors to your team. And although it may seem a tricky task, with some smart HR tricks even debt collector jobs can be made attractive to employees.

For instance, it’s a great idea to set up your debt collection hub in an area that is considered relatively popular among job seekers. By outsourcing your operations to, let’s say, a Mediterranean country and covering the costs of relocation, chances are you’ll be able to attract skilled foreign talent to your debt collection team, with the subsequent benefit they bring to your processes.

2. Furthermore, in order to overcome the difficulties caused by different time zones, make sure to target the newest labor market members, namely Gen Z, and attract them to your team with special offers tailored to their needs. If you’re interested in finding out how to keep the newest generation motivated in the workplace, make sure to check out our article on it.

3. Technology can also play its part. Solutions, such as setting time zones in your IVR technology, as well as the close monitoring of domestic and international KPIs can also be a great help in making your international debt collection easier.

4. Finally, when it comes to debt collection, it is essential to find the balance between the time invested in pursuing outstanding debt and the actual amount of debt that can potentially be collected. As you all know, over time, it’s simply not worth continuing to endlessly chase debt, otherwise you’ll easily end up with extra costs.

There is, however, a groundbreaking technology solution that allows you to speed up your international debt collection processes. Real-time payment technology allows debt collection agents to initiate payment processes with customers during phone conversations regarding their outstanding debt. Thus, agents can combine two debt collection phases into one. With real-time payment technology, collecting debts has never been so easy!

International debt collection requires country-specific knowledge, thorough planning and the willingness to always look for better ideas to ease up your processes. Feel free to follow my tips and probably you’ll too be able to improve your international debt collection processes.

Major IVR Technology Mistakes Your Business Needs to Avoid

Posted on: August 17th, 2018 by Elemér Erdősi 1 Comment

Well-constructed IVR technology can be a great way to improve overall customer experience, allowing customers to efficiently contact specific departments and navigate to the appropriate agent. If you get it right, your customer service will definitely shine.

But if you get it wrong, the result will be a bunch of angry customers and a poor customer service reputation.

These days, it is common for companies to use IVR systems to more effectively handle their customer service traffic. However, many of them make simple but serious mistakes with their IVR, thus missing out on leveraging the technology to its full extent.

Of course, designing a well-constructed IVR that meets the needs of thousands of customers located around the world is no easy task.

So, to help you out, here is my list of the most common IVR technology mistakes I’ve seen during my 7 years’ experience as a customer service leader at a multinational company that provides customer service in 9 languages and deals with an average of 2500 incoming calls a day. Check them out and make sure your company is not also making the same mistakes. 

Mistake number 1: you don’t allow your customers to request a callback

Time is money – to your customers as well as your business. So, when customers call you, don’t make them wait on the line for too long, instead give them the option to request a callback.

One major IVR technology mistake is giving customers no choice but to wait on the phone until they are transferred to an agent, however long that takes.

Thanks to the latest technological advances, you can add and implement a callback function into your IVR system as an extra menu option. I’m pretty sure that whenever your customer service’s waiting queue is too long, your customers will appreciate it.

The benefit of implementing a callback function is that your customer service lines will be less burdened, and by covering the cost of callbacks, your customers will be able to see that you actually care for them. So you’ll be killing two birds with one stone!

Mistake number 2: you don’t inform customers of expected waiting times

Also in connection with queue waiting times, another major mistake many companies make is that they often do not inform customers how long it will take for them to be put through to an agent. As you can imagine, for customers it’s more than frustrating holding the line for an unspecified period of time, waiting and waiting…

But now there is virtual waiting queue technology to help you. Forward-thinking customer service lines are already leveraging this cutting-edge technology, which estimates the waiting time for customers and offers them the option of a callback when it’s their turn in the line.

And yes, it’s as simple as it sounds: a customer hangs up the phone and when the estimated waiting time is over, they simply receive a callback from your customer service. Amazing, right?

Mistake number 3: your IVR is too complicated or long – or both

In our fast-paced world, people want to have their issues resolved as quickly as possible. This is why making customers navigate through an IVR menu containing lengthy and complicated messages is probably one of the worst things you can do to your business.

If customers become confused or bored as your IVR repeats unclear or superfluous information, you can be sure that many of them will hang up.

Of course, the main goal of an IVR system is to direct customers to whichever department is appropriate for their issue, and as such larger companies often have no choice but to design an IVR system with a number of menu points.

However, in all cases try to ensure that your IVR messages are as brief and as simple as possible. It’s also a great idea to upload an IVR map to your website, as it helps customers gather the information they need without having to listen to your menu options one after the other.

Mistake number 4: your IVR lacks customer personalization

There’s no doubt that customer personalization is a hot topic in CX right now. Today’s customers are demanding, and expect tailor-made solutions to their problems. And, as they are paying for your service, they want that solution without delay.

One way of satisfying these customer demands is by utilizing customer personalization in your IVR. This will definitely help your business stand out from the crowd.

Let’s take an example: “For English version, please press……” is a common sentence we hear towards the end of IVR messages at companies for whom English is a secondary language. However, only sharing this information at the end is a huge mistake, because English speaking customers may have already hung up before getting to that option!

This is where customer personalization can help: it is now possible to filter calls based on callerIDs. By doing this, you can automatically switch customers calling from foreign numbers to your English-language IVR.

In addition, you can also use callerIDs to filter customers based on the region they are calling from. For instance, if your service is down in one region, it’s very likely that calls from that region will immediately increase. In such cases, you can simply filter calls from that region and display a message to them regarding the relevant issue.

Of course, there are other techniques as well to add a bit of personalization to your IVR system. For instance, you can filter incoming calls and direct customers to the appropriate agent based on customer identification numbers. Make sure to store all relevant customer information (in a GDPR compliant way!) in a reliable CRM system and make it available to your agents. Once your customers give their identification number, your agents will be able to deliver a more personalized customer service by using the customer information your call center stores.

Mistake number 5: you make your customers repeat the same information again and again

Yet another one of the most annoying IVR technology mistakes that drives customers crazy is when they are required to repeat the same information again and again.

Many times customers are asked to give their names and identification number in order to get transferred to a specific agent, and then when they are transferred, the agent asks for the exact same information again.

It’s difficult to win customers’ trust anyway, but if you make them repeat the same information again and again, they will feel they are not valued by your company.

My advice here is to keep and use customer information and make it available to all customer service reps, so that they have no need to ask customers to repeat information. As we all know, call centers accumulate an incredible amount of data, so here is a chance to use that data to leverage your customer satisfaction.

Mistake number 6: you don’t offer alternative communication channels for your customers to contact you on

Multichannel communication is becoming an essential part of our business world, so I trust your business is already utilizing it. By allowing your customers to use different channels to contact your customer service on, you can handle customer queries more efficiently and effectively.

As for IVR technology, it’s definitely a big mistake to make customers wait on the line without providing them with the option of contacting your customer service on another channel (as well as the option of a callback, as previously discussed).

Offering waiting customers, for instance, the option of contacting you via email or even webchat will help reduce wait times, increase efficiency, and again, improve your company’s customer service reputation.

Mistake number 7: your IVR doesn’t help customers outside opening hours

Technologies change in the blink of an eye, and so does customer behavior. While not so long ago customers relied on customer service phone lines when they needed help, today they prefer to solve problems on their own rather than contacting customer service departments.

In such an environment, one of the most common IVR technology mistakes I have experienced many times during the years is having IVR messages outside working hours that say “currently we’re not open, please call us back tomorrow at …”.

And to be honest, such messages are of no use at all to customers. If they want to know your opening hours, they’ll simply check your website.

Furthermore, depending on your business, your customers may not even need to speak to your customer service reps in order to solve a particular issue. For example, if you run an airline, you can allow your customers to check their flight number using only their phone: there really is no need for a customer service rep in such a situation.

The best way to try and satisfy these increasingly-common customer demands and expectations is to design and implement an IVR system with self-service options. It’s definitely not an easy task, but it’s worth the effort in the long term. And, as I already said, it’s fast becoming the norm.

Mistake 8: you don’t ask for feedback

Chances are that thousands of customers use your IVR system on a daily basis. And as we all know, however well-designed you think your IVR menu may be, there’s always room for improvement. And who better to help you improve than your customers!

However, another major IVR technology mistake companies make is that they commonly forget to ask their customers to provide feedback. To make sure you don’t make the same mistake, I would recommend adding an assessment menu option to your IVR.  

These days, customer reviews have great power, and since it is customers who use your IVR system, it is important you provide them with an opportunity to offer their valuable insights.

Another great idea is to send an SMS right after a call and ask customers to assess the quality of the interaction they just had.

Testing an IVR is always an essential part of implementation, but gathering real-time experiences from your customers will provide you with the most valuable insights regarding the quality of your customer service.

Mistake number 9: your on-hold music does not reflect your brand image

It’s always a tricky question: should you have some on-hold music or simply leave the phone ringing until an agent becomes available?

Although the choice to have some on-hold music may be the better option, my experience through the years is that decision makers sometimes base their choice of on-hold music on their own personal preferences, rather than something that reflects the company’s brand image. I’ve heard on-hold music that included Rolling Stones and other 80s hits, just to mention a few. Don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t like Rolling Stones, but is on-hold music really the best place to display your personal music tastes?

Probably not. Instead, try and go for on-hold music that reflects your brand image.

Another great idea could be going for a mix of on-hold music along with some of your current offers or recent news regarding your company. By doing this, you provide your customers with an interactive waiting time, and even promote your products or services.

Mistake number 10: you think your IVR is perfect

Test, measure, improve! That’s definitely the “Holy Trinity” of IVR solutions.

Even if you spent a great amount of time designing and implementing your IVR system, bear in mind that there’s always room for improvement.

In fact, your IVR menu should never be considered finished! Customer behavior and technologies are constantly changing, and what was a great solution in the past can easily become outdated.

Make sure to monitor customer trends and always think of your IVR as a process of continuous improvement, rather than a finished product.

Do you know other IVR technology mistakes businesses definitely should avoid? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section!

Personalized Customer Service to Increase Customer Trust

Posted on: August 16th, 2018 by dorarapcsak No Comments

There is a hot ongoing debate nowadays about customer journey and experience personalization. You might have heard different arguments supporting or undermining the idea of hyper-personalization of today’s customer-business relationship. One thing is for sure, the customer care industry is rapidly growing and personalized customer service has started to become an important part of it.

In this article, I’ll show you the importance of personalized customer service and how it can increase customer trust. Read on and make sure you implement the latest trends into your customer service strategy.

What is personalized customer service?

Customer service personalization is the process of tailoring information, products or services to individual users’ characteristics and preferences. This great technique is already utilized by a number of companies to enhance customer service experience and e-commerce sales.

Personalization can help your business interact with clients and prospects more effectively, making customer interactions faster, easier and more convenient.

Customer personalization works based on the knowledge your business collects and stores about your customers. This knowledge may include demographic information, any customer information you gather during your existing client-supplier relationships – such as in which products your customer was interested so far – as well as information collected based on social media platforms and customer behavior patterns. Personalized customer service works best when the customer already knows your company and vice versa. This technique can easily be applied by companies whose sales and customer service strategy rely on long-term relationships.

In order to personalize the customer contact – we must use our knowledge about the client, their current contact with our company in various channels, and know their emotional profile, what they are paying attention to, and whether or not it is easy to irritate them. In our fast-paced world we are super-busy and have less and less time, so it’s no surprise that we want to talk to someone who already knows us, rather to someone who is always asking us the same questions.

Imagine you’re a customer purchasing at an online shop. Be it a fashion shop or a computer geeks’ heaven, we all have our all-time favorite we like to visit from time to time. But did you know these shops use similar tricks to make you purchase their products?

You have probably come across personalized ads on social media, attracting you to visit your favorite webshop again by popping up with their newest offers, surprisingly just when you got your salary.

So, you enter their webshop and first you’ll receive items suggestions based on your previous choices, or service upgrade offers compatible with a product you have recently purchased. Then you start browsing the webshop, and if you can’t find all the information you need regarding a product you’re interested in, you can simply click on a chat icon and get connected to a live agent. Of course, the agent already knows your previous shopping history, as well as the page you are browsing, and they can even remotely help navigate you to the page where you can find the information you’re looking for.

Personalization vs identification

It’s important to highlight that there’s a difference between customer identification and customer personalization: although the two terms are similar, customer identification is not yet personalization. Your personalization strategy, though, needs to highly depend on the correct customer identification process.

Luckily, customer identification can be now easily carried out with the help of comprehensive technology solutions. For example, your clients’ identity can be automatically recognized by a system using various methods, such as phone number verification, pin code or more advanced biometrical methods. The data collected, however, is not useful at all without a well-designed personalization process that follows the identification process.

It may be hard to believe, but for many businesses personalization simply means knowing their client’s name during a conversation, while they keep asking them the same unnecessary questions instead of using any further customer information to make the call as convenient as possible.

Personalization in contact centers

First of all, let’s face it, it’s not possible to get a full picture of the client without cooperation between departments in the organization as well as different communication channels. Client communication management must rely on technologies that are able to automate the integration of data from multiple sources and then support personalized contact. Many companies are investing in solutions based on artificial intelligence, predictive analytics and data integration tools to achieve a 360° customer view.

In which areas of contact center routines can personalization be implemented?

It’s simple: it can be implemented from the very beginning of the customer journey in the inbound call handling process. For instance, you can allow clients to identify themselves using an inbound IVR HTTP request, and then you can verify their personality in your external system.

Once you know who is on the other side of the line, you can offer your clients self-service options based on their previous most common choices. So, instead of making them listen to the same predefined messages, you can deliver better customer experience to them by resolving their issues or requests in a much shorter time.

If an issue cannot be handled automatically, your clients may request a conversation with your agents. In such cases, agents can rely on call center scripts containing all the necessary customer information that is required for quickly resolving your client’s issue.

Additionally, by having customer data at hand, you can easily identify priority and loyal customers and thus serve them better. For example, based on previous client history, you can create VIP queues for your priority and loyal customers in order to provide them with the best possible care without any delays.

Of course, there are situations where an issue cannot be resolved for the first contact. Imagine that your client is calling again to get an update on their case, and is forced to explain the situation all over again. How frustrating would that be for them?  

Luckily, your clients can immediately be connected to the same agent who handled their cases previously, or if that’s not possible, to another agent who will have access to the whole client contact history and case details.  

When using customer personalization techniques, it’s really important to track your NPS results and see your clients’ satisfaction level trends, and act accordingly by eliminating weaker points. Remember, however, not every client will appreciate personalization or at least not to the same extent.  

According to a Salesforce report, “75% of consumers expect companies to provide a consistent experience wherever they engage (eg. a website chat, social media, mobile, in-person). 66% of customers even say that they’re likely to switch brands if a company treats them like a number instead of an individual.”

This goes in line with the results of Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Research 2018 stating that due to low personalization and brand distrust, US companies lost $756 billion in 2016, and 52% of consumers changed their service provider for the very same reason. It can, therefore, be concluded that personalized customer service is now one of the main drivers of business growth.

Let your imagination run free

According to the Salesforce report mentioned above, close to half of consumers (47%) expect that by 2020 companies will take the personal preferences and needs of customers into account, thanks to which they will be able to automate the generation of orders and the creation of personalized promotional offers. Over half of consumers (51%) expect companies to anticipate their needs and present relevant offers before contacting them.

Where can personalization lead us? Current technology already allows us to precisely adjust the service process, the communication language and its formality, and the selection of products and services to a given person at a specified time. Personalization is now not only about the identification of clients by name but reached a higher level of understanding clients’ psychology. Technology can allow you to get to know your client’s personality during the first contact, thus provides great opportunities for your business.

Which form of contact is preferred by your client? Do they need concise information or prefer to talk a bit longer? Can you address them in a less formal manner? Is it better to push your client to make a quick decision or should you give them some time to think?

If technology around us will learn more and more about our needs and read our intentions, then as a next step, they’ll probably be able to anticipate our questions, needs and expectations.

Is personalization always a good direction?

Call center industry experts hold highly contradictory opinions about personalization.

The most important question is whether customer contacts should be personalized or not. Well, I would say – it depends. It depends on many factors as well as communication channels. Some clients expect or even demand their contact to be personalized, eg. when talking to their local bank’s customer service, but the situation may be different for a local shopping center.

I’m curious but also a bit skeptical about the idea of a total personalization, but I believe that using the information you have about your clients can help you boost your business both in terms of higher sales volumes as well as better customer experience.

So what do you think about customer personalization? Please do not hesitate to share your opinion with us!

GDPR and Telemarketing: Is This the End of Cold Emails?

Posted on: August 10th, 2018 by dorarapcsak No Comments

With GDPR (the General Data Protection Regulation) coming into force on 25 May this year, companies hopefully have already finished their preparations for life under the new legislation.

One of the final pieces businesses needed to put in place was to update their service terms and send out emails informing recipients of those updates. And we bet you too received a whole load of these emails, right? It’s amazing how many companies have your data, isn’t it…

Ironically, these unrequested GDPR-related emails are an example of what we are going to talk about in this article: cold emailing, and how the new legislation affects it.

Cold emails are one of the main activities outbound call centers focus on. In previous articles, we talked about how call centers can prepare for the new rules and whether it is still permitted to initiate cold calls now that GDPR is in force. In this last part of our GDPR guide, we’ll take things further by discussing what GDPR means for telemarketing, and specifically for cold emailing.

As the legislation is now officially in force, there’s no longer any excuse for your business to act recklessly. If you want to continue to use email campaigns as part of your telemarketing strategy, it’s time to check out our pro tips!

Be aware of what “personal data” is

Let’s get straight to the point: although many people think GDPR has put an end to telemarketing, it’s actually still possible to send cold emails with this new legislation in force. However, not surprisingly, the rules of the game have changed significantly.

There’s no doubt that, if you wish to continue your telemarketing email campaigns, you will need to act in accordance with GDPR. Otherwise, your business may face fines of up to €20 million or 4% of annual turnover.

In terms of sending cold emails in a GDPR-compliant way, you will first need to be clear about what “personal data” is. As mentioned in a previous article, the term covers personal information such as names, home addresses, phone numbers and email addresses.

Bearing this in mind, you will also need to be both aware of and have a comprehensive understanding of your data collection processes, and how they relate to (and are restricted by) GDPR. This is the first step you’ll need to take before even considering sending out cold emails in the post-GDPR business world.

Rethinking your list-building processes

It’s a common list-building practice for companies to identify potential clients online, search for their contact details, add them to email lists and finally contact them with a product/service offer.

With GDPR in force, however, you’ll definitely need to rethink how you build your email lists – uploading random addresses to your email database is now a gamble that’s not worth taking.

As for bought email lists, you can continue to rely on them, but it is your responsibility to ensure your lists are 100% compliant with the new legislation.

Bear in mind that GDPR is not only about what data you can use, but also about how you can use it. Therefore, understanding why someone’s email address is on your list and how you obtained it should be high on your list of priorities.

Whether you’re collecting data yourself or buying lists, you’ll always need to keep track of how and why you’re storing and processing the data they include. In particular, GDPR specifies that you can only store and process data that is 100% required to provide your service to its full extent, and only for as short as needed. So, if you’re thinking in the long term, regular cleansing and maintaining of your email database is an absolute must.

Be prepared to know as much as you can about your email lists, as chances are you’ll receive “where did you get my email address from?” inquiries. It’s also essential for you to prepare informative replies to such questions in advance, explaining how and why you obtained particular customer data.

To summarize, having a transparent process of storing and processing personal data, and being able to provide information about this process in detail, is an essential step in complying with GDPR.

Clear consent vs. legitimate interest

In order to contact prospects in accordance with GDPR, you either need to receive clear consent from them or have a legitimate business interest when reaching out to them. Both of these options have already been discussed in detail in our previous article about GDPR and telesales, so we’re not going to talk about them in depth here.

These options can be considered the basis for sending cold emails in the post-GDPR world. Of course, if you have clear consent from customers to call them then there is not an issue, but what about new prospects? Can you have their consent if you’ve never been in touch before? Probably not.

Luckily, in such cases, you can outsmart GDPR by leveraging the option of legitimate interest. As outlined in the legislation, as long as you can claim you have a legitimate business interest in contacting customers, and it’s not overridden by your customers’ decision to not be contacted, you’re allowed to send them cold emails.

Ensure your emails are targeted and appropriate

Since it’s fairly difficult (if not impossible) to gain new prospects’ clear consent before contacting them, we assume the option of legitimate interest is already your best friend in the post-GDPR world.

It’s not that simple, however. As GDPR protects the personal data and privacy of individuals, if you base your email campaigns on the basis of legitimate interest, you’ll need to make sure your customers are likely to benefit from those business-related cold emails.

Legitimate interest is, in fact, one of 6 criteria you’ll need to meet in order to be able to store and process customer data, but using it as a reason for contacting prospects is only legal if your interest is not overridden by prospects’ privacy rights.

Therefore, your campaign targeting has to be as tailored and relevant as possible: you cannot simply just send out unrequested cold emails to random email addresses. Instead, you’ll need to focus on reaching audiences that are genuinely interested in your products or services.

In practice this means that telemarketing departments will need to be able to justify that their cold emails target potential customers who are truly interested in their products or services. Furthermore, you will need to make sure you personalize your emails to the recipient, and also identify the physical email address of the sender.

If you want to contact your prospects in a GDPR-compliant way, you’ll need to have a strong reason to do so, and make sure to explain your legitimate interest to them in your email copy.

Opt-in vs. opt-out

With GDPR in force, customer consent needs to be obtained, normally via opt-in boxes to be ticked. Indeed, the clearest way to obtain consent is to ask customers to tick an opt-in box confirming they are happy to receive your cold emails.

However, bear in mind that pre-checked opt-ins are no longer considered clear consent given by customers. Like it or not, if an individual doesn’t say a clear “yes”, it means “no”.

Our advice here is to use double opt-ins, as they mean your prospects will have to confirm their email address before being added to your email list. Using double opt-ins in telemarketing is, in our opinion, the best way to ensure compliance with GDPR.

Once you received your customers’ consent, you’ll also need to provide them with a clear and easy opt-out option. Don’t forget that GDPR also states that customers can withdraw their consent at any time, and of course this applies to cold emails as well.

Whenever you send out your cold emails, make sure to insert an obvious opt-out box at the bottom of your email. Considering the consequences of breaching the new legislation, it’s better to play it safe, isn’t it?

Articles and entries on vcc.live/blog do not constitute legal advice. Should you have any legal questions, please contact your lawyer or legal advisor. VCC Live® will not take any responsibility or liability for any damages, disadvantages or losses that may arise from the results of any interpretation of the contents of the blog.

Read our practical GDPR GUIDE for contact centers for all the information you need to know about the regulation!

How WebRTC Is Revolutionizing the Call Center Industry

Posted on: August 7th, 2018 by dorarapcsak No Comments

There’s no doubt that ever-more sophisticated new technologies are shaping the world around us, turning seemingly impossible ideas into reality. While a few years ago many groundbreaking concepts – such as video chat, Wi-Fi routers, and 4G technology – seemed impossible, today they are part of our everyday lives.

Amongst other breakthroughs in the tech world, WebRTC is also having a profound effect on our lives. WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) is a free-to-use and open-source innovation that allows website browsers to communicate with each other in real-time, anytime, anywhere, using any device. This cutting-edge technology can be used via the web and mobile applications, and is compatible with multiple browsers.  

Considering WebRTC’s advanced features, it’s no surprise that more and more businesses want to get their hands on it. In this article, we’ll highlight some key aspects of how WebRTC technology is reshaping customer service. Read on, and find out why you need to ensure that your call center is ready to leverage this cutting-edge technology.  

WebRTC and Omnichannel Support

Omnichannel communication is no longer just a promising technology solution. After having proved itself for a number of years now, it’s definitely here to stay.

Before the digital revolution, if customers needed to speak to an organization, they simply picked up the phone and dialed the customer service number. In today’s connected world, however, when it comes to contacting a business, customers can take their pick from a number of communications channels, including phone, email,  SMS, social media and even webchat.

And, as a result of the growing popularity of omnichannel communication, customers are seeking the fastest and most convenient ways to contact businesses.  

As such, one common challenge customer service departments need to overcome as part of their omnichannel communication strategy is to keep their channels unified, and to be able to perform equally well on all of them.

This is where WebRTC comes into play: as this technology works on multiple platforms, it helps businesses smoothen their multichannel communication by allowing customers to interact with them with a single click.

Indeed, WebRTC takes customer experience to the next level by making customer interaction easier and more personalized. For example, using WebRTC, customers can contact customer service agents directly from the company’s website without having to install an additional application, allowing, let’s say, a customer who is browsing your website looking for information to contact your customer service reps via web chat.

Leverage new channels and technologies – and improve your CX

Despite the various communication channels available, customer service agents – especially those who deal with more complex technical issues – often struggle to understand and efficiently resolve customer issues. And, as we all know, customers get easily frustrated when they are unable to explain their problems to customer service agents, or have their problems quickly dealt with.

In many cases, considering it is fairly difficult to understand and explain (often complex) technical issues without having a deep understanding of the technology involved, no one is to blame.

Luckily, WebRTC’s screen sharing feature provides a great solution to this issue. By allowing agents to see what callers are seeing, agents can provide help more efficiently, and even make changes remotely on behalf of customers when necessary.

In our competitive business environment, another technology that is helping provide a new communication channel to organizations to stay ahead of the competition is video chat.

Engaging customers in the moment through video chat can significantly improve conversation and customer loyalty. And as WebRTC technology can be used as a video conferencing tool, there is no doubt that it will have an important role in shaping customer service of the future.

For instance, let’s say one of your customers is browsing your knowledge base to access some information. After a certain number of unsuccessful search attempts, WebRTC can offer them the option of contacting a customer service rep via video chat, turning a potentially unsuccessful customer experience into a successful one.

Increased data security with WebRTC

The core activity of any customer service department is to initiate and take customer calls. As a result, call centers accumulate an astonishing amount of customer data on a daily basis.

Keeping this customer data safe and secure is a prerequisite for any call center that values their customers’ privacy – especially since GDPR is now in force.

As cybercrime becomes an ever-increasing danger, businesses – including call centers – really do have to take all necessary measures to protect their data in order to prevent disastrous consequences.  

With WebRTC, however, there’s no need to worry about data privacy. Since the technology works on an individual browser basis, users don’t need to install any software in order to initiate calls, thus instantly reducing the risk of cyberattacks.

Thanks to WebRTC’s end-to-end encryption, communication is 100% safe, regardless of whatever server you’re using. Furthermore, WebRTC also offers DTLS (Datagram Transport Layer Security) and SRTP (Secure Real-Time Protocol) encryption methods, instantly reducing the risk of eavesdropping.

Thanks to its advanced data security features, customer service departments can rely on this new technology, ensuring that the customer data they store and process is 100% safe and secure.

Sum up

There’s no doubt that the technology behind WebRTC has already started to shake up the customer service world. Want to stay ahead of the competition? Then maybe it’s time to invest in WebRTC.