Archive for December, 2018

Fighting Call Center Turnover: How to Boost Morale in Your Agent Team

Posted on: December 13th, 2018 by dorarapcsak No Comments

Working as a call center agent is not easy. Agents spend most of their time on the phone talking to customers, resolving complex issues with often angry customers. Considering the resulting high levels of stress commonly experienced, it’s no surprise that call center turnover rates are usually in the sky.

As with customer retention, though, agent retention needs to be at the heart of any business that wants to strive in the long term. However, finding new talent is becoming increasingly challenging due to the global labor shortage, while constantly hiring new staff results in significant onboarding and training costs.

So, you better make sure your call center agents enjoy coming to work each day. Luckily, we have a few tips ready to share with you on how you can boost morale in your agent team…

Social events

Social events can be a great opportunity for agents to get to know each other and let off steam after a hard workday. Such events will also help you create a better atmosphere in the company, one of the keys to reducing call center turnover.

Luckily, the options for social events are endless, so let your imagination run free and come up with ideas that will engage your agents. How about, for example, a breakfast gathering or an office sports day!

Another idea is to let your agents, rather than supervisors or management, organize work events. If you have ever seen the TV series ‘The Office’ you are probably familiar with the Party Planning Community, who organize work events at the company, such as the annual Christmas party. By letting your agents do the same, you can be pretty sure that they’ll become more enthusiastic about work events.

Social responsibility programs

Businesses need to give staff a reason to stay at the company. Of course, providing an outstanding working environment and conditions is essential, but it is increasingly not enough in a business world where most industries face labor shortages.

One great way to reduce call center turnover is by allowing your team to contribute to social causes and charities. Initiating social responsibility programs is a great opportunity for your business to build up a culture of giving.

Corporate social responsibility, such as supporting a charity or organizing fundraising events, encourages agents to feel connected to a larger cause, while also helping your business boost team morale.

Run competitions and give away prizes

Call center agents have to work hard to hit their (often unrealistic) target KPIs. Of course, in such a competitive environment, agents crave recognition from management.

As such, appreciating your agents for their hard work is probably the best morale booster at any call center, and it will also motivate agents to keep up their good work. So why not add some fun to your call center and run competitions among your agents?

There are a number of ways this could be done. For example, you can create a coupon book and give out coupons for 15 minutes of time off or work-from-home day. Whatever you do, always make sure to award prizes that make the winners feel special. You can be sure your agents will totally go for it!

Listen to your agents

We have already talked in a previous article about the importance of giving feedback to your call center agents (in case you missed it, make sure to check it out)! And, to reiterate what was said in that article, as a conversation always has two participants, taking feedback is equally important.

One thing is for sure: listening to your call center agents is your golden ticket to good team morale. Therefore, make sure you often ask your agents in your team how they feel, both inside and outside the workplace. And once you receive feedback from them, make sure to take action on it. This contributes to a healthy and open workplace your agents will want to stay at for the long term.

Also, make sure to listen when your agents share personal details and use this information for some random act of kindness. For example, surprise a colleague with their favorite chocolate after a stressful day.  

Organize celebrations

Your agents are probably aware that working in a large team of call center agents makes it difficult to get noticed. Therefore, one great way to fight call center turnover and boost morale in your team is by showing your agents you value each and every one of them.

You could, for example, throw birthday parties to make them feel special on their big day. Alternatively, organizing an occasion to celebrate the announcement of a forthcoming baby, a colleague returning from maternity leave or an agent embarking on new adventures will allow your team to have a little fun while getting off the hamster wheel for a bit.

People appreciate it if they’re valued by the company they work for. So make sure to follow our tips to keep the morale in your call center high!

 

3 Tips to Creating an FAQ Section (That Actually Works)

Posted on: December 12th, 2018 by Péter Krisán No Comments

With consumer behavior developing as it is, customers are willing to look for their answers themselves. In my previous article, I already talked about the importance of self-service portals. Now, it’s time to talk about FAQs.

If you decided to set up an FAQ section on your website, you might just be wondering how challenging this task is.

It is often said that designing an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) site is very difficult, but in reality, perhaps it’s not as tricky as you think. Because after all, an FAQ section only needs to accomplish what its name suggests: answering questions that are frequently asked.

Without further ado, let’s see the basic steps to building an FAQ section that delivers its promises. And I promise you, it’s not rocket science.

Step 1 — Do Your Research!

Undoubtedly, the number one reason you will be considering developing an FAQ page is because you need to answer customer questions you hear the most.

But have you thought about answering questions that were never asked? Chances are you will be able to answer some questions before they are even asked. And it will help fill your new FAQ site with relevant content.

In a nutshell: Add questions your customers asked. But also add questions you think customers might ask. Do the latter with caution: you don’t want it to make too obvious.

Step 2 — Establish a Neatly-Organized Structure

What do your visitors want to achieve? To find answers as soon as possible. So don’t let visitors get lost in endless number of questions. Make sure the content is well organized, so it’s easy to scan and navigate.

Divide questions into sections based on their topics, and be generic when phrasing the questions. You might also want to use a fair amount of relevant keywords and implement a nifty search bar.

In a nutshell: Ensure that finding the relevant information is a piece of cake for your customers.

Step 3 — Make the FAQ Section Concise & Aesthetically Pleasing

Some say that content is more important than design, but I believe in balancing form and function. We simply cannot ignore the fact that humans are hard-coded to instinctively respond to beauty.

So make sure you page has a design that people will enjoy looking at, while still maintaining a look and feel that fits your company identity. And if your business has a unique communication style, the language and tone of the text should reflect that.

In a nutshell: Come up with a design that is visually pleasing, with an overall look and feel (including texts) that blends seamlessly into your company’s vibe.

Is an FAQ Worth The Effort?

Without digging too much into scientific explanations, I may have found some evidence suggesting that an FAQ is good for your website: just about every business website has an FAQ section.

And it’s with good reason: an effectively-designed FAQ page helps reduce the need for your support team to handle repetitive questions, while also increasing website visibility and enriching user experience.

One thing to keep in mind, though: developing an FAQ section is not a “set it and forget it” project. It must be continuously improved and maintained, because as I always say: misleading information is worse than no information at all.

Customer Service Trends to Watch Out for in 2019

Posted on: December 7th, 2018 by Elemér Erdősi No Comments

Anyone who works in the call center industry knows that it’s never too early for a company to start planning their customer service strategy for the following year.

Customer experience has a significant impact on business results, so if you haven’t already started to establish your strategy for next year, then now is the time. And if you are looking for some inspiration, here is my list of customer service trends you should watch out for in 2019!

Voice is not dead

Generation Z claims that ‘Phone calls are dead’. But are they really a thing of the past? It seems not. Although the volume of traditional phone calls connected with customer services has indeed dropped significantly over the last few years, voice will continue to be an essential part of customer service in 2019.

And here’s why: customers require a human touch in customer service interactions, and it seems they will continue to do so in the near future. Of course, businesses may try their best to leverage automated customer service tools in order to ease up their call queues, but customers will still expect to be offered the opportunity to talk to a live agent when needed.

Furthermore, speech recognition will definitely gain more ground in customer service in the upcoming years, as more and more advanced speech analytics technologies start appearing on the market. As a result, self-service IVRs utilizing speech recognition technology, allowing customers to resolve their own problems as well as seek help from a live agent if needed, will also become more popular.

Instant messaging will take over

The popularity of social media is skyrocketing, with more than 4 billion users worldwide in 2018. Among many other things, the rise of social media platforms over the past few years has completely changed the face of customer service, and is now paving the way for instant messaging as a customer service channel.

Customers don’t want to spend their valuable time anymore making phone calls or sending emails in order to contact a company. Instead, they would rather simply drop customer service a message on Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, while they are in the middle of doing something else.

As CX experts say, you need to meet your customers where they actually are. And it seems your customers are increasingly to be found on messaging apps, so that is where you’re going to have to meet them. As such, it’s no surprise that more and more companies have started to implement instant messaging for customer communication. And I strongly believe this trend will become even more significant in 2019.

Mobile customer service – putting mobile first

Mobile usage has disrupted customer behavior like we’ve never seen before. These days customers basically do everything on their phones: they keep up with their friends, plan their social calendar, arrange meetings, check their bank accounts and pay bills, research their queries, and the list goes on!

And what else do customers do on their mobiles? The majority of customers, 70%, use their mobile when they need help from customer service departments.

As a result, one developing channel that will most likely define customer service trends in 2019 is mobile phones. Besides leveraging social media (which can also be easily accessed from mobile phones), innovative businesses have already started to provide customer service via their mobile applications.

Indeed, more and more mobile applications are now integrated into call center processes, meaning, for example, that customers can request a call-back or be transferred to live chat via a company’s mobile application.

Providing customer service via mobile phone has great potential for organizations, so it should definitely be on your company’s radar in 2019.

Artificial Intelligence – from average to good

Over the past few years, we can safely say that AI has become an essential part of customer interactions, with chatbots, virtual assistants, speech recognition technologies and predictive analytics gaining ground in call centers. Indeed, AI technology now allows companies to figure out the reasons why customers make contact, as well as come up with suggestions about what to do and even actually resolve simple customer queries.

And this is only the beginning! This year, we have seen AI technologies powered by machine learning, such as Google Duplex and Google’s Contact Center AI, transforming the business world around us.

Until now, our experiences with AI technologies haven’t always been great. Machine learning, the latest AI technology behind recent advancements, however, has great potential for transforming AI technologies from average to good, and we’re definitely looking forward to that.

Furthermore, thanks to machine learning and natural language processing, we can expect significant improvements in chatbot technologies as well. While quick and easy bot solutions will continue to address common customer queries, more advanced bots are poised to enter the market. As such, amongst other things, customers will soon be able to initiate real-time payments via customer interactions handled by bots.  

Customer self-service will become the new customer service trend

Customer self-service has become a real game changer in the customer service industry, and for good reason.  

Self-service is a form of customer support that allows customers to perform routine tasks without having to interact with a call center agent at all. (For more info on self-service, check out our articles on how to set up a self-service portal and how to increase revenue with customer self-service).

Customers today are increasingly looking to solve their problems themselves, rather than dial customer service lines. As a result, customer self-service has become ever-more popular with companies, allowing them to provide a comparatively simple way to manage customer queries.

As self-service is cost-effective and creates satisfied customers, businesses quickly embraced the idea and are trying to get a grip on it. Needless to say, in 2019 we can expect a major increase in use of self-service in general.

From multichannel to omnichannel

Multichannel communication is nothing new in the call center industry. In fact, businesses already leverage a number of channels for customer service in order to survive in a saturated market.

And while providing customers with the opportunity to contact your business on a number of channels is great, it can easily backfire if your channels are not integrated. And this is exactly why forward-thinking business have started to shift from multichannel to omnichannel.

In 2019 call centers will be expected to deliver a seamless omnichannel customer experience to maximize personalization. Customers no longer accept that they have to repeat what they said previously to another agent through a different channel. Instead, they expect the agent they’re talking to know their interaction history and efficiently resolve their issue.

It’s simple: if you ensure that customer communication quality is the same for all the channels you use, you’ll be able to quickly resolve your customer issues without any hassle.

Real-time assistance will move up to a whole new level

Keeping up with ever-growing customer expectations calls for the implementation of new channels to provide seamless real-time assistance. Using video for customer service purposes is one of the most promising of these new channels.  

Video chat, for example, enables advanced real-time support, personalized customer experience, and an increased first-call resolution rate. Video also opens up new opportunities in call centers, allowing customers, for example, to request call-backs through video chat, and giving agents the opportunity to send tutorial video attachments via email or live chat.

Furthermore, video chat solutions work effectively with features such as co-browsing and screen sharing, allowing your agents to remotely guide customers and even gain control of a customer’s screen during a chat interaction.

There’s no doubt, video will be one of most promising customer service trends in 2019 as it helps businesses create personalization and build relationships with customers, potentially reducing the time they spend looking for answers to their question.

As you can see then, from mobile apps to advanced chatbots and self-service options, businesses are continuing to leverage technology in order to improve their overall customer experience. Make sure you follow these trends to stay ahead of the competition!

How to Prepare Your Call Center for a Holiday Peak Season

Posted on: December 6th, 2018 by dorarapcsak No Comments

Christmas is just around the corner! And although there are still a few weeks to go, most of us have already got into the holiday spirit, shopping for Christmas gifts while counting down the days until the big event.  

If you manage a call center, however, chances are you associate Christmas with overtime, demanding customers and increased stress levels. And it is true that for call centers the holiday season is often the most chaotic period of the year.

But don’t worry, we’re here to help you out! Read on and you won’t ever have to fear Christmas holidays again! 

Analyze your data

As we all know, at any call center, data is everything. If you make good use of your data, it can basically tell you everything about your business. For example, you can utilize the data you have to generate reports showing how your team performed during the holiday peak season last year.

By doing this, you can determine what to expect during this years’ holiday season in terms of call, email, and chat volume. In fact, finding out expected customer query volumes is one of the best ways to plan your workforce management for the holidays.

You should also definitely make good use of the invaluable insight data can give you regarding your customers’ and employees’ feedback. After all, it is they who can provide you with the most valuable information about your business.

In particular, it might be a good idea to ask customers about their experiences with your business during the previous holiday season. Also, make sure to allocate enough time for one-to-one feedback sessions with your call center agents. Finally, use the collected feedback to determine how and where you should improve your services in order to rock this year’s Christmas season.

Last but not least, always bear in mind that most companies make the majority of their sales during holiday peak seasons. Luckily, customer data can also help you increase your sales figures. So, make sure to leverage your data and don’t miss out on this great opportunity to make personalized offers to your customers.

Scale up your team during the holiday peak season

As calls suddenly skyrocket during the holiday season, it’s no surprise that agents often struggle to deal with the resulting high call volumes. And as if that wasn’t enough, it’s the time of the year when customers become increasingly frantic as they try to resolve their issues before businesses close for the New Year.

And of course, receiving an order on time becomes even more important if your customer wants to put it under the Christmas tree. As such, it’s only natural that agents experience high levels of stress when dealing with customers during peak periods.

Managing a call center during peak times is a major challenge, and if you can’t efficiently react to increased call volumes, it can easily become your worst nightmare. Therefore, when it comes to planning your staff for the holidays, never settle for the bare minimum. Instead, ensure you can easily scale up your business by relying on trained agents who are ready to help out when necessary.

Of course, finding seasonal staff who are sufficiently trained to deal with the holiday demand is no small feat. Our advice here is to try and utilize experienced remote agents who can easily keep up with the holiday craziness. And if you’re still not convinced about the benefits of hiring remote agents, make sure to check out our article on it.  

Also, bear in mind that some of your agents who are scheduled to work during the holidays may become unexpectedly ill. Again, in such cases, leveraging remote agents could be the ideal solution in order to keep your customer service consistent and seamless.

Provide omnichannel support

Omni-channel customer service is definitely a must for any business that wants to satisfy and retain its customers. And during an extremely busy holiday peak season, omnichannel customer service may well turn out to be your savior!

Indeed, customers no longer accept that they will have to repeat information over again what they said previously through a different channel. And around Christmas, you can be sure that they will be more likely to lose their temper!

So, if you want to successfully manage your call center during the holiday peak season, make sure to ease up your call queues by directing customers to your other channels, such as email, chat or social media.

And as we all know, some customer queries can be easily resolved via email, SMS or live chat. Furthermore, these days customers can even choose to resolve their own issues by using self-service options without the interaction of a live agent.

Providing customer service via a number of channels will definitely help you ease up your high call volumes, but only if you ensure that customer communication quality is the same for all the channels you use.

When the holidays come, expect the unexpected and be ready to react! Make sure to prepare your call center by following our tips, then sit back and enjoy the holiday peak season without the associated hassle. 

Why VCC Live® is the Ideal Solution for Call Centers Utilizing Remote Agents

Posted on: December 4th, 2018 by Péter Málhai No Comments

In today’s ever-evolving workplace, if you aren’t prepared to react and adapt to change, it could have a dramatic long-term impact on your business. The call center industry, in particular, is undergoing significant changes at the moment, with the general trend seeing a huge shift from bricks-and-mortar to virtual premises.

In a previous article, we talked about the benefits of hiring remote agents in call centers. In this article, I’ll discuss some further benefits of utilizing remote agents, and show you how VCC Live®’s system allows businesses to make the most of the home agent model.

The move from bricks-and-mortar to virtual

There’s no doubt that the popularity of the home agent business model is skyrocketing. If you aren’t already considering utilizing remote agents, here are several reasons why you should be.

First of all, home-based agents are cost effective – for both sides. On one hand, by hiring remote agents, you can save a fortune on costs related to office space and IT infrastructure, as well as time on setting up your call center. On the other hand, working from home allows your agents to make savings on both public transportation expenses and time spent on commuting. Here at VCC Live®, we love win-win situations, and this is definitely a win-win, right?

In addition, flexible work hours can be beneficial to both employers and employees. Hiring a team of full-time agents and part-time remote agents will not only allow you to optimally allocate your resources but also let you prepare and react to peak periods. As for agents, flexible work hours and the opportunity to work from home can help them maintain an optimal work-life-balance, as well as keep their stress levels low. Indeed, it seems that employees are happier when working from home. And as we all know, happier agents are more productive agents.

Last but not least, another important benefit of leveraging remote agents is the opportunity for your business to provide multilingual customer service. And of course, by utilizing home-based agents, your business will be able to employ highly-skilled multilingual agents anywhere in the world, without being limited by geographic factors. Let’s say, for example, that your company needs to operate a call center in Germany, but needs to provide customer service in Spanish and French. In such cases, by relying on remote agents, you can easily hire native workforce instead of struggling to find the right agents in Germany while paying the extra cost for their language skills.

VCC Live®’s system – the ideal solution for utilizing remote agents

By now, you should be convinced about the pros of hiring remote agents. And, if you finally decided you need to leverage home-based agents, there’s only one thing left to think about: finding the ideal software solution to support your agents working from home.

And this is where VCC Live® comes in. Our cloud-based solution is the perfect tool for remote agents, with a number of our clients already benefiting from the solution’s features, such as real-time monitoring, which are specifically designed to fit the home-based workforce model. So, I recently asked our clients how their remote agents benefit from using our solution, and this is what they said:

Low technical requirements

As I’m sure you’ll be aware, providing the right IT infrastructure for a call center is extremely costly. With VCC Live®, however, your agents only require a USB and a headset, as well as a wired broadband internet connection, which is available in the majority of households.

Furthermore, our system can run on any computer, and is easy to download, requiring no specific IT knowledge. And it’s as easy to install as Skype or Google Chrome! Don’t forget, remote agents normally can’t just go into the next room to ask for help from the support team, so it is of utmost importance to provide them with a software solution that doesn’t require in-depth technical knowledge and have a complex IT infrastructure.

Easy-to-use solution

Providing training sessions for remote agents located all over the world often requires significant time and resources. As such, empowering agents with an easy-to-use solution is always a great idea, but if your call center relies on remote agents, then it’s an absolute must.

One of our clients, United Call Centers, a global leader in the call center industry using solely at-home agents, chose VCC Live®’s system in order to provide their remote workforce with an easy-to-use solution. Thanks to our user-friendly interface, their agents can easily master our system and therefore never experience any problems finding functions they need in order to best serve their customers.

In particular, one great advantage of VCC Live®’s system for agents is that it comes with an easy-to-use call center script editor, allowing your business to craft tailor-made scripts with multiple options, empowering your agents to access all the information they need during customer interactions.

All-in-one software

It goes without saying that making your agents navigate around several systems can negatively affect both your team’s productivity and your customer experience.

When it comes to working with at-home agents, another major advantage of VCC Live®’s system our clients highlighted is that all necessary features are available in an all-in-one solution. Therefore, your remote agents won’t need to spend their valuable time setting up several systems and navigating around them. Instead, they’ll be able to access all the features they need by using our all-in-one solution. As a result, your agents will be able to react to customer issues in a timely manner while providing exceptional customer service.

Last but not least, by relying on a single solution with all the necessary features for your system, you’ll be able to save significant time on setting up and starting your call center operations.

Customizable and easily scalable

As a global leader providing multilingual contact center services, United Call Centers, has handled more than 500 projects, from customer service, to telesales and technical support. By being able to customize our system based on their specific business needs, they can offer personalized customer service and tailor-made solutions to their customers. Their business results speak for themselves!

Be it a customer database or valuable customer insights, information can be easily imported to and exported from VCC Live®’s software. As a result, at-home agents will be able to easily handle customer data in our system, again, without having to rely on additional systems. And as we’re proud holders of the ISO27001 certificate, you can be sure that your data will be 100% safe with us.

Also, your center is likely to have to deal with an increased seasonal influx of customer calls throughout the year. You already know that in such cases you can easily scale up your business by relying on part-time remote agents. What you will also need, however, is VCC Live®’s easily scalable software solution, allowing your business to react successfully to peak periods.

As you can see then, with VCC Live®’s system, you can maximize your call center operations by leveraging the popular at-home workforce model. Let’s explore how VCC Live® can help your business, together. For more information, contact us today!