Archive for June, 2019

Why Your Call Center Needs to Leverage Customer Segmentation

Posted on: June 28th, 2019 by dorarapcsak No Comments

These days customers are one of a business’ most valuable assets. And as we all know, in our ever-competitive world, it’s easier to retain customers than get new ones.

As such, it’s no wonder there’s fierce competition among companies to provide customers with an as-convenient-as-possible customer experience. As we already talked about in a previous article, one particularly popular method you can use to provide customers with a superior experience is by offering personalized customer service. Another less-known but equally important way is by leveraging customer segmentation, a method that allows companies to take personalized customer service to a whole new level.

So, let’s take a quick look at what customer segmentation is, and why your call center needs to be leveraging it!  

What is customer segmentation?

In short, customer segmentation is the method of treating customers in different ways based on predefined segments. For example, if a customer has recently experienced a number of issues with a business, then chances are that the company will place them in a segment for special treatment, in order to keep them as their customer.

Customer segmentation, however, is more than just offering special treatment to certain customers. It can be based on a number of factors, including demographics, customer loyalty and satisfaction, behaviors, needs and so on. Customer segmentation can also help companies decide which channel they should use to reach out to customers, in order to increase both customer satisfaction and the company’s benefit from the interaction.  

So what are the most important benefits of customer segmentation? Let’s dive in!

Meeting customer expectations and needs

One thing every business strives to achieve is to meet their customers’ expectations. And customer segmentation is a great method to help you do that.

Customer segments allow businesses to divide customers into segments based on their needs and interests, and reach out to them with personalized offers. You can also create segments based on new customers and old customers, or, using purchasing history data, satisfied customers and not-so-satisfied customers.

Analyzing customer data and purchasing history is vital when creating customer segments. In fact, if you can understand your customers’ expectations and needs by analyzing their data, then you can offer personalized offers that are a better fit than what your competitors offer.

Increased profits

With customer segmentation, you can also create segments based on value, so that you can work out who your high-value customers are. Value-based segments will allow you to evaluate your customers in terms of the revenue they generate and the costs of retaining them.

Let’s say, for example, that your call center is focusing on collecting debts. We all know these days that debt collectors utilize a number of channels to reach out to debtors. So how can you decide which channel to use with certain customers? With customer segmentation, of course.

By basing your customer segmentation on the value of their debts, you can utilize low-cost channels such as SMS reminders for customers who only owe your company a comparatively low amount of money, thus allowing your agents to focus on higher-value customers.  

Efficient customer retention

Perhaps the most important benefit of customer segmentation is that it helps companies create an efficient customer retention strategy.

Customers don’t like to repeat themselves when talking to a company, especially if they have been the company’s customer for a long time. As such, interacting with long-term customers on a more personal level is key when trying to provide a better quality of customer service.

Additionally, customers don’t tend to forget how you handled their past issues, so showing them you know their history by leveraging customer segments will definitely help you gain their loyalty for life.

You could, for example, create a segment for long-time customers who experienced issues with your services recently and offer them some kind of compensation. You can be sure that actions like this will increase their loyalty to your brand.

With customers’ ever-increasing expectations, it’s vital to leverage customer segmentation in the call center to meet those expectations, increase the call center’s profit and most importantly retain established customers.  

Ways to Reduce Agent Idle Time in a Call Center

Posted on: June 25th, 2019 by dorarapcsak No Comments

Optimizing workforce management to get the most out of your processes is a key factor in any call center. So, throwing money out of the window by having high levels of agent idle time, in an environment where everyone is so keen on enhancing productivity, is clearly a mistake.

Causes of agent idle time can include ineffective staff planning and frequent peak times. Some idle time, of course, is necessary, if you don’t want your agents to quickly burn out. However, unacceptably high levels of agent idle times will definitely harm your business in terms of profits and efficiency.

So how can you effectively reduce agent idle time in your call center? Check out our article and make sure your agents are spending more time helping customers and less time sitting around doing nothing.

Leverage call blending

Call centers that focus on telemarketing activities normally need to handle an increased number of calls during and after their TV spots. However, outside of these times, they can often experience high levels of agent idle time.

So why not utilize call blending to keep your agents busy? By leveraging call blending when your phone lines are comparatively quiet, your agents can use this idle time to initiate follow-ups to abandoned calls or reach out to dissatisfied customers.

Of course, for a call center to successfully take advantage of call blending, it is crucial that agents are equipped to handle both customer-based inbound and sales-based outbound calls within the same project. So, make sure you allocate time to properly training your team to deal with blended calls. If you do so, the chances are high that not only will your agent idle time reduce significantly but your productivity will also increase.

In blended call centers, agents can work simultaneously on a number of projects, and thus eliminate idle time by carrying out and switch between different activities.

Know the strength of your agents

In order to keep your processes running smooth and help your agents get the most out of their job, it is vital that you know your agents’ strengths and weaknesses.

As not every agent is capable of handling both incoming and outgoing calls, make sure you allocate enough time to identifying agents who can successfully contribute to your blended campaigns.

It is clear that reducing agent idle time is an important KPI for any call center manager. However, even if you manage to reduce idle times through blended calls, if your agents are not able to perform well while carrying out their activities your call center’s productivity will be negatively affected.

Offer a systematic training system

Even if you hire more agents than you need, it’s no guarantee that they will be able to successfully handle your incoming and outgoing calls, especially if they are not trained properly. Therefore, once you identified agents who are capable of handling both incoming and outgoing calls, it’s time to offer them systematic training sessions.

Systematic training is the core of efficient customer service. A well-trained agent can not only speed up your processes but also significantly raise your first call resolution rate.

Furthermore, a well thought-out training system can help you substantially reduce agent idle time. You could do this, for example, by creating a knowledge base and letting your agents have access to it. You could also try adding a bit of call center gamification to the process and offer them small rewards for training themselves during their idle times.  

Agent idle time can never be eliminated, but with the right strategies, they can be reduced to a minimum. Follow our tips and make sure your agents can maximize their contribution to your call center’s success.

VCC Live now integrates with InSign, an electronic signature tool

Posted on: June 20th, 2019 by dorarapcsak No Comments

Another month, another feature release! We are pleased to announce the integration of VCC Live with InSign, a Germany-based electronic signature tool. This is a significant release that will allow companies to deliver electronic signatures.

As we all know, paper processes are inefficient, time-consuming and damaging to the environment. Considering this, it’s no surprise that businesses have been working for a long time on how to eliminate paper processes for good.

However, paperless processes are not only important for companies but for customers too. And as we already mentioned in a previous release, the demand for simple and convenient customer service is growing faster than ever.

Until now, when your agents had to send out an agreement or contract, customers would have to print it out, sign it, then scan it and send it back. But now there’s a better and faster way with VCC Live!

How does VCC Live’s integration with InSign work? Well, for example, let’s imagine your agent just closed a deal with a customer. Thanks to this integration, when the agent closes the deal they can now simply generate a PDF file by filling out a form on VCC Live’s platform, and send it out to the customer via a URL link.

So how exactly does the integration with InSign work?

  • The agent fills out a form in VCC Live’s software with the customer’s details.
  • The agent sends this form to InSign, who create a PDF with the customer’s details on it.
  • The agent receives an URL from InSign containing the PDF file.
  • The agent sends the URL to the customer via SMS.
  • The customer can access the document by clicking on the link, signing the document on their mobile screen, and save the document.
  • The signed and saved document becomes available on the agent’s screen.

The digitization of business processes is an important trend in nearly all industries. Electronic signatures, in particular, can provide a paperless, convenient and fast solution, while allowing you to follow this trend by helping you convert your processes to digital. Our integration with InSign will be invaluable for any business process that requires written declarations of intent or other signatures.

How to Provide Omnichannel Experience in the Banking Industry – With an Example

Posted on: June 14th, 2019 by Elemér Erdősi 2 Comments

With the evolution of technology and new strategies in today’s customer service landscape, it is of utmost importance for companies to explore and keep up with the latest trends in order to stay ahead of the game.

Currently, customer service is dominated by the concept of leveraging several channels with the aim of aligning customer communication. First, it was multichannel, later omnichannel, and now companies started to explore optichannel communication.

Multichannel vs. Omnichannel vs. Optichannel

The terms multichannel and omnichannel are often used interchangeably. And while both terms are related, there is a significant difference between them.  

Multichannel communication means leveraging several channels when interacting with customers. However, omnichannel communication takes things to the next level by aligning the channels utilized.

But what about optichannel? Well, when it comes to interacting with customers, companies need to rely on the most efficient communication methods. And this is where optichannel comes in handy.

Indeed, having only just started to embrace the omnichannel concept, optichannel is the new buzzword taking over the customer service landscape. While omnichannel allows customers to engage with companies on their preferred channel, with optichannel communication it is your business that specifically determines the optimal channel for your customers based on your goals for each channel and available customer information.  

Although optichannel will definitely become more popular in the future, at the moment it is omnichannel that rules in the banking industry. In this article, I will focus on the omnichannel approach, and more precisely, how you can provide an omnichannel experience in the banking industry. Let’s dive in!

Omnichannel experience in the banking industry

Providing an omnichannel experience in the banking industry is pretty much a prerequisite for any financial organization that wish to keep their customers in the long run.

Omnichannel experience in banking is about providing a seamless and consistent interaction with customers across multiple channels. In particular, during customer interactions, agents need to easily switch between several channels (for example, phone, sms, chat, video) in order to provide customers with an as convenient customer experience as possible.

And in order to be able to provide this seamless and consistent interaction, agents need to be able to rely on an all-in-one solution that is able to integrate all the channels you use, as well as displaying comprehensive customer information, on the same platform.

The solution offered by ourselves here at VCC Live®, for example, not only allows you to integrate your channels but also displays all your customer information on the same platform, helping your agents read your customers’ minds.

Furthermore, in the banking industry, providing customer support on any device is just as important as leveraging and aligning several channels. As customers these days are constantly on the go, the majority of them are likely to handle their queries via their mobile phones. Therefore, simply having a mobile application is not enough today, financial institutions also need to ensure that customer journeys carried out via their mobile platform are as convenient and simple as via phone/web.

In other words, providing multichannel experience in the banking industry means delivering the same quality of service across all channels and all devices, both online and offline.

Example of omnichannel support in the banking industry

So, now that you know how important omnichannel experience in the banking industry is, let’s have a look at a real-life omnichannel experience example that highlights what VCC Live®’s solution can offer.

Let’s say your customer wants to raise the limit of the amount of money they can withdraw from an ATM at any one time. They begin to search the bank’s website using their mobile to check out the possibilities.

The company’s chat window pops up and the customer types in the chat window that they want to raise the limit of the amount of money they can withdraw from an ATM at anyone time.

A live agent now enters the conversation and notifies the customer that in order to raise this limit, identification is needed. Thanks to the integration of the several channels the bank leverages for customer interactions, the agent is able to see the customer’s complete history on one single platform.

In the past, identification required customers to physically go to the financial institutions to identify themselves. However, thanks to the latest technology, which is incorporated into VCC Live®’s solution, customers can now identify themselves via video call.

The agent can thus offer the customer the opportunity to be identified via video call. The customer confirms video call identification. The agent send an SMS with instructions and a link to the video call.

The customer clicks on the link and the video call begins. Following the instructions given, the customer looks into the camera and holds up an appropriate identification card. The agent takes a photo, checks the quality, and informs the customer if the identification was successful.

After successful identification, the agent can now increase the limit on the customer’s card. The conversation ends, and the agent sends the customer an SMS with a link to a survey to assess the quality of the call.

During this simple and short conversation, the customer was smoothly switched between four communications channels, including chat, SMS, video call and email. The result is a convenient and efficient customer interaction that solved the customer’s query at the first go. And this is exactly what an omnichannel experience in the banking industry should be like.

New Debt Collection Rules in the US and Global Trends – an Interview with Richard Blewis, Digital Debt Collections Expert

Posted on: June 7th, 2019 by dorarapcsak No Comments

A new policy recently put forward by the US’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposes allowing debt collectors in the US to only be able to call debtors up to seven times a week. The new policy also states that once debt collectors reach a debtor by phone, they would have to leave them alone for at least a week. Additionally, the CFPB is proposing no cap on the number of texts or emails a collector could send, opening the door for digital messaging channels such as WhatsApp and Facebook to become viable communication options for debt collectors. I talked to Richard Blewis, Digital Debt Collections Manager at VCC Live, about this new regulation, as well as global trends currently dominating the debt collection industry.

According to the new rules being proposed by the CFPB, debt collectors would be able to call a delinquent borrower with an outstanding debt a maximum of seven times a week. How do you think the new rules will affect debt collection companies in the US?

Richard: I believe that the additional effect on limiting the amount of calls to 7 attempts weekly is minimal for companies. In general, as has been proven, if debt collectors initiate too many calls, debtors simply don’t answer them anymore. As a result, professional debt collection companies already reduced the amount of collection calls they initiate, as they are aware of the diminishing results if they try to bombard debtors with calls.  

The new rules also suggest that once debt collectors reach a debtor by phone, they’ll have to leave them alone for at least a week. Do you think that being able to talk to a debtor only once a week will negatively affect the performance of debt collection companies?

Richard: Yes. Companies who use aggressive collecting strategies and collect outstanding debts using methods that could be considered harassment, will definitely be negatively affected by only being able to have one conversation with non-payers per week. More professional debt collection agencies, however, won’t be affected that much, as they already realized that initiating as many as possible calls will not necessarily help collect more debts. Instead, they are aware that moving into the digital era by exploring new channels and reducing operating costs by making offers in self-service is the way forward.

Until now, phone was the most preferred way for companies to contact debtors. But we can now clearly see a shift from phone to other digital channels when it comes to collecting debts. Why do you think companies have started to focus on channels besides phone?

Richard: It is true that phone calls are still an important and efficient element of debt collection, but at the same time customers in general are moving to digital channels, one reason being that they increasingly prefer self-service when it comes to interacting with a company. In addition, customers also expect to be able to do their business out of business hours. In order to keep up with these changing customer demands, professional companies have already started to explore channels other than phone, and leverage methods such as data segmentation to guide self-service debt collection.

The new regulation proposes having no cap on the number of texts or emails a collector can send, and messages can also be sent on digital messaging channels, such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. How do you think debtors will react to receiving messages via their personal chat programs? Do you think the number of messages should also be restricted?

Richard: Debtors who might find it inappropriate or annoying to receive debt collection messages via their personal chat programs have the option to opt out on SMS and block those messages on Facebook. For others, however, receiving text reminders rather than endless phone calls might be a preferred way of being contacted. As there is always the option for debtors to opt out, I believe there is no need to regulate the number of messages debt collectors can send.

What do you suggest debt collection companies who currently focus their collection processes on phone calls should do? Is it time for them to explore other channels?

Richard: Phone calls should definitely remain a significant channel for debt collection agencies. At the same time, however, while constantly trying to improve the channels they already use, companies also need to explore other channels, and in particular how they interact with each other. For example, SMS text messages for debt collection should ideally contain a link to a chat channel, in case debtors have any questions, as well as a link to a digital document, such as an invoice or PTP (promise-to-pay) agreement. It is vital that companies need to align the channels they use in order to make the debt collection process for debtors as smooth as possible.

Are you seeing this shift from phone to other channels in Europe as well? Do you think the same rules should be applied in Europe too?

Richard: I believe the new rules are not that important enough to be applied in Europe, as there is a similar business trend happening in Europe as in the US. Here, as there, more and more debt collection companies are realizing that the future is in exploring and aligning several channels in order to reach debtors on their preferred channel. As a result, professional debt collection agencies are focusing their operations on several channels rather than blasting out as many calls as possible. 

How Call Center Gamification Can Help You Retain Your Agents

Posted on: June 5th, 2019 by dorarapcsak No Comments

Working in a call center is not easy. Agents spend most of their time on the phone talking to (often difficult) customers, resolving (often complex) issues. As a result, agent turnover is a major challenge for call centers around the world.

It’s no surprise then that agent retention is of utmost importance for any call center that wants to thrive in the long run. And what better way to retain your agents than trying to add some fun into their daily work routine.

One way you can do this, and thus retain agents, is to leverage call center gamification. Gamification is the process of introducing games into agents’ daily activities, for example offering prizes to agents in order to encourage growth in both their engagement and performance.  

So, now that you know what call center gamification is in theory, let’s talk about how it can help you retain your agents in reality (and the other benefits it can provide). Game on!

Gamification reduces agent turnover

Perhaps the most important benefit of call center gamification is that it helps reduce agent turnover by boosting morale in call centers.

As mentioned above, call center turnover is a constant challenge for call centers. At the same time, finding new agents is becoming increasingly difficult due to the advanced language skills, long working hours and high flexibility call centers expect of agents.

As a result of these high demands, agents often quickly lose their motivation and burn out, leaving the call center industry to explore less stressful career opportunities. And while it is true that working in a call center might be extremely stressful, call center gamification can help your agents let off some steam.

For example, set a (realistic) target and treat your agents with a small reward, let’s say a work-from-home day, once they reach their target. Rewards such as these will help you create a better atmosphere in which your agents will be inspired to continuously improve in order to receive rewards.

Call center gamification increases agent productivity

Amongst other things, introducing call center gamification into a call center can greatly increase agent productivity by encouraging agents to be more productive and achieve more.

In particular, rewarding agents for a job well done will definitely incentivize them to continue to do better. You can be sure that when agents can see how they are performing in comparison to other agents, they will want to try to get to the top of the list.

All you need to do is to introduce some friendly competition to trigger their motivation to be the best in the team. In return, you can, for example, give out coupons or reward the agent of the week/month for their hard work.

Gamification improves the culture of the call center

Call center gamification isn’t only about competition. It can also be used to help create a collaborative atmosphere and create a better work culture.

If you make collaboration the center of call center gamification, you’ll encourage your agents to not only focus on their own benefits, but also on their peers’ success.

Collaboration-based gamification is a great way to add some fun to call center training. You can, for example, create a common knowledge base, and encourage your agents to contribute to it with their own knowledge.

Leveraging gamification to create a sense of community in a call center can definitely increase engagement, as agents become more committed when they feel like they’re all in it together as a team.

Improves customer loyalty

Sure, call center gamification is a great way to retain agents, but did you know that you can also use it to improve customer loyalty?

Gamification can help take customer loyalty to new heights, while also giving businesses the opportunity to collect information about their customers.

There are several types of gamification you can use when it comes to customers: for example, you could give out digital badges confirming your customers’ achievements, create avatars to allow your customers to become part of a community, or simply reward them with redeemable points.

Simply find out which gamification method your customers really want and don’t forget that, when a customer engages with your gamification system, chances are they will come back and buy more of your products and services.