Archive for May, 2020

Optimize Your Customer Experience Journey During Times of Disruption

Posted on: May 28th, 2020 by Norbert Simán No Comments

As the businesses are reacting to mobility restrictions by shifting to remote platforms, they are also struggling to rethink their customer experience journey. Recent developments have meant fundamental shifts in customer journey experiences from learning about products and services, all the way to purchasing. Here are a few essential steps to help you provide the best possible customer experience in a fast-phased digital landscape.

Monitor trends

Keeping up to date with your customer data is more important than ever. In times of uncertainty, you need to keep in line with rapidly changing consumer behaviors in order to keep your business afloat. This will help you determine where to focus your CX efforts in terms of products and promotions and it will help you determine how to communicate with your clients.


There are already collective efforts to help businesses monitor their industry, such as Commerce Insight. Tools such as Commerce Insight help companies keep track of daily consumer behaviors at an international level. Keeping your online communications in line with client behavior will help you keep your customer experience journey on track. Additionally, most contact center solutions have monitoring options that enable you to track your real-time client history, from which you can analyze customer behavior trends.

Use data that you already have

It is important to use data that you already have when communicating with existing clients. Expectations in relation to online customer service are changing in the accelerated business landscape of online services. Make sure that your technology is up to date, so you can provide seamless customer experience, even when your operations are fully remote. 

Use a data-driven omnichannel strategy, in order to be able to efficiently communicate with your clients on all platforms. The solution offered by VCC Live not only allows you to integrate your channels but also displays all your customer information on the same platform, helping your agents easily interact with existing customers. This way, customers don’t have to have to repeat the information they have already shared with you on a different channel.

Invest in mobile technologies

If you haven’t already started investing in mobile technologies, now is the perfect time to do so! Mobility ranks high among the benefits of digital customer experience, with customers actively preferring to carry out even the smallest customer service activity using their mobile phones. Businesses need to embrace this concept, especially given the fact that client expectations have increasingly turned towards digitalization. In light of recent developments, clients expect to manage all their interactions with you on a digital platform.

In order to follow this trend, start thinking about implementing technologies such as remote customer identification and online payment. Remote ID allows businesses to identify their customers via video chat instead of requiring them to visit a physical location to be identified. Additionally, over the phone payment technologies, such as VCC Live pay enable your clients to make secure, real-time payments during phone conversations with agents from the comfort of their home!

Engaged and accountable employees

Engaged, solution-oriented, and accountable employees are some of the fundamental elements of a good customer journey experience. Whether remote or not, make sure that you are able to easily assess your agents’ work and give them instant feedback in order to ensure high levels of customer satisfaction, regardless of the situation you are in.

There are a variety of tools available for this, including VCC Live’s Quality Management tool, that enables you to give instant feedback to your employees. Additionally, VCC Live’s real-time monitoring option can also give you direct insights into ongoing agent conversations, and call-whispering features allow you to give feedback or help an agent without the customer hearing. If necessary you are also able to join agent-client conversations in a conference mode. 

With the right data and technologies in hand, you should be able to become a responsive, fast decision-maker, enabling you to provide a seamless customer journey experience. By monitoring trends, using data and technologies the right way, and establishing tools to motivate your employees, you will be well on your way to establishing a resilient infrastructure, regardless of disruptions.

What is a PCI DSS Certification And Why is it Needed for Payments over the Phone?

Posted on: May 22nd, 2020 by Elemér Erdősi No Comments

In an age of ever-increasing customer demands, customers expect to be able to pay anywhere, at any time, and as quickly as possible. As such, the idea of instant payments using mobile phones and web interfaces has been quickly embraced, with the latest technologies offering the possibility of paying in real-time during a phone call. 

When it comes to paying online, data security is always a major concern – for both companies and customers. As such, in order to keep customer data safe, any business that handles, processes, stores or transmits credit card data needs to acquire a PCI DSS certification.

But what is a PCI DSS certification? And why is it needed for companies offering real-time payments over the phone? Find the answers below in my article!  

What is PCI DSS?

PCI DSS is one of the world’s strictest security standards, issued by the five largest credit and debit card issuers in the market (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover and JCB). The regulation requires businesses to comply with 12 general data security requirements. The general requirements apply to all businesses, while there are over 200 sub-requirements, depending on your business which of them are applicable to you.

The PCI DSS certificate applies to any organization that accepts credit and debit card payments. As VCC Live offers VCC Pay, a real-time payment over the phone technology, the company is PCI DSS compliant, which is the ultimate proof of our success to keep our business data safe and secure.

Depending on a business’s PCI merchant level, you might be required to perform an audit. For example, VCC Live is required to pass an annual PCI DSS audit. We are proud that this year saw our certificate renewed for the fourth time.

Failing to comply with the regulation is not a good idea. In fact, if your business handles online transaction without being PCI DSS compliant, you might face not only the potential security risks, but also heavy penalties, such as monthly fines up to $100,000.

PCI DSS certification and payments over the phone

While real-time payment technology has been around for a while, initiating payments in real-time during a phone call is still a unique solution, available at only a few companies in the world. And a particular reason for that is that, to be able to initiate real-time payments during phone calls, again, your company or the outsourced call center you rely on will need to be in possession of the PCI DSS certificate

However, complying with the PCI DSS regulation is a costly and lengthy process requiring a thorough preparation. Alternatively, it might be easier for your business to choose a solution that is PCI DSS compliant, such as VCC Live. In this case, the system you use already ensures PCI DSS compliance, guaranteeing that your customer data is safe and secure at all times. 

Currently, businesses using VCC Live can leverage two methods to initiate real-time payments during a phone call:

Payments over the phone via IVR

The first option is paying via an IVR system, which has both its pros and cons: in terms of the pros, a great number of customers now prefer the solution provided by an IVR system, solving their own problems without interacting with a live agent. On the other hand, IVR systems are not particularly popular with customers because of potentially long on-hold times and often overcomplicated menu options.

Also, IVR often isn’t comprehensive enough on its own, with live assistance still ending up being needed. Even worse, many IVR solutions have no option for a human resource that can help customers out if they get stuck during the payment process. VCC Live®’s VCC Live Pay, however, provides the option for transferring customers to a live agent if requested and handles the payment with agent assistance. A lot more user-friendly, right?

Real-time payments with agent assistance

Allowing customers to pay during a phone call with agent assistance is still a very unique and innovative technology, with only a few businesses around the world providing such a solution. VCC Live® is proud to be one of those few companies.

However, as we all know, exposing customers’ data to a live agent can potentially bring significant security risks. To address this issue, as part of the PCI DSS certification’s requirements, solutions such as VCC Live Pay make use of mobile phone touchpads’ DTMF technology.

Dual-tone multi-frequency signaling (DTMFs) technology allows telco companies to know what number is being pressed when a customer presses the buttons on their telephone. Each number generates a distinct tone, which is sent as a signal to a switching system that translates it back to the original number.

One major principle of the PCI DSS certification is keeping customer card data secure at all times, meaning it needs to be masked even for the contact center operators handling the call. So, when paying in real-time during a phone call with agent assistance, customers enter the digits of their credit cards on their phone keypads, with agents being completely unable to see card data in any way.

As a result, the payment process is not only easy but also fully safe and secure, as no time do agents have access to customers’ card data while a customer is entering credit card details, etc.

Without a doubt, customer service is a tricky business. Handling a great number of customers, data security is always a major concern. Acquiring a PCI DSS certificate or using a service provider such as VCC Live that is already PCI DSS compliant, will allow you to ensure customer data is safe and secure in all online transactions. 

Using SMS as an On-The-Go Service to Keep Customers Informed

Posted on: May 15th, 2020 by dorarapcsak No Comments

These days, customers are always on the go, and prefer to use a variety of channels to reach out to a business. What they value the most during their customer journey is convenience and speed, which can be achieved with an effective on-the-go service.

One highly-convenient channel customers increasingly prefer is SMS messaging, as it allows them to communicate quickly, offer an alternative communication option when they cannot answer their phones, and can be used to remind them, for example, of upcoming events or arrangements. 

How can your business use SMS efficiently as an on-the-go service? Read on to find out!

Sharing Information in a Convenient and Reliable Way

In our over-accelerated life customers are often on the move, unable to take a phone call as they rush from one place to another, or simply unwilling to answer a call at what is an inappropriate time for them. In such situations, for both customers and businesses, SMS messages are much more convenient than phone calls.

With 95% of messages successfully reaching users, SMS is not only a reliable way of sharing information, but also offers an easier alternative for customers to interact with your business. Communicating with customers via SMS allows them to engage with you on their own terms, without having to interrupt their busy daily schedules.

When it comes to messaging content, SMS templates are a great way to reach out to your customers with the appropriate information you want to share, at the appropriate time during their customer journey. You can, for example, create SMS templates to provide order or resolution confirmations, status alerts, delivery notifications, feedback requests and so on.

Promote your Products with SMS  

Sending out SMS messages to your customers will help them discover and purchase your products and services faster, while also allowing you to help them resolve their issues with less hassle.

In particular, using SMS as an on-the-go service is ideal for contact centers specializing in telesales and telemarketing activities. When customers pick up the phone only to find out it’s a cold call, their attitude to the conversation normally becomes negative, as they immediately start thinking about excuses to end the call even before they know anything about what you have to offer.

Sending out SMS notifications about new products or discount periods, on the other hand, is an effective way of reaching customers without having to resort to this negatively-viewed cold call approach. It is also cost-effective, as those customers who are interested in your products can contact you directly, meaning you won’t have to waste time on unsuccessful calls.  

Last but not least, one major issue telesales companies often face is the struggle to actually reach customers over the phone. As people usually work during the day they often don’t have time to talk to telesales operators, while others may recognize the number and decide not to pick up their phone. With an SMS message, however, your business will be able to reach most of your customers, instead of you wasting your time repeatedly trying to reach them.

Boost Debt Collection Success Rates

When it comes to debt collection, agents, again, are well aware of the struggles involved in trying to reach customers, who will often ignore calls from a number they recognize. For agents working in debt collection the uncomfortable consequence of this issue is the resulting extra workload needed to try and reach these customers at a later date. If only there was a simple way to effectively communicate the required information to customers, which would actually reach them successfully to remind them of due payments. Luckily, there is: SMS messages!

Studies have shown that SMS can be a highly-efficient communication tool for debt collection companies trying to reach customers who either ignore their calls or are too busy to pick up. According to Forbes magazine, SMS messages reach 95% of service users with phones, which is a hugely impressive figure.

As a result, instant messages can help ensure a consistent level of continuous profit for debt collection companies. SMS messages help shorten debt collection time and secure a continuous flow of debt repayment by allowing agents to contact a comparatively large number of customers over a short period of time.

Handled correctly, SMS is an effective on-the-go service which can make businesses highly lucrative in our ever-accelerated world. So make sure your business is also taking full advantage of it!

The Benefits of Working for a Medium-Sized Tech Company

Posted on: May 13th, 2020 by Dorottya Márton No Comments

Searching for the perfect job can be a challenging task and a numbers game. You need to get familiar with a number of employers and broaden your network before you make a commitment.

While a lot of job seekers focus their initial efforts on large companies, this trend does not seem to be the same when it comes to tech professionals. According to a large-scale survey conducted by Indeed.com, although medium-sized tech companies hire the least number of workers, positions offered by them seem to be the most contested in the tech field. Medium-sized tech companies are preferred by 44% of tech workers, as opposed to large companies (28%) and small companies (22%).

Why do such an overwhelming majority of tech professionals prefer working at a medium-sized tech company? Here are the top perks to consider.

Work-Life Balance

Medium-sized tech companies have more flexibility when it comes to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. An increasing number of companies are realizing that guaranteeing the wellbeing of their employees simply improves their company’s business aims, by making its workers more productive, enthusiastic, and innovative.

This is especially true in medium-sized tech companies. Having leverage to make flexible HR decisions and creating space to listen to their individual workers’ needs is easier to do in a company with less bureaucratic structure than a large corporation.

Additionally, achieving a healthy work structure is easier to do at a medium-sized tech company as opposed to small startups. In medium-sized tech companies, where business practices are in place and established, the continuity of the company does not rely on the work of a single employee.

A Flexible Schedule

In addition to providing a healthy work-life balance, medium-sized tech companies allow alternatives to 9-5 work structures, such as flextime, remote work, and job sharing. Most large company structures don’t allow this, while small companies often have the opposite effect. Work in small startups can be often chaotic and overwhelming, as the company relies on all of its workers, and is still in the process of establishing solid business processes.

Indeed.com survey found that both women and men in the tech industry choose to work at medium-sized companies expecting a healthy work-life balance and flexibility.

Stability

Perhaps one of the more important things to consider when making your decision is the issue of stability, especially in recent, uncertain economic times.

Medium-sized tech companies have a tendency to carve out a niche for themselves within their specific industry and usually become reliable, stable players in that field. When thinking about long term job security, this is a better bet, than a potentially unstable startup still flexing its wings in the industry.

Additionally, large companies can often face mature market stagnation and in times of economic downturn, regulatory restraints. Without continuous development, companies have to cut costs, and in the case of large corporations, this usually starts with large scale layoffs. 

Experience and Development

It is also worth considering what a company can do for you in terms of career development. Working at large corporations can often restrict you in many aspects of your development.

Often, specific abilities gained while working at large corporations can only be used in similar companies in the same sector. This can be a problem when companies of a specific sector are facing layoffs. Large companies of the same industry often have similar patterns. If IBM is having hiring issues, so will Cisco.

In contrast, a medium company allows you to develop your skills and expertise in a variety of fields relating to your industry. This enables you to gain experience and insight beyond your role, enhancing your resume and skill set. 

Visibility

Another element to consider is the question of whether your work can have a measurable impact. Given that work at medium-sized tech companies is less specialized, employees can actually contribute to innovation and business development with their own ideas and initiatives. Wearing several hats enables you to engage with multiple facets of the company operations and have deeper insight. Additionally, it is easier to interact with leaders and decision-makers. Due to visibility, it might also be easier to advance your career in such an environment.

A Community

Having direct insight into the company and being able to get involved with its decision-makers and various levels of staff also translates at a personal level. It is common for medium-sized tech company staff to form deep bonds and friendships. Additionally, in such a work environment, with like-minded industry professionals, you have an endless opportunity for further collaboration.

Bottom line? The increasing trend of medium-sized tech companies among IT professionals lays in solid foundations. It helps establish a healthy work-life balance and enables the option for a flexible schedule to fit your lifestyle. It makes you visible and creates job security along with opportunities for career and skills development. Additionally, it can help you develop a community of like-minded professionals with whom you can share ideas and collaborate with.

How to Keep Call Center Data Safe When Transitioning to Remote Work

Posted on: May 7th, 2020 by Roland Háry No Comments

As businesses transition to remote operations, data security becomes an increasingly bigger concern. It’s a challenge heightened by the fact that a lot of call centers are transitioning to remote work for the first time, and in a relatively abrupt manner, due to recent mobility restrictions. This can mean unprepared call center agents, an undefined operations strategy, and overburdened VPNs with a sudden influx of your employees’ personal devices trying to access data.

When your operations do not have technologies and practices in place to support remote operations, there is always a risk for data breach. That fact that your remote operations are managed in multiple locations without oversight can also lead to serious concerns. Risks include agents that are not trained in proper data security practices as well as unsolicited access to valuable client data.

However, it is never too late to establish proper data security practices in your remote operations and build a secure remote infrastructure. Here is how to keep your call center data and your team safe.

1.  Set up two-factor authentication

The first step of any remote operation is establishing two-factor authentication. Asking agents to complete a second step when logging in can protect the company from unauthorized access or call center data breaches. The VCC Live application provides this feature with the help of an authenticator app on agents’ devices. Two-factor authentication can help in cases when an agent’s laptop or password is stolen.

2. VPN

Using a VPN service allows you to maintain a secure connection when agents connect to their work platforms and access your client databases. With the help of a VPN connection, your operations can remain safe, in case one of your agents decides to use public or unsecured wifi connections. VCC Live provides a secure VPN connection to all its clients. Additionally, data itself is stored in five various Global Data Centers with a 24/7 Security and Data team.

3. Access Control

When transitioning from office work to remote work, you need to review your internal roles and responsibilities and assign roles with the appropriate set of rights to your employees in order to keep your call center data safe. If you are worried about managerial oversight, make sure to rely on technologies that have multiple options when it comes to data access. For example, you may want to restrict remote agents’ access to certain data or features, compared to the access offered when working on-premise. VCC Live’s software allows you to do this as an administrator, by just unmarking access points in question.

4. Credit card data

In case your operations deal with over the phone payments, make sure that you choose a provider that can guarantee maximum security. Migrating your operations to remote work might raise concerns in relation to managing payments in your operations. What if your client’s credit card information gets stolen due to the lack of managerial oversight on how agents process payment data?

With VCC live pay, you don’t have to worry about such issues, as the client’s data is encrypted during the payment process. Additionally, VCC holds the PCI DSS certificate that applies to any organization that accepts credit and debit card payments. We are proud to say that this year was the fourth year that we were able to fulfill the criteria required to be awarded the certificate again.

5. Do research on your providers

When you choose which software to use for setting up your remote operations, make sure to choose a provider that is 100% GDPR and data security compliant. This way, you don’t have to worry about crippling fines in case of accidentally mishandled data. VCC Live is proud to boast itself as the holder of the ISO27001 certificate that ensures maximum levels of information and data security within an organization and in its processes, complying with GDPR requirements. We also hold the ISO22301 certificate that guarantees sustainable business management practices. This helps VCC Live adhere to the highest of measures when assessing internal and external risks, and is essential when preparing for critical business situations.

When transitioning to remote work, data security should be one of your top priorities. Data breaches can cost your operations millions in revenue loss, which might be hard to recover from. Make sure that your operation has two-factor authentication, runs on a secure VPN, your managers have access control options, and in case you handle over the phone payments, make sure that you have security standards in place. It is important to not only focus on cost efficiency but choose a provider you can trust with your call center data. Any data security decision is a long term investment, so make sure that you choose the right provider!

VCC Live Offers Its Software Free of Charge to the University of Pécs for Healthcare Consultation and Virus Research

Posted on: May 7th, 2020 by dorarapcsak No Comments

To help organizations during the coronavirus crisis, VCC Live has launched its ‘Love to Help’ initiative, which offers free use of our cloud-based contact center software to any organization involved in providing information and support to the public via telephone during the crisis.

Thanks to the technology used and the company’s many years of experience, organizations can set up and begin to use VCC Live’s software in a matter of days. Amongst others, the software is being utilized by the University of Pécs and the Translational Medicina Foundation’s joint research group, who are using the software for healthcare consultation and virus research.

To help in the fight against COVID-19 the two organizations, along with the Pál Heim Children’s Hospital, established KETLAK, an action and research group to help support the Hungarian population in dealing with the virus. KETLAK’s first initiative is PROAKTIV-19, which offers healthcare consultation over the phone, and uses the collected clinical data to help with research into the virus.

Consultation is available via phone for asymptomatic individuals over 60 who have not officially contracted COVID-19. During the consultation, patients either receive general information on how to maintain a healthier lifestyle or personalized advice on how to change their own specific lifestyle in order to improve their overall health. The objective of the service is to help people over 60 improve their immune systems and thus become more resistant to the virus.

Since consultation is carried out via phone, the organization needed a reliable, cloud-based software allowing their volunteer medical students to carry out their work smoothly and safely while working remotely from home.

Attila Márta, communications coordinator at the Translational Medicina Foundation said: “Setting up VCC Live was incredibly quick, and it only took a few days for us to start our clinical consultation service using the system. Our colleagues were a bit worried at the beginning as they had never used a contact center software before, but they soon realized VCC Live is truly an easy-to-use solution. And if we experience any issues, the VCC team is always there to help us.”

VCC Live provided the organization with both incoming and outgoing features, with our advanced callback technology allowing patients to easily request a call back. The system is currently being used by 30 operators, who provide clinical consultation 7 days a week. We also set up a review system for KETLAK, allowing their patients to give them feedback about the experience of the service.

“We are particularly proud to be able to help this research group with their work,” said Tímea Hegedűsné Szegei, Key Account Manager at VCC Live. “We are all being confronted with the difficulties caused by the current state of emergency in Hungary, and we realize that healthcare is one of the most severely-affected sectors in the economy. We believe it is important for us to be able to help as many Hungarian organizations as possible during this difficult situation.”

If you are over 60, and would like to make use of this clinical consultation service opportunity, please call: 06 80 442 642

If your organization is involved in the fight against the coronavirus, and would like to use VCC Live’s software in your work, please contact us at lovetohelp@vcc.live.

How to Improve Your Call Center Service Level

Posted on: May 5th, 2020 by Richard Michael Blewis No Comments

Call center service level is defined as the percentage of calls answered and abandoned within a predefined amount of time—target time threshold. It can be measured over any period of time and for each agent, group, campaign or the contact center as a whole.

Service level is one of the most important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for call centers as it helps measure customer tendencies, call center efficiency and the call center business model, comparing value per interaction, customer retention value and staffing costs.

VCC Live report fields show statistics for all calls: 

  1. Handled calls within SL threshold
  2. Early disconnects – default is 5 seconds
  3. Repeated call count – same customer
  4. Total calls in queue
  5. Calls answered within threshold
  6. Calls answered after threshold
  7. IVR disconnects include amount and %
  8. Abandoned within threshold
  9. Abandoned after threshold
  10. IVR interaction and queue averages
  11. Dashboard alerts showing calls in queue exceeding the service level in real time

More information: VCC Live Report Fields

CX Technologies Improving Call Center Service Level

Research suggests that it is traditional for call centers to target the typical service level of answering 80% of calls within 20 seconds. With recent years’ tech advances, however, more and more technologies appear on the market, allowing call centers to improve their service level, efficiency and overall CX.

Intelligent Routing

Leveraging customer data is one important way to improve your Service Level. As callers have a different profile, it is now possible for call centers to segment and prioritize customers based on the data available in their CRM. Based on the callers’ CLI or IVR session, for example, the associated account in the CRM is identified with an established priority level. This priority level considers ever changing criteria such as a contract expiration date, current balance or something else. Intelligent Routing will transfer selected callers to a priority ACD group. The effect is to increase the average value per interaction.

Average Handling Time

AHT (Average Handling Time) combines hold time (queue), talk time and after call time. Each contact centre needs to focus on all 3 elements in order to improve their AHT.

AHT= Total Talk Time + Total Hold Time + After Call Time/ Number of calls made

With modern CX technologies, you can use several techniques, which will help you improve your AHT:

  1. Smooth out call spikes
  2. Integrate CTI with your CRM
  3. Leverage improved call scripting
  4. Score agent interactions
  5. Send the customer to the most appropriate agent (a skilled-based agent or a priority agent that is more prepared in handling escalated issues)
  6. Limit after work time by applying hard limits and a soft limit alert

Callbacks

In telephony we often refer to peak hour traffic, those 5 hours during the day that account for the majority of the traffic. These peaks, however, are not constant but rather have an element of being stochastic, a random peak or in some situations, a non-random peak event.

You can use erlang formulas to predict resources required (telephony and staff) to handle peak hour traffic but these calculations do not consider recent CX technologies, as mentioned previously in this article. The Erlang measurement also treat all customers and their handling equal even though CTI is more dynamic.

An interesting customer tendency shows that up to 75% of callers would prefer a callback rather than waiting in a queue for an unknown duration. Also, leveraging callback technology is beneficial for your call center as well: when you keep a caller in the queue a channel is occupied for the entire time. It’s often a toll-free 800 number billed at a premium per-minute rate.

However, by offering a callback to customers, you can free up your channels while also reducing your queue time by spreading out your call traffic and having your CSR more prepared for the upcoming interaction.

More information here: Erlang Formulas

Proactive Initiatives

In a callback interaction the customers are often advised to wait let’s say 24 hours for an update. To avoid jamming your call center with follow up calls, being proactive over different channels can reduce your inbound traffic.

If the ticket status has not changed or in fact if it has changed, isn’t it preferred to be proactive and to update the customer before they call in? Some channels that can be used for proactive initiatives are SMS, e-mail, outbound IVR and interactive chatbot.

Call Deflection

Routing customers to different channels is a common practice for call center to boost efficiency. Call deflection is one technique of rerouting customer calls to an alternative channel. If it’s done right, call deflection can be an effective way to reduce costs by moving customers to lower cost ‘digital’ channels.

Customers, for instance, often find voice channels frustrating due to long hold times. In such cases, deflect calls and offer customers the possibility to resolve their query via a self-service channel might improve the overall customer experience. Also, deflect inbound callers to an interactive message that updates a ticket status using text to speech can reduce unnecessary agent interactions.

Finding that balance between a better CX and less operating costs can be achieved by making your call center service level more efficient by evaluating tendencies and implementing a better call flow, supported by technology initiatives.