Posts Tagged ‘automation’

How Customer Service Automation Is Revolutionizing Contact Centers

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

In today’s CX-driven world, customers can choose from a number of platforms when they want to communicate with your customer service team. As a result, businesses receive inbound conversations on far more channels than they used to.

It’s clear that your agent team on its own would struggle to respond to all of these incoming conversations that your business receives. However, by automating some of your processes you’ll be able to handle thousands of conversations simultaneously across all channels while keeping customers satisfied.

Implementing customer service automation processes in the call center has many advantages. Here are the top benefits!

Increase your productivity

Just because your agents are on the phone all day long, it doesn’t mean they are making productive calls or being efficient. Many call centers still rely on manual dialers, with agents having to dial numbers themselves. And many of these calls end up lost on answering machines, or with agents waiting too long for a customer to pick up.

Customer service automation can greatly benefit your call center’s productivity. With a predictive dialer, for example, you can automate your dialing process and thus potentially double your efficiency by reaching as many customers as possible.

Indeed, one major advantage of predictive dialers is that they can greatly enhance agent efficiency. Firstly, by relying on a predictive dialer, agents save time as they no longer need to manually dial numbers. Secondly, when an agent finishes their current call, a predictive dialer already has the next call ringing and ready to handle.

Furthermore, you can also provide automated responses to the most recurring customer queries, and thus free up your agents from typing out the same response multiple times a day. In fact, automating some of your workflows can potentially add up to hours of saved time per day.

Deliver better customer experience

Let’s face it, customers rarely look forward to contacting customer service lines. Having to contact a company’s customer service several times, and then being put on hold for several minutes, is clearly a frustrating customer experience.

With proper customer service automation processes, however, customer issues can be easily resolved without them (and you!) having lengthy and inefficient phone calls with customers.

Amongst other things, skills-based routing is a technique being increasingly used to direct customers to an appropriate agent by routing incoming calls to specific agents based on the service requested. As a result, customer experience greatly improves as agents are not only actively talking to customers but are also resolving their issues at potentially the highest level of efficiency.

It is also worth considering that it is increasingly common for companies to use automation tools such as an IVR system to handle their customer service traffic more effectively. However, voice-based IVR systems often mean customers calls take longer than expected, and actually don’t bring the results customers are looking for. So, if you want to unlock the full potential of IVR systems then make sure you opt for a visual IVR. Visual IVRs allow customers to use touch-screen menus to find the answers they’re looking for, instead of waiting for traditional IVR systems as they read out every option.

Lower your costs

As we all know, lowering costs is the number one priority in any call center. Saving costs by reducing staff numbers, however, is a gamble that is not worth taking, as during peak times it may actually end up costing you more in terms of poor service.

In contrast, customer service automation will allow you to cut costs by reducing the amount of labor used on individual tasks, rather than your number of agents. By automating some of your processes, you’ll not only be able to free up your agents from repetitive, low-value activities but also reduce the number of customer calls your call center receives. And, most automation tools are available on a subscription basis, allowing you to only pay for what you use and also easily scale up based on your needs.

So, for example, if your call center receives a lot of repetitive questions, you can assess your calls and automate the repetitive ones, for example, using an IVR feature. The more calls your IVR system can handle the more money you can save on your workforce.

Reduce your agent workload

Handling low-value repetitive tasks, such as answering the most commonly-asked questions a company receives, is a nightmare for any call center agent, a soul-sucking activity which can easily result in them burning out. This is definitely one area where customer service automation can help.

Chatbots, for example, can carry out many kinds of repetitive tasks on behalf of call center agents. In recent years, chat solutions have become massively popular in the call center industry, allowing call centers to reduce agent workload and letting agents focus on higher-value activities.

Another great customer service automation tool is customer self-service. The benefits of self-service are obvious: if your customers can resolve simple queries themselves, this will allow your customer service agents to use the resulting additional time to handle more complex issues. The result will be significantly-reduced customer service call volumes, and so substantially reduced agent workloads.

Customer service automation is more than just about offering customers a more convenient experience. It enhances productivity and quality, while also allowing you to better manage your resources. Make sure to leverage it in order to get the most out of your customer service interactions!

4 Tips To Set Up a Truly Powerful Self-Service Portal

Posted on: September 18th, 2018 by dorarapcsak No Comments

Contacting customer support on the phone is, perhaps, still the most frequent way for users to seek assistance. But gone are the days when picking up the phone was the only option to get help with a product.

In today’s fast-paced world, people want their issues resolved now, not tomorrow. Spending minutes in a call queue only to have something fixed that may not even be broken — especially on a busy day — may feel like an eternity.

And Millennials (anyone born between 1980-1996) now make up a large percentage of today’s customer base. They started using Internet and mobile technology at a young age, so are tech-savvy, and are used to accessing a large amount of information anytime, anywhere.

With consumer behavior developing as it is, customers need answers quickly, demand personalized support experience, and are willing to solve their issues themselves.

That’s why there was a need for a solution beyond customer service and user documentation. And this solution has manifested as a phenomenon called Self-Service Portal. Read on to get a few tips on what you should consider when shaping your own portal. 

What is a Self-Service Portal?

A Self-Service Portal is a website that gives users access to a personalized customer service experience. It enables users to learn from custom suggested documentation, complete tasks such as password resets or bill payments, interact with other users on a forum, and report incidents while also being involved in the resolution process. And the best part: these resources are always available, and accessible via a single hub.

Without a doubt, both your company and customers can mutually benefit from a Self-Service Portal. Your customers can become empowered to resolve issues on their own, and your support representatives can focus on more complex tasks more efficiently.

To build a Self-Service Portal that allows for a new level of customer support that truly empowers users to do more, you need to construct a site that delivers a seamless, uninterrupted experience. 

Tip #1: Develop a strategy

Firstly, it’s extremely important to define why, how, and for whom you develop a Self-Service Portal.

The reason may be as simple as the aim of improving customer satisfaction, while also taking some weight off your support team. Also, you will probably need to address concerns like “Will the investment pay off?” or “How will efficiency be measured?”. While these questions may be difficult to answer, one thing is sure: offering a Self-Service Portal has definitely become a necessity, rather than a favorable option.

Tip #2: Shape a near-perfect user experience

We all know that nothing is perfect. Even if something is near flawless, there’ll be a better version of it. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim for perfection. Because user experience is the core of a successful Self-Service Portal. Excellent user experience improves overall user satisfaction, and satisfied users will have an even better opinion of your company’s image.

To create an outstanding user experience for your Self-Service Portal, think on a large scale. What do users want to achieve? To find solutions as soon as possible. Make sure that navigating the portal is straightforward, and that finding relevant content is effortless. To improve navigation, make sure you structure the site thoroughly, and implement a reliable, indexed search bar. Not being able to find something can be terribly frustrating, quickly destroying an otherwise good initial impression.

And speaking of impressions… the look and feel of the website is also an important factor when it comes to impressing users. Take the time to create a website design people enjoy looking at. And a cross-functional team of designers and copywriters can do wonders, resulting in a site that feels personal, fresh, yet somewhat familiar to users.

Involving a few end-users in the planning process can also occasionally be a good idea.

Tip #3: Give it all you’ve got

You may be wondering what you can squeeze into an all-purpose Self-Service hub. Well, a lot.

Start by adding user documentation. Because delivering a solution is only part of your job, teaching your users how to get the most out of it should be the other part. User guides, tutorials, and a FAQ & Troubleshooting section not only shows your users how to use your products, they also teach them how to solve issues themselves. And if your Self-Service Portal can bring up content based on the users’ needs, your site will truly stand out.

And why not implement a community forum? Encouraging users to connect with other users is without doubt rewarding: chances are user complaints will get resolved before they end up in your ticketing system.

The next step should probably be to provide various options through which to contact your support team, but first consider implementing a chatbot! A well-trained chatbot can answer thousands of queries in a split second, and it’s always online, ready to assist your customers.

If a customer decides to contact your team, you can still provide further support: make calling agents and submitting tickets as easy as possible. Ideally, your users should be able to update and edit the certain details of the ticket, and also monitor the status of the request. Most importantly, assure your users that they are important, and that resolving their issues are your main priority.

Tip #4: Never stop improving

A great Self-Service Portal, even one thought through a thousand times, requires continual maintenance. Documentation must be kept up-to-date to continue delivering meaningful information. Because outdated and misleading information is often worse than no information at all.

A community forum must be monitored to moderate discussions and answer user questions. Keeping an eye on feedback is also well worth it.

And the list goes on: your chatbot may need to be refined, your IVR should be revised once in a while, and your support and marketing team need to continue distributing your content.

Verdict

It’s already clear that Self-Service Portals are of great value, and may have more potential yet to be unwrapped. Their profitability is also clear, but keep in mind: developing a Self-Service Portal is more than just a one-time project.

What do you think makes an ideal Self-Service Portal? Let us know in the comments section below!

The future of call centers: chatbots and agents working together

Posted on: May 18th, 2018 by dorarapcsak No Comments

As today’s digital revolution continues, the evolving technology of chatbots is becoming ever more important, and for good reason: chatbots can deliver exceptional customer experience.

It’s no doubt that chatbots are the next big thing in the tech world. According to a research conducted by Oracle, 80% of businesses are already using or plan to use chatbots in their customer service by 2020.

But are they still capable of delivering excellent customer service without any human intervention? And if so, does this mean that call center agents will soon have to say goodbye to their jobs? Although there’s been a lot of buzz around the rise of AI and how it will replace human labour, the answer here, in our opinion, is without a doubt NO.

Our belief is that the ultimate aim of chatbot use is not to replace human call center agents but to improve overall customer experience. Chatbots have been proven to efficiently and effectively handle repetitive and monotonous tasks, but they are not able to provide a holistic customer experience. And this is where the concept of customer service chatbots and agents working together comes in (indeed, if you look, you will realize that in many call center workplaces the two forces already rely on each other).

Bearing this in mind, rather than writing another article on the rise of the robots, we are instead going to take more of a deep dive into the topic, to show you in practical terms how chatbots and call center agents can work together to create better customer experience.

 

Sharing the workload

We have all dealt with the struggle of seemingly never-ending and low-value repetitive tasks, such as spending the whole day answering the most commonly-asked questions a company receives. It’s no surprise that everyone (human, that is) would be happy to stop spending their time on these soul-sucking activities before they totally burn out. This is one area where customer service chatbots can definitely help.

Many companies already started to implement chatbots in their customer service, letting them carry out the kinds of repetitive tasks mentioned above instead of call center agents. In recent years, chat solutions have gained a massive popularity in the call center industry, and as already mentioned in a previous article, if used properly, it can even boost your sales.

As a consequence, agent workload is reduced, allowing them the time to comfortably handle more complex tasks. The result? Customers get answers to simple questions within seconds, while agents deal with higher value activities. It’s a win-win situation!

 

The age of automation

In today’s CX-driven world, customers can choose from a number of platforms when they want to communicate with a particular brand. As a result, businesses receive far more inbound conversations on various channels than they used to.

While your call center agent team on its own would struggle to respond to all of your business’ incoming conversations, customer service chatbots can handle thousands of conversations simultaneously across all channels. As a result, after a while you’ll only need to employ a smaller but more skilled call center team, which will inevitably lead to a higher level of customer service across the board, while giving the opportunity to your agents to improve their skills (if you are too an ambitious call center agent, make sure to check out our article on how you can get promoted to call center supervisor). Once again, it’s a win-win for everyone!

 

Customer service chatbots act as a backup

As already mentioned, in many call center environments chatbots rely on call center agents, and call center agents rely on chatbots. There are a lot of situations in a call center where both chatbots and agents can serve as a backup for each other.

For example, customer service chatbots can be programmed to answer routine questions and therefore provide automated conversations with your customers. But if any problem occurs, a live agent can always intervene in the situation and take over the communication.

On the other hand, while call center agents are on the phone, customer service chatbots can suggest answers and supply all required information. By doing this, communication with clients becomes smoother, and without interruptions.

 

Chatbots are the new personal assistants

Having a personal assistant isn’t increasingly just the privilege of management. In fact, in many call centers, customer service chatbots are already programmed to serve as personal assistants to call center agents. True, the vast majority of consumers still prefer to talk to agents via phone when it comes to complex issues. And as call center agents know it very well, it’s quite challenging to handle incoming calls, especially if they’re complex ones.

However, chatbots have the ability to serve as personal assistants to call center agents, quickly gathering all necessary customer information, such as the customer’s history with the company, to help inform agent interactions and allow them to efficiently resolve the issue. As a result, customers can enjoy personalized conversations, and agents can take advantage of new opportunities when taking more complex calls.

 

So, we can see that customer service chatbots are already starting to work alongside call center agents, and it’s more than likely that this trend will continue to grow over the next few years. Together, they form the perfect partnership: input from call center agents help chatbots provide better customer service, while chatbots take the responsibility for routine work off of agents’ shoulders, so they can focus on high value issues. Did I mention already that it’s a win-win situation?!

How to boost productivity and increase revenue by using call blending

Posted on: April 11th, 2018 by dorarapcsak No Comments

To operate a call center seamlessly, it’s crucial to possess a skill set and a handful of techniques that allow you to boost your productivity and increase your revenue. Call blending is one of those techniques.

In a previous blog post we talked about how predictive dialers revolutionized call centers by significantly boosting productivity and increasing revenue. In this article we’ll discuss how call blending can help you go one step further, and achieve even better results.

 

What is call blending?

Before we immerse ourselves in the topic, let’s quickly clarify what call blending is. Call blending is a call center technique that supports both outbound and inbound calls. During the process a predictive dialer monitors the volume of incoming calls and availability of agents, and assigns calls to appropriate agents. When inbound calls are low, the system generates outbound calls. On the other hand, when inbound traffic is at its peak, the number of generated outbound calls is reduced.

In practice, in a blended call center, agents can be assigned to handle both outbound and inbound calls. For instance, if due to a low number of incoming calls agents are idle for a certain amount of time, the predictive dialer switches their activity to outbound calling. Similarly, if you run an outbound campaign, it may be important for your agents to receive inbound calls as well, as it’s quite common that customers don’t answer the phone if they are working or otherwise busy. In such cases, they may call you back and your blended agents can handle those incoming calls.

Perhaps the greatest argument in favor of call blending is that it helps you maximize the utilization of your resources. Using call blending, agents are able to maximize their Talk Time while handling multiple projects. As a result, idle time is reduced and your productivity increases.

 

Boost productivity by maximizing Talk Time!

As our previous blog post on call center efficiency talked about, it’s crucial to measure how much time your agents spend speaking. Therefore, it’s no surprise that increasing Talk Time is one of the most important call center productivity KPIs. And, of course, it also generates revenue: the more time your agents spend talking to your customers, the more revenue they generate (more about that later). But how can you boost your call center productivity by maximizing Talk Time? Well, that’s where call blending comes in.

Using call blending, when your phone lines are quiet, your agents can use this idle time to initiate follow-ups on abandoned calls or reach out to dissatisfied customers. With call blending, you not only utilize the time your agents spend talking to your customers, thus increasing Talk Time, but you also drive your business towards a better customer service by proactively reacting to issues.

Of course, for a successfully-operating blended call center, it is crucial that agents are able to handle both customer-based inbound and sales-based outbound calls in the same project. If you allocate time to properly train your team to deal with blended calls, the chances are good that your call center productivity will increase significantly.

 

So how do you increase your revenue using call blending?

If you want your business to bring in more money, perhaps this is time to start utilizing call blending. Boosting productivity is clearly important, but what if you take things a step further and use call blending to increase your revenue?

If you’re able to effectively manage telesales campaigns and maximize the time your agents spend talking to customers by using call blending, then it is more than likely they will be able to close more deals. Which, of course, equals more sales for your business. In addition, blending telesales and customer service activities will allow you to up-sell or even cross-sell your products during an incoming call.

Lastly, it is worth knowing that call blending will allow your agents to work in 3-4 different projects at the same time. Since the same operators will be working on different projects simultaneously, agent cost will be better distributed among the projects.

If you already blend your calls, calculate your cost and revenue optimization and see for yourself!

 

Blend not only your calls, but also your other activities!

Using call blending opens up many other options. As already mentioned, in blended call centers operators can work simultaneously on a number of projects. In other words, they are able to carry out and switch between different activities.

Just imagine: during an incoming call, your agents also conduct a customer satisfaction survey. Or maybe make an upselling during an inbound support call. In addition, regarding support services, agents often face complex issues that require a lot of background investigation. In such cases, instead of having the customer wait on the line, blended call centers can offer a callback, which significantly increases the customer experience and their trust in your organization.

For outbound call centers, call blending means more deals, while for inbound call centers, using blended calls result in an improved and more complete customer service experience.

 

One major challenge call centers nearly always face is to work out how they can effectively maintain a balance between their call operations, especially when call volumes quickly increase. Finding this balance is the first step on the path to success. With the proper planning and implementation of call blending, great results can be achieved: you can boost your productivity, increase your revenue, and deliver a more holistic customer experience.

Recorded agent greeting – the grey area of automation

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

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

What is a recorded agent greeting?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personalised messages

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

Always fresh and friendly

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

Is this a real person speaking now?”

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

It saves time…

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

Gives an agent time to check data

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

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

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