Posts Tagged ‘chat’

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?!

Multichannel communication: email vs. chat vs. phone

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

In today’s ever-changing world people can choose from many means of communication, depending on what is most convenient for them at the time. In the world of call centers, while telephone conversations, emails, and instant chat messages all meet the purpose of connecting a customer with a call center operator in order to receive professional support, different situations may require different types of communication.

Some people prefer the immediacy of a phone call conversation, others prefer the comfort of emails. There is no single channel that can meet the expectations of all your customers, but what can you do to keep in touch with your clients efficiently, but still stay focused and not open too many channels that only scatter your operational processes? Should you expand your communication channels and add a chat service to your phone and email support lines? Or maybe try to deal with more of those incoming email enquiries via phone conversations instead?

As there is no perfect solution to these questions, we offer here an overview of some of the benefits and disadvantages these communication channels possibilities bring, hoping this will in turn help you make the best choice for your call center. Read our article, and discover whether email, chat or phone is the best communication channel for your call center.

 

Email

Is email a communication channel of the past? Definitely not, as we already discussed it here. Without doubt, email is an essential mean of multichannel communication. The appeal of email is well known to both call centers and customers, and has been appreciated by both sides for years.

For customers, writing an email when they have time to properly focus on it, and reading the answer once they decide to do so themselves, gives them control over the tempo of the communication. However, it also increases the risk of miscommunication, and on the call center operators side the potential for misunderstanding the customer’s issue and/or questions. Here are some further advantages and disadvantages of email communication:

+   No immediate response required: for either the customer or the operator handling the incoming email queue. As there is usually an accepted SLA rule at each call center, this allows operators to take their time when answering, and customers to take their time when acknowledging a reply.

+   Keeping a copy of the communication: while call centers can record and keep copies of phone conversations, customers rarely have this opportunity and are breaching the law if they make unauthorised recordings. Emails, however, give both parties a written trace of the communication, which is particularly useful if there are disputes later on.

+   Convenience and time: while getting in touch with an operator and having a conversation over the phone is only possible during a call center’s opening times, email is not restricted by working hours. This can be especially useful if you have to take into account time differences between states and countries.

       Long queues and expectations: while it is true that operators do not necessarily have to answer emails immediately, this can lead to an accumulation of long email queues, which slow down operators work. And the longer a customer waits for an answer, the more thorough and exhaustive they expect the answer to be, in which case receiving a pre-created template or short, unclear message from the operator will not be happily received.

       No potential for clarifying questions: often an operator needs to ask clarifying questions in order to fully understand a customer’s issue, which is much harder when communicating via email. This may mean several messages are exchanged back and forth before the issue becomes clear, leading to an unsatisfied customer and a decrease in the operator’s First Contact Resolution KPI.

       Lack of empathy and emotion: we have all experience of how the written word cannot always clearly convey our emotions. This is why it is easy to misinterpret or overlook the frustration of a customer. If operators are not able to read a customer’s emotions between the lines, they can easily provide a reply that further damages the customer’s already fragile mood.

 

Chat

Chat is fast becoming the ’next big thing’ in multichannel communication, with instant messaging windows popping up on more and more company websites. It’s gaining wider popularity and as such more attention in the call center industry, especially since the younger generation and millennials seem to prefer texting so much more than actual conversations over the phone. Also, as we already talked about it in a previous blog post, when used properly, it can even help you boost your sales. So why is chat so popular?

+   Smaller queues, less waiting: instant messaging is not called instant for nothing, because, as opposed to email, it allows customers to get in touch with call center operators instantaneously and easily. Furthermore, in comparison to emails, chat allows operators to ask clarifying questions which help them understand the problem better and provide the needed support, thus helping to achieve a better First Contact Resolution KPI, and better customer satisfaction.

+   Proactivity and sales support: while calls and emails are usually reactive (meaning that operators respond to communication initiated by customers), chat can be used as a proactive means of communication. Customers browsing through a webpage can be contacted directly and offered both help in finding what they need, and information about other products or services and sales and promotional packages, thus helping to boost sales results.

+   Multitasking: chat allows operators to browse and look for supporting information while chatting with a customer, without the need to mute the line and leave the customer listening to hold music or an awkward silence. Furthermore, while an operator can only handle one phone call at a time, chat allows operators to handle up to an average of three chats at the same time, making it a very cost efficient solution.

       Written communication lacks emotion: just as with emails and written communication in general, one of the drawbacks with chat is the inability to clearly read people’s emotions. Unfortunately, even though chat is a more convenient way to communicate using writing, the danger of misreading a customer’s emotions is still applicable.

       Speed of writing: while it is true that instant messages are faster than emails, typing is still not as fast as a spoken conversation would be. While the customer receives a reply within moments, some people type slower than they speak, meaning that delays in replying are still possible, especially if chat traffic is heavy.

       The traps of scripting: a large number of customers reacts badly to scripted replies and message templates. While well-developed FAQ pages offer help for operators to find the right answer and information quickly, it can also be a trap. If agents start copying and pasting replies to customer questions without fully understanding the customer’s needs and updating the template answer to make it more personal, this can have a negative result on customer satisfaction.

 

Phone

As the foundation of call and call centers, telephones are probably still the most preferred and used way to contact customer care centres. They allow immediate contact and two-way communication, which is invaluable when trying to solve an issue effectively (read our pro tips on how to handle incoming calls in a professional way). However, a long time spent waiting in line for someone to take a customer’s call, complicated IVRs, or being put on hold one too many times can easily lead to customer frustration rather than the feeling of achievement.

+   Feelings and empathy: as mentioned above, it is hard to convey or read emotions in written communication. This is where phone support provides the greatest help for operators in both reading and handling customer’s emotions. Hearing the tone of voice, attitude and urgency in a customer’s voice can help an operator adjust to the customer’s emotional state and communication style.

+   Average Handling Time: people speak faster than they write. While it is true operators can handle more than one chat session at the same time, phone conversations can be handled quickly and easily, with the right scripts and FAQ platforms providing help. This allows agents to achieve very good results in their Average Talking Time KPI per call. Furthermore, phone calls are still the fastest way for customers to ask a question and receive the support they need.

+   One call, one immediate resolution: having a phone conversation provides the best possibility to discuss an issue thoroughly and to immediately provide/receive the needed support. It not only make it possible to ask clarifying questions, it also allows customers to follow step-by-step instructions from operators and give immediate feedback about the effectiveness of a solution, which means this is still the best way to achieve high First Contact Resolution KPI results.

       The Age of Millennials: while the phone is still one of the most preferred communication channels at the moment, this will most probably change in the near future. With young people today having constant access to mobile devices, and millennials seemingly preferring to type and text rather than call, phone calls’ popularity is quickly dropping among the younger generation.

       “Please hold the line”: a phrase that puts off a lot of people when speaking with a call center operator. While agents can look up information quickly in written text and then copy paste it in a chat window without asking for a customer to be patient, during a phone call the operator always needs to ask for the customer to wait until they find the needed information.

       Unreliable phone lines: even with today’s advanced technology, it is not unusual to experience problems in the telephone line or voice quality, not to mention the intrusion of background noise that can be experienced at either the customer’s or operator’s end.

 

These days, multichannel communication offers a number of possibilities, so no matter which communication channel you use, you will always be able to achieve the main task it is meant to serve – to connect a customer with a call center operator. But one size does not fit all when it comes to call center solutions. Picking the right type of communication channel is of the utmost importance for your call center, and requires careful thought.

In some cases, a call center can work perfectly by following the “less is more” principle and using only one or two channels. In other cases, however, the principle of “the more, the merrier” will be more appropriate, meaning more communication channels leading to happier customers. The decision of what’s right for you is still yours, but the good news is: whatever choice you make, the call center industry is ready for it.

Let’s have a chat! Boosting your sales by using webchat

Posted on: April 19th, 2018 by dorarapcsak No Comments

Think of the last time you were in a store trying to choose between two products. Both of them look great, the prices for both are very good value for money, and both of them are exactly what you’re looking for….so, how do you make a decision?

Well, more than likely you would probably look around for the first sales assistant you can find, to give you more information about the products and professional advice on helping you make the right choice. 

Now imagine doing the same thing online, perhaps comparing two products in a webshop. The pictures of both look great, you go through the lengthy descriptions and summaries, visit a few forums, and end up reading contradictory reviews that get you confused or annoyed. How great it would be to get some of that professional in-store advice, you think… And that’s where live chat comes in – providing the personal touch of real-store selling in the world of online purchases.

 

Let’s have a chat!

Over the years many companies have implemented different chat solutions to help customers find the information they need. Some have used automated messages and chatbots, others have preferred the benefits of using real agents to help those with many questions (check out how we implemented our chat solution!). But, having now experimented for a number of years with the concept of webchat, businesses have discovered the answer to the question of whether live chat can help boost sales – and the answer is YES.

There can be no doubt that many people make decisions on the spur of the moment, and as a result, one can say in general that the less time people spend thinking about purchasing a service or product, the more inclined they are to buy it. If consumers are given more time to think about what they are buying, they often either lose interest or talk themselves out of it.  

Let's have a chat! - boosting your sales with webchat (1)We already talked about some pro customer service tips in a previous blog post. Now, you can add Live chat to your list. Live chat is not only the perfect tool to help customers make the right choice and also ensure they get to the basket checkout. It also adds a personal touch to an otherwise impersonal online shopping experience, showing customers that you are there for them even in the comfort of their own homes. And let’s not forget to mention the opportunity live chat offers for upselling your products and services. So, isn’t it about time to have a chat about chat?

 

“Hello. How can webchat help me boost my sales?”

Chat is a very useful tool, giving you several opportunities to boost your sales. Here are some examples:

Chat is convenient: let’s face it, nothing beats the comfort of doing your shopping from home. Chat gives people the convenience of buying what they need – from grocery shopping to new clothes and electronics – from the comfort of their own couch. Adding a webchat function to your webpage will allow your customers not only to do their shopping conveniently, but also add that personal touch equivalent to asking for help or advice from a shop assistant, making your services all they will ever need.

Fact: chat is cheap! When providing phone support one operator can handle only one phone call with one customer at a time. Chat, however, allows operators to process several, usually around 3, chats at the same time, making it much more cost-efficient – which is especially important in the case of international sales where a phone call between two countries can be quite expensive.

Chat is immediate: in today’s world, people are constantly online, always available, and wanting to receive information immediately. Phone calls might still be the fastest way to exchange information, but let’s not forget that many people do not want to discuss things in front of others around them. This is where chat can help keep things discreet but efficient.

Chat helps you sell more: according to a Forrester research[1] survey, 44% of people shopping online said that one of the best features a website can offer during the sales process is a live person answering questions. Apart from people liking webchat support, there is also another positive side to webchat which helps to boost sales: upselling. Have your webchat function staffed by a team of professional sales people, and you will be sure your customers will end up buying more than they had planned.

Chat is personal: showing your customers they matter is what business is all about. By making sure you have a real person ready to answer any questions they have, you can show your customers that you care about them and their needs. A personal touch will always win over the cold and inpersonal self-service option.

 

“But what do I need to make it work?”

Without wanting to make webchat integration sound too easy, let’s mention a few things you need to take into consideration before putting together your own webchat service. Chat is a great tool to boost your business, but it’s not an activity to set up and forget. As with any other solution it requires careful thought and planning. Here are a few things to consider:

Open hours: providing the convenience of shopping from home also means that people will most probably not be visiting your website between only 9.00 and 17.00, especially if you are operating internationally. If you do not want to provide 24/7 support, then make sure you know when your website is most visited. As for the times when you do not have operators to support live queries, do not leave a ’Currently unavailable’ sign, but rather choose an option in which customers can still submit their questions for operators get back to them later (but don’t forget to mention this to your customers!).

Right time: don’t forget that this use of webchat is similar to the help sales assistants would provide in a physical shop. You do not want to scare your customers off by jumping at them the moment they enter. Allow your web visitors a couple of minutes to look around your webpage before any chat window pops up.

Sales people: with reference to the previous point, make sure the operators supporting your chat service have experience in sales, especially if you are planning to leverage any upsell activities. It’s not enough to simply put anyone there to answer questions, you need someone who can actually sell.

Cross platform: at the end of every good support interaction, customers normally like to thank operators for their help. Your operators can use this to motivate customers to write reviews and share their positive opinions on your services on social media sites.

Follow up: implementing a service and just leaving it be is not a good idea in the long run, so be ready to analyse incoming information and results. Follow-up on how your chat service is going and make decisions based on the results you get: if the interest in your chat service is too great you might need a few more agents, if it’s not you may need to change something in your processes. In any case, make sure you analyse your data and learn from it.

 

Chat is a tool companies have been experimenting with for a long time, and the results are already clear to see. Chat can not only help you communicate more effectively with your customers, gaining their trust and loyalty, it can also help you to achieve and exceed your sales goals. Successful business means showing your customers you care – and what  better way to do this than telling them you care in person.

 

[1] Forrester – “Making Proactive Chat Work”, June 4, 2010

 

 

VCC Live Chat

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

We’ve been working tirelessly to bring you the newest addition to the VCC Live solution family for multichannel contact centres – live chat. And now, with your help, we want to make it perfect!

As we are sure you will know, the portfolio of functions in VCC Live’s software solution are developed in-house by our own team, and we never stop working on improving our products and services. As with all companies, testing is an integral part of developing any new product, and at VCC Live we have a very strict automated and manual testing system, allowing us to identify any issues that need to be fixed before a new release. Now, however, we would like to invite you, our users, to get involved in the testing process for one of our new function – live chat!

About VCC Live Chat

VCC Live Chat allows you to easily implement a chat function within interfaces such as webpages and social media platforms. After adding this function to your home page, users visiting the page will see a pop-up chat window greet them and invite them to ask a question or bring up a concern to an operator using instant live chat. Chat messages are received by your contact centre agents via the VCC Live client software.

This new beta function is scheduled to be released in the next few weeks. In the run up to its release, we are looking for volunteers who would like to join our beta testing process and help us make sure all aspects of the application work as expected, and, as our clients, meet your expectations. Beta testers will play an important role in the development and final release of this function.

Calling beta testers everywhere!

If you would like to participate in the beta testing process, here are a few important things you need to know:

  • You will need to integrate VCC Live Chat onto your company’s homepage. Your operators will receive chat messages from customers via the VCC Live client software.
  • 100% functionality is not guaranteed. It is possible you will experience errors while using the chat function, which you will need to notify us about.
  • During beta testing you will be using the basic version of the chat function. Further features will be developed and implemented over time.

To take part in the beta testing process, please register your interest in this form.

VCC Live’s work is motivated by seeing the benefits our clients experience while using our products. This is why client feedback is extremely important to us. Become one of our beta testers by trying out the VCC Live Chat function, and together we can make VCC Live’s solution better for everyone!

Contact center – multichannel communication in customer care – part 1

Posted on: September 2nd, 2015 by tszabi No Comments

The seamless communication between a company and its customer is the key for a successful business. In normal circumstances keeping contact with customers, solving problems and complaints are always a necessity. If the company takes time and money to provide quality customer communication, this investment returns in happy and satisfied customers – and, of course, in high profits.

Trends and challenges
According to experts, the content of our message scores only 20% in understanding, the way we deliver it, how we shape and transmit it gives the rest 80%. So it is utmost important the type of communication used in customer contact. A company should not only deliver the message to its customers, he also has to listen to them. Best is to proactively anticipate the arising customer questions or complaints.
Personal and written customer communication was a usual form of customer contact, but nowadays electronic communication is used more frequently. To shortly summarise past years trends, we highlight the following:

  • Mobile is first! — Due to past years technological developments mobile devices are the primary tools of official, business and everyday communication
  • Unified service processes — Customers expect single contact service during customer care, they don’t want to call different departments – process management delivers this seamless experience
  • Proactive customer contact – Is expected from customers, but companies discovered, that it is also beneficial to them to actively involve customers in their processes
  • Using feedback – Companies handled with care customer feedback in the past, but technological developments made easily to perfect customer care based on feedback
  • Spreading of SaaS — More and more organisations turn to software-as-a-service solutions
  • Strong demand for multichannel services – Although the voice remains the main communication channel, more and more people expect self-service channels, sms, chat or email. Usually a customer interaction started on one channel is continued or finished on another