Showing posts with label call center. Show all posts
Showing posts with label call center. Show all posts

Sunday, July 13, 2014

How to Improve First Call Resolution

Few statistics are more important in a call center than First Call Resolution (FCR). When this is achieved a customer issue is solved with maximum efficiency, and the customer is much more likely to be satisfied with the call center encounter, and will remain a customer in the future.

There are several actions that can be taken to improve FCR. Here are some of the most important.

1. Agent training
Knowledgeable, well-trained agents that provide clear communication and specific answers should be able to resolve almost every customer issue in one call.

2. The Right Tools
The software systems employed by the call center provide the resources agents need to deliver better FCR performance, as well as the analytics to help managers set policies that can also work toward this goal.

3. Identify the Trouble Spots
Which types of calls most commonly result in the need for a second (or third) follow-up? Take pre-emptive action to reduce these instances, by understanding the issues that cause them.

4. Reward Outstanding Performers
Every contact center has superstar agents who hit their FCR numbers consistently. Given the high rate of employee turnover in this industry, it is imperative for companies to do what they can to keep their best agents, by offering recognition, bonuses and preferred shifts.

5. Listen to Agent Feedback
Since your agents are on the front lines of customer service, find out what they have to say about the systems and processes that are in place, and what can be done to improve FCR rates.

6. Make Sure Rates are Coming Down the Right Way
One way to lower FCR is to provide abrupt and indifferent service, which would discourage any customer from calling back. The objective is to lower FCR by providing better service, not by instructing agents to wrap up calls by any means necessary.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Have you Joined the Call Center Cloud?

Whether you take a formal survey or just ask around, you’ll find that by now, almost every call center has either investigated the cloud, or has joined the converts.
workforce management cloud

It’s never been easier, since all of the software necessary to deliver outstanding customer service is now available as cloud solution. From PBX, IVR and ACD to call recording, from workforce management and performance management to CRM and speech analytics, if it’s on a call center manager’s ‘want’ list it is available via a cloud delivery system.

And if these solutions are based in a true cloud, as opposed to all the cloud pretenders that have popped up in recent years, they all share the same benefits:

•    No large upfront investment
•    Lower operating costs
•    Faster, easier deployment
•    Seamless integration with current systems
•    Ease of use
•    Automatic upgrades
•    Environmentally responsible energy usage

If all of this sounds good, but you haven’t yet investigated the many advantages of a cloud solution, it might be time to take one out for a test drive. One of the best things about the cloud is that there’s always room for one more.

And if you are already using cloud solutions in your contact center, why not bring together your best employees and think about an overall cloud strategy, and how to make the most of this service? Don’t be surprised if one of the most frequent responses involves expanding the company’s cloud commitment, so it’s handling even more of the call center’s functionality.

Either way, it’s time to discover what a cloud solution has to offer. Don’t get left behind! Contact us to learn more if you are considering the call center cloud.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Customer Experience, Easier is Always Better

Ask call center customers to describe what they want from a call center in one word, and you will probably hear the word “easy” more than once.

Many customers are eager to share horror stories of being trapped on hold or having a 15 minute conversation to resolve a simple issue. A satisfied customer is one that can conclude his or her business quickly and resume their regularly scheduled life. This is a goal that should be shared by the call center, as shorter customer engagements are an effective means of reducing wait time.

Think about why customers call, and then try to figure out what will make each of those engagements easier.

Start with the basics: the caller should get connected to the appropriate agent with minimal delay, and with as few intermediate steps (“Press 1 if you are calling to place an order”) as possible. An efficient, courteous agent then brings the call to resolution in a way that provides customer satisfaction. After the basics, think about forecasting and scheduling to ensure you have the right number of agents available - consider using tools and systems to automate workforce management!

Questions about a company’s product or service should also be handled by agents with the knowledge and skill to do so. Few things are more frustrating than having to call a second time to get an answer.

The call center agent’s job is inevitably repetitive; take orders, provide help and support, answer questions. But when a customer calls he doesn’t care that an agent has already answered a question like his a dozen times over the last few days. He wants to feel valued by the company – and he should, as he could just as easily take his patronage elsewhere.

Thus, the goal of the agent is to deliver an efficient, positive experience without resorting to an assembly line mindset of “move ‘em in, move ‘em out.” Every customer is different and it is up to the agent to provide assurance that the company is appreciative of every order. The balancing act between professionalism and personalization can sometimes be a challenge, but if the agent can blend a brisk pace with a kind word, he or she is certainly on the right track.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Workforce Optimization for Business Process Outsourcers (BPO)

As a Business Process Outsourcer (BPO) your contact centers often have to represent an array of clients in very different businesses, and you must be able to adapt to meet their specific needs.

Does multiple clients mean multiple headaches? Certainly it can be a challenge to deliver a great customer experience for each company, and more importantly for their customers, who should not be able to detect that their call has been outsourced.

The Solution? Workforce Optimization!
Workforce Optimization software (WFO) is the fastest and easiest way for BPOs to achieve all of its customer service goals in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. WFO comprises a suite of automated services, including:
  • Workforce Management
  • Call Recording
  • Quality Monitoring
  • Screen Capture
  • Performance Management and Agent Analytics
With these tools in place a BPO is much better equipped to serve the needs of its clientele. Workforce management streamlines forecasting and scheduling so the call center is prepared for each day’s challenges. Call recording helps confirm that agents are meeting the needs of each customer base, while also providing a record for BPO clients to review so they can listen to how their customers are treated.

Quality management and screen capture deliver the key performance indicators to improve service levels, while performance management and agent analytics provide scorecard analysis and reports to further refine agent performance. 

With WFO, a business process outsourcer can juggle the specific forecasts and schedules for different clients, while delivering a better experience for all of their customers. If your organization provides contact center related BPO services, please talk to us and let us know what your current needs and challenges are and we will share with you how we have helped other Business Process Outsourcing companies.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Workforce Management, Forecasting and Scheduling for Credit Unions

Credit unions are typically not-for-profit organizations, however, to stay in business and deliver great financial services at low fees to their members they have to micromanage every investment, in both technology and personnel, while trying to maintain a sufficient level of customer service.

Inevitably, this leads to challenges, particularly at smaller credit union call centers. Where a larger contact center might be able to absorb the traffic if one agent unexpectedly calls in sick, that same scenario can significantly impact wait times at an organization with 50 agents. An unforeseen spike in call volume can result in similar struggles to keep up with desired service levels. Both, forecasting and scheduling is often more challenging in smaller call centers than in larger centers because the performance, adherence and absenteeism of every agent has more impact. In this situation, a more accurate forecast, a more flexible schedule and increased schedule adherence become even more important.

Every type of call center can benefit from workforce management solutions (WFM), but credit union call centers often don’t choose to invest in what is seen as a costly, top-tier solution to a nagging but still tolerable problem. The resources simply aren’t there to add the kind of technology that will make forecasting and scheduling more efficient – or is it?

Cloud-Delivered Efficiency from Monet

Monet’s cloud-delivered workforce management solution doesn’t require a substantial upfront IT investment, and delivers rapid improvements within months. We’ve worked with credit union call centers of all sizes and types that have discovered the benefits of WFM. The flexibility of the system makes it ideal for small or midsize call centers, and there’s no intimidating learning curve – Monet WFM Live is easy to set up and incorporate into every day business practices. And all these time saving, cost-saving benefits are available for one low monthly subscription fee.

Credit Union Success Story
Read this  case study and learn how a Texas based credit union call center boosted its service and saved money with Monet’s WFM Live.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happy Holidays to Call Centers around the Globe

http://www.monetsoftware.com/seasons-greetings/

As we approach the end of the year, all of us at Monet Software would like to wish you and your family the Very Best of the Season and a Happy 2014.

Best wishes for a Peaceful and Prosperous New Year!

Warm regards,
Monet Software

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Christmas Wish: Better Customer Experiences

If your wish for the holidays is to provide a better customer service experience for your call center customers, congratulations – you have captured the spirit of the season. After all, it’s better to give than to receive, and this way you are giving your customers something they will appreciate all year long.

Of course, as this article on TMCnet observes, some customers have high expectations and are still accustomed to not having them met. What do they want from you? Here are three ideas you can implement for 2014 that will deliver on your Christmas wish:

1. More Integration, Less Repetition
No one enjoys being asked for information they have already provided once. But that is a still standard practice at many call centers. A customer enters his account number or social security number to the IVR, then speaks to an agent who requests the same data.  Closer integration provides customer data to the agent so it does not have to be requested a second time. By eliminating this step, call centers also reduce average handle time, so it’s a benefit to them as well.

2. Call Backs
Would you rather wait on hold 15 minutes while listening to instrumental versions of Celine Dion’s greatest hits? Or would you prefer to have a call center save your number and call you back when you are next in line? Most customers would choose the latter.

3. Consistency
Consistency doesn’t just mean the same positive, stress-free experience each time a customer contacts a call center. It also refers to the same attention to detail and outstanding service whether that customer speaks to an agent, places an order through a website, or engages with the company via online chat. Make sure all communication channels are optimized for a customer experience that would earn rave reviews. Just as all communication channels and customer touch-points need to be optimized, you need ensure that the internal processes, such as forecasting, scheduling, adherence tracking, quality and performance management are aligned and optimized.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Call Center Hiring Tip: Interview Agents on the Phone

The first responsibility of a call center agent is to speak clearly, courteously and intelligently on the telephone. So it makes sense to interview prospective agents over the phone and get a preview of the skills they will need to be hired.

An interview call may typically unfold in two phases. First, gather information about the candidate’s previous experience in the industry and familiarity with the software systems and call recording technology used at the call center. When listening to the responses, focus not only what they say, but also how they say it.

Next, try a couple of role-playing scenarios. Put them in a customer-call situation with the interviewer as the customer. Go through a standard ordering or return call, and then try one as an irate customer. How do they respond under pressure?

Of course, an in-person interview will still be necessary. But there’s no better way to judge the most basic capabilities of a prospective call center agent than over the phone. And for contact centers, in which agents may also be responding to customers online or via email, run through a sample scenario as well to determine their grasp of the written language.

Don’t expect perfection, as the candidate is also dealing with the anxiety of a job interview and probably will not be at their very best. But these exercises are helpful in spotting both potential for success and any red flags that should be seriously considered.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What Customers Expect From a Call Center – and How to Deliver

What’s the short answer to what customers want from a call center? Everything. People are busier than ever these days, and technology has made them accustomed to placing orders, changing orders, canceling orders, asking questions and registering complaints with near-instant efficiency. It’s a challenging task to meet such lofty expectations, but by delivering on the most important points, your call center should receive consistently positive feedback.

1. Fast Access
No one likes to be kept on hold, listening to music that is regularly interrupted by a “Your call is important to us” recording. Using Workforce Management for accurate forecasting and scheduling improves the odds of having enough agents in place to answer each call quickly.

2. Courtesy
Customers expect call center agents to be pleasant and understanding – even when they are calling to complain. Every agent’s training should include the skills to remain calm under stress and speak with a smile in the voice. A friendly greeting and a “thank you for your business” before hanging up should be mandatory.

3. Limit Questions
Many customers call a call center to ask questions about a product or an order. They don’t want to be peppered with questions in response. Obviously an agent will have to collect some information, but if a call has to be transferred, it can be frustrating for a customer to have to repeat that information again, especially if they have already entered it once before even speaking to an agent. Whenever possible, call center technology should display accurate, up-to-date customer information on the agent’s computer so many of these questions can be eliminated.

4. Knowledgeable Staff
Customers expect their questions to be answered. As most will relate to the company’s products, services and policies, agent training should prepare call center personnel for responding to these queries. Occasionally, when a more unexpected question is asked, an agent should have access to communication with other agents or a manager who can deliver an answer quickly.

5. A Successful Resolution
Ultimately, the most important result to strive for with each customer call is a successful outcome – an order placed, a question answered, or a problem solved. Well-trained agents and quality call center technology, working together, improve the likelihood of a successful resolution.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Workforce Optimization: The Customer’s Perspective

When managers review workforce optimization, they usually do so from an internal perspective. They analyze how WFO can reduce call center costs, improve service levels and make each call more efficient.

There’s nothing wrong with any of these goals; however, a manager should also look at WFO from the customer’s perspective. That means making sure internal goals match those that a customer might have when they contact the call center.

To do so, it can be a helpful exercise to put one’s self in the customer’s position. How would you then define a positive experience?
  • Someone answers the call quickly - agents are available
  • Your call is routed to the right agent without being transferred multiple times
  • The purpose of your call is efficiently addressed
Are you employing WFO to achieve these objectives?

The tools provided by a complete workforce optimization solution, such as workforce management, call recording, quality assurance and performance metrics, provide managers with all the insight they need into every customer interaction. So why not optimize for both customer experience and call center efficiency?

In most cases it will not require extensive revisions to current efforts, as these goals often align naturally in a successful business. For instance, a call that is handled quickly is a win for the caller and a win for the call center.

When areas of conflict arise, such as when more agents need to be added to a shift to efficiently handle call volume (which is good for callers but adds to the call center’s operational budget), the manager has a decision on how to best balance customer satisfaction against revenues, costs and profitability. Such challenges arise in any business, but those that are successful always make internal decisions with customer service in mind.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

When Call Centers Become Contact Centers - the Impact on Workforce Management

social Media in contact center workforce management
While the “call center” designation is likely to stick around for a while, agent interaction via telephone is now just one component of customer communication. Today, the public may reach out via email, online chat or social media. All of these additional channels are ultimately beneficial, but many call centers are just beginning to grasp the impact they will have - from a customer engagement perspective, but also from a workforce management perspective.

Email/Live Chat
Written exchanges of information, whether via email or text chat, have become commonplace. However, these channels work best with simple questions and conflict resolutions where a few sentences from both participants will suffice. Once the point has been reached where the number of exchanged messages tops 5-10, it might be advisable to switch to a telephone conversation.

With online chat, it may take longer to complete a customer interaction, simply because it takes longer to type a message than to say it. However, online chat agents can manage up to five sessions simultaneously, which will impact productivity and scheduling. If five proves too many (measure response times to each customer to determine this), three ongoing sessions might be a more practical limit.

When it comes to workforce management scheduling, you will want chat agents with proven written skills. While the Internet has done no shortage of damage to the disciplines of spelling, grammar and punctuation, it is vital that any written communication from your company to customers is free of such errors.

Social Media
A Facebook page and a Twitter account are great ways for companies to announce new products and specials and exchange ideas with customers. They are less effective for such traditional call center functions as handling orders and returns or resolving disputes. However, this too is changing rapidly.

If the call center is to take the lead on establishing and maintaining a company’s social media presence, adequate resources must be made available to do so, to make certain pages are updated, questions are answered, and ongoing communications are having a positive impact on branding and customer loyalty.

That starts with creating and scheduling a social media team based on experience and training. Agents should not just be familiar with these outlets, but be well versed on the company’s social media strategy and best practices.

And, as with email and online chat, choose agents and experts with written communication skills, and when a problem arises try to route that customer back to a call-in situation where it might be easier to resolve the situation verbally.

Each of these new communication channels should get included into your overall forecasting, scheduling and staffing planning process.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What is Cloud Computing?

Everybody talks about cloud computing, but do you really know what it is, how it works, if it might be something for your business and how it could benefit your call center. There is a great video on YouTube that explains What is Cloud Computing - posted by Salesforce.com. Obviously, this video focuses on CRM, however, the principles are the same for call center software such as workforce management and scheduling.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Call Center in the Cloud: Is it cheaper and simpler?

In a recent article in InformationWeek "Call Center in the Cloud: Cheaper and Simpler" there are some interesting customer case studies, interviews and research that summarize the key benefits of cloud computing in the call center. Some highlights from the article:
  • Call centers convert on-premise IT systems to cloud-based systems for flexibility, scalability, ease-of-use and substantially lower cost.
  • They need to scale up and down and want to unify service across multiple sites
  • Besides relieving contact center operators of IT maintenance, they also avoid the capital expense of IT hardware
  • Cloud-based call centers can save large enterprises as much as 50% compared to on-premise systems
The article also contains some research by Frost & Sullivan. Please click here to get to the article.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Customer Interaction Solutions Magazine’s 2010 Product of the Year Award for Workforce Management Solution

We are very excited that Monet WFM Live has been recognized as Product of the Year for exceptional innovation by TMC’s Customer Interaction Solutions Magazine. Here is a short statement from the announcement. “Monet Software received a 2010 Product of the Year Award for its achievement in advancing contact center technologies. Monet WFM Live has demonstrated excellence as well as provided ROI for the companies that use it,” said Rich Tehrani, CEO, TMC. “Customer Interaction Solutions magazine has been honoring innovative companies for 13 years and Monet Software has earned its place with this distinguished honor.”

We very much appreciate this award and would like to thank our customers and Customer Interaction Solution Magazine for this honor. The 13th Annual Product of the Year Award winners are featured in the January 2011 issue of Customer Interaction Solutions magazine.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New year's resolutions for call center managers

Happy New Year! At the beginning of a new year, as new plans and strategies get implemented, it might be a good idea to step back and think about your "new year's resolutions" for your call center. Think about some key questions you should ask yourself and your team to help you improve the operation of your call center in 2011. Here are a few questions to consider:
  • What were the key challenges in 2010 and how can we overcome them?
  • What do we need to do to keep our agents happy and motivated?
  • How can we better serve your customer?
  • How to maintain or improve your service levels?
  • How can we better leverage new web-based technologies and solutions to make our work easier and more efficient?
  • What online sources are available that provide me with new tips, ideas and tools (blog, twitter, etc.) for my daily work?
  • What are the top 3 things I should focus on in 2011?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Call center metrics - what's important?

There are many call center metrics you can track, so the key question is often: What is really important for my call center? We have compiled a list of call center metrics that are usually used to measure performance. But before you select the metrics, you should first establish the overall goals and objectives for your specific business and call center operations. There are a couple of strategic goals and objectives that might apply to your call center:
  • Contribute to profitability of your business
  • Deliver services at lowest possible costs
  • Maximize revenues
  • Continuously improve customer experience and satisfaction
  • Optimize the management of your workforce
Often, it is a combination of several goals, but it is important to rank those based on importance for your business. In the next blog posting, we will list 10 key metrics that you you might use to measure performance based on your prioritization - please stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Call center workforce management software in the cloud

In case you have missed our "cloud-based WFM" webinar, we have posted a short version as a video "Advantages of call center workforce management in the cloud" on YouTube. Learn about the key advantages of a cloud-based workforce management solution for call centers and how it compares to traditional, on-premise workforce management software.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Real-time schedule adherence in call centers

If you were to poll a number of contact center managers about their biggest challenges, chances are good that agent adherence will show up near the top of their lists. It’s impossible to overstate how critical adherence is in a contact center. A contact center may have the best schedule in the world, but it’s not going to do a lot of good if agents are always out of adherence and, as a result, service levels begin to slide.

Real-time adherence monitoring, accompanied by customized reporting, will tell you WHY you are out of adherence. It might be certain agents or certain work groups, or it may not be agents’ fault at all: a poorly designed schedule might be the cause of low service levels. It may be a certain time of day that causes the most trouble spots, which narrows down your list of probable causes.

Also, it’s important that agents understand what their adherence goals are. A contact center is a sum of many moving parts, and agents need to realize that taking 10 minutes to check their social networking page may not seem like much, but put together in aggregate among all agents, 10 minutes here and 10 minutes there can throw the entire contact center far off the mark for service levels. Real-time adherence monitoring can help agents better understand how their behavior can directly affect service-level goals, and help them feel like contributors to the success of the contact center.

If you are interested in this topic, please make sure to read this whitepaper "Strategies for Improving Schedule Adherence".

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Misconceptions about hosted call center solutions

A recent paper by the research firm DMG Consulting discusses five top misconceptions about hosted call center solutions. We would like to add to this from the “cloud computing” perspective. So, here are the misconceptions and our comments:

It's only for small contact centers: Actually, with the cloud based approach it is easy to scale and address the needs of larger centers and/or larger organizations. The required computing power can easily grow (and shrink) based on the customer needs – this is called “elastic computing”. There are many cloud computing companies (e.g. salesforce.com) that successfully provide cloud solutions to very large enterprises.

Limited functionality: Since many cloud based solution are already in the 2nd or 3rd version, they offer very rich functionality. Often, they are easier to use and provide an fast way to add new features through automated upgrades.

Not flexible and customizable: Cloud computing solution were designed with lots of users and different customer needs in mind. Therefore, they have a more flexible architecture and often allow customization and configuration without programming.

Implementations and integrations are more difficult than premise-based initiatives. Cloud based solution have a more flexible architecture and they were designed with “inter-connectivity” in mind, knowing that “island” solutions won’t be successful.

Hosting has a higher total cost of ownership than premise-based solutions: If you do a "total cost of ownership" comparison, the cloud based solutions have a clear advantage. In addition to avoiding the overall investment risk of a large upfront capital expenditure, there are costs that are often hidden, sich as: upgrades, hardware, ongoing operation, additional software (database, etc.), backup solutions, and IT staffing.

Monday, April 19, 2010

How to select a Workforce Management Solution that fits your needs

We have compiled a list of questions that should be helpful when selecting a workforce management solution for a small to medium sized call center:

Performance and key capabilities
  • Does it accurately forecast call volumes by leveraging data from your ACD system?
  • Can you easily run “what-if” scenarios based on shift patterns, skill levels, exceptions, etc.?
  • Can you make intra-day changes to forecast and schedule based on changing call volumes?
  • Can you track and monitor agent adherence?
  • Can you create performance management reports?
Time and resources to implement
  • How long does it take to implement the solution from start to finish?
  • How is it deployed? Do I need to buy and implement hardware or can I just use it over the web?
  • What resources (money, people, etc.) do I need to implement the solution?
Total cost of using the solution
  • Upfront costs: What are the total upfront costs for software, hardware, integration and implementation?
  • Ongoing costs: What are the ongoing costs such as subscription, maintenance, support, upgrade fees?
  • Hidden costs: Are there any “hidden” costs you should account for? (IT resources, integration costs, licenses, upgrade costs, etc.)
Usability
  • Is the solution easy and intuitive for non-IT people to use?
  • Does the solution focus on your specific call center needs?
  • What features do you really need?
ROI and financial risk
  • How much is the upfront investments? The higher, the lower the immediate ROI.
  • How long does it take until I can start using the solution to realize the benefits?
  • What is the financial risk if the solution doesn’t meet your needs? How much does it cost you to "return" it?