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

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Call Center Choice: Cloud or Software?

Once an option only for early adopters, cloud-based services are now becoming more attractive to all kind of businesses as well. In fact, as storage and bandwidth costs continue to drop, smaller companies looking to reduce technology investment costs may be a significant factor in the continued expansion of the cloud market.

However, software-based technology is still more prominent in the call center industry. Will this continue to be the case in another 2-3 years? Let’s take a closer look at the differences between a cloud-based delivery model, and one that requires on-premises hardware and software installation.
workforce management in the cloud whitepaper
Download Whitepaper

With a cloud model, set up can be completed in days, with secure access available to agents and managers in the call center and at remote locations. With a traditional hardware/software system, complete installation and configuration can take several months, which will add additional costs and inconvenience to the conversion process.

Upfront and Operating Costs
Here the cloud model has a clear advantage, as users pay only a low monthly subscription fee with no upfront investment. Depending on the system, an on-premise solution could run $100,000 or more. Likewise, ongoing operating costs are higher given the need for back-ups, maintenance, upgrades and hardware replacement.

With a server, you can only expand your capabilities so much before another investment is required. The cloud platform allows for maximum scalability.

When it’s time to upgrade the software, it can be delivered automatically with a cloud model at no additional cost. When a manual software upgrade is necessary, the cost and effort can be prohibitive enough to be put off, which reduces a call center’s ability to operate at maximum efficiency.

Usability is a priority with most cloud-based solutions, so call center agents and managers can get started more quickly. Traditional solutions tend to be more complex. 

For these reasons and more, it seems likely that the popularity of cloud-based systems will continue to grow. Is it time you considered making the switch?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Workforce Management Software: Upgrade or Replace?

When it comes to technology, the only constant is change. If you purchased workforce management software several years ago, it may be time to consider an upgrade. However, as anyone who purchased a first-generation iPad knows, sometimes technology advances so quickly that some upgrades are no longer possible to keep up with new capabilities, and the only option is replacement.

Facing an “upgrade or replace” decision about WFM at your call center? Here are five reasons why replacement might be the better option.

1. Cost
With the dramatic advancement and widespread acceptance of cloud computing over the past five years, this could be the time to determine if the yearly cost to maintain, upgrade and operate your current software is higher than a new subscription-based or cloud-based solution. Do the math!

2. Capabilities
Is your current WFM system not being utilized to its full potential, because it is too difficult to use or no longer able to meet your new business needs? An upgrade may expand its capabilities, but at some point such upgrades will no longer be effective or even possible. 

3. Interaction
To be most effective, WFM software should be connected to your other operations. For example, it should be combined with call recording data to impact quality of scheduling. But if you cannot launch a call recording session from WFM when you see that call times are too long, all the moving parts in your technology are not working together. Watch these Workforce Optimization videos to see how all pieces come together.

4. Flexibility
Flexibility is key in WFM, particularly when it comes to scheduling. If your system is not flexible enough to adapt to your changing business needs, or would require too large an additional investment for customizing or upgrade, replacement is the better option.

5.  Customer Service
The ultimate purpose of every call center technology investment is to improve customer service. An outdated WFM system can put your agents at a disadvantage, and can impact all the metrics that determine what constitutes a successful customer engagement. Though these customers will never see the new technology you select, they will recognize the difference it makes.

For more information on this, please get our whitepaper "How to select a Workforce Management Solution".

Friday, December 27, 2013

Call Center Software Trends for 2014

call center software trends 2014It’s hard to predict the next big things in fashion or pop culture. But for call centers, there are three trends already underway that show every sign of continued growth in 2014 and beyond.

1. Cloud Computing
Cloud computing will continue to gain a larger percentage of the contact center industry because it offers benefits for businesses of every size and type. Large call centers enjoy a tremendous cost savings and a lower upfront equipment investment. Smaller contact centers can achieve the same technological sophistication of bigger companies on a smaller budget. And call centers with agents working from home or in multiple centers can tie everyone in to the same workforce management system regardless of location.
To learn more, get the whitepaper about Workforce Management in the Cloud.

2. Focus on Customer Experience
Obviously this is a priority that should already be in place and should never be disregarded. But call centers should also be looking for ways to improve the customer experience, and that search will inevitably take them to call recording and quality assurance. A call center quality assurance (QA) program begins with establishing goals, then creating a plan for achieving them. Call recording provides a wealth of data that makes the achievement of that plan much easier. To learn more, get the whitepaper about Call Recording Essentials.

3. Unified Workforce Optimization (WFO)
From tracking call history, adherence and performance, to call recording capabilities, WFO makes almost every aspect of the call center manager’s job more efficient. Integration and unification between solutions provides better business insights and allows a call center manager to make more informed decisions.
To learn more, watch a short YouTube video about Mary the supervisor to illustrate how integrated workforce optimization solutions can transform call centers.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Cloud Software Adoption Exceeds Expectations - Good News for Call Centers

If you are not in the cloud yet, you need to get moving.

That’s just one of the conclusions from a recent study that finds cloud computing is growing even faster than believed, and that those who have made the switch are enjoying the promised cost benefits, without the security concerns often cited by the technology’s detractors.

The study surveyed more than 500 organizations, including larger and smaller companies in the United States and Europe. An amazing 87% of respondents report the adoption of cloud services in the past three years. More than half said that cloud deployment was completed ahead of schedule, and 40% raved that the cloud has exceeded their expectations - see chart below. This positive result was surprising for many companies, since many have experienced in the past that IT projects almost always took longer than planned.

Source: The study was commissioned by CA Technologies and conducted jointly by Luth Research and Vanson Bourne. See link below for complete study

What about security? According to this survey, 98% said that the cloud met or exceeded their expectations in this area. That may be a surprise to those who remain hesitant about the technology for this reason.

In fact, there were indications that those in the cloud industry need to do a better job of addressing these worries, and in closing the gap between perceived and actual security risk. A Ponemon study, quoted in the survey article, reveals that some of these risks are a result of companies not adhering to recommended security practices.

Bottom line? If you have not considered cloud services yet, now would be a good time to do so. At this point the business and technology benefits are simply too substantial to ignore.

The full study is available here and you can also follow this link to learn more about cloud-based call center software.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What is unified workforce optimization for call centers?

Unified workforce optimization for call centers
In the last few weeks, we did several webinars about unified workforce optimization in the cloud. We talked about the need for a unified WFO solution and also demonstrated our new offering Monet WFO Live. We received tremendous interest and we would like to thank all who joined us. We are planning to do a few more webinars in January, please stay tuned. Here are some highlights from the webinar:
  • Most of the organizations have several different functions and technologies that they would ideally like to work together, so they can balance customer satisfaction and revenue, with the cost of customer service. Typically one group focuses on scheduling and deploying staff, and one focuses on recording and measuring performance. There are also people who analyze and investigate opportunities for change, closing skill gaps and establish goals to measure against.
  • As much as we may want these people to work together, today they are forced to make isolated decisions and often act independently because they have limited access to information outside of their area or function. They don’t have visibility into or it takes too long to get to key pieces of information, leaving them to make decisions too slowly and in silos.
  • We believe a large part of the problem is that they don’t have access to a unified integrated technology supporting these groups to help bring them together.  They need immediate access to information traditionally found in other areas and they need information automatically passed to them to eliminate slow, error-ridden manual processes.
  • With a unified WFO solution you get unique business integrations that can let your organization make faster, more informed decisions with a new level of visibility into workforce performance, customer service processes and customer intelligence across the enterprise.  You can quickly get to the right information to drive a new level of performance improvement.
  • Through these integrations users can drill to information traditionally found in other applications and information can be automatically passed between functions to eliminate manual processes.
  • In addition, you get a single workforce optimization framework that brings these functions together with features like a single graphical user interface and central administration. Having a single graphical user interface let’s people easily navigate in areas that they don’t spend a lot of time in. 
If you don't want to wait for the next webinar, you can read more about workforce optimization on our website or you can read an article about WFO in the Customer Interaction Magazine.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Workforce Optimization Software Buying Guide for Call Centers

The software application magazine Enterprise Apps Today just published an article about workforce optimization software for call centers. It talks about the importance of workforce optimization as part of the overall call center strategy and highlights several vendors, interviews with executives and a buying guide for call center workforce optimization software.

Monet Software is mentioned as one of the leading vendors for workforce optimization software in the article. Please click this link to read the full article.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What to look for when buying hosted or cloud-based workforce management software

In addition to the core questions regarding functionality and capabilities that address your unique business needs, there are a few additional questions that need to get evaluated especially for hosted and cloud-based solutions. Here are the questions to consider:

The difference between hosted and cloud-based workforce management software
In our last blog post we have clarified the difference between "hosted" and "cloud-based" workforce management software.It is important to understand the difference and the implication on costs, usage and overall risk.

All inclusive pricing (maintenance, support and upgrade)
When comparing offerings, it is key to evaluate costs and pricing for the overall software application life-cycle, such as, purchase, installation, set up, training, maintenance, support, and upgrade.
  • Are there any initial costs for set up, training, etc.?
  • How high are the monthly/yearly subscription fees for usage?
  • Are there any additional maintenance fees?
  • Are there any additional customer support fees
  • Are there any additional upgrade fees for new versions
  • Are there any other fee for additional storage, higher performance, etc.

Integration to other call center software systems
Just as the ACD/PBX systems should be integrated to workforce management software to achieve better forecasting and real-time schedule adherence, it is important to look at other integration points. For example, an integrated workforce optimization solution connects all aspects of scheduling, skills, call quality, metrics and compliance to better meet customer needs and deliver more effective customer service. You can easily identify patterns and analyze metrics at various levels for training and quality assurance purposes and establish quality standards and best practices. In addition, you can combine quantitative and qualitative information for a complete assessment of contact center performance. Only an integrated WFO suite allows you to “connect the dots” to get the whole picture that allows you to impact the bottom line. And today's cloud-based solution make it often more easy to integrate or even offer the integration "out of the box".

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hosted Workforce Management Software versus Cloud: What's the difference?

As many companies have discovered in recent years, the Cloud-based model of delivery has numerous advantages over the traditional hosted models of the past. Both offerings are often confused with each other but, not addressing the fundamental differences, have a huge impact on your call center business.

The traditional hosted model is simply hosting a client server or web application on a set of servers at the vendor’s site or computer center. The vendor then provides an application that was not originally designed to be delivered over the web, with a few changes, and delivers it to each customer via a single, dedicated server. It lacks a multi-tenant architecture and requires separate servers and installations for each customer. Much more costly and less scalable, it also requires support for multiple releases, which is very resource intensive. Typically, vendors who sell on-premise software may also offer a hosted model for on-demand options and sometimes call it "cloud-based".

The Cloud-based model uses a totally new multi-tenant architecture that was designed to efficiently and securely deliver web-based applications at the lowest possible cost. It focuses on fast set up, low operating costs through shared services, highest security for web-based deployment and high performance and scalability through instant and seamless scaling of computer resources (also called “elastic cloud computing”). This ensures available computing capacity when you need it and only when you need it, at the lowest possible cost.

Why should a customer care about the difference? Simply because cloud-based workforce management software offers many advantages:
  • Low cost and fast implementation
  • Multi-tenant architecture with “elastic cloud computing” platform for maximum scalability
  • Architected and optimized for web based security model
  • Automated upgrade procedures
  • New web based interface with focus on ease of use without training

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Workforce management unified with call recording

It’s common knowledge that call recording software is a powerful tool for businesses to accurately capture voice conversations with their customers. However, when  combined with call center workforce management, call recording makes it easy and efficient for call centers to optimize operational efficiencies, employee satisfaction, and the overall customer experience—a combination that takes call recording to a whole new level. Here are the key benefits:

Improve service quality
One of the most critical differences call recording software can make is improving the quality of customer service. It is impossible hover over each individual agent at all times to ensure the service they’re providing is up to company standards. Even if this were feasible, the discrepancy of how agents handle themselves while knowingly being monitored would be ever-present.

More effective and personalized training
With call recordings, managers and call center trainers have the means to not only measure their agents’ ability to adhere to company-approved responses, but to gauge how they’re performing in terms of efficiency, courtesy, and conversational style.With call recording, the training can be personalized and customized to the needs of every agent, making it more effective and efficient. Call monitoring also allows for ongoing, situation-specific training that will guide agents through best practices for a range of customer interactions. Recorded conversations can also be compiled into groups for training purposes.

Increase revenues and profits
With improved training comes improved service, and with improved service, it only makes sense that a boost in profits is close behind in the form of more up-sells, customer loyalty, repeat business, and new sales, less employee turnover, and faster training.

Ensure compliance and avoid lawsuits
Compliance is an important requirement for many businesses, especially those in the financial services industry that are continuously monitored by private and government entities whose job it is to regulate the handling of private financial information.

Improve customer satisfaction
The ability to monitor, score, and dissect past and current calls gives managers more control over how their agents engage customers. Managers can monitor conversations on the spot and address any issues that may be negatively impacting performance metrics. Call recording also allows unhappy customers to be addressed immediately, before they may want to file a complaint.

For more information about this topic, please also see our call recording blog.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Workforce Management Software Selection Guide for Call Centers

Every call center has different needs. Size, structure, industry, type of calls and many other factors determine your unique requirements. However, there are some guidelines and key questions you should consider when selecting workforce scheduling software for your call center:

Key Functionality:
  • Forecasting: Ability to run simulations to calculate a precise forecast for future call volume, agent requirements and average handle time for any time interval of the day, based on historical data from your ACD.
  • Scheduling: The scheduling engine should incorporate all call types and other activities to generate staffing schedules that optimize a wide range of factors, including agent availability, skills, holidays, breaks and service levels.
  • Exception handling: Integrated exception calendar to simplify scheduling of agent exceptions such as time off and one-time or recurring training meetings.
  • Intra-day management: Graphical display of agents' schedules with drag-and-drop functionality to quickly manage breaks, lunches and other exceptions. Real-time updates can be made to required and assigned agents instantly, and display surpluses and shortages for each time period of the day.
  • Real-time adherence: Ability to compare planned agent activity to actual activities throughout the day, as well as real-time views of forecasted and actual call volumes, handle times and other key performance indicators.
  • Configuration & administration: Ability to set up unlimited number of center splits or agent groups, each with its own set of service objectives and guidelines. Management of multiple sites and time zones. Ability to set hours of operation by day of week, and service level goals down to 15-minute intervals if desired.
  • Metrics and reporting: Ability to report and analyze all agent activities including their schedule adherence and key performance indicators. Managers need to get actionable insights through tools such as call center dashboards, Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and real-time alerts.

Implementation and user adoption -
Questions to ask when evaluating the implementation:
  • Implementation and setup: How long does it take to implement and configure the solution to your unique needs.
  • User setup: How much effort is it to set up users in different locations such as remote and home offices?
  • Training: How much effort does it take to learn and productively use the solution?
  • Usability: Is the solution easy to use so that users can leverage the full potential of the software?

Total cost of ownership -
Evaluate key cost drivers of the software:
  • Upfront cost: How much do you have to invest upfront for software licenses, hardware and other software?
  • Implementation cost: Costs for internal staff and consultants to implement the software and train the users.
  • Ongoing cost: Calculate the internal cost of operation, as well as external cost such as ongoing software maintenance fees, subscription and consultant fees.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Apple iCloud surges past 100 million users. Lessons for call center software.

A recent article in Forbes reports about the tremendous growth of Apple's iCloud. Here is a quote from the article: "That’s 100 million iCloud users in four months, or about 25 million per month—and that’s coming awfully close to 1 million new iClouders every single day". Well, that kind of user adoption is only possible through cloud-computing and its unique characteristics:
  • Easy to use (obvious, self-service)
  • Scalability (storage and performance)
  • Instant set up of an account (no software, not hardware to install)
  • Low cost (subscription based or even free)
  • Low risk (if you don't like it you can turn it off without a big upfront investment)
The same principles are true for enterprise software in the cloud. If you are in the process of selecting new call center software or are not getting the value you expected from your current software - think about how the cloud-based model could be the right alternative for your call center.