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Published: 2012-03-09T09:26:50-05:00


Eliminating Outsourced Call Centers, Barging in IVR Menus, Best Call Center Customer Experience, Virtualized E9-1-1

Fri, 09 Mar 2012 09:26:50 -05002012-03-09T09:26:50-05:00

It's a welcome trend, obviously, that call centers are beginning to see the advantages of repatriating some of those jobs. Wouldn't it also be nice if they made using them more, well, user-friendly? A recent Tech Journal South report tells of 3CLogic, which provides a cloud call center offering promising " a new level of sophistication" for cloud call centers, which as TMC's Susan J. Campbell notes, "could quite possibly eliminate the need for outsourcing call centers and will actually save companies money." The trick, according to company founder and chief executive officer Raj Sharma, is to keep the product relatively inexpensive while hitting the sweet spot for call centers -- reporting options. 3CLogic has loads of reporting features, prepared and customized.  Read more here. ... Your mother told you it's not polite to barge in. However, as you learned, sometimes it's useful and necessary. Like when you're listening to an IVR menu list 17 options and you know you want one of the first two, and the list is on No. 4 and you want it to start over. When it comes to voice systems, "barge in" is "the ability to interrupt a system prompt with voice or DTMF input," according to a collateral from IVR experts Angel. It's particularly useful for changing system settings for the Voice User Interface designer. The paper outlines areas for consideration when it comes to using barge-in capability. The caller's level of experience with the system: Are the callers, or at least a high percentage of them, going to be repeat users, and be familiar with the call flow? Give them barge-in. If it's a system where the normal caller is a first-time caller, it's probably better to leave barge-in off and let them understand how the system works first. ​Read more here. ...​ "Most businesses," wrote TMC's Chris Freeburn, "are failing to examine multiple channels to get a better view of customers."   Based on a survey conducted by the Customer Contact Association and Sabio, personal banking is generally regarded as the most satisfying call center customer experience, with telecommunications and phone service providers offering the worst. The survey, part of a research program called “Voice of the Contact Center” launched by the Sabio –CCA partnership, discovered that contrary to what some in the industry probably think, the survey found that consumers do understand that yes, call volume does get heavy at times, and they don't mind waiting "for up to five minutes" to talk with someone, as long as that wait results in their problem actually getting solved. And as long as they're not paying for the wait. Read more here. ... When the Spotsylvania, Virginia Emergency Communications Center wanted to replace their legacy VESTA PSAP call system with next-generation 9-1-1 technology, it was a pretty sizable undertaking. The center has eight positions staffed by 40 people and handles an area covering 120,000 people.  Virtualization was key, as geodiversity was a major priority for the project as it could distribute a call center between two physical locations. This would prevent the entire system from being knocked out if a natural disaster or something else were to happen to one location. Read more here. Tags: Related tags: customer experience, center customer, system, center, barge, centers Follow me: Related Entries TrackBacks | Comments | Tag with | First Coffee Home | Permalink: Eliminating Outsourced Call Centers, Barging in IVR Menus, Best Call Center Customer Experience, Virtualized E9-1-1 Copyright First Coffee [...]

Aspect and Nexidia Partner, Acme Packet and HP ACI, Hamad Call Center Improvement, Restaurant Order Call Centers

Tue, 06 Mar 2012 12:52:43 -05002012-03-06T12:52:43-05:00

Recently Aspect, which sells customer contact and Microsoft platform products, announced a collaboration with Nexidia to "integrate speech analytics into its interaction management and workforce optimization" offering, with the idea to provide a tool to improve customer service. The way Aspect officials explain it, their optimization platform will work with Nexidia’s Evaluate platform to help companies break down and sift customer-agent dialogue and analyze what are the most relevant customer inquiries, issues or initiatives. Adding Nexidia Evaluate, Aspect officials say, the tool's users "can also betteruse speech analytics across the entire enterprise. Read more here. ... Acme Packet also recently announced that its Acme Packet Net-Net SIP Multimedia-Xpress will be integrated with the HP Actionable Customer Intelligence portfolio, rendering the HPproduct able to use the sort of IP Multimedia Subsystem tools to do such things as lower the total cost of ownership, "break down associated complexities, provide increased scalability, and support a faster time-to-market." Dino Di Palma, chief operating officer at Acme Packet, said that yeah, handsets and LTE are making mobility more of an option for more employees, "yet many IMS deployments are overwhelmed by complexity and are often too costly to quickly scale." The problems have been that a) it's been highly expensive, and b) it's sometimes just too complex, especially for SMBs without in-house IT capability. Read more here. ... ​Hamad General Hospital officials say they're trying out a call center services fixed time appointment system for the outpatient department, to shorten waiting times for patients and, in the words of hospital officials, "give priority to the most urgent cases." The HMC's Center for Healthcare Improvement and HGH are working together on this project, as the new system lets patients book, reschedule, or cancel their appointment by phone, instead of having to visit the clinic. Which yeah, is great progress. One's almost surprised such a system wasn't in place before now, but the improvement will be welcome, no doubt. Read more here.   ... Finally, an appropriate use for some Indian call center personnel with particularly thick accents: Taking orders at call centers handling Indian restaurants. Stellar Restaurant Solutions, Colorado Springs-based “a fusion of two companies -- an international call center organization and an innovative restaurant company," The company handles calls from customers who called a restaurant to order, and are "probably not aware that their order is being placed at a call center, but they will notice that the service has gotten better than past experiences where they were placed on hold for a lengthy time by a frustrated host." The order is then relayed quickly to the kitchen.  Read more here.   Tags: Related tags: aspect officials, restaurant order, speech analytics, hospital officials, center, customer Follow me: Related Entries TrackBacks | Comments | Tag with | First Coffee Home | Permalink: Aspect and Nexidia Partner, Acme Packet and HP ACI, Hamad Call Center Improvement, Restaurant Order Call Centers Copyright First Coffee Sponsored by the Call Center Outsourcing Community & the Virtual Contact Center Outsourcing Community[...]

Email Marketing, CRM L.C. and Social Media, Citizens As Customers, 'Customer Service Hero?'

Fri, 02 Mar 2012 09:29:47 -05002012-03-02T09:29:47-05:00

Oh -- you thought email marketing was dead? Sorry to disappoint you. Not even close. According to Kate McKinney and Kiran Ross, writing in the Kansas City Business Journal, "It is perfectly possible to use email marketing without appearing spammy and annoying your users. "But you have to do it the right way. The content needs to be "fresh, engaging and relevant to your subscribers," they say.  They recommend starting off with a good quality hosted marketing platform, or at least considering a hosted option if you've never tried it before. It isn't expensive, there's very little capital startup and you can start up with a decent product for less than $20 a month. They mention such brands as Emma, Constant Contact (News - Alert) and MailChimp to give you an idea. "Take note of the platform’s compliance with anti-spam laws and opt-in mechanisms," they caution. Don't want trouble with the law. Read more here. ... Carolyn J. Dawson noted that Customer Relationship Metrics, L.C recently announced that it has launched a social media business intelligence solution "said to be an ideal solution for organizations looking to enhance customer relationships." The idea is that the new social media BI offering helps organizations with their social media strategy, which is probably best described as "a floundering mess" for most organizations. Companies know that smart companies are using social media to get some good customer information, which ties into the overall customer experience management or CEM approach, which means all contact points need to be on the same page, which means they know they need help. Read more here. ... It seems even the Canadian government could be doing a better job using Web 2.0 tools when treating their citizens as customers of government services. Minister Tony Clement, the president of Canada's Treasury Board, recently told a North Vancouver business gathering that yes, the Canadian government “recognizes the importance of social media” – whew, that's good to know – “and is taking action to integrate these tools and ideas in its day-to-day operations.” Clement didn't spell out too many details, but the Open Government initiative,as described by him last November, is part of the Canadian government's effort to include “Internet-based tools that allow users to share information, foster dialogue, and collaborate in the creation of content.” Read more here. ... Tracey Schelmetic recently wrote "Are you a customer service hero? Would you like to be? (And no, you don't have to wear tights and a cape.)" She reports how cloud-based help desk provider Zendesk will kick off a multi-city “Customer Service Hero” tour, free half-day events teaching attendees customer service best practices from not only Zendesk, but guest stars Zappos Insights and Groupon. “The Customer Service Hero Tour is a chance for industry professionals to learn the latest techniques for providing superior customer service in the 21st century,” said J.D. Peterson, VP of Product Marketing, Zendesk. Read more here.​ Tags: Related tags: customer service, social media, email marketing, canadian government, citizens customers, customer Follow me: Related Entries TrackBacks | Comments | Tag with | First Coffee Home | Permalink: Email Marketing, CRM L.C. and Social Media, Citizens As Customers, 'Customer Service Hero?' Copyright First Coffee Sponsored by the Call Center Outsourcing Community & the Virtual Contact Center Outsourcing Community[...]

Enterprise Call Recording, Oz Banking Customer Service Improvements, Social Media and Customers, India Turning From Call Centers?

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 13:11:46 -05002012-02-28T13:11:46-05:00

  You probably don’t think of yourself first and foremost as a customer when you show up for a dental appointment, but in reality that’s what you are. So there’s no reason why dentists shouldn’t get in on all the fun of customer marketing leads and enterprise call recording just like the rest of us. In fact, officials of the Internet Dental Alliance have announced Total Lead & Call Tracking, what they’re calling a “core feature” of the alliance’s New Patient Marketing Machine and based on its LeadFire technology. Not what you normally think of when you think of dentists, but they’re trying to run a business as well, so why not? Jim Du Molin, founder of Internet Dental Alliance, says the LeadFire technology “lets you compare your different websites side-by-side,” to see things like “which cities and market segments are producing the most new patients for your practice.” Read more here. ... Jyothi Shanbhag noted recently that Australia’s ME Bank deployed BMC Control-M Workload Automation, in the words of company officials, to “ensure it meets and exceeds customers’ expectations regarding any technology-related services.” ME Bank is described as a banking “alternative” for industry super funds and unions. “In 2010, the IT team ran a project to implement BMC Control-M and transform the way we do batch processing across our systems,” Shanbhag quoted Kathryn Hawkins, CIO of ME Bank as saying. ME Bank officials said the project has been a success, as they’ve seen “significant improvements” and are more proactive than reactive. Read more here. … Richard McCrossan, Strategic Business Director, Genesys, recently noted that a lot of businesses still aren’t using social media services as a customer service channel. TMC’s Chris Freeburn wrote that McCrossan pointed to a recent study of contact centers showing that a mere 16 percent of contact center organizations thought social media was important for customer care, and few have the tools necessary to use social media as a significant customer care help, even if they wanted to. Freeburn wrote about the “myths” McCrossan identified as keeping businesses from plunging more deeply into social media for the customer experience, such as “Oh, it’s only for kids.” In fact, McCrossan said, “Companies must understand and act on the fact that it could be the over 30s – those who are the most important to the majority of businesses – that are the most active in social media. Read more here. ... TMC’s Jordan Eggers recently noted an article from The Economic Times showing that India e taking a recent anti-call center outsourcing bill from United States as a wake-up call (sorry) to look to a future de-emphasizing the call center industry. President Obama’s State of the Union speech in January included the line that “It’s time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding the companies that create jobs right here in America.” Of course the reference to the thousands of call center jobs American companies find can be done more economically in India, keeping costs lower for American consumers, wasn’t lost on India. The country’s Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, noted correctly that “Protectionism ultimately does not help the country that resorts to protectionism.” Read more here. Tags: Related tags: social media, leadfire technology, freeburn wrote, customer service, dental alliance, customer Follow me: Related Entries TrackBacks | Comments | Tag with | First Coffee Home | Permalink: Enterprise Call Recording, Oz Banking Customer Service Improvements, Social Media and Customers, India Turning From Call Centers? Copyright First Coffee Sponsored by the Call Center Outsourcing Commu[...]

Improving Customer IVR, Customer No-Nos, Voice Biometrics, Call Center Advantage - Remote Monitoring

Fri, 24 Feb 2012 08:42:04 -05002012-02-24T08:42:04-05:00

The thing about Interactive Voice Response is that while, yes, it does save businesses a lot of time and money, it also saves the customers time too, when used correctly. Frankly this reporter prefers automated interactions when it’s simple information that’s needed. But too many IVR systems are one size fits all, instead of having the capability to tailor to the customer. That’s the contention of IVR industry insider Jason Andersson, who wrote recently that it’s highly possible “self-service applications, such as Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solutions are looking at a slow painful death because of lack of innovation.” Take grocery shopping. Wouldn’t it be nice, Andersson says, if you could walk into a grocery store arranged for you to fast-track your trip, with all the things you normally buy in the same place up front? Sure if you have the time go get an exotic mustard for a special dinner, but the bread, milk, beer, all that’s up front, easy to get. Read more here. … Every once in a while we like to step away from the little technical details of operating a call center, and discuss some of the more general, humor-filled issues. On that note, you have to, just have to love an article titled “Five Stupefying Statements From The CRM Call Center.” For one thing, you admire the writer’s ability to hold it down to five. SAP’s Anthony Leaper recently offered what he sees as five unbelievable things that real live call center agents really say, to real live customers, destroying real live customer loyalty, good will and company profits. #5: “Patience, dear -- I have to finish this call script.” Yes, that’s actually said by call center agents all over this great land of ours. Leaper observes, of course, that customers are not much interested in the script the call center agent has to follow, they’re interested in getting their problem solved. Read more here]. … Yes, it is possible to use voice biometrics to improve customer service “and close more business,” according to a recent white paper from Angel, which sells Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and related call center products. The paper lists some of the advantages of voice biometrics. Since there are over 120 touchpoints to anybody’s voice, biometric technology can essentially make a fingerprint of your voice, which can replace paper-based signatures, according to the paper. This can speed up the flow of business considerably, especially since the paper points out that this “satisfies FFIEC and FCC CPNI compliance and HIPPA/CMS guidelines; and is recognized by the FDA as a legally binding,  E-Sign Act compliant, e-signature.” And since you don’t need any special phone systems or hardware or software, there isn’t a great capital investment to start using it. Since it works with any phone, mobility is increased. In addition, the nice thing about a voice is you don’t need to memorize it like you do a PIN or password, and it can’t be stolen. Read more here. … Being able to make your 3rd party remote call monitoring solution your own sounds like a no-brainer when it comes to seeing ROI, right? Since call center agents have a very short window of time where they can listen to and respond to feedback, a huge benefit of 3rd party remote call monitoring is that agents can take direction from a direct supervisor who uses chunks of both recorded and live calls to highlight what the employee did right and wrong. Agents will then adjust the way they do things. Without some clear objectives in place, agents can be left in the dark as to how they should be handling individual circumstances  Fair, consistent and accurate feedback they’ll take on board, and 3rd party remote call monitoring gives you just that. So we hope we’re all clear on [...]

Tracking Customer Keywords, TeleTech and Satmetrix's CEM, Call Center Software Awarded

Tue, 21 Feb 2012 11:39:48 -05002012-02-21T11:39:48-05:00

  What many businesses want are completed sales. They aren’t really interested in how many clicks they get with online advertising, what they want to know is if there are any particular keywords that are leading to completed sales. That’s where sees an opportunity. As company founder and CEO, Stuart Buckley, noted recently, “measuring what converts and what does not is in my opinion the Holy Grail of call tracking, and indeed keyword tracking.” To that end, then, is offering a conversion attribution measurement software product, which company officials say can “track a phone call or keyword from first contact with a customer or client to a completed sale.”   Because this is the sort of information you really want to be able to put your hands on, isn’t it? What good are a million clicks or calls if they don’t generate sales? Buckley’s vision is to give businesses a way to more closely target their marketing spend on what are proven to be the more effective avenues in terms of closed sales, not simply vague expressions of interest. Read more here. … Michelle Amodio recently noted that two customer experience management sellers, TeleTech and Satmetrix, which sell BPO and CEM software respectively, reached an agreement whereby TeleTech’s CEM will include Satmetrix’s Net Promoter. The idea behind CEM is, understandably enough, to help businesses create, acquire and retain customers, and find more profitabe ways to interact with them. TeleTech officials say that by incorporating the Net Promoter methodology in their offering, their clients will be able to improve that process. CEM relies on a functional alignment among departments, and while technology isn’t a silver bullet for that, it must start with correct business processes and company priorities, the right technology is necessary. Read more here. ... TMC named Harmony, a product of workforce optimization vendor KnoahSoft, a Customer Interaction Solutions 2011 Product of the Year Award winner. According to the award citations, Knoahsoft Harmony is an IP-based product designed to let agents and supervisors collaborate: “Agents can review their own calls and evaluations to understand and improve their performance, while unique self-service tools enable lifestyle scheduling to increase agent satisfaction and reduce attrition.” Ralph Barletta, President and Co-founder of KnoahSoft, said the company prides themselves on helping customers “exceed their customer interaction goals.” Read more here. … Also recently, Anuradha Shukla noted that seller Beyond the Arc is offering more Voice of the Customer products, using sentiment and text analytics software provider Clarabridge’s software, which can identify trends “across sources such as social media, public commentaries and regulatory filings, and identify areas of improvement for the customer experience,” as Shukla said. Right now the product is pitched to financial service companies, to whom it’s being marketed as a way to help them understand their customers better and find out more of what they want. The emphasis is identifying things the company can do to sell more products and services to the customers.   This includes improving processes and tools for analyzing customer feedback, for starters, which anymore means being able to read social media, call center reports and online communications. The idea behind Beyond the Arc’s offerings is to help with just that. Read more here.   Tags: Related tags: teletech satmetrix, completed sales, customer experience, social media, customer interaction, customer Follow me: Related Entries TrackBacks | Comments | Tag with | First Coffee Home | Permalink: Tracking Customer Keywords, TeleTech and Satmetrix's CEM, Call Center Sof[...]

Email Marketing Mistakes, SatuitCRM and Alpha, KeyBank Customer Satisfaction, CloudCRM

Thu, 16 Feb 2012 10:09:45 -05002012-02-16T10:09:45-05:00

Email marketing is kind of like a souffle -- so effective and impressive when done correctly, but so easy to do wrong. We don’t know how many ways there are to screw up a souffle, no doubt imaginative klutzes are coming up with more each day, but CustomerThink has done a good job listing five fairly common ways to lower the effectiveness of email marketing. Oh a fallen souffle is still edible, and you’ll get some response from your email marketing even if you’re committing some of these “facepalms,” as CustomerThink columnist Yo Noguchi calls them. But you’re not using email marketing just to be passable, are you? No, we didn’t think so. All right, then, if you’re committing any of the following sins stop immediately. Emailing Without Permission. Goodness sakes, as long as we’ve been telling you not to do this and you’re still doing it? How often do you enjoy getting newsletters or other marketing materials you didn’t ask for? Believe it or not customers are human, too, just like you. Nobody likes it. Buying a list and hitting everybody on it is about the lowest, least-effective way of email campaigning, Noguchi recommends building a far more effective list via opt-in forms on websites, signup sheets and the like. Read more here. … TMC’s Jyothi Shanbhag wrote recently that Alpha Real Property Investment Advisors, a part of London based Alpha Real Capital, have deployed SatuitCRM as its single integrated business system for its new business development and marketing teams. Russell Jarvis, Sales and Marketing Director for Alpha, said that they chose Satuit’sSaaS offering because it was designed by people from fund management backgrounds for fund management businesses. Alpha officials pronounced themselves impressed with  its ease of use, and the fact that the CRM functionality met company’s needs with little or no customization needed. Read more here. … TMC’s Anuradha Shukla has reported that KeyBank is tied for fifth in overall customer satisfaction in the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 Small Business Bank Satisfaction Study. Headquartered in Cleveland, KeyBank provides deposit, lending, cash management and investment services to individuals and small businesses in 14 states. The company notes that this ranking is based on feedback from about 7,000 customers of the nation's largest financial institutions. The study surveyed 24 financial institutions, ranking them on a range of factors including account manager, account activities, account information, fees, problem resolution, products offerings and facilities. Read more here. … And TMC’s Susan J. Campbell noted recently that “a majority of businesses have overcome the fear of operating daily in the cloud,” citing plans for the upcoming 2012 Cloud Connect conference which is “centered on working in the cloud, while last year’s conference was all about defining the cloud and what exactly it means.”   Businesses are now navigating their way through the challenges of building cloud-based applications and handling increased data, Campbell wrote, adding that “the ability to rely on a solid cloud CRM is crucial to success, and a number of speakers for the upcoming event plan to speak on the subject.”   Read more here.   Tags: Related tags: email marketing, financial institutions, customer satisfaction, marketing, email, cloud Follow me: Related Entries TrackBacks | Comments | Tag with | First Coffee Home | Permalink: Email Marketing Mistakes, SatuitCRM and Alpha, KeyBank Customer Satisfaction, CloudCRM Copyright First Coffee Sponsored by the Call Center Outsourcing Community & the Virtual Contact Center Outsourcing Community[...]

TeleTech and Satmetrix in CEM Deal, IVR Auto Attendant, Women Car Customers, CRM at Cloud 2012

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 08:48:58 -05002012-02-14T08:48:58-05:00

This past week TMC’s Michelle Amodio noted that TeleTech and Sametrix, two well-known names in Customer Experience Management, have partnered to work on a beefed-up suite of CEM offerings. As she wrote, TeleTech is now the only BPO provider using the Net Promoter approach to improve their CEM. The idea behind CEM is to take steps to both retain customers and increase profit margins associated with each customer. "We've reached a tipping point in the customer revolution. Disruptive technologies have shifted the power to define a company's brand to the customer, therefore placing unprecedented urgency on the need for companies to update their outdated customer management strategy and technology," Amodio quoted Ken Tuchman, chairman and CEO of TeleTech as saying. … Android has another front office assistant app, cleverly named the Front Office Assistant. Consulting firm RIIS has announced the release of the app, which is intended to be a way for businesses to manage the auto attendant functions of their IVR system using an Android tablet, according to RIIS officials. Describing the Android version, Godfrey Nolan, president of RIIS, said “BroadWorks’ tools help small and medium-sized businesses run more efficiently. But setting up and managing the IVR trees is a challenge for communication services administrators. The Front Office Assistant Android app combines the touch user experience and mobility of a tablet device to make deployment easier. It’s a good example of how tablet computing is moving from B-to-C use, to use in B-to-B enterprise applications.” Company officials said the app has “simple drop-down menus and on/off controls,” useful for letting administrators provide callers with customized greetings, message options and “the ability to connect to specific people or transfer to other departments.” With the app users can set up PBX systems, company officials explained, and “create scenarios for call routing based on business hours, after hours, on weekends or holidays.” … And this past week TMC’s Tracey Schelmetic wrote about the one area many women are uncomfortable as customers: buying a car. She noted that women frequently feel taken advantage of, patronized or swindled at car dealerships. Evidently Delia Passi, former publisher of Working Woman magazine, is something of an authority when it comes to selling to women, and she’s compiled a list of, shall we say, “women-friendly” car dealerships in WomenCertified. The listing is based on customer satisfaction surveys taken from women, Schelmetic said, adding that one commonality of highly-ranked dealerships seems to be having women on the staff at a dealership. … Cloud computing is much more comfortable for most businesses these days, and as Susan J. Campbell noted recently, the upcoming 2012 Cloud Connect conference will emphasize working in the cloud, addressing the topic of relying on a solid cloud CRM for success. To that end, the conference will look at, among other topics, Microsoft’s Azure cloud, which can “connect mainframe data with an integrated flight data in real time,” as Campbell wrote, using American Airlines and Cisco as examples of companies dealing with CRM offerings in the cloud. The conference will also discuss open source code as it could relate to cloud CRM as an alternative for virtual networks. Tags: Related tags: office assistant, company officials, cloud connect, cloud, women, customer Follow me: Related Entries TrackBacks | Comments | Tag with | First Coffee Home | Permalink: TeleTech and Satmetrix in CEM Deal, IVR Auto Attendant, Women Car Customers, CRM at Cloud 2012 Copyright First Coffee Sponsored by the Call Center Outsourcing Community & the Virtual Contact Center Outsourcing Community[...]

Cloud CRM and Forecasting, Bad Customer Silos, Videoconferencing, Email Marketing

Thu, 09 Feb 2012 08:15:18 -05002012-02-09T08:15:18-05:00

You know, of course, that done correctly, sales forecasting can do Very Good Things for your business. But you want more than just “Oh it’ll be good, trust us.” How, exactly, does it help? After all, you’ve got a presentation to the CEO; you can’t go in with “It’ll be really cool.” Soffront, which sells CRM, recently wrote a good blog post focusing in on just that very question -- what specific ways does sales forecasting help your business? The basic idea behind forecasting is that it would be great to be able to see into the future. That way you’d know who wants to buy what when, and you could adjust your offerings, inventory, staffing and other factors accordingly, resulting in a minimum of waste and a maximum of profit. Last October TMC’s Paula Bernier noted that Soffront’s CRM, in addition to being designed to help with sales forecasting, is also engineered to be less cumbersome than most CRM systems. … A recent article posted by Enterprise Apps Today deals with a topic many companies are wrestling with these days, specifically how consumers want a consistent user experience across all channels from companies, and how that’s a real challenge for companies. Basically what that means is that if a customer’s calls the contact center and deals with a rep there, the next e-mail they get from the company needs to reflect the fact that whoever sent the email from the company not only is aware of the phone conversation, but has acted on it. What kills the ability to know a customer this completely is the departmental silo approach to data, as the EAT piece shows. A customer has a problem with Acme Anvils, they go to the Facebook page, interact with someone, and assume that all of Acme Anvils is now aware of and dealing with the issue, when in fact, in far too many cases, what happens is the issue dies on the Facebook page, the Acme Anvils FB admin doesn’t kick the conversation around to the contact center or anybody else who needs to know about it. … Why does business travel still exist when we have phones and e-mail? Because we all really, really enjoy airports and the wonderful customer service airlines give? Because everybody should experience the joys of Radisson hotels at some point in their lives? Because we just can’t stay away from all the charm that is Baltimore? Oh that’s right -- face to face is always better. Well, except where the IT team’s involved. In that case speakerphones are your preferred option. So if we’re talking about deals seven figures or above, or you can jump on a plane and the bean counters don’t complain too much, and the meetings in somewhere like Istanbul, and then okay, go for it. But you’d be surprised how much you can productively get done using video conferencing technology. … Stewart Friedman has over 22 years experience in sales and marketing, so when he talks about  the e-mail service provider industry, in which he’s owned and operated his own business and held several top-level positions, well, you probably want to listen. And we’re in luck: He’s offering three golden tips on mobile e-mail marketing. Watch your design. If you want responses from mobile e-mail, Friedman says, well; design your email for mobile viewing.  All those heavy graphics look great on desktop or laptops, but mobile users detest them. Go big on the quick-loading text messages. Yeah, some graphics are okay; they’re fun in moderation and can be an integral part of the message.   But bear in mind all the hours of your life you’ve spent waiting for irrelevant graphics to load, and think to yourself “Am I delighting my customer when I inflict that on her?”   Tags: Related tags: sales fore[...]

Cloud CRM, Auto Attendant Voices, Email Customer Lists, Protecting Customer Passwords

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 08:26:28 -05002012-02-07T08:26:28-05:00

“It's only very recently that the CRM ideal has been rendered realistic due to the advent of cloud-technology and the introduction of advanced CRM software,” writes The Independent, which defines CRM as “organizing interactions with customers, particularly sales transactions and client communication, using facilitating software.” Cut those last three words off that sentence and it’s a fair definition. Adding anything about the tools one uses to interact with customers introduces a dangerous mindset that CRM is “about” the technology, not the needs and strategies which dictate the choice of technology. You do not need software to do CRM correctly. Sure in most cases it really helps, but all software does is act as a tool to accomplish the job of CRM. It is not the CRM. ... This reporter suspects there’s quite the market for name-brand voices in the auto-attendant market -- Mel Gibson as William Wallace urging you to select one, two or three; Humphrey Bogart on a travel site would be particularly notable. So how do the companies actually decide what voice to use? And why do they always seem to be female? ABC News recently took a look at how Siri picked its voice. Siri isn’t an auto attendant, but the same considerations are used across all areas of voice recognition systems. And what ABC decided was that people like female voices. And if you’ve noticed, Americans particularly fall for British-sounding women. … Want to grow your email marketing list? Let’s rephrase that: Want to make more money? The self-proclaimed “Marketing Sherpa” blogger, Adam T. Sutton, recently offered three ways to do just that.  “Yeah, sounds great,” you say, “but just expanding my email marketing list, I mean, other than the fact that it’s bigger?” There are other advantages, as Sutton says, pointing out that new subscribers are a bit friskier than your old ones, they’re still exploring what you have. It’s not how big your email list is, really, it’s how new it is. And there’s no point in dropping older customers off the list, is there? Size matters, in the respect that it means you’re adding new customers. A huge, static list isn’t the idea here. What you want is a list that’s big because it’s constantly growing, not because it got big at some point last year. … You might be tired of hearing about password managers, but these are truly invaluable tools.  And recently there was another high-profile password hack where this time the target was a database full of FTP passwords at Web hosting firm DreamHost. More like NightmareHost now, thanks to inadequate password management. Password management is something that simply must be more important to many of you than it apparently is. At DreamHost, the hackers got the FTP credentials of all shared hosting accounts by accessing a legacy table “storing passwords in plain text,” according to industry observer Ericka Chickowski. Noa Bar-Yosef, senior security strategist at Imperva, told Chickowski that the hackers got “customer credentials to the FTP server,” which means they can “use these credentials in order to impersonate customers when accessing the FTP server,” which leads to all sorts of mischief, such as accessing customer documents and the downloading and uploading of unauthorized documents.   Tags: Related tags: email marketing, password management, customers, email, password, software Follow me: Related Entries TrackBacks | Comments | Tag with | First Coffee Home | Permalink: Cloud CRM, Auto Attendant Voices, Email Customer Lists, Protecting Customer Passwords Copyright First Coffee Sponsored [...]

IVR System Benefits, Collect Customer Info Fast, Cloud Predictive Dialers, Avoiding Customer Hell

Thu, 02 Feb 2012 11:15:21 -05002012-02-02T11:15:21-05:00

Hey, take it from Snooozy, “The biggest benefit of the IVR system is how quickly an organization can collect information from a person.” We don’t care what online handle he or she uses, that’s pretty good advice. Snooozy has some other tidbits for you as well, in case you were wondering just what the advantages of IVR systems might be when it comes to collecting survey information. The fact that yes, it can get a boatload of information pretty quickly is up there, but there are others. One is that, simply, it can be a critical part of a positive customer experience, and that’s old news -- way back in 2010, TMC noted a survey conducted by Alcatel-Lucent found that “three-quarters of 4,200 respondents said they would continue to business with a company with which they had a great contact center experience.” In fact, half of all respondents told Alcatel-Lucent they’d dropped a company based on a poor contact center experience. … Snooozy lists some other advantages of an IVR, besides the fact that it never gets sick, asks for a day off or alienates customers if it shows up to work in a sour mood. “The biggest benefit of the IVR system is how quickly an organization can collect information from a person,” Snooozy notes, and yes, cost aside, this is the number one benefit of an IVR system for customer surveys: “Within two to five minutes after a service interaction is finished, an organization can have feedback from the clients that how their experience was with them and how they feel.” And that quickly, an administrator can be data mining to see if there are any red flags in that conversation meriting a quick follow-up call to smooth over a problem or suggestive sell a product or service the customer sounds ready to buy. … About a year ago TMC’s Linda Dobel wrote, “multi-site, multi-source contact centers have, at this point, come to appreciate the many benefits of transitioning to the cloud. Still, the biggest concern, and therefore the biggest hold back, is security.” Things haven’t changed all that much between then and now. For hosted predictive dialers, that’s still a central issue; the common thinking is that, while cloud computing may be the big disruptor, if that disruption includes security concerns, count us out. Paul Shread, editor-in-chief of the IT Business Edge Network, recently took issue with the concept that adopting cloud computing for a call center necessarily means a security tradeoff; that to get the benefits of cloud computing’s price, convenience and other goodies, you have to sacrifice your current comfort level of security. … South Africa’s Hannes van der Merwe, Mitel product manager at Itec, recently said what most customer service professionals consider gospel truth -- customers really, really despise being abandoned to IVR and auto attendant “hell.” "Many customers become frustrated when they get a long list of menu options to choose from when they call in to the contact center, and find themselves bounced around between an IVR and agents who can't help them," van der Merwe said. “The process of getting to the right agent should be as fast, simple and seamless as possible for the customer.” Van der Merwe advocated ACD, or Automatic Call Distribution, as a way to offer salvation to customers yearning to find truth and meaning in their interactions with company support systems. The vast majority of customers ever have only two points of contact with a company, the product and the call center, and the vast majority of customers only ever use the call center when they have some issue with the product. Therefore, almost by definition, your call center is [...]

App Deployment and Customer Satisfaction, Recording Calls, IVR for IVR Haters, Virtualization Resolutions

Thu, 02 Feb 2012 11:10:44 -05002012-02-02T11:10:44-05:00

  It’s possible to get so fixated on the particulars of what we do in our business every day that we lose sight of the overall picture. For example, what business are you in? Hotels?   Telecommunications? Transportation? Computer applications and deployment? Voice over Internet Protocol? Selling anvils to coyotes? Mafia hit man? Wrong. You’re in the customer satisfaction business. Appliance deployment professionals NEI know this, and a recent blog post was written to remind their industry colleagues that no matter what line of work you think you’re in, you’re in the business of pleasing customers and providing goods and services that are valued by other people enough to pay for more than once. In the highly informative post, NEI’s President & CEO Greg Shortell wraps it all up under the headline of “The Experience.” It’s not just the product; it’s not just the service that you’re selling. A great VoIP phone system sold by rude sales people, delivered by indifferent contractors and installed by surly, uncommunicative technicians is a bad overall customer experience. … Your faithful TMC Australasian correspondent checking in here from the TMC offices in Mangawhai, New Zealand. Turning our attention from Megaupload, another fine day in New Zealand tech history, to today’s topic: Call Trunk lets you record any phone conversation you want. Great. Is that legal? Writing for Gizmodo Australia industry observer Nick Broughall, who identifies himself as somebody who uses call recording on a professional basis from time to time, gives the basics of how Call Trunk works, which show why it’s such a useful little idea. … How does one go about constructing an IVR system that can be used by people who don’t like IVR, whose needs aren’t met by IVR and who would rather talk to an actual person, preferably one with a reasonable command of the English language? Simple: Design an IVR that knows when to gracefully bow out. A precis on the IVR Deconstructed blog for a recent study by the University of Rochester and University of Illinois, titled “Robust Design and Control of Call Centers with Flexible IVR Systems,”   mentions that the study argues that “businesses don’t have to choose between cost savings and service quality anymore -- they can design flexible IVR systems that satisfy all customers.” And the way to do this, it concludes, is by designing an IVR system that knows when to hand a customer off to a non-IVR system. … Oh no, not another New Year’s Resolution guilt trip...yes, sorry, we have to do it. However, don’t worry about spending three hours in the gym every day; instead focus on this vital virtualization idea which consists of lowering energy costs with automation. As a recent blog post from Carousel Connect shows, virtualization can help you save up to $36 per PC per year. That’s the estimated cost of each employee when they leave their computers and monitors on when leaving the office to go home for the night. With the right desktop power management, you can eliminate much, if not all of that. Okay, 36 bucks doesn’t sound like a lot, but multiply that by the number of computers in your entire operation and it adds up to real money.   Tags: Related tags: customer satisfaction, business, system, customer, virtualization, deployment Follow me: Related Entries TrackBacks | Comments | Tag with | First Coffee Home | Permalink: App Deployment and Customer Satisfaction, Recording Calls, IVR for IVR Haters, Virtualization Resolutions Copyright First Coffee Sponsored by the Call Center Outsourcing Community & the Virtual C[...]

Customer Brand Loyalty, Customer Advantage With Supply Chains, Manage Employee Social Networking, Analyzing Customer Speech

Thu, 26 Jan 2012 11:20:40 -05002012-01-26T11:20:40-05:00

Yealink UK’s managing director, Andrew Roberts, credits the generally poor European economy’s performance-price ratios with how difficult it is to get telecoms and IT managers to commit to new capital expenditure. In fact, Robert says, these days projects which were essentially rubber-stamped with little debate a few years ago now merit evaluation and scrutiny. As he says, even issues such as longstanding brand loyalty are coming under the green eyeshade exam -- “We’re paying more for this service why, exactly?” is heard far more frequently now. As Roberts said recently, they’re looking to see if a big brand name really does add value or if they’re perhaps instead simply paying for a costly marketing and operational overhead. ... In these economic times a good way to stand out from the herd of vendors and suppliers is to be “all things to all people,” as a recent blog post from appliance deployment provider NEI points out. In other words, if you can lead on cost, customer service and product innovation in supply chain management, well, that’s a heck of an advantage you’d have over your competition. At the recent CSCMP conference in Philadelphia, NEI officials saw the 2011 Trends and Issues in Logistics and Transportation Study and gleaned three trends they see as becoming increasingly important in “customer-focused” supply chain management: Segmented Supply Chains. No, this isn’t a new, novel concept, but NEI officials say the study shows that firms surveyed had “an average of more than three unique supply chains.” In fact, half of the 700 firms surveyed told researchers that they had “moved from a focused competitive strategy” to seeking to lead in a number of categories. And it’s probably no coincidence, as NEI officials point out, that firms adopting this approach had the highest average number of supply chains. NEI officials conclude that there’s a good chance, given the results, that “the various supply chains enable a company to focus on different strategies in different segments.” ... Hosted VoIP company RealLinx offers services at a “low monthly price with our fully-managed SecurityLinx” product, promising that “your company will see ROI in the first month of deployment or we will gladly refund your money.” The No. 1 feature of the product, at least as far as attractiveness goes, is that it promises to stop lost employee productivity to Facebook, Myspace, YouTube and other such sites. It’s called “Work Internet Abuse,” company officials say, adding that it “is robbing your company of valuable time and money. An average of 25 to 30 percent of each employee's workday is spent surfing things that have nothing to do with work... When employees do not have the option to play, they work.” … Great idea for a column from Call Center Helper: Ask six experts what the best return on investment is from implementing speech analytics in contact centers. Reducing avoidable contact: As told by Craig Pumfrey, director of Marketing & Communications, NICE Systems EMEA, a service center project created search parameters to automatically “listen” for words and phrases in every inbound customer call that could be used during an avoidable contact, such as “parking fine” or “I called last week.” These interactions were then indexed and checked against the set parameters and wherever a match was found the call was flagged for the team to review the reason for the enquiry. Deployment methods: According to Duncan White, managing director, horizon2, the potential of speech anal[...]

CRM Modules Explained, Call Centers and Voice Recognition, Hosted Contact Center Technology, Philippine Call Centers in 2011

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 15:51:53 -05002012-01-23T15:51:53-05:00

Soffront runs one of the more useful company blogs dealing with the CRM space, it has information that is actually quite useful even if you don’t buy their products. Shocking concept, yes, but a welcome, refreshing difference from the usual dreary “this problem can only be solved by using our Acme CRM...” approach. Company officials note that most companies who are finding success with their CRM are using what amounts to an integrated customer relationship management  approach to automate their business processes. And yes, Soffront can help you with that, but so can a lot of other companies. A recent entry on the company blog does a good job highlighting the different basic modules you’ll want to understand. These are as basic as CRM tools get, if you’re doing CRM at all you should be familiar with them. … Recently VoltDelta officials gave a summation of some compelling reasons why businesses interested in expanding their call center options and functionality should be looking at voice recognition, specifically VoltDelta’s OnDemand voice recognition resources. Good products in the field combine up-to-date speech science, experienced Voice User Interface (VUI) design and technology for engaging and effective voice self-service. VoltDelta, for example, can provide “multi-channel support such as SMS messaging to confirm a speech response, call recording, and whisper on agent transfer to avoid repeating steps,” company officials say. They point to a few specific features potential buyers of such technology should be aware of: CrystalWAVE. This is the Crystal Weighted Average Voice Evaluation technology, using multiple, simultaneous grammar evaluation techniques with context sensitivity to improve recognition accuracy while reducing speech tuning requirements. … Five9, a popular vendor of hosted call center tools and products, recently presented a good overview of the company’s technology using a Q&A format to reflect some of the most common questions companies have when considering a switch to such technology: What are the basic requirements of an at-home agent? At-home agents using the Five9 Virtual Call Center Suite only require a computer with high-speed Internet access and a USB headset. How do you handle planned down time? Our need is for 24x7 availability. Five9 is available 24x7, including support, with one exception. Five9 reserves a maintenance window from 9-10pm on Wednesday and Saturday nights. Though this window is not always used, if uptime is critical during this period, alternative call processing is required. … The Philippine call center industry grew in 2011, whereas many other industries can’t say they did. Why did call center do well? Simple – people realized that if you need something you need it. And if it’s genuinely useful to business, they’ll spend the money for it. In fact, the country’s all-important call center industry saw growth of over 20 percent in 2011, on the back of health care and finance-related services expansions, according to industry journal BusinessWorld Online. Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP) Executive Director Jojo J. Uligan told BusinessWorld that an “upbeat outlook” for 2011 and 2012 is being retained, “given opportunities in English-speaking markets beyond the United States and a move toward knowledge-intensive services.” That’s usually the terminology for seeking to expand into more Business Process Outsourcing services instead of simple call center work. Tags: Related tags: voice recognition, center industry, contact center, technology using, company off[...]

Call Center New Year Resolutions, Customer Satisfaction and Call Monitoring, Call Center JIT Training, CRM and On Demand Call Centers

Fri, 20 Jan 2012 12:28:23 -05002012-01-20T12:28:23-05:00

 “With the new year comes new year's resolutions.” For Dan Boehm, Vice President of Sales and Marketing forSpectrum Corporation, they do, anyway. Haven’t seen much in the way of a New Year’s resolution around this reporter’s house ever since our young son said “If there’s something you want to do, why do you have to wait for next year to start doing it?” But it’s cultural, to resolve to stop smoking, lose weight or be a better person, as Boehm says. The gym is busier for the first couple weeks in January, then by about Valentine’s Day attendance is back to normal. There might be a point to making New Year’s resolutions, though, if you manage a call center. As Boehm says, “one way you can be a better person is to review and change your metrics, thresholds and reports.” And that would make a fine New Year’s resolution. As would “Drink more red wine.” Hey we all like an easily-kept resolution now and then. Reviewing and changing your metrics, thresholds and reports “will make you a better person,” Boehm says, “because your agents and supervisors will love you for it! Call centers are dynamic. Every year there is something new from the company that the call center must deal with. Everyone in the call center needs to adapt to these changes. Yet the agents and supervisors are still looking at the same metrics, responding to the same thresholds and seeing the same reports from last year.” … It’s true that 3rd party remote call monitoring can be used to not only drive customer satisfaction but also dramatically increase business efficiency when used correctly. A recent study from BPA International, written by Craig Antonucci, director of Client Strategies, MBA and professor of Decision Sciences, points out some of the ways this is done. First, determine critical activities. What activities make or break your call center? If you are a 911 dispatcher, being able to get the emergency group to the right home is the critical activity. Be sure to identify these critical activities and make them high focus, key measurements, and high penalty for failure at the agent level. If you fail to measure this, you might as well be the cook who doesn’t wash his hands. … This reporter remembers when “just in time” was the hot, desirable practice for keeping on-hand inventories low. Turns out it’s good for call center training as well. Harmony officials recently featured their Coach and Learn modules as ways businesses can “put knowledge in the hands of those who need it, when they need it the most.” Sounds like something your business could do with? Read on. These integrated contact center coaching and e-learning modules provide what KnoahSoft officials characterize as “a collaborative feedback loop between the agent and the supervisor to delivery training content and messages to agents just in time to improve their efficiency and enhance productivity.” … Five9 officials recently touted their call center on demand products’ integration with some of the most popular CRM products available today, such as, RightNow and NetSuite. Great. But what’s the basic business case there in the first place? Lots of companies today are moving from premise-based technologies to cloud computing platforms, and Five9 provides on-demand call center software that is pre-integrated with CRM “specifically to provide a robust and predictable migration path for companies to take advantage of the benefits that cloud computing can provide,” Five9 officials sa[...]