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Cloud Contact Centers Made Easy

Multichannel Cloud Contact Centers

Cloud contact centers allow customer service professionals and contact center managers to focus on their core tasks.

Strategic Importance of Cloud Contact Centers

Contact centers continue to grow in both size and strategic importance according to Deloitte’s 2015 Global Contact Center Survey.  Up to 96% of respondents anticipating growth in the next two years in support of customer and business needs.  As they rapidly expand in popularity, hosted or cloud contact centers allow customer service professionals and contact center managers to focus more on their core business.  They no longer have to not worry about all of the technology required to operate a successful operation. This means more time to manage contact center staffing, accounting/billing, and most importantly, delivering exceptional customer care. Another benefit is the development of new multichannel capabilities that incorporate email, chat and social media. Businesses can deploy new technology in the cloud much faster to meet customer needs.

Reasons for the growth of cloud contact centers can be seen in the many benefits cloud solutions offer.

All of the applications and services are owned and operated by the cloud service provider and maintained in the provider’s data centers. Cloud services in general have many more options to support the contact center infrastructure. This can include hosted PBX, IVR, SMS, email, and seamless delivery of quality assurance, analytics, customer relationship management (CRM) and other applications. The provider routes phone numbers to the systems installed in its data centers. Numbers and other data are then rerouted to in-house agents and/or remote agents for action.

The dominant protocol used for cloud contact centers is high speed Internet VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) on demand service. This allows any business to benefit from low cost soft phones on the desktop. All data is stored at the service provider data center where easy remote access is available 24/7. The real value is that companies using cloud solutions are no longer responsible for system maintenance and uptime, hardware and software updates, additional IT resources, infrastructure and paying utility bills.

Cloud Contact Center Benefits

Another key advantage of cloud contact centers is the low upfront investment. Typically, monthly payments are lower than a major upfront investment in a premised-based contact center system. Monthly fees associated with cloud contact centers can better accommodate monthly cash flow. Some vendors even offer a pay-as-you-go model. Contract commitments can include discounts based on volume and options to scale up or down based on demand.

6 Compelling Reasons to Move to a Cloud Contact Center:

  1. No Software or Hardware Maintenance Expense: There are no costs related to system support services, replacing outdated or faulty hardware or upgrading your system.
  2. Reduced IT Expenses: Eliminate monthly expenses for maintaining systems, office space and related utilities. Support may still need to be provided for local desktops and other IT equipment.
  3. Integrated PBX and Call Management Features: Select a provider that can offer call management features such as PBX, IVR, Auto-Attendant, and Call Screening. This type of provider will have a complete solution avoiding equipment and support expenses.
  4. Built-in Redundancy and Disaster Recovery: No more worries about system downtime, redundancy, or maintaining continuity in disasters. Leverage distributed contact centers, 24-hour-a-day coverage, home-based agents, disaster recovery and more.
  5. Operate from Anywhere, Anytime: Gain the competitive edge with the opportunity to staff from a better pool of talent, schedule agents more effectively, and reduce overall payroll costs.
  6. Rapid Scaling and Feature Deployment: Quickly add or remove agent positions and seats with little impact. New features and functionality can be rapidly deployed without on-premise installations, testing, and implementation. Reduce time-to-market with new features and capabilities.

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Customer Experience Predictions for 2016

Predicting the Future of Customer Service

One business prediction – you will lose customers to the competition if you can not provide a consistent and good customer experience.

Customer Experience Strategies

Many organizations are currently reviewing and planning corporate customer experience strategies and activities for 2016. As you review current processes and procedures and the things you would like to accomplish, looking into the crystal ball and predicting what the future may bring can’t hurt your bottom line.

One clear prediction for all organizations concerns the overall customer experience and how well your customers perceive their interactions with your company. According to Accenture’s 10th Annual Global Consumer Pulse Research, $1.6 trillion is lost by companies that disappoint customers with poor experiences. It’s a nearly 30% increase in the money up for grabs over the last five years as customers switch companies due to a poor customer experience.

Customers are savvy buyers. They demand excellent service from you no matter whom they interact with or how – by phone, chat session, or email.  They view every contact point as one company and expect a consistent experience. And it is no longer just a matter of how much something costs. Consumers, especially B2B, are more than willing to pay a small premium for a great customer experience that is handled cheerfully and efficiently.

Competitive Edge

If price is not always the winning factor, what else can distinguish your company from the competition? The competitive edge is found in delivering a great customer experience. This has to be an overall effort beginning with the pre-sale and continuing throughout the life of the customer relationship. When employees put the customer first, they create goodwill and a true partner relationship. A satisfied customer will continue to use your services and products if they are met with a familiar and pleasant attitude. More than likely, they will even forgive minor discretions or inconveniences if the overall experience is a good one.

This kind of relationship builds customer loyalty with many tangible and intangible rewards. You will receive repeat business, referrals and positive reviews of your company that yield growth and profitability. You will be able to establish your reputation and brand for excellent customer service through long term customer loyalty.

Customer Service Programs

Many companies today have accrued huge stores of customer interaction and/or Voice of the Customer (VoC) data. However, most are challenged with effectively turning it into operational assessments and actionable reports. New solutions for unifying and analyzing data offer users “Business Objectives”, such as an understanding of overall voice of customer, employee and customer feedback, customer journey and customer behavior-reactions. The benefit of these solutions is that they can automatically look for the related customer-centric activities discovered through analytics, integrate the metadata of each activity, and present it as it relates to their business objective. With this type of big data management, your company can really listen to and understand your customers’ true sentiment like never before.

New Year – Old Plan

You don’t want to become a company that experiences big losses from losing unhappy customers. Success ultimately depends on how well you treat your customers, even more so in our “socially-enabled” society, where a negative post can have an immediate and dramatic effect on your business. As Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos passionately said, “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” Don’t repeat last year’s mistakes. Be a winning company that gains opportunities by investing and planning in customer loyalty strategies that reinforce your brand, boost your reputation and deliver a great customer experience.

The Cost of Unhappy Customers (Infographic)

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The Ascent of Text Analytics

Use text analytics to uncover true customer sentiment.

Valuable customer insight from all data sources is not utilized to its full potential.

The New Frontier – Text Analytics

In this era of progressive improvements to the customer experience, many companies are searching for new avenues to gain insight into the customer journey using text analytics. Text analytics can be defined as a process for analyzing unstructured text, extracting relevant information, and transforming it into useful business intelligence. Large corporations such as Walmart, Amazon, and Google collect massive amounts of customer data in the Petabyte range and beyond. As enterprises of all sizes struggle to uncover true customer sentiment from unstructured data sources such as social media, surveys, notations in CRM software and service notes, blogs, and many other sources, this valuable customer insight is not being utilized to its full potential.

Preventing a Poor Customer Experience

However, most companies use only a fraction of the customer data that is readily available to them. One of the value propositions for using text analytics is its ability to analyze and classify huge quantities of text and automatically extract meaningful data that really needs to be scrutinized. This yields customer experience information that previously might not have been known or recognized, and used to prevent a repeat, poor customer experience. Text analytics reveals insights into why something is happening. For example, a visitor to a website might not be able to find a product or suitable answer to a question. Text analytics can be used to discover if the issue is related to content, FAQs, or navigation problems.

Root Cause Analysis

The data gleaned from text analytics can also be used to determine the root cause of problems (known or unknown), and companies can begin to anticipate or predict problems by analyzing customer interaction data. Just as speech analytics can unveil customer sentiment by automatically identifying key words and phrases from customer telephone calls, text analytics adds to the wealth of unstructured customer information that can be extracted, transformed and loaded into subject-oriented categories delivering new possibilities for enhancing the customer experience.

  • Trend analysis
  • Tool to make strategic business decisions
  • Predict and forecast customer behavior patterns
  • Deliver an improved customer experience
  • Companies are realizing that all employees must listen to their customers, or they will become fair game for the competition

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Why You Need Data Analytics

Data Analytics identifies real business problems.

Leveraging data to identify real business problems can work for you.

Importance of Data Analytics Solutions

The ability to leverage analytics for all of the business data your company collects in order to solve real business problems is now more affordable than ever before and available to every organization. Implementing and applying automated analytics solutions are essential for understanding all facets of your business. As many companies continue to focus on improving the overall customer experience, analytics can help you understand your customer’s sentiment from any touch point (telephone, email, text, social media, etc.).

Not As Complicated As You Thought

Although there are many different types of analytics solutions available on the market, such as front office (contact center specific) and back office (transaction processing) the secret is to partner with a vendor who will help you every step of the way. Once you select a vendor, this is accomplished by first discovering the root causes, pain points, or product and service issues that may be impeding performance or profitability. Some common items or “notions” that analytics can reveal:

  • Excessive customer complaints about a certain service or product(s).
  • Trends and discovery of repeat calls (“called before…”, “calling again…”, “not fixed…”, “still a problem…” etc.) – over time more samples can be discovered and added to the analytics search, strengthening the discovery of repeat calls improving first call resolution.
  • Compliance issues (internal compliance to defined business processes and external or regulatory compliance).
  • Repeat call subject (desktop screen or transactions) representing the repeat call can be defined by user, and automatically and in real time detected by desktop analytics – actions can be taken in real time, such as coaching, notifications, and next-best-action.
  • Monitoring social media sites to understand the voice of the customer (negative and positive), the competition, your brand and reputation, and selling opportunities.

Starting with a defined notion of the relevant data you want to uncover is key to your success. A vendor must allow you to use your own data for clarity, in small digestible bites, to initially demonstrate the viability of the analytics program. Set up an internal team to own the new analytics program. Run the solution as a test program, review the results, implement recommended changes, and review the outcome (benefits, ROI, etc.). You want a vendor that will educate and guide you and do the work for you, sharing results along the journey. Once you are comfortable with the technology the vendor should be able to create a tailored solution for you without a custom price, and continue to assist your future usage, growth and progress.

Multi-channel Delivery – Not as Expensive as You Thought

Analytics programs do not have to break the bank, and are now available to any organization. Many solutions are offered as on-premise, cloud services, outsourced programs, or hybrid packages. Take advantage of the delivery method that best fits your budget and business needs. Selecting the right vendor will enable you to benefit from the functionality and flexibility of multi-channel analytics solutions as well as cost effective delivery methods.

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Enterprise Feedback Management

Enterprise Feedback Management

Enterprise Feedback Management solutions enable views into the customer journey delivering a high level of customer satisfaction.

Enterprise Feedback Management Solutions – More than a Simple Survey

Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) solutions are more than just simple surveys, they are used for actively monitoring customer and employee feedback from all customer touch points such as calls, emails, text, desktop transactions, surveys and social media channels. EFM enables views into the customer journey, and can identify and improve internal business processes to optimize and provide a high level of customer satisfaction, or discover sales opportunities, liabilities, and business intelligence.

EFM, however, requires technical abilities to:

a) Capture all data from all channels, such as structured and unstructured data (text, voice, SMS), and solicited and unsolicited input (such as social media).
b) Perform analytics on all different types of media collected from those channels, including audio, speech, text, email, surveys, screen-based transactions and social media.

Furthermore, EFM demands to provide the capability to view the tiered information (data, unified information, and actionable-predictive-prescriptive information) in a holistic and universal form in order for users to immediately see and easily understand what they have been looking for. This information now becomes a valued enterprise wide asset, not, for example, only a contact center, or other business unit performance or productivity tool.

Complete Views of the Customer Experience

OnviSource supports a true Enterprise Feedback Management solution through its multichannel capture-evaluation, called OnviForce™, and a universal view management, called OnVision™. Capturing data from multiple OnviSource platforms presents a complete view of the customer experience. The data is then analyzed for process improvements, trending detection and associated alerts, customer journey, and sharing of results through real-time, multi-channel analytics, automated actions, and dashboard and other types of enterprise reporting.

Re-defining customer feedback concepts.

 

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Transforming the Customer Experience

Front and back office integration

Contact center and back office integration is critical to the overall customer experience.

Enhancing and Transforming the Customer Experience

Enhancing the customer experience has become an enterprise-wide strategy, not just a job for the contact center. Smart companies have realized that delivering the optimal customer experience occurs when contact center and back office integration becomes a critical factor for success. After all, your customers just want their immediate issue resolved, and no matter whom they talk to, they look at your company brand as one entity.

Easier said than done, with so many ways customers can contact a business (phone, mobile, text, chat, and social media), the complexity of managing multi-channel contact points puts service quality at risk. Aside from numerous stories of downright poor customer service from overworked and stressed agents, the chances of not receiving, or handling a customer contact in a reasonable amount of time, clearly exacerbates the problem.

Managing Valuable Data

A major challenge in the implementation of an integrated and enterprise-wide optimization, automation and unification is in the management of the end-to-end process and the ability to provide a single and holistic view of the critical data. Every part of the customer experience process generates valuable data, so the next step is consolidating and unifying the raw data into a single, holistic, workflow-oriented view covering the entire contact center and enterprise functions.

Creating an Omni-Vision view of the entire enterprise, followed by applying Omni-Channel analytics to various data and media collected in the process enables users to automatically generate actionable knowledge or even automated actions from the simplest to most advanced form without concerns of how each individual product is used in the workflow chain. The goal is to create time saving and actionable reports, notifications, APIs, and even launching applications, from contact center quality assurance and performance management to business intelligence, discovering new customer experience opportunities or obstacles.

View the complete article, Your Enterprise Transformed, recently published in Connections Magazine.

Connections Magazine

Connections Magazine

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Growing Your Teleservice Business

Workers in every industry rely on teleservices companies.

Teleservices and answering services assist clients in every industry and occupation.

How to Market Your Teleservice Business and Get More Clients

Teleservice and Answering Service companies provide valuable services for all types of businesses. When a customer is in the middle of a crisis, the last thing they want to hear when they call a company for help, is an answering machine or auto-attendant. In a time of need, hearing the simple phrase ‘I’m so sorry to hear about that!’, and “How can I help you?’ may seem trivial, but it’s rarely heard these days from most companies – other than a teleservice operator.

Many small businesses are owned and operated by a single proprietor who may spend the greater portion of their day away from the phone. This makes anyone who works away from their office a great candidate for answering services. In addition, any business taking appointments or dispatching service workers is an excellent target.  For example, this can include:

• Salespeople • Repair services
• On-call jobs (tow services)• Pet services
• Medical & Healthcare facilities• Home improvement contractors
• Landscaping & Lawn service• Funeral homes

Grow Your Teleservice Business with Inexpensive Marketing Tools

Inexpensive ways to market your teleservices business include the local phone book and newspaper, the small “penny saver” type of publications and community bulletin boards. Become a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, letting local businesses know you offer a service and advertise through their channels of communication. Here are other tried and true methods for finding new business:

  • Place ads in newspapers, online and in phone directories.
  • Create a LinkedIn page – it’s professional, free and a great way to connect with contacts through your current clients.
  • Ask clients for referrals and offer them a referral credit as an incentive.
  • Post fliers on bulletin boards in local stores.
  • Attend networking events and give out your business card.
  • Send direct mail advertisements to business owners with seasonal incentives.
  • Have operators make cold calls during times of low call volume.
  • Invest in a simple web site highlighting the services you offer, a brief history (credibility) of your company, testimonials from clients and contact information.

Another opportunity is when new businesses come to your area. Send them an invite and a brief description of the benefits and features of your teleservice operations. Offer them a reduced rate for the first 30 or 60 days of service. You want to highlight how an answering service can save them money and help make their business highly successful.

  • Cost effective when compared to hiring extra office staff – only pay for the calls received (typical savings of 60%-75%).
  • Never miss an important phone call.
  • Use the service only when you need it – after hours, emergency, out-of-office coverage such as illness or vacation, power outages, and much more.
  • Spend your valuable time on your business knowing that you are not missing phone calls.
  • Turn off your mobile phone when you are in important meetings knowing that it will still be answered.

Questions to Ask Prospective Teleservice Customers

Answering these questions may help new clients decide if teleservices is right for them:

  • Is every phone call that comes in being answered by a live person?
  • Is your voice mail overflowing or completely full?
  • Does answering calls and scheduling appointments keep you from attending to business and doing your work?
  • Are you losing clients and potential customers because incoming calls are not handled efficiently and quickly?
  • Are customers frustrated with a lack of response or follow up to their inquiries?
  • Does your company deal with a large volume of client phone calls every day?

Remember to ask your clients for references and referrals to others that they feel could use your services. Your existing, satisfied and happy clients are the best source for new customers!

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Unified Data – Your Job Just Got Easier

Unified Data Big Data Challenges

Computers and robotics perform more workplace functions than ever today.  However, there is still much investment and development for one-off systems, applications and business processes creating even more data silos in the enterprise. The cost of data choke holds has resulted in companies searching for, and investing in, the promise of Big Data and analytics solutions into manageable unified data. Key to the data silo dilemma is to unify data into a collaborative and holistic view of everything, utilizing workforce optimization solutions to combine front and back office interactions and processes and the resulting data for analysis and reporting.

Real World Issues Solved with Data Unification

For example, one Company that provides business information, data and marketing solutions required better processes to reconcile data.  The Company utilizes call center agents to perform outbound calls. Each call is considered a customer transaction that starts from the telecom platform, and is recorded and monitored by workforce optimization (WFO) applications. The transaction is then processed using the Salesforce.com, CRM tool. Each transaction requires validation by accessing and playing a specific call recording in order to validate the data and processes utilized during the transaction.

Without unified data, the manual data collection, reconciliation, and transaction verification process imposed extensive costs, labor and delays. It introduced many opportunities for human errors that could further reduce productivity and jeopardize the quality of data collection. Additionally, the Company did not have a unified view of processes and transactions across various platforms in order to improve performance and its customers’ experience.

Data Unification Solution to the Rescue

Deploying an enterprise-wide unification solution, automatically collected relevant, user-defined data from the Company’s enterprise platforms. The solution then normalized, unified and deposited the data in a single place. This significantly improved productivity related to the processing of transactions. Several additional solutions were also employed to provide integrated WFO, including call recording, quality assurance, and desktop analytics with PCI-DSS compliance.

Bottom Line Benefits of Unified Data

  • Unified data offers a significant improvement in productivity, reducing costs and eliminating human errors.
  • Customer transaction journey can be monitored and viewed from a single place in order to evaluate and improve the customer experience and/or processes.
  • One click from the CRM, enables the users to access and utilize the entire WFO set of applications to perform monitoring, quality assurance and analytics functions.
  • Access to previous transactions is simple, eliminating the need for labor intensive, time-consuming investigation and reconciliation of records.

The Company is now effectively managing data, protecting their business and complying with rules and regulatory requirements with the help of unified data.

How are you handling data unification and your disparate systems?

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Enduring Long On-Hold Times

On-HoldSticking it out while waiting is not a virtue many of us tolerate. Whether it be in a grocery store checkout line, popular restaurant on a busy Saturday night, or a doctor’s waiting room – most of us don’t like the inconvenience of waiting, after all, isn’t our time valuable too?

Without compare, waiting on hold on the telephone has to be the worst form of waiting.  After navigating today’s complex IVR (interactive voice response) menus, only to be told you will now have to wait 30 minutes (after already spending five minutes of your valuable time in the IVR) to speak to a representative – chances are your temper has already started a slow boil, and will explode as soon as that representative answers the phone – that is, if you have decided to wait that long!

Which brings up another reason why companies should NOT compel their customers to wait on hold – first call resolution (FCR)! Not only does answering the call and fixing the customer issue promptly almost guarantee a great customer experience, it can also save the company contact center money by minimizing repeat callers.

A low FCR rate leads to increased call volume, workload, agent payroll expenses, customer dissatisfaction, and loss of customers. Employee moral also sags, as many callers who have simmered to the boiling point vent on the unfortunate call representative. As the Pelorus Group noted, “FCR is an essential metric for any contact center for two simple reasons: it drives customer satisfaction, and reduces operating costs.”

How Long is Too Long to be On-hold?

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Customer Surveys – an Important Tool for Monitoring Customer Satisfaction and Responding to Problems

callcentercircleContact center and enterprise business environments are adopting automated analytics (speech, desktop, social media) as tools to understand the customer sentiment during every interaction/transaction.

Take that “need to know” the customer experience a step further – then customer surveys have to be elevated to one of the most important aspects of a company’s customer satisfaction programs. More and more companies realize they need to learn everything about the customer experience. They are now demanding solutions to enable them to know everything about each transaction.

To fill that need they are utilizing different forms of surveys such as immediate telephone surveys, follow-up email or telephone call surveys, and even independent 3rd party verification surveys for totally impartial reporting.

Benefits of a Customer Satisfaction Survey

 

 

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