As any customer service satisfaction survey will reveal, today’s interactive voice response (IVR) systems, which were designed to encourage self-service, cut costs and speed up interactions, are brimming with problems and often result in an increase in customer calls to live agents and diminished overall customer satisfaction and loyalty.
While there has clearly been an increase in the technological tools and data applications available to boost IVR performance, it is also clear that common sense often remains the key missing ingredient in many implementations.
As I have discussed in previous blogs, despite the intent to make customer service faster and better, I believe IVR systems continue to cause more problems than they fix in today’s customer service marketplace. Without a doubt, they continue to be the source of a growing amount of frustration in the minds of the customers they were designed to help. While there is little doubt that the expanding set of technological advances ranging from the ubiquitous nature of cloud applications and services to the availability of big data analysis and context-related personalization will help, we should not overlook the benefits of common sense to improve customer service using today’s available tools and those yet to be introduced. Continue reading “Shaping the IVR of the Future Will Require New Technology and Some Common Sense”→
With recent advances in survey technology, customer post-interaction surveys are pervasive. However, my experience is that their effectiveness is well below an acceptable level.
From an enterprise perspective, the real measurement of success in the customer service world is customer satisfaction and reducing the number of contacts needed to solve a customer issue. So, shouldn’t surveys focus on those issues?
As someone who has spent the last 15 years examining contact center technologies and processes in great detail, I realize I am often overly critical of customer interactions in which I am personally involved. My long-term intent is not simply to criticize the operations of companies with which I interact, but more focused on making the customer service world a better place. Therefore, I never miss a chance to complete a post-interaction survey whether it be via e-mail, callback, text or the U.S. Postal Service. In addition, since many of my contact center vendor clients develop and offer survey solutions, I am always on the lookout for ways they may improve their products and services to enterprise clients. Continue reading “Customer Surveys Are Everywhere, but Are They Helping?”→
The advent of unified communications (UC) in telecommunications, coupled with the convergence of enterprise networks to IP-based infrastructure, introduced a great deal of promise for presence management in the contact center marketplace. But, it is obvious that most enterprises have yet to maximize the potential benefits of presence management in their contact centers.
Used properly, presence management can result in subject matter experts (SMEs) across the enterprise being effectively and efficiently converted into on-demand experts to assist customer service representatives in more quickly and accurately answering customers’ questions, improving the overall customer experience and enhancing corporate profitability.
In a unified communications system, a ‘presence’ feature indicates to a user whether or not another UC user on the network, or sometimes even outside the enterprise network, is available and able to communicate with colleagues, agents and customers. In the contact center, the initial manifestation of this UC capability is often the creation of a ‘buddy list’ which can be used by agents to reach another agent or other knowledge worker with a single click on the keyboard and little wasted time and effort because they know who is available and who is not. When customer service representatives (CSRs) working in a contact center need assistance, they often need to reach out to an SME for help. Traditionally, this help was limited to within the physical boundaries of the contact center and consisted of a simple glance around the room to see who might be available to help. Continue reading “Effectively Incorporating Presence Management into Customer-Centric Strategies”→
Although cloud-based contact center solutions have been popular for several years now, many companies that have not yet made the move from a premises-based to cloud-based solution are being held back by the lack of a solid business case analysis.
Vendors wishing to drive cloud-based customer service sales need to provide the materials and tools that drive a strong business case analysis, or stand to lose market share in the next few years.
Last week Aspect Software announced an aggressive upgrade program to stimulate the contact center market to move from dated premises-based automatic call distributors (ACDs) to its newer Aspect Hosted and Zipwire cloud-based customer care software solutions. The campaign, entitled “Ask a CFO,” is targeted directly at Aspect’s major contact center competitors – Avaya, Cisco, Genesys and Interactive Intelligence, which have been encroaching on Aspect’s installed base recently. The program provides discounted pricing, as well as the newly-developed Aspect Value Analyzer tool, to assist prospects in developing a cloud solution business case. Given the fact that Aspect is coming off a two-year corporate turnaround during which it changed out its executive team, redesigned its channel organization, reorganized its disparate family of offerings and added several new cloud-based products, this is an excellent strategic move. It is the perfect time to become more aggressive in seeking a larger portion of mind and market share that was lost during the company’s turnaround efforts. Continue reading “Are Cloud Contact Center Offerings in Need of a Strategy Booster Shot?”→
As customer care organizations recognize the importance of including ‘voice of the customer’ (VoC) tools in their contact center analytics toolboxes, the capture and analysis of unstructured data will grow in importance.
Because text analytics provides the ability to include large streams of input from a broad collection of unstructured data sources, it is a very complementary solution to other analysis tools such as speech analytics and post-call customer surveys.
In previous blogs I have commented on the growing importance of collecting, managing and using “big data” effectively to drive proactive efforts designed to improve overall customer service. Today many companies base their customer feedback analysis, or so-called VoC solutions, on a single data collection tool such as post-call surveys or speech analytics. While these tools can provide excellent insights into the customer’s thought process, emotions and purchase intentions, they are often limited by their focus on a single source of information or the fact that customer inputs are confined to a set of multiple choice questions posed to a customer. I am finding that as VoC campaigns mature, companies are beginning to realize that capturing the benefits of big data analytics requires broadening the collection of data to all the data that is available to them. This should include analysis of voice calls, web chats, responses to open-ended questions of customers and notes recorded by contact center agents and other front-line employees. Continue reading “The Growing Role of Text Analytics in Voice of the Customer Strategies”→
Segmenting customers into different levels of service by classifying them into distinct groupings (e.g., platinum, gold and silver) and doling out different levels of service may be common practice for airlines and financial institutions. However, it is normally implemented by segmenting users based on usage and/or spending levels prior to the service cycle and providing different access points like unique dial-in numbers or dedicated websites for priority service.
Having all customers call the same number, join the same queue and then openly soliciting them to pay an extra fee to move up in the service line is something very different that will prompt some long-time customers to wonder why their loyalty has little value to the company.
As consumers we are all becoming accustomed to paying a premium for better and/or faster service. We do this to get into premium lanes on a freeway, priority boarding on an airplane, and even to get to the head of the line at some theme parks. However, when I read last week that EE, a mobile phone company in the UK had introduced a charge for jumping ahead in the queue on customer service calls it just sounded like a bad idea that, if accepted by their customers, could fundamentally change the landscape in customer care forever. EE has implemented this new option in their customer service center by having an automated message greeting customers calling into their centers during busy times and offering to jump them up in the queue for the flat fee of fifty pence, or roughly one U.S. dollar. Although EE has not reported on what percentage of customers are opting for the offer, the good news is that, according to the articles I read, EE mobile customers are speaking out against the offer and strongly rejecting the idea of paying extra for expedited service. EE customers, especially those who have been customers for years, are unhappy that all calls are not being treated equally as they had been in the past. Several commented they are considering switching mobile carriers to those not charging such a fee. Continue reading “Paying for Faster Customer Service – Brilliant Innovation or Terrible Idea?”→
The standard methodology used for analytics in customer interactions for the past decade has been to record the voice interaction between a customer and a call center agent, along with the agent’s keystrokes during the transaction, and review the recordings at a later time to determine what if anything could have been done better to improve the call.
Real-time analytics allows the analysis of the interaction as it takes place and enables the making of real-time business decisions to improve customer service while enhancing business operations in terms of increased revenues and improved efficiency.
There is little doubt that the ongoing shift from historical interaction analysis of contact center voice and data traffic to a real-time approach has the potential to revolutionize the level of customer care in the coming few years while vastly improving enterprise operations. Although any analysis of ongoing operations is better than no analysis at all, the major portion of available recorded data today continues to go unanalyzed in many contact centers. The reason for this is the fact that the analysis of the recorded data has always required a great deal of time, which disturbs the flow of operations by taking supervisors away from their main job – supervising agents. The result was that only a small, single-digit percentage of recorded traffics was ever analyzed and that was typically when something went very wrong. Continue reading “Real-Time Analytics – The Next Boon to Customer Engagement Technology?”→
Contact center queuing and routing based on traditional automatic call distribution (ACD) technology has always been a very linear process in which the next customer is typically matched with the next available agent. However, “who is next” never really translated to “what is best” for the customer or the enterprise.
PureMatch, an innovative application in the newly released PureCloud customer service offering of Interactive Intelligence, takes a new approach to matching customers to agents, which could prove to be better for customers and agents – or not.
Interactive Intelligence’s PureCloud – the company’s new cloud-based communications, collaboration and customer engagement offering, due out in Q4 of this year – is provided via the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. PureCloud reinforces the company’s thought leadership image in the customer service industry by offering several interesting and innovative applications, including: PureCloud Social Customer Service (SCS), an application that enables customers to view agent profiles and performance prior to selection of the agent; PureMatch, a system that automatically pairs customer interactions with contact center agents, based on multiple attributes and criteria; and PureCloud Directory, a corporate directory that makes enterprise user profile content available including skills, work experience, location, etc. Although all these applications are relevant to customer service operations, I believe it will be the criteria-based matching of PureMatch that will get the most attention in the contact center space. Continue reading “Is PureCloud’s PureMatch the Next Customer Service Trend or Just PureFolly?”→
Primary research on customer service is plentiful as companies compete to better understand customer likes and dislikes in order to implement the latest technology designed to raise customer satisfaction and gain a competitive advantage.
Recent contact center surveys implemented by two vendors report conflicting information about the top-ranking communication channel of choice by the consumer. However, a closer look reveals that the truth is in the timing.
In order to keep up on overall customer care industry issues and contact center technology trends, I read all the related primary research survey information I can get my hands on. Although much of this information I gather is repetitive in nature (e.g., everyone thinks service should be better, people dislike interacting with an IVR, and mobility and the cloud are rapidly changing the customer care industry), every once in a while, some conflicting information arises that necessitates a closer look. Recently, I reviewed two new survey reports. One came from Dimension Data (entitled “2013/2014 Global Contact Center Benchmarking Report”) and the other from Interactive Intelligence (named “2014 Global Customer Service Survey”). Continue reading “A Phone Call with an Agent Remains the Customer’s Channel of Preference – True or False?”→
Voice verification technology has advanced substantially and vendors are introducing reliable products capable of positively identifying legitimate customers, by matching their voices with previously-recorded voice prints, with a very high level of confidence.
Fraud detection solutions have entered the marketplace and are being used successfully in many security-sensitive markets to identify known fraudsters when they call into a contact center by comparing their voice to previously recorded voice prints stored in a fraudster data base.
Voice recognition technology has improved enormously over the past five years which has resulted in several effective tools to assist contact center operators in verifying the legitimacy of virtually every caller entering a queue in a customer care environment. This biometric approach to customer identification provides better accuracy and a level of security beyond that of the previously-used security question approach to customer identification (e.g., What is your mother’s maiden name? and, What are the last four digits of your social security number?). Over the past few years, fraud detection systems that match a caller’s voice with previously-recorded and stored voice prints of known fraudsters, have been installed by many companies wishing to deter fraud in their customer care environments. These systems have been successful in mitigating fraudulent transactions in the financial services market segment, if not stopping them altogether. More recently, voice recognition solutions have taken a more positive turn and are designed to compare the voice of legitimate customers to their previously-recorded, passively collected voice prints before allowing a risky transaction, such as an address change or money transfer, to be completed. These systems are also showing positive results in many banks, credit card and retail customer care environments. Continue reading “Voice Verification and Fraud Detection – Interchangeable or Complementary Solutions?”→