We Have Smart Consumers and Smartphones; Why Not Smart Contact Centers?

Ken Landoline
Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • The vast majority of consumers calling into a contact center believe they know more about the products and services in question than the customer service agent answering their call.
  • More than three-quarters of consumers say they will only continue to buy from businesses that make interacting with their customer service organizations easy.

I recently read a report on a piece of research which revealed some interesting consumer perceptions about the state of the customer service industry.  According to the report, British Telecom and Avaya teamed up to do a market research study based on a survey of 1,000 consumers in the U.S. and the UK.  As we might expect, the study confirmed that the use of smartphone applications, video conferencing, and video and Web chat is rapidly on the rise with consumers interacting with companies to ask questions and resolve product and service issues.  However, of more interest to me is the fact that 80% of people think agents struggle to answer their questions and 85% believe they have been put on hold simply because the agents did not know what to say during their conversation due to a lack of information and/or proper training.  This leads me to believe that enterprise customer service executives and managers, as well as contact center providers, are not doing a good job of tapping into ‘big data’ in the customer’s enterprise or preparing their agents to do the job.  From experience, I know that the data exists in most enterprises, but apparently enterprises are not very successful in getting the data to the agents when they need it, or getting the customer to the proper agent on the first try. Continue reading “We Have Smart Consumers and Smartphones; Why Not Smart Contact Centers?”

Mobile Self-Help Applications Continue to Miss Customer Expectations

Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • Customers’ expectations for high-quality mobile self-help solutions are growing rapidly and now higher than ever, yet customers continue to be disappointed by the solutions that are ubiquitous today.
  • Brand assessments and Net Promoter Score (NPS) evaluations are closely linked to the customer’s perception of a company’s ability to meet customer service needs.  Successful mobile solutions will be a critical element of positive customer assessments in the future.

Just about a year ago, I wrote a blog entry about the growing need to connect mobile self-service and agent-assisted customer service into a continuous and seamless customer experience.  The basic message was that providers of customer service technologies need to better accommodate the growing number of customers using their mobile devices to access customer service on demand.  It was somewhat uplifting recently to see the findings of a market research study performed under the sponsorship of the VHT Corporation (formerly Virtual Hold) that quantified and corroborated many of the underlying drivers which motivated me to write the original piece. Continue reading “Mobile Self-Help Applications Continue to Miss Customer Expectations”

Unified Communications Is More a Way of Working Than a Technology

Gary Barton
Gary Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • SMEs should talk to providers about the benefits of UC solutions and demand that providers present solutions with broader efficiency rather than a specific vendor or technology.
  • SMEs should consider UC as a way of improving both internal working practices (e.g., hot-desking) and customer service (e.g., contact centres).

Demand for unified communications (UC) solutions seems to be growing, but remains far from achieving critical mass.  SMEs often ask why a business should pay for features such as IM or shared workspace when services such as Skype and Dropbox provide some of that functionality for free.  An obvious answer to this is security and reliability; a business-quality solution should provide a much more stable service than free applications.  However, it is not an unfair question for SMEs to ask.  Paying for a suite of UC services is likely a waste of money if working practices are not changed to best utilise those services.  So, SMEs should be wary of UC underachieving unless providers show how it can help increase customers’ efficiency. Continue reading “Unified Communications Is More a Way of Working Than a Technology”

High Definition Voice, a Boon to the Contact Center – Really?

Ken Landoline
Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • As VoIP and SIP become commonplace in the contact center environment, high definition voice is a potentially appealing enhancement to improve agent/customer communications, which some believe would result in shortened call times and therefore reduced phone bills.
  • However, with complaints about customer service escalating, there seem to be more pressing customer service issues to tackle that cannot be solved by simply broadening the bandwidth of the voice connection in order to improve audio quality.

Recently I have been reading and hearing a great deal about how high definition (HD) voice is, or soon will be, changing the world of voice services. The major cellular carriers are planning to introduce HD voice on their mobile phone connections in the coming year, the new Apple iPhone 5 has HD voice capabilities, audio and videoconferencing providers are already offering HD voice as an enhancement to their teleconferencing portfolios, and several landline carriers (at least those outside the U.S.) are providing HD capabilities on their public phone networks. However, for HD voice to really make a difference the connection must be HD quality (between 50 Hz on the low end and 7 kHz or higher on the high end) from end-to-end, as opposed to standard voice lines that transmit between 300 Hz and 3.4 kHz. Therefore, it is not likely that customers calling into a contact center today can be connected via an end-to-end HD voice connection and that HD voice will improve the quality of the conversation between customers and agents. Continue reading “High Definition Voice, a Boon to the Contact Center – Really?”

Customer Surveys: Balancing Information Needs with Customer Survey Fatigue

K. Landoline
K. Landoline

Summary Bullets:         

  • Collecting customer opinions regarding your company’s service is crucial to monitoring company performance and improving levels of customer satisfaction and longevity.
  • The excessive use of surveys today is breeding customer fatigue and scorn for the companies that impose them on their customers at a rapidly increasing rate.

We all know that communicating with our customers is a critical part of good customer service.  In my last blog, I discussed the importance of social media for capturing customers’ perceptions.  Today, I will discuss proactive customer surveys as a means of measuring customer satisfaction.  The use of post-interaction surveys has grown dramatically over the past few years.  Surveys have become so important that two large contact center optimization software companies, NICE Systems and Verint Systems, have made acquisitions in the past year (Fizzback and Vovici, respectively) to boost their customer survey offering capabilities. Continue reading “Customer Surveys: Balancing Information Needs with Customer Survey Fatigue”

Step Two in Mobilizing Your Contact Center: Create a Continuous and Seamless Customer Experience

K. Landoline
K. Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  •  The enterprise’s motivation in driving customers to do more via the mobile channel should be to provide a highly differentiated customer experience, enhance the overall lifetime value of the customer to the enterprise, and reduce operational costs.
  • Due to the growing popularity of mobile phones as a channel of access to customer service centers and the customer’s natural aversion to an IVR interface, it will be essential to allow customers to shift from a mobile, self-service mode to live agent assistance as simply as possible.

In my October 13th blog posting, “Step One in Mobilizing Your Contact Center: Send Your Agents Home,” I suggested that an initial step in mobilizing a contact center might be to implement an at-home agent strategy.  In this posting, I would like to broach the issue of planning and preparing for interactions with clients who will be using mobile phones more often in the future.  Preparing for increased mobile traffic will be essential to maintaining and/or improving current customer satisfaction and preparing for the younger generation of customers who will demand easy remote access to your customer service communications infrastructure. Continue reading “Step Two in Mobilizing Your Contact Center: Create a Continuous and Seamless Customer Experience”