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call center

Using Bots Accelerates the Need for Up-Skilling

By | bots, call center, empathy, simulations | No Comments

Why Bots Have a Long Way to Go to Take Over the World

Like Chicken Little’s cries that the sky is falling, everyone keeps shouting bots are replacing people. Well I am here to tell you they have a long way to go.chicken little

There is some truth that bots are beginning to manage simple transactions like help with resetting a password or authenticating your credentials. But in a recent article published int Silicon Republic, Forrester’s Srividya Sridharan states that bots will only be handling 20% of these basic activities by the end of 2020.

The interactions that bots are not able to handle will require higher-skilled agents. Even though many of us are accustomed to interacting with an intelligent agent, we won’t have the patience for this when we need immediate answers. Agents who can handle the tier two situations, will need to be trained skills such as:

  • Expressing the right level of empathy for the situation
  • Navigating their systems to quickly troubleshoot the issues
  • Learn how to ask good open-ended questions
  • Practice active listening and have the confidence to restate their understanding of the situation
  • Recognize early on when they need to escalate the situation to a higher power

Historically it takes months to get an agent up to this level of proficiency. This is why many of our customers are seeing the value in using or call center simulator ACES™. With the clock ticking on speed to proficiency, companies are looking for ways to get these employees up to speed faster to manage the more complex transactions.

So rather than using AI and bot technology to replace employees, we are using it to help upskill them. By giving employees a realistic immersive experience, we can put them in the hot seat. The built-in bot gives them real-time coaching to help guide them through each scenario. By giving them repeated “deliberate practice” we can get them up to speed in days vs. weeks.

So have no fear, the sky is not falling. We see that AI can be used for good – not evil.good bot

If you want to see an example of ACES in action just click this link.

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How to Accelerate Contact Center KPI Performance

By | bots, call center, contact Center, empathy | No Comments

Reducing agent’s learning curve.

In a recent conversation, I had with a client we discussed why they are using our simulator in their contact center. As a large BPO, their revenue is directly tied to documenting agents are following very detailed KPIs. They asked for me to provide a full list of how our simulator can impact each of these so I thought it would be helpful to share this list with others.

  1. Reduction of AHT, this client wanted to reduce new hire AHT of 12 minutes down to an average of 7
  2. Increase agent confidence which impacts CSAT scores
  3. Improved soft-skills such as expressing empathy, active listening and asking open-ended questions
  4. Improved accuracy of keystrokes and data entry
  5. Reduces the number of times call will be escalated to a manager
  6. Automates measurement of English proficiency

In number six, this was not an intended KPI but as a result of working with a very large technology company, they now use our simulator as a way to ensure outsourced agents are English Proficient. This came up when they enrolled agents at a call center in Vietnam. They were struggling to complete a simulation successfully. Our client thought that the simulator wasn’t working correctly. I assessed that their accents were too strong. The client was somewhat skeptical that this was the case so they placed them into production as voice agents. Shortly after they were in production, customers complained they were not able to understand them. They are now all chat agents. Moving forward all of their simulations now account for and measure their English proficiency with our simulator.

As we have proven many times, if you pro-actively use a tool like our simulator, you can address a lot of the “back office” metrics on the front end and improve the customer experience.

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How Active Listening Benefits Your Company

By | Adaptive Learning, call center, contact Center, empathy, simulations | No Comments

Responding Authentically Drives Customer Retention

There is a lot of talk around replacing contact center agents with bots or some form of self-service options. But according to research conducted by NewVoiceMedia, 75% of customers still prefer a live agent (voice or chat) to help them solve their issues.

Successful companies know how to create a culture that allows agents to not only express empathy but express the Right level of empathy for the customer’s situation. Here is an example.

A customer who is calling to get roadside assistance because they have a flat tire.

Agent#1 “I apologize for your situation.”

Agent#2 “I’m sure that’s really frustrating for you.”

Agent #2 does a better job of expressing empathy that expresses what the customer must be feeling. They recognize what is going on in the customer’s world. This would be perceived as “more authentic” vs. canned and routine.

You can teach agents how to use the skill of active listening, here are 8 steps created by David Grosman that are right on target with how we teach this skill in our simulator

  1. Approach each dialogue with the goal to learn something. …
  2. Stop talking and focus closely on the speaker. …
  3. Open and guide the conversation. …
  4. Drill down to the details. …
  5. Summarize what you hear and ask questions to check your understanding. …
  6. Encourage with positive feedback.
  7. Listen for total meaning
  8. Pay attention to your responses

I’ve highlighted number 5 as this step is really critical step.  It demonstrates to the customer that you truly understand their situation and can accurately paraphrase what is going on.

When the customer senses you are truly trying to get to the heart of their issue or how to help them out. This builds a level of trust. This connection is priceless and should not be taken lightly. When customers feel you are trustworthy they are more likely to continue doing business with you.

 

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How Omnichannel Drives Businsess

By | call center, contact Center | No Comments

Do you know the difference between Omnichannel vs. multichannel? The latter refers to how customers complete a transaction. Omnichannel refers to providing customers with a variety of how they begin and end their customer journey.

Companies seem to be scrambling today to implement some form of omnichannel strategy but just how important is it to your business?omnichannel growth

Based upon the Aberdeen Group, it’s very important to year over year growth.

But how is your company managing resources and your investment to support these channels? First understanding your target customers will drive which channels you support. If you sell a line of hearing aids, more than likely you’re not going to use a lot of Social Media to drive customer experience.

But what about brands who may have a prospect click on an image on Instagram, then connect via chat. The chat rep could then recommend a coupon or other products and increase their chances of closing a deal – in minutes vs. days.

In order to provide this level of experience the organization may need to completely restructure how it supports these operations. I’ve spoken to many consultants who help companies make these transitions and one of the biggest – as usual – is the change management process to make these modifications.

One fear they have is losing a customer because they don’t feel completely confident about their ability to manage these channels and risk losing a customer.

The majority of contact centers are starting with some form of self-service as their first point of contact. Even if these channels provide great customer experience, some people still need to reach a live person. When this happens, it’s usually not a basic interaction. This is why it’s so important that your channels have some path to carry interactions with a live person to reduce the need to “re-explain” the situation. No one likes to do this. You will need to enable these agents with skills to handle the more challenging situations vs. the basic interactions. This is one reason our simulator ACES™ is sparking interest. Companies need a scalable way to help teach more complex skills in a small window of time. Using simulation-based training is a great way to immerse employees into realistic training situations.

So please don’t forget all of the legs of the stool when deploying your omnichannel strategy:

  1. Deciding which channels drive results
  2. Putting a strong change management process in place to support this strategy
  3. Ensure the culture and skills you train to support your strategy

 

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Is Your “Nesting” for the Birds?

By | call center, contact Center, Employee Rewards | No Comments

If you have spent any time in a contact center you’ve probably heard of the term “nesting”. It’s that phase for newly hired contact agents after they have had some initial classroom training but aren’t quite ready to go on their own.

On average, the ramp-up time for new agents is for two weeks. This doesn’t really give these agents enough time to digest all of the information they will need to be successful – at most, they will be able to greet the caller properly, and ask how they can help the customer.

To add to their pain, many companies are putting in place self-help tools for customers to use which means by the time they reach an agent, it’s a more challenging situation to handle.

Luckily there are some alternatives to this stage of onboarding. A term I heard recently was “phased nesting”. Meaning don’t force all agents hired at the same time to move through the onboarding process in lockstep. If you notice an agent is moving along faster than some of the others in the group – allow them to progress. This will maintain their engagement and self-confidence while the others moving slower are given more time to adapt to their new tasks.

One alternative we recommend is using our ACES simulator. ACES (accelerated engagement contact system) allows you to deploy realistic immersive simulations that use a phased-in approach to help agents get hands-on experience, with automated feedback from our built-in digital coach. This reduces the risk of taking a live call with an inexperienced agent and gives your managers the ability to see who is truly “floor ready” before placing them into the production environment.

To see ACES in action you can view some video samples by watching our Videos

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Simulation vs. RolePlay

By | bots, call center, simulations | No Comments

The Differences of RolePlaying – vs. Scalable Simulations

When I speak to people about our simulator ACES™ some people will interchange the term roleplaying and simulations but there is a difference. As I tend to be a little biased on using simulations vs roleplaying.  I thought it would be a helpful exercise to create a chart to list out the similarities and differences between the two activities. This chart below compares the two. There is room for both types of learning methodologies but studies do show that allowing students to spend time in a simulator vs roleplaying, they do perform better. Here is a link to a study conducted by Georgia Institute of Technology conducting a side by side comparison of traditional roleplay in a call center vs simulation.

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How to Stop Contact Center Mistakes

By | bots, call center, contact Center, empathy, simulations | No Comments

If you had a crystal ball to see into the future, who do you think would be your top-performing contact center agents? Now take that and scale it to all of your call centers both internal and external.

Contact Center Predictions

Predict Contact Center Performance

How would this impact your business?

Here is a list of just a few examples:

  • We would know where the gaps are in hiring and the costs needed to fund recruitment and onboarding
  • Your quality control managers could pro-actively manage your KPIs
  • Our scheduling would be much easier
  • Managers could predict what the AHT would be before any calls were made
  • Workforce managers  would know how many support people to place into each channel with a good estimate of FCR
  • Turn-over and costs associated with this could be managed better

Taking a look at just this small list you can tell that having the ability to predict who your top contact center employees perform is pretty powerful.

Now I will let you in on a secret –  ACES (accelerated contact engagement system) gives you this ability.

How?

ACES gives you a scalable way to catch the contact center agent errors before they happen! Using it’s a powerful simulator, ACES allows you to build realistic immersive simulations that feel like your taking on a real call or chat session.

To see some examples of ACES in action, just click this Videos

 

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Does Your Contact Center Have a Wall In It?

By | call center, contact Center | No Comments

Recently I was speaking to a CX consultant and ask her “why is there a disconnect between what call center agents do and the customer experience initiatives?” She stated that she runs into this quite frequently in her practice.

When I reach out to CX professionals to introduce them to our call center simulator, once they hear it is used for contact center agents to improve performance they immediately refer me off to someone else. 

In an old blog post from Customer Think points out that good customer service is a branding and customer loyalty issue. That was 5 years ago! But I still run into organizations that seem to separate these functions within their organization

In a blog post by Ameyo.com a multi-channel call center, they define the difference between the customer experience vs. customer service and define customer service as re-active. Is it really?

Even if that’s the case, customers only call in when something is wrong or they need help,  the contact center could either be the place for your single point of failure — losing customers or done well, can build loyalty and delight.

I’d be curious to hear from my readers if you feel you have a wall between the CX function and the contact center — or how you’ve broken this barrier.

 

 

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Why Simulations are Effective

By | call center, contact Center, Employee Rewards, simulations | No Comments

Studies have shown that simulation-based training is the best way for learners to retain knowledge and decrease the time it takes for mastery of a new skill.

Why are simulations important to your organization?

  1. Quicker return on your training $$ – by providing this level of active and immersive learning, your organization will see a greater return on the money you invest in recruiting, retention and customer satisfaction
  2. Greater employee satisfaction – the faster an employee feels confident about their job, the higher their employee satisfaction.  This has a direct impact on customer satisfaction but will also reduce the risk of poor moral or wasted time re-training employees who need more hand-holding
  3. Removing the risk of practicing on real customers – I can’t tell you how many times I hear that call center employees transition from the classroom to the production floor with little or no practice time.  This is a huge risk to your organization.
  4. Reducing time to recognize a bad hire -using a simulator will allow your organization to road test an employee’s skills before putting them on the front line.  This will also help you to determine if an employee is just not making the cut.
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What is Your Single Point of Failure

By | call center, contact Center | No Comments

If you are an IT professional, you are probably familiar with the term “single point of failure.” If you manage the customer retention side of the business can you identify your single point of failure?

Is it in the quality of the product, customer service, customer support, delivery or even the return process?

In a study conducted by the Gallup Group 68% of customers leave because of poor service. When nearly 70% of all customer interactions are handled by your contact center — is this your single point of failure?

Let’s break down the contact center experience even further. Take the full customer journey when they make contact. You should factor the following steps:

· Hold time

· Automated routing

· First call resolutions

· Knowledgeable staff

· Courteous reps

· Follow up steps

In a study presented by 31 West the following were the top reasons a customer becomes “enraged” during a call

60%—speaking with a rude customer service rep
52%—speaking with an incompetent service rep
44%—getting disconnected
40%—explaining their issue more than once
38%—being put on hold for too long

It doesn’t take much to surprise and delight customers from these human to human interactions. I see a cautionary trend in migrating live support to automated. It may save you money in the short-run but in the long-run may impact the customer relationship.

I’d love to hear how some of you have built a culture of serving your customers to increase loyalty and retention.

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