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call center

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, contact Center, simulations | No Comments

The Differences of RolePlaying – vs. Scalable Simulations

Click here to see simulation demos

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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How to Manage Your BPO Relationship

By | call center, contact Center | No Comments

If your contact center is run by an external BPO, you will want to listen to this show. In this episode of Contact Center Insights, Nancy speaks to Christa Heibel of CHCG Consulting. Christa has been working with the C-Suite of contact centers for over two decades and has worked both sides of the table when it comes to working with BPOs. Listen to Christas’s great advice on the importance of communication and “putting it in writing” to ensure you have a smooth sailing relationship.

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How Simulations Can Shorten the Path the Mastery

By | Adaptive Learning, AI, bots, call center, contact Center, simulations | No Comments
simulation

Simulations for learning

Why do pilots user flight simulators vs. real airplanes? We all know that hands-on experience is one of the best ways to learn a new skill.  But don’t take my word for it. In an article featured from Laurdal they state three reasons why simulations accelerate learning and retention:

  1. Simulations increase engagement – By placing students into an immersive environment, they are ACTIVELY vs. passively engaged in the learning
  2. Simulations maximize retention – One of my favorite reasons why simulations are important. How many times have you put people through a training program and the knowledge is lost within a short amount of time
  3. Simulations ensure that learning is transferred to the job – This should really matter to the executive suite, when employees can accelerate their level of applying their skills directly into their work and shorten their path to mastery, this goes directly to the bottom line.

Think of it in this way, if I gave you a manual to learn how to conduct a step by step process, this is an explicit approach to learning something. It’s easily repeated and more commoditized but not as effective. On the other hand, if I gave you access to the equipment and/or placed you into a simulation which immersed you in learning this process.  This is an implicit experience but much more valuable in giving you first-hand experience in learning this new task.

Finally, in a study conducted by Roger S. Taylor and Micheline T. H. Chi at the University of Pittsburgh, they conducted a study comparing students who studied using a textbook and those who used a computer simulation. This was the summary of their findings:

The Simulation condition acquired a significant amount of implicit domain information from pretest to posttest, whereas participants in the Text condition did not. These results suggest that educational computer simulations have the potential to significantly enhance the learning of implicit domain knowledge.”

But keep in mind, the simulations need to be tailored to a specific skill or task directly related to the job. It should include some form of immediate feedback and places the learner into a contextual setting, similar to what they will experience in real life. Anders Ericcson was noted as coming out with the study of “deliberate practice” Here is a video where Anders explains this concept.

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Why Demonstrating Empathy Matters to the Bottom Line

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

Empathy vs Sympathy

Every company wants employees to express empathy but why?

I work with a lot of call centers and many of them are building in performance metrics which include the agent’s ability to show empathy. But why?

Yes, I get that it demonstrates that you want the customer to feel you can relate to their dilemma or that you at least “fake” concern. But creating a culture that proactively promotes empathy matters to the bottom line too.

For example,  I was speaking to a call center that provides technical support. I asked the manager which do you place more value on – soft-skills or technical knowledge.  Their answer was soft skills. He stated “we hired a young college graduate who was not as skilled at troubleshooting but all of her CSAT scores were always very high. She was able to use empathy and her ability to communicate trust to ensure the customer to make them feel better. Therefore, even though she isn’t able to resolve their issue on the first call that she left the customer still feeling good about their experience and their company.  I value that skill over the most technically skilled agent.”

In a YouTube video by Brene’ Brown, she states the four elements of Empathy

  1. Can see things from the perspective of the other person
  2. Staying out of judgment
  3. Recognizing emotion in other people
  4. Communicating that you recognize their position and emotions.

Companies invest a lot of resources into building their brand, building customer loyalty. So why risk losing this because you would rather build a culture of agents who solve problems fast but don’t really connect with your customers.

In  a LinkedIn post from Troy Mills,  President of Carrell and former VP of Customer Care Operations at Walgreens, stated “I can’t tell you how many discussions about doing something exceptional for a customer is met with shock from the ops team” meaning wow someone went out of the way and off-script to really help a customer out and the culture was such that this was a negative vs. a positive.

A good place to track how empathy has made a difference to the bottom line is to collect stories from situations where using empathy and caring made a difference. Sometimes the difference isn’t always tangible initially but trust me it will have a lasting impact on the bottom line for the long-term.

 

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