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contact Center

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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Why Your AI Investment Should Be In Employee Training First

By | bots, contact Center, simulations | No Comments

Did you know that poor customer service is costing corporations $80 Billion a year? Even though our economy is still healthy, I don’t think any company can afford to lose customers.

Every day I read about some new products with “AI” or supposed AI embedded into it. Many of these are bots or customer-facing applications to automate or collect data during a customer journey. But even as you deploy these solutions, if the customer still needs some form of human interaction, your contact center staff will need to have stronger skills to handle the more complex problems.

There is a growing trend and awareness in the corporate training world that has finally recognized that the traditional forms of training either via classroom, online or blended, simply doesn’t fully guarantee your training is effective. It simply allows you to check the box training was giving and maybe an evaluation to tell you if the employee found it enjoyable. So What! I don’t know if they can actually perform their job correctly do you?

Here’s where AI comes into play for training. There are new training applications (Like our ACES) that leverage AI and NLP applications to automate one-on-one coaching and guidance to walk an employee through hands-on tasks. Imagine putting a contact center agent into a variety or real-life scenarios multiple times until they have mastered these situations. The embedded AI tracking their behavior pro-actively addresses any mistakes they may make before they engage with live customers.

Plus using a bot like coach removes the need to use your seasoned staff to coach and assist your new hires. Keeping productive and skilled staff on the phone is a much better use of these resources.

Studies show that using this type of technology can even reduce the amount of time it takes to get that new hire up to speed. If you haven’t heard of the term Adaptive Learning you will. This form of learning allows a learner to learn at their own pace with ongoing feedback to calibrate their skills at just the right time.

If you spent a portion of your AI budget in applications like these, it should actually give you a higher ROI on any money you are spending on monitoring customer experiences. If you can proactively reduce call handling times, assure CSAT scores will be high before your agents are placed into production, I think it’s money well spent.

If you want to see an example of this, just click this link to view some sample videos of our ACES simulation.

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Pro-Actively Stop Agent Mistakes Before They Happen

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

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

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
  • Our scheduling would be much easier
  • We could predict what the AHT would be before any calls were made
  • We would know how many support people to place into each channel with a good estimate of FCR
  • We would have a better handle on turn-over

Taking a look at just this small list you can tell that having the ability to predict who your top agents were 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 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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Human Learning with AI

By | contact Center, simulations | No Comments

Many of you are familiar with the term Machine Learning (ML) which is a subset of AI designed to train a machine how to do a very specific task. Can’t we do the same process with Humans?

The answer is yes, of course we can! I want to highlight some examples that go beyond providing employees or customers with simple information using an intelligent agent.

  1. Shameless self-promotion for ACES (Automated Contact Engagement System) designed to automate the process of teach contact center agents how to conduct the primary transactions they will encounter on the job. ACES is an immersive simulator with builtin AI to provide automatic feedback when an agent give the wrong verbal response or enter the wrong information on screen. All actions are tracked and mapped against the same metrics and agent would be measured on during a live call. Agents get up to speed much faster and are truly “floor ready” when placed into production.
  2. Third Space Learning is using an AI powered system to measure how effective the teacher performance is and tie this directly to student success.
  3. MATHIA from Carnegie Learning is an example of an intelligent tutor. It uses a technique called “Knowledge Tracing” to track a student’s progress and tailor feedback to help them solf the math problems.
  4. EdCast is used to “upskill” employees by making automatically curated content based upon previous content the user has completed in the past and what job skills are mostly likely needed for their job.
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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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The Power of Simulations

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 is this 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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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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Contact Center Insights Christa Heibel – Managing the BPO Relationship

By | call center, contact Center | No Comments

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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Judy McGee Consulting – Call Center Training the LAMA Way!

By | contact Center, Employee Rewards | No Comments

I had a blast interviewing Judy, she is truly one of a kind and has a great theory on how to train your contact center employees. In this episode, Judy explains her LAMA approach to talking to anyone on the phone, it’s all about making that person feel good and treating them with respect.

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Why Demonstrating Empathy Matters to the Bottom Line

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

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 which proactively promotes empathy matters to the bottom line too.

For example,  I was speaking to a call center which 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 that 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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