Making the Most of Your Call Center Agents

Making the Most of Your Call Center Agents

Your call center is a pool of unused talent that can help your growing company with more than just the basics.  While it certainly helps to have a staff on hand to answer calls for your business, call center agents can do a lot more for you if you give them the right training and opportunities.

From basic online marketing to scheduling, you can make better use of these valuable employees, which can save money and bring in new business for your company.

Get Creative

Your call center representatives often have been trained in a variety of tasks beyond their current job duties, including scheduling, marketing, and lead generation.  This makes it easy to use your agents in creative ways around your company.

  • Lead generation: Having your phone representatives generate leads with new customers or upsell current customers can ease the strain on your sales team while maintaining the same amount of sales.  Phone reps can make quick sales themselves in the course of their work or forward customers to your sales team.  If your sales team software is integrated with your call center software, your reps can make better use of leads by inputting them directly into the system.
  • Live Chat: Internet shoppers are more likely to make a purchase from your website if it employs live chat.  Live chat extends your business hours beyond a typical 8-hour day and makes it available to customers in other time zones.  Extending your hours with live chat or having chat live 24 hours a day can help bring in new customers for your business.

Ditch the Script

A great way to improve your call center customer service is to give your agents the freedom to use their own words with your customers.  Customers dislike hearing an obvious script that may not answer their specific questions or needs.

  • Having a script is good for dealing with new or heated customers but can be limiting in other situations.  Give your reps the freedom to use their intuition and knowledge of your company to confidently take their customer service to the next level.
  • Train your reps with a loose script to get them familiar with what you’re looking for in a customer service interaction.  Over time, encourage them to back away from the script and use their own words and knowledge when handling calls.
  • Give your reps guidelines for ways to handle common situations.  If they know their goals for the conversation, they can use the right attitude, verbiage, and objection responses while successfully avoiding a generic script.

Call center agents can bring an impressive array of skills to your business.  Taking advantage of those skills can help you avoid hiring new employees, support your sales team, and greatly expand the flexibility and responsiveness of your customer service.

The preceding blog entry is a guest post by Megan Webb-Morgan, who is a web content writer for Resource Nation.  She writes about small business, focusing on topics such as call center software.  Find Resource Nation on Facebook, too!

Why Talking to Your Customers is More Important Than Ever

* This following blog post is a guest article by Imogen Reed. *

With so much focus on the Internet these days, it’s no surprise that fewer and fewer of us are talking on the phone.  It seems that e-mailing, tweeting, and Facebook messenger are the order of the day.  But in business, it’s not always so clear cut.  In fact, the companies that seem to do the best are those that are able to do a little bit of everything.  So in a world where every business is preoccupied by sending emails, is there a solid gold opportunity to boost your business by actually talking to your customers?

A lost art

There are plenty of people out there who now regard conversation as something of a lost art, and the dominance of the web seems to play no small part in that.  But having a conversation with a real human being is one of the best ways to make progress in business and personal relationships – so why aren’t more companies doing it already?  The telephone is one of the key components of good customer service, and most consumers will tell you that they’d rather speak to a person than send an e-mail any day of the week.  This means a couple of different things for existing companies: first, it means that if you’re not already using the phone as part of your customer service process, you should be.  And second, it means that you can actually gain a competitive advantage by doing so.

Start talking more and get the edge

By now, consumers are used to much customer service being carried out over the Internet.  People are in fact more surprised when a business suggests they give them a call rather than sending an e-mail or using a web form to get in touch.  Even the online ticket systems that apparently make things more efficient can be frustrating and time-consuming to use.  But implement a call center, or a team of phone-based customer service reps, and you’ll find your customer satisfaction skyrockets.  Couple that with the fact that so many other businesses are focused solely on the online field, and you’ve got a recipe for CRM success.  You’ll give often jaded customers a refreshing surprise by offering them a real human being to attend to their issues, rather than a template e-mail which (as we all know) is one of the most impersonal ways to be treated by a business.

The benefits of the spoken word

One of the great things about telephone customer service is that it doesn’t necessarily require any additional work than any other form of customer service.  For example, if a customer sends an e-mail to make a complaint or raise an issue, your company might start acting on it right away, but it could take 48 hours to reply via e-mail.  This can leave the customer feeling frustrated and annoyed.  On the other hand, if that customer is able to pick up the phone and speak to you directly, they’ll feel reassured in the knowledge they actually spoke to somebody about it – even if they leave the conversation with no more info than they started with.

Talk is cheap (and effective)

Considering the huge roster of benefits that telephone customer service can bring, it’s a very affordable solution.  It’ll almost always result in an uplift in customer satisfaction levels, and it’ll improve your reputation.  Plus, you could always combine your use of telephone customer service with its online variants, meaning you’ll have all the bases covered.  After all, it’s always a good idea to have a contingency plan in place, so if one form of customer service ‘goes down’ somehow, the other can pick up the slack.  Why wait for your competitors to get the edge and start speaking to your customers when you can quickly and easily arrange for a team in a call center to be the voice of your company?  In an ever-changing world, speaking to a human being to solve problems will always be the preferable choice for your customers.  So if you’ve spent a good proportion of your company’s history tending to customer concerns only via e-mail and the web, you may well be missing out on a golden opportunity to take your customer service to the next level.

To learn how Tacamor call center agents can help you build better relationships with your customers, contact us today.

What Frustrates Customers Most?

When calling in for customer service, we all have our own individual pet peeves.  For example, some people do not like being put on hold, while others may have trouble with voice recognition systems.  There are many possible things that can turn a consumer off and create a negative impression of the company.

Consumer Tipping Points, a recent benchmarking survey released by ClickFox, indicates the things that create the most frustration for people seeking customer service.

#1.  Having to speak with multiple agents and start over every time (42%):  It is bad enough having to explain your problem in the first place, but being forced to regurgitate the situation to numerous different agents is the single most frustrating thing, according to nearly half of all consumers surveyed.  This commonly happens when the initial agent does not have the ability to resolve the issue, and must escalate the case to a different support level.  Often, he or she will do a cold transfer, which is simply sending the caller on to another agent, essentially starting from scratch.  A more effective solution would be a warm transfer, where the initial agent outlines the problem to the next agent before connecting the caller.  This way, the new agent already has a good handle on the situation, and the caller does not have to repeat him or herself, thus avoiding a lot of unnecessary frustration.  An alternate solution would be to increase the level of training and expertise for front line customer service representatives.  This would give them the ability to solve more problems, thereby reducing the number of different support levels required, and lowering the overall number of transfers in general.

#2.  Being kept on hold for long periods of time or not getting the problem resolved on the first try (17%):  Time is valuable to everyone, and people have better things to do than be kept waiting on the phone.  A customer service call should function like an efficient fast-food drive-thru.  You drive up to the order station (place the call), order your food (explain the problem), pick your meal up at the window (the agent resolves the problem), and drive away (hang up).  Keeping the customer waiting for extended periods during any point of this process can be very annoying.  Also, a customer service representative who does not resolve the issue during the first call would be like a drive-thru attendant forgetting the French fries, forcing the person to go through the drive-thru all over again.

#3.  Rude or inexperienced representatives or difficulty navigating a website (13%):  This one is a no brainer.  Dealing with rude or unpleasant people is never enjoyable, and speaking with agents who do not know what they are doing is not much fun either.  This problem can be remedied by taking the time and effort to hire genuinely nice, friendly people, and by providing adequate training for customer service agents.  Getting the right people in place and getting them prepared for the job will also help cut back on employee turnover, which can be a huge problem in the call center industry.  The other part of this response, difficulty navigating a website, is also very important because visiting the company website is often one of the very first ways that people interact with a business.  Being turned off by an unattractive or convoluted web page may end up deterring many potential customers.  The most effective corporate websites have a clear and logical design, where relevant information is easy to find.

#4.  Frequent service interruptions, or not being understood by IVR/speech recognition applications (12%):  When you pay for something, you expect it to work.  After all, you are giving them your hard-earned money.  It is not unreasonable to expect consistent and reliable service.  However, when it does come time to contact the customer support center, it sometimes can be a chore simply to reach the right person.  A well-designed IVR menu that incorporates some speech recognition can be an effective way to direct callers to the appropriate departments, but a poorly designed system that results in having to constantly repeat answers or that sends callers to the wrong departments, can be hair-pullingly frustrating.

#5.  Long windows to wait for a service technician, and fee/price increases (6%):  Most people have busy schedules, and making someone wait around for an entire morning or afternoon for the repair-person to show up can be a huge hassle.  This is especially frustrating in cases where the technician is unable to make it, and the service appointment needs to be rescheduled for another day, thus wasting even more time for the customer.  The frustration associated with fee/price increases is self-explanatory.  People like to get good value for their money, and frequent cost jumps will urge them towards considering terminating the current service in favor of a competitor.

Understanding the most common sources of customer service frustration is extremely important for all contact centers, both outsourced and in house.  Only by knowing and measuring these key issues can steps be taken to fix the underlying problems, and deliver a better overall customer experience.

So, what do you think is the most frustrating thing about customer service?

 

Building the Perfect Call Center

For building customer loyalty and maintaining an exceptional business reputation, call centers are a critical piece of the puzzle.  Many companies today are seeing the value in having a top-notch customer service operation, recognizing that delivering excellent service is more important than ever before due to the abundance of choices available to the modern consumer, and a growing intolerance for ineptitude.

But, how exactly do you build the perfect customer service call center?

It is certainly not an easy thing to do, which is why more and more businesses are choosing to outsource their call center operations to a dedicated customer service provider.  But regardless of whether a business wants to outsource customer care or keep it entirely in house, there are a few common components that must be in place in order to create a truly exceptional customer service call center.

1.  The Right People:  You can have all the best equipment, technology and procedures necessary to deliver great customer service, but it won’t be worth a darn without a good team of agents working the phones.  Success in the customer service field requires a specific skill set and personality type.  Agents need to be good listeners who are able to understand and diagnose problems, often with limited information.  They also must be able to deal with the occasional angry customer, with the ability to diffuse tension and get to the bottom of an issue without becoming too emotionally involved.  Most importantly, though, they should be genuinely nice people with an overall positive attitude.  A smile can go a long way in the world of customer service, even on the phone.  Finding the right type of people to hire for your customer service call center is not always easy, which is why most call centers have extremely high employee turnover rates.  However, the rewards for building a staff of loyal, skilled and dedicated customer service representatives are immense — a positive and supportive work environment, cost savings from reduced turnover, and most importantly, the ability to provide truly superior customer service that will differentiate you from the competition.

2.  Reliable Infrastructure and Technology:  While at its core talking on the phone or responding to an e-mail may seem to be relatively simple things, there is actually a lot going on in the background at a typical contact center to ensure that everything happens smoothly and efficiently.  There must be a contact management platform in place to direct calls to agents, and the equipment must be good enough to facilitate clear communication back and forth.  Downtime must also be minimized and/or eliminated, because if customers cannot get through to the support line, you can bet your bottom dollar that they will soon go elsewhere, most likely a competitor.  To keep things running smoothly, software and hardware must be regularly maintained and kept up to date, and there should be redundant power and communications systems in place to deal with blackouts, etc.  It is also important to have a skilled and reliable network administrator at the helm to oversee systems operation.

3.  A Detailed Plan:  There are many decisions that must be made in the creation of a customer service strategy.  For example, should a live agent immediately answer all calls, or should an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) menu be in place to direct calls to the appropriate department?  Because there are different ways to measure customer service, which call center key performance indicators should you focus on?  Is Average Handle Time (AHT) the most critical thing, or are other metrics like First Call Resolution (FCR) more important?  How about self-service?  Do you want to give callers the ability to manage some account functions like cancellations or bill payments on their own via touchtone keystrokes?  There are a lot of costs associated with operating a call center, many of which are not always immediately obvious.  Have you taken things like higher power bills, employee turnover costs, equipment wear and tear, software licenses, management time and energy, and facilities maintenance costs into account?  The answers to all of these important decisions should be clearly outlined in your company’s overall customer service strategic plan.  This will be your road map to success in delivering an enhanced customer care experience.

No two call centers are exactly the same, but these common elements are found in the majority of successful customer service operations.  Incorporating them into your own plans can go a long way towards building, or partnering with, the perfect customer service call center.

Is Tacamor the perfect call center for your company’s needs?  We are true customer care experts with the right people, processes, and facilities in place to deliver the highest quality customer service.  Contact us today to find out how we can help your business!

Customer Service Leadership

In order to be considered successful, a company must grow.  In order to grow, a company needs to somehow differentiate itself from the competition.  Focusing on high quality customer service in order to deliver the best possible customer experience for consumers is a particularly effective strategy that many businesses are putting into action in order to set themselves apart from competitors.

But, if there has never been much of a focus on customer care in the past, how can a company suddenly become a customer service leader?

A commitment to customer service is not something that can simply be tacked onto a business as an afterthought.  Rather, it needs to be fully ingrained into the culture of a company, and really, the only way for that to happen is for senior management to buy into that philosophy and actually put the ideas into practice.  Only when upper management fully embraces this philosophical shift and starts to demand improvements in key customer service metrics will it trickle down through middle management to the front line workers.  After all, if the CEO of a company does not care about providing excellent customer service, why should the employees care?

One of the best (and easiest) ways to become a customer service leader is to outsource call center work to a firm that specializes in providing high quality customer care.  This usually means outsourcing to an onshore or nearshore customer service provider rather than going offshore.  While a business might be able to obtain a lower overall rate through an offshore call center, the quality of customer care may suffer.  Language barriers and cultural differences often come into play and detract from the overall customer experience.  Industry consultant David Filwood indicates that, “It’s not a racist issue; people relate over the phone to people they perceive as being from their region.”

According to a recent Globe & Mail article, many North American companies that initially outsourced their call centers offshore are now bringing them back due in large part to low customer satisfaction.  Sears Canada spokesman Vincent Power recently remarked, upon bringing the company’s repair service call center back to Canada, “There’s now a higher degree of satisfaction for calls related to parts and service than there were before.”

A leadership decision to outsource call center operations offshore to the lowest cost provider indicates that customer service is simply not a priority for the company, and that they are more concerned with cutting costs than delivering a great customer experience.  Conversely, finding the right nearshore or onshore outsourcing partner shows that customer care is a high priority for senior management, and that they are willing to forego the lowest possible rock bottom price in order to keep their customers happy.

Having upper management make the strategic decision to focus on improved customer care, and then actually taking steps to implement the strategy, is the first critical step that a company must take in order to become a true customer service leader in the industry.

Tacamor specializes in providing high quality inbound customer service and level 1 technical support.  Put us to work  for your company and see first hand how we can improve your overall customer satisfaction!

Building Loyalty Through Customer Service

Keeping customers happy is more important than ever before.

The logic is pretty simple.  Receiving exceptional customer service makes people feel good about a company, which in turn makes them more likely to be loyal to that company in the future.

In fact, in many cases a good customer service team can be even more powerful for building loyalty than continually delivering a good product or service.  A study by Marketing Metrics indicated that if a company consistently delivered its product or service without any problems, customer loyalty would be approximately 60-70%; that is, existing customers would be about 60-70% likely to keep buying their current brand of product or staying with their current service provider if nothing else changed.  However, if instead the company screwed up somehow (I.e. service interruption, defective product, etc.) but fixed its mistake through excellent customer service (I.e. immediately acknowledging the problem and quickly resolving the issue to the customer’s satisfaction), customer loyalty levels increased up to 95%!

People don’t expect companies to be perfect, but they really admire the ones that care enough about their customers to admit their mistakes and provide superior service to fix problems.

But why is customer loyalty so important?

One big reason is that people are simply becoming less and less tolerant of poor service these days.  The Harris Interactive Customer Experience Impact Report indicates that 86% of consumers have quit doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience, which is up from 59% just four years ago.  This is important because losing customers is expensive!  It has been estimated that it costs about five times as much to acquire a brand new customer than it takes to retain an existing one.

The deterioration of a company’s reputation due to poor customer service is another important consideration.  According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, a dissatisfied consumer will tell between 9 and 15 people about his or her experience.  Plus, with the proliferation of social media services such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+, this number can be even higher, causing more potential damage to a company’s brand.  This trend can also work in a company’s favor, however, as happy customers will generally tell 4 to 6 other people about their positive customer experiences.

The bottom line is that customer loyalty matters, especially in our modern economy where people have more choices than ever before.  People will not be shy about taking their business elsewhere, so companies must focus more and more on keeping their customers happy if they want to remain competitive.  Delivering great customer service is no longer the exception… it’s the rule.

Outsourcing your contact center operations to a highly qualified customer service provider like Tacamor can get you on the right track towards keeping your customers happy and building loyalty.  It might even save you money, too!  Request a quote today to find out how Tacamor can help your business.

The Hidden Costs of Operating a Call Center

Many companies struggle with the decision of whether to keep their call center operation in house, or outsource it to a professional customer service provider.  Although improved quality of service is a major reason why many companies are choosing to outsource, the issue of cost remains a huge factor in the decision making process.

So, how do you compare the cost of running an in house call center against the cost of outsourcing it to a professional?

At first glance, it would seem to be an easy question to answer.  You calculate how much you are paying your current team of agents, whether per minute or per hour, and then compare it with a quoted rate from a call center outsourcer.

That’s all there is to it, right?

Well, in a word, no.

The reality is that there are a multitude of other costs that should be taken into account when properly weighing an outsourcer’s quoted rate against your own expenses.  Some of these costs are much more obvious than others.

Here are some essential costs, many of which are “hidden,” which should be factored into the equation when comparing outsourced versus in house call center expenses.

  • Payroll – This is the most obvious cost, and in some cases is the only one taken into account by many companies when deciding whether or not to outsource.  Strictly speaking, this is what you pay out to your call center staff in the form of wages and employee benefits.
  • Facilities – Your call center has to be located somewhere.  What is the cost of the building or office space?  If you outsourced your call center operations, could you put this newly vacated space to better use, or save additional money by closing it off completely?
  • Equipment – A good call center requires many different types of equipment, including computers, phone systems, wiring, furniture, etc.  In addition to a substantial up front investment to initially acquire these items, there is also a need for continual maintenance and upkeep for equipment.  Desks and chairs will wear out and need to be repaired, while computer systems will eventually become obsolete as technology improves, and need to be upgraded or replaced.  If you outsource, your company will not have to worry about these maintenance costs, since they would be borne by the outsourcer.
  • Technology – Similar to ongoing maintenance costs for physical equipment, there are also substantial costs related to keeping the level of required technology up to date.  Operating systems and software applications will need to be constantly upgraded to newer versions, and networks will need to be improved to keep up with the constant demand to be better and faster.  A good contact management platform and/or CRM system can be very costly, and often requires a certain level of technical expertise to operate effectively.  What is the cost of acquiring and implementing the necessary call center technology yourself versus letting a professional outsourcing company handle it?
  • HR Costs – In addition to payroll, there are other costs associated with maintaining a staff of workers.  How much does it cost to hire and train agents?  What about the cost of employee turnover?  Attrition rates in the call center industry are usually very high, and there can be a substantial cost associated with having to recruit, hire and train new customer service agents on a continual basis.  The cost of sick leave, employee motivation and other day-to-day HR issues should also be factored into the overall cost equation.
  • Operating Fees – Nobody likes paying expensive monthly bills.  Call centers are notorious power drainers.  How much would you save on your monthly electric bill by outsourcing your call center operation?  What about toll-free and/or long distance charges?  Do you have the appropriate insurance required for a call center operation?  How about on-site security and remote monitoring of the premises?  Janitorial expenses?  All of these things are not free, and the expenses can quickly add up.
  • Time – This is a very important cost that can be easily overlooked.  Running an in house call center requires a great deal of time and energy from upper and middle management on a daily basis.  If customer service is not your core business, and a substantial chunk of time is being diverted towards keeping your in house call center running smoothly, what is the opportunity cost associated with this lost or wasted time?  Outsourcing your customer service immediately eliminates most of the day-to-day hassle associated with call center operation, freeing up time for your star employees and managers to focus on more profitable activities that can make your business grow.
  • Customer Satisfaction – How effective is your in house call center?  Are your customers happy with the level of service they receive from your agents?  Outsourcing to a customer service professional can lead to better service levels, which can improve a company’s overall reputation and drive more sales.  This potential for increased revenue should be considered when measuring the costs of outsourcing.

The choice between outsourcing a call center and keeping it in house is a critical one for many companies.  When making the final decision, it is important that all of the relevant costs are taken into account, including the many non-obvious, hidden ones.  Only then can you get an accurate idea as to whether or not call center outsourcing makes sense for your business, and make a truly informed decision.

Does call center outsourcing make sense for your business?  Once you have calculated your total costs, get in touch with Tacamor today to request a quote, and see if we are the right call center for you!

The Different Types of Contact Centers

Not all contact centers are the same.  Just as there are different kinds of animals stalking through the jungle and different types of vehicles on the road, there are many different types of contact centers out there.

The most obvious distinction among contact centers is inbound vs. outbound.  Inbound centers are designed to accept calls (or e-mails, web chats, etc.) from customers.  People get in touch with an inbound contact center for things like customer service, technical support, ordering a product/service, or obtaining information.  Outbound contact centers, however, focus on proactively making contact with existing or prospective customers, usually for the purpose of making sales or generating leads.  An outbound contact center would be involved in activities such as telemarketing or administering surveys.

Many contact centers are dual-purpose, with the ability to offer both inbound and outbound services, while others are solely dedicated to performing one type of service.  Some call centers are very specific in what they can offer, while others are more general.  A narrowly focused contact center may specialize only in administering surveys for the health care industry, for example, while a multi-purpose center might offer everything from telemarketing to high-end technical support for digital devices.

Some call centers, such as Tacamor, choose to specialize in a certain area (I.e. inbound customer care services) but are flexible enough to offer additional outbound services to clients if required, such as callbacks, survey administration, appointment confirmations, etc.  Under this type of model, a contact center is able to offer a wide variety of services, thus expanding its potential market for obtaining new clients, while still retaining the core competencies necessary to be a true expert in its domain.

The level of technology is another differentiating factor for many contact centers.  Some contact centers operate using the simplest technological infrastructure possible.  As a result, although this may result in lower operating costs, the services these bare bones centers are able to provide are often lacking.  For example, a call center with a primitive technological setup may have the capability of accepting inbound calls only, and be unable to provide support via e-mail, web chat, social media, or other channels.  Additionally, without a solid Contact Management System in place, it may be impossible for a contact center to deliver complicated reports on key performance indicators such as Average Handle Time, Abandon Rate, Service Level, etc., which are demanded by many clients these days.

Finally, the way that agents are assigned tasks can differ from center to center.  Some contact centers use a dedicated-agent system, whereby workers are assigned to a single client account only.  This type of model is advantageous in the sense that by only working on one account, the agent becomes a true expert for that client.  Other contact centers use a pooled environment, where agents may receive or make calls on behalf of several different clients.  These contact centers tend to be more flexible regarding the volume and type of work they are able to perform.  However, quality may suffer if agents are spread too thin and assigned to too many different accounts.

The type of contact center a company needs really depends on its particular business requirements.  While there are many different contact centers out there to choose from, not all of them will be suitable for every company.  Knowing exactly what you need in a contact center is the first step towards finding the right partner and establishing a profitable and lasting outsourcing relationship.

 

Tacamor is a primarily inbound contact center offering high quality customer service, tier 1 technical support, and other contact center services.  Are we the right contact center for you?  Request a quote today to find out!

Do You Love Your Customer Service Call Center? You Should!

Happy Valentine’s Day from Tacamor!  Let’s celebrate the season of love by asking a simple question:

Do you love your customer service call center?

If the answer is yes, that’s great!  If the answer is no, why not?

A call center is more than just a place that customers contact to get answers to problems.  Done right, a customer service call center can be a true mouthpiece for a company, delivering a promotional message just as powerful as any advertising campaign.  Customers should come away from a customer service call (or e-mail, or web chat) with a more positive image of the company than they did when they initiated the contact.  They should say to themselves, “Wow, that was a lot less painful than I imagined – going with this company was a good decision.”

A well-run call center can also lower your business costs, and saving money is always a good reason to love something!  This is where outsourcing might come into play, because running your own call center can be a very costly endeavor.  You need to find office space, purchase telephones, computers and other technological equipment, hire managers, administrative staff and agents, provide training, and deal with an almost infinite number of day to day operational hassles.  There are also many “hidden” costs that you might not immediately consider, such as dramatically increased power bills each month or employee turnover costs related to finding and training replacement agents who leave the company.  Simply put, it’s a lot of work, and requires a lot of money.

In a single stroke, outsourcing your call center responsibilities to a professional contact center company immediately eliminates most of these worries, and can free up time and resources while improving your overall customer service.  You need to find the right partner, though.  For example, going with an offshore center that offers the lowest possible price but delivers poor customer service will only frustrate your customers, leading to more problems down the road.  If your business goals include providing a high level of customer service quality with an aim towards retaining existing customers and winning new ones, then a nearshore or onshore customer service provider is probably the best bet.

So, let’s ask that question again:

Do you love your customer service call center?

If the answer is still no, then perhaps you need a new call center!

 

Tacamor has been providing high quality customer service and level 1 technical support since 2006.  Get in touch today and discover for yourself why our clients love us so much!

Let’s Talk Technology! (What is Speech Analytics?)

When you call in to a customer service line with a certain issue, have you ever wondered how many other people are also calling in about the exact same thing?  If a large number of people are phoning in about the same type of issue, then there might be a major problem with the company’s product or service that needs to be immediately addressed.

Do you think companies would like to keep tabs on exactly why most people are calling for customer service?  You better believe it!  This information can be very valuable, allowing businesses to improve their offerings and also quickly address any specific problems or issues before they have a chance to cause serious reputational damage to the company’s brand.

One high-tech way that contact centers can monitor customer interactions is through Speech Analytics.  In a nutshell, speech analytics is the process of searching through a large volume of recorded calls and finding certain keywords or phrases that can help to determine the root causes of problems.

Your word processing program probably has a function that searches through an entire document and highlights all instances of a certain word or phrase (I.e. the “find” function).  Speech analytics works in a similar way, except instead of searching through text, it searches through voice recordings.  Also, instead of simply presenting certain words or phrases, it also performs some level of analysis of the data.  This could include categorizing the information to determine basic trends, or performing a complex root cause analysis to help solve major problems.  The level of analysis that can be performed depends on the sophistication of the particular speech analytics software.

So, why are contact centers interested in speech analytics?  Well, this type of thing can easily be used to help improve agent performance.  By discovering which particular issues are taking up most of the agents’ time, the contact center can introduce targeted training sessions to more effectively deal with these specific problems.  Also, on a more individual level, call data can be used to identify which specific agents may need some extra personal training to improve certain skills.  For instance, if the speech analytics system consistently detects abnormally large periods of silence on a particular agent’s calls, then maybe that agent needs training or practice on how to keep conversations flowing naturally.

In addition to improving agent performance, important problems relating to products or services may be identified through the use of speech analytics.  For example, the system may pick up on major issues such as a product defect or a bug in a software program, which may not otherwise have been noticed.  The sooner problems like this are identified and reported, the sooner a company can go about designing and implementing a solution, so having an automated speech analytics system that is constantly on the lookout for potential problems can be a great advantage.

In order to work effectively, a speech analytics system requires state of the art software with excellent voice recognition capabilities.  It also needs to be able to intelligently categorize information according to certain criteria.  The concept has actually been around for a long time – government security agencies have been using speech analytics systems to screen conversations for security threats for decades.  However, it is only recently that speech analytics systems have become more widespread in the commercial world and within contact centers.  As the technology continues to improve, speech analytics systems will become even more sophisticated and will take on an increasingly greater role in contact center operations throughout the world.

Let’s Talk Technology! (What is SaaS?)

This blog entry isn’t about what you get from a cranky youngster with a bad attitude – that’s a different kind of “sass.”

Rather, SaaS refers to “Software as a Service,” also known as on-demand software, whereby access to a computer program is provided to an individual or company on a subscription basis and delivered over the Internet.

SaaS is closely related to cloud computing.  You can think of the cloud as a computer located in some remote location, with SaaS being the software applications stored on that computer, accessible to anyone who pays for the service.

Traditionally, the most common way of obtaining software was to simply buy a copy of a program and install it on a computer.  This still happens quite frequently, but now there are also many SaaS applications on the market, whereby a program can be “rented” on a subscription basis instead of paying a large, up-front fee to purchase it.  Because SaaS applications are delivered over the Internet, they can typically be accessed from multiple locations, which can be a major advantage.

To give an example, MS Outlook is an example of a traditional software program, which is installed onto a single computer.   Gmail and Hotmail, however, function more like SaaS applications in the sense that they can be accessed and used by any computer with an Internet connection.

SaaS programs have the same basic benefits and drawbacks as cloud computing in general.  That is, reduced costs and improved accessibility, but heavy reliance on an external business partner (the cloud-based company providing the service).

SaaS is becoming an especially prevalent software delivery model for customer relationship management (CRM) systems.  More and more contact centers are recognizing the benefits of SaaS-based CRM systems, and are using them as part of their solution to deliver their outsourced customer service and technical support.

This is a growing industry, and more and more SaaS CRM packages are popping up every day.  It is important for a contact center to heavily research what is available in order to determine the best SaaS CRM solution to suit its particular needs.

Let’s Talk Technology! (What is a Cloud?)

I know what you’re thinking.

“What is a cloud?  What kind of silly question is that?  It’s that big fluffy white thing up in the sky, of course!”

Well, that’s true, but in the world of computers and technology, the word cloud can have another meaning.

To understand the modern cloud, it helps to first visualize how a computer system works.  Chances are, when you think of business computing, the image that probably pops into your mind is a dimly lit room, probably tucked away in a basement somewhere, filled with a bunch of computers hooked together with wires, and large, continually-running fans to keep the machinery cool.  For years and years, these large, in-house mainframe-computing systems were the standard technology for most businesses.  Any software/data used by the business was stored on these internal computer systems, and physically accessed through cables by employees and anyone else who needed to use the programs.

Cloud computing is a bit different.  Instead of software applications and data being housed on site at the company’s facility, they are instead hosted by a provider on a server in a remote location called a “cloud” and delivered over the Internet.

Having applications located off site in a cloud can have many advantages for call centers.  Cloud computing avoids the need to have complicated physical setups on site.  There are also fewer maintenance activities and less need to make costly system upgrades.  Programs can be used over the Internet, improving overall accessibility.  Finally, having data stored remotely provides a layer of protection in the event of a disaster.  If damage occurs due to a natural disaster at the central facility, critically important data is safe because it is stored in the cloud off site.

There are many factors for call centers to consider in the decision to implement a cloud-based computing system.  Most importantly, it is critical to have the right cloud-computing partner.  You will trust this partner to handle critical business processes and customer information, so they should have a high level of experience and expertise, as well as a solid reputation.  It is also important to personally know all the general ins and outs of how your business operates, in order to decide what processes should be kept internal and what might be outsourced to a cloud.

If implemented properly, cloud computing can help a company streamline its technological operations and become more efficient overall.  For many companies, including call centers, the right cloud computing system can put you on cloud nine.

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