Friday Apr 24, 2015

5 Tips for Budget-Friendly Training in the Modern Contact Center

As contact center leaders you’re always being asked to do more with less. Agent training is no exception. Here are 5 tips for low or no cost ways to train agents from ICMI’s webcast featuring Justin Robbins (ICMI), Jana Meyers (American Century), Joe Landers (Oracle) and Kristine Chisholm (ICMI).

Tip 1: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in Recorded Contacts

Encourage agents to share recorded contacts of positive customer interactions as well as negative ones. Using difficult customer interactions as teaching moments helps you brainstorm more effective approaches for resolving customer issues. This is critical because customers who have issues satisfactorily resolved are more loyal than customers who haven’t had problems yet with your products and services.

Another technique is having agents actually become customers of your company. This experience creates empathy and empowers agents to find ways to continually improve service.

Tip 2: The Power of One

You know having the right agents in the right place at the right time is critical. But many agents don’t understand the ripple effect that can occur when they return late from a break. In a 50-person contact center, one late agent can slow overall response time 20 seconds. Demonstrate this impact in a fun way by using ping pong balls in the break room to represent incoming calls.

Tip 3: What’s the Score?

Agents often don’t get to see how their performance will be measured until after training. They also don’t get to learn why metrics like customer satisfaction (CSAT) are so important—and what they can do to positively influence CSAT. Bringing in stakeholders like the Head of Customer Service can help agents understand the connection between their performance and CSAT. Also recognizing top-performing agents at the training can serve to inspire new recruits and provide them with go-to mentors.

Tip 4: Play the Best Hand Given the Cards You’re Dealt

Nearly 92% of agent-facing applications aren’t as efficient as they could be. That means system workarounds are inevitable. If you don’t provide agents with standard best practices for workarounds, they’ll invent their own. And those workarounds will result in more variability and inefficiency. So sit down with your agents to proactively identify the best workarounds. It will make them feel heard and lower their frustration and burnout.

Tip 5: Turn the Tables and Let Agents Measure You!

Get agent feedback right after training sessions—just like you measure CSAT immediately after a customer interaction. And build practice time into your training. For example, have two weeks in the classroom followed by a week of taking calls. This approach helps agents better retain what they’re learning and also builds confidence as they take on progressively more complex inquiries. Additionally, having top-performing agents serve as mentors or buddies can ease trainees’ transition to the production floor.

Finally, even the best 6-week training program can’t teach agents everything they need to know. This is especially true now that most easy issues are resolved via customer self-service. What ends up in the contact center are complex issues requiring more insight and information. That is why having a consolidated knowledge base with guided resolution is so crucial. It enables newer hires to perform like your best agents. And helps you determine what additional knowledge is needed to better serve customers.

With these tips, you can prepare your agents for the demands of the modern contact center without breaking the bank!

Click here to watch the webcast replay.

For more information on modern customer service, please visit our website.

Tuesday Apr 21, 2015

ICMI Webcast: 5 Low or No Cost Ways to Train Agents in the Modern Contact Center by Justin Robbins and Tuula Fai

As contact centers evolve and expand into new channels to meet continuously changing customer demands, the need and requirement for in-depth, comprehensive training has become greater. While old principles and established methodologies will get you some of the way, it has become necessary to step into “unfamiliar territory” to fully meet the training needs of today's modern agent.

As contact center leaders, it’s our obligation and responsibility to ensure that we’re providing our team with the tools, resources, and knowledge to be successful in their roles. While we can and should continue to rely on many of the established practices of training in the past, new channels and new customer segments require us to continuously evaluate our topic matter and methodology for training. That can be costly and time-consuming.

ICMI has identified the top training needs of the modern contact center. In this Thursday's webcast at 1 pm EST (April 23), ICMI will share ideas on low or no-cost ways for you to develop your contact center team members.

During this webinar, you will learn:
  • 5 critical concepts for training in the modern contact center
  • 3 barriers to learning and how to overcome them
  • Top tips for delivering budget-friendly training and development programs

Register Now

Featured Speakers

Justin Robbins, Community Manager, ICMI

Justin Robbins is a contact center and talent development expert with over a decade of experience leading customer service organizations. He got his start in contact centers as a teenager doing cold-call outbound sales for newspaper subscriptions. Since then, he's moved from agent to senior leader, worked in and with inbound and outbound centers ranging in size from 5 to 2500+, and gained experience in a number of industries including hospitality, technology, manufacturing, and education. Most recently, Justin developed the training and professional certification programs for the International Customer Management Institute and has personally trained thousands of individuals around the globe on contact center best practices. You can reach Justin on-line at: www.twitter.com/justinmrobbins | www.linkedin.com/in/justinmrobbins | jrobbins@icmi.com 

Jana Meyers, Director - Training, Development and Support, American Century Investments

As Director, Jana is responsible for oversight for training, blended learning, internal communications, performance support and project support for American Century’s Direct investor channel. Jana Meyers joined American Century in the late 1990s and has had a widely-ranging financial services career, including residential and commercial real estate servicing, life and health insurance support and working as a registered representative in the mutual fund industry. Ms. Meyers has many years of management and quality assurance experience and has spoken at several quality conferences. She is a board member for the Quality Assurance and Training Connection (QATC) and a member of the Association for Talent Development (ATD).

Joe Landers, Client Success Manager, Oracle

Joe Landers, Client Success Manager at Oracle, helps organizations design a Customer Experience strategy that simultaneously delights customers and drives the bottom line. Joe has over 20 years of experience working as a manager of call center operations in the U.S. and overseas, including in outsourcing environments.

Kristine Chisholm, Customer Service/Training Administrator, ICMI

Kristine is Customer Service/Training Administrator for ICMI.  She assists with all aspects of the ICMI training business.

Friday Apr 10, 2015

3 Steps to a Modern Profitable Service Organization by Jeff Griebeler, CX Strategist

Transitioning your support organization or contact center from a cost center to a profit center is an onerous process that can be difficult to navigate. Yet, it is a journey that must be purposely undertaken, performed crisply and executed successfully to thrive in the competitive world. Being viewed as a cost center creates an endless journey of continuous cost cutting, funding reduction, and the need to always be more efficient this year than last. It is a self-destructive cycle that ends with an underfunded support organization attempting to provide ever increasing services to an ever demanding customer community in an ever more competitive market. The historical mantra has been simple: “do more with less;” when the discussion should be focused on creating organizational value, defining competitive differentiation, creating loyal customers, and promoting profitable growth.

Becoming Trapped

Many companies have viewed their support organization as a necessity to remain in business. The view was simple: “customers will not buy without support, but customers do not buy because of support.” Support was a necessity and delivered at a minimal level and at the lowest possible cost. These organizations are funded on a cost-budget basis, and share these characteristics:

  • Provide more support with less budget
  • Offer more channels with minimal funding
  • Stretch technology far beyond its useful life
  • Use siloed applications as band-aids

Efficiency has its limits and frequently has adverse effects. The maximum efficiency that can be gained is limited by the total budget. Additionally, efficiency improvements can be captured only once and become part of next year’s baseline budget.

As budgets are cut year-after-year to provide additional margin to the organization, the quality of support diminishes, technologies age and workaround processes become more prevalent, which result in more inefficiencies. Personnel become frustrated, customers become frustrated and you fall behind your competitors. Cheap, quick, easy siloed technologies are implemented on a temporary basis; but temporary, all too frequently, becomes permanent. It creates a vicious circle spiraling downward and the organization is trapped.

Under Attack

The “trapped customer support organization” comes under attack on multiple fronts:

  1. Enlightened competition providing better customer service start taking market share
  2. Customers, empowered by easy-to-obtain, readily available information and the ability to socially broadcast their experience, increase their demands
  3. Increased competition for scarce internal funding. Cost-based organizations fall to the bottom of the budget list and are “designated for investment next year,” but next year turns into the following year, and so on.

Over time, these forces take their toll on the organization as it slips further and further behind the competition and industry service standards.

The CX Value Equation

To escape the trap, an economic framework must be established to measure and illustrate value. The measured value made by customer service must be considered across three major areas: Efficiency (E), Retention (R), and Acquisition (A). When combined, we refer to this as the CX Value Equation:

CX = E + R + A

Efficiency allows an organization to do more with less;
Retention is the ability of an organization to keep and grow the customers it already has; and
Acquisition refers to the ability of an organization to increase its customer base.

The CX Value Equation effectively defines a financial bridge between a CX customer service strategy and the organization’s profit line. With a defined CX Value Equation, you have a tool to illustrate the service organization’s contribution and progress. You are now ready to transform your organization from a cost center to a profit center.

Three Steps to a Modern, Profitable Service Organization

The key to transforming your organization is to modernize its capabilities so you can capture and illustrate the benefits. Here are the steps to modernize your organization and turn it into a profit center:

Step 1: Set CX Value Equation Metrics and Baseline Your Service Organization
Start with efficiency metrics. These are the easiest to identify. Get a handle on the important ones, such as self-service and first contact resolution rates. Add retention metrics to the model. Great candidate metrics include Customer Effort Score (CES) and Net Promoter Score (NPS). Finally, add acquisition measurements with metrics like the number of opportunities and referral rates.

For further information, please consult Customer Experience (CX) Metrics and Key Performance Indicators, an Oracle White Paper.  

Once your model is designed, baseline your current operational performance. This is your starting point from which you will demonstrate your progress and contribution to the organization.

Step 2: Modernize Your Service Organization
Use the Roadmap to Modern Customer Service Strategy to move from a cost center to a profit center. When this strategy is followed, the activity can be a self-funding.

Start by establishing a proper capabilities foundation. Then add new capabilities and provide consistency across all interactions. Finally, drive continuous innovation to remain ahead of the competition. The foundational activities are how you get going. You must resist the urge to skip steps and attempt to implement innovation on top of your outdated infrastructure. This will only lead to failure. Skipping steps is how an organization ends up with disparate systems (e.g. stand-alone chat) and business processes that function poorly, deliver substandard service, and require manual support and workaround processes to operate – hardly an effective strategy.

Let’s lay out the steps:

  • GET GOING to save budget and generate cost savings that support investments to
  • GET BETTER and improve retention with consistent quality of service, optimized capabilities and strengthened relationships, so you can
  • GET AHEAD to create revenues by monetizing more opportunities, personalizing interactions and being proactive in an omni-channel environment

Step 3: Continue to Measure, Demonstrate and Evolve
Modern customer service is not a destination, but rather an evolving journey. This year’s customer service capabilities become table stakes for providing service next year. Customer needs and demands will continuously change. Market forces will change. Technology will change. The Internet of Things (IoT) is upon us, and will accelerate change.

Conclusion

Liberating your cost-centric customer support organization can feel like an impossible task. However, by leveraging the CX Value Equation and tailoring it to your needs, you can demonstrate the true value of the services you provide to your organization. By using the Roadmap to Modern Customer Service’s strategy: Get Going, Get Better, Get Ahead approach, you can self-fund and transform your center from an entity that is viewed as “overhead” or a “necessity” into a strategic, competitive asset that generates revenues and profits.

Click here to read the full whitepaper.

Wednesday Apr 08, 2015

CX Tech Adoption: Enabling the Oracle Roadmap To Modern by Rob Wales, Customer Experience Strategist

As a customer experience (CX) consultant, I'm in a lot of contact centers, talking to executives about their CX initiatives. I often hear things like, "We installed a knowledge base, but we’re just not seeing the results we expected," "Proactive chat isn't giving us a lift in conversion," or "We installed a new agent desktop, but we’re not seeing the efficiency gains." So I ask some business process questions and typically find that their processes just don't support their strategic vision or technology expectations. New technology was implemented, but the business processes never evolved to effectively utilize it.

Let's look at Virtual Assistant as an example.Virtual Assistant is a combination of natural language, contextual knowledge, chat and scripting. Implementing Virtual Assistant and immediately expecting it to be successful is like installing a kitchen sink without putting in the plumbing underneath.You have to implement technology capabilities in layers and mature your processes along the way—implement a knowledge base and develop your knowledge management processes and content; employ natural language and fine-tune it to your industry and business. 


Many companies have implemented multi-channel solutions: desktop, chat, email, web self-service, knowledge base, etc. and assume they're providing an omni-channel experience. But typically these are point solutions, the systems are disconnected, the channels are siloed, and there is very little integration between the support applications. This is a good example of tech adoption without strategy, and causes inefficiency at an operational level. But more importantly, it causes frustration for the customer. There is no visibility to all customer interactions and profile information, causing the customer to have to re-explain their issue and giving them a sense that the company doesn't know them at all.

To solve this problem, industry leaders are moving to fully integrated solutions that provide true omni-channel support, ultimate configurable flexibility, and agent desktop tools to personalize the customer experience. But technology adoption is a process, not an end-state; you can't start at the finish line. Too often, companies with CX initiatives will implement top-tier solutions, and expect all their goals to be attained through the technology alone, as if the systems themselves are a panacea. Technology solutions are only as good as the strategy and business processes they support, and it's critical to understand what those are and the capabilities needed to attain that maturity. 

Determining technology needs should be a later stage of ‘solutioning.’ To properly determine those needs, you must start at the top. Creating a strategic plan to identify and define what your business is trying to achieve is a foundational and necessary step to identifying business process gaps and/or technology needs required to meet the strategic plan. Examine the business processes that support your strategy and determine what improvements need to be made. Ascertain the metrics that will measure success, baseline your KPIs, establish improvement expectations, and determine reporting needs.  Only after you've identified the strategy, supporting processes and success criteria can you effectively identify the appropriate technology solutions that will get you there. Don't just follow the pack and implement solutions for the sake of having those capabilities. Make sure they provide you with the means to accomplish your strategic objectives.

When selecting a solution that will help you progress through your process maturity, technology roadmaps are incredibly useful. They provide a clear path to gradually attain maturity in technology, as you also attain maturity in business processes. So when I talk to companies about evolving technology and process maturity, I talk in terms of a Roadmap To Modern: “Get Going, Get Better, Get Ahead,” rather than talking only about the desired future state. This staged approach effectively enables the gradual adoption of technology, allowing companies to realize immediate improvements and progressively become CX industry leaders.

First, focus on technologies and processes that will make you more operationally efficient. This one’s easy to understand and is foremost in the mind of contact center directors everywhere: implement a base layer of technology capabilities that enables self-service, increases agent productivity, and decreases operations. Provide improved interaction capabilities to simplify customer engagement: present multiple channel options to engage your customers and a knowledge base to promote self-help: this has the benefit of not only improving efficiency, but also providing customers with options to engage the way they choose. This foundational layer of technology capabilities provides a solid basis from which to build.

Next, leverage the efficiency savings and invest in solutions that will improve customer retention. There is already cross-over between efficiency and retention by way of reduced customer effort (Most of the initiatives to make your operations more efficient also make it easier for customers to do business with you. This decreases customer effort, which in turn, increases retention.), but now you start to enable the technology to improve the processes that strengthen relationships and improve quality. A cross-channel strategy will ensure consistent, quality customer treatment across touch points. Embed consistent knowledge content in your web self-service and desktop. Consider how to use technology to engage your customers in creative ways in an effort to keep in closer contact and differentiate yourself from competitors. Use data on-hand to understand what your customer has gone through when (or before) they reach out to you so you can quickly help with the issue.

Then, as your business processes mature to match your technology capabilities, you can start to use functionality for proactive engagement, segmentation and personalization to acquire new customers, increase conversions and, ultimately, increase revenue. Use proactive outbound communications to alert customers to things like account activity, service outages, product offerings, etc. to not only answer questions customers haven’t asked yet, but also to generate sales by understanding your customers’ history, preferences and anticipating what they might need next. Segment your customers based on their profile and history to get them to the right resource the first time. 

Most importantly, use everything you know about your customers to create a personalized, differentiated experience:
  • Know how they've engaged with your company in the past, regardless of how they contacted you (phone, chat, email, Facebook, etc.), and get quick visibility into their issues.
  • Know who they are, they're preferences, what they've bought (and how much) and how they liked it.
  • Understand how they feel about your company, about their interactions with you, about the effort they expend doing business with you, and about recommending your company to others.

This level of maturity in both technology and business process will differentiate you from competitors and help make you a leader in your industry. It will also create fierce loyalty in your customers, making them brand advocates.

Technology can help you attain your strategic goalsbut you can’t get there all at once and you can’t get there with technology alone. Determine your strategy, examine your business processes, and establish your success metrics. Then, as you make choices about your CX technology, ensure that you invest in robust solutions that will get you where you want to go, and provide you with a roadmap to get their gradually. Finally, consider the progression of adoption: "Get Going, Get Better, Get Ahead," not just with your technology but with the underlying processes that the technology supports and enables.  

Learn more today about the Oracle Roadmap To ModernTM

Wednesday Oct 29, 2014

Video Webcast: Forbes Insights Executive Survey: What 300+ VPs Say about Modernizing Customer Service on Nov. 13 11 am PT / 2 pm ET

Want to be the first to know how you measure up against other customer service executives? Need to know the moves they are making so you can stay ahead?

Then join us for this video webcast on November 13 at 11:00 am PT / 2:00 pm ET in which Brenna Sniderman, Senior Director of Research, Forbes Insights, Jeff Lundal, GVP, Service Automation, Oracle, and Mark Marshall, Executive Director, Client Services at MetTel will give an insider preview of what 300+ service executives say about modernizing customer service.

You will learn how your executive peers:

  • Differentiate their brands within and across industries
  • Anticipate customer service needs on multiple channels
  • Leverage analytics to improve operations and service

Register now. After the webcast, you will receive a free report of the survey results when published.



Monday Sep 22, 2014

Do your customers know more than your agents? Shift the equation with this webcast Thurs., Sept. 25 at 2 pm ET featuring Amberleaf

Have you ever called a contact center and known more about the company’s products and services than the agent? Or been bounced around to several different agents before you got the right answer?

That’s a recipe for customer service disaster. Don’t let that happen to your organization.

Tune into this webcast on Thursday, September 25 at 11 am PT / 2 pm ET to become the Master Chef of modern customer service with best practices from Amberleaf President John Kariotis. 

Over the last 15 years, John has helped hundreds of companies transform their contact centers into modern customer service organizations.

He’ll share customer success stories – and pitfalls to watch out for – so you can accelerate your own success.

Register here

Thursday Jun 05, 2014

Oracle Service Cloud May 2014 Release – Focus on your driving by JP Saunders

The next time you’re twiddling dials on your car’s dashboard to get the air to blow in the right direction, and the right song to play on the stereo, while pulling on the wires to charge your phone and punching in passwords to re-sync your hands-free headset to take a call, consider this… Does having a better dashboard UI in your car improve your driving performance?

The Tesla car has one of the most modern and intuitive dashboards in any commercial car today. It is actually based on the design of a smart phone, which can download apps and updates directly from the cloud.  The 17” touchscreen, Lynx-based dashboard totally integrates all channels and devices, allowing the driver to focus on the smooth driving and power of this luxury (toy) car. 

What the folks at Tesla didn't do was avoid the complexity of our needs. Instead, they streamlined them. And, while we might not all be able to afford a Tesla, their approach demonstrates that a modern UI approach can ultimately make a positive difference in our lives and businesses. 

This is why the productivity and effectiveness of a Modern Contact Center is many times greater than that of a traditional contact center. Agents in a Modern Contact Center get to focus on the task at hand, the customer engagement, rather than stumbling their way through Lego blocks of complexity. 

The Oracle Service Cloud is a modern approach to customer service that empowers your agents to achieve greater focus on improving your operational and strategic success through streamlined business processes. 

Here are some of the recent May 2014 release highlights to the Oracle Service Cloud:

Performance Enhanced Desktop UI

A modern agent desktop interface that optimizes clumsy tasks, logins, screens and workflows and is optimized for agent and system performance. Improvements include performance for drag-and-drop configurable views, saved searches, and improved caching for high-speed performance even during disconnected or slow internet access. 

Customer Experience Routing

A streamlined automatic way to connect the right customer need to the best agent skills, based on multidimensional variables such as product skills, language skills, workload, call volume to optimize the connection and resolution experience.

On-The-Go Mobile

Improvements to the Agent mobile app that extend connectivity to websites, and customer surveys that are mobile-ready and rendered for any device, and ensure the customer’s voice is captured while the insight is still top of mind. 

Infused Social Engagement

Enhancements to infused social capabilities allow agents to respond in social threads directly from within the agent desktop, with the information becoming part of the incident record for automatic actions (such as replay or escalate) triggered off the response.

Front-End Siebel Contact Center

The market leading online Web Customer Self-Service interface from the Oracle Service Cloud, is now out-of-the-box ready for Oracle Siebel customers. Deploy a new online web self-service interface in a matter of weeks to have customers self-serve and self-solve answers, with escalated incidents routed directly into the Oracle Siebel Contact Center.

For more information on the latest enhancements for the Oracle Service Cloud, please see the Oracle Service Cloud May 2014 Capabilities and Benefits.

Friday May 16, 2014

The Art of Easy - Part 6 of 6: Making Easy, both Effective and Efficient by Melinda Uhland

In the case of “What makes the experience” It's the age old question… which came first? The chicken? or the egg? There is a strong vote for the chicken (being the customer), as they squawk the loudest (especially on Social), but within the contact center, there is strong evidence that it was the egg (being the agent).

A Modern Customer Service organization is one that understands the importance of the Agent Experience as it relates to your customer’s experience. A modern organization knows that its support agents must be more than a pretty smile on an empty box, or a handshake at an open door, or a hallmark welcome greeting… Modern Customer Service agents curate engagements that result in lasting and profitable relationships with their customers.

The customers experience is frequently defined by how engaged the customer feels an agent is during an interaction – not just whether they were polite, but also whether they were trying to help. And there is a direct correlation between how engaged agents are, and how empowered they feel they in their jobs. A Modern Customer Service organization is one that improves its customer results by investing in the needs of its agents’ experiences. Empowering them with the tools that make it easy for them to be efficient and effective.

To know how well you are doing on delivering a great agent experience, don't just look at CSAT reports (although they can be a good indicator).

Start by asking your agents:

Are you being connected with customers that you can serve effectively?
How effective is that connection so the customer isn’t frustrated by the time they engage?
Once engaged do they have access to the information needed to solve the issue?
How many systems do they have to log into, search and reconcile conflicting information?
How many process scripts, cheat sheets and memos do they have to manage and memorize to navigate the engagement?
If they see an issue with your system/process during the interaction, can they apply/request a change?
How long does it usually take to have the change applied?
And, how many engagements will they have to handle without that change?
The list goes on, as does the time and frustration to your agents, if you are not making the engagement process easy. Let face it, you cannot afford to lose any of your agents, as you have invested in them and your business needs to deliver. So, if you are still running your contact center as a legacy cost center, then chances are you are driving up costs by not understanding your agents’ needs:

  • Your most seasoned agents: are your most valuable assets as they are the sherpas of your processes, saviors of your customers and the spirit of your brand.  They must be empowered for greatness. Honor their time to save your brand.
  • Your average agents: are your building blocks for change, whose systematic rhythm can deliver the highest return on efficiencies. They must be empowered for consistency. Listen to their pains to save money.
  • Your most junior agents: are your future, with an untarnished view on how you can improve to get ahead. They must be empowered for success. Leverage their passion and their fresh perspective for change.

By exploring the needs of each agent segment, you can understand how to apply technology to improve their experience:

The Experienced Agent: “Don’t waste my time!”

Your most experienced agents should be strictly focused on your most serious/complicated issues, and/or your highest value customers.  Having your most valuable agents handle questions that could be addressed through an FAQ, or a newer agent wastes money and time. By setting up the correct routing rules, you can ensure that your experienced agents are focused on the right issues and most valuable customers –handling only exceptions for overflow assistance when required.  With the right solution, it is possible to automate the configuration and management of routing rules which match the right customers with the right agents, based on many factors beyond customer problem and agent skill. Configure rules based on availability, learned experience, language, time zone, county, wait times, customer value, etc.

The Average Agent:  “It’s not my fault!”

How many times have your agents picked up a call, provided their most friendly greeting, only to have been immediately yelled at by a customer? Your agent has to spend time calming the customer down, rather than assisting them with the real issue. Call Center agents go through this many times a day, and it can be a demotivating and costly occurrence to your efficiency and effectiveness metrics.  Do these sound all too familiar?

  • I have been transferred 3 times, and you keep asking the same questions!”
  • “I don’t have time to call you! Why can’t I just do this online?"
  • “I just spent an hour trying to navigate your web site, only to get no answer, and now you want to CHAT?!
  • “Do you know who I am on Social? You will regret keeping me waiting for my email response!”
  • “I have been a great customer of yours for many years – doesn't that count for something?!”

Multi-Channel / Cross-Channel Customer Service platforms can help you avoid this circle of frustration. Capabilities like proactive chat, email automation, virtual assistance, click-to-call, click-to-call back, experience routing rules, mobile templates, and social response allow your customers reach out to you on the channel/device that works best for them right when they need help. Or they can switch channels and devices when they need too, seamlessly.  And when your customers do reach out to you, you can keep track of all their interactions, regardless of channel, providing you with deeper insights on channel, device and interaction behavior for optimizing their contact flows to avoid FCF (First Contact Frustration), and improve FCR (First Contact Resolution).

The New Agent:  “There’s gotta be a better way!”

Your new agent just started and is excited to do well in his/her new role.  S/he had some hands-on training with an experienced agent, got a memorized script to follow, a notebook with system logins to use, an earmarked manual with policies to follow, and is set to start handling low-level support incidents in those already flooded channels.  As you finish the agent’s training, the song “Will they stay, or will they go?” plays in your head because you know the experience the agent is about to go through will either make or break ‘em. But, you did all you could, so if something goes wrong: the customers? A necessary casualty. The complaints? Teething pains. The ideas for change? A no go. Given time, they will learn the old ways are best!

This is another scenario that can be easily remedied with a Modern Contact Center, which is capable of unifying all the systems to a single login to a centralized agent desktop. The desktop can be pre-configured with views and guides that simplify the learning curve and walk agents through step-by-step processes, which are traceable down to each interaction and engagement across every channel.

A centralized knowledge base gives agents access to all public and internal knowledge at their fingertips, placing scripts inside of tools that can be applied easily. These tools, combined with a unified customer record drawn from any source master system of record (or external social site), equip your new agent to have relevant engagements, which help them improve customer experience from day one.

By understanding the needs of your agents—and empowering them with the right tools, knowledge and insights to better serve customers—you can easily make their jobs more engaging, their performance more effective, and their time more efficient. The Oracle Service Cloud empowers agents to meet today’s customer expectations and become a valued part of the Modern Customer Service Organization.

Friday May 02, 2014

The Art of Easy - Part 5 of 6: Knowledge Makes It Easy For Everyone by Nav Chakravarti

Once there was a time when the question  “What’s on TV?” was just as easy to ask, as it was to answer. There just wasn't much on – it could be printed on one page of newspaper! Now try asking that question today? It’s no longer simple – “Do you mean on Apple TV, WebTV, Google TV, Hulu, Cable, On Demand…?”And by the time you figure out what’s on and what you want to watch, the show is over.

This complexity of choice from what we do and how we do it manifests itself not only in products, but also in business processes across global industries. Not surprisingly customers have ever more questions about buying, using, and maintaining these increasingly complex and sophisticated products and services.

It’s not ‘simple’, but the expectation is that you make it ‘easy’. Customers expect that you will answers their questions easily and in context, in a manner relevant to their needs, with answers that are reliable and accurate. That is why knowledge management is now at the forefront of the customer experience problems that businesses are looking to solve.

1. Start Small but Plan BIG

If you are just embarking on a knowledge management strategy then it’s okay, even advisable, to start small with a simple knowledge base to support a particular product, service line or customer segment where better answers will make a huge difference. To do that, you need a solution that can deploy rapidly, but also grows to with your enterprise knowledge management needs. So it can be infused into everything, rather than being left as another silo.

2. Understand What You Have

The 80/20 rule of knowledge is that 80% of what’s needed is best addressed with the 20% of your most valuable content. So even if you can’t answer all the questions, collect the answers that you are able to identify and verify as most used. We call this “what you know you know” content explicit knowledge. You can bring the remaining 80% of your content into the fold over time as your initiative grows, as long as your solution supports connecting multiple sources and content types.

3. Understand What They Need

Don't just focus on the content; you also have to understand what and how customers and employees are looking for it. You might be able to train a few, but you can't force the majority of your customers to hunt for information with specific words/symbols, or perform a series of navigation clicks to get to a place that has what they need. They will simply resort to the path of least resistance, which may be to use a higher cost channel. Or worse, buy a competitor’s product. So it's important to accommodate the various ways that people ask and look for information. You need a solution that can match your terminology with the way customers ask for help, in their own style and language; a solution that can deliver multiple navigation paths, as well as connect them to one answer. And can validate and course-correct the experience using decision tree navigation and assistance.

4. Learn What You Don’t Know

In Step 2, we covered collecting explicit knowledge. Well, as it turns out, knowledge constantly evolves and what we know about it changes. So it’s critical to get feedback along the way and give the people who do know, the chance to share what they know. Make sure the people who have the knowledge are able to rate, suggest or even create new knowledge. We call this sort of knowledge that is trapped in people’s heads, implicit knowledge, “what you didn't know you knew” This is why you need analytics that let you easily identify gaps through reports, gather direct feedback, and augment explicit knowledge with implicit knowledge.

5. Keep Making It Better

Knowledge has a shelf-life. It grows stale over time because things change. Every piece of Knowledge has an ongoing value in both investment and return. So knowing performance metrics, by segment, is key to knowing whether to invest further, or not. This is especially important for any content that gets translated where the cost can be multiplicative unless it’s delivering value. You don’t know how well you’re doing unless you measure it, so having a solution that easily delivers you the required data and analysis is critical. Knowledge Management is a commitment to constant improvement.

By now you have figured out that the art of making Answers EASY takes time, effort and investment. But if you try and short cut it with a silo approach, you’ll just end up making it more complex and costly. The Oracle Service Cloud makes Knowledge Management a foundation for your Modern Customer Service organization.

Tuesday Feb 11, 2014

Four Ways to Increase Mobile Agent Productivity and Responsiveness by JP Saunders

Many customer support agents and managers spend time away from their desk supporting their customers. But, in today’s world of anytime, anywhere service, they still need to respond to customer issues on the spot. And, accessing the information they need to be responsive is often challenging due to lack of network connectivity or the clunky usability experience of accessing a desktop app on a mobile device. With Oracle Service Cloud’s Mobile Agent App, roaming customer support agents and managers can access their contact center “on the go” – increasing productivity and customer responsiveness!

Keep Informed

Service agents and managers are always connected and able to take action – whether it is on a customer issue or a contact center performance issue. They can manage service incidents, contacts, and tasks all from their mobile device. They can also view the customer’s survey history and access a list of unresolved incidents. A mobile dashboard with pie chart widgets, drill-in capabilities and filterable lists helps managers to monitor exceptions and stay on top of their contact center operations while away from their desks.

Access Knowledge

In addition to the increased ability to capture and respond rapidly while in the field, customer service agents and managers now also have access to answers from their mobile device, allowing them a way to use your knowledge base to solve customer problems both quickly and accurately.

Stay Connected Even When Offline

The Mobile Agent App’s offline cache not only allows access to information while offline, but also provides improved performance with nearly sub-second response time. Additionally, the ability to use profiles to customize lists and workspaces allows the Mobile Agent App to be tailored more specifically to your business processes and, thus, increases service agent productivity.

Delight Employees

Designed specifically for the iPad and now the iPhone, the Mobile Agent App leverages native Apple iOS native iPad capabilities and innovative usability patterns, easy navigation, and integrated apps, e.g. maps and FaceTime. This ease of use will delight employees. And, delighted employees help make delighted customers!

To view a demonstration, watch this video.  For more information on the latest enhancements for the Oracle RightNow Mobile Agent App, please watch the Oracle RightNow Cloud Service – November 2013 Release Overview or read the Oracle RightNow Cloud Service – November 2013 Capabilities and Benefits.

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