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Guest Blog by Laura Sikorski
Your contact center is the most customer-focused (internal or external) area in your organization. It’s where centralized conversations occur and the Voice of the Customer (VoC) is amplified. Capturing data in the contact center is imperative. So, it’s important that your employees are performing at their very best. Having a team of engaged and successful employees directly translates to loyal customers.
Part 1 of this blog outlined key operations areas within your contact center, including forecasting and scheduling, service levels, and quality assurance. Now, let’s look at features that allow you to not only improve employee satisfaction but provide a robust customer experience.
Evaluating employee performance assures you’re providing the highest-quality service to your customers. Your Performance Evaluation Policy sets the standard for how staff must handle customers. This policy, along with your annual salary review program, will make sure that all employees offer the quality of service your customers expect.
Silent monitoring, call recording, data-entry recording, and side-by-side coaching are ways to assist your employees in maintaining excellent customer service. Monitoring is used to provide feedback to them on their performance.
Develop score cards and use them as part of your contact center software’s quality management feature. You should rank each performance quality/category that you want to review as Superior (4), Above Average (3), Average (2), Below Average (1) and Unsatisfactory (0). Then weight at 1 or 2 to come up with a score.
Be sure to develop a Performance Standards Chart so that each evaluator rankings are consistent.
Sample quality categories are:
The importance of recording 100% of your calls is paramount. Recorded calls are used for performance evaluation, training and coaching. At times, you can use them to validate what the agent and/or caller stated during the interaction, if accusations are made.
The hardest part of call recording is deciding how many calls you evaluate per agent per month — and how often you review these calls with staff. I recommend reviewing/coaching three to five calls per week with new hires, and two to three calls per month for your general agent staff.
Agents want to know:
The ACD feature in your contact center software enables routing of incoming customer interactions on a first in/first out basis to the appropriately skilled agent, skills-based routing and/or department. Its primary purpose is to recognize, answer and route incoming interactions — voice, email, chat, video, text, fax or social media. When ACD is combined with IVR, customers can route themselves to do what they want to do.
In addition, you should keep your press options to a 4×4 model. Perhaps your first level should be, “If you would like to speak to an agent, press 1. If you would like to use our self-service system, press 2.” The more options and levels you have, the more frustrated customers become.
This self-service system lets callers use their telephone keypad (or spoken commands, if speech recognition is used) to access a organization’s computer database system to retrieve or update information, conduct a business transaction, or route the interaction to the appropriately skilled agent or department.
Computer telephony integration (CTI) uses a screen pop in which an interaction to an agent syncs automatically with the customer’s record using either their phone number, customer code, or other unique identifier or authentication as the interaction reaches the agent. Implementing CTI typically reduces call length by 20% and can show the agent the customer journey with your applications prior to reaching them.
A virtual assistant (VA) tool or other artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are engineered entities that can reside in the contact center software to interface with humans in a human way. This technology also incorporates elements of IVR to deliver answers to your customers — and it knows when to send the caller to a live agent.
Businesses want and need customer feedback to survive.
You can request post-call surveys immediately at the end of an interaction via voice, email or postal mail. Keep them short; ask direct questions; and design them so they take no longer than three minutes to complete.
A post call/interaction survey should be used to:
An effective survey program takes thought and analysis. Keep these factors in mind when developing one.
Estimated wait time in queue has been around for a long time. It simply gives the customer a “hint” on how long they’ll wait before they reach an agent. Your contact center software should be programmed to only give this information once. Marketing messages and/or self-service options should be heard by the caller during music on hold.
The scheduled callback feature has been a game changer; however, only about 15% of customers take advantage of it. It could be we just like waiting on hold, can do other things and feel a sense of reassurance that we’ll eventually speak to an agent. Or it could be that some of us are still waiting for that callback. It’s critical to be sure your callback programming algorithms aren’t influenced by too many priority caller scenarios that “force” scheduled callback customers to keep moving to the end of the queue.
There are two types of outbound dialers: preview or predictive.
A preview dialer presents the agent with the information about the prospect or customer to be called. It requires a response either to make the call or not make the call. Completing the interaction is left up to your agent and, in my opinion, it shouldn’t be their decision.
A predictive dialer dials from a list of numbers and turns the call over to an agent when a person answers — not when an answering machine answers. This increases productivity as agents can spend their time talking rather than waiting for calls to go through — or hanging up on busy signals and answering machines. I don’t look at outbound dialer calls as interruptions during dinner time; I see this feature as a bonus to customer satisfaction.
Imagine if you have a delivery issue because there was a warehouse picking failure — or the components didn’t arrive as scheduled so you couldn’t manufacture your products. In this case, being proactive and letting your customers know of an issue before they call your contact center.
Finally, before implementing any campaigns, be sure to verify all legal restrictions on who can be called and when, especially those who might be on the Do Not Call registry.
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