Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Dominance of Voice as a Preferred Customer Service Channel

Many contact centers nowadays utilize an omnichannel strategy for customer service with the hope of reaching the greatest possible audience. When done right, this can be an excellent approach to meeting the demands of customers and marketing a brand. However, the rising popularity of chat and social media have not diminished the value of the traditional customer service channel: voice.

The most recent Contact Center Satisfaction Index (CCSI) for 2014 indicated that 57% of consumers still prefer to use the voice channel, as was also reported the previous year in the same study. Furthermore, a study by CX Act Inc., a customer experience improvement firm, found that over half the customers studied preferred to reach out by phone as they found it best for resolving issues, using other channels to a much lesser degree. Interestingly, the study also found that the rise in calling agents was mostly attributed to a failure in email responses to the customer-agents taking too long to resolve issues or failing to do so thoroughly.

Why is voice still popular with the myriad of customer service channels available today? The main takeaway often seems to be that customers sometimes prefer the human, personal touch of speaking to an agent by phone, and other channels just might not be able--or are not yet optimized enough--to deliver it. There are other factors to consider as well. Some people may not be comfortable with social media or have access to it, so turning to phone calls can be the best or easiest way. For example, an older generation of consumers may prefer voice, as customer service has traditionally been conducted via telephone. Other consumers may not think they receive good enough service on other channels, especially if a contact center has not optimized its services across all channels. As the earlier study noted, a surge in customer service calls may be an indication of poor service on other channels and should be looked at carefully. Finally, voice is reassuring for customers, as human contact may make them feel the problem will be better understood and resolved. Complex issues may need to be discussed and can't always be resolved through self-service or even on another channel with an agent, so customers turn to voice.

As verbal communication remains the most natural way to communicate, contact centers should embrace the voice channel and optimize it for customer service. Agents should be prepared to engage in conversation with customers, taking the time to personalize calls and, even when following call scripts, remember to humanize the interaction as much as possible. It's important not to forget that some customers may be turning to agents after unsuccessful attempts on other channels, so it's especially important to listen well and empathize. This also means that agents need to be highly trained to solve any issues that arise, with resources and other agents and managers readily available when seeking more information or needing to route a call to a more appropriate person. An excellent contact center solution could also provide features optimized for voice: IVR, visual IVR, and excellent CRM software all make a difference in giving customers the best experience on this channel, while features such as viewing callers in a queue and scheduling callbacks are equally important.

With the dominance of the voice channel, contact center agents have an opportunity to humanize a company's brand and foster customer loyalty by delivering stellar customer service. Learn more about excellent contact center software solutions at

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Optimizing Customer Service on Facebook

Contact centers that utilize social media channels to deliver customer service may think that all channels are alike. In reality, every social media site has its own characteristics which companies must consider to attain exceptional customer service.
Facebook maintains great popularity as a social customer service channel. Unlike Twitter, which tends to be conversational and move fast with limited characters, or other sites such as Instagram, which tend to focus on photo sharing, Facebook combines both visual and textual elements that make it easy to engage with customers in different ways with no limits to how much text can be written.
Here are some of the ways your business may optimize Facebook use for excellent social customer service.

Always acknowledge the customer's message. As on any channel, it's critical to respond promptly to customers' messages both on the public wall and through private messages or chat. If contacted via chat, agents may already feel inclined to respond quickly, but other forms of messaging on Facebook should not be ignored. If an agent needs more time to find an answer to a customer's question, at least acknowledge that the message was received and that the solution is being sought. Even if the message is a simple compliment to the company, take the time to acknowledge that, too. Show your customers that you are paying attention and you care about what they think.

Show your customers that the problem was solved. If a customer concern posted publicly on the Facebook wall is eventually moved to private conversation when being resolved, other customers may wonder if the problem was ever addressed. Simply put, it can be confusing and cause doubt among customers if issues appear to be left hanging. Once the issue is resolved, be sure to post a thank you to the customer on the wall where the concern was originally posted, further stating that the company was happy to solve the problem. Customers will understand that your company takes the time to address each case individually and close the case in a professional manner. Lastly, it might be tempting to delete negative comments, but keep in mind that leaving them in public view and showing customers your willingness to address concerns is a professional, sincere way of demonstrating your brand's faith in its own value and respect for customers' opinions.

Use the platform as a knowledge base. This idea also falls under marketing, but do remember that Facebook allows a wealth of opportunities for establishing your brand and providing information to customers. The page should feature all relevant information about the company—a mission statement, product information, photographs and videos of products and services, and additional contact information with links to the company website are all a must. But also take the time to educate your customers proactively by providing answers to frequently asked questions on a separate page or tab, posting all press releases or articles about the company featured in the media (such as new products or services), posting blog articles written by the company, and addressing upfront any issues the company may be having with products or services that might later provoke customer concerns. Customers will appreciate finding quick answers, and this can only enhance a brand's reputation with fewer negative comments and more positive ones. Facebook is also an excellent platform for mentioning sales and any customer rewards—as well as for delivering them directly to your customers.

Don't forget the hashtags, and use them to schedule alerts. Like Twitter, Facebook allows you to use hashtags to tag any content you create on your page, making it easy for such content to show up in Facebook searches. It's important to use them each time you mention your brand's name in a post, and you may also tag FAQ pages and responses to customer questions with appropriate tags such as "customer service" or the name of the product/service being discussed. In addition, Facebook allows you to set up alerts to know when other Facebook users are tagging you. For example, setting up alerts for the tags such as "customer service" or a product name, or even customers' feelings ("happy," "frustrated") will enable your agents to better monitor which issues need to be addressed and which customers should be approached for additional support.

Like other social media sites, Facebook offers a wealth of tools for providing optimal social customer service, yet it also bears unique features which should be used strategically to deliver the best results. To learn more about contact center solutions optimized for social customer service, please visit

Friday, April 24, 2015

Keeping Up With Customers Through Social Customer Service

Technology has changed the way we communicate, as nowadays we connect on channels that did not even exist ten years ago across numerous, equally novel, electronic devices. In this era of constant connectivity, people have grown used to demanding and expecting faster communication—quick questions and even quicker answers. With the rise of social media sites, customer service has been completely redefined: not only has there been a shift away from traditional calls, but customers want answers--and they want them fast.

Consider the following statistics. Forbes recently cited a study that found that when consumers contact businesses through social media, 67% expect a response the same day while 42% expect a response in just one hour or less. Furthermore, the Wall Street Journal reported that Americans spend an average of 37 minutes daily on social media-- more time than on any other Internet activity--while J.D. Power and Associates found that 67% of consumers have used a company's social media sites for customer service.
Contact centers need to respond to growing consumer demand for social customer service, and they may achieve this with the use of a software solution that effortlessly and efficiently integrates social media into a single platform. Vocalcom offers contact center software solutions with cutting-edge features especially designed for today's social customer service interactions. Contact centers may benefit from the following:

Excellent social media management and engagement, with cost efficiency.

  • *lowered customer service costs, as engagement through the social media features results in a 30% decrease in call volume

  • *easy connection to company Facebook and Twitter pages with the option to speak publicly or privately, with seamless movement from one channel to another in a secured environment

  • *retrieval and processing of posts from various sources such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Agents are also able to engage -directly with fan page followers through Linkedin, Facebook, and Google Plus fan pages

  • *social early warning system allowing agents to see immediate feedback from surveys sent to users through web and mobile, allowing them to respond quickly to negative comments before criticism is posted publicly across social channels

  • *quick and easy identification of visitors coming from customers' social circles that lets you welcome them with personal video chat

Excellent tools for agent performance and analytics.

  • *built-in real-time supervisor display providing instant data on performance including major SLA and KPI data

  • *suite of agent tools to improve efficiency, such as pre-approved responses to commonly asked questions

  • *advanced contact center reporting providing over 25 out-of-the-box reports with the most popular metrics for adhering to service level agreements and offering brand insights

With an advanced contact center solution optimized for social customer service, companies are set to respond to their customers in a quick, efficient manner without sacrificing the quality of service. According to Bain & Company, when companies engage and respond to customer service requests over social media channels, those customers consequently spend 20% to 40% more with the company. And many people are well aware of the most telling statistic of all about social customer service: nearly half of customers will tell friends about a good experience on social media, but even more will talk about a bad one. By delivering excellent social customer service, you'll give your customers a great experience to talk about. Learn more at

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Engaging the Customer with Video Customer Support

With the abundance of different channels used nowadays for customer engagement, contact centers are challenged to keep up with the preferences and demands of their customers. While social media and live chat have gained popularity in recent years, research shows compelling facts about the best ways people learn and retain information: through visual, not just verbal, means. More than ever, it's vital to engage video as a prime channel for customer engagement.

The 3M Corporation and Zabisco revealed that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed in the brain at a rate that is 60,000 times faster than text. According to Vimeo, after 72 hours of viewing a video, the average person can retain 10% of text, 65% of images, and 95% of video. These fascinating statistics may therefore explain consumers' viewing habits: According to Nielsen, 85% of U.S. internet users watch videos online, while Internet Retailer reports that viewers are 85% more likely to purchase a product after watching a video about it.

What does this mean for customer service? For one, contact centers should not underestimate the importance of using video chat to assist customers with concerns or questions. The combination of increasingly high-speed internet connections available on both web and mobile and the adoption of an excellent contact center software solution with a video chat function make live video chat a highly feasible and effective channel for customer service. Through live video chat, customers will feel they are getting a personalized service experience, and the statistics clearly indicate that seeing a visual solution to a problem-sharing screens via video chat to solve an issue, for example-is much more effective and likely faster than simply being told a solution. Customers will save time, retain information more effectively, and ultimately feel satisfied and loyal to a business.

In addition, companies may use video channels to educate customers proactively by offering video customer support on company websites. For example, answering frequently asked questions in a video featuring people (possibly even actual employees) can be a great way to connect with customers and give a company a humanized appearance that's more personal. Videos may likewise be used as tutorials offering solutions to issues. From a marketing perspective, videos may explain how products and services work, while case studies and interviews may also be featured to demonstrate a company's strengths and successes.

Video is a vital channel for contact centers with great potential for customer engagement. The more a company offers visual means of customer engagement, the more customers will be able to obtain the information they need, leading to long-term loyalty and enhanced brand reputation. Learn more about excellent contact center solutions with video chat at

Friday, April 17, 2015

Winning Over Customers with Proactive Customer Service

Traditionally, customer service has often been viewed as a reactive means of handling customer concerns. While contact centers play a pivotal role in managing this critical aspect of business, taking the extra step toward pleasing customers before an issue arises-or just for the sake of pleasing them-can be key to winning them over.

Here are five ways to deliver excellent customer service proactively that are sure to delight your customers while enhancing your brand's reputation.

Keep your customers informed-ahead of time. If your company makes deliveries to your customers, it's vital to let them know about every step in the delivery process. Details such as tracking numbers and phone numbers to call if there is a concern are all important, but also be sure to provide critical real-time information such as dates and times of expected delivery. If there's a delay, customers should be notified ahead of time, not after the delay has occurred. The same is true for all other aspects of customer service interactions. Should there be issues with billing, an anticipated delay when the customer is waiting in a queue, or even scheduled website maintenance that will make the site inaccessible, let your customers know.

Offer live chat for visitors to your website. Customers frequently consult company websites to look for answers, and it can often be a long and tedious process that many abandon without success. Why not make it easier for your customers by providing live agent assistance? Offer a live chat popup that's personalized-the agent, for example, should introduce himself or herself, thank the customer for visiting the website, and ask how they may be of service. If the customer wishes, the conversation may eventually be moved to another channel when necessary (to further discuss the problem or make a purchase, for example). The idea is to be there for your customers right at the start of their web search-make sure to offer the chat as quickly as possible.

Collect customer feedback. It's always a good idea to send follow-up surveys to customers after a customer service interaction, or even when a purchase was made without the help of an agent, to determine satisfaction levels. However, it's also useful to ask for feedback at unexpected intervals, in a way that doesn't bother the customer but shows your company values his or her opinions. For example, sending quarterly online surveys by mail or via social media are noninvasive ways of asking for feedback just to see how the customer feels in general. For retail companies, these surveys may be timed to align with critical holiday season sales-either as a pre- or post-season marketing strategy to help a company better define goals and know where customer service improvements can be made ahead of time.

Offer loyalty rewards and discounts. Take a good look at your customers' transactional history to determine where promotional offers could be of interest to them. Your company could offer rewards that are determined in advance, such as giving vouchers to customers after a certain amount has been spent or offering a discount on a subsequent purchase. Another strategy is to inform customers of new packages or deals that the company is now offering, which means targeting customers who have similar products or services but could benefit from the features of the new ones.

Just say thanks. It's fairly obvious that customer concerns communicated on social media should be addressed quickly and efficiently. But what about compliments for your brand? Happy customers also like to share their satisfaction on social media, so be ready to thank them and possibly offer something as a gesture. Thanking customers for their kind comments are always welcome gestures which could result in Facebook shares or re-tweets-all vital to your brand's image.

Listening to your customers and handling their concerns will always be necessary for providing excellent customer service. However, taking a proactive approach gives your customers extra attention they will appreciate--bringing greater loyalty, retention, and an enhanced reputation to your brand. Learn more about contact center solutions for excellent customer service at 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Securing the Contact Center with PCI DSS Compliance

With the numerous interactions customer service agents handle day to day, contact centers are entrusted with handling volumes of personal and sensitive customer data—namely, their credit card information. Yet notable incidents such as American retailer Target's massive data breach in 2013, which compromised the credit and debit card information of 40 million customers, and the most recent Apple Pay fraud also stemming from retail data breaches are stark reminders that even the largest corporations are not always safe from fraud. The aftermath can be potentially catastrophic as companies that fall victim to fraud may pay massive fines for failing to follow security measures, spend an additional fortune on resolving the issue, and ultimately risk losing their reputation and the loyalty of their customers.

To help protect customers from identity theft, the PCI DSS global security standard was established in 2006 and adopted by payment card companies for all businesses which store, process, or transmit cardholder data. The security measures outlined in the PCI DSS guidelines therefore set strict rules for contact centers to ensure that customer service agents, and the company's IT systems as a whole, handle customer data responsibly and securely. For example, the guidelines dictate that certain parts of cardholder data cannot be stored, and recorded calls are subject to the same rules as all other methods of obtaining and storing customers' card authentication data to prevent any security codes or account numbers from being recorded.

Contact centers may take several steps toward following the guidelines. With regard to IT systems, it's critical to maintain a firewall configuration that protects cardholder data by establishing an overall secure network, while using and maintaining antivirus programs are equally essential to keeping the network secure. To prevent the recording of sensitive data, compliance may be met by using a software solution that enables start/stop recording for moments when cardholder information is being communicated as well as automated IVR payment solutions that use voice recognition or keypad entry. In addition, contact center employees may play a key role in meeting the guidelines. Issuing each employee a unique ID or password to gain computer access is one strategy, as well as making sure that the passwords are strong and changed frequently. It's also a good idea to limit the number of employees in direct contact with cardholder data while carefully monitoring any access points at which employees come in contact with customer data.
PCI DSS compliance is a requirement for contact centers which needs to be taken seriously. By setting high standards for security, contact centers may enhance their reputation with payment providers, protect their businesses from future fraud, and maintain the loyalty and trust of their customers. To learn more about PCI DSS-compliant Contact Center Software solutions, please visit

Friday, April 10, 2015

Top 3 Best Practices for Effective Call Quality Monitoring

Contact center agents bear the great responsibility of managing customer service issues on a steady basis. One of the best ways for contact center managers to ensure that agents are providing the best service possible is to monitor the quality of their interactions with customers, yet some contact centers do not take a thorough approach for determining best practices. So how should managers monitor for effectiveness?

Take a comprehensive view. In order to really understand agent-customer interactions, it's important to closely monitor all the calls recorded, not just a random sample. Analyzing just a few randomly selected calls will not provide substantial data or provide an in-depth view of agents' performance across customer service calls. By using a speech analytics system that records all calls and monitors call quality in real-time, managers may gain a comprehensive view of these calls to better train agents and devise strategies for better customer service.

Consider the metrics, but don't forget the customer. Analyzing average call handling time is certainly important for offering efficient customer service in a timely manner. However, many contact centers place too much emphasis on this metric, believing a quick call resolution is a priority as it allows agents to move faster to the next customer in the queue. While aiming to offer efficient service, agents should never undermine call quality and take the proper time to resolve an issue in order to prevent a customer from having to call back or reach out to the company on yet another channel. For this reason, it's once again important to analyze all calls to properly analyze the quality of individual agents' interactions with customers—it may be that agents with longer average handling times may be making a good effort to resolve an issue, resulting in critical brand loyalty and customer retention.

Ask agents to participate in the evaluation process. Asking agents to give their feedback regarding practices that work well for them, communicating concerns they may have about customer service calls, or even offering suggestions for writing customer service call scripts can also help contact center managers gain a broad view of how calls can be better monitored for quality. In addition, when preparing evaluations of agents during the monitoring process, explain expectations to agents beforehand so that they know what kind of behavior they should be striving for. Is it important to wrap up a call in under five minutes? Should the agent always verbalize to a customer that there will be a follow-up call once a case is closed? Keeping agents informed will allow them to perform at their best with a clear focus on your company's customer service priorities. 

While there are many ways to monitor call quality, it's always important to view the contact center as a team of agents and managers who can deliver excellent customer service when working together. Rather than taking a random approach to analyzing calls, shifting the focus to monitoring globally, involving agents in the process, and addressing the needs of the customer are all key to stellar customer service and continued loyalty. Learn more about Contact Center Solutions for efficient call quality monitoring at

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Visual IVR Gives Customers an Effortless Mobile Experience

Delivering excellent mobile customer service is a must nowadays for businesses with the ever-prevalent use of smartphones. Consumers like to access information on the go, and many reach out to contact centers for support from their mobile devices with the hope that service will be quick and efficient. Companies keeping up with this trend may have optimized their website for mobile and utilize IVR, or interactive voice response, to enable customer service in an automated manner by gathering information from callers and directing them to the appropriate recipient. While IVR has long been standard practice for contact centers, customers often dread the long and uncertain process of going through multiple menus over the phone with no guarantee that the system will understand the responses given and eventually provide the support the customer is looking for. In short, time is wasted and loyalty is lost when customers end up frustrated.

With visual IVR, customers are given an optimized and effortless experience by being able to click or touch their way through an IVR system through a visual menu-driven interface. Customers are able to quickly select the options they need without needing to listen to the entirety of each option.

The benefits of visual IVR are numerous for both the companies employing it and customers using it. Companies instantly cut costs as visual IVR is cheaper to deploy than traditional IVR or may be integrated seamlessly with an existing IVR system. As customers are given a faster, more efficient way to use self-service, average handle time is dramatically reduced to allow great agent availability or cut down on the need for more agents, further reducing costs for the contact center. From a marketing standpoint, the efficiency of visual IVR resonates well with customers, improving brand image as customer loyalty is gained and customer service ratings improve on social media and elsewhere. Enabling such an efficient mode of self-service is also certain to grow the number of customers who prefer mobile customer service, thus allowing for a large number of new customers who tend to use mobile service over any other channel.

From the customers’ standpoint, no longer must there be a struggle with voice recognition or time lost waiting to get a response or be routed to the appropriate agent. Visual IVR also makes it easier to get into an agent queue when necessary, while supporting speech recognition and text-to-speech in multiple languages on both the inbound and outbound sides of a call. The process is seamless and automatic, giving customers an excellent mobile experience as agents are able to customize and easily modify the platform on their end to better manage customer queue and accurately estimate waiting times.

To offer optimized mobile customer experience, companies must consider the many advantages of a visual IVR system as it provides ease, efficiency, and an effortless experience for contact centers and customers alike. To learn more about effortless mobile customer engagement with Vocalcom’s visual IVR, please visit

Friday, April 3, 2015

All Customers Are Looking For Today, Is an Omnichannel Brand

Running a successful multichannel contact center depends on many factors, but treating customers the same way across all channels is key to doing it right.

In the modern-day contact center, customer service representatives are accustomed to engaging in a multichannel strategy rather than handling customers solely by phone. With the prevalence of social media networks and technologies such as SMS, chat, video, and web, customers are able to reach businesses in a myriad of ways whenever they wish to make a purchase, obtain more information, or get support. The question is: Do contact centers know how best to reach their customers?

To run a successful multichannel contact center, several key points should be considered. For one, numerous studies have shown that customers-while able to connect with business over many channels-still have a preference for calling agents when they need to communicate. Contact centers should therefore never underestimate the traditional voice channel. If a customer cannot get a resolution after contacting a company through some written mode of communication-on Facebook or via e-mail, for example--there is a good chance he or she will call to further pursue their issue or question. It's also important to keep in mind that some people may not always have access to or prefer social media; this is often true for the more senior generation that's used to and comfortable with traditional calls.

On that note, contact centers should also not ignore the customers who do have a preference for social media. The various social media sites offer subtle differences in the way people communicate-while Facebook has chat and message features, Twitter is largely conversation-driven and moves at a faster pace. This means that agents should always be vigilant about the pace at which customer messages come in and follow up in an equally timely manner which reflects the manner in which that channel is used: a Tweet should be answered immediately and can only be done with limited characters, while a Facebook message could take a little more time for a well-worded response. With the possibly large volume of inbound messages, it's a good idea to use a strategy such as forwarding social media messages to a customer service e-mail address to avoid missing a message. In any case, social media messages should never be ignored, should be answered in a timely manner on the same channels on which they come in, and deserve the same effort an agent would make for a customer service call.

Another important point is that channels should be coordinated to avoid giving customers contradictory or repeat information. For example, if a customer service call has been resolved and the case is closed, the customer should not receive texts or emails stating that the case is still open or calls asking if the problem has been resolved. Automated messages and follow-up contact should therefore be carefully managed-make sure the customer receives a follow-up email or text confirming the closed case, not an open one. To achieve this, it's also necessary to coordinate among agents or other departments who may be in direct contact with customers to make sure messages are clear, consistent, and beneficial to the customer.

Lastly, a close analysis of customers' engagement behavior can provide critical information for both marketing purposes and providing better customer service. If certain customers show a preference for social media, they may be targeted for social media advertising campaigns or should receive customer service follow-up contact on the channels they use the most.
To deliver excellent multichannel customer service, businesses may employ a number of practices. Most crucial, however, is to remember that observing your customers and listening to what they want are truly key to offering the best service. Learn more at

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Revitalizing the Contact Center with a CRM Software Solution

In business-client relations, contact centers are often the hub within a company which makes the most direct contact with customers. Contact center employees are in a position that requires handling tremendous amounts of data regarding their customers, timing customer service efficiently, and representing the brand in a professional and knowledgeable manner. These employees therefore need access to data-rich software which may enable them to interact with customers in the most efficient way possible.

CRM, or customer relationship management, software allows employees to manage both current and prospective customers from a centralized platform. Agents are able to access records and navigate information from any web browser or mobile device using this cloud computing solution, which makes it truly critical to the sales process. For example, agents may interact with and manage current customers by handling pre-sales queries, accessing transaction history, processing orders, issuing credits or checking warranties, and handling post-sales services. With CRM software, agents may rest assured that they have the most recently updated, accurate customer data before them. Furthermore, agents may engage in cross-selling, as valuable information on the customers’ buying habits and preferences provide excellent opportunities for offering additional products or services while marketing employees may use this information in future advertising campaigns to create targeted offers for both current and prospective customers.

CRM software is equally valuable to the customer service experience, as agents can quickly access open customer service cases to resolve problems. Agents may track and record the progress of an open case and may quickly and efficiently transfer cases to other agents who are better equipped to provide a resolution when necessary. The centralized database allows employees across departments to access customer information, preventing the need to ask customers the same questions over and over again and providing a better customer engagement experience. Ease and efficiency therefore foster greater brand loyalty and customer retention. The customer will feel that every service interaction is personalized, and that the agents are knowledgeable and able to save everyone time and frustration. In addition, contact center agents are better able to communicate with other colleagues through the platform, syncing calendars to Outlook or Google, engaging in chats regarding customer and company developments, and enabling status updates on customer cases involving multiple agents.

CRM software solutions are the backbone of a successful contact center, fueling both sales and customer service engagement. Vocalcom offers a powerful solution with its Salesforce CRM partnership, ensuring excellent productivity, interoperability, and efficiency. To learn more about Vocalcom’s partnership with the world’s most powerful CRM solutions provider, visit