Thursday, May 28, 2015

Fostering Customer Loyalty and Retention

In today's competitive world, companies need to use many strategies to deliver great customer service and attract new customers. The rise of the omnichannel opened the doors for new, creative tactics in customer service and marketing while also presenting the very modern challenge of keeping a brand image consistent across all channels. With a little forethought, companies can effectively retain their customers, inspire brand loyalty, and attract new customers to their brand.
Be personal and timely. Customers want to feel that they are valued as individuals, not simply for the business they give. This is especially true in stressful customer service situations when support is greatly needed. For this reason, companies should strive to personalize the customer experience in as many ways as they can. This can mean everything from agents addressing customers by name during all interactions (regardless of the channel of communication) to allowing customized settings on a company website when purchases are made (such as wish lists, shopping baskets, and tabs for setting preferences). It's equally important to be timely-answering customers as quickly as possible, keeping them updated about deliveries and any pertinent information that affects them, and following up after customer service cases have been resolved, for example. Customers want to be informed and will appreciate the human touch, as many studies have shown that brands with humanized, personal touches attain customer loyalty much more than brands that treat customers in a more mechanical, impersonal manner.
Offer loyalty programs, referrals, and goodwill gestures. In addition to thanking customers for their business at the end of each interaction, another time-tested way of showing appreciation is to reward customers. Loyalty programs are great incentives for customers to keep coming back, such as offering vouchers and coupons. Another great strategy is a referral system that allows customers to benefit from referring friends to your company. This allows businesses to keep their customers while finding new ones as both the current and new customers are rewarded for their business. It's also important to consider making gestures when customers are unhappy with a situation, such as a delayed delivery or a technical issue that is taking too long to resolve. Offering an account credit, for example, is a professional way to please the customer and proactively handle the situation-don't wait for the customer to ask for it.
Just be proactive overall. In addition to pleasing the customer in a stressful situation, companies should do what they can to avoid those situations altogether. Being proactive means being several steps ahead of the customer-and seeing things from his or her perspective. What if they have a technical question? Make sure FAQs are posted on all channels. Is there an anticipated delay in delivery or scheduled website maintenance? Let customers know in advance. Even when all is running smoothly-deliveries are on time, sales will be held as planned-keep customers informed ahead of time so they don't have to ask you for the answers later.
Use marketing campaigns that are tailored to customer needs. One great benefit of the omnichannel approach is the ability to reach a vast audience-a tool which is critical to effective marketing campaigns. But are you sure you are contacting customers on the channel they prefer? Using analytics can be helpful to determining which channels are best for contacting certain customers (again, personalization is key here). Once that has been determined, make sure that the products or services being offered are tailored to the interests of that customer by reviewing their purchase history with the company. Not all customers will necessary want to hear about the same products. Lastly, timing is just as important-make sure customers are contacted enough about offers to keep your brand image present, but don't overwhelm customers with too much information. Periodic emails or social media updates that bear all the relevant information they need is much better than too many short emails or updates that customers might find bothersome.
Give customers a great experience. Simply put, customers will come back if they have a great experience with your company, so do everything you can to achieve this. Offer a seamless omnichannel experience, be friendly and approachable, be thorough in providing information, and make the company website and mobile versions user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing. Going the extra mile to please your customers will pay off as your customers will be happy to interact with your brand and feel appreciated for their business. To learn more about excellent contact center software solutions for delivering great customer service, please visit

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Empowering the Customer with Self-Service

Delivering great customer service nowadays involves giving customers more options. While some may prefer to seek support or information by speaking directly to a live agent, many people prefer to search on their own. Self-service can pose a challenge for customer service: on one hand, it can frustrate customers and turn them away if the channels on which customers search are not optimized and time-consuming; on the other hand, the experience can be preferred when customers are able to find answers more efficiently. Automation also reduces costs for contact centers, shifting expenses to more critical tasks and increasing live agent productivity. So how can contact centers empower customers with excellent self-service and ultimately strengthen their brand?
Optimize for mobile. Mobile devices—especially smartphones—have become increasingly standard, so customer service needs to be tailored to this growing demand. The IDC reports that this year, there will be more people accessing the web using a mobile device than a wireless computer, while eMarketer states that nearly five billion people worldwide are now using smartphones. Nuance further reports that 72% of consumers have a more positive view of a company if it provides a mobile customer service app, while Synthetix found that 75% of consumers believe companies should make answers to all common questions readily available through smartphones. These statistics translate into a high consumer demand for mobile-optimized apps with self-service features. IVR, or interactive voice response, as well as visual IVR (with visual menus) are excellent ways to offer automation to customers that will save them time and frustration. Click-to-chat features also enable customers to connect with customer service agents rapidly, while buttons with easy access to order tracking and confirmation, shopping carts, and frequently asked questions are all ideal ways to enable self-service for customers on the go.
Take a proactive approach. By staying one step ahead of the customer and anticipating customers' needs ahead of time, self-service can become a truly welcome experience for the busy customer. For example, monitoring customers' behavior on a company website to see which content is of interest to the customer and how much time is being spent on each page can be combined with previously gained customer history (such as purchasing habits) and prompt an invitation to chat. Companies may also offer video tutorials if the customer is looking at a frequently asked questions page—another excellent tool for self-service.
Train agents to help customers with self-service. Self-service doesn't mean abandoning customers or letting them doing all the work. Indeed, it's highly likely that customers may need agent assistance at some point during a self-service interaction. For this reason, agents need to be ready to help customers finish the process. Agents also need to be ready to jump in and train customers in navigating self-service options to better ensure that self-service will remain a preferred option the next time the customer needs support.
Update your channels, and get feedback. Self-service channels need to be regularly updated to reflect any company updates such as new products or services, recalls, sales, and other pertinent information the customer should know. In addition, it's always important to know how your customers feel about the experience. Just as you might send out a survey after a service call, it's meaningful to get feedback about self-service customer experience to constantly work to make it better.
Self-service is an excellent way to optimize the customer experience while empowering customers with the information and service they need when they want it. With the right strategies, companies may cut costs, improve their brand image, and give customers a great experience that may lead to greater customer loyalty. To learn more about contact center software solutions optimized for self-service, please visit 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Delivering an Optimized Customer Experience with IVR

As discussed in our last blog post, IVR offers a host of benefits to both companies and customers alike. Companies may greatly reduce costs, increase sales, and maximize the efficiency of Virtual Contact Center agents, while customers save time and gain trust in a brand through an efficient customer service experience. However, simply implementing an IVR system is not enough for companies to truly deliver its benefits. The focus should remain on the customer-namely, optimizing the system for a seamless customer experience.
Here are some best practices to follow to give customers an optimized, seamless IVR experience.
Be clear and consistent with language and brand voice. Customers need to understand the prompts given by an IVR system. Make sure the options are explained clearly in terminology any customer can understand. It's also important to use terms consistent with your company's other channels such as social media, web, and mobile. For example, if an IVR prompt uses the term "technical support" for technical assistance, the same terminology should be used on Facebook customer service pages, the company website, and all other channels. Companies should also strive to have a consistent brand voice-a specific approach to communicating with customers. Some brands take a more casual tone as it fits their product or service-for example, telecommunications companies or retailers that closely follow consumer preferences and regularly offer rewards or special deals. Other companies such as banks may opt for a more serious tone. Whatever your brand's approach may be, the language used across all channels should be consistent so that customers can always feel they are communicating with the same company no matter which channel they are on.
Make the menu options reflect customer preferences. Take the time to analyze which option is most important and popular with your customers to determine in which order the options should appear. Customers don't want to wait until the end of the menu to hear the option they want. For example, if technical support is the most frequent reason for a call, then it should be option one. Providing an "other" prompt is also a good way to keep customers in the IVR longer and avoid too quick of a routing to an agent. The more the IVR enables self-service, the better. But do remember to keep the questions to a minimum-customers want their answers, but they shouldn't have to answer too many questions to proceed to the next prompt. Lastly, customers should be given the option to repeat the menu if they wish.
Review your IVR system regularly. Make sure to update menu options to reflect current customer concerns, as their reasons for contacting a business may change periodically. If there is a known issue with a product that has been recalled, for example, the IVR should offer an option to address this issue. It's also important to gain customer feedback about the IVR experience, whether through an online survey or a follow-up call, that can help determine what changes need to be made. If there are frequently asked questions which are not currently being addressed through menu options, make sure to add them and also update all the FAQs on other channels. Remember that consistency is key.
While an IVR system is beneficial to both businesses and customers, it's critical to emphasize that the customer experience is what counts most. Customers should feel that there are obvious benefits to using IVR and be willing to turn to self-service when they need support. With an excellent IVR system, companies may attract more customers, retain their current ones, and gain long-term loyalty. To learn about Vocalcom's full-service IVR solution for excellent customer experience and maximum efficiency, please visit

Vocalcom mentioned in Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure 2015, Worldwide

Vocalcom was mentioned by Gartner Inc, in the Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure report, published May 18, 2015. The report shows Vocalcom having aggressively grown their Cloud and managed service revenues.
This is the fifth year that Vocalcom has been mentioned by Gartner Inc, in the Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure report. The report notes that Vocalcom's Cloud Contact Center solutions demonstrate Vocalcom's visionary and early-to-market approach for the next generation of cloud architecture.
"We're thrilled to be mentioned in the Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure for our Cloud Contact Center platform," said Anthony Dinis, CEO of Vocalcom, " Our top priority is to deliver cloud customer contact center solutions that best serve our customer'needs, so research that gives us insight into their motivations and ways of operating is invaluable to us. We're setting a new standard for cloud contact center solutions and omnichannel real-time customer engagement. We are delighted that our technology has been recognised to maximise customer connections in a way that is secure, differentiated and cost-effective"
We'd like to thank our 550,0000 users for their confidence, which we believe highlights Vocalcom as an innovative alternative to some of the more-traditional vendors.

"Our agents love Vocalcom because it offers the perfect balance of simplicity and power." — Australian Credit & Finance

"Vocalcom is just easier and the only truly omnichannel contact center solution we found." — ITV

About the Magic Quadrant

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.


Vocalcom was founded on the principle of a wonderful user experience, providing a contact center software and a real-time omnichannel customer engagement platform based on an innovative design and useful functionality. More than 3,500 companies such as McDonald's, Disney, and ITV are using Vocalcom to lower their operational costs, raise productivity, and turn each customer interaction into a positive business outcome. Loved by 550,000+ users for its beautifully crafted interface, Vocalcom is a contact center software, easy to try, buy, implement, and use. For more information about Vocalcom contact center software, visit

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Part 1: Delivering an Optimized Customer Experience with IVR

When customers reach out to contact centers for support, they want quick and efficient service. As more and more contact centers strive to implement automation into their customer service strategy, one excellent advance in contact center software has been the innovation of IVR, or interactive voice response. IVR is a telephony system that uses either speech-recognition or touch-tone technology to enable identification, segmentation, and eventual routing of callers to the appropriate agent, bypassing the need to speak to other employees directly. Some contact centers further implement visual IVR to streamline the process even more.
Companies and customers alike may benefit greatly from the advantages of IVR. First and foremost, companies are able to significantly drive down costs by using such a system. Agents will not need to be trained to find information that the system will automatically provide. This also means that agents will spend less time on the phone with customers as customers do not need to speak to multiple employees before reaching the agent who can ultimately solve the customer’s issue (or close the sale, if it’s a sales call). Less time on the phone translates into savings for the company as it costs more to keep agents connected to customers on the phone. Agents will also be more productive as they will have more time to focus on other tasks or serve customers on other channels. In addition to savings, companies can increase sales through IVR by making it easier for customers to initiate or finalize a purchase through the system. With an efficient system, customers can count on self-service as an option for making purchases, boosting a brand’s image for reliability and customer experience while driving sales.
Customers likewise benefit from IVR by having a less stressful or time-consuming customer service or purchasing experience without the need to speak to multiple agents. Such features as automated speech recognition and text-to-speech in multiple languages can greatly enhance the experience, and dropped calls are far less likely with IVR. In addition, IVR systems with automatic callbacks can save customers’ time when they are kept waiting too long in a queue, and scheduled callbacks that allow customers to decide when to be contacted by a qualified agent are yet another timesaver. Overall, such systems bear great potential for providing a seamless customer experience and giving customers more options for efficient self-service.
The market for IVR systems continues to grow, with Global Industry Analysts Inc. predicting that the global market will reach as much as $2.8 billion by 2017. Through the implementation of an efficient IVR system, companies may offer their customers more choices for connecting with their brands which can lead to greater sales, a better customer experience, and sustained customer loyalty while saving costs and increasing efficiency in the contact center. Stay tuned for our next blog post on best practices for an optimized IVR customer experience. To learn about Vocalcom’s full-service IVR solution for excellent customer experience and maximum efficiency, please visit

Friday, May 15, 2015

5 Steps For Improving First Contact Resolution

When customers reach out to contact center agents for support, they are looking for quick and efficient answers. While agents normally strive to deliver the best service possible with first contact resolution, or FCR, there are a number of methods and behaviors extending beyond an agent's interaction with a customer that can improve the overall experience for agents and customers alike.

Communicate with your customers. One major component of first contact resolution is an agent's tone and ability to empathize with the customer. Training agents in their soft skills is a must for ensuring quality interactions. Agents should also ask precise, thorough questions about the customer's issue in order to deliver precise solutions, while always remembering to ask if the problem was resolved at the end of the exchange. In addition, taking customer service surveys post-contact is critical to knowing what agents should focus on to improve their service.

Follow a process. Setting a structure in place is important to FCR. Providing a script for agents to follow is a good way to ensure consistency in customer interactions and to make sure that no important questions are missed. By analyzing the most frequent reasons for customer contact in surveys, contact centers may also prepare agents with answers to these questions in their scripts. It's also meaningful to share these surveys with agents so they can learn their own weak points and improve individually. Eventually, this saves everyone's time, builds agent confidence, and increases the likelihood of FCR while helping to establish a brand reputation for quality, consistent customer service.

Use speech analytics. This is a very efficient way to identify which reasons customers are calling for the most. Along with customer feedback, agents and managers alike will be better prepared to address customer concerns and resolve issues quickly through proper training and revisions to call scripts.

Take the omnichannel approach when it's taking too long. An effective contact center should employ an omnichannel strategy to give customers a choice of their preferred channel, and some may argue that sticking to one channel from start to finish is best for a customer service interaction. However, staying on one channel for too long might hurt the chances of FCR if a customer's issue is not being easily resolved. If too many emails are being exchanged or chat is not allowing a quick resolution to a complex problem, switch to another channel (such as voice) to allow better understanding of the issue.

Don't emphasize average handling time too much. Contact centers may encourage short average handling time, or AHT, to stay efficient and keep costs down. However, it's necessary to remember that in order to achieve first contact resolution, the quality of the customer experience matters. An agent may therefore need to spend more time with a customer on a complex issue and increase AHT at times. Overall, it's better to focus on quality over quantity in these situations, as one long customer service interaction done right is better than repeat contacts from a frustrated customer.

First contact resolution is a top priority for customer service departments as it can ensure customer retention and brand loyalty. Through a combination of using the right technology, training customer service staff properly, and always keeping customers' needs at heart, FCR can be achieved with great efficiency. To learn more about contact center software solutions optimized for FCR, please visit

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Live Chat Delivers Excellent Customer Service

Digital customer service is mainstream nowadays, with customers able to contact businesses through more touchpoints than ever before. However, the way in which these channels are used and eventually ranked for preference by consumers seems to change as rapidly as the technology driving them. Social media is more popular than ever with customers, but live chat-whether it be textual, audio, or video-based--remains just as active a channel when customers are looking to make a purchase or need support. Social media and chat functions can also function together, as Twitter as demonstrated with its conversational format and Facebook has implemented with its recent unveiling of its Businesses on Messenger app. Not only is chat here to stay, but there's plenty of evidence that it's key to delivering excellent customer service. An ATG Global Consumer Trend study found that 90% of customers consider live chat helpful, while a U.S. Wireless Customer Care Full-Service Performance Study found that chat has become a leading contact source for customers, with 42% of customers using a live online chat feature. Econsultancy further reported that live chat has the highest satisfaction levels for any customer service channel at 73%--far outweighing other channels.

Why is live chat so popular with customers? No matter what it is customers are seeking-whether it be technical support or product information--they long for the human touch. Live chat gives customers the reassurance that an actual person will be there to assist them until they get what they need. Customers save time by not needing to look for answers on their own, and they are further able to continue browsing online while chatting with an agent. From the agent's point of view, live chat typically moves much faster than phone or email, with much shorter queues than the voice channel. This means quicker and easier sales as well as more efficient customer support, making customers delighted with the experience and agents more confident in their support.

Contact centers also benefit from greatly reduced costs. Live chat software is easy and quick to implement, with greatly decreased handling costs. Agents are able to communicate with multiple customers at once, which is not often the case on other channels and proves costly. Live chat enables greater agent efficiency, reduces the number of more costly inbound calls (as customers turn to chat), and helps reduce the need for more agents as customer needs are met more quickly-all leading to great savings for a company.

For customers who are in the middle of a purchase or considering making one, live chat is often the clear preference over other channels as immediate service is needed and delivered. Agents who are well prepared to handle customer questions are poised to boost sales and prevent customers from abandoning purchases. Live chat can prove especially critical when customers are in the middle of a transaction and need support to finalize a purchase, as having accessing to chat-and a skilled agent-can mean the difference between purchasing or not and even preventing or resolving payment errors. Indeed, Forrester Research reported that 77% of customers shopping online preferred to make contact with a real person before making a purchase, with over half of these customers claiming to abandon the purchase if no interaction was available.

The benefits of live chat are numerous for both businesses and customers. Greater confidence, saved time, and saved costs are all important to both customer service and the customer experience. To learn more about excellent live chat software solutions, please visit

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Delivering the Optimal Customer Experience

Some people may think that customer service and customer experience are essentially the same. In truth, customer service focuses on delivering support to a customer, whereas customer experience considers the perspective of the customer—what it actually feels like to be on the receiving end of support. Customer experience is increasingly becoming a priority for businesses, with Forrester Research reporting that 90% of customer experience decision makers feel that a good experience is critical to their company’s success while 63% believe its importance has risen. The Customers 2020 Report further states that by the year 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator, while the Business Impact of Customer Experience highlights that the revenue impact from a 10 percentage point improvement in a company’s customer experience score can result in more than $1 billion USD.

The data suggests that when a customer’s experience exceeds expectations, a company can expect greater brand loyalty and referrals. What’s more, as sales, marketing, and customer service departments together represent the full spectrum of customer experience for a company, businesses must strive hard to provide a seamless experience across all fronts.
Providing the optimal customer experience depends on numerous factors with endless possibilities. However, a few general tips should not be overlooked:

Be timely and professional. Customers don’t just want answers; they want timely, thorough responses. Whether a customer makes contact by phone or via any other channel, agents should always make the effort to provide a timely response, direct the customer to the appropriate person if necessary, and inform customers if there is some delay in resolving a problem.
Go the extra mile. This can mean many things, but the idea is to truly exceed customer expectations whenever possible. Taking such steps as making follow-up calls after closing a sale or customer service case, providing detailed tracking information and updates for deliveries, offering discounts or other rewards for customer loyalty, and just taking the time to thank customers for their business are all excellent ways to show them you care.

Humanize your brand. Agents should take the time to address customers by name and introduce themselves at the start of every customer service interaction. Furthermore, every interaction should be considered a conversation--show empathy for a customer’s issue, appreciation for their time and business, and be apologetic for anything which may hinder the customer, such as delays in the queue or a late delivery. This is especially important if agents are interacting on social media or via SMS, as the lack of human voice or visual contact one would otherwise have on the phone or through video chat makes it especially critical to establish a human presence. Taking additional steps to provide video tutorials on the company website and even language that customers can easily follow and relate to are all steps toward making your brand approachable.

Make information easy to find and a pleasure to view online. Simply put, customers need to find the information they need as quickly and easily as possible. A company’s website, mobile app, and social media sites therefore need to be as well-designed as possible with such features as pages for frequently asked questions, tutorials, and easy-to-find contact information. Aesthetics count as much as efficiency—brand colors should be used consistently across all sites with excellent quality graphics, and web and mobile optimization are an absolute must.

Be consistent. Perhaps the biggest challenge of all—be consistent across all channels and departments. Everything from an agent’s tone and customer service script to making information accessible across all channels falls under this tip. In addition, departments need to communicate efficiently so as to avoid repeating information to customers, while there should be a seamless transition from one department to the next when customers are transferred during an exchange with an agent.

The overall image a customer takes away from a company is based on his or her experience, and greater efficiency in the contact center can provide this and foster brand loyalty. Using a contact center software solution with advanced features such as IVR, visual IVR, and chat features optimized to save time for agents and customers alike can further help to deliver an optimal customer experience. Customer service is more than giving and getting answers—customers want the human touch through an optimized, customized experience. Learn more about excellent contact center software solutions for delivering the best customer experience at