The Future Contact Center Summit Review – Part 2
Businesses are seeking ways to become more competitive by better engaging customers, providing seamless cross-channel service and improving agent performance. In our second report on products on display at the Future Contact Center Summit in Orlando, four innovative vendors (Enghouse Interactive, Kodak Alaris, Loxysoft, and Ytel) discuss the added capabilities offered by their solutions.
What are the most significant recent developments that enable businesses to better engage customers and consistently provide superior customer experiences?
Buster Hansen, Director Solutions Engineering, Enghouse Interactive Customer experience is overtaking price and product as the key brand differentiator. Going forward, one-size-fits-all customer service simply won't suffice, as consumers grow increasingly impatient with inconsistencies and inefficiencies that don't serve their individual needs.
Driving the level of customer experience is an organization’s ability to deliver proactive, personalized service. Today, customer experience managers have immediate access to real-time customer data, allowing them to route calls to agents who are best-suited to solve each problem, using proven scripts that simplify the process while reducing wait times and increasing satisfaction. Companies can learn a lot about their customers by measuring how, where, and why they've interacted in the past and providing that information to the agent easily while handling an interaction. That data can fuel more personalized customer experiences that go beyond simply responding to issues and actually predicting them.
Mobility is also a top priority. According to the Pew Research Center, 56% of American mobile phone users are now using smartphones. Among these users, 19% have used mobile banking within the last 12 months. In addition to offering mobile apps that support all the major mobile platforms (Android, iOS, Windows 8, and BlackBerry), it’s essential that your website and communication tools support customers’ mobile platforms, too. Connecting your self-service with web and mobile apps can give you an edge on your competition.
Lastly, but perhaps most important, is empowering agents. The most successful customer experience organizations are those that simplify agent workflow by bringing all applications onto a single, intuitive interface. This can increase productivity by letting agents focus on delivering solutions, rather than logging in and out of disconnected applications. Achieving a smooth transition between channels requires communication systems that do more than integrate to "play nice" together. It also requires well-trained agents who are empowered with access to all the tools they need to serve customers, including individualized data to personalize the experience.
Rod Hughes, General Manager, Software and Solutions, Kodak Alaris Document Imaging Most large enterprises’ call centers have already become or are now becoming “Contact” centers. As consumers change the way they communicate with each other, they are challenging enterprises to do the same. Now organizations need to develop social, web, e-mail, chat, and many other channel strategies on how to engage their customers. The increasing volume and variety of communication that arrives at a contact center presents a big challenge because the unstructured and unpredictable nature in which customers communicate requires contact centers agents to handle inquiries manually, to pass inquiries along to relevant experts and as a result, delays getting a quality response back to the customer. One of the most significant developments allowing contact centers to cope with this challenge is the progress that has been made in new artificial intelligence that powers solutions that can automatically read, understand and process unstructured information. They are able to identify the nature of the request and thus route it to the relevant agent or initiate an automated response where appropriate.
Another major development is the greatly reduced reliance on keywords to effectively classify communications. Businesses face changing environments triggered by external events or internal changes like portfolio changes. As a result, responses or follow-up actions for contact center agents are completely dynamic, not static. Contact center and business managers struggle to keep these processes descriptions and documentation updated and agents briefed on the latest changes. Solutions that are not rules-based overcome these challenges and allow workflows to be automatically adjusted and learn from expert exception handling.
Emma Skygebjerg, CEO, Loxysoft Workforce Management AB The recent developments that specifically engage customers are those that meet the customer in the customer’s preferred channel, whether it is via e-mail, social media, or phone. The solutions that are offered today are interactive, and focus on customer service rather than marketing in social media.
Bronson Zolik, Director of Business Development, Ytel The development of Cloud Communication Technology allows businesses of all sizes to dramatically improve the way they are communicating with customers. These systems are giving small to medium size businesses access to technology they never would have been able to afford in the past and are also lowering overhead by allowing them to employ at-home agents to handle their customer service and support needs.
There is still some confusion in the marketplace over the definition of “omni-channel service.” How does your company view it and in what ways are omni-channel approaches reflected in your solution?
Buster Hansen, Enghouse Interactive Omni-channel service is the ability to deliver a seamless customer experience, from contact to resolution, through the user’s communications media of choice. Specifically, using multiple media simultaneously and/or multiple media over the course of time all from one interface, with the all from one interface being the key differentiator from multi-channel. While voice is still the preferred channel for some customers to contact companies, usage rates are shifting. Chat, email, social media, and even video are more convenient for certain consumers. Sometimes they want to start an interaction in one channel and complete it in another.
It also requires well-trained agents who are empowered with access to all the tools they need to serve customers, including individualized data, to personalize the experience.
Multitasking is cumbersome to agents, who have to bounce around separate interfaces to manage multiple channels, and to customers, who can’t switch channels smoothly to find solutions. Integrating all contact center interactions into a single interface can streamline the experience for agents and customers alike. Queues from every channel are consolidated through a single decision-making engine, so supervisors can actually manage efficiency and productivity, rather than manually assigning agents to certain channel silos. This can even be done across multiple sites and work-at-home agents.
Enghouse Interactive’s solutions offer tools like Skills-based Routing and a Universal Queue that seamlessly integrates multiple sites, ensuring all calls go directly to the agent with the knowledge best suited to that query no matter where they are. Routing that works across channels empowers an omni-channel environment, so if a customer is live chatting on the website then wants to speak to that agent or needs to be transferred to a specialized agent, it can be done instantly without breaking the conversation.
Or an agent can start with one media and pull in any other media that is relevant. The agent starts chatting with a customer and can send them an email during the chat or share a file for example. Again, this is done all through one agent interface.
Even though omni-channel is fairly new in terms of where contact centers are striving to be, the customer already expects this type of communication.
Rod Hughes, Kodak Alaris Research shows that 25% of consumers use one or two channels when they communicate with a contact center, while 52% of consumers even use three or four channels. The information coming from new channels is mostly unstructured, and is likely to be handled manually or through separate, channel-specific processes. New and existing communication is handled by different processes, sometimes by different departments and is subsequently stored in disjointed repositories. For the agents this makes it impossible to gain an understanding of the interrelatedness, context, frequency or volume of communications from one customer. Offering a true omni-channel service i.e. interacting with customers in the communication channel of their choice, even if this involves switching between communication channels during one service interaction is the foundation for a superior customer experience.
Kodak Info Insight Platform from Kodak Alaris reads, understands, and processes relevant data coming from virtually any format, structure or source, and provides contact center agents with a comprehensive view of all customer interactions across all channels. In addition to the comprehensive view of all customer communications, the solution provides agents with relevant data that resides in – often disjointed - data repositories allowing for a fast and comprehensive response.
Emma Skygebjerg, Loxysoft Workforce Management AB Omni-channel service is providing state of the art multi-channel service, where the customer is in focus. As noted in our response on better engagement, it’s meeting the customer in the customer’s preferred channel.
Bronson Zolik, Ytel Omni channel service is an ever-evolving set of solutions. Right now we see it as giving the customer options on how they would like to communicate with companies, whether that be phone, text, email, or internet chat. The preferences of consumers are definitely changing and businesses are looking for ways to adapt to that change. A few years ago text messaging was taking over a large part of our communications but just as everyone started putting all their focus into bettering their texting solutions we have seen a dramatic decrease in the traffic on the SMS networks as apps like snapchat and Whatsapp have gained popularity. We foresee implementing several new approaches in the near future. Besides the normal phone, email, chat, text systems we have all become familiar with we may play with Twitter, Facebook, or even Whatsapp.
How can agent performance be monitored and improved in voice interactions as well as on other touch points?
Buster Hansen, Enghouse Interactive Monitoring first-call resolution requires a two-pronged approach. If you only use call recording to monitor agent interactions, you’re only getting a small part of the overall picture. Call monitoring must be paired with screen captures, where you can also observe which tools agents use during a call. With real-time performance monitoring, supervisors can gauge agent effectiveness with a clear view of their presence, location, activity and performance.
Agents’ performance can be improved even further by using vocal coach or whisper tool. Providing your agents with real-time advice while on a call with a customer can boost the confidence and accelerate the training of new agents and correct old habits of experienced agents. Finally, voice analytics is a great way to monitor your contact centers’ calls to correct compliance issues or even help find laggards in verbiage updates.
Rod Hughes, Kodak Alaris At every level of the system, service level agreements (SLAs) can be defined and agent performance can be measured against these expectations. Interactions with customers can be improved by providing the agent the best answer for the issue, in real time. That avoids searching multiple systems for the right answer or making one up on the spot, when an expert in the enterprise has already defined one that should be used to ensure the best consistency and quality in communication.
Performance is also transparent to the agents: each agent has the ability to monitor how his or her own performance compares against the team average. In order to put each agent in the best possible position to provide superior customer service, the Info Insight Platform can automatically suggest the most relevant answers to the customer`s questions, which should help improve individual agent performance. Furthermore, the solution learns from the behavior of the most experienced agents so that there is a continuous refresh of the relevant suggested answers that is made available to agents with all experience levels.
Emma Skygebjerg, Loxysoft Workforce Management AB Loxysoft’s ProScheduler solution offers monitoring in real time and in historic reports on voice, e-mail and other tasks. Our reports are frequently used for identifying areas of improvements, and for coaching the agents
Bronson Zolik, Ytel Agent performance is such a subjective set of metrics to measure: what may be key KPI’s for one business may be completely worthless to another. We really try to understand each customer’s needs individually and help them to develop the best possible solutions to track those for their specific business.
What specific benefits does your solution or service deliver that differentiates it from other offerings in the marketplace?
Buster Hansen, Enghouse Interactive Our Contact Center Enterprise (CCE) is a scalable, PBX-agnostic omni-channel contact center platform for medium and large size enterprises. It is highly adaptable, can be deployed on-premise or in private and hybrid cloud configurations, and enables organizations to deliver a superior customer experience via their subscribers’ preferred choice of communication, including Voice, Email, Fax, Chat, Mobile, SMS, Web, Social and IVR.
CCE delivers comprehensive call recording and performance management, as it’s integrated with Enghouse Interactive Quality Management Suite.
CCE enables full, blended predictive dialing (inbound and outbound), which maximizes productivity of agents by maintaining 100% utilization when inbound volume drops. Also, the latest iteration offers agent and group pacing via outbound dialing, configured to adjust in real-time to how fast the individual and group is dialing. Dynamic resource allocation also allows for all the ports to be used by all the agents. No longer are there a fixed number of lines for each agent; combined with the agent and group pacing, the system allows each agent to work as fast and efficient as they are capable.
Handling customers’ inbound requests well isn’t the only component of a positive customer experience. Sometimes, proactively communicating with customers about what you’re going to do can have a positive impact. For example, notifying customers about the status of their order or alerting them to the anticipated arrival time of a solution can go a long way toward building rapport and customer loyalty. One way we can send notifications that customers can interact with is through their Mobile IVR Navigator. It is a mobile or web-based visual IVR that is connected to your contact center and self-service menus. Seeing and selecting a visual set of communication options is much faster and easier than waiting to hear menu options verbally. The app can also push account information and files when applicable. This provides a quick and easy self-service option that diverts calls away from the contact center, allowing agents to focus on calls that deem a personal interaction.
CCE boasts the highest possible availability, carrier-grade stability and redundancy, which mitigate the risks of downtime in a cloud environment. It integrates seamlessly with the most widely used CRM and telephony platforms, either on premise or in the cloud. Powerful functionality complements existing infrastructure, enabling IT teams to maximize the value of their technology investment and focus on business objectives instead of problems and user issues.
We also have a professional services department team that works with each client on helping them to serve individual channels. In addition, we have an offering for the back office so the back office worker can receive all the information as soon as it leaves the contact center.
Rod Hughes, Kodak Alaris The Info Insight Platform has been designed to address the key challenges that customer service organizations face, whether they are in-house or outsourced.
The platform reads, understands and classifies the flood of unstructured data arriving via the growing number of communication channels and types. Info Insight covers all text-based information channels, thus offers a true omni-channel solution by connecting communication channels that reside in disjointed, siloed processes. Intelligent solutions based on Info Insight identify the nature of the request and classify it accordingly without being limited to pre-defined keywords.
The Info Insight Platform validates and augments the communication received with other relevant customer data that, for example, resides in the CRM system. As a result, contact center agents obtain a complete 360 degree view of all relevant customer data needed to provide a comprehensive answer. The platform protects existing infrastructure investments rather than seeking to replace current systems and repositories by allowing an easy integration into these repositories.
Finally, the Artificial Intelligence capabilities of the Info Insight Platform go far beyond the use of mere keywords, continuously enhancing the knowledge base in the contact center, learning from each new question and expert answer. All agents, especially the less experienced ones, benefit from the self-learning system, which keeps them motivated and ensures fast and comprehensive responses to the customers. Shorter learning curves mean lower training costs and the ability to automate repetitive tasks keeps the work more interesting. Similar benefits are available in the self-service solution allowing customers to cover simple requests 24/7 without agent involvement. The dynamic knowledge base provides them with relevant information quickly – rather than sifting through complex FAQ lists.
Emma Skygebjerg, Loxysoft Workforce Management AB We have combined our expertise in WFM, multichannel inbound and outbound for an extremely user-friendly offer that improves customer experience. User-friendly, scalable and flexible solutions offered with state of the art customer service.
We also asked our panelists specific questions on their individual applications:
Enghouse Interactive - How do your contact center solutions enable companies to manage customer information, decrease time-to-answer, and route multichannel interactions to agents while providing them an automated screen display of vital customer information?
Buster Hansen Enghouse Interactive provides software and services to deliver exceptional customer communications. Applications are purpose-built so customer-facing personnel can overcome technology silos and other barriers to provide a seamless, personalized, and synchronized experience across the many communications channels used by today’s consumers. Agents are able to deliver high-value interactions with a choice of voice, email, chat, mobile apps, SMS, social, video and Internet communications that maximize customer satisfaction
In today’s connected world, it’s important to recognize that some of your best customers don’t want to spend a lot of time with you on the phone. To better serve their needs, you should not only have the customer’s information automatically popped on the screen, but the agent should already have a pretty good idea of why the customer is reaching out. Enhancing the customer experience even more, Enghouse empowers agents with the full knowledge of the customer’s past interactions, regardless of media type, in a timeline view of their history on the contact record.
Keep in mind, too, that the end goal is not to minimize talk time for your company; the goal is to maximize your first-interaction resolution. To accomplish this, be sure to use a Universal Queue that allows you to blend the above communication channels into the workload of your service people, and make sure to track and manage your service levels and response times on every form of communication your customers choose, so you can measure your performance.
Kodak Alaris - Why is it so important for businesses to have the 360-degree view of customer interactions data that Kodak Alaris Document Imaging provides and how does your solution give agents immediate access to the right knowledge to quickly resolve issues?
Rod Hughes The ability to have a complete, i.e. 360-degree view of customer interactions has a direct and very significant impact on first call resolution rates and as a result, customer satisfaction and loyalty. If an agent needs to access several different systems to access relevant data or even, a most common scenario, does not have access to information that is stored in different systems or in paper format, the likelihood of providing a quick and comprehensive response to customers is slim to none.
And probably most important for any brand, it enables the agent to engage the customer in conversation via any channel. Conversations improve relationships. Strong relationships help drive brands and the financial performance of those brands.
The Info Insight Platform from Kodak Alaris enables contact center agents with exactly that 360-degree view and knowledge required to provide the most appropriate response in the short response time expected. With access to all customer communications, regardless of communication channel – including all unstructured data and that in scattered repositories – agents have the data they need to instantly take care of each inquiry right at their fingertips.
Loxysoft - How does the combination of Loxysoft dialer solutions combined with Dolphin contact center, ProScheduler and Social CRM give companies a full portfolio of inbound and outbound capabilities?
Emma Skgebjerg We have combined the many years of knowledge from Dolphin, from ProScheduler and from Loxysoft, and built these solutions together into a full-service offering for contact centers on inbound, outbound, e-mail, chat, social media, customer service and WFM. We are now able to offer our customers a Single Point of Contact, a one-stop-shop that can offer cutting edge technology with exceptional customer service.
Ytel - How does your solution support internal and external mobility for the contact center?
Bronson Zolik Ytel provides flexibility for the business in many aspects, whether that be scalability to grow and shrink on demand without the fear of wasted overhead or the flexibility to have agents be able to stay connected and work from anywhere in the world. We ae really trying to create a product that is not stuck in one place but can grow and evolve with a customer as their business does the same.