Customer Reach March 2012
Inside this Issue
Is Your Website is a Call Center Tool?
Millennial Myths & the Call Center By Colin Taylor
Call Center Wishes Can Come True…No Genie Required
Trends for 2012 from Snapshotz & Customer Services Audit
Is Your Website is a Call Center Tool?
By: Colin Taylor
Recent research by Forrester has shown that 72% of customers prefer to visit your web site and serve themselves when they have a customer service issue. This is a large percentage and is disconnected from the perceptions of most organizations related to the activity in their contact center. This figure clearly points to the importance of ensuring that your website is friendly and easy to navigate. This point is further underscored by a study conducted by the Customer Council in 2009 which found the 40% of your customers who phone your contact center will be on you website at the time of the call.
Now I know that at this minute you are a little concerned and are mentally reviewing your website in your head…is it easy to use? Can a customer find the FAQ’s? Will the FAQ’s actually answer customer questions? Well let me raise the heat just a little more. In answer to this question posed by Forrester Research in 2009 “I will stop my online purchase if I do not immediately find an answer to my question” a frighteningly large percentage, 57% of all respondents answered: Yes!
So what does all this mean to the call center operator? Of course it is this last statistic that drives the use of proactive chat to reach out to a customer on the website who may be struggling to find an answer, before they abandon the shopping cart. But these three statistics when viewed together paints an unmistakably integrated view of the call center and the website. In fact your website maybe the best and most efficient call center tool you have. Your customers want to use your website: almost 3/4 will attempt to ‘self serve’ their problem before they call you. 40% will still be on the website when they do call you. We also know that customers can be fickle, with more than half ending planned purchase transactions for want of an easy to find answer. Logic would suggest that if we could make sure our website is customer friendly for support, technical and purchase transactions we can not only sell more products and services, but can also resolve more issues faster and at a lower cost. The most efficient way to service a customer inquiry is to provide the information the customers seek and avoid a live call center interaction. And what could be even more important this is increasingly how customers want to interact with organizations.
But how can we achieve this? First we need to ask some questions. We have already identified some of the questions we need to ask earlier in this article;
* Is the website customer friendly?
* Is the website easy to navigate?
* Can a customer easily find our FAQ’s or Knowledgebase?
* Are the FAQ’s meaningful, helpful (not just easy to post) and useful?
* Do the FAQ’s actually answer the query completely?
* What other support options can the customer access while on the web? This could include chat, web-forms etc.
We need to ensure that we have the right information available and that it is easy to find. For most organizations this will require linking the knowledgebase or the FAQ,s to the website. The queries and searches that customer may employ can use different terms than we might internally, so you need to ensure you Knowledgebase is labeled and written in plain language, without acronyms or slang that the customer is unlikely to understand or comprehend. You will also need to review the knowledge base usage history within your center and link related or follow on knowledge points. Giving a customer half an answer is of little use to and may actually frustrate the caller. Make sure that you employ pictures and or videos if the solution is complicated or can easily be misunderstood. The objective in optimizing your website for customer success is not just about orders, but also about answering customer questions which will impact on their satisfaction and likelihood to purchase.
The use of chat can be a huge benefit to customers and call center agents alike. It allows the customer to interact while not requiring them to place a call. With chat you can push pages or with consent take over their screen to show them the answers they are seeking. It should be noted that in technical environments, call centers often receive more chat requests than calls. Proactive chat has been proven to improve sales – with organizations reporting a 3 – 5 % increase in web sales directly attributable to proactive chat and answering the question that if left unresolved would have resulted in an abandoned order.
Web-forms are a standard element on almost every website, where you need to complete a form to request information, open a ticket or ask for support. By its nature web-forms are not real time transactions. They are more like email, in fact they are emails with web-forms being sent to an email address or queue. So why not just offer an email link for customer use? A web-form allows you to categorize topics or the nature of the inquiry. Customer can come up with lots of subject lines and content, but you can significantly simplify the processing if there are a finite number of web-form topics and ideally the subject lines can control the routing to ensure that responses can be prioritized and/or distributed to the subject matter experts’ best equipped to handle the inquiry.
In addition to being able to stream subjects and topics into pre-defined categories, web-forms can require customer information. This includes name and contact details, but can also include customer or account number, if the form is related to a purchase or an existing ticket. This can add context and detail that can help the call center answer inquiry.
So as you look at your call or contact center and complete your budgets and strategic planning, don’t lose site of the role the company website can play in supporting customers, eliminating problems and calls into the center.
Watch the YouTube video related to this article here
Millennial Myths & the Call Center
By: Colin Taylor
By Colin Taylor
I read an interesting article by Jennifer J Deal at strategy+business looking at five myths we hold about Millennials. For the past number of years we have all heard horror stories about organizations that gave away iPads, spot bonuses, socially conscious and social responsible activities, but still had staff leave for greener pastures. This point has been used time and again to characterize the lack of loyalty that Millennials are supposed to posses, which makes hiring and retaining them difficult.
Call centers I know of have changed their mobile phone policies to allow Millennials to have the phones on and with them at their desks and they are free to check facebook or twitter between calls. These same centers often speak of Millennials feeling entitled to the fast track to easy street, their lack of interest in their work and difficultly managing them.
This all fits well with our stereotypes and our expectations around Millennials, but it may be all wrong. The article cites research involving thousands of respondents and dashs five of the major millennial myths completely.
Conventional wisdom would have it that Millennials don’t want to be told what to do or follow direction. The research (Center for Creative Leadership) however shows that Millennials are more likely to follow direction than are Gen Xers or Baby Boomers. 41% of Millennials agreed with a statement that Employees should do what their Manager tells them, versus only 30% for each the Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. If you think about this the results really are not too surprising, Millennials know that following direction from authority figures often ends well (at least it has done so often for most of us a children). This perspective on Millennials also creates an opportunity to engage with these individuals by ensuring they understand and appreciate the organizations culture, values and expectations.
Myths also surround Millennial loyalty or perceived lack thereof, but the research shows that Millennials have a similar level of loyalty and commitment as Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. It is a fact that younger workers tend to change jobs more frequently, even the Baby Boomers were guilty of this. This ‘young age = job hopping’ was even true when jobs were often perceived to be for life.
Similarly Millennials are just as motivated as their Gen X and Baby Boomer predecessors were by work. As with job hopping above the lower you are in the hierarchy regardless of your generation the less motivated you will be.
There is no link between your generation and you motivation by perks and high pay. Everyone loves perks and who wouldn’t want high pay, but neither of these attributes is unique to Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers display the same behavior and there is no evidence in the research to show these perks improve loyalty regardless of age.
So what does this mean to you in managing your call center? Well first of all I think you can lose the generational labels. Increasingly Millennials look just the same as you and I, only younger. Second forget trying to attract them with the perceived hot-buttons around perks, toys and special treatment. Nothing the research shows that these tactics work. the ability to take direct is one area where Millennials perform better than Gen X or Baby Boomer workers and this provides you with a great opportunity to share what your company is about and to show them how they make a difference. Be specific with how they will be judged and assessed and what you expect of them. Transparency is also valued by workers of every generation and Millennials are no different. So be open, transparent and specific about what they are to do and what you expect them to achieve and you can be well on your way to a successful working relationship.
Let us know what you think of this article, please visit www.thetaylorreachgroup.com or send us an email at email@example.com
Join the friendly customer service crowd at the International Customer Service Association -TC 15th Annual May Conference on May 10-11, in Mississauga Ontario. (Close to Toronto for out of towners).This year’s theme is “Transforming the Customer Experience” and will be sure to inspire, motivate and energize you!
Our combinations of motivational speakers and case studies presentations have been integrated to give you insight on how to TRANSFORM the Customer Experience for your organization.
Bring your colleagues from IT, HR, Marketing, Sales and anyone who impacts the experience and share this powerful conference with them.
Take advantage of the early bird rate. We are keeping our prices well below the industry average of thousands of dollars. You can attend our conference for starting at $599.00 for two days. At this rate, bring the team!
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mention code 555 to get the member early bird rate. www.icsa.on.ca
Key note speakers
Free 3 month membership
Click here to download the conference brochure.
An open letter to all companies considering hiring a call center consultant
By: Colin Taylor
Every call center manager wants their center to run as effectively and efficiently as possible. Every Senior Vice President wants the call or contact centers that they are responsible for to be ‘best practice’ and every Chief Marketing Officer wants the call center to capture or generate the maximum possible orders and revenue. Every CFO wants each of the pervious desires to come true, but without increasing spending or making capital investment.
Can the CFO get their wish or do they need a genie to grant these wishes?
The short answer is yes, you can have it all, but as with most things the devil is in the details. Do you know what the specific areas where call center improvement will have the biggest impact? Do you have the skills and experience to lead such an initiative within your organization? Do you have the bandwidth available to manage a call center re-engineering process in addition to your day job? Is there anyone within your organization who can answer yes to these three questions? Don’t feel bad, most companies can’t answer “yes” either.
The obvious solution is to find a knowledgeable consultant whose expertise and experience you can rent to identify and address these issues. But who do you call? Let me be completely transparent, you should call me. Now let me tell you why.
First, to be effective you want a consultant that has broad experience in a number call/contact centers and environments. Environments such as: Customer Service, Technical Support, Inbound, Outbound, Blended, Captive, Outsource, domestic and international. Someone who has only seen one type of center is ‘blind’ to what they haven’t seen before. My personal experience is 35 years in the call/contact center industry, beginning on the phones, running a center, building an in-house call center , outsource sales, account management and executive management of a successful outsource agency. I followed this with 7+ years assisting some very well regarded firms improve the operation of the call and contact center infrastructure. Along the way my clients and I received 27 awards for call center operational excellence on two continents.
Second, you want the consulting firm you work with to have demonstrable experience and reference-able success. We have achieved a number of significant results for our clients. Some of our successes include:
• $6 million in annual savings for a Major Bank,
• $1 million in first year savings for a Publisher,
• $1.5 million saved through process re-engineering for a major printer manufacture,
• Creation of Call Center Strategic Plan for services company rolled out to 25+ centers,
• Transformed services center: improving Grade of Service from 20% to 80% while reducing costs.
• For an international eCommerce retailer improved agent productivity by 54% while reducing cost per contact by 47%
• $2 million dollar improvement call center operational cost due to increased revenues and reduced expenses on a 50 seat center.
References, you can ask any one of our clients about our services and capabilities and we are confident you will be pleased with what they say about us.
Thirdly, you want a consultant that will stand behind their work. Where we are asked to implement recommendations we have made we will guarantee the Return on Investment (ROI)! Can you get a lower risk scenario than where the ROI is guaranteed?
Of course we are not the only good call/contact center consultants out there, but there aren’t that many good ones. There are literally thousands of call center consultants out there, well technically 26,900 according to Google. How can you know which one is ‘right’ for you? I can offer you some advice which I have used throughout my career:
1. Hire people you like, after all who wants to work with someone we don’t like.
2. Hire someone you trust and respect. As the hiring manager you will be judged by who you retain, so they had better garner your respect and be someone you can trust with your reputation.
3. Hire someone who can teach you and your staff something. Life is journey and we can all enjoy the journey more if we are constantly learning.
Now, I really can’t control if you like me, trust me or respect me, and you likely can’t judge this until we meet. But you can gain an insight into our knowledge and experience by reviewing some of the 100 plus articles and whitepapers we have written. You can review these on our website.
So what happens now? Well that is entirely up to you. If I have intrigued you, even a little, I hope that you will research us by visiting our website, reading some of our articles, reviewing my LinkedIn profile and perhaps even checking out my tweets (@colinsataylor).
If you want to discuss your center and challenges and gain my open and honest comments and perspective give me a call at 416-979-8692 ext 200 and I will gladly invest an hour of my time. If it is easier, just drop me an email posing some questions or suggesting a call of meeting and I will respond.
So if you want to improve your centers performance, then improve your centers performance and if we can help, we are happy to do so.
The Taylor Reach Group, Inc.
Phone- 416-979-8692 ext 200
We asked Deepak Selvaratnam to share with us some of his thoughts on the trends that will impact on the call center industry.
1. Connecting emotionally to a customer is far more important to the organization than rationally satisfying a customer.
These past few years have been tough and there are more signs than things are still going to be tough for a while. Tough times bring stress and tolerance levels reduce for many of us as worldwide customer stats indicate around customer tolerance.
So ensuring teams understand the need and use ‘emotional connect’ language is important.
Technology is also looking at emotional detection. Emotion detection is an automated way to measure how a caller feels, based on their actions, words and tone..According to Omar Zaibek of Fonolo, It is based on things like how loud a customer is talking, their tone, pitch, and how fast they speak.
“We are seeing more of this technology being adopted because of its positive impact on the caller experience and call center key performance indicators (KPIs).
Some call centers prioritize callers in their queue based on how angry they are. The system will intuitively listen to the caller while they are on hold and if a caller is vocally upset, they will receive a higher priority in the queue and connect to an agent faster.
While on hold with Scotiabank, I was immediately connected with an agent when I started yelling. This mitigated my frustration and demonstrates how emotion detection can make for a less frustrating experience.”
2. Quality or ‘fit for purpose customer service’ is not an option but a necessity!
One of the key forces for 2012 / 2013 is the discovery that in this economic climate you cannot pay lip service to quality assurance / monitoring, regardless of whether you are a 5 member customer service team or if you are 5,000.
Even if there are legions in the quality assurance team, great CSAT scores and mega marketing hype, understanding and delivering ‘fit for purpose customer service’ will deliver increased and sustainable customer satisfaction and engagement, reduced cost to serve and a more motivated workforce.
If you don’t know how find out, if you already have a team get an accredited third party to validate your quality assurance and monitoring efforts as this is best practice and 9 times out of 10 will reduce your cost to serve.
3. Harnessing currently available system and application functionality to do more with less or completely starting afresh is a definitive trend amongst Snapshotz Online users.
Over 28% have upgraded to current versions or threw out the old! Significant in a global economy that’s depressed. Anecdotal research suggests that one out of two call centres are not employing more half of their telephony systems capabilities.
Understanding what current capabilities are and the ROI for starting afresh is important!
4. SIP should be checked out!
The greater adoption of SIP trunking has reduced telephony costs for customer service environments sometimes by as much as 50% or more and given organizations added flexibility in their efforts to reduce overall communication costs! If communication costs are next to labour costs on your P&L and regardless of whether you have VOIP then potential savings lie in addressing this.
5. Whilst approximately 9% – 12 % of customer service managers understand HSE in the context of contact centres there is growing acceptance for focus driven by legislation as well as greater understanding of how HSE contributes to greater productivity.
Health and safety in relation to contact centres is different to that of an office work environment. Focus on understanding and measuring noise, light and airflow can drive productivity up by almost 20% in some cases. Accent on wellness and mental health (different to HSE in a physical environment) too is being recognized as a focus area for a growing number of contact centres.
6. In shoring, off shoring, outsourcing is continuing to grow with over 22% of Snapshotz users having moved to one of these services or in the process of considering doing so.
The drivers being less costly than in-house teams on a total cost of ownership basis, risk management, non complementary to core business activities and competitive advantage. The advent of cloud offerings and the general business move to shared services are overall business trends affecting this move as well.
7. Customer service management is now becoming more of a science than an art. The more we understand how humans, processes and machinery come together to deliver in an instant the different customer needs the better we are able to influence and manage the different resources available to us.
In this regular column we review the successes that Taylor Reach is part of.
Taylor Reach assists Health & Fitness Technology Company Manage Surging Call Volumes
Taylor Reach helped an established Health and Fitness technology company adjust their operational model to deal with surging call volumes, long wait times and unsatisfactory service levels.
This very successful health and fitness technology company achieved a great coup when they secured agreement to roll their technology out to a 10,000 location fitness chain. However the as the installations rolled forward so did the calls to the contact center. The callers were less comfortable with technology than was expected and required longer and more frequent calls to make them feel comfortable. The call volumes surged and the wait times kept increasing. Training was scaled back in an effort to get agents on the phones quicker. But this of course contributed to even long handle times and further reduced the service levels. The result of the disjointed training process was that some staff could handle some types of calls and other staff could not. In the month before Taylor Reach was called in to assist the center abandoned 72% of their calls, lost the center manager and had a service level of less than 16%.
Taylor Reach analyzed the center data and assessed the staff, training process, volumes and service expectations. Taylor Reach developed a demand volume forecast and reviewed with senior management. It was obvious, that the company could simply not hire and add staff quickly enough nor could it provide enough training to new staff given the continuing increase in call volumes.
Taylor Reach recommended a novel solution. Changing the contact center from an answer and solve model to a triage model would allow the agents to handle cases that fit with their knowledge, training and skill base. At the same time it was essential that new staff were hired and properly trained to be able to service 100% of the call and case types received. To gain time to effect this hiring and training process Taylor Reach recommended the tactical use of an outsource agency. Within 24 hours of the outsource triage model being approved and within 48 hours of arriving on-site the Taylor Reach sourced the outsource agency, established call flows to deliver calls to the outsourcer, facilitated the required data connectivity to allow the outsource firm to create new cases in the client CRM system and had provided training to the outsource agency staff. The outsource firm received the calls directly from the client queue, opened cases and registered them on the CRM. The client agents shifted to an outbound focus selecting cases they were trained to deal with from the case list. At the same time Taylor Reach established desired skills and competency maps for the client, extended these skills and competencies and developed and provided the associated assessment tests to the staffing agency being used by the client and scheduled a two-day initial training for 50% more staff than the center had before Taylor Reach’s arrival. The agency administered the assessments and provided the staff as scheduled 3 days after receiving instructions from Taylor Reach and 5 days after Taylor Reach arrived on-site. For this first time in company history they didn’t experience agent attrition through the training process and over the next two weeks the staff was rotated through the call center as well as through the training and installation departments to deliver the best possible training and understanding of the products.
The service levels began to improve immediately with 79% of calls being answered the first day by the outsource agency. This would meet the 80% goal everyday thereafter. The non-serviced calls (abandons and voicemails) declined from almost 70% the day preceding the outsourcing implementation to under 3% a day later. The backlog of cases went from over 400 to zero within 7 days. The staff through the enhanced training secured universal capabilities to answer all case types within two weeks and their First Call Resolution increase by three fold. All told Taylor Reach was only on-site for two and a half weeks and yet we helped the client significantly improve their service quality, service performance, load forecasting, training, first call resolution and customer satisfaction. All of this was achieved at a lower cost per call than was being achieved before Taylor Reach arrived. The clients summarized their satisfaction with Taylor Reach’s efforts, by remarking that they wished they had called Taylor Reach sooner.
“We were very satisfied with The Taylor Reach Group’s work as they helped shape a much more productive and profitable Customer Service Dept. at Aldo.”
Vice President, Aldo Group
“I really enjoy Colin’s’ writing style and the info he conveys in his articles. His thoughts on self service and customer service are brilliant. I would highly recommend his articles as they can serve as a good primer to anyone interested in improving their customer service or call center capabilities.”
“The new guru of customer service excellence is Micah Solomon” –The Financial Post
Author, keynote speaker, consultant:
Micah speaks, writes, and consults on change and continuity in customer service, branding, company culture, and sales in our revolutionary times.
“Colin is a rock-solid business professional with a deep knowledge of the contact center industry. With honesty, integrity, and excellent interpersonal skills, Colin will tell you what you need to hear, rather than what you want to hear. His exceptional communication abilities allow him to deliver a message without the nonsense, and he is a trusted listener and advisor to colleagues and subordinates alike. He really understands what “partnership” is all about. He is a hands-on leader, who completely understands the requirements, committing and delivering on-time/on-budget projects by rolling up his sleeves and getting the job done. He will do whatever it takes to complete the project and do so with style.”
December 2010 ~ Vice President-Sales and Service, ING Bank
“Colin’s years of Call Center experience have resulted in him becoming one of the premier experts in this field. He has helped countless companies improve their Call Centre and Customer Service processes, and his monthly Newsletter provides valuable information and advice for all of those who are lucky enough to subscribe. In one place, you can find industry happenings, statistics, advice on problems/questions, case study information and much more. It’s invaluable, and an easy on-line read, which makes it even more valuable in my view. I would recommend contacting Colin if you find that you are having problems providing the service you want in your call centre. Although his business is recommending and providing call centre solutions, he will not hesitate to be honest with you and tell you that with a few changes, you can manage everything on your own. This is an honesty that I value highly.”
Senior Customer Service Executive, Readers Digest Asia
“Colin is one of the leaders in the Contact Center industry. He really understands the key drivers of this business. He always showed me a better way to understand each side of this very complex business. He really helped me to develop my knowledge and view of Contact Centers.”
“Colin’s vision, direction and management style was motivational and inspiring as he grew the business. Working along with him on many new and exciting ventures I admired his ability to build strong relationships with customers and suppliers, his strategic and visionary thinking, business savvy, and his supportive nature for his employees.”
Customer Care Manager, BMO
“John was retained by Advantex to lead a prototyping effort to outsource the sales cycle of a new business concept. John and his team worked diligently on this Proof of Concept, proving that business could be sold over the phone; this was an important step forward for Advantex, in terms of validating the opportunity to decrease the cost of sales, as well as confirming that it was a viable alternative to feet on the street. John took a complex offering, which worked in person, and broke it down to a workable over-the-phone pitch. John was a pleasure to work with every step of the way on this POC.”
“Colin’s depth of knowledge greatly enhanced the results. His recommendations made good business sense, and created a good outcome for the company and the employees. I trusted the research and the deliverable he and his company provided in a timely manner.”
Customer Service Executive, Rodale
“Colin understands the complex service requirements needed to support large multi-channel companies and he is able to articulate those needs to a range of audiences. Once the needs are defined, Colin has the ability to create a roadmap and structure for a given project, communicate the plan effectively, and deliver the desired results within the defined timelines. Colin is a creative thinker and has deep industry knowledge that would make him an asset to any company that engages in his services.”
Senior Contact Center Executive, Best Buy
“John is a true pleasure to work with. A leader in every sense of the word. John has the ability to motivate, guide, and instill confidence – All within a 3-4 minute phone call. You can always depend on John to give a swift and direct cure to any dilemma you may get stuck in.”
Outsource Service Provider
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The Taylor Reach Group, Inc. provides Strategic and Operational customer interaction consulting services that deliver Operational Innovation breakthroughs in Contact Center operations. Download our corporate brochure at https://thetaylorreachgroup.com/pdf/taylor_reach_group_corporate_brochure.pdf
Award winning service and more than 200 years of industry experience serving ‘Fortune 1000’ companies. Extensive North American and International experience with both captive (in-house), remote agent and outsource centers. More than 14,000 agent desktops worldwide employ Taylor Reach designed operational business models.
Delivering Operational Innovation to your Contact Center
Contact Center Consulting,
Customer Satisfaction Consulting,
Contact Center Technologies,
KPI and Best Practices,
Contact Center Performance Assessments,
Quality Monitoring & Assurance,
Total Cost of Ownership Assessments,
Service to Sales Migrations,
RFP and RFI Development and Management
Site Location Selection, Analysis and Research
Award winning service…Reach Beyond!
Phone or email Colin Taylor, CEO today at 416-979-8692 ext. 200
By email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone or email Colin Taylor, Founder & CEO today at 416-979-8692 ext. 200
By email at email@example.com
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