Disrupt your thinking - revisit internal procedures to improve everything. It's a ripple effect.
There’s a powerful case to be made for moving your contact center to Skype for Business (read more here). The IT department may want to move a contact center to Skype for Business to save costs and cure tech headaches. But what about the actual users of the contact center software?
The business users care about ease of use and functionality. They have a job to do, and when the tools get in the way of doing that – which is almost always the case with multiple systems – the users get frustrated and don't work efficiently. Providing a single, full-featured, simple-to-use collaboration platform makes life easier for everyone.
#1 – Collaboratively solving customer issues
Working together with other team members to meet the needs of the customer has always been tough in the traditional contact center. Conferencing in another resource was about all you could do in the past, and we all know how clunky and time-intensive that can be. With modern, collaboration-based unified communications tools, teams can solve customer needs faster, in easier ways than ever before. Screen sharing, video, and remote PC control are just some of the powerful options available.
With a collaborative contact center, external-facing agents can communicate with internal experts to assist customers rapidly and cost-effectively. For example, a major online university cut a response time for student services from 9 days to 15 minutes by deploying a contact center solution powered by Clarity Connect. Read the case study today.
#2 – Improve agent experience to boost customer satisfaction
Reducing the number of systems used by agents makes their experience better, which also improves customer satisfaction. For example, in some legacy systems, agents have to log on – and potentially manage – presence across multiple products (such as phone, chat and email presences). Alternately, agents may have a utility that updates the many systems on presence changes from one to the others. However, this can create situations where one modality, product or feature sends interactions, but hasn't updated the others, and users get too many interactions sent to them because the right hand isn't aware of what the left is doing yet. This creates stress for agents and takes attention away from the customer.
In addition, when multiple programs are being used to manage different channels, the interaction sometimes doesn’t go smoothly. For example, the email system may not know the agent is already on a call and has two chats, and if the system doesn’t manage these interactions seamlessly the agent can easily get overwhelmed. A single omni-channel system doesn't cause this pain, and enables control of how many of each type of session an agent can handle simultaneously. Wouldn’t you rather your agents be actively managing your customers instead of their systems?
#2 b – Reduce training and turnover costs
Contact center managers constantly battle training and turnover costs. One easy way to improve on-boarding for agents and to retain them is to simplify the toolset. By consolidating to Skype for Business you reduce the number of systems the agent needs to be trained on. It also is a familiar interface to many prospective agents, speeding up the time needed to train new agents. Reducing training time also reduces costs by making agents available to take calls sooner.
#3 – More ways to interact with customers
People use more communication channels than ever: IM, calls, email, Web chat, Facebook Messenger, and more. The contact center needs to adapt to this change and enable the agent to manage these communications from a single interface.
Skype for Business was designed from the start as a powerful, enterprise-grade UC platform. Extending its capabilities with a contact center platform makes perfect sense.
Want to learn more? Read our free white paper “Why Skype for Business is a natural fit for the contact center.”
There can be huge inefficiencies sunk into resolving customer service issues. But if your institution has Skype for Business (or Lync) deployed, you already have most of the infrastructure you need to make massive improvements.
Skype for Business unlocks the expertise in your organization by interconnecting departments with presence and IM, video and voice, making it easier to communicate and collaborate. With response groups in Skype for Business, you can add basic call routing to groups of users offering a basic level of support.
What do you do when response groups aren’t enough? Like our many clients, you can use Clarity Connect to add intelligent routing and queuing to Skype for Business in order to reimagine traditional customer service models. With presence and IM enabled via Skype for Business, you can deploy a collaborative contact center that unlocks the expertise within your organization.
For example, a leading online university deployed a collaborative contact center solution (with Clarity Connect) to cut a process that took 9.3 days on average to just 15 minutes. Call center agents couldn’t have access to financial aid information, and financial aid personnel couldn’t be tied up on the phones all day. But with a collaborative contact center solution, the sensitive data stayed in the right hands and the agents could do what they do best: customer service. The key – unlocking the expertise of the financial aid office by connecting the call center to them via IM.
Want to dramatically cut your response time? Find out how Clarity Connect can help you solve your customer service issues with a free demo.
One of the most undervalued capabilities in Skype for Business is federation. With federation, users can use all the collaboration features of Skype for Business – presence, IM, voice, screen sharing, etc. – with any other organization that also has Skype for Business and has enabled federation, and even people who use consumer Skype. They can do so without using the public telephone network, and while still maintaining security and compliance with organizational reporting and archiving policies.
As someone who works remotely, I find that Skype for Business makes it much easier for me to communicate and collaborate with my colleagues if I’m not in the office. Presence lets me see if a colleague is available, IM starts a quick chat, adding voice lets us talk more directly, and screen sharing enables us to collaborate.
Federation brings that same level of connectivity and productivity with any partner or customer that has consumer Skype or Skype for Business. This presents a unique opportunity for customer care, in entirely new models. Contact centers can become more customer focused: by monitoring presence to see when the best time is to reach out, for instance, or by enabling a customer to start a conversation with IM and later add voice or screen sharing / video as needed.
For example, a leading European outsourced IT support firm uses Clarity Connect to service a number of external companies via federation. As a result, they can essentially act as an internal helpdesk for their external customers.
Fundamentally, customer service improves with better communication. With Skype for Business, federation and Clarity Connect, organizations can bring customers into the fold, improve communication and collaboration, and manage those interactions - leading to a markedly improved customer service model.
Running a contact or call center on a different telephony platform than the rest of the organization is shockingly common given all the headaches this causes. And many are not aware Skype for Business is a perfect platform for a multi-channel contact center.
Here are some reasons why you should consider consolidating platforms:
- Cost – Why pay for duplicate services or features across more than one product/platform?
- Support and availability – Supporting two technology platforms not only means work and training, it introduces more complexity – especially when the two platforms need to interact. This means more resources devoted to maintenance, and also an increased likelihood of outages.
- Interoperability – A patchwork of different products may not work well together, and can be difficult to configure and keep working together. For example, when two PBX platforms transfer calls between each other, it can cause:
- Dial-plan issues that don't match on the two systems. This means that calls can work from one system, but don’t complete on the other, which is painful to troubleshoot, identify and resolve.
- Codec/transcoding issues can cause poor audio or failed calls
Another excellent solution is a contact center that’s native to Skype for Business. A truly native product will be considerably simpler to install and maintain, and can take full advantage of the often complex arrangements that are made for large enterprise environments with very little additional effort.
Read more in our “Five reasons Skype for Business is a natural fit for the contact center” white paper.
Thousands of companies have successfully deployed millions of Skype for Business seats, yet many still don’t think of it as a platform for their contact center.
- Multi-channel communications
- Cloud contact centers
- Development and extensibility
- Employee mobility
- Significant cost savings
Read the free white paper on what you can accomplish with a Skype for Business contact center.
Read about multi-channel communications and the contact center in CSI’s new post, which includes my comments on the subject.
Ah, the nuances of lingo and terminology. Call center, contact center, customer care solution, sessions, interactions, contacts, and on and on...
These terms seem to change almost daily, so which one should you use, and does it really matter?
If you’re planning to move your contact center to the cloud, or just interested in improving your technology solution, think about the opportunity to transform your contact center, not just replace it.
In many cases established policies and processes were created because of the limitations of legacy technologies – not because they improved customer or agent experience. There are so many new technologies that there’s no reason just to accept that "it’s just the way we’ve always done it.”
Overflow queues are a great example- many who know me know how much I dislike this practice. Once upon a time, there was a good reason for overflow queues due to limitations in early systems. This came at a cost though – it made a mess out of reports. Once skills-based routing came about the limitations were gone, but many people still insisted on having overflow queues. As a result, accurate reports are often difficult to come by. Even more important, delays are caused for the millions of calls and chats that could have been answered by someone who could have helped the customer more efficiently.
There is no better time to reassess both the customer and agent experience than during a platform change. Legacy system limitations often caused agents to have a terrible experience in order to provide a customer with a better one. I’ve even seen the opposite where customers were made to jump through a million hoops to ensure the agent had a simple experience. I have never understood either of these approaches. It’s easily understood why we should optimize the customer experience. But giving your employees a great experience also increases efficiency and helps them serve the customer even better. With today’s software there’s no reason why you have to choose between customer and agent.
New methods of communication are another consideration. It’s not a “call center” anymore – it’s a contact center or even a customer care solution. Many people now prefer chat, email, or other text based communication over traditional voice calling. Many of today’s tools offer these methods, however, many have treated these new interactions just like voice, or otherwise haven’t given thought to how to manage these new ways to communicate. Gather data to see what your users want most. Is it chat from a webpage? Is it email that knows what they’re looking for help on? Find out what your users desire, and then give that to them before one of your competitors does. People will take convenience every day of the week.
The shift in the industry from on-premise (solely) to cloud or hybrid deployments of new generations of software is the perfect time to analyze these and many more policies. Make the changes to get the transformation your users want – and your business needs.
Let’s get a conversation started today to see how Clarity Connect can help with your Cloud Transformation. http://Connect.claritycon.com/hello
The next evolution of cloud computing for contact centers is happening. Private, public and hybrid clouds will soon have new, powerful ways to communicate between each other and the various products used in these environments via cloud APIs powering data sharing.
Traditionally, contact center software has been very limited in accessing other software/data. If you wanted to integrate with another platform for data lookups, screen-pops or adding more intelligence to your routing decisions, developers and large budgets and timeframes would be involved. Today, cloud APIs are becoming more and more readily available to allow for software to interact cloud-to-cloud.
For example, Salesforce currently allows access to its information and screens through its APIs. Like Clarity Connect, some vendors are using this cloud API to allow interactions with their software, such as to make routing decisions or generate screen-pops with specific information for the agents to have at their fingertips. This approach streamlines the experience of both the customer and the agent, and improves customer care.
In another example, Facebook built a powerful API that can enable businesses to integrate Facebook Messenger into third-party applications. Clarity was the first to bring this functionality to the contact center. This cloud API opens the door for the 800 million plus users of Facebook Messenger to conveniently reach businesses, and allow businesses to serve their customers better through a new, convenient method of communication.
Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), a global leader specialized in managing business travel, meetings, and events, originally requested the feature in Clarity Connect and is currently testing it with their client, Facebook. Facebook employees booking travel or making changes to itineraries can do so from Facebook Messenger and have those messages intelligently routed, queued and managed via Clarity Connect for CWT. The cloud-to-cloud APIs allowing the interaction between these two systems is a great example of things to come.
In the future, other cloud APIs may enable countless types of interactions. Imagine Internet connected devices (IoT) that can pass the information about the device through cloud APIs right to the agent assisting you with troubleshooting an issue. They could automatically have logs available or even have already taken action to fix the issue. Think of embedding customer context data into different applications you use daily to speed up and improve customer experience on interactions, CRM data, support ticket data, and more.
Machine learning access through the cloud will soon be a reality as well and open a multitude of additional doors for new interactions. Machine learning will soon be able to do things like predict abandon rates and alter routing or priority based on data from the contact center, past caller behavior and current trends. Machine learning would allow systems to recognize issues and take action to automatically add agents you've defined during high call volume scenarios before service level has fallen below normal alert levels.
Using this data across platforms to make more intelligent routing decisions, and streamline the overall customer and agent experience is going to become the de facto way of powering customer interactions.
What do you think could be accomplished with cloud APIs?