Using a Chat Feature to Drive Customer Contacts

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Chat. A technology that’s emerging as one of the best ways to connect with your customers, is still something that is completely underutilized. Too many people are afraid to use it; whether because they’re concerned about retraining agents or having to add additional staff, or they’re worried about the cost and time to develop something, or even if they just simply don’t use chat themselves and thus, don’t see the benefits. Regardless of the why, the fact remains that many large companies are missing an easy way to drive customer contacts that may otherwise be missed out on.

As a fairly tech savvy, and extremely busy person, a chat feature for companies is something I highly value. I spend a large portion of my day on the internet, and far too much time on the phone. The last thing I want to do is make more phone calls. However, chatting is something that I can do easily while working on other projects. Simply ask a question, and wait for a reply that comes back MUCH faster than email. Oftentimes, the lack of a chat feature will drive me away from contacting customer support at all. I had an issue recently with my ISP, and after looking online to find out how to contact them, I decided to spend some time researching the problem on my own rather than call. Does this make sense? Of course it doesn’t. The fact remains, however, that the requirement that I actually pick up the phone and call this company drove me away from contacting them.

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What Makes a Great CSR?

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Hiring quality customer service reps (or anyone, really) is a challenge. Customer service is a difficult job to excel at; and the difficulty of hiring for it is compounded by the fact that it’s generally a low paying position that’s not very appealing to many. Additionally, contact centers usually have a very high attrition rate, which means that you’re in a constant uphill battle of trying to hire quality new agents.

As the trainer at a contact center, I constantly got to see past the resumé and see what agents were truly like. What I noticed is that the hiring managers at this location were stuck in a rut of hiring people based purely on experience in other contact centers. While these people generally knew the workings of a contact center, often times many of them had been in the industry far too long and had simply burned out on the position entirely.

How many times have you gotten off the phone with a CSR, and thought to yourself “That person does not belong in Customer Service”. This is all too often the end result of someone who’s been in that position too long and has burned out, or wasn’t a good fit in the first place. This type of interaction is what leads to CSR’s bouncing from company to company, and to providing poor customer experiences.

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Importance of Managing Your Own IVR

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Any premise based contact center manager KNOWS the challenges associated with managing their own IVR. Having to have a resource in IT do the work for you means that you’re on their timeframe, not your own. This means that what are seemingly simple changes could take weeks or longer.

In a previous contact center job, I made a request to split our billing and ordering queues up. This was to assist in training agents on the multiple systems that were involved in answering those two very different questions. Within the IVR itself was already built an option to select either billing or ordering; however, in the ACD routing, there was no differentiation between the two. This change, to me, seemed to be something that should take a few minutes at most. However, the response I got back was that this modification would take two weeks at minimum. This is obviously completely unacceptable, and yet it’s the reality at many old premise based centers.

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Using Dispositions to Drive a Better Customer Experience

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Dispositions – agents hate them, managers love them, but it’s the rare contact center professional who actually uses them intelligently. For too many contact centers, dispositions are just another check box, and another report to glance at on your weekly staff meeting. However, the contact center manager who does a good job of not only ensuring quality, accurate dispositioning from their agents, but also USES that information as feedback, is going to ultimately end up providing a better customer experience.

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Creating Metrics that Matter to You

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One of the questions that I get most in regards to metrics in my role as a Customer Success Manager is, "What are the industry standards"? Often times, the response I most want to give them is, "Why does that matter?”

Too many times, contact centers try to fit their contact center into a mold of what they or their higher ups believe their contact center should be, without looking at the big picture of what it CAN be. Almost all contact centers are going to look at their metrics in different ways; and yet those specific metrics affect them all differently. 
 
One of the biggest challenges these contact centers face is simply being able to be honest with themselves about what they can and cannot accomplish. Not every company has the same budget, the same business model, or the same exact needs from their contact center.
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