Last week, we had a terrific joint webinar with our friends at Parature. John Seeds (Parature’s Marketing Director) joined me to talk about “4 Trends to Watch in 2014: Multi-Channel Customer Service.” The whole thing is available on demand here. Thanks to everyone who attended!
We had a lively audience that asked some great questions at the end of the presentations. Since we try to keep a quick pace in these events, I kept my answers fairly short. I’m going to use this blog post to elaborate on some of those questions:
- How does Visual IVR relate to call-backs?
- What are some ways to reduce cost-per-call?
- How is Fonolo’s call-back solution different from other offerings on the market?
1) How Does Visual IVR Relate to Call-Backs?
Consumers often list “dealing with an IVR” as a top grievance with the call center experience. But from the company’s point of view, there has to be some way of steering calls to the correct type of agent. If there’s no way for the user to do any “navigation” ahead of the call, odds are the caller will be transferred from one agent to the next (a top complaint in the call center industry). Visual IVR offers a solution to both sides. Callers get an efficient visual interface (instead of “press 1 for this…”) and companies get fewer internal transfers (plus happy callers).
After a caller uses the visual interface, how can we get them and connected to an agent?
That’s where call-backs come in. Simply put, that’s the easiest, most universal “bridge” between call center and caller. There are several intriguing technologies on the horizon (such as WebRTC) that might one day provide a viable alternative for this bridge. But for now, the only contender for a solution that works broadly across different call centers and consumer demographics is call-backs.
That’s why, at Fonolo, we built a cloud-based, industrial strength, call-back system first. On top of that, we built solutions for each call center channel. Two of those solutions include visual IVR:
- Mobile Rescue is a drop-in component for mobile applications, giving your customers the ability to request a call-back from a live agent, directly from your mobile app.
- Web Rescue integrates with your website to give customers a click-to-call “widget” that they can use to fast-track your IVR in order to get a call-back from a live representative.
Our third solution, In-Call Rescue, gives callers the option to receive a call-back when hold times are too long. It allows your customers to “press 1 to get a call-back from the next available agent”.
2) What Are Some Ways to Reduce Cost-Per-Call?
It’s pretty easy to understand why offering a call-back improves customer experience. Forrester states that 75% of customers think the option of a call-back is “highly appealing”. But call-backs are also a tool to reduce cost-per-call through three mechanisms:
A) Reduced Abandon Rate
Abandon rate is a metric that many call center managers watch closely. Abandonment leads to higher repeat calls (which can strain the call center system) and, of course, dissatisfied customers. A recent study of 200 contact centers found that when call-backs were added, 32% of the contact centers experienced fewer abandoned calls. I’m happy to report that our recent deployment with Bright Horizons yielded results aligned with this data. After adding call-backs with Fonolo’s “In-Call Rescue”, their abandonment rate fell by a third.
B) Reduced Handle Time
When customers have to wait on hold, they often take out their frustration on the agent, and can be difficult to deal with. Both things increase handle time which, of course, increases cost-per-call. When Optus deployed Fonolo’s Web Rescue in 2011 they found that their handle times were reduced by 14%.
C) Reduced Telco Cost
Finally, call-backs can reduce cost-per-call by making better use of telco resources. With the traditional approach to keeping a caller on hold, a PSTN line is occupied the whole time. Often this is on a toll-free DID, which can carry higher per-minute rates. By replacing hold-time with a call-back, those lines are freed up. When Canadian ISP Allstream deployed Fonolo’s Mobile Rescue to their field technicians, they saw a 35% reduction in cell phone bills.
3) How is Fonolo’s Call-Back Solution Different From Other Offerings on the Market?
Fonolo is often compared to other offerings on the market like Avaya Call-Back Assist, Cisco Courtesy Callback or Virtual Hold. Those are all valid options for adding virtual queuing to your call center but there are two key differences to remember about Fonolo:
- Fonolo is cloud-based. That means minimal integration, rapid deployment, and compatibility with whatever equipment your call center has today (or will have tomorrow).
- Fonolo is SaaS. That means minimal up-front cost and pricing that scales with usage.
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