Contact center managers are, at their core, problem-solvers. One of the most challenging problems they often face is dealing with unpredictable spikes in call volume. Sometimes the causes of call spikes are understood, even anticipated. Yet, in many cases, these periods of peak call volume come as a real shock to everyone in the contact center. For example, a marketing event promoting a product sale would be an easy predictor for an influx in calls, whereas an unexpected power outage or sudden bout of the flu in the contact center isn’t something that can be readily planned for. Or is it?
Author Archives: Samantha Mehra
As Miele evangelists know, the company stands for two important things: Quality and customers. So, it is fitting that its customer service reflects this, too. The brand, its products, and its thoughtful engagement with customers and employees remain difficult to match in an increasingly competitive marketplace (both instore and online). As I sat down with Miele Canada’s VP of Customer Service & Operations, Eric Esguerra, it became clear that the company’s strides in innovation come from the long-standing mission articulated by its founders: “Success is only possible in the long term if one is totally and utterly convinced of the quality of one’s products.” This, too, applies to the quality of its customer service. Joined in conversation by CSPN’s VP of Business and Customer Service Strategy, Jessica Cryer, and Dolly Konzelmann, CSPN’s President and CEO, it was also revealed how Miele and its partnership with CSPN created a unique and unmatchable program which both optimized customer service operations, and transformed the Miele Canada employee experience forever.
When I first stepped foot into the Fonolo office nearly a year ago, I was also knowingly dipping my toes into the customer service ecology. With the abundance of experts, thought leaders, Twitter handles, and publications that make up the DNA of both the customer service and customer experience industries, it quickly became clear that the learning curve would be steep. Luckily, though, there exist a host of organizations whose resources caught me up to speed in fairly short order.
Are you new to the customer service space and currently seeking a) some fundamental orientation information; and b) membership in some pivotal circles where important CS knowledge is shared? One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself in your education is exposure to some vital organizations that offer resources, events, and other educational pieces that will make you an expert in no time. Read on to learn about (and bookmark!) eight customer-focused organizations, acronyms and all, that you should be following this year and beyond.*
It’s an IKEA slogan. It’s also IKEA’s raison d’être.
At a healthy 75 years’ old, the Scandinavian born-and-bred brand has well surpassed middle-age and earned its place among retail royalty, continuing to thrive and expand its utilitarian-while-whimsical offerings into the online world. Its products are nestled in households across the globe. Phrases from its brilliantly funny ads have crawled into common parlance. IKEA isn’t simply a store: It’s a cultural force.
IKEA’s long-running epic success is the result of its allegiance to a specific set of principles that guide its every move: To nurture loyalty, a company must dare to be a fixture at every stage of customers’ lives. It must consider their every want and desire. It must meet their needs with products, online and in-store experiences, and customer service offerings.
The proof is in the pudding: Loyal consumers continue to flock to the imposing blue mecca in their town centers (and soon, urban centers) because of IKEA’s ability to hold a customer’s familiar hand throughout their lifetime. With seven decades under its belt, the company has much to teach us about how offering powerful customer experiences can make a brand a force to be reckoned with.
HOLD EVERYTHING: The results are in.
Onholdwith.com, the Fonolo-powered site that mines Twitter for real-time complaints about being put on hold (and folks, there are many, many complaints), has today made its annual list of hold-time offenders available for all the world to see. And you may be surprised by who made the list.
OnHoldWith.com, launched by Fonolo a few years back, this year collected over a whopping 165,000 posts mentioning the phrase “on hold with” from Twitter. And as those of us in customer service know to a sobering degree, Twitter has quickly become a go-to platform customers use to shout about frustrating customer service experiences. The tweets informing the report this year confirm that: a) customers are increasingly turning to social media to publicly out companies for poor customer service handling; and b) a benchmark of this poor service is placing a customer on hold.
While the companies on this year’s top 10 list are doing exquisite things in their industries (and trust us, we are big fans of all of them), the results of this year’s report signal that brands could be doing things even better, starting with sprucing up their customer service offerings.
So, here’s a good question: Did your company make the list?
Over a decade ago, in 2007-era Toronto, Shai Berger, Jason Bigue, and Mike Pultz launched a little rocket of a company called Fonolo, unsure of where and how far it would take them. Many memorable years later, and with more employees climbing aboard along the way, Fonolo has grown to be known as the pioneer in cloud-based call-back solutions, to the delight of those in the call center industry.
Today we are chuffed to announce yet another milestone moment in the company’s growth and commitment to its customers: The release of our advanced new call-back platform. The new platform offers a breadth of new features supporting increased security, reporting, customization, and accessibility, intended to provide customers with the tools they need to handle the growing call-volume and complexity in their contact centers.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane!
No, it’s the top contact center trends to watch for in 2019. And we’ve got you covered.
So many storylines, so little time. And as in any classic comic book, the storylines are familiar and sometimes predictable, but we foresee them taking captivating turns in the new year.
As the sun sets on 2018, contact center superheroes should watch for the plots, characters, and villains within them. As always, we keep watch of trends and issues pertinent to contact centers, continuously shifting due to technological advancements; mergers and acquisitions in the SaaS space; the realigning of customer service and experience priorities on the part of brands; and more.
It could be argued that customer service is uniformly about a few core things: Giving consumers agency; shepherding them towards a positive outcome to their problems; and providing solutions and smiles by whatever means (and using whatever technology) necessary. While this may seem simple enough, call and contact center managers of the 21st Century know better: It ain’t easy.
As we wind down the year, one exploding with news of mergers, acquisitions, emerging technologies, dying technologies, and the like, sometimes it’s good to go back to basics when the volume on industry news and trends has been turned up to dizzying, deafening degrees.
And, you know, we’re here to help. Our thanksgiving gift to you? Feast your eyes on the infographic below (along with the accompanying Coles notes) which acts as a handy cheat-sheet for those looking to revitalize their contact and call centers with simple changes (including gamification, service levels, and call-backs), all of which will continue to shape the landscape in 2019.
Now that I’ve got your attention (and, assuming you speak ‘ghost’), allow me to continue: It’s Halloween.
Nerd alert: I am a grown adult, but Halloween is my most cherished holiday. I also happen to work in the customer service and experience space so, for the past few weeks, I’ve (of course) been ruminating on how to bring both of these aspects of my life together in perfect, haunted harmony. Then, as I sifted through a page called OnHoldWith.com, one littered with customer complaint Tweets from thousands of social media users, an idea came at me like (to quote Meatloaf) a bat out of hell: It’s time to get social this season.
As OnHoldWith.com demonstrates, and as customer service veterans can attest, social media is the modern soapbox upon which customers can dig in their heels and shout about sub-par or non-existent service to a far-reaching online audience. These digital digs can shake the foundations of a brand’s image, which is a serious business. As a result, customer support on social channels has quickly become a priority for service-centric brands. This is the most hip customer service has ever been.
As we transition into autumn, it’s easy for us in customer service to lose the steam, energy, and focus we coveted during the rejuvenating days of summer. This is certainly not ideal given that the late fall and early winter months are some the busiest for call centers and contact centers in many the vertical: Black Friday, Super Saturday, and most of the days book-ending December 25th see a dramatic upsurge in customer support requests, which accompanies a similarly dramatic upsurge in shopping on these days.
Customers also use social media as a preferred communications channel at this high-octane time, a public, digital soapbox upon which to shout out about frustrating customer service experiences (anything from being put on hold to never reaching a customer service agent). But while social media can reflect the negative, it can alternatively offer positive viewpoints and inspiring wisdom, often in 280 characters or less. Specifically, Twitter and LinkedIn have sprinkled throughout its many vestiges a series of short, sweet, thought-provoking tidbits from insightful customer service professionals that can dig you out of the winter doldrums, and catapult your customer support strategies into action. If you want to be inspired, invigorated, and ready for anything, read on and soak in the quick’n’dirty advice from CS and CX professionals and enthusiasts.