Call center executives are constantly under pressure to find cost-savings. Yet, according to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), “acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.” The key takeaway is that you cannot skimp on customer service. So, how do you reduce costs while not damaging your customer service function? Investing in the right technology can go a long way in reducing costs while actually improving the overall quality of customer service. From effortlessly providing customer support in any language to managing staffing requirements as a result of call volume spikes, implementing the right technology can be transformational.
Category Archives: Technology
It’s our turn.
If you’ve had your eyes on the Fonolo blog for the past nine years, you know that in that time we have dedicated ourselves to bringing you news and views of all kinds that impact the customer service and contact center spaces. Sometimes, though, we have to turn the microphone towards ourselves and give voice to our own customer service happenings and the hard-working customer support contingent that buoys our own brand. Today, we welcome Fonolo Solutions Engineer James R. K. Dantow into the writers’ fold. In addition to talking ‘call-backs’, he has a confession to make.
— The Fonolo Team
My Fonolo story begins like many other engineers: I’ve always had a knack for computers.
Actually, I had a knack for technology in general. This was partially due to proximity: My father began his career in IT in the early 1990s at IBM. This meant many days of my childhood were spent in computer training rooms littered with state-of-the-art IBM Pentium II desktops, huge SVGA projectors, and other fantastic gadgets. To kill time while I waited for him to finish work, I used these computers to play, explore, learn (and honestly, break) all of the training machines that he had spent so much time setting up. And so, naturally, I too looked forward to a career in IT. And like many others, this meant starting out in a call center, answering the phone calls of helpless software users, as a lowly, humble Technical Support Representative (TSR).
Contact center software and CRM software have been on a slow collision course for decades. It’s not hard to understand why: They both deal with customer communication so the boundary was destined to get blurry. Now that both worlds are increasingly cloud-based, the collision is accelerating.
How can we make this more concrete? How can we figure out how far along the process is? Well, it would be great to look at how companies were paying for the whole “customer service” apparatus and see which share is going to CRM companies versus call center companies. But this “share of spend” approach is very hard to do.
Another way to do that is to look at what’s happening at the agent desktop.
When it comes to contact center ‘best practices,’ the library runneth over: Hundreds of articles and reports have been written on the practical ways contact centers can reduce operating expenses without sacrificing quality. This is because senior management are typically reluctant to pump money into call centers, seeing them as a cost center and not a profit center. This in turn increases the pressure to identify ways to reduce cost. The challenge is that a majority of these “cost-reductions” lead to markedly poorer customer service quality. So, can you reduce contact center costs and improve customer service? To many contact center managers and executives, achieving this would be akin to finding the Holy Grail.
To achieve the kind of cost savings that truly impact the bottom line, contact center leaders need to reconsider the typical ho-hum tactics. Improving scripts and workflows to shorten calls will only get your organization so far. The answer? Invest in cost-saving technology that will reduce overheads and improve the quality of your customer care.
Here at Fonolo, we understand the many issues call centers face in regards to staffing, spikes, hold times, call abandonment, and more. That is why we’ve tasked ourselves to research the best solutions to deal with these problems head-on. While nothing can beat call-backs in improving your call center experience for both customers and agents, we are happy to announce the findings from our years of research.
You might already be thinking you know the answer:
Internet of Things?
What is it?
From furry to feathery, and everything in between, they are here to take your animal farm of a call center to the next level. Our latest report will show you how, now.
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?
While on a call with a customer, the language used is incredibly important. Call center agents are likely to have many, many conversations over the course of a work day, so it’s easy to forget the importance of each and every interaction you have with a customer on the line.
When handling multiple customer service tickets each day, using certain phrases or expressions can become second nature. Certain repeated phrases can make customers feel like they are not being heard, or as if they are being spoken down to – these are not ideal results, and indicate a language problem that, luckily, is easily solved.
Let’s take a look at a few commonly-used phrases that call center agents should avoid at all costs.
The Enterprise Connect conference is one of the largest events in communications technology. It’s often the venue for major announcements from the biggest vendors. It was here that Twilio announced Flex. It was here that Avaya announced Breeze, SnappIns, and Zang. It was here that Amazon launched Connect.
Big announcements this year include the launch of two new cloud contact centers called Edify and Thrio; a new contact center from Vonage called CX Cloud Express (based on their acquisition of NVM which we covered here); and the rebranding of Polycom/Plantronics as “Poly.”
But as for the big call center vendors, their announcements were less dramatic, and all revolved around AI.
Text-based communication plays a growing role in customer service. There are several big questions around how it will evolve. The most important one, in my mind, is how text should work alongside voice. What is the ideal arrangement between typing and talking?
The second big question is: What channel will carry the messages? We have four broad categories: Web-based chat, SMS, social media (e.g. Twitter DMs), and proprietary networks (e.g. Facebook Messenger, Apple Chat). I know that other people divide things differently, but this structure makes sense to me. On that second question, there’s been quite a bit of news in recent months. Let’s go through it.
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.*