Contact Center Innovation is in the Cloud

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The cloud has transformed the contact center infrastructure market. It has energized a tired and dated on-premise market by introducing new competitors who are hungry for business and making major investments in their solutions. Despite the marketing, which makes many of the cloud-based contact center solutions sound as if they are functionally the same, there […]

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Why Contact Centers Prefer to Buy Software Suites

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A technically sophisticated contact center can have more than 45 different systems and applications to optimize its performance. These systems typically break down into three product categories: Contact center infrastructure – automatic call distributor (ACD), dialer, universal queue (UQ), computer telephony integration (CTI), interactive voice response (IVR)/voice prompter Customer relationship management (CRM)/servicing applications – sales, […]

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The Omnichannel Agent Experience

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In this age of digital transformation, customers and prospects must be able to easily access an enterprise from any channel – phone, self-service (websites, interactive voice response (IVR) systems, intelligent virtual agents (IVAs), email, chat, co-browse, SMS, social media and video. Contact center agents, and other company employees, must be able to deliver a consistent, […]

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Are You Ready for Digital Transformation?

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Digital transformation is a “hot” topic today for enterprises that are striving to deliver an outstanding customer experience cost effectively. A growing number of enterprises have acknowledged the need to change the way they do business if they want to continue to be relevant to their customers. Many of these companies are not exactly sure […]

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Integrating Social Media Into Contact Center Workflow

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This is the third in a series of blog posts focused on creating a customer service social media strategy. The first entry talked about the social media customer service experiment. The second post in the series provided detailed guidance on building a social media communications strategy for your organization and customer service or contact center. This post provides tactical guidance for integrating and managing social media in the contact center process flow.

As predicted, marketing organizations, which have insisted on owning the social media channel since its inception, have begun to dump the responsibility for responding to their company’s social media traffic on contact centers. While the shift is abrupt, the outcome is right. Customer service and contact centers are ideally positioned to be the focal points for social media interactions, just as they are for all other types of customer communications. Of course, marketing, product development, the executive suite and many other enterprise departments must agree to support the contact center with essential information and resources on a timely basis. (DMG recommends that contact centers create and get sign-off on service level agreements with enterprise departments in order to ensure response time commitments. We also suggest that there be a “hot line” from the contact center social media group to each of these departments, and that presence be used to find the right experts. This, however, is a discussion for another blog post.)
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The Social Way to a Communications Strategy

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This is the second post in the customer service/contact center social media blog series. This post is intended to provide guidance in building a social media communications strategy for your organization and customer service or contact center. An important aspect of rolling out social media is deciding which channels to use. Below is a list of the 10 leading business social media channels, along with guidance on when and how to use each of them. DMG cautions enterprises to carefully consider each channel before jumping in.

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The Social Customer Service Experiment

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This is the first in a three-part series on the changing needs and expectations for customer service. “Going social” is more than a way to share thoughts and ideas; it is a new way of communicating and interacting that is impacting and influencing all aspects of our lives. A majority of enterprises now accept that they need to “do social media,” but most are still not sure that this means. The most innovative organizations have re-engineered their organizations to incorporate information from social media throughout the customer lifecycle; in these rare situations, everyone from the CEO to product development to production and fulfillment is tied in and online. Examples of organizations like these are advertising firms that cannot afford to be behind the times; but such innovators are the exceptions.

Most organizations are still struggling to figure out what to do about social media. They know they have to incorporate it within their communications strategy and infrastructure, but have not figured out either how to do so cost effectively or how to get the most benefit from the feedback they receive from social media. And the area where they are struggling the most is customer service. 

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Consistent Multi-Channel Support is a Strategic Imperative

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Providing consistent support across all channels is not an option for enterprises; it’s a strategic imperative. Enterprises are fooling themselves if they believe that their customers are not aware of inconsistent policies and service levels in their different sales and service channels. Aggressive customers identify these weaknesses and figure out how to use them to their advantage. This has become a lucrative game for some customers, but it only happens because enterprises make it possible.

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Should Service Be Stratified Based on Customer Value?

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The simple answer to this question is “Yes,” if you can figure out how to do it cost effectively and you can come up with service offerings that make it worthwhile. Value-based servicing is where an organization provides a differentiated level of customer service, service quality or service offerings based on the perceived value of each customer. While it would be wonderful to provide outstanding customer service for everyone, practical considerations and the need for profits make this next to impossible. As a matter of fact, most organizations struggle to provide even acceptable levels of customer service

The Formula for Value-Based Servicing

The three requirements for successfully providing value-based servicing are:

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Delivering Great Service Is Harder Than It Looks

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In this era of commoditized products and services, price and customer service are the primary differentiators between otherwise similar offerings. If you’re not the lowest-cost provider, competing on price is a losing proposition, so customer service is the best opportunity for differentiation for most organizations. But great customer service is disappointingly rare.

It’s easy to identify examples of bad service. We see it every day when we go to the supermarket and stand on long lines to pay for our groceries; when we go to the doctor/dentist/hairdresser and sit in the waiting room long past the time of our appointment; when we go to the health club and have to wait for the treadmill, etc. But, waiting may turn out to be the best part of the customer experience. Anyone who’s flown on a commercial airline in the past few years knows the pleasure of spending a lot of money for a ticket only to be x-rayed, patted down, and then shoved into a seat next to someone with questionable hygiene (not to mention frequently having to wait for a late-arriving aircraft). Anyone who’s called a customer service department has experienced long wait times, uninformed, un-empowered, under-trained and often over-stressed agents who often think the best way to resolve an inquiry is to transfer the call. And, everyone’s favorite – US-based cell phone providers, who oversell and under-deliver every step of the way. (All the great apps are not enough to enough to make up for dropped calls.)

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