• Covid-19 – click here for the latest updates from Forum Events & Media Group Ltd

Contact Centre Summit | Forum Events Contact Centre Summit | Forum Events Contact Centre Summit | Forum Events Contact Centre Summit | Forum Events Contact Centre Summit | Forum Events

Posts Tagged :

Customer Service

Shop Direct launches WhatsApp-style service platform…

800 450 Jack Wynn

Shop Direct has applied a conversational user interface (CUI) technology to its service offering by launching ‘Very Assistant’ for customers to find answers to their questions in a WhatsApp–style chat environment.  

The owner of Very.co.uk, Littlewoods.com, VeryExclusive.co.uk and LittlewoodsIreland.ie has initially made the automated platform available via the Very.co.uk iOS app, and claims the technology makes the user journey even simpler for customer service questions, allowing people to easily interact with Very.co.uk representatives in a format that they are adept at using on a day-to-day basis. 

Developed in-house by Shop Direct’s multi-award-winning eCommerce team, Very Assistant works by asking the app user if they need any help. The customer is then presented with a sequence of questions and multiple action options, which the customer taps within the chat environment. The customer’s answers enable the platform to instantly serve up the information they are looking for. 

Jonathan Wall, eCommerce director at Shop Direct said: “This fully native platform is squarely focused on what our customers need. It’s delivered through our app because that’s where they want to have questions answered. It’s also the best place for us to collect feedback and constantly improve Very Assistant. 

“We think this new technology will simplify our user journey, improve satisfaction, and help to boost efficiency in our customer service operation. It’s also the first step towards ‘natural language’, AI-driven CUI – which is something we’re hugely excited about.” 

Customers can use Very Assistant to make a payment on their Very.co.uk account, check their payment dates, track an order, confirm that recent payments have been processed and request a reminder of their account number. 

Ventrica expands contact centre to meet omnichannel service demands…

800 450 Jack Wynn

Continuing an ‘impressive growth period’, Ventrica will be introducing a new contact centre ‘penthouse suite’ due to the increased demand for its omnichannel customer service offerings. 

The Southend-on-Sea based outsourced centre will open a roof-top wing, 19,000 sq ft site in 2017, expanding its current workforce of 280 agents to 480 full and part-time staff within the next year, and plans for an additional site at another location is part of the company’s future strategy for the next 12-18 months. 

Dino Forte, managing director and founder of Ventrica said: “We have attracted a number of new high profile B2C and B2B brands this year who are part of a wider trend of organisations that are looking to outsource non-core services. The investment in our new penthouse suite is to meet both the increased demand from existing clients but also to accommodate our future expansion.  

“The whole area of customer experience and sales is becoming more complex and companies now recognise that using a specialist third party makes perfect sense, as they often do not have the expertise, capacity or infrastructure in-house.”  

Ventrica has been shortlisted twice in the upcoming European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards 2016 (ECCCSA) in the categories of ‘Best Outsourcing Partnership’ and ‘Medium Contact Centre of the Year’, with winners to be announced at a ceremony held at the Hilton Park Lane Hotel in London on November 21.  

Guest Blog, Simon Pennie: The power of great customer service…

800 450 Jack Wynn

Businesses spend vast amounts of time, money and resources to build a brand that customers love. But if they fail to ‘put their money with their mouth’ is – by investing in delivering top notch customer service in their contact centres – they risk squandering their hard-earned reputation.

In an era of fierce competition and highly empowered consumers, customer experience is now seen as the new brand battleground. Millions spent on marketing will be wasted if businesses provide a poor experience when dealing with customers directly. On the other hand, brands who get the customer experience right can track the benefits right through to their bottom line: driving sales, acquisition and loyalty. 

Contact centre agents are on the frontline of customer service, acting as ambassadors for a brand. Having the right people and processes in place to handle customers is arguably the most important thing a business can do to get ahead and follow best practice.

 

The right channel for the right situation

An integral part of good customer experience is providing the right mix of channels to fit with customers’ lifestyles and preferences.

Customer service is still an area where person-to-person interaction will often be most effective. Despite the rise of digital and self-serve customer management, 65 per cent of non-face to face consumer contact still happens over the phone and 15 per cent over email. Voice will remain the preferred channel for engagements which rely on empathy and the human touch, so it is essential that brands continue to invest in this area.

However, the rise in technology has opened up new opportunities for businesses to innovate and build new paths for engagement.  Digital channels such as webchat, messenger and Twitter are now essential tools in a brand’s customer experience arsenal.

The trick is to allow consumers to choose how they engage, rather than forcing them to go through a certain channel at a certain point in their journey. Customers will have specifically chosen to make contact through their preferred channel, so being overly prescriptive or expecting them to switch will only cause frustration. Avoiding channel bounce is one of the most important ways brands can optimise customer experience.
Listen and learn from your customers 

As the use of data becomes the norm, consumer expectations have shifted. Today, customers assume every engagement will be tailored to reflect what is known about them as individuals. Furnishing agents with a history of previous interactions with customers will help them better understand the nature of an issue and offer a more personalised service each and every time.

Similarly, brands can draw directly on customer insights as a barometer to gauge the efficacy of their own processes. For example, using speech and text analytics software across calls can help to plot customer frustration or satisfaction. Interpreting this data allows brands to take informed steps to improve engagement – improving resolution rates and boosting satisfaction.

 

Your agents are your biggest asset 

There’s no question that making the most of data and technology can significantly enhance customer experience. But it’s important not to forget that customer service is first and foremost about engaging with a human being – a single consumer with unique preferences and needs.

Businesses need to make sure they are empowering agents with proven processes for managing customers, giving them the flexibility to use their judgement and determine a solution accordingly. Too narrow a focus on handling times or too rigid an adherence to process can often compromise the ability of an agent to reach a resolution or deliver the best possible outcome.  

Creating a contact centre culture where those dealing daily with customers are empowered, motivated and highly skilled will give companies the greatest chance of delivering the best possible customer experience.

 

Winning in the age of the customer 

In the end, it’s the people who represent a brand that are the ultimate differentiator. If contact centres are the beating heart of a brand’s customer service efforts, then the agents that work in them are the lifeblood.  Getting the formula right on the ground allows businesses to truly set themselves apart from their competitors in the age of the customer.

 

Simon Pennie is VP Solution Architecture at Firstsource Solutions, the leading customer experience expert. He works with clients across a range of sectors to provide business-transforming customer insights and deliver strategic customer experience solutions. Simon is an experienced contact centre professional, with over 15 years’ experience in CX and management consultancy. 

 

Forum Insight: Customer engagement methods to maintain strong relationships…

800 450 Jack Wynn

Now more than ever, customer communication methods are becoming varied and diverse. Trade exhibitions, social media platforms, focus groups and surveys, personalised email campaigns – the list is endless. But which methods will prove to be the most effective for your business? Before investing too much time and effort into just one, think carefully about all available options, and ask your customers how they prefer to be contacted…
Keep track of emails: Make it your personal – and even company – goal to respond to all customer emails within a five minute time frame. Not only will it generate appreciative responses, people love fast and efficient customer service, and this level of service will lead to an abundance of recommendations and increased trade. Need more convincing? View Eptica’s ‘Email Management’ article here.

Be active on social media: By now you’re probably tired of the constant emphasis on regular social media use, but inevitably, one of the best ways to connect with customers is through social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. The good thing about social media is there is no time schedule to follow – you can reach customers at any time of the day. Use your company’s Facebook fan page or Twitter account to engage your followers and keep conversations flowing. Nowadays, social media has been incorporated as a form of customer service, so make your platforms adaptable for staff members to handle customer questions and complaints. Read through Conversocial’s case studies for influential insight.

Answer the phone: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! No matter what industry, a significant focus seems to be on new customer channel developments. But whatever happened to the traditional phone conversation? Whether you’re following up, apologising for something that went amiss, or wondering why you haven’t received an order in a while, there’s no better way to strengthen a customer relationship. According to eConsultancy, customers prefer assistance over the phone (61 per cent), followed by email (60 per cent); Live Chat (57 per cent); online knowledge base (51 per cent) and “click-to-call” support automation, (34 per cent).

Start a weekly blog: Why not create a weekly blog to keep your customers up-to-date? If you actively keep up a quality blog, not only will your customers read your blog, but they will respond to your blog. This creates a positive flow of communication and helps build customer loyalty. Find inspiration from these companies that have made blogging a ‘top priority’.

Conduct market research: Surveys allow businesses to identify customer needs. Once acknowledged, companies can steer their offerings towards filling these needs. Surveys are also a good tool to bring in prospective customers who are on the fence about a product/service, i.e. surveys can be used as a platform for prospective customers to voice their needs. Confused about whether to conduct quantitative or qualitative research? Learn more about the differences here.

‘Tipping point’ between traditional and digital service identified by Verint…

800 450 Jack Wynn

The results of a large-scale study of more than 24,000 consumers in 12 countries commissioned by Verint Systems Inc. has identified a ‘tipping point’ between digital and traditional customer service; indicating that, despite the rise in digital customer service channels and options, 79 per cent of consumers prefer ‘human touch’ to remain a part of customer service when engaging with brands and service providers.

The Digital Tipping Point: How Do Organizations Balance the Demands for Digital and Human Customer Service?’ report revealed that the complexity of the service requests are ‘heavily influencing’ whether a customer will choose digital or more traditional channels, such as phone or in-store, to resolve their request.

Many consumers around the world are choosing the phone (24 per cent) or going in-store (23 per cent) as their primary way of interacting with service providers and brands. Regarding the choice of preferred digital customer service channels, 22 per cent of consumers want access to an online account, 14 per cent want the ability to communicate with a customer service agent via email, and 9 per cent cited that they prefer to connect using mobile apps.

Download the full report here

Are industry professionals missing out on key cloud opportunities?

800 450 Jack Wynn

While the majority of contact centres are using cloud technology to some extent, adoption for many is ‘relatively superficial’, according to recent conducted by Aspect Software.

Surveying 100 UK-based senior contact centre professionals, data indicates that even though the industry is ‘moving in the right direction’, Aspect believes the benefits of the delivery model for agent productivity and customer engagement will only be unlocked when contact centres ‘migrate more of their operations to the cloud’.

Research found that 78 per cent are currently using cloud to some extent, with the channel most likely to have been migrated being email in 60 per cent of cases.  However, adoption of cloud technology in other channels remains low – 27 per cent manage their mobile apps in the cloud; 23 per cent have migrated SMS to cloud; 13 per cent have deployed cloud-based web chat.

Stephen Ball, SVP Europe and Africa at Aspect commented: “It’s clear that cloud is gaining ground in contact centres and that contact centre operators are increasingly comfortable with cloud delivery models, which is very positive. But at the moment many have only migrated a handful of applications and channels – what you might call the low-hanging fruit – and that doesn’t seem likely to change much over the next year. Even partial cloud adoptions can bring about positive changes within your organisation, but we’ve seen that the really interesting things only start to happen when bigger portions of the IT estate have been migrated.”

Analysts predict that this is unlikely to change over the next 12 months, as just 27 per cent of respondents claimed they will integrate new cloud-based solutions into their contact centres in 2017.

Avaya appointed to drive dnata’s digital customer experience strategy…

800 450 Jack Wynn

The multinational customer technology company, Avaya, has been appointed by one of the world’s largest air services providers, dnata to become a strategic technology partner and develop its existing customer service digital transformation strategy. 

Avaya Private Cloud Services (APCS) will provide a ‘complete customer experience transformation solution’ to the parent company of Hogg Robinson and Travel Republic; creating a ‘personalised and seamless’ experience for partners and customers to communicate across all available platforms in the customer journey.

dnata, which is a member of the Emirates Group, operates across six continents; provides 18 UK airports with handling services and manages 400,000 tonnes of cargo every year in the country. 

President of Avaya International, Nidal Abou-Ltaif, said: “Avaya is proud to have been selected by dnata as provider of choice for this global customer experience platform. By working closely with dnata, we will be able to support them in their objective of delivering a world-class customer experience.” 

He continued: “This is the perfect demonstration of the strength of our cloud services offerings and how we can help enterprises achieve their digital transformation goals. We look forward to strengthening this partnership with dnata over the next five years and moving forward with them to deliver the business outcomes they are looking for.”

Avaya claims that dnata will benefit from a ‘substantial competitive advantage’ by delivering a higher benchmark for travel to compare with, not only for its customers, but also for its agents worldwide. 

 

Learn more about Avaya’s products and services here 


To find out more about dnata, click 
here 

 

 

Guest Blog, Steve Ball: The 8 things millennials really want from customer service

800 450 Jack Wynn

Struggling to understand what makes your millennial customers tick? Here’s what they really want from your contact centre.

It can sometimes be difficult to understand what constitutes a great customer experience for the millennial generation. We know about their lofty expectations, their habitual use of technology and their willingness to vote with their feet if a brand disappoints them. But what really drives them, and what do they really want from customer service?

A lot of brands still seem to lack the answers to these questions. According to Aspect research from last month, some 42 per cent of millennials would rather clean a toilet than reach out to a contact centre – an increase of ten percentage points on 2015’s figure.

Millennials are clearly unhappy with the current state of customer service, and it won’t be long before this translates into lost business for brands that fail to accommodate their expectations.

So what is it that millennials really want from customer service? At Aspect, we’ve come up with a list of requirements – the “now consumer” expectations – that we think shed light on the matter. These are as follows:

1. Know me

Millennials want their interactions with brands to be not just convenient, but personal. This could be as simple as not having to repeat themselves when switching from one channel to another, such as a web chat conversation to a phone call, or being able to pick up on an incomplete transaction at a later date via whatever method makes sense at the time.

2. Make it mobile

A simple one: millennials expect customer service to be accessible via mobile. According to Ofcom, nine in ten Britons between the ages of 16 and 24 own smartphones, and 61 per cent describe themselves as “hooked” on their handsets. Mobile has become a more common means of getting online than the laptop, making it an important touchpoint for brand interactions.

3. Let me do it

Millennials have an appetite for self-service, too. According to our 2015 research, almost three in four consumers (73 per cent) believe they should have the ability to solve most product and service issues on their own. Reaching out to an agent should be a last resort.

4. Make it social

Millennials are fluent in social media, and expect brands to be the same. They also like to use Facebook, Twitter et al to vent when something doesn’t go their way. It’s vital that brands are able to assist and guide customers via these channels, and to do so at the time it matters most.

5. Fit into my life

One of the consequences of the rise in mobile, self-service and social media-based customer service is that millennials no longer want to suffer lengthy call queues or phone a contact centre at a particular time of day to solve a simple problem. Convenience is key – if a solution can’t be accessed at any time via any channel that counts against the brand’s customer experience.

6. Save me time

Speed is equally important. Millennials don’t want to repeat themselves or sit through a long-winded process on the phone that would be quicker to complete with a self-service or co-browsing solution.

7. Make me smarter

Millennials like their brand interactions to be empowering. Rather than just solve simple problems, a contact centre should be able to furnish customers with information that will improve their experience of the brand’s services in the long run. In turn, these customers will be able to use their newfound knowledge to support and empower their peers.

8. Help me discover

Along the same lines, a contact centre should be able to create value for customers outside of their immediate wants and needs. So, for example, it could deliver personalised advice and recommendations to an individual based on its knowledge of their purchases, queries and pain-points. This step, along with the one above, will turn millennials into committed brand advocates who discuss their positive experiences with peers and in social media.

 

Learn about customer experience solutions from Aspect

Start to nurture future budding customer service professionals, says Teleopti…

800 450 Jack Wynn

Workforce management consultant at Teleopti UK, Ben Willmott, explains the three simple workforce management strategies to attract the brightest young talent, and keep ahead of the competition. From transforming a contact centre environment to suit the next generation of digitally-led professionals, to introducing gamification by accommodating the trend of constant feedback; following the three strategies outlined will allow your contact centre to thrive with a happy and proactive workforce.

According to current estimates, more than 1.1 million people are employed in UK contact centres and a substantial number are from the younger generation. In just five years’ time, today’s youth will form 50 per cent of the global workforce. What’s more, their career expectations and technical know-how will shape the workplaces of the future, putting new pressures on companies wishing to attract the best young talent to drive business growth and keep one step ahead of the competition.

So what is the secret to becoming the employer of choice for the younger generation and how do you prevent them from straying to the competition? Don’t delay in taking the first step, prepare now. Start by understanding the psychology of today’s up and coming customer service professional. What really makes them tick?

In a nutshell, young people are, in the words of DMG Consulting, “a highly social generation that puts work/life balance ahead of their careers.” They work hard and they play hard. At the same time, they need to be constantly acknowledged, rewarded and engaged in the workplace. They desire – and expect – to be involved in everything from the company mission to the contact centre team and the customers they serve, and they want to make a difference right away.

The next step is to transform your contact centre environment, adapting it to bring out the very best in budding young customer service professionals. Combining a flexible framework with the latest workforce management (WFM) technology is the way to go.

Here are three strategies to get you started:

1. Support flexible working through self-service – people take great pride in what they do but young talent doesn’t function well in a rigid, authoritarian environment. They need to know the rules and what is expected of them but, beyond that, give them a little freedom. The younger generation loves to self-serve so take advantage of self-service technology to add flexibility whilst ensuring contact centre and customer service objectives are met.

Recent innovations in self-service capabilities allow agents to access their schedules through web-based portals such as MyTime portal in Teleopti. There, agents trade shifts, pick up unexpected shifts just freed up, voice their preferences for overtime and request time off. Having a say in schedule preferences gives them a sense of empowerment and offers them a better work-life balance.

2. Engage and empower – make the most of mobility – take a look around you – when do you ever see a young person without some sort of mobile device? Mobility is here to stay. Be prepared for youthful employees using multiple apps, working from more than one device and working in various locations. Rather than fight it, ensure you exploit mobility to help your young agents flourish.

3. Introduce gamification – the new generation’s need for constant feedback has driven the development of the gamification sector. The latest WFM technology incorporates gamification features that motivate employees, encourage healthy competition and reward individual and team performance in a fun environment. Use gamification to: a. create an online social community that increases collaboration, provides access to knowledge bases, gives agents a forum to share learning and top tips, ask their more mature colleagues for advice and communicate major achievements to give that all-round feel-good factor young people crave.

b. utilise dashboards to provide a real-time snapshot of employee and team performance against specific contact centre KPIs or customer SLAs.

c. Make star employees shine! Recognise exceptional performance by awarding points and badges for measurable metrics such as average handling times and first contact resolution successes.

Understand what makes the customer service professionals of tomorrow tick. Follow these three simple steps and your contact centre will be rewarded with a workforce that will want to stay with you, confident they have a well thought-out career path and the ability to make a real difference.

 

To find out more about Teleopti UK, click here