Thursday, August 7, 2014
The difference between a contact center and a call center comes down to the types of communication that each one handles. While a call center only handles voice communication, contact centers are able to use email, online text chats, social media, web interfaces, video calls, and other technologies to connect with clients and customers. As mobile technology and social media networks continue to evolve at rapid speeds, businesses are reacting by favoring the implementation of contact centers, rather than traditional call centers, for responding to the needs of their customers. This shift can be complicated, though. Hiring staff for contact centers means finding competent workers who are adept with answering customer queries through a variety of channels, whether online or on the phone. Thankfully, advances in mobile technology help to ease the burden of these demands on both employees and employers. As apps, phones, and tablets develop, so too does the customer service industry, which the following five points demonstrate.
1. Mobile Devices Allow for Faster Response Time
We are a mobile generation. This is an age where you can buy laptops that transform into tablets for increased portability, and wristwatches that vibrate when you receive new emails and text messages. Whether your primary concern is work or leisure, it’s all too easy to attach yourself to the web 24/7. When customer service agents have constant access to mobile devices, they will also have access to email, social media channels, video calls, web chats, and a bounty of other tools for communicating with their clients and customers. The image of contact center employees being stuck at their desks, mumbling into headsets, is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Contact with customers is no longer limited to desktop computers and land-line phones, and as the trend of companies hiring home-based agents continues to grow, those agents will continue to turn to mobile technology for performing daily tasks.
2. BYOD Culture is Spreading
According to a survey conducted by Sage North America, businesses that introduce mobile technology into the workplace are seeing the biggest positive impact on the quality of their customer service. Other noted benefits include the ability to perform business in the event of inclement weather, more work coming into the company, and the option of conducting meetings remotely. Despite these conveniences, though, fewer businesses are supplying their employees with mobile devices, which is indicative of the growth of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) culture. While the security risks of a BYOD policy can have severe consequences, especially for employees who deal with highly-sensitive data and materials, for contact center agents who are mostly concerned with managing social media accounts and other communications, the option to BYOD is certainly viable. If you encourage these workers to embrace BYOD culture, you will find that the added freedom of using personal devices can build better working habits, both on and off the contact center floor.
3. Hours of Operation are Irrelevant
As previously stated, mobile devices are granting a higher level of freedom to contact center employees. Home-based agents are becoming more common to the customer service industry, and as a result, it’s less necessary to always have a fully-staffed contact center floor. Allowing customer service agents to work on their own devices from home is not just cost-effective, but it also demonstrates adaptability. Depending on the scale of your business, customer queries, complaints, and needs won’t stop coming in during late-night and early-morning hours. Keeping up with service demand doesn’t need to be overly-complicated. Instead of keeping your physical contact center floor open and staffed 24/7, it may be smarter to hire a handful of agents to work at home during later hours to keep up with phone calls, social media channels, emails, and other forms of communication with customers. People have come to expect almost instantaneous responses to their questions and complaints, and providing that immediate response is a key part of elevating good service to great service.
4. More Mobile Tech May Decrease Contact Center Turnover Rates
Increased freedom for contact center employees has been a big point of discussion here, and that freedom can carry some real significance for your business. Turnover rates for call/contact center employees are notoriously high, as is the absentee rate for any shift in contact center workplaces. One way to combat this is to facilitate the development of home-based agents. Additionally, equipping employees with technology can lower the stress load of their jobs. Mobile devices will help in both regards. We’ve already seen the ways in which this technology can make working from home a reality. What’s more revolutionary, though, is the software that is available to customer service representatives for recording calls, analyzing customer feedback, and more. Customer service is hard work, and any effort that can be made toward de-stressing agents will be reflected in both the response of customers and your center’s turnover/absentee rates.
5. Mobile Tech + Social Media = Better Relationships with Customers
Email and other social apps continue to dominate the software market across all mobile devices, and corporations are taking note. Businesses that establish notable, consistent presences on social media are gaining more control over their public images than they would otherwise be able to. For example, consider fast food giant Taco Bell. The brand name is synonymous with cheap, low-quality, grab-and-go Mexican food. On Twitter, though, Taco Bell is a behemoth of self-aware, dry, yet brand-positive humor. The chain’s PR team constantly engages with its customers, whether they’re lovers or haters of its products, and encourages them (with aggressive wit) to keep coming back. For Taco Bell and other businesses, social media is a tool for crafting unique voices for their brands. Mobile technology is the megaphone, always at hand, to keep that voice blasting into the depths of cyberspace.
Mobile technology isn’t going away anytime soon. Every industry from fashion design to car manufacturing is finding a way to embrace it. Get your contact center involved—customer service is never going to be the same.
Tommaso Mauro is a goal oriented leader adept at identifying opportunities and executing sales strategies to maximize results; Proven ability in consultative sales and business development on a domestic and international scale; Highly effective in organizational and problem solving skills that strengthen a company’s growth-oriented performance; Entrepreneurial spirit and expertise in building business relationships. Tommaso is currently Director of Sales at KOVA Corporation
Friday, August 1, 2014
Who should handle chat, sales or support? For organizations wanting a positive and meaningful presence on social media, this question must be answered with thoughtful consideration. There are varying opinions among experts and I must confess I find relevancy in most of them. However, I think each business must look at a few factors when determining who will ultimately be responsible for social media.
What is the purpose?
In the quest to “become social”, this question is often overlooked. However, this should be the first step in planning process. The rush to become a social media adopter often comes at the expense of failing to define why a presence is needed. So, ask your teams, “Why do we need to be on social media?”
Each team will have a different response. The sales team will obviously want to increase sale opportunities, while the support team will want to assist and engage customers. Both are valid reasons and both add to the success of the company. Yet, the social message would be different.
Simply put, the social message is what you are tweeting, posting or blogging. A duel message has the potential to confuse your audience. This confusion will lead to bad experiences and a bad reputation.
Who is the intended audience?
Every social communication should be made with an audience in mind. Furthermore, it should lead to a call to action or, cause a reaction. Your presence can lead to customer retention, increased sales or offer assistance. Most importantly, your communications will find a target. As the saying goes, “the odds of hitting your target go up dramatically when you aim at it.” Defining who you want to reach increases your chances of connecting with them.
Defining your audience will lead you closer to determining who will handle social media.
An alternate approach
Rather than having one team own or handle social media, a multi-presence approach may work best. Each team will have their own presence in the social spaces. This will ensure each team’s message and audience connects. Not only this, there should be collaboration.
All teams should communicate internally regarding their external message. What is the benefit? Consider a customer who reached the Sales team via Twitter regarding a service related issue. With prior feedback from the support team, there is a greater chance of first contact resolution. This leads to a better overall experience for the customer. What is the alternative?
Have you experienced an uninformed response that led to a request to call or email support? That alone can be a bother. This is compounded by internal communication failures in which you must repeat your problem again to someone who had no idea you made previous contact within the organization.
It’s all about the customer
Social media has taught us much about the customer relationship. Most importantly, we understand it has empowered them to shape brand perception. What brands are doing social media well? Ask their customers! The same can be said for the brands that are failing.
We owe it to our customer as well as our organization to offer the best service to current and potential clients. We must be willing to meet them where they are (yes, that means social) and remove potential barriers.
Sean is a Contact Center manager with over 13 years of experience. He has a terrific pulse on incorporating innovation into the contact center. He's implemented social, outsourcing partners, new technology, and new products, while maintaining an award-winning contact center.
His contact center is a past winner of the ICMI "Global Call Center of the Year" award for Small to Medium-Sized Centers.
Follow on Twitter @SeanBHawkins