New/Existing Contact Center Site Implementation Phases:
Technology Review, Site Infrastructure
Contact Center Phone Systems Software
The contact center phone system is the backbone to a successful running center. If you are still running with a premise based solution and are under 800 seats, it is time to embrace the cloud! The cloud offers the contact center more features, functionality and flexibility making the contact center more cost effective and more productive. It’s amazing how many contact centers are still running on equipment that has long become obsolete. Agents thrive in environments where the tools not only work but also make their jobs easier.
Moving to the cloud doesn’t mean moving to a cloud based office phone system. Too many contact centers skimp and use a “hunt group” in lieu of an automatic call delivery (ACD) system. No wonder their abandoned call rate is so high! Office phone systems are designed for offices. Yes, many vendors are providing an overlay of call center features on top of office phone systems. That is like putting a horn, mirror, odometer, gas tank, and a cushy seat on a bicycle. Those items are an overlay on the bike, but it is still a bicycle at the end of the day; it didn’t transform it into a car. You aren’t going to ride it to Boston any time soon from Phoenix. An office phone system is still an office phone system, overlay or not.
Invest in a comprehensive cloud based contact center software system. The disaster recovery, reporting (real-time and historical), and the power of an ACD will make your contact center operate at the highest level of efficiency and effectiveness for true success.
ACDs, Dialers and IVRs
An automatic call distributor for call routing to specific agents can be a premise based physical switch or a cloud based contact center applications. Unless you are operating a contact center with 800 plus agents, a cloud-based solution is the most versatile application for many reasons.
You can add/remove agents daily; a physical switch has limitations. Once all the ports are used on a physical switch adding one more means another new switch. You either have more than you need or not enough. Hosted applications are a matter of contacting the vendor and adding additional agent login. You always have exactly what you need and therefore paying for exactly what you are using.
Dialers can keep you TCPA compliant if you have the right one. While direct marketing is becoming a thing of the past, collection departments will always be around al long as people don’t pay their bills. Collections departments rely on a quality dialer. How cool would it be to have a dialer built into the contact center software? A dialer that has three modes: 1. A predictive dialer, which will automatically dial batches of numbers for outgoing calls from the center. You can load lists from the client database with an API daily transferring the daily phone numbers and accounts. 2. Click-to-dial, which gives the agent the opportunity to read the customers account notes and details before dialing and 3. Manually dial the number.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Systems can take away many simple tasks from agents, providing the callers with self-service. There are simple IVR’s and then there are banking level IVR’s that can take an account number, check the balance and report it back completely automated. The mistake in IVR design for many companies is they create too many options and levels, making it difficult to talk to an agent. This increases the caller’s frustration and decreases customer satisfaction. Make it easy. A few options are all you need for the caller to get where they need to go.
Is It Time for Workforce Management?
Workforce management in a contact center is the art and science of having the right number of employees, with the right skills at the right times to meet accurately forecasted volumes of work while maintaining a predetermined service level. Workforce management is a critical function for contact centers. Poor planning and execution will have a negative impact on the business in terms of costs, poor customer satisfaction and employee burnout and motivation.
Workforce Management Software available today to manage this task has greatly improved in function and capability as well as price. There is no reason today to be using spreadsheets and whiteboards!
What is Workforce Management and what does the software do? Workforce management (WFM) is an integrated set of processes that an institution uses to optimize the productivity of its employees on the individual, departmental, and entity-wide levels. Here are the functions of workforce management:
Calculation of an accurate forecast
-Collect call history data
-Identify call patterns (day, week, season, etc.)
-Identify special day patterns (holidays, etc.)
-Identify other event or business drivers that might impact call volume/pattern
Monitoring, Managing Adherence & Managing Exceptions
-Inform and educate about adherence importance and impact
-Measure and manage adherence throughout the day (real-time adherence)
-Changes in call volume or arrival pattern
-Staffing or scheduling issues
-Business related exceptions
Measuring and adjusting
-Analyze daily/weekly reports
-Investigate causes for under-performance
-Apply findings into workforce management process
Industry Service Tips
1. Integrating the ACD with the Workforce Management software makes data collections faster and more accurate for forecasting, real-time adherence monitoring and intra-day management.
2. Begin your software upgrade with the cloud based contact center software that integrates using API technology with the CRM/ERM, Service Desk application and workforce management software.
Take the Next Step!
Activity happens so fast in a contact center that days fly by. While it might seem that just yesterday you implemented a CRM, it’s more probable that it is already time to consider upgrading. Contact centers ebb and flow. Many start out small and soon outgrow applications. It is vital to the effectiveness of the center to take an assessment annually of the software applications that are in use. What is working, what is not working any more, what is integrated with the contact center platform and what could be integrated for a more seamless workflow?
Best in class tools are everything to contact center agents. The best centers retain agents simply by implementing current cloud based contact center software that includes ACDs, dialers, IVRs, call recording, safety features for compliance, CTI’s for popping agent information, as well as integration with other applications like workforce management systems, that agents use every day. All these upgrades make the agent’s day less frustrating now that they have access to everything that they need in order to serve the customer. Ask the agents what is working and what isn’t; you will get firsthand insight on where to start.
Call Recording Applications
Most contact centers today record every call for quality assurance and training. Call recording equipment can be software and/or hardware especially when it comes to the storage of the audio files. If you have a HIPAA compliant shop you are storing calls for 7-10 years. You can store those files on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) or you can choose a physical storage device. The challenge with a physical device is where do you store it for 10 years? Someone has to physically manage the monthly swap out of storage devices and be sure they are organized; files are retrievable, and safe. Storing audio files up on the AWS eliminates all that hassle.
Your call recording application should include:
– Encrypted audio is the best practice standard for security
– Password protected audio files
– Searchable files for easy access
– Capability to record both inbound and outbound calls
– Pause and Resume recordings; agent controls
– Ability to listen to calls anytime
– Integrated with the contact center platform to eliminate extra phone line charges.
Just imagine that every day before you get to the contact center, a file is emailed to you automatically with all the statistics you personally like in a format you prefer! Thinks it’s a dream? It’s for real! Today’s SaaS contact center platforms have the capability to email or FTP reports to you in a format you like including the data you care about when you want it. It’s simple if you have the right platform. Managers no longer should be running blind without the analytics they need to run contact centers. The contact centers of the 21st century are rich in data, rich in capability and rich in delivery. Set yourself up today with automatic reports. You will wonder how you lived without it.
Real Time Reports
Many contact center managers at every level complain they don’t have real time data. They want to get their finger on the pulse to make actionable decisions and using yesterday’s report just isn’t good enough. The efficient and effective management of your contact center operations rely on access to real-time streaming data.
In the heat of the moment, managers are most interested in how many calls are in the queue, how many are holding and for how long are they holding? The next real time question is do you have enough agents to handle the calls in the queues? Can you see the agent’s status and determine a game plan? Quality and C-Sat scores are important to review and know each day and provide data for more long-term strategies. Real time data is for making minute-by-minute split decisions on the contact center floor. Handling the call volume is the name of the game.
Choose a contact center platform that provides real-time data with informative and intuitive real-time statistics. Today’s comprehensive contact center platforms provide fully integrated remote call monitoring and visual alerting ensures you achieve the highest possible level of contact center quality assurance and customer service. The cloud real-time analytics engine enables unsurpassed remote monitoring for real-time data capture. You want live agent and manager dashboards providing statistics. Agents want to know in real time how they a re doing and managers want to know in real time what can they do to make operations run more smoothly. Data is King. Get it live!