Cross Channel Delivery in the Call Center

When a customer is browsing a company website and choosing which products to buy, they sometimes need a little help. It’s a surprising fact that the majority of customers load up their online shopping baskets and then do not proceed to checkout. Research suggests that more than 67% of customers show an interest in products but do not actually buy them.

For online retailers and e-commerce in general, this is a significant problem. They need to be able to increase conversion rates and smooth the buying process. As we said, sometimes customers need a little help.

It’s rather like being in a real shop – an assistant may be available to answer questions, provide advice and to discuss the products in which the customer has shown an interest. What online retailers and e-commerce merchants need is a way to engage more in the buying process and to provide a means to deliver virtual assistants so that customers can be given the advice and nurturing they need in order to purchase a product, particularly higher value ones.

That’s where WebRTC comes in. It’s a simple way to enable communication from within a browser session. So, for example, an online shopper might be considering a purchase but just needs some help. If there’s a click-to-call button carefully displayed on the website, they might be encouraged to use it and to be connected through their browser to an agent in a call center, who can then assist with any questions and hopefully help the customer to complete the transaction.

But there’s more. Using analytics, WebRTC can also facilitate the transfer of information from the customer’s browser to the agent, so that they will know what the customer has been looking at, what they have added to the shopping basket and so on. In other words, the agent will be armed with information regarding the customer’s buying intentions and will be equipped to offer immediate help.

Just think – increasing conversion rates by even small fraction can have a significant impact on sales. Anyone with an online boutique or online sales channel needs to consider how they can integrate the web more effectively into their traditional retail channels, such as the call center. That’s where we can help. Our technology enables organisations to extend the reach of their call center into the online world with full WebRTC capabilities.

If you want to make the most of your online and call center assets, you need to talk to us to find out how. Small details can make a big impact and we have the expertise to make that happen.

The Agile Call Center

Agile innovation is needed to integrate an increasingly diverse mix of customer interaction channels in contact centers – and to deliver customer service excellence.

In today’s increasingly customer-centric world, enterprises and businesses need to adopt a more agile approach to meeting the needs of their customers. Since a great deal of interaction with customers is conducted through two main channels – the call center and online portals, this implies that companies should direct efforts towards enhancing these.
In fact, since an increasing percentage of customer interaction is now digital – constituting a mix of social media, SMS, web chat, Facebook and so on – it makes more sense to consider how best to integrate all of these in order to deliver the best experience possible, both in terms of pre-sales and post-sales activities.

What this means is that enterprises, in particular those focused on B2C relationships, need to become more adept and more agile in enabling the kind of continuous evolution required to support communication across a growing range of channels.

Fortunately, while the channels themselves are multiplying, the underlying technology is, paradoxically, helping bring about convergence through the advent of capabilities such as WebRTC communications. WebRTC enables browser-based chat sessions to be turned into real-time conversations, with audio and even video interaction. Call centers need to be tuned to these evolving requirements to ensure effective customer communications and service.

To achieve this requires the ability to continually enhance call center technologies. It means that enterprises need to work with vendors to ensure they understand and keep ahead of developments. It requires agility, not just in terms of adopting and integrating new technology, but also in terms of adapting business processes and designing the optimum ways in which to support new channels and forms of customer interaction.

All of which means businesses need technology partners that can not only support the continuous innovation they need, but which also have the expertise to stay ahead of the kind of changes in customer behaviour which will drive adoption of these innovations. It’s all very well having a roadmap, but if that roadmap cannot be adapted to meet or anticipate what people are actually doing, then businesses will be left behind.

That’s why jtel is the ideal partner. Our solutions are developed according to agile processes, which means we stay ahead and can ensure we incorporate new ideas, rapidly, so that you can take advantage of them. By staying ahead of today’s rapidly evolving customer needs, you can position your business more effectively – and deliver the customer service excellence across all channels and media that is required. Why not talk to jtel and find out what we can do for you?

Communications and the Enterprise: An Increasingly Mixed Environment

It almost goes without saying that communications remains an essential tool for enterprises, but as more and more applications are added delivered to enhance enterprise efficiency, it’s worth reminding ourselves how important voice remains. Without it, communication is limited and lacks the richness of person-to-person interaction.

But there’s so much more to voice than a simple telephone call. Voice can enrich a multiplicity of other services, adding context and meaning and turning a dialogue into a conversation. That’s why more and more enterprise applications are integrating voice communications capabilities, from P2P to multi-party interaction tools. This is particularly true in call centers, where some of the earliest efforts at integrating communications with applications such as CRM and customer care were made.

Today, there is a host of mashup applications that blend capabilities in order to deliver a better experience for customers and employees. Communications Enhanced Business Processes (CEBP) are enabling enterprises to integrate voice and other communication capabilities with applications to deliver a better, more rewarding experience.

And that’s not all. As users have become increasingly mobile, so communications must cater for a growing array of devices and channels – from conventional fixed handsets to mobile and to browser and soft-client based. To bring all of these together, enterprises need to be able to leverage APIs to deliver the CEBPs that suit their needs.

That’s why enterprises must choose solutions that come with API interfaces that allow them to create the blended applications they need for their business and the different functions within. Put simply, any communication tool that cannot lend itself to the emerging world of CEBP is obsolete. Enterprises need communications solutions with a future, that enable them to adapt and integrate new capabilities, today and tomorrow.

Why not talk to jtel and find out how we can help you deliver the communications infrastructure today that you need for the connected and mobile world of tomorrow?

Who uses a Call Center?

There are several different kinds of call center and we need to consider the needs of every stakeholder when implementing a solution to offer a specific set of services. Since today we all use call centers in one way or another, such an analysis is crucial to the successful deployment of a solution.

This might seem a strange question but there is a simple answer. We all do. We are all consumers of call center services in one way or another. If we consider the question in more detail, we might also think of the people who work in them and those who manage and deploy such solutions in the first place. The end result is that we have a clear ecosystem of consumers of call center services – both external and internal.

This is a crucial question, however. Call centers must be designed from the perspective of all users – the agents and operators and the people who either call in or are called - and the needs of users and agents alike are constantly evolving. In this series of articles we’ll consider how different stakeholder needs can be satisfied with the flexibility and agility to ensure that future needs can also be accommodated. To get things started, let’s think of a number of different cases that call for different capabilities and operational requirements in order to define present a form of classification or taxonomy.

Let’s start with the obvious. Of course, many call centers are deployed in commercial environments. They are a crucial way to service the needs of many thousands of actual and potential customers. Such call centers are now the effective link between consumer and provider, whether the service is a utility or whether it’s a product being acquired. But as consumers increasingly move to online purchasing, the need for contact with an individual can be overlooked. The call center must play an integrated part of the consumption experience, becoming a seamless part of the process. This means we have two basic commercial call center types – those to support services such as utilities or insurance, and those that support online channels and online merchants.

But we also have call centers whose purpose is to provide technical support and deal with warranty issues. These are the support call centers, which are contacted when customers need help. And, there are public services that must provide essentially the same function – help with tax issues or help with medical services, for example. Support call centers have a range of widely differing needs, depending on the urgency of the issue and the priority that it is given.

There are also call centers that work in the other direction – agents are tasked with calling out to consumers or businesses and they generally have to operate under different pressures. We can define this category as outbound call centers and their needs can be considered as particularly distinctive.

The first place to start when thinking about call center requirements is to think of what kind of call center it is designed to be. We have four basic kinds to consider, according to our classification:

  • Service call centers
  • Retail call centers
  • Support call centers
  • Outbound call centers

The second aspect to consider is the target market. The focus can be either on servicing the needs of businesses that is, B2B, or on consumers, or B2C. Again, these have different needs – outbound B2B is different from outbound B2C.

jtel is a vendor of call centers that meet the needs of all cases, requirements and stakeholders. We understand the different challenges that face providers of B2B and B2C call centers, which can be particularly in the outbound category. In this series of articles, we’ll discuss these different situations and show how our solutions can help deliver outstanding call center capabilities to suit any environment and need. If you can’t wait to learn more, contact us today!

Addressing multi-channel communications in the service call center – essential for operational efficiency and reputation management

Today’s service call centers need the flexibility to cope with a growing range of communications channels, prioritising requests and distributing information to ensure effective customer service. They must also correlate information across both internal and external channels. Failure to do so risks reputational damage and creating processing overload.

Customer service is a fundamental requirement. People buying goods and services often need help. With many transactions taking place online or in larger retail outlets without specialist knowledge and capabilities, customers often need to talk directly to vendors or their agents to resolve problems.

When help is required, the first thing customers do is to try to access one of the service options available to them. These might be a telephone number, an email address or a contact form on the web.

In most cases, these enquiries are directed to a call center for processing. In our classification, we identified several types of call center and this kind can generically be referred to as a “service call center”.

Today’s service call centers are a crucial element in the delivery of service and support capabilities to customers.  But of course, nowadays there is a wider range of communications media and channels to manage – service call centers can be sent voice calls, faxes, emails, social media messages, web forms, chat from instant messenger services and so on. This diversity is likely to grow, as new forms of communications channels spread, such as WebRTC-enabled click-to-call sessions.

This means that the staff in the call center – both management and agents – must have a high degree of flexibility in order to meet differing requirements placed on them by the different media types. In turn, this means that the systems on which they depend must be capable of managing media across a range of different channels and be sufficiently flexible to cope with new ones as they emerge and gain user adoption.

In addition, centralised reporting is essential so that media can be distributed effectively, not only according to its type, but also according to the skill and service levels required. This task falls to a modern, multi-channel ACD.

With a modern, fully multi-channel ACD, tasks such as reporting and managing multiple forms of communications (for example, email and voice calls) can be managed more effectively. Call center management staff can control daily operations using a ‘cockpit’ to obtain real-time visibility of events – providing essential monitoring to enable intervention and escalation when required.

To achieve this, you need an ACD that really can manage the communications channels of today – and has the flexibility to deal with emerging channels as they become adopted. The ACD needs to be integrated with reporting tools that enable the efficient monitoring of activity so that overall service levels can be maintained.

This is particularly important when we consider that customers will not only make contact with the provider directly via the available channels, but also that they may broadcast their experience over their own social networks. For example, suppose a customer sends an email to the service contact center – but receives no response because the email channel is dependent on manual checks or is neglected.

The customer may then become frustrated and send three further emails within a relatively short space of time. This frustration can lead to anger and the customer posts disparaging messages to Facebook to report the issue. Unless the call center is actively tracking both inbound enquiries across all channels and external media and correlating them effectively, then this activity could be completely lost – until the negative remarks create a backlash across social channels.

A multi-channel ACD must be capable of not only tracking all such activity but also of correlating them into a single case, report or incident. The example suggested above could have resulted in multiple incidents that are regarded as separate, when really they are all concerned with the same thing. In this case, there would be five incidents. Taking into account call volumes, this could cause situations that overload the call center and lead to operational paralysis that, in turn, will lead to further reputational damage.

With many retailers lacking direct, face-to-face interaction with their customers, it’s essential to address customer service issues. Good customer service is the foundation of a business and businesses must ensure they meet the expected service levels, through guaranteed response times, easy escalation paths, and observation and correlation of activity across all internal and external channels. Failure to do so will result in:

  • Unnecessary escalation of problems
  • An increased likelihood that customers will choose another provider in the future
  • Potential issues with reputation management that spread virally through the online world.

That’s why the multi-channel ACD is so important. If your infrastructure is not able to cope with the demands of a diverse and growing range of communications channels, or correlate information received effectively, it’s important to correct this.

Talk to jtel to find out how.