How-To: Targeted Routing with Custom ACD

I was teaching a Customer Interaction Center handler developer class recently when one of my students gave me a scenario that had been causing them some head-scratching. The call center in question is not a typical one. In this case, when people call in they are prompted for an identifier (customer/case number). The requirement was that the system should look up the number in a database, retrieve the identity of the agent that “owns” the particular customer and route the call appropriately.

So far so good. If the agent concerned is not available, then the call should be directed to another […]

What’s New for Contact Centers in 2015

How appropriate.

While here in London on business, I find myself sitting at a Starbucks staring out the window at a very old Windsor Castle as I write this blog. It’s fitting that I’m at Starbucks given that my blog is about the customer experience. Love them or not, Starbucks epitomizes a great customer experience. Why? Because they cater to their customers and their customers feel catered to.

That’s the experience we should all be giving to our customers. The good news is that, today, we have the technologies to achieve this. The challenge is selecting the right technologies and applying them in […]

Don’t Dehumanize the Customer Experience

Did you know the belief exists out there that there is a “right” set of steps to follow that will allow anyone trained and equipped with the right tools for decision making to deliver an exceptional customer experience? Unfortunately, there isn’t a solution to building genuine customer connections through routine tasks. Human systems, like contact center agent-customer interactions, do not conform to a specific set of rules for interacting.

Today’s contact centers are fully integrated with customer relationship management systems, state-of-the-art technology, and have built-in scripting with responses to provide the expected agent behavior for each customer interaction. While agents […]

Two Best Practices for Improving Speech Recognition

In my last blog, Understanding Speech Recognition Limitations, I shared some inherent limitations of Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR). While these limitations exist, in this blog, I’d like to focus on how companies can maximize the performance of ASR. The following are two best practices that I’ve found to be especially impactful.

Best Practice #1: Include usability testing in your project plan. Once you feel your application is tested and ready for production, work with non-project team members to test it and provide feedback. If possible, and even better, involve your customers. Provide them with scenarios and test data. Solicit their feedback in […]

Understanding Speech Recognition Limitations

“I said mountain biking trails, not mountain biker’s entrails!”

We’ve all experienced poor speech recognition when calling businesses. Probably more than once. Having deployed speech solutions at my last company, and now as a contact center consultant, I believe Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) gets a bad rap. Sure, many ASR challenges are addressable, but there a few inherent challenges that are important to understand in order to set realistic performance expectations. The following are two that are often misunderstood.

Limitation #1: Recognition in a speech application is supported by a grammar file for each collection. While there are a number […]

Is Email a Viable Customer Communication Channel Anymore?

“Is email a viable customer communication channel anymore?” I have been getting this question a lot lately. It is usually followed up with, “I talk to my customers on the phone, and I only use email from my personal box or a group proxy box to send documents back and forth with my customers.”

Is that you? I think we have all grappled with email as a possible channel to communicate with customers, and asked ourselves the same questions about it. How efficient is it? What are my customers’ expectations for email response times? How many email exchanges should I […]

Should You Climb on the Remote Agent Bandwagon?

For those of you who have been in any of my training sessions, you know the conversations can sometimes get a little off topic. This isn’t a bad thing as it allows people to share ideas and learn what’s working for other people and companies in similar circumstances. During one of these conversations, the topic of remote employees came up. It seems that there are a lot of things that need to be taken into consideration if you are going to allow contact center agents to work from home.

Before jumping on the bandwagon and letting everyone work from […]

Six Attributes of a Great Contact Center Plan

My last post, Seven Steps Your Contact Center Strategic Planning Process Needs, discussed tips around how to ensure your contact center planning process develops great plans. But, what about the plan itself? What makes a contact center strategic plan great?

Here are the six hallmarks of a great strategic plan:

The plan is accurate. Most contact center managers look for an accurate volume forecast, and this is important. But it is also vital that other important metrics are forecasted well. For instance, sick time and other shrinkage items are important to forecast. Similar for agent attrition, outbound contact rates, and […]

Contact Center Callbacks – The Whys and Why Nots

In the course of my consulting travels, I always get asked the question, “Do I offer my customers callbacks?”

My answer is typically, “It depends.” It depends on what you are striving to accomplish. You might be striving for truth, justice and customer loyalty, but it is a tool that could derail the customer experience and your contact center just like Kryptonite did Superman!

The best way to see if the callback shoe fits is to understand what a callback is and to answer the question – “why or why not implement?”

A callback is a feature which provides the […]

A Logical Approach to Setting a Schedule Adherence Goal

The dynamic nature of contact centers require us as leaders to have a keen awareness of what our contact center volume and staffing will be at each daily interval. As a contact center matures, a typical growth step includes the addition of resource planning teams and tools to plan workload and resources needed to meet service goals for each of those intervals.

Agents following an assigned schedule, which is known as schedule adherence, have a profound impact on how well a contact center operation can perform. By using a schedule adherence key performance indicator (KPI) your operation team is able […]