Posted on: August 7, 2019 By: Lauren Epperly
The pressure is on for HR teams. Maintaining a happy and healthy workforce while managing company-wide processes is challenging. Ensuring clear and consistent communication is key to fostering an open, collaborative, and engaging environment. A recent Gallup poll found that engaged teams result in 21% higher profitability. It’s no wonder that HR professionals are feeling the pressure to engage with their employees in new and exciting ways. Especially in large or growing organizations, HR teams are stretched thin trying to interact and serve their workforce in the way they would like.
While your end goals may be obvious, how to achieve them never is. There are so many things you want to be able to do, but not enough time in the day to do it. There is an answer – but a daunting one. Automation. Automation may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about communications. Why not just pick up the phone when you need to make a call, or send an email when you have an announcement? Because when you’re able to automate those actions, you can focus on your bigger goals.
Automation will play an important role in achieving strategic initiatives for all business departments in the near future. But isn’t it a huge investment to start automating processes? Who has the time to learn complicated and highly-technical software to integrate your communications? Literally no one. Which is where CPaaS comes in to save an HR professional’s day. CPaaS, or Communications Platform as a Service, allows your company to quickly and easily embed communications into applications so you can better manage inbound and outbound interactions. It may sound complicated, but there are a select few CPaaS options that are built for everyday business users with drag-and-drop builders and award-winning customer service department (hint hint). What initiatives and HR processes could a CPaaS solution help with, you ask?
The big one: Improve employee engagement
Each person has their own preferred method of communication based on who they’re communicating with, what they are communicating about, and when they’re interacting. For example, my mom’s ideal mode of communication is a phone call on a Sunday morning while she’s half-way through her second cup of tea. I personally would be happy to never have to speak to a human ever again on the phone – except for my mom (hi Mom!) Your employees are just as unique.
CPaaS means you can send out company-wide alerts through the channel that your employees prefer the most. Segment your employees into lists based on the best method to reach them: voice, SMS, email, etc., and connect with them in that way. Or, follow-up unanswered texts with an email. Follow-up that email with a phone call. Follow-up that phone call with skywriter and fireworks (not really…I mean, you could do it but we can’t help you with the skywriter/fireworks part.)
To show your employees how much you care, you could send out birthday and work anniversary messages. Or, conduct anonymous employee satisfaction surveys to gather feedback.
Send out office notifications
Notify employees about an office closures, routine maintenance, big company developments, or donuts in the breakroom. During an emergency, it’s critical to be able to reach all your employees as soon as possible. With the click of a button, you’ll be able to send out campaigns that engage your employees on every channel possible. Phone lines down during a big storm? Resend your alert as a text or email to get in front of your workforce. Send messages that require employee confirmation for time-sensitive or critical activities such as benefits enrollment, and automate a follow-up based on whether you’ve received a confirmation.
Allow for employee self-service options
Give your workforce the opportunity to take control over their HR functions. Set up a call-in line for employees to request vacation or sick days. Or, create a simple chatbot for employees to go to with simple questions like: when is payday? How do I request vacation? Who is our insurance carrier? This lets employees take care of immediate basic tasks and helps take some of the manual processes off of you so you can focus on more strategic initiatives.
In-depth online applications, multiple levels of phone screens, and hundreds of candidates can lead to the recruitment process feeling disconnected and impersonal to the candidate. Connect and respond to potential employees in a more personalized way. Integrate your calendar with Atmosphere® to allow candidates to schedule and manage their interview time. Use analytics to help your recruiters understand when and how is the best way to connect with potential candidates.
While powerful, CPaaS is what you make it. The only limit is your imagination. Our Atmosphere® Communication Platform can help you build the best communication and engagement strategy that fits your exact business needs. With powerful APIs, we make it simple to integrate Atmosphere® with existing business applications such as CRM, payroll software, workforce management platforms, and more. Wondering how other departments in your company could utilize a CPaaS solution? We’ve got you covered. Check out: How 5 Departments in Your Company Can Use CPaaS.
Posted on: July 29, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski
By Evan Wade
Most of the time, technology moves in a straight, iterative path.
Rarely, however, an up-and-coming solution bucks the trend, doling out features and innovations in such quantity that it skips several links on the evolutionary chain — and Vonage’s Number Programmability, currently in beta, definitely falls in this category (if we do say so ourselves). If that statement sounds a little strong, Number Programmability backs it up.
Representing a combination of some of the top products and services in Vonage’s current portfolio, it culminates in the ability for any Vonage Business Cloud number to be leveraged by Nexmo’s application programming interfaces (APIs) to meet virtually any business communication need.
What is Number Programmability?
Number Programmability isn’t exactly a product or a solution — it’s a capability.
Leveraging Nexmo APIs, Number Programmability enables any Vonage Business Cloud phone number to be intelligently programmed so that it becomes much more than a number.
Your VBC number can become:
- A Robot-Enabled Meeting Scheduler – If you’re unable to take a call, the caller can answer a few prompts and schedule a call back at your next available time, all thanks to a simple integration with your cloud-based calendar.
- An Automated Virtual Receptionist – An automated virtual receptionist that can route a call according to the time of day or the number of the incoming call.
- A Real-Time Translator – When integrated with any translation API, a programmed number will use artificial intelligence (AI) to recognize if a caller is speaking a different language and give you a word-for-word English translation.
- An Intelligent Transcription Service – An intelligent transcription service that immediately begins taking notes on the call and auto-uploads the notes to the right customer or prospect account in Salesforce or another CRM. Think of the potential for your contact center!
These are only a few of the infinite possibilities that Number Programmability enables. Using the power of communication APIs and a little imagination, you can program your Vonage Business phone number for major types of customizations with just a few lines of code.
Number Programmability is also broadly adaptable, with cloud-based architecture providing countless features to the end user’s communication devices.
In this way, it’s immensely scalable, allowing businesses to add different types of functionality to one line or one thousand. It’s highly integratable, too, connecting to a large, growing list of products from Vonage partners, such as CRMs and business applications like Salesforce and Jira or AI platforms like Watson and Google.
Best of all, this kind of evolutionary improvement isn’t a far-off pipe dream. It’s in beta now, with GA launch anticipated later in 2019.
Productivity Booster, Experience Enhancer
With Number Programmability, every aspect of your Vonage Business Cloud phone number becomes customizable: If you can dream it, you can build it. And with Nexmo APIs as building blocks, virtually any type of unified communications solution can be developed to support a business’ unique needs.
The highly flexible nature of Programmable Numbers provides serious potential to boost internal productivity by automating existing processes or workflows.
Need to record specific words during a phone call for compliance? That’s no problem with a Nexmo Voice API, Call Recording, and Natural Language processing. Want to route calls to specific agents based on who’s calling, before anyone even picks up?
Or even better: Want to have certain VIP callers hear different IVR options? Done, with a simple CRM integration, Nexmo Voice API, and a little programming logic – and and it’s even better with a bot who understands natural language.
We can think of many use cases where Number Programmability removes the need for tedious steps in a process or workflow through automation.
By eliminating unnecessary, time-consuming work, employees are freed up to focus on work that’s more profitable to the business.
Other use cases make it effortless to elevate the customer experience, which has its own rewards: improved NPS scores, more first-call resolutions, happier and more loyal customers. Depending on your goals, Number Programmability can make it happen.
Infinite Flexibility, Easy Deployment
The possibilities are endless because Number Programmability takes all unified communication features out there and brings them together in the cloud, all in one tech stack. There’s no need to decide whether to invest in a certain feature or package. Instead, you customize, build, and deploy distinct capabilities to match your exact business needs. And it’s easy, too, because you’re using Nexmo communication APIs as programmable building blocks. Your team only needs to add a few lines of code to deploy highly customized capabilities.
No matter what “connection” means to an individual business, the Vonage Business Cloud platform provides an easier way to achieve it when combined with Programmable Numbers.
And this is just the start. As Number Programmability rolls into full-blown release, it will undoubtedly come to encompass more capabilities, including video, chat, and rich messaging. This has to be some of the most exciting communications news in a long time.
Posted on: July 22, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski
What if there were a single TV channel or app that carried everything you wanted to watch?
From “Game of Thrones” and “Orange is the New Black” to QVC infomercials and live basketball games, it wouldn’t require navigating a bunch of different services or flipping through channels. Some companies have already tried to build this type of all-in-one experience. For example, Apple’s TV app keeps track of what users watch across numerous apps and then makes recommendations and suggestions, although it doesn’t work with every service – most notably Netflix – and also requires a la carte content purchases instead of a single subscription.
In omnichannel contact center software, enterprises and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have an equivalent of this hypothetical Everything Channel for their customer-facing communications. A modern omnichannel platform enables seamless interactions across all major touch points in a customer journey, including:
- Live chat
- Voice calls
- Instant messages
- Social media
By consolidating so much functionality into one cloud-based solution, organizations with an omnichannel contact center in place are well-equipped to keep customers satisfied and agents engaged. Everyone wins with an upgrade to omnichannel. All interactions go through a single platform.
Still, many companies have yet to adopt the technology, instead relying on traditional contact centers built around voice. Such low adoption represents a major missed opportunity to reach customers wherever they are, considering that 80% of all customer interactions begin on a non-voice channel and most customers use three or more channels.
With these numbers in mind, let’s explore some additional reasons to think about implementing an omnichannel contact center, from reducing agent turnover to delivering a more consistent experience.
1. A Smoother Customer Journey, Leading to More Conversions
Mapping and understanding the customer journey is among the most important steps in maximizing revenue. If you can’t understand what a typical customer thinks and how they’re likely to engage with your company, you can’t convert them. Creating a reliable stream of conversions is also much easier with omnichannel contact center solutions, which support the right interactions, at the right time, on the right channels.
Say your company operates an online store selling specialty footwear. When someone visits your site, they will probably browse the products and perhaps reach out via live chat if they have any questions. Web chat is a must-have because it allows customers to multi-task.
During the actual ordering process, they might call if they run into problems. After the purchase, they will receive an email confirming the order, which they might reply to with questions. Another phone call could happen if a refund is requested.
Multiple channels will routinely come into play – and being able to effectively engage a customer across all of them is the ticket to better satisfaction, which shows up in the bottom line. A 2016 McKinsey study found that every 10-point increase in a customer’s satisfaction rating translates into 2-3% higher revenue.
2. Less Agent Turnover and More Predictable Operations
Call centers have typically had very high turnover rates, estimated between 30-40% per year. This isn’t surprising, as the work is challenging and has only become more difficult as the number of possible contact channels has proliferated, requiring competency across different modes of communication.
An omnichannel solution provides relief, not only through the consolidation of channels into a common interface but also in the implementation of multiple features that improve usability. For example, Telesystem’s omnichannel platform gives agents a pop-up window populated with all the historical information on a customer when they make a voice call. This speeds up interactions and saves agents the trouble of hunting for this basic data or asking customers to repeat it even after that they have supplied it at another point in their journey – a common source of annoyance.
Agents can also tap into sophisticated capabilities built into the omnichannel solution, including call recording and automatic logging of interactions to compatible customer relationship management software such as Zendesk and Microsoft Dynamics. The upshot is more context around each engagement, which leads to more productive conversations, less confusion and a better overall experience for everyone involved.
3. Scalable and Flexible Technology
Omnichannel contact center software harnesses the power of the cloud. On a technical level, it’s a major upgrade from the premises-based contact centers of the past, which were very rigid and difficult to upgrade even as operational requirements evolved.
Conventional contact centers usually have high fixed costs, in the form of upfront expenses for equipment and regular upgrades to keep their technologies up-to-date. Plus, if there are any technical hiccups, it’s IT’s responsibility to identify the problem and come up with a solution.
As cloud-based services, omnichannel contact centers are much more manageable. The cloud service provider oversees all of the infrastructure behind the scenes, applying patches and upgrades as needed, normally at no extra cost. Meanwhile, the user-facing experience is highly streamlined. Agents usually don’t have to do anything except launch an application or open a browser window and they can be confident that they are running the latest and most secure version of the platform.
4. Reduced Expenses for Better Functionality
We mentioned above how contact centers have traditionally required significant capital expenditures (CAPEX), forcing their operators to invest a lot of money into upkeep and upgrades. This CAPEX setup is not cheap.
More capacity may need to be purchased to keep up with a sudden surge in the volume of customers reaching out to your company. You might also end up overbuying since some amount of guesswork is involved and you might not always be able to perfectly match supply with demand.
An omnichannel contact center in the cloud doesn’t place these constraints on your operations. Telesystem’s solution uses concurrent licensing models so you pay only for what you actually use. Procuring additional resources or changing key configurations is quick and straightforward. In this way, the omnichannel contact center is highly scalable, affordable to operate and more fully featured than its predecessors.
5. Automation and analytics
An omnichannel contact center isn’t just a bunch of different applications placed side by side in one place. It binds its components together with automation, analytics and other advanced capabilities that allow agents and managers to understand important trends in customer service and how to respond accordingly.
Predictive analytics provide insights into how cases with similar intent were resolved, while automated routing with global queuing ensures that calls go to the best available agent at any time of the day. Multi-language IVR can be configured and adjusted with different prompts that recognize users via biometrics and natural language processing.
Through these features and other, omnichannel technology continuously works for you in the background, getting better with time and supporting your organization in its drive toward better customer service.
Making the giant leap to omnichannel contact center technology
Last but certainly not least, a cloud-based omni channel contact center is only as dependable as its underlying infrastructure. At Telesystem, we host our solution in a redundant and secure cloud environment, with expert support to help you navigate any issues that arise. It’s an omni channel platform you can trust to keep your business running.
Posted on: July 17, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski
by Shameem Smillie
Omnichannel capabilities are driving the next level of business transformation, turning contact centers into customer experience hubs. With this change comes new opportunities to exceed customer expectations and maximize efficiency, driving down average handle time and cost per contact.
With over 15 years in the business communications industry, Mitel contact center sales expert, Shameem Smillie, delves into how you can leverage omnichannel most effectively, what role AI can play and more.
We’ve been hearing about omnichannel for years. Why is omnichannel so important today?
The capabilities of omnichannel and what it can provide to businesses and the customers they serve has changed dramatically over the years. From talking to our customers about the challenges they face, we’ve learned that omnichannel provides a way to get as close to – and even solve, in a lot of cases – the ultimate challenge of first contact resolution.
Today, Mitel’s omnichannel capabilities allow a business to see and understand the full 360° view and journey of a customer. In addition, agents fulfilling those interactions can now pivot seamlessly from one media to another. With omnichannel, if a customer is engaged on chat with an agent and they want additional information sent via SMS, this can be done while the customer is on chat. If the agent believes the conversation requires a voice interaction, the agent can call the customer with one click and still have all the customer details at their fingertips.
Ultimately, omnichannel is important because it allows a business to differentiate its brand by enabling a seamless experience across physical and digital environments, devices and channels.
Where does AI fit into this?
Omnichannel with AI capabilities is a win-win for agents and for customers. With AI tackling basic tasks, agents are free to focus on the more complex interactions. In addition, Mitel’s CX survey found that cloud communications combined with IoT, AI, chatbots and natural language understanding (NLU) facilitate a better customer experience, creating new ways for companies to nurture and build relationships with customers.
Managing the customer relationship through a traditional contact center – rows of technical advisers in headsets grouped together – is no longer sufficient to remain relevant and compete. Unlike contact centers, omnichannel customer experience hubs bring together customer interactions across multiple platforms, from traditional calls to social media. These hubs use the power of AI and machine learning to see emerging customer problems and identify the best solutions. This is transformational for the customer experience, as well as employee efficiency and productivity.
How should companies get started with omnichannel?
To deploy omnichannel, businesses need to understand how and when their customers want to interact. What are the different channels customers can use, and which channels do they prefer the most? Do your business processes consider the user experience for both customers and agents? Answering those questions will help you identify the omnichannel strategy best for your customers, and this customer-first mentality will enable your business to provide the level of service and experience your customers expect today.
What are some common pitfalls to be aware of when deploying omnichannel?
I know a lot of customers who are actively trying to shift interactions away from phone calls and toward chat, SMS, and email. However, some customers have said they’ve almost become too successful. Interactions on the phone can be addressed quickly, versus having to type everything and wait for a customer to respond. Productivity can often decrease in these situations and customers can end up waiting much longer than they would have ordinarily, so that’s something to be cautious of.
What are the cost benefits of deploying an omnichannel solution?
When omnichannel capabilities are deployed with a focus on digital transformation, businesses inevitably drive down average handle time (AHT) and the cost per contact. Obviously, the more time an agent is talking or in a transaction, the more it costs a business. Analysts have said the average cost per contact is £4 (sterling) for the UK. One Mitel customer said that by moving to chat alone, their business saved more than £250k (about $317k USD) a year. And of course, there are the “soft” savings achieved by better productivity, efficiency and customer satisfaction.
How do you think omnichannel will evolve over the next year?
The desire to self-serve will continue to drive technology advancements. Use cases will evolve, adding more relevance and value as businesses integrate and enable AI, machine learning and NLU.
Digital Darwinism is still a top concern for a lot of businesses, and it should be. Who can really predict what the next great application will be? Watch this video to hear me elaborate on this subject at the 2019 UC Expo in London.
Given these continuous technology shifts, businesses should focus on ensuring they remain agile, delivering on their customers’ expectations at all times. The first-class customer journey is never going to stand still, and it’s the businesses with the right technology – omnichannel, AI and more – that will attract and retain customers. Everyone else will simply be left behind.
Posted on: July 8, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski
As companies look to improve their customer loyalty, they are putting more focus on the broader customer experience and interaction with the brand. The contact center plays a critical role in deploying the integrated customer experience.
Why contact centers are moving to the cloud?
Changing customer expectations make it difficult for businesses to compete using legacy on-premises equipment. While organizations have their own reasons for moving to the cloud, we found there are 4 main goals contact centers achieve by modernizing to the cloud.
The cloud contact center lowers IT overhead costs, with no costly on-premises hardware and maintenance costs organizations are no longer paying for peak capacity all year round when it is not needed. Labor costs are also lowered by improved agent productivity.
Improve Customer Satisfaction
Moving to the cloud provides contact center agents with consolidated tools and insights for customers so agents can deliver a more effective and consistent experience across all channels.
Enhanced agility lets contact center agents move fast and take advantage of new opportunities, handle disruptions in real time by having call and contact flows or allowing your agents’ schedules change in minutes instead of weeks.
Multi-site, Global Operations
The cloud gives business leaders the ability to manage global operations across multiple sites, one source of reporting across all dashboards, as well as seamlessly routing customer contacts in real time to the right agent no matter their location. This enables you to provide a better, more consistent customer experience across all your locations while achieving efficiencies by managing all customer contact sites as one.
Moving to the cloud is becoming the obvious choice to provide a seamless customer experience.
Like most new experiences, moving to a cloud can seem dauting. Help has arrived to make your transition an informed and smooth process! In our webinar, Up Your CX Game: Buyers Guide for Moving to a Cloud Contact Center, presented by Gartner Analyst, Drew Kraus and NICE inContact Product Marketing VP, Chris Bauserman will guide you through the entire decision cycle, from building a consensus on priorities internally to evaluating your options to negotiating and selecting a new partner.
These experts will walk you through key phases of your process:
• Create a current and future needs assessment
• Inventory your systems (current and future integrations)
• Perform a gap analysis (zeroing in on priorities)
• Develop an RFP, incorporating cross-team requirements
• Select the right vendor (from short list to bake-off)
Watch Up Your CX Game: Buyers Guide for Moving to a Cloud Contact Center now, Drew and Chris will address all your questions and more. It’s a stimulating presentation that will provide you a robust foundation and road map for moving to the cloud—and elevating your CX!
Posted on: April 12, 2019 By: CNSG Marketing
Is your business receiving thousands of calls a day? If so, are you aware of the gold mine of rich data these calls are bringing your business? While there are other channels that you may be using to connect with your customers, there is still an opportunity to understand customer behavior and pain points from calls. Each call contains priceless information that can help you identify patterns and trends that can improve your customer satisfaction. Voice analytics is a powerful tool that will help unlock business intelligence to deepen your pockets all while giving you a bird’s eye view of the ins and outs of your customer interactions. The gathering of large amounts of data is the modern-day gold rush. So, what is your call data worth? Keep reading to find out.
Ca$h in on your Contact Center
Contact centers are faced with many challenges, such as battling high agent turnover, optimizing staff productivity, and ensuring a fantastic customer experience. That’s why the ability to learn from each call is so important and can strongly improve future customer satisfaction.
Before the technological advancements in speech recognition, artificial intelligence, and big data, companies would monitor conversations manually, but only about 1-3% of calls were ever analyzed.
For example, a team leader may listen to a representative sample of calls and use that information to make significant company-wide decisions, but are those the right decisions? What about the other 97% of calls they never analyze? Seems like a lot of missed opportunities… By deploying AI and machine learning technology, you can easily analyze every customer interaction to ensure your agents are delivering top-notch service. Managers can use data mining to help recognize training gaps and understand what customers are calling about to better prepare agents.
The other key to delivering a stellar customer experience is to ensure no call to your contact center goes unanswered. Voice analytics enable you to get the full picture of calls based on date, time, and location. Let’s say you realize that one of your locations is receiving high call volumes on Wednesdays during lunch. That’s great, but the problem is that the majority of agents are on break, meaning that your customers are sitting in a queue or end up hanging up before they reach an agent. Now you know you need to change up agent work schedules, so you can decrease call hold times and have happier customers.
Elevate the entire Enterprise
Don’t have a contact center? No worries, the ability to uncover deep insights and the wealth of rich data isn’t limited to just contact centers. The benefits of voice analytics can be used across the entire enterprise to optimize a variety of business processes; including sales, marketing, and compliance.
- Sales: Analyze results based on location to identify top performing sales agents or regions where you may need to do some more prospecting.
- Product & Marketing: Understand what customers are calling in about (i.e. product issues or feedback) so you can create educational materials, update product features, or create new products to address customer needs.
- IT: Stay on top of network capacity and call routing by monitoring call volumes to manage communication resources, improve efficiency, and detect potential issues.
- Compliance: Monitor real-time voice data to ensure your agents comply with government regulations and company guidelines.
Make Cents of your data
So how does all this work? Analyzing voice data used to be a manual process of examining call recordings in a quest to find actionable data points, which was obviously time consuming (not to mention, it wasn’t a lot of fun). But there’s a better option on the horizon. Advanced voice analytics solutions are continually gaining acceptance and adoption; these tools speed up the data mining process, cut costs and enable brands to make data-driven decisions. Not only does voice analytics software improve automation, it can also identify the speaker’s emotion and intent by analyzing audio patterns and sentiment. This insight will allow you to reduce churn by discovering the root cause of any issues and predicting at-risk customers.
When you pair Atmosphere® Insights with Atmosphere® Voice you can unlock hidden data to improve customer satisfaction and gain greater operational efficiency. Atmosphere® Insights is a powerful AI-enabled solution that enables you to better manage communication flows and gain a deeper understanding of your customers’ needs and the experience they are having with your company and products. Measure, evaluate, and redefine your call-in experience with Atmosphere® Insights.