Posts Tagged ‘ACD’

The Contact Center Hashtag

Social media is rapidly becoming part of the contact center world. Almost all software manufacturers offer some form of social media for contact centers or at least have it on their roadmaps. The idea of direct customer interaction makes things happen faster and adds a dynamic element to communication. Agents are expected to reply instantly to a customer enquiry or a complaint. But how does a Tweet or a Facebook message reach the right agent in a contact center? Is there something like Automatic Tweet Distribution or Wall Post Forwarding?

Maybe all your agents have access to your company’s Twitter timeline or Facebook wall but how can you make sure the right agent feels responsible for the incoming enquiry if you don’t have skill groups? How about things that happen off your Twitter timeline and outside of your Facebook wall?

Typically, users of social media highlight certain topics with hashtags like #contactcenter. You click on the tagged word and a list appears with posts and Tweets that use the same hashtag. Now here’s the idea: in order to make sure the right agent or skill group sees the post with the keyword, you assign a cluster of words to each skill group. They see it either in search results that get updated constantly or in a separate window in the agent workplace. You make sure that agents only see the information they need for their work and don’t have to filter to see what’s potentially relevant to them.

Now you may ask: who needs this? This could be a useful tool for large enterprises with big contact centers. These companies typically have multiple Facebook or Twitter accounts and a handful of agents can’t easily monitor them all. So to make sure direct enquiries are answered and all indirect complaints and comments about your company are being read, you need to assign relevant topics to your skill groups by clustering tagged keywords. This enables you to follow the discourse on your products and services, to participate in it and react quickly.

Seven Ways to Improve Your Automatic Call Distribution

Just recently, I called my carrier because I needed some information. I found myself dialing through an IVR. Thanks to clearly structured menus and DTMF it worked really well (no surprise, this carrier uses our solution) but then I needed additional help from an agent.

It took more than five minutes until I spoke to a real person. This agent was very competent and could answer the various questions I had, nevertheless, I found the waiting time too long. Over five minutes elapsed until my call was transferred and I called during off-peak hours. Apparently, my carrier doesn’t have the best ACD they could have.

What can you do to enhance customer satisfaction with Automatic Call Distribution? The ACD should get you to the right place the first time. This saves the caller time and frustration and the contact center money. However, there are a few criteria for this to work. Here are seven options to improve your ACD:

  1. First come, first serve. The caller that has been waiting the longest should be the next to be connected to an agent.
  2. Use skill groups. As your callers are guided through your IVR, you learn the reason for their call and can transfer them to a skill group, where an agent with the required knowledge takes over. Enhanced ACD logic filters the incoming calls and sends them to the right group of people the first time, keeping callers happy and avoiding expense for the contact center.
  3. Combine ACD and IVR with your CRM system. The agent who eventually takes the call should already have the customer’s information available and the caller shouldn’t have to authenticate again having done that in the IVR.
  4. If you have multiple contact centers you may want to distribute the load across all centers to ensure the best level of service across the enterprise.
  5. Have enough agents. One reason queues get so long is because there aren’t enough agents. If you need more agents, e.g. during peaks, consider using on-demand seats, either on-site or elsewhere to handle each and every incoming call in compliance with your target service levels.
  6. Avoid transferring your callers from agent to agent. That’s the other extreme to keeping them in the queue for several minutes. A caller wants answers from the agent and not to hear “Sorry, I can’t help you, let me transfer you” three times.
  7. Put your customers in groups like “Platinum” according to their “value”. Customers that are ranked higher get connected faster or to the best available agents. Those who are e.g. always behind with paying their bills should not get this treatment.

In my opinion, skilled agents and a good call flow are very important for good customer service but if your call queues are too long or calls reach the wrong agents, customers will still be dissatisfied with the service. What do you think?

Network-Based Automatic Call Distribution

Every contact center needs an ACD and every contact center has one. However, in terms of customer experience, automatic call distribution could have a better reputation. Very often, customers get stuck in long queues and have to wait for what feels like ages until they reach the proper agent.

One of the reasons for that is a complicated call distribution process that comes with premise-based equipment. The carrier routes the calls made to a service number to the contact center’s ACD. There, the service number is ‘translated’ into a physical number and sent to the next available agent’s extension. In some cases, the call is routed to yet another location along the way. Until then, the caller has to wait in the queue. That’s not only inconvenient for the person calling the contact center, for the center itself it is expensive if the call has to be routed to various destinations.

But lo and behold, help comes out of the cloud. The first advantage worth mentioning is certainly the fact that a cloud-based ACD replaces the expensive ACD equipment located on the contact center’s premises. There is no purchasing; there is no hardware and software that needs to be maintained. Instead, contact centers can get agent seats on demand at an almost unlimited capacity. This reduces the queue length and leads to higher customer satisfaction.

Secondly, there is the technological advantage. With a solution from the cloud, you set up unified queuing for all your contact center locations. The call is no longer routed to an ACD and from there to another contact center and from there to an agent or to a skill group. Instead, the hosted solution routes the call made to the service number directly to the next available agent, regardless of their location. The step in between, where the call is sent to the contact center’s premises and from there to the agent, is no longer necessary.

Apart from equipment expenses, the cloud ACD enhances the customer experience because it shortens the queue and the caller has to spend less time until he reaches an agent. The contact center saves additional money because calls don’t have to be routed to other destinations from the in-house ACD.

So where’s the advantage for the carrier? Well, as a carrier you can offer Automatic Call Distribution at a better price and with enhanced customer experience. Suppliers of enterprise equipment can’t give you that.

Plus, you get an additional source of revenue. You don’t only charge for the service number but also for the ACD service. In other words, a network-based ACD is beneficial for contact centers, customers and carriers.

What’s your experience with ACD from the cloud? Has it made the customer experience cheaper, faster and better for your clients?

How to achieve free of charge queuing

Hi, my name is Walter Rott and I’m the CTO here at ECT. Usually I post on our corporate blog but here is something that will interest those, who follow the contact center discourse:

What happens when you call a service number or any other phone number? As soon as the called party picks up the phone, the call is billed, regardless of whether you talk to a real person or end up in a call queue. However, German lawmakers plan to pass a bill which would mean that queuing has to be free of charge.

So far, this is only planned for Germany, but I can well imagine that regulations for free call queues could also be made in other European countries sooner or later, so carriers and service providers in other countries should also be prepared.

In Germany, the industry is not very happy with this legal endeavor because it is very difficult to accomplish technically. The draft regulation proposes that free queues have to be available for calls from fixed and mobile phones, pre- and post-paid.

For off-line calls this is not so much of a challenge. You take the call data records and deduct the time spent in the queue.

However, pretty much every call that you make is an online call. It can be routed through multiple queues, even outside the public network and each has to be free of charge. I can think of two ways around this issue.

The first is to play a ring back tone or corporate ring back instead of connecting the call to a queue. This tone could tell the caller to stay in the line until the next agent is available. Only when the agent actually takes the call, it is connected and can be billed. The disadvantage: you can only do this for two minutes. After that the call is disconnected.

The second way is the implementation of a network-based waiting queue with off-line billing. This is a solution which ECT offers. If you want to know more, don’t hesitate to get in touch.