Posts Tagged ‘customer relationship management’

What Social CRM Should Be Like

For a moment let’s suspend the notion that we’re all nerdy telco people and give in to the idea that we’re also customers that request service every now and then. When we do so, we generally appreciate when the organization we interact with doesn’t only respond quick but may be familiar with us and the type of enquiry we may have.

As you all know, that’s what CRM systems are for. Some say a good Customer Relationship Management tool is at the heart of every contact center. There is certainly more than a grain of truth in this, depending on what kind of data is stored in the CRM and how it’s updated. Typical entries would be name, billing details, address, interaction history as well as products/ services bought.

These types of information help to judge how quickly a customer enquiry is dealt with, so they should interface with the ACD. I think one of the most important parameters for the CRM is the interaction history and especially with regards to social media.

Not only because it enables you to review the interaction history a customer had with you via Facebook or Twitter you would also store in your CRM how influential your customers are on the social web. Here CRM and ACD intertwine because a more influential customer, even if he’s not a frequent buyer or may be late with his payments may be treated with priority.

A good social CRM should therefore, on top of other data, archive company-related social media activity and the customer’s influence. At the same time, his influence should be updated dynamically. Does his network increase or shrink are there other influencers that he competes with? On which topics is this person influential?

These are pretty relevant questions when it comes to answering an enquiry or handling a complaint and that’s why they ought to be included in a modern Customer Relationship Management tool.

How influential are your customers?

In customer relationship management and in contact centers in general, it’s not unusual to cluster your customers into groups such as platinum, gold or bronze. Depending on their status, they get connected to agents faster or get agents with better skills. The criteria for the selection might be customer loyalty, reliability when it comes to making payments or simply the type of service/product they have. Another very important aspect is a customer’s social media influence.

With social media, there is a lot of communication about your company and services which happens out of your immediate reach. With customers interacting with one another over channels like Twitter, Facebook or blogs, it becomes very difficult to survey all the channels manually. Specialized social media search engines can help your contact center to filter out certain keywords related to you and your products. But how do you know how influential a customer is on the social web? Does a customer who openly complains about your company and your services really influence others? This person may not only be an avid user of Facebook and Twitter but may also be a blogger with a large readership. To cut a long story short, you have to quantify a customer’s influence and rank them on a scale such as 1-10. The more likely it is that a customer has influence on others and may be an opinion leader, the more priority you should give to their posts.

This person’s social media rank should be visible in the social media module of the Agent Workplace and should also interface with the CRM. Online activity is important customer information and should therefore be part of the customer data.

When you react to a complaint from a customer who is active on the social web, it is better to use the same channels the person uses themselves. If someone complains on their Facebook wall, reply directly and offer a solution. That way you meet the customer at eye level and you show that you’re taking their concern seriously. You also show their peers that you interact with customers over these channels and deal with their concerns professionally.

To rank the social influence someone has, you can use a service like Klout which has an open API. There are also other proprietary solutions and the integrated social media dashboard in our Agent and Manager Workplace will also enable you to see how influential your customers are on the social web. Do you want to know more? Please get in touch.

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?

Social Media for Contact Centers

Social media has changed the way many of us communicate with each other. Naturally, this has an impact on customer relationship management (CRM). With over half a billion Facebook users worldwide and over 50 million messages posted on Twitter every day, companies know that they can’t afford to ignore social media when interacting with their customers.

When I take a look at many company Twitter accounts, a lot of them use Twitter to answer customer enquiries. It’s the same with Facebook, where consumers post their questions and remarks on companies’ walls.

Here we’ve reached the classical domain of contact centers: interacting with customers and answering their questions over multiple channels. Social media ads another channel which contact centers have to embrace if they want their customer communication to be successful.

This means the contact center agent must be able to use social media the same way as phone, fax, SMS or e-mail. If you envision the agent workplace as a dashboard for various forms of contact, over which the agent can handle calls, e-mail, chat, etc. simultaneously, you need to include the social media interface there. It should give you an overview of your Twitter timeline and Facebook wall with the possibility to post replies. Maybe you could even handle multiple accounts on one dashboard. As you probably know, there are already browser-based social media dashboards available. They run in a separate browser window. You could of course open two browser windows – one with the Agent Workplace and one with a social media dashboard, however, for the agent it would be by far more convenient to have this function included in the workplace. Additionally, it would be purely HTML-based.

A social media feature would be not unlike the chat function in our Agent Workplace. Actually, the social media function for contact centers would be like a blend of the chat and the e-mail function and enable you to handle a customer’s enquiry with one or two contacts. Considering that the chat function can reduce contact center costs up to 25 per cent, a social media interface would probably have the same effect.

So what do you think? How should social media be integrated into the contact center agent’s working environment? What do you think are the advantages? I’m looking forward to receiving your inspirational replies.