Monet Software recently presented a webinar entitled “How to Gain More Insight into the Performance of your Contact Center.” The event generated a strong turnout and has received positive feedback from many of those in attendance.
If you missed it, good news – the webinar is now available on our website at http://www.monetsoftware.com/webinars/. You can check it out any time you like.
Why should you? Because it’s one thing to read about how Monet's cloud-based WFO can help gain more insights and improve the performance of your contact center. It’s quite another to actually see this technology in action. And that is the opportunity this webinar provides.
Several related topics will be covered as well, from the importance of visibility at the agent level to the benefits of real-time data and alerts of key metrics and activities.
Don’t miss this second chance to discover what the advantages of cloud-based WFO can mean for your agents, your management team, and your contact center.
Every year, the experts at CIO Review choose the top 20 contact center technology solution providers – those the publication believes are making a difference in this volatile market.
Monet Software’s cloud-based workforce optimization solution appears on this year’s list.
“Monet Software has been on our radar for some time for stirring a revolution in the Contact Center technology space, and we are happy to showcase them this year due to their continuing excellence in delivering top-notch technology-driven solutions,” said Harvi Sachar, CIO Review’s founder and publisher.
At Monet we appreciate the recognition from such a prestigious source as CIO Review. The press release announcing Monet’s selection can be found here.
Of course, our customers have known about the benefits of our unified WFO solution for some time. They have experienced how it has optimized the utilization of contact center resources, how it improves service levels and productivity, and how it can boost revenues with an investment much lower than what is required for an on-premise solution.
You can read the article on the top 20 solution providers on the CIO Review website.
Every technology investment for a contact center should have a clear purpose behind it. There are a number of benefits associated with a desktop analytics platform, but if they had to be summed up in one word, that word might be “insight.”
Call center intelligence is all about gaining insight – in this case, into the important relationship between contact center agents and the technology they use every day to deliver the level of service that both customers and managers expect.
Desktop analytics offers call center managers a way to capture and analyze user activity at the desktop level. Performance is automatically monitored and measured against a defined business workflow, to determined how well key metrics are being achieved.
With this information in hand, contact center managers can increase the effectiveness of their training and coaching sessions by focusing on the specific applications where help is most needed, whether the issue is productivity, compliance, service delivery, non-call related activities, or process issues that are hindering optimal customer service.
With Monet’s desktop analytics solutions, all of this valuable data is available in real time and delivered in reports, which are created based on the type and amount of detail requested by each contact center manager.
This data not only impacts the customer experience, but the IT resource budget as well. Forecasting and scheduling will also improve because of how non-call activities are analyzed.
With desktop analytics, managers can open a clear window into how their employees actually work. That’s the kind of insight that can really improve performance.
Find out more about Monet’s Desktop Analytics.
There are many different methods of coaching contact center agents and, as you may have already discovered, some are more effective than others.
Using a coaching session only to point out what an agent is doing wrong may eventually generate better results, but it might not be the most efficient way to get the most from that particular agent. Coaching should be more than training – it should, at its best, also provide encouragement and build an agent’s confidence.
If you don’t believe you are maximizing the impact of your coaching, perhaps it’s time for a change of tactics.
One method that has proven successful at some contact centers starts with recognizing what an agent is doing right, and praising the agent for outstanding performance on these particular traits.
The coach begins by playing a recorded call, and then asking the agent for his or her feedback. It is human nature in these situations for most of us to focus on the negative – “I missed an upsell opportunity,” “I could have explained that policy better,” etc.
If this happens, the coach should respond by asking, “Which parts of that engagement are you most happy about?” In most cases, the conclusion will be that the agent did many more things correctly that incorrectly on that call. By acknowledging this, it creates a more positive atmosphere, and boosts the confidence of that agent in their performance.
Once this has been achieved, the agent will be more receptive to discussing any issues and how these problems can be addressed. It will also elicit less stressful reactions to scheduling coaching sessions.
Try it – and let us know how it works.
If business patterns from the previous few years continue, 2015 will see more companies than ever making the choice to break away from the high cost and maintenance responsibilities of supporting their IT infrastructure in house.
The alternative – moving to the cloud – offers a number of significant benefits for contact centers in technology, efficiency and cost.
So far, so good. The challenge now for contact centers is choosing a provider that delivers an authentic cloud solution, rather than one attempting to exploit the benefits of the “cloud” name, while offering a product that is no different (and in some cases, worse) than a traditional hardware/software system.
If all hosted software offerings labeled as “cloud” are anything but, how can you tell the difference? It’s not enough to review the marketing collateral provided by vendors – do your homework first so you are already familiar with how a genuine cloud solution works, and which questions to ask to make sure you are getting the right product.
A true cloud solution is built from the ground up with software coded to perform better as a fully hosted solution. Applications can be customized in a way that will not cause complications as new product enhancements are introduced. And since all updates and upgrades are automatic, and do not require additional cost, your contact center is always assured of operating with the most up-to-date functionality.
If such product upgrades are delayed, it may mean you have been stuck with a fake cloud solution.
Result? A system with all of the problems and costs associated with an on-premise solution. It won’t be as scalable as the cloud, or as efficient. In addition to delayed and difficult product upgrades, a fake cloud solution will entail other drawbacks that will have a negative impact on your business. Don’t be surprised if downtime increases as a result of the limited resources of the hosting set up. Security could also be an issue, as the provider may not have the most important industry certifications, such as PCI-DSS security compliance, EU Safe Harbor certification, and SSAE 16 (SOC1) Type II audit completions.
Finally, any company that would misrepresent the most basic features of its product is one that will likely not be in business for the long haul. Imagine that worst case scenario – your service provider goes out of business, and you are forced to quickly find another vendor and make the switch, risking loss of data or data access. Or you can start over building an in-house solution, which will not be cheap.
The Qualities (and Quality) of a True Cloud Provider
True cloud solutions are typically more scalable and more reliable than hosting of traditional software, while offering the advantages that companies expect from a cloud delivery system, including:
• Automatic upgrades to new software versions
• Fast and secure system access from anywhere with web access
• close to 100% guaranteed uptime
• Advanced data privacy protection
• Easy integration with other applications
• No significant upfront investment
For more information on the differences between fake clouds and true clouds, there are a number of third-party resources available online which specify industry standards, while highlighting additional benefits of the cloud computing model. Here are just some of the most popular:
The Cloud Standards Consumer Council (cloudstandardsconsumercouncil.org)
The CSCC is an end-user advocacy group established to address the lack of a customer driven prioritization and focus within the cloud standards development process. The Council separates the hype from the reality on how to leverage what customers have today, and has established a core set of client-driven requirements to ensure cloud users have the same freedom of choice, flexibility, and openness they have with traditional IT environments.
Publications available on the website include The CSCC Practical Guide to Cloud Computing and The CSCC Practical Guide to Cloud Service Level Agreements.
The Cloud Computing Use Cases Group (cloudusecases.org)
While this site has not been recently updated, it offers two solid white papers on common use cases for cloud computing. It is also a helpful source for cloud information in Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
The Open Group (opengroup.org)
The Open Group is a consortium comprised of IT experts around the world who have developed several IT standards, while providing a number of assets related to cloud computing. These include The Open Group Cloud Computing for Businesses, a publication that can be downloaded for free, as well as several white papers including Building Return on Investment from Cloud Computing.
Cloud computing will continue to gain a larger percentage of the contact center industry because it offers benefits for businesses of every size and type.
However, with cloud computing growing so rapidly, many vendors are trying to position themselves as cloud providers by re-labeling and re-branding traditional on-premise software applications. This can lead to problems with upgrades, process integration and business viability.
Customers need to be able to recognize a true cloud solution as one that was designed from a web-based, multi-tenant, self-service perspective, and provides secure and easy access over the Internet, so contact center agents can work from anywhere at any time.
A few simple questions about cloud-computing and some time spent on researching the background and reputation of the provider should quickly clear up any uncertainty about the type of product being offered, and whether it qualifies as genuine.
Did you ever have that feeling of déjà vu? Sometimes, it’s a good thing.
Last month, Monet’s WFO Live – Workforce Optimization in the Cloud was selected as a TMC CUSTOMER magazine 2015 Product of the Year Award winner. As delighted as we were, we couldn’t help but think back to December of last year, when WFO Live was also selected by TMC as a recipient of its Customer Experience Innovation Award.
Such acknowledgment is always welcome, but it is especially appreciated when it comes from TMC, the world's leading business-to-business and integrated marketing media company, and a valued news resource to more than 3.5 million industry professionals. This is a company that knows contact center technology, and their recognition of Monet tells us that our products are meeting the needs of this industry as it continues to grow and evolve.
And while awards are great, it’s always the feedback from our customers that means the most.
Monet WFO Live – Workforce Optimization in the Cloud is a complete suite for contact centers to automate workforce management, call recording, quality assurance and agent analytics. The system creates efficient schedules for incoming call volumes, tracks key metrics in accordance with a company’s business goals, and monitors calls for quality, training and compliance purposes.
We know the difference that WFO Live is making in contact center efficiency because you have told us with your calls and emails. At Monet we’re already at work on new solutions and capabilities that will be announced later in 2015. Whether more awards are forthcoming or not, as long as we continue to receive positive feedback from you, we know we’re on the right track.
Find out more and read the official press release.
One of the many benefits of cloud computing is its accessibility for contact center agents whether they are at their desks, on the road, or even at home.
There are a lot of good reasons to consider a work-from-home situation for some of your contact center personnel. You can now hire qualified agents even if they live 100 miles or more away, since they don’t have to drive to work. Parents with small children might also enjoy the convenience of a home-based office, as long as it does not interfere with their professional obligations.
It is also a way to be more inclusive with your hiring practices, by providing home-based jobs to people with disabilities. Physical limitations could make it difficult for someone to travel to and from a contact center, but by accessing the contact center’s software from a home computer, such people could make a valuable contribution to your business.
These agents will also appreciate the flexibility in scheduling that is possible when contact centers employ workforce management software. Now, medical appointments or family obligations can be accommodated, and the agent does not have to worry about changing a shift when necessary.
The evolution of cloud software has accelerated this trend in hiring, as it provides the same service capabilities to an agent’s home computer as they would enjoy at the call center. No installation is required and data sharing remains secure.
Managers used to a more traditional contact center environment make require some adjustment, but most eventually appreciate the benefits of a telecommuting arrangement. One way to ease into the change is to create a pool of back-up agents for times of increased call volume, or for when there are too many unexpected absences. Occasional trips to these agents’ homes for monitoring and coaching are usually enough to keep their performance consistent. Plus, these visits give the manager an excuse to get out of the office for awhile, which is always welcome.
The start of a new year is a natural time to evaluate the status of your contact center, and decide if any changes would be beneficial moving forward. If you are ready to put together a checklist of important topics, you may wish to start with these.
What is the current state of your agent team(s)? Do you have enough people for each shift? Do they have the skills necessary to fulfill their obligations? How effective are your coaching and training programs? Review the personnel situation and adjust staffing as needed.
How does your contact center get things done? There are a number of processes in place that are employed to improve customer service and optimize forecasting, scheduling and adherence. Review these processes and look for areas where they may be improved. Take quality monitoring, for example: how are calls being scored, and who is doing the scoring? Is it time for a fresh perspective, or to begin tracking elements of each call that are not being reviewed now?
Is your hardware and software out of date or obsolete? It might be if you’ve been using an on-premise solution for such vital functions as workforce management. WFM providers supply ongoing enhancements and updated versions on a regular basis, but they also charge users for every one of these upgrades. With the economy still recovering, companies may not have the resources to keep up with the improvements. Perhaps this is the time to consider a cloud delivery system, where upgrades are free and there is no large upfront cost.
Contact center managers must be up to date on any new federal and state laws that might impact their business, as well as any changes in company policy. This is the time to not only be aware of any such regulation issues, but to make sure your employees are aware of them as well.
Our blogs are written to be an easily accessible resource of information on a wide range of technology topics related to the contact center.
Until now, blog content has been divided into separate pages, but we thought it would be better to move all of this content into one location, so our clients and website visitors can more easily review the copy available and find which pieces contain the answers to their questions or concerns.
Take workforce optimization. From the benefits of WFO vs. spreadsheets to gaining insight into the customer’s perspective, we have dozens of blogs featuring the latest tips, tricks and best practices of workforce optimization for contact centers.
Want to know more about the trend of unified workforce optimization? Call quality scoring and training? Adding speech analytics or desktop analytics capabilities? Now you can get all the answers you need in one place: http://www.monetsoftware.com/blog
There is still a misconception that cloud computing is best suited only for small and medium-sized contact centers, because of concerns over security and scalability. Whether this was ever accurate, it is certainly no longer the case.
Cloud computing is not only ready for the enterprise, it is now the preferable option over traditional on-premise software.
Monet has created a new whitepaper that analyzes this topic, at a time when more companies of all sizes and types are exploring their technology options.
Use of cloud applications is increasing rapidly every year, which is not surprising given the array of benefits intrinsic to this service:
• Scalability – Cloud service providers allow clients to increase or decrease existing resources as needed to accommodate changing needs on demand.
• Flexibility – Cloud applications are available from any computer or any device—any time, anywhere. That allows enterprise personnel to be more flexible in and out of the workplace.
• Cost – With a cloud system, larger companies can take advantage of scaled maintenance in a specialized data center, while investing the money saved in capital expense into other aspects of the business.
• Ease of Use – Since the cloud provider manages all updates and upgrades, there are no patches for customers to download or install.
• Security – The cloud offers a much higher grade of security than most internal IT departments.
Monet is always available to help address the concerns of companies considering a cloud solution, and to identify the many ways in which the cloud can benefit your enterprise.
Whether they are designated as New Year’s Resolutions or corporate objectives and strategies, the end of the year is a time when many of us naturally take stock of where we are at, and where we are going.
For contact center managers, the desire to make every new year better than the one before requires the right performance optimization plan. And if you are in the process of creating a blueprint for success in 2015, here are four areas you’ll wish to explore, and some of the questions that must be asked if your business is ready to boldly confront the ongoing challenge of delivering excellent customer service.
1. Workforce Management: Forecasting, Scheduling, Adherence
Workforce management (WFM) has been defined as “assigning the right employees with the right skills to the right job at the right time.” In a contact center, if a manager schedules the right agents with the appropriate call-handling skills on the shifts where those skills will be most needed, he or she is certainly on the best track to an efficient operation.
Workforce management and workforce optimizations (WFO) software can play a critical role in these functions. Is your contact center equipped with these capabilities? Do you have the right system in place to meet your needs?
The difference between handling the important functions of forecasting, scheduling and adherence with the right technology, vs. with a system that uses spreadsheets, for instance, is significant when it comes to proper utilization of resources, and the level of customer service delivered.
An accurate forecast model relies on accurate historical data. WFO delivers seasonal stats, monthly stats, daily stats, even numbers analyzing one portion of one hour, so variations can be determined and adjustments made accordingly. Special days and special events will also figure into these calculations.
With WFO, managers can automatically manage start times, end times and break times, so that agent needs are acknowledged, while call center performance capabilities are always met. An automated system provides more flexibility than a spreadsheet, while also contributing data that can help managers put the right agents in the right positions to maximize customer service.
In a contact center where workforce management software is capable of real-time adherence, a manager always knows if his team members are adhering to the schedule. The reporting generated by WFM can analyze adherence by team or by time period, making it easier to pinpoint issues that result in lower service levels.
The best WFM solution will include accurate call volume forecasting from historical data and ACD integration, flexible schedule creation that incorporates foreseen and unforeseen variables, agent exceptions, intra-day changes to both forecasting and scheduling, and performance management reports.
2. Quality Assurance: Call Recording and Scoring
Quality assurance refers to a proven process of establishing quality goals and verifying and checking the quality of a service, as well as the activities implemented so that quality requirements will be fulfilled.
Assurance of quality requires a series of preventive actions, all focused on process and based on a set of standards defined by the company. There are challenges to getting it right, particularly if a contact center lacks a reliable means to measure and track quality, either via management action or software that provides automated data on policies and systemic activities.
Do you have the right technology and personnel in place to determine quality standards, and then to achieve them? Perhaps 2015 will be the year to take this important step. Here is one way to get started:
- Define Quality Goals and Objectives – What constitutes a quality customer engagement? Quality assurance can only be attained if “quality” is specifically defined. Start by establishing thresholds, such as the number of calls per agent and time allotted for each call. Determine the call center’s current status in these and other areas, and document all goals and objectives.
- Focus on Communication – Open communication between agents and managers and agents and coaching/training personnel expedites the quality assurance process.
- Automate QA Processes – QA is easier when you can turn over many of its processes to the tools, templates, triggers and programs available for that function. An automated solution is not only more efficient, it also frees up personnel to spend time on other issues.
- Unification and Integration – Call center goals should be consistent, with personnel and technology working together to arrive at the desired place. Make sure that all teams are putting the QA plan into action based on the same goals, and measure progress based on the same reports.
- Real-Time Monitoring – Quality assurance is extremely difficult, if not impossible, without reliable, real-time quality monitoring that incorporates alerts, dashboards and key performance indicators (KPI).
- Use Scoring to Rank Agents – Call scoring requires a cooperative effort among managers, agents and even customers (through feedback and survey results) to determine what elements are important in each customer engagement. Scoring can also be invaluable in ranking agents for training purposes, as well as for assigning schedules and creating rosters.
- Think Long Term – While QA helps to fix short-term issues, it should also be established and utilized to track and report on long-term trends and improvement.
3. Performance Management: Real-Time Alerts, Dashboards, KPIs
Performance management is something of a catch-all term that incorporates all of the management aspects at a call center, from planning to developing agent skills, to evaluating performance based on metrics and making adjustments accordingly.
As with every other part of the management process, it becomes easier if you first develop a plan of action. If you don’t have one, start by measuring your current status, then set realistic goals for where improvement is possible. Diagnose the causes of any issues, and then implement changes accordingly. Check the results, refine your system and then set new goals.
All of this takes accurate, reliable, up-to-date data.
It is critical for call center management to keep track of key metrics throughout the course of the day. This is also a practice made considerably easier through workforce management software. Dashboards deliver visual displays that provide insight into forecasts, schedules and adherence, so managers always have an instant snapshot of what is happening at every moment throughout the day.
It’s also important to know which metrics are the most crucial to track. That list is likely to include:
• Average Handle Time
• Calls per Hour
• First Call Resolution
• Abandoned Calls
• Average Wait Time
• Completion Rate
• Forecasted Call Load vs. Actual
• Scheduled Staff vs. Actual
• Waiting Calls
• Average Call Value
The more information you receive from your WFM software – KPIs, scorecards, alerts, dashboards, reports – the better equipped you will be to take effective action to better meet the customer service goals of the contact center.
4. Analytics: Speech and desktop
Speech analytics boosts the effectiveness of a call recording solution. It’s still a fairly new technology that has not been widely adopted within the industry. Is this the year your contact center moves ahead of the curve?
What do you get with speech analytics? It starts with automated alerts triggered by voice data that deliver critical business and marketing intelligence to improve agent performance and the customer experience. This is the type of information that would take weeks to ascertain with spreadsheets; with speech analytics, you’ll have it in minutes.
Desktop Analytics gathers application data at the desktop level across users, processes and technology, to help improve productivity and service delivery, while reducing compliance issues and lowering business costs. The more managers understand how agents interact with their desktop environment to perform daily tasks, the easier it will be to improve productivity, prioritize issues that need to be addressed, and fine-tune best practices that can then be replicated across the call center.
We’ve devoted a number of blogs to the challenges of finding the best contact center agents, from hiring and training to ongoing coaching and providing incentives for exceptional performance.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to assemble a team of outstanding agents, this is the time of year to make sure they feel appreciated. Answering phones or conducting online chats in a contact center is a challenging job, and managers who appreciate what goes into a good day’s work already know how important it is to acknowledge professional contributions that make the team and the company better.
At Monet, we are pleased and proud to provide contact center technology solutions that can make the agent’s job a little easier, a little more predictable, and hopefully a little more fun.
We want to take a moment to say Happy Holidays to all of the contact center teams that show up every day with professionalism and positive attitudes, even when dealing with customers who seem to have misplaced their holiday spirit. Thank you for a job well done.
At the contact center, as in several other types of companies, PTO
stands for paid time off, and for your agents they are three of the
happiest letters in the alphabet.
For managers, however, they
are three letters that can induce headaches, as well as conflicts and
scheduling issues that can impact customer service.
manager’s job to make every minute count in the contact center, and
that’s a challenge when dealing with different schedules and constantly
evolving exceptions. That makes PTO requests even more difficult, even
if they are presented a week or more in advance.
management (WFM) system can streamline the processes related to PTO, and
take some of the pressure off both managers and agents.
WFM (as with the system provided by Monet) is used to plan and track PTO
accruals, it automatically enters the necessary information into the
contact center’s schedule and staffing roster. It is also possible to
integrate the WFM system into the company’s human resources system to
track and manage all related data.
Once the system is in place
and procedures are established, WFM can also allow agents to schedule
their own PTO. Result? Happier agents.
If PTO is still an issue at your contact center, contact us to find out how you can make time-off planning less difficult – and perhaps even fun.
Monet Software picked up a little hardware during 2014, with two contact center awards from TMC.
Back in March, Monet WFO Live: Workforce Optimization in the Cloud was selected as a 2014 Product of the Year for exceptional innovation, by TMC’s CUSTOMER magazine.
And last month, WFO Live was designated as a finalist for the 2014 Customer Experience Innovation Award, presented by the same publication.
this season of good will, we would like to express our appreciation to
all of those that helped make this happen. Thank you to our customers
that trusted in Monet, and thank you to all of the managers, supervisors
and agents that use Monet software on a daily basis.
also like to thank all of our employees for their hard work and
dedication. As we look back on the achievements of 2014, they inspire us
to work even harder in 2015 and beyond to continue providing the best
contact center solutions to meet the needs of our clients.
Measuring service level is an obvious and necessary exercise for every call center manager. But service level should not be confused with the more comprehensive examination of customer experience. Once you’ve developed a strategy to track, measure and improve customer experience, you’ll have a road map to identify any systems and programs that need to be revised for optimal customer satisfaction.
The challenge comes from the reality that customer experience encompasses a wide range of touch-points within the company that a customer may encounter – email, website, store, chat, reps.
While telephone engagements are just one piece of the puzzle, they are a particularly important piece. They provide an opportunity to find out about the other channels and aspects of customer experience, and to fix any problems. It’s also the time and place when most customers expect to be queried about the company, and may be more open to providing honest, direct and detailed feedback.
If your call center has not yet expanded its data collection to cover customer experience, it is time to do so.
The first step is to create a strategy – determine you customer experience goals, and how to analyze where you are in achieving them. Then make sure your agents have the training, the tools and the motivation to meet your call center’s customer service and customer experience initiatives.