Call Center Software Hints, Tips & Best Practices
“A goal without a plan is just a wish” – Larry Elder
It’s February – are all your New Year’s Resolutions broken by now?
Hopefully not, but if the ones pertaining to your contact center didn’t materialize as you hoped, it’s never too early or too late to start again. This time, you’ll have a better chance of success if each goal is accompanied by specific ideas on how to make it happen.
Here are five common contact center goals, and some suggestions of ways you can put them in motion.
1. Reduce Agent Attrition
There are several options available here, starting with sprucing up the office – new chairs, clean restrooms, fresh snack food items in the break room. Agents are more likely to stay when they can work in a clean and welcoming environment. Also, try to inject a little fun into the daily routine, either by launching customer service contests with small prizes for the best-handled calls, birthday celebrations, or more creative spins on casual Fridays – “Fancy Dress Fridays” or “Monday Night Football” days where agents can wear the jersey of their favorite team or player.
While these steps can make the work day more pleasant, some agents – and likely your best ones – will also want to know if their hard work is going to be rewarded with raises or internal promotion for those who have earned it.
Another reason agents leave is when they can’t reconcile the demands of their job with their home life, going to school or working a second job. You won’t be able to solve all these problems, but you can build more flexibility into your schedules to better accommodate agent preferences. For example, consider introducing a shift that finishes at 2pm to help those who need to pick up their children from school.
2. Improve Customer Service
That’s the main goal, isn’t it? And yes, there are countless ways to make it happen. But too often contact center teams will gather at the start of a new year and hear a rah-rah “This year we need to be committed to providing the best service we can” speech, and then it’s back to business as usual.
That’s not enough. If you want better service, you have to first define what that entails. A good place to start is by asking your customers. Have you surveyed them lately? Create a survey that asks questions about your contact center’s performance, its agents and processes, targeting the areas where you believe there is the most need for improvement. Also pay attention to what those customers are saying on social media if you communicate that way. When you have their responses, act on them.
What sort of complaints do contact center customers usually lodge? Too much time on the phone? Too much time on hold? Agents waiting for approvals to provide the caller with what he or she needs? Then perhaps another way to boost customer service is to empower your agents.
You’ll know best where implementing this policy would be most effective – perhaps provide agents with additional training so they can talk down angry callers without transferring them to a supervisor, or giving them the authority to approve returns or restoring funds to a customer’s credit card. Not only will this make your customers happier, it will also free up your managers and supervisors to focus on other matters, which should further boost contact center efficiency.
Here’s another thought – how are you assessing metrics? Is it all about hitting predetermined numbers, or is it about making sure callers are getting the assistance they need? Make sure your focus is more on effectiveness. It’s worth putting up with calls that stray outside your Average Handle Time target if they result in a satisfied customer.
3. Improve Your IVR
Having IVR can boost call center efficiency in several ways: calls are routed faster, questions can be answered without agent involvement, hold times are reduced, and for contact centers that are not open 24/7, IVR offers a means for customers to still obtain information.
However, for some customers IVR is not only inefficient, it’s downright annoying. Customers over 40 in particular may not be as willing to “talk to a machine,” and if they have to repeatedly “press 1” or tell that overly-friendly recorded voice what type of service they need, they are more likely to just hang up.
How can you tell if your IVR is helping business – or hurting it?
Analyzing calls and listening in to IVR interactions will provide the insight you need to make this determination. So it’s important to start your call recording and quality monitoring at the IVR, not when the agent takes the call.
If you are losing too many calls during the IVR process, it’s time to make changes. Is there a way to explain the caller’s options more clearly? Is there a means for the caller to bypass the system quickly if they insist on speaking to an agent? In addition to reviewing call recording data, a caller survey that requests feedback on the IVR stage of the call can also yield insight into what customers like, and what they do not.
4. Better Communication
In this case, the challenge is not communication between agent and customer, but between agent and manager, and within the other employee tiers at your contact center. Internal communication is just as important as external communication, and should be encouraged. One way to make it happen is to have agents serve as managers or coaches for a shift. Or make sure that managers spend at least some time on the contact center floor every day.
5. Upgrade Your Technology
A 2015 survey found that 67% of industry professionals specified budget as the biggest barrier to improving their contact center. But with the evolution of cloud workforce management tools, a business can upgrade to state-of-the-art technology without the large upfront costs of hardware and software investment. Depending on the system, an on-premise solution could run $100,000 or more.
Better still, once the cloud solution is implemented it will always be upgraded regularly to new software versions as they are released, at no additional cost to the business. When a manual software upgrade is necessary, the cost can be prohibitive enough to be put off, which reduces a call center’s ability to operate at maximum efficiency.
Motivated agents, upgraded technology, better communication and a renewed focus on customer service – now you’re ready to tackle those resolutions.
Scheduling mistakes are frustrating for managers and agents, and ultimately for your customers. You review your forecasts and you do your best, but if the numbers on paper are not matching up with what happens during a shift, here are some possible reasons why, and what you can do to achieve better results.
Historical data reveals patterns that should make scheduling easier and more accurate. But don’t just stay in the shallow end of the data pool and factor in the obvious peak calling times and slower portions of a day or a week. Account for holidays and seasonal shifts, new product introductions and weather impact. And make sure your schedule includes lunch breaks, training sessions and other times when agents will not be available to take calls. An automated workforce management solution is the easiest way to collect and analyze this data, and then schedule accordingly.
The further out you create a schedule, the more you’ll have to account for shrinkage. You can foresee sick days and vacations for the week ahead – but two months from now? It’s impossible – so consider shrinkage so the circumstances you can’t anticipate now will not result in an under-staffed contact center.
Schedule Breaks as Well as Work Time
It’s one thing to account for breaks within a schedule – it’s another to actually affix them to a specific time, and expect your agents to adhere to it. Otherwise you may have too many agents taking breaks or heading out to lunch together at the same time, which will derail any schedule. WFM software can automatically assign breaks at the optimum time, so that impact on coverage and service level is minimized.
Work With Your Agents’ Needs When Possible
Agents are more likely to adhere to a schedule when the contact center is open to their work preferences. At a typical business there may be full time and part time agents, some working for home and some for whom this is a second job. Taking these factors into consideration will require more flexibility in schedule creation, but there are definite benefits to having a range of shift solutions available.
Full-Time vs. Part-Time
There is a stability to a full-time agent team that many contact centers find more desirable. But call patterns may result in too many agents collecting salary for doing nothing. That’s why some contact centers hire enough full-time employees to cover anticipated demand, and use part-timers to handle peak hours. The right mix will vary depending upon the business, but many find a 75% to 25% ratio of full-time to part-time agents will suffice.
When it is easier for agents to manage their preferences, it is easier for managers to create schedules that take into account their future availability. This should be a consideration when choosing a WFM solution.
Don’t Make Assumptions on Agent Preferences
“No one is going to want to work Saturday night.” Really? What about the agent who would rather attend his daughter’s soccer game on Saturday afternoon? Chances are you won’t need as many agents for the types of shifts generally viewed as undesirable, but you may be surprised at how many part-time or work from home agents will gladly take them. Don’t look for scheduling problems where they may not exist.
Regular Shift Reviews
Most veteran agents do not embrace shift reviews willingly. But contact centers should go through this process at least once or twice each year to confirm whether shift schedules are meeting customer service goals, and to determine if personnel changes might further optimize the agent skill sets available at any given time.
Equal Access to Preferred Shifts
One aspect of maintaining agent morale is making sure your team members believe they are being treated fairly, especially when it comes to the hours and shifts they are assigned. Scheduling that allocates more desirable shifts to the same agents week in and week out will alienate some employees, and that could impact their job performance and productivity. By distributing shifts equitably during the scheduling process, you can avoid such resentments before they are passed on to your customers.
Fill Vacant Positions as Quickly as Possible
This may be obvious but it still needs to be said. Few contact centers are immune to the challenges of agent attrition. The recruitment, hiring and training process to fill open positions is one that nobody enjoys, as well as one that places additional cost burdens on the contact center. However, the alternative is moving forward short-staffed, which inhibits scheduling flexibility and puts more stress on the agents you still have. It also limits your capacity to dismiss under-performing agents, as someone taking calls is better than no one at all. Resist the temptation to wait for peak season to begin your next recruitment campaign.
The Right Tool for the Job
Part of optimum scheduling is making sure the right agents are handling the right calls. With a tool like Monet Record you’ll have insightful data on how different agents handle different calls. That gives managers a way to determine which team members are best suited for different customer engagements. Monet Quality makes it easier to retrieve calls by specific type, and provides additional reporting and analytics to further assess each agent’s skills.
Unfortunately, the status quo rarely remains the same in any call center, so all these calculations must be regularly updated and re-examined. Monet Metrics delivers agent analytics, real-time alerts, scorecards and customizable reports, as well as data on key performance indicators such as agent adherence and service levels. This information can then be used in conjunction with workforce management to further refine the art and science of scheduling.
If there were a way to buy stock in cloud computing, this would be a good time to do it.
A 2015 Research and Markets report states that the cloud telecom industry, which includes cloud contact center ecosystems, is expanding at an annual growth rate of more than 25 percent.
Perhaps you can’t invest in an entire industry, but you can certainly invest in a cloud-based solution for workforce optimization, which will also pay significant dividends in benefits to your contact center budget, day-to-day efficiency, and customer service levels.
Hosting contact centers in the cloud has also been known to significantly reduce aspirin and other pain relief usage among managers, as it eliminates many of the headache causes that used to be unavoidable in this business, from hardware failures and networking issues to the budget-bursting costs of maintaining an IT department and keeping up with new software versions.
Consider the change in just one everyday contact center capability – call recording.
In the pre-cloud era, adding call recording required the installation of an onsite PBX system with a VoIP packet that recorded calls onto a separate onsite platform. With the cloud? Installation for agents can be achieved with the click of a button.
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. Large call centers enjoy a tremendous cost savings and a lower upfront equipment investment. Smaller contact centers can achieve the same technological sophistication of bigger companies on a smaller budget. And call centers with agents working from home or in multiple centers can tie everyone in to the same workforce management system regardless of location.
For these reasons and more, it seems likely that the popularity of cloud-based systems will continue to grow. Is it time you considered making the switch?
In looking back over a number of stories covering the contact center industry in 2015, certain themes quickly emerge. Putting aside those not relevant to this blog, such as the opening of new facilities and the trend toward insourcing, we selected two that merit renewed attention, as they will certainly be influential on the industry in this coming year as well.
Let’s start with the prediction that contact centers will be primarily digital within the next two years.
It’s not exactly a surprising trend, but one that emerged out of the gradual adoption and acceptance of other communication channels in response to customer preference.
Many stories on this topic came with dire forecasts about the demise of the traditional call center, as more people turn to email, Web chat, social media and mobile app interactions to get their questions answered. Instead, such capabilities have been folded into the contact center environment, where agents trained in these disciplines offer the same service they did on the telephone. And while these channels continue to gain in popularity, there are also strong indications that telephone agents will still be necessary for many years to come.
The other theme found throughout 2015 coverage is that of optimizing the customer experience, and indeed there is some crossover here with the multichannel approach. But another aspect of this is shortening the customer’s progression from point A to point B by finding out more quickly what that customer needs, and finding more efficient ways to provide it.
That responsibility falls primarily on the insight and experience of the agent, but can be aided immeasurably by analytics solutions that make it easier to determine the best course of action.
Typically deployed as part of a workforce optimization (WFO) solution, analytics has become a primary driver of performance and quality monitoring improvements.
Such capabilities have long been limited to only the largest contact centers with the largest operations budgets. But the advent of cloud-based WFO software has brought these sophisticated solutions within the reach of small and midsized facilities.
The Monet version of speech analytics and desktop analytics is part of our award-winning WFO Live product. Both new platforms deliver detailed, data-driven insight into daily call center operations and customer behavior, but without the significant investment that such benefits used to require.
Letters to Santa and holiday wish lists are a part of Christmas celebrations around the world. But if you could create a wish list for your contact center, what would you ask for?
This is not just a fanciful exercise. Writing down your goals for 2016 can be the first step toward achieving them. What is most important to the future success of your business right now – more accurate forecasts? A better way to create schedules? Call recording software? Finding improved ways to automate tasks?
Different call centers will have different lists, but a Workforce Management (WFM) solution in the cloud may figure prominently in the answers to many of them. Santa can’t bring it, but Monet Software can.
Here are a few more items that may be on your wish list.
Listening to recorded calls can boost the efficiency of your contact center. Listening to these calls while watching how agents relate to customers offers even more insight into employee performance, customer service and how technology is being leveraged for maximum benefit. With Monet Screen Capture, it is possible to review synchronized voice and video of your agents’ interactions. We’ve created a video demo that takes you through the process, from capturing customer interactions to the platform’s archiving and reporting capabilities.
Since 2/3 of customer interactions still take place over the telephone, speech analytics has become a more prominent source for customer insight. With Monet WFO Live’s speech analytics capabilities, contact centers gain even more insight from their call recording solution. With automated alerts triggered by voice data, managers have access to critical business intelligence that boosts both agent performance and the customer experience.
If you want even more transparency into how your contact center functions, what agents are doing at their desks, whether your business is in compliance with government or industry guidelines on information gathering, and where your procedures are falling short of expectations, desktop analytics may have the answers. Where speech analytics is primarily customer-focused, desktop analytics (DA) delivers insight on your agents and your processes. It captures and analyzes all agent desktop activities in real time, and it improves process automation and workflow.
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Technology plays a vital role in the contact center. Managers face a difficult choice when it comes to selecting a technology provider, as they must take into account not only the vendor but also the delivery method through which crucial contact center software will be accessed.
There are three options: an on-premise solution, where hardware and software must be installed, deployed and maintained at the contact center; a hosted system, where software is purchased but is installed at an outside service provider, and a cloud system, which converts such physical resources as processors and storage into Internet resources.
How should a manager decide which is best for his company? Our new whitepaper was created to answer the most common questions about the three systems, and to compare them based on several important factors, including:
• Start-up Time
Of course, for many businesses the most significant determining factor will be cost. That’s why the whitepaper analyzes the many different budget considerations associated with each delivery method.
Don’t invest in your next workforce management or workforce optimization solution without downloading our new whitepaper: Cost and Benefit Comparison: Cloud vs. Premise vs. Hosted. It’s free!
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How can we deliver a better customer experience?
That question is one faced by every contact center manager, especially after returning from a tradeshow full of new ideas, or reviewing last quarter’s numbers and not being happy with the results.
New ideas are great, but they should be built from a solid foundation, and that means an older idea that always works – workforce optimization. This is the clearest way to make your business stand out when it comes to customer service.
One good customer experience can have a very positive impact on loyalty, retention and word of mouth recommendations. Unfortunately, the same is true of one bad experience. WFO helps contact centers operate more effectively, by delivering the tools and data necessary for agents to do their jobs. When agents know what to do, and managers know what their agents are doing, the result is more satisfactory customer experiences.
And to turbo-charge your WFO, employ it in conjunction with speech and desktop analytics. Now you have even more data on agent productivity and performance, and you gain faster insight into different types of customer questions and inquiries so they can be routed to the right agent.
Monet’s WFO Live features workforce management and call recording, both essential for forecasting, scheduling and training. Plus you’ll find solutions for quality management and performance measurement, all delivered from the cloud, so you won’t be making a significant investment in hardware and software.
For small contact centers with just a few dozen agents, or major contact centers with hundreds of personnel working round the clock, workforce optimization is a vital component of a successful business.
Hundreds of blogs, websites and magazines publish pieces about what a new year will bring. Not many of them go back later to review the accuracy of their predictions. So we found a piece from the beginning of 2014 featuring five technology trends believed headed for the contact center this year. Let’s see how it did.
1. Hybrid Cloud Adoption
It was anticipated that 2015 would see more contact centers with a hybrid environment, where some solutions were accessed from the cloud and others were installed on-site. While such businesses exist, the more prominent trend has been turning everything over to the cloud, because of the flexibility and cost-savings possible.
2. Virtual Agents
Would 2015 be the year of the virtual agent? Final stats aren’t in but thus far we are not seeing any indication of a significant increase in telecommuting, though this is a movement that has seen steady growth over the past decade. Cloud-based workforce management that allows agents to access the technology they need from any location will, if anything, expedite this trend.
3. Customer Service Apps
The smartphone, many predict, will change how customers interact with companies, and may even result in the extinction of the contact center. But while more companies have introduced customer service apps in 2015, contact centers are not going anywhere anytime soon.
4. Attack of the Big Data
Frost & Sullivan defines Big Data as volumes of data so large and moving at such a high velocity that they are difficult or impossible to work with using traditional database management tools. There has indeed been a growing influx of data from both traditional and new sources, including data logs, social networks, and clickstream data in web interactions. Monet Software has devised solutions to make this data more accessible and better organized, so it can be used to bring a new level of customer insight, and help drive real-time decisions on customer handling and workflow.
5. Multi-channel Access
This prediction was certainly accurate. Companies can no longer be content with traditional call center functionality. Customers now expect to reach out via other channels and receive the same quality response. For contact centers this means not just having qualified personnel in the right positions, but the ability to capture data across the channel spectrum that will help deliver better service in the future.
Change is never easy. Perhaps that is why many contact centers are still reluctant to make a switch from their software-based technology to the cloud. Even the prospect of no longer dealing with maintenance, storage or utility costs is not enough to offset concerns about whether a hosted contact center solution really delivers on everything it promises.
Here are some of the most common reasons why businesses hesitate, and how we address them with our clients – most of whom ultimately make the cloud transition, and now couldn’t be happier.
1. I’ll lose too much business during the transition!
Actually, you won’t. The cloud solution will be customized, prepared and tested before it is live, and can run parallel with your hardware solution during the actual conversion, so it can continue to function if an issue arises. Typically, however, the switch to cloud is quick and easy.
2. Is it really better?
Absolutely. It is more flexible, it is more scalable, there are no upfront costs, you pay only for what you need, you’ll receive software upgrades automatically as soon as they come available (without receiving a bill every time that happens) which makes it easier to work with home-based agents and other telecommuting personnel. These are just some of the benefits you’ll enjoy from day one.
3. I’m worried about turning over control of my data to a cloud
Maybe they should have found a better word when the technology was introduced, so it doesn’t seem like your data is traveling somewhere so distant. But the reality is you are still in control, just as you were when the hardware was sitting in your contact center. You can make changes as you need them, and with Monet you’ll also have the expertise of our dedicated support team to answer any questions.
4. It costs too much
Not at all. Hosted solutions cost 1/3 less than hardware solutions (and that is a conservative estimate on total savings). In fact, cost is one of the primary reasons why companies make the switch.
5. The cloud is unreliable
Once again, the opposite is true. Cloud solutions are actually more reliable than hardware-based technology because of their built-in fail-safes and redundancies. When all of your equipment is in one place and something goes wrong, you are out of luck. With the decentralized nature of the cloud, even a power outage won’t shut you down.
According to a study sponsored in part by Oxford Economics, 69% of businesses surveyed expect to invest in the cloud either moderately or heavily over the next three years, migrating their core business functions as a result.
These findings are consistent with a Forbes magazine piece published in June of 2015, suggesting that 55% of enterprise predict cloud computing will enable new business models in three years.
Why are these transitions taking place, particularly at contact centers that seek the benefits of a comprehensive workforce optimization solution?
With the cloud, a call center can be up and running with new WFO software in just days. Traditional WFO can take weeks, and sometimes months, to install.
No upfront investment for hardware and software is required for WFO in the cloud. Instead, contact centers pay a monthly subscription fee that, in many cases, will also cover training, support, maintenance and upgrades. Operating costs are lower as well, as there is no need for backups or hardware replacement.
The cloud gives contact centers room to grow, and upgrade the functionality they need when they need it. With a server on-premises, a contact center is limited by what that server can handle. Many call centers also report better ease of use with a software as a service (SaaS) solution.
All upgrades are automatically delivered free with WFO in the cloud. Upgrades to traditional hardware and software are an important revenue source for their respective manufacturers, so they won’t be going away.
There is always some risk when a call center invests in new technology. But with a cloud system it is easier to cancel a service that is not satisfactory. This is not always the case with a substantial upfront hardware/software investment.
The annual Call Center Week Conference and Expo is one of the largest industry events of the year. Monet Software is proud to take part in the 2015 conference, which will be held at The Mirage in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 15-19.
Please visit our booth (#609), where we look forward to meeting with customers and contact centers managers, and to exploring new trends in the industry.
This year, the focus is on customer-centric service. Sessions and topics on the agenda include: “Value in the Voice of the Customer,” “Why the Customer Experience Matters and What you Can Do About It,” and “Customer Experience Journey Mapping in a Digital World.”
But as always, there will be speeches from industry experts on a multitude of other subjects, from how to ignite employee engagement to advanced strategies in chat support and call center cloud strategies.
If you have not registered yet, or would like more information about the 16th annual Call Center Week Conference and Expo, visit their website at http://www.callcenterweek.com/.
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.
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.
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.
Monet WFO Live - Workforce Optimization in the Cloud has been named a finalist for the 2014 Customer Experience Innovation Award
presented by TMC’s CUSTOMER magazine
. The award recognizes best-in-class companies setting the standard in delivering exceptional customer experiences.
always rewarding to be recognized, especially when it comes from such a
prestigious source. The TMC website is read by more than 1.5 million
business and contact center professionals every month, and their
publications, such as CUSTOMER, are as close to an official publication
as this industry has.
CUSTOMER has been around since 1982. The
contact center industry was much different back then and, today more
than at any other time, it is technology that drives efficiency and
customer service. So it’s especially gratifying to have our technology
singled out for the contribution it makes at contact centers of all
sizes and types.
Monet WFO Live is a complete suite for call
centers to automate workforce management, call recording, quality
assurance and agent analytics. Call centers can quickly and easily
optimize all aspects of their workforce with one affordable solution,
resulting in better utilization of resources, better cost management and
improved service levels.
Awards are great, but it’s the feedback
from our customers that means the most. We know the difference that WFO
Live is making in contact center efficiency because you have told us
with your calls and emails.
If you haven’t discovered the benefits of WFO Live, find out more here
Contact centers across the country, of all sizes and types, have
discovered the economic and technological benefits of converting from an
on-premises software solution to a cloud system. If your business is
considering a similar transition, here are 10 questions to ask
prospective vendors, so you will be assured of receiving a true cloud
Does the application use multi-tenant architecture? Follow the link if you would like to learn more. If the answer is ‘no,’ it’s not a true cloud.
With a cloud solution, all future upgrades should work, and be
accessible without extra cost, regardless of how your system is
configured and/or customized.In addition, upgrades should be
automatically managed and provisioned by the vendor.
Does the vendor provide a managed integration platform? This is
important, as such a platform is built from the ground up, and is easier
to execute than a full manual integration.
Security and Compliance
Make sure the provider offers world-class security and data privacy, as
well as full back-up and disaster recovery (SSAE-16 compliance)
Anything less than 99.5% uptime, with full transparency, is an
indication that you may not be dealing with a true cloud solution.
Time and Cost of Implementation
If you recall how long it took to install and configure your on-premises
software, the ETA on the cloud solution for installation and
configuration to your specific business needs should be much faster,
typically 30 to 60 days.
None-cloud solution often have unexpected or hidden costs that emerge
later. You should receive a firm quote on total cost of ownership (TCO),
including implementation/installation fees, training, subscription,
upgrades, maintenance and other components.
With a cloud solution, a contact center should achieve tangible business
value much more quickly than with an on-premise or fake cloud solution.
Ask for reference customers to better understand expected ROI.
If you have questions, please contact us and we are happy to explain the benefits and features of a true cloud solution.
Every year, the Software Advice
website conducts a survey
among call center software buyers, to find out what’s on their minds. This year’s results are typically revealing.
Perhaps the most surprising stat from Software Advice concerns “software
advice” – or the ignoring of it. Turns out that nearly half of all
participants surveyed – 46% – are just now getting around to a software
purchase. This may be related to company size, as more than 60% of
participants have 10 or few users.
The most requested feature among these buyers is call recording
(42%), specifically to boost quality assurance and employee training.
What are the most important goals at call centers in 2014? Improving
efficiency ranked at the top, mentioned by 67% of respondents, followed
by organization (61%).
Cloud-based call center systems
were the preferred deployment model, as more companies begin to realize
the cost and convenience advantages of software as a service.
However, 40% of buyers expressed no preference between the cloud and an
on-premises solution. Perhaps once they realize the differences in
scalability, the costs attached to software updates and upgrades, and
how technical issues are resolved, it will make this decision easier.
Price will also become a factor here, especially given the large number
of responses from smaller call centers. A cloud system puts the
capabilities of quality assurance and workforce management within the
financial means of small businesses – the kind that traditionally get by
with spreadsheets (or worse, pencil and paper).
And since this technology can boost the efficiency of smaller call
centers, these companies are now less likely to export their call center
functionality to India. Keeping call center services close to home, and
making them cost-effective, is not only great for the company, it adds
jobs to the national economy. That’s the kind of benefit everyone can
When people in the communications and technology industries need to know
what’s happening, they turn to TMC.net, a reliable source of news and
information with a readership in the millions. So when these experts
name their Product of the Year, it’s an opinion that carries a lot of
For 2014, TMC’s Product of the Year is ours. Monet WFO Live,
our cloud-based call center workforce optimization solution, was chosen
for this distinction by TMC’s flagship publication, Customer magazine.
"On behalf of both TMC and Customer magazine, it is my pleasure
to honor Monet Software with a 2014 Product of the Year Award," said
the company’s CEO, Rich Tehrani. "Its workforce optimization solution
Monet WFO Live has proven deserving of this elite status and I look
forward to continued innovation from Monet Software in 2014 and beyond."
who have tried Monet WFO Live already know how it earned this
reputation for excellence. It delivers a unified workforce optimization
suite that transforms call center management from a reactive to a
pro-active approach. Customers can create accurate forecasts, efficient
schedules, record and monitor calls for quality, training and compliance
purpose, and track cross-functional performance metrics, all with one
integrated cloud-based platform.
Read more about TMC’s Product of the Year winners in the January/February issue of Customer magazine, or read the press release for more details.
A Workforce Optimization (WFO) platform is not just one method for
improving contact center performance – it is a multitude of
efficiency-boosting capabilities in one unified, automated package.
“optimization” part of workforce optimization is achieved by
integrating different components so they are working together instead of
Let’s use Monet’s WFO Live as an example.
How does it help with scheduling, one of the most critical tasks of call
Workforce management software delivers the
metrics that makes it easier and more efficient to forecast, schedule,
intra-day management, exception handling and to real-time adherence
But part of optimum scheduling is making sure the
right agents are handling the right calls. That’s where Monet Record
comes in – by having a record of how different agents handle different
calls, a manager now has a way to determine which of his team members
are best suited for different customer engagements. Monet Quality can
also help here, by making it easier to retrieve calls by specific type,
and providing additional reporting and analytics to further assess each
Unfortunately, the status quo rarely remains the
same in any call center, so all these calculations must be regularly
updated and re-examined. Monet Metrics delivers agent analytics,
real-time alerts, scorecards and customizable reports, as well as data
on key performance indicators such as agent adherence and service
levels. This information can then be used in conjunction with workforce
management to begin the process all over again.
With one unified
suite of workforce optimization services, every aspect of a call center
can be monitored, analyzed and improved. When you get your agents
working together as efficiently as the solutions incorporated in Monet’s
WFO Live, you will be on the way to consistent, reliable customer
service and support.
To see these capabilities in action, please watch the latest videos in our workforce optimization demo center.
“The cloud delivery model has fueled a competitive spirit within the
vendor, developer, and provider communities that has resulted in a wave
of new products, services and applications being introduced at an
unprecedented rate. ' said Erik Linask, the Group Editorial Director for
One of those products is Monet’s WFO Live, which has received a 2013 Cloud Computing Excellence Award by TMC
, in the page of the company’s Cloud Computing Magazine.
The award was created to recognize the companies that most effectively
leveraged cloud computing in efforts to bring new and differentiated
offerings to market.
“Awards were granted to the companies which demonstrated innovation as
well as the ability to improve the cloud,” said the CEO of TMC, Rich
WFO Live incorporates workforce management tools to improve scheduling
and service levels, call recording capabilities for compliance, and
quality assurance to help managers better evaluate the performance of
their agents and the call center as a whole. From forecasting and
exception planning to call tagging, reporting and analytics, WFO is a
one-stop source for call center efficiency, accessed through the cloud
for better convenience and lower upfront cost.
Find out more about the 2013 Cloud Computing Excellence Awards here
When customers receive great customer service from a call center, they
won’t stop to ask how it happened. Instead, they’ll just remain
customers, and respond positively if asked about their experience.
As our new video shows, one way to bring about this positive outcome is
with workforce optimization (WFO) in the cloud. Whatever challenges a
call center faces, from forecasting and scheduling to training both new
and experienced agents, WFO makes it easier and improves the
effectiveness of most day-to-day necessities.
Quality management? Call Recording? Performance management? WFO
addresses these as well, regardless of the size of the call center or
the number of agents employed. The benefits of unified workforce
optimization are illustrated in the video below, as well as the
advantages of having those benefits delivered from the cloud. Why invest
in costly hardware or software, that many not be able to grow and adapt
with your business?
So if a customer’s call is answered more quickly because of forecasting
accuracy, and is routed to the best agent for their needs thanks to
scheduling capabilities; and if agents are better prepared because of
the coaching they have received with recordings of previous customer
encounters, it’s a true win-win for the center, the agent and the
Check out the video and then click on the link at the end of the video to view a more detailed demo.
Monet invites you to answer a call that will make your call center more efficient - check out our new video.
Discover the difference that comes with workforce optimization (WFO) in
the cloud. We think it’s the right technology for a new era in call
center and contact center efficiency, and one that will be embraced by
Your customers will love it as well – perhaps they won’t know exactly
why their business is now handled so much faster, and if you told them
it was “unified workforce optimization” it may not matter to them. But
your managers, supervisors and agents will recognize the difference
immediately – it’s so easy to use, and eliminates so many issues that
occur every day by combining different solutions into one.
WFO also features workforce management and call recording, both
essential for forecasting, scheduling and training. Plus you’ll find
solutions for quality management and performance measurement, all
delivered from the cloud, so you won’t be making a significant
investment in hardware and software.
For small contact centers with just a few dozen agents, or major contact
centers with hundreds of personnel working round the clock, workforce
optimization is a vital component of a successful business.
So if you haven’t answered the call yet, check out the video, then click
on the link at the end of the video to view a more detailed demo.
Workforce Optimization (WFO) software is not just one solution to call
center service challenges – it is a full suite of automated services
that can help a call center achieve its business goals and compliance
When choosing a workforce optimization software product, make sure it includes each of these features:
- Workforce Management
- Call Recording
- Quality Management
- Screen Capture
- Performance Management and Agent Analytics
Forecasting, scheduling, intra-day management and exception planning are
all part of workforce management. Make sure the software allows for
real-time adherence, so adjustments can be made quickly before they can
impact service levels.
A call recording solution is invaluable in agent training, coaching and
troubleshooting and establishing best practices. It also helps to
resolve transaction disputes and determine regulatory compliance. You’ll
want to invest in a solution that archives and retrieves calls quickly
The quality management process incorporates dashboards, scorecards,
agent analytics, customized reports and key performance indicators, to
improve service levels, optimize utilization of resources and enhance
Screen capture adds video to the voice recording of an agent’s
interactions, providing a visual record of how agents employ the
technology at their disposal. This aids in agent training, and can help
call center staff improve their performance in such key areas as
Performance Management/Agent Analytics
By analyzing the scorecards and reports produced by workforce
optimization software, call centers can become more proactive in their
quest for improving customer service, rather than reacting to events
that have already occurred.
Watch this video to see how a unified workforce optimization solution
can help your call center improve performance by breaking down
organizational silos and making it easier to share data across functions
in your center.
We just launched a new demo center for our unified call center workforce
optimization suite. The demo center makes it easier to browse through
the various call center workforce solutions and watch the videos you are
interested in. It is organized by the four solutions components of
Monet WFO Live: Workforce Management, Call Recording, Quality Management
and Performance Management.
- Workforce Management Overview: This video provides a short introduction to workforce management for contact centers and an overview of Monet WFM Live.
- Accurate Forecasting:
Learn how to run simulations to calculate a precise forecast for future
call volumes, agent requirements and average handle time for any time
interval of the day, based on historical data from ACD systems.
- Efficient Scheduling:
See how the advanced scheduling engine incorporates all call types and
other activities to generate staffing schedules that optimize a wide
range of factors - agent availability, expected call volume, service
level goals and center budget.
- Effective Staffing:
Learn how the solution helps call center managers and supervisors to
accurately forecast call volumes and conduct 'what-if' scenarios,
including seasonal call volumes and special days.
- Intra-day Management:
Watch how to track key metrics throughout the day and quickly update
required and assigned agents instantly, based on surpluses and shortages
for each time period of the day.
- Exception Planning:
See how an integrated exception calendar simplifies scheduling of agent
exceptions such as time off and one-time or recurring training meetings
for contact centers.
- Interactive Dashboards: Watch
how a graphical display lets call center managers and supervisors drag
and drop breaks, lunches and other changes to make updates to schedules
and staffing in real-time.
- Call Recording and Monitoring:
Learn how to easily capture, monitor and manage customer interactions
with call recording to improve your customer service as well as ensuring
Please take a moment and browse through the demo center and stay tuned for more videos coming soon.
- Quality Management and Assurance: This demo video is currently being produced and we will add it to the demo center shortly.
In the last few weeks, we did several webinars about unified workforce optimization in the cloud. We talked about the need for a unified WFO solution and also demonstrated our new offering Monet WFO Live. We received tremendous interest and we would like to thank all who joineDus. We are planning to do a few more webinars in January, please stay tuned. Here are some highlights from the webinar:
- Most of the organizations have several different functions and technologies that they would ideally like to work together, so they can balance customer satisfaction and revenue, with the cost of customer service. Typically one group focuses on scheduling and deploying staff, and one focuses on recording and measuring performance. There are also people who analyze and investigate opportunities for change, closing skill gaps and establish goals to measure against.
- As much as we may want these people to work together, today they are forced to make isolated decisions and often act independently because they have limited access to information outside of their area or function. They don’t have visibility into or it takes too long to get to key pieces of information, leaving them to make decisions too slowly and in silos.
- We believe a large part of the problem is that they don’t have access to a unified integrated technology supporting these groups to help bring them together. They need immediate access to information traditionally found in other areas and they need information automatically passed to them to eliminate slow, error-ridden manual processes.
- With a unified WFO solution you get unique business integrations that can let your organization make faster, more informed decisions with a new level of visibility into workforce performance, customer service processes and customer intelligence across the enterprise. You can quickly get to the right information to drive a new level of performance improvement.
- Through these integrations users can drill to information traditionally found in other applications and information can be automatically passed between functions to eliminate manual processes.
If you don't want to wait for the next webinar, you can read more about workforce optimization on our website or you can read an article about WFO in the Customer Interaction Magazine.
- In addition, you get a single workforce optimization framework that brings these functions together with features like a single graphical user interface and central administration. Having a single graphical user interface let’s people easily navigate in areas that they don’t spend a lot of time in.