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Tips for More Effective Call Center Workforce Management

This blog provides practical information on all aspects of workforce management for contact centers, including quality monitoring, call recording, performance management and analytics

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Service Levels: Why They Suffer, and What You Can Do About It

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Service level is just one element that contributes to a customer’s positive call center experience – but it’s an important one. 

People are more impatient these days, and calls that are not answered promptly will turn into missed calls much more quickly than they would ten or even five years ago.

If your business is like most contact centers, you calculate service level by the percentage of calls answered within a pre-determined time period – for example, answering 80% of calls in 20 seconds or less. When you miss your goal, it is likely a result of one of these challenges:

Longer Calls

When new agents take longer than they should, or product issues requiring longer explanations, the number of calls-per-hour handled by agents drops, creating a domino effect that impacts when new calls are answered.

Faulty Forecast

If call volume or call patterns are different than what was anticipated, it will affect service level.

Incomplete Schedule

If scheduling does not take into account all activities, including non-call activities, meetings, etc. it can result in not having enough agents on the floor in a shift to maintain optimal service level.

Adherence Issues

When agents fall out of adherence, service level is certain to suffer.

What can you do to improve the situation? The answer is Workforce Management (WFM).

With WFM, call center forecasts will be much more accurate than spreadsheets. By utilizing call history data and running scenarios based on previous volumes and arrival patterns, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect, and can plan accordingly.

Better forecasts mean better schedules, and with WFM it’s easier to build flexibility into scheduling so start times, end times, break times and training sessions won’t hurt service level expectations.

Finally, WFM allows contact center managers to track adherence throughout the day, while monitoring service level alongside other key metrics. By accessing this information in real time, managers can make adjustments and rapidly put things back on track, resulting in more consistent service levels, hour after hour, day after day.

Do you have any tips on improving service levels? Share them on our Facebook page

Find out more about the benefits of Monet WFM

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Volunteer Projects Support Call Center Unity

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If you work with people you like, going to work every day is a little easier. And if you work for a company that seems to not only care about its employees but about the community as well, it can make you feel a little better about your job.

One way to achieve both of these goals at your contact center is by supporting volunteer projects.

Encouraging agents and other employees to participate in community projects is not just good for morale – it’s the right thing to do. It allows agents to help organizations that are important to them and it can generate some positive media coverage for your company as well.

There are two ways to go about this: one is to give each agent a few days of paid leave every year to pursue projects that will have a positive effect on morale and on the community. 

The advantage to this is that every agent will be able to make a difference for a cause they already care about. You should also encourage networking, as its possible agents will discover common causes, such as animal rescue, or cancer research, and work together for their benefit.

Another option is to have all of your agents, or all of the agents from a certain shift, choose a common cause that they can all help together. Perhaps that would mean giving up a few hours on a weekend to build homes for Habitat for Humanity, or organizing a fundraiser for a local nonprofit organization.

These are all good things to do in and of themselves. But you may be surprised at how much they will also help you achieve the quality and service goals you’ve set for your contact center.

According to a Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT survey, 61% of millennials said a volunteer program would be a factor “when choosing between two potential jobs with the same location, responsibilities, pay and benefits.”

Once on the job, employees also feel better about their corporations — and themselves — when they’re presented with the opportunity to volunteer. Deloitte found that over 50% of millennial employees that volunteer are very loyal toward their company, proud to work there, satisfied with their employer, and likely to recommend their company to a friend. their work culture as “very positive,” as compared to those who don’t volunteer.

Do you have any recommendations for nonprofit or other organizations that need volunteer help? Share them on our Facebook page

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Five Things Customers Demand From Your Call Center – Do You Provide Them?

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By the time your average customer has punched in the ten-digit phone number for your contact center, he or she has already established expectations for what is about to happen. Customers know what to anticipate from an efficient and successful engagement, and that is what they want you to deliver.

This is what is on their minds. Is your contact center up to the task?

1. Someone Says Hello Within Three Rings

If a real person answers the phone, you may hear an audible sign of relief from the customer expecting a trying-too-hard-to-be-friendly recorded greeting, followed by a series of menu options that may or may not eventually get them to where they want to be.

2. Manners

Yes, they seem to be disappearing a little more each day, but most of your customers will still be delighted to hear a courteous greeting, an appreciation for their business, “please” and “thank you” when it’s appropriate, and conversation that doesn’t sound like it is being read off of a page.

3. Less Talk – More Listening

Many of your contact center customers are calling with a question. And they will quickly grow frustrated if they’re not allowed to ask that question because the agent keeps asking them questions first. Obviously an agent will have to collect some information, but every effort should be made to keep it to a minimum. And if a call has to be transferred, make sure the information collected is transferred with it, so the customer doesn’t have to say it again.

4. Knowledgeable Staff

When the customer finally gets to ask his or her question, they will expect an answer. As most will relate to the company’s products, services and policies, agent training should prepare call center personnel for responding to these queries. Occasionally, when a more unexpected question is asked, an agent should have access to communication with other agents or a manager who can deliver an answer quickly. Putting the customer on hold to obtain this is not a great option, but if an answer is forthcoming the customer will understand.

5. A Successful Resolution

Ultimately, the most important result to strive for with each customer call is a successful outcome – an order placed, a question answered, or a problem solved. Well-trained agents and quality call center technology, working together, improve the likelihood of a successful resolution.

A Quality Management solution can help your contact center deliver great service and improve customer satisfaction. Find out how

Call recording is an integral part of quality management. Check out this free online demo of Monet’s call recording solution.

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Introducing: Monet’s New Workforce Optimization Suite

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Something great just got even better.

Monet Software is proud to announce the release of our next generation Workforce Optimization (WFO) suite. We designed it to empower contact centers and help desks to improve customer experience and agent productivity, identify performance gaps, reduce costs, and deliver outstanding and efficient customer service.

New features? It’s loaded.

Call Recording and Quality Management with Screen Capture

Monet’s cloud-based Call Recording and Quality Management with Screen Capture integrates seamlessly into a cloud or on-premise contact center infrastructure to help deliver exceptional customer service. Businesses have access to a robust call search design, descriptive call, video and interaction tagging, desktop screen and call audio live monitoring, dynamic conditional evaluations, powerful group and personal inboxes driven by intelligent business rules, and descriptive reporting.

And of course, this solution integrates with our Workforce Management, Performance Management, and Speech Analytics solutions, enabling businesses to transform each customer interaction into actionable data, and to align each conversation with their business goals.

Long-Term Forecasting

Create long-range forecast calculations using historical volume and arrival patterns, which generate accurate staffing requirements. Planners can customize flexible ranges of months as unique long-term forecasts, each with their own overhead cost values, allowing “what if” scenarios for long-term capacity planning and cost projections. Special closed dates like holidays are recognized in FTE requirements, and anomalous data can be excluded so that long-term planning with Monet is both easy and precise.

UI Modernization

Our classic user-friendly UI has gotten a makeover! Our modern responsive UI makes web pages render well on a variety of devices and screen sizes and increases the efficiency of performing day-to-day workforce optimization tasks by maximizing the available workspaces.

Optimized Deferred Work Scheduling

Improve the scheduling of deferred work tasks like email and cases. Using historical data from an ACD or CRM to drive the deferred work scheduling, Monet can find the optimal time of day to ensure deferred work tasks are handled while also meeting service level targets of immediate response tasks like calls and chat. 

What could your contact center achieve with these capabilities?  

Questions? Contact a Monet team member today

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Cut Agent Training Time in Half

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Training is the critical step that prepares new agents before they are ready to serve your customers. Obviously it’s important to get it right, but it’s also true that the time devoted to training is time when that agent is being paid, but not yet doing the job for which he or she was hired.

How much time are we talking about? As much as one month at some contact centers, and sometimes even longer.

While companies may be hesitant to cut training time, it is possible to do so responsibly – here are some ideas for how to make it happen.

Homework Content

Prepare materials that the agent-in-training can take home to study. Not just the script, but also a list of best practices and frequently asked questions. You can also create an audio file of successful customer engagements, so new hires can hear exactly what is expected of them.

Peer-to-Peer Training

Some contact centers have found that agents respond faster to training when it comes from another agent, rather than a manager or call center executive. There is less pressure in a peer-to-peer situation, and the new agent may feel more comfortable asking questions about the job and about why certain procedures are in place.

Get to That First Call Faster

It has to happen sometime – but do some agents really need four or more weeks of training and instruction before taking their first customer call?

It’s a big sink-or-swim moment, and should be closely monitored by a trainer who can jump in and take over if there’s an issue. But if the rest of your training regimen is sound, it’s worth trying to accelerate the pace to this training stage. It also gives you an actual call that can now be reviewed and scored using the quality management techniques already in place at your contact center.

Before providing this feedback, however, ask the new agent to assess his or her own performance – how did they handle the greeting? Was there a selling opportunity missed? How would that customer rate that service experience? Self-coaching should be an important part of the agent’s job, so it’s helpful to get a head start here as well.

Do you have any coaching techniques that have worked at your call center? Share them on our Facebook page

Would your new agents benefit from a better quality management solution? Here’s what Monet has to offer

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Maintaining Optimal Service at the End of Each Shift

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If one of your contact center shifts ends at 5pm, have you ever noticed what happens starting around 4:30?

Often, average handle time drops – which sounds good until you realize that it’s happening not because agents are being more efficient, but because they have one foot out the door already and are rushing through their last few calls.

That’s a problem. The customer that calls at 4:50pm deserves the same amount of time and attention as the one who called near the beginning of the shift.

Here are some suggestions to help make that happen.

A “Last Man (or Woman) Standing” Contest

Offer a small incentive to the last agent still on the phone when the shift ends. If there’s a healthy competition between agents, you may find more of them sticking around longer not just for the prize, but also for bragging rights.

Encourage a Culture of Professionalism

This starts in training. Be clear on an agent’s responsibilities, and how the job should be approached. Praise good performance regularly throughout each shift, and reinforce the values of the company and the importance of each customer at every training session. If the groundwork has been laid correctly, agents won’t need as much outside encouragement to maintain their professionalism through the end of every shift.

Select More Late-Shift Calls for Quality Management Scores

Let your agents know that future training sessions and quality management assessments will utilize a higher percentage of calls taken from the last half-hour of their shifts. When agents know they will be judged on their performance and on the outcomes of these calls, they will give them the attention they deserve.

Close the Phone Lines Early

Some contact centers have elected to close phone lines a half-hour before the shift ends, allowing agents to use that time to wrap up and post-call work, or perhaps even switch over to online chat, a less stressful means of customer communication.

Do you have any other ideas for stopping advisors from rushing through calls at the end of the day? Share them on our Facebook page

Would your new agents benefit from a better quality management solution? Here’s what Monet has to offer

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Four Factors Found In Every Successful Contact Center

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Take a closer look at successful people and successful companies, and you’ll often find they share the same positive traits.

At the contact center, success is measured by how well customers are treated. What are some of the factors you’ll find in common at the best of these businesses? These four come to mind.

  1. Accessibility
    For decades, call centers only had to worry about one communication channel. But today, customers may prefer to reach out through other means – emails, social media, web chat. The contact center should facilitate these connections.
  2. Consistency
    The same approach to customer service, and the same answers to customer questions, should be delivered consistently from agent to agent, and from service channel to service channel. Learning that lesson starts in training and is reinforced throughout your quality management efforts.
  3. Communication
    In this case, it’s a reference not to communication between agents and customers, but between agents and managers. Everybody likes to feel appreciated. When agents excel at their work they deserve to be recognized and rewarded. And when agents have questions or suggestions, they should not be reluctant to share them.
  4. Understanding
    The job of an agent is not to listen to a customer until he or she hears a key word (order, return, complaint) that triggers a pre-scripted response. It is to actively listen to what is being said, and respond within the framework of call center policy, but in a way that acknowledges each customer individually by giving him or her the respect of the agent’s full attention. And, when necessary, offering support or empathy that goes beyond the words in the script or the service provided. Is this being emphasized enough at your business?

Would your new agents benefit from a better quality management solution? Here’s what Monet has to offer

Watch a demo of our call recording and monitoring solution in action

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Coca-Cola – Another Contact Center In the Cloud

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If you wanted to call Coca Cola in the United States, your call would be routed to one of five contact centers, employing more than 1,600 agents.

But recently, the company decided it was time to revamp this important part of its business. Doing so was viewed as a key component in the overall company goal of refranchising its North American market share.

The first challenge was to better integrate its communications configuration across the entire contact center suite, which company executives described as difficult to update and expensive to maintain.

To solve the problem, Coca-Cola did what many enterprise entities have done in recent years – it moved to the cloud.

The objective was to be more flexible and scalable, and to better employ capabilities such as workforce management, quality management and call recording. Since the migration, Coca-Cola has achieved these benefits, while reducing its contact center operating expenditures by 50%.

Still Considering a Move to the Cloud?

Cloud computing is not only ready for the enterprise, it is now the preferable option over traditional on-premise software.

Monet has created a 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. 

Read the whitepaper

Check out our eBook on how to get your boss on board with the switch to workforce management in the cloud

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Building An Emotive Customer Experience

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Contact center trends come and go, but the renewed emphasis on “emotive customer experience” is one that should be here to stay.

Why? Because its focus is one that has been part of the contact center culture since the beginning – forging a genuine connection between the company and the customer.

But in recent years, as technology continues to encroach on personalized service, companies have sacrificed those connections for the efficiency and convenience of other forms of communication.

Make no mistake ­­– customers want those other options as well. They’re busy too. But when they can’t solve the problem, or when it is more important to speak with someone who will understand the challenge and know what to do next, a path to one-on-one communication, with minimal hoops to jump through to get there, is once again considered crucial for delivering a peak customer experience.

Establishing an Emotional Connection

What does that mean, exactly? We know it’s important because of the results of a recent Harvard Business Review study, showing that emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable on a lifetime basis as highly satisfied customers, because they are more likely to repurchase goods and services and recommend the business to others.

No matter how well-designed the company website or mobile app may be, no matter how quickly the company responds to social media posts, and no matter how courteous an online chat responds to inquiries, none of these are sufficient for establishing an emotional connection. It requires a person-to-person interaction.

Ironically, the same technology that puts distance between customers and agents can also be used to establish that emotive customer experience:

  • Speech analytics helps agents identify frustration points and act appropriately.
  • Call recording allows managers to automatically review hundreds or thousands of calls for things to make sure the desired quality of human interaction exists, and that agents are spending sufficient time listening to every caller.
  • At help desks and service desks, Salesforce provides agents with access to important information about each caller, including which products they own, open cases, caller status (VIP) and sentiment, allowing them to personalize the interaction, and leave them with a positive emotional experience.

Monet can deliver these tools to help you in your quest to be there for your customers on their terms.

Find out more about our speech analytics solution

Find out about Monet Record, our call recording solution

Find out how our Workforce Management for Salesforce can assist help desks with increasing customer satisfaction

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Slow Summer? That’s Opportunity Knocking

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Ah, summer. The days are longer, the weather is warmer, and according to one song the time is right for dancing in the streets.

Well, that’s one way to spend the season.

But if your contact center is one where call levels typically drop from June to August, why not resist that urge to work on your tan and instead work on getting ready for the time when call volume is going to rise?

This is the time to reassess business practices, experiment with new procedures, and brainstorm ways to improve customer service, so you’ll be ready when business picks up. 

Need help getting started? That’s why we’re here. Ask yourself these questions:

1. How is Our Stand-By List?

Have you checked in with any of your temp agents since they said goodbye at the Christmas party last year? Do you know how many will likely still be available for this year’s holiday rush? If you’ve lost a few to other positions, take this time to start interviewing potential replacements.

2. How is Training?

Agent training should be an ongoing activity, but when things are busy these sessions tend to get squeezed into shorter windows, and may not be as effective. If the phones are quiet right now, this is an opportunity to take a closer look at the data you have on each agent (assuming you have a workforce optimization solution) and provide customized training on specific areas of concern. 

3. How’s the Family?

No, not yours. But that’s a question you can ask your agents during the summer slowdown. Get to know them better. Find out what they like about their job and what is causing them problems. By taking an interest you may build relationships in ways that keep agents around longer. Their feedback may also contain good ideas that can be implemented throughout the contact center. 

And if you start now on these efforts, you should still have some time left over to get outside and enjoy that summer sunshine. 

If you don’t have a workforce optimization solution to help you with training and so many other everyday activities, check out a demo of Monet WFO here.

What is Unified Workforce Optimization? This blog has the answer.

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Managing Wait Times to Reduce Customer Frustration

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There are two types of people in the world: those who hate waiting, and those who really hate waiting.

Patience used to be a virtue; now it’s an endangered species. And that’s important when you run a contact center, as one of your most important objectives has to be the reduction of wait times.

You might think one minute on hold before an agent picks up is no big deal; but get out a stopwatch and let it tick off one minute while you sit and do nothing – which is what your customers are likely doing as they wait for an agent to respond.

So the challenge is reducing average speed of answer. One way to do that is to shorten all of your calls so agents can handle more calls each day. Here are a few ideas on how to make that happen.

  • Skills-Based Routing: Agents that specialize in certain types of calls will almost always be able to handle them more quickly. 
  • Automated Processes: Switching from spreadsheets to workforce management reduces average handle time.
  • No Cold Transfers: If a call must be transferred, always make sure the customer’s relevant data is transferred as well, so the same questions won’t have to be asked a second time.
  • Reward Top Performers: Give an agent a special prize for reaching maximum number of calls per shift - as long as they're achieving this goal in a way that also provides courteous and attentive service.

Monet WFO is an affordable and easy to use cloud-based workforce optimization software solution that will boost your contact center’s efficiency in myriad ways, including the time it takes for agents to greet callers.

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Call Recording Challenges: How to Avoid Them

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There are many different call recording software solutions available. While their essential purpose remains the same, there are variations in functionality, implementation and cost that should be reviewed by contact center management so that an informed purchasing decision can be made.

The objective is to add all the advantages that call recording provides, without introducing new challenges. Like these:

1. Finding Specific Calls

The data stored on call monitoring software won’t be as useful if it takes forever to find it. If a manager needs to locate a specific call or series of calls, and the effort proves frustrating and time-consuming, the system is useless. The system should carry out the call retrieval function based on any number of “tags” that can be affixed to a specific call. Typically, the response to a command such as “Find Alan Martin’s most recent call” should be done in seconds.

2. Protecting Customer Information

At a time when there are too many news stories about security breaches, and customer data falling into the hands of hackers, it has never been more essential to utilize a call recording solution that is safe. It should assist in the prevention of information theft, and restrict information access to specific individuals or groups. Make sure data collected is secure, encrypted if necessary and protected from hackers and other threats.

3. It Should Integrate Into Your Current Technology

Conversion to new call recording software will inevitably involve some business disruption, but it should be minimal. Find out how long it takes for initial set-up of the system, as well as how long it will take to train contact center staff on its proper usage. Another important element is the integration to other workforce systems. It is always beneficial to have call recording working with workforce management, as you’ll find in Monet’s Workforce Optimization solution. 

4. It Shouldn’t Cost Too Much

Is there an initial upfront equipment/hardware investment and software license fee? Are there any costs that may be necessary for call center staff training, as well as internal operation costs and any future maintenance and subscription fees? Are there any other costs for implementation and integration with other systems? By investigating cloud solutions, even smaller call centers with limited budgets and resources can afford a system with the same benefits and advantages traditionally enjoyed by companies with much larger IT budgets. 

Find out more about the benefits of Monet’s call recording solution here

Call recording can build a valuable knowledge base for your contact center. This blog explains how

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5 Golden Rules for Service Desks

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Most of us learn the golden rule in elementary school: Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.

That’s pretty good advice for a help desk as well – when you treat customers the way you would like to be treated, you stand a much better chance of keeping that customer’s business.

Of course, knowing what to do and figuring out the best way to do it are often two separate challenges. So here are five more “golden rules” for service desks that, if followed, will result in efficient case resolutions and happier customers.

1. Listening is As Important as Talking

Agents have a field-tested script that usually delivers results. But help desk customers also want to be heard. Many of them will be angry or upset, and they don’t appreciate taking time out from their day to listen to your menu options. While a favorable case resolution is always the primary goal, it’s also important for help desk agents to allow callers to vent, and to express empathy and an apology when warranted (and not just one read from a page).

2. Complaints are As Valuable as Compliments

Agents may not enjoy listening to them, but a complaint often contains important advice that could lead to positive changes in company policy.

3. Anticipate Needs Before They’re Expressed

If this is your tenth call about the same service issue, you can save time and deliver better service by having the solution ready.

4. Don’t Value Procedures More Than People

All help desks have procedures regarding how tickets are submitted and how issues are handled. Such rules are important, but they should never stand in the way of delivering the best service possible. It’s easier to change a rule than lose a customer.

5. Give Your Agents the Tools They Need to Succeed

At many helpdesks, agents log customer requests and schedule them for the next available specialist to either contact the customer or visit that customer’s location. Sometimes, that results in service delays and angry customers. While agents will never (or should never) be trained technicians, there are likely some common issues that can be resolved if agents can access real time information while speaking with a customer.

Monet Workforce Management for Salesforce can deliver that information, and reviews of recorded calls can help service desk agents recognize these issues and be better prepared with answers. 

Faster, better service – and fewer service calls? WFM for Salesforce makes it possible. 

Find out more about Monet Workforce Management for Salesforce

Download our free whitepaper: Workforce Management: A Beginner’s Guide for Help Desks and Service Desks

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5 Lines That Should Be in Every Call Center Script (WFM)

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You can’t make a great movie without a good script, and you can’t run a great contact center without one either.

The script your agents use should establish a helpful tone and encourage conversation that results in a positive outcome. 

Is it time you took a fresh look at your script? If so, and rewrites are needed, here are five lines that will almost certainly make it better.

“I understand”

It’s simple, it’s straightforward and it communicates the empathy an agent should feel when a customer calls with a complaint. These callers want to know that the person at the other end of the line gets that they’re not happy.

“Let’s take care of that for you.”

Note the use of “Let’s" (let us) – that puts the caller and the agent on the same side of the issue, rather than the agent coming across only as a representative of the company that disappointed the caller. It’s a subtle change but it does make a difference. 

“Do you mind waiting for a moment while I get that answer for you?”

Putting customers on hold is never a welcome action from their perspective, so when it becomes necessary it’s best to do it as a request and not with a “please hold,” that doesn’t give that caller any other option. Yes, asking the question could lead to some customers saying no and hanging up, but by the time they’ve gotten this far most will hang around to get the resolution they desire.

“My name is…”

When an agent introduces him- or herself by name, it reinforces the fact that the customer is talking to an actual person and not a recorded voice.

“Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

While shorter calls are better for KPIs, this question can lead to an upsell or an additional sale. That’s always worth an extra few minutes.

What lines have proven most valuable in your contact center script? Share them on our Facebook page.

Want to make the most of every customer interaction? Speech analytics can help. Sign up here for a live personalized demo of how it works.

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5 More Benefits of Speech Analytics

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In several previous blogs we’ve listed some of the ways in which speech analytics could improve customer service at your contact center. We’ll link a couple of those at the end of this piece in case you missed them. 

But before you take a look, here are some additional benefits of contact center analytics. Isn’t it time you started taking advantage of them?

1. Anticipating (and Eliminating) Follow-Up Calls

How many times have you purchased something that worked fine, but there was still some confusion over one of its functions, or how to complete some task, that necessitated a follow-up call with the manufacturer? Speech analytics will track patterns where such questions come up frequently, so it’s possible for agents to provide information about this issue at the time of purchase. That reduces call volume while helping customers avoid the frustration of having to contact you again. 

2. Keeping Up With Competitors

“You know, Cheapo Electronics has the same product you’re offering for $20 less.” Speech analytics captures these comments, so they can be passed on to marketing and sales teams. Thus, if you’re losing business to a competitor, you can react with your own discount and keep those customers. 

3. Cutting Through the Clutter

There’s a problem somewhere – a disconnect in how your agents are handling calls that is having a negative effect on customer service – but it is difficult to pinpoint the specific issue with so many variables. A speech analytics solution is able to sift through thousands of calls based on a wide range of parameters, from call duration and repeat calls to the use of specific words in conversations. With this data, it may be easier to find the reason for the disconnect ¬– and get rid of it.

4. Finding Stress in Speech Patterns

Many of us tend to talk faster when we’re upset. And while you might think angry people usually talk louder, there are some that express their frustration in low, even tones, as if they’re trying to keep a lid on their emotions. Speech analytics can help managers interpret the amount of stress in customer voices, so that information is delivered to agents who can then respond accordingly. 

5. Reducing Reliance on Surveys

Today, your customers are inundated with unwanted phone calls and emails asking them to “participate in a short survey.” This will inevitably lead to more people ignoring these requests, which is not good for your marketing analysis efforts. But speech analytics can pick up the slack, by delivering that insight into customer attitudes without agents having to ask for it.

Looking for more reasons to add speech analytics to your contact center? Check out these blogs:

Speech Analytics: Without It, Here’s What You’re Missing

The Ascent of Analytics at Call Centers

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Is Your Contact Center Prepared for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?

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In May of 2018, the European Union will officially adopt the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), new legislation created to provide consumers with enhanced safeguarding of their personal data. 

There has been a greater volume of media coverage about the new regulations in Europe, but GDPR also affects American companies; Contact centers deal with personal data and many of them serve global markets, including Europe. Personal data is used to identify and assist customers, and businesses handling this type of information should pay attention to the new law as well. 

Here’s what you need to know: 
  • GDPR will be effective on May 25, 2018, and applies to all organizations handling personal data in the 28 countries of the European Union.
  • Any information relating to “an identified or identifiable natural person” is considered personal data. This includes not just names but online identifiers and data that track a person’s location.
  • Customers now have the right to have their data erased or transferred from one data controller to another.
  • Contact center agents have access to customer personal data to be able to assist them and they need to be compliant to the new regulation.
  • Compliance with GDPR is mandatory; failure to comply is punishable by fines as high as 20 million EUR or 4% of a company’s annual revenue.
Concerns about being compliant? Here’s how to get started: 
  • Perform a complete data inventory to identify the information currently being collected and used. 
  • Monitor and adopt officially approved/sanctioned best practices to enjoy any safe harbors regulators afford.
  • Consider, where applicable, creating a limited-liability establishment in the EU jurisdiction that offers regulatory oversight. 

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Five Questions to Ask Before Investing in Quality Management (QM)

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Ready to take your quality management efforts to the next level? Great! Obviously this is an investment you only want to make once, so here are five questions that will help you get it right the first time. 

1. Will this system record all of our calls?

For many years, selective call recording has been deemed sufficient for determining if agents are performing up to expectations, and whether customers are getting the service they need. But contact centers rise and fall on data, and today’s top quality management solutions can record every call so you get a true picture of how your business is performing. And with every call recorded, you can use the software to analyze the data for patterns (call wait time, content, issue resolution, etc.). 

2. Will the solution be easy to install?

Concerns over implementation and ease of use have kept too many contact centers from acquiring the technology solutions they need. But there are quality management solutions that will ease the transition from any previous technology, allow for easy customization as needed, and generate reports that provide the necessary data in a clear and concise manner. The objective is a minimal transition period for your personnel. 

3. Is there an easy way to find the data we need?

Every quality management solution will collect data ¬– but what if you need to analyze all the calls about one specific product, or all of the calls from one particular customer demographic? The data stored on call monitoring software won’t be as useful if it takes forever to find it. Effective call recording also means effective call retrieval from the server to the system, from any location. Deleting calls and adding comments to records should also be an efficient process. 

4. Will the solution grow with our business?

Technology upgrades are beneficial. Repeatedly upgrading the same technology to keep up with your contact center’s needs is not. Call recording software should have the flexibility to grow with your business. Review all features listings and compare them with the features most important to your call center. 

5. Will our data be protected?

Call monitoring introduces a number of internal and external security issues. Effective call recording should always be safe, and implemented with the proper restrictions regarding employee access. Make sure data collected is secure, encrypted if necessary and protected from hackers and other threats.

See Monet’s Quality Management solution in action in this demo
How important is call recording to the success of your business? Read our free whitepaper

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What is Unified Workforce Optimization? (WFO)

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If improving agent productivity is one of your goals this year, the most important step you can take toward its achievement is the addition of a workforce optimization (WFO) solution. WFO provides insight into customer interactions and service levels, delivering the data necessary to make important decisions about optimal management of personnel.

However, as with any other solution, it works best if you use it correctly.

Workforce Optimization is great. Unified workforce optimization is even better.

What’s the difference? In a word: togetherness. When everyone at the contact center works together, customer service improves. But in some businesses you may have one team focused on scheduling and staffing, another team dedicated to call recording and quality management. But there should also be an effort to analyze how both of these groups are functioning, and establish goals that may require changes in procedures from each of them.

However, as much as we may want these team members to cooperate, at too many call centers they are forced to make isolated decisions and act independently because they do not have access to information outside of their area or function. 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.

A unified WFO solution delivers business integrations that let your contact center 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.

In this short video, you’ll find out how a workforce optimization framework brings diverse functions together with features like a single graphical user interface and central administration. 

Watch the WFO video

For more tips on how to improve the efficiency of your contact center, check out this webinar.

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The Importance of Tracking Schedule Adherence

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You know the importance of schedule adherence. And you know that determining whether your contact center is in adherence requires some effort in tracking – which can be made much easier by a workforce management (WFM) solution.

But here is something you may not know - all WFM solutions are not created equal when it comes to tracking schedule adherence.

If you are going to achieve your goals in service levels, productivity and cost management, your adherence tracking system must be comprehensive. That means every activity that goes into a schedule, even non-call activities, must be tracked regarding adherence.

Some WFM offerings can't do that. They lack the flexibility to track different agent activity types classified usually by "customer states." They won't allow you to program custom thresholds and variances designed to meet the specific needs of your call center.

After-word activities? Outbound preparation? Unavoidable at contact centers, and often a cause of adherence issues. But with some workforce management solutions, you won’t be able to monitor them.

With Monet WFM you can monitor adherence in real-time on a dashboard that lets you know immediately if you are in or out of adherence. Our solution supports customizable adherence tracking, resulting in a new level of accuracy in managing performance. 

Want to see how it works? 

This video shows how easy it is to monitor schedule adherence in real time with Monet WFM

And for more tips on how to boost schedule adherence at your contact center, download our free whitepaper: Strategies for Improving Adherence

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Scheduling: The Difference Between Adherence and Compliance

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We’ve often discussed the benefits of workforce management (WFM) in improving schedule adherence at the contact center. The data delivered by WFM boosts the accuracy of forecasts and schedules, while also allowing managers to assess adherence in real-time, and make adjustments as needed so customer service levels are maintained. 

Many contact centers recognize the importance of adherence. But not as many pay equal attention to schedule compliance – in fact, some may believe they are both terms that describe the same thing. But that is not the case.

Schedule Adherence

Adherence is a measurement of the time agents are scheduled to work, that takes into account lunch, paid breaks, training sessions and other variables. Any time an agent returns to duty five minutes late for lunch, or stays eight minutes longer at training, he or she is out of adherence. A few missed minutes may not seem like much, but when that is multiplied by dozens of agents over hundreds or thousands of shifts every year, it impacts efficiency and costs money. 

Fortunately, contact centers with a WFM system can easily generate reports that identify adherence issues. With Monet WFM, the data is created while the adherence issue is still happening, so it can be corrected immediately. 

Schedule Compliance

Compliance starts at the forecasting stage, when contact center managers use historical data to anticipate call volume for a given day or shift, and then schedule agents based on those results. These schedules include specific time windows for agents to take breaks, attend meetings or go to lunch. 

Problems arise when agents make lunch plans with friends that fall outside the window of that scheduled time off. Managers can force agents to stick to the schedule, but that may result in unhappy agents and an increase in attrition if agents get angry enough to leave because the schedule is too strict. 

Avoiding Adherence and Compliance Issues

It starts with WFM so managers have the information they need. It also begins at the hiring and training stage for new agents, so expectations are clearly defined and the importance of working assigned hours is stressed. 

Monet WFM incorporates forecasting, scheduling and other functions into a coordinated effort to optimize your workforce resources. Service and contact center efficiency is enhanced when the right numbers of agents (with the necessary skills) are taking care of your customers every hour, every day.

What’s better than workforce management? Workforce optimization in the cloud! Find out more

Watch a demo of Monet WFM in action

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Speech Analytics: Soon to Be a $2.5 Billion Market

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According to the new report Global Speech Analytics Market, published by KBV research, the international market size for speech analytics technology is expected to reach $2.5 billion by 2023, rising at a market growth of 17%.

Why is this happening? At the contact center the answer is obvious: merging call recording with speech analytics can significantly boost lead conversion rates, as well as increase customer retention levels. At the same time, it’s a way to be 100% assured that agents are always in compliance with federal and industry regulations. 

Speech analytics generates automated alerts triggered by voice data, whether that’s the use of profanity, or the word “cancel,” or the mention of a specific new product or service. By being alerted to these calls in real time, managers can react in time to impact their outcome, which could mean the difference between keeping and losing a customer.

In addition, with speech analytics integrated into a call recording solution, the contact center can link customer feedback with specific customer interactions; that means you are not working from a random sampling, but with a subset of calls that have been flagged as important because of the key words or phrases used by the customer. 

Sure, some of this data might eventually be collected through call recording alone. But time is money in business, and with speech analytics this vital information can be accessed far more quickly, and is more detailed as well. Now managers can delve into caller patterns that will further refine the company’s customer service efforts. What used to take weeks can now be achieved in just minutes. 

These are just some of the reasons why the market is growing so quickly. If it’s time you took a closer look at this technology, please check out Monet Analytics. You can find more information here, or schedule a live demo to see Monet Analytics in action.

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Creating a Positive Call Center Work Culture

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To make customers happy, we have to make sure our employees are happy first.


If you are lucky enough to be someone’s employer, then you have a moral obligation to make sure people do look forward to coming to work in the morning.

--Whole Foods Market

You have to be a place that’s more than a paycheck for people.

--PF Chang’s

Those are quotes from three companies with little in common except for the following: They are very successful, and they recognize the importance of creating a positive workplace culture. 

Can this philosophy be translated to the contact center? Why not? It may be more of a challenge here, because most people that become contact center agents aspired to do something else - it can be a good job, but it’s not a “dream job.” Add to that the challenge of dealing with demanding customers, and the tedium that accompanies repetitive data entry tasks and script reading. 

Still, there are ways to encourage a positive culture. Let’s start with the obvious: a competitive salary with bonuses and incentives for those who excel, and a clean, pleasant working environment with a well-stocked break room. Also, make sure agents have the technology they need to deliver great customer service. 

Don’t discourage a little fun, especially when call volumes are down. Music, games, and dress-up days can all make going to work a little more enjoyable. 

The relationship between agents and management is critical to a positive work culture. Communication is key: when management listens to and welcomes feedback, and includes agents in decisions that affect the entire contact center, it makes for a more cohesive organization. 

Some agents look on that job as temporary – a stepping-stone to moving up within the company. Those that do so should be encouraged in this and even helped along the way. 

Do you have some tips for creating a positive work culture? Share them on our Facebook page

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Five Bad Habits to Break at Your Call Center

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The tough thing about bad habits is that they are so easy to fall into, and so difficult to stop. 

These are five of the most common bad habits found at contact centers. If you are contending with any of them, here is how workforce optimization can make them go away.

1.  Inefficient Scheduling

Sound, accurate schedules are created consistently with workforce management software. It’s especially useful at a time when agents are balancing school, family and other obligations, and would appreciate more input into the shifts they work. With WFM it’s easier to provide personalized scheduling options and to allow agents to change their own schedules. Usually this results in better coverage, and better service. 

2. First Come, First Serve Call Routing

Yes, that’s the way it’s always been done at some contact centers – every call automatically goes to the first available agent. It’s not necessarily a bad habit, just an inefficient one. But by routing calls to agents based on specific criteria, it’s possible to boost first call resolution and overall customer service. The most common strategy is a skill-based system, connecting angry customers with agents who can calm them down, buyers with agents who know how to upsell, and calls with technical questions to agents with product expertise.

3. Taking Too Long to Collect Basic Information

There is no getting around asking for a customer’s ID information (date of birth), account information or contact information. But too many questions at the start of a call can be frustrating for the customer and time-consuming for the agent. A workforce optimization solution that includes analytics can deliver caller information more quickly. 

4. Quality Monitoring With Random Calls

As with item #2 on our list, the bad habit here is relying on systems that were used for decades because they were the only systems available. Now, there’s a better way. With speech analytics, every call can be monitored and categorized based on pre-set criteria. This provides more insight into business practices and will also improve your training efforts. 

5. Reactive Management

A shift ends, and you look at the numbers and see what went right and what went wrong, and try to make adjustments so the next shift is better. Instead, why not get proactive, with workforce management that provides real-time monitoring, so adherence issues and other problems can be corrected while they are still happening? 

Monet Workforce Optimization contains the tools needed to help break all of these bad habits. 

Find out more about Monet Workforce Optimization

Or see Monet WFM in action in this online video demo

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Average Speed of Answer: Establishing a Goal

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Average Speed of Answer (ASA) is one of the more critical contact center KPIs. In fact, some surveys have shown that more than 60% of callers will abandon a call if they’re not speaking to an agent after one minute. And no, those friendly “your call is important to us” pre-recorded messages aren’t doing much to change their minds. 

To improve ASA, start by establishing clear goals. 

Your contact center may already have a service level they strive to achieve; the most common is 80-20, meaning 80% of calls are answered within a specific time frame (usually 20 or 30 seconds). 

Today, customers can reach out through other channels as well, requiring contact centers to set similar goals for email, chat and perhaps even social media responses. Do you want all of your emails answered in two hours, four hours, or by end of day? Is 30 minutes a reasonable goal for responding to a Facebook post?

Obviously factors will vary widely depending on the size and type of your business. But it is still important to establish a service level, measure results, and then fine-tune procedures to see if that level can be improved. 

All of the burden for meeting service levels should not fall on the agent’s shoulders. The contact center must provide the tools necessary for that agent to do his or her job, as well as provide forecasting and scheduling that assures the presence of enough agents to efficiently handle incoming communications. 

That used to be handled with spreadsheets but can now be covered with a workforce management (WFM) solution. With the advanced functionality and the more accurate forecasting and scheduling made possible by WFM, as well as the data it delivers on agent performance, schedule adherence and KPIs, contact center managers can always be assured the contact center’s resources are being utilized in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. 

What’s better than workforce management? Workforce optimization in the cloud! Find out more

Watch a demo of Monet WFM in action

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Should Contact Centers Be Forced To Reveal Where They are Located?

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It happens almost every year: A bill is introduced in Congress to address contact center outsourcing. 

The 2018 version comes from Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, who has proposed legislation requiring contact center employees in India and other foreign locales to reveal their location during each call, and offer customers the option of being transferred to an agent within the United States. If that offer isn’t made, customers can request it. 

If you polled the average consumer about this, they’d probably be delighted. There’s nothing quite so frustrating as calling a company to request information about one of their products, question a billing charge or place an order. After waiting (and waiting, and waiting) on hold for a customer service representative, your call is finally answered by a distant-sounding voice with an indistinguishable accent. 

But companies that outsource argue that it’s an economic necessity. No one argues that the service is better when it comes from the other side of an ocean; but by doing so agents can be hired for a fraction of the salary they would make at home. 

Senator Brown’s bill would also create a public list of companies that outsource call center jobs, and give preference in federal contracts to companies that haven't shipped these jobs overseas.

The good news for companies that outsource is that such legislation has not passed when previously proposed. But, there’s always a first time. 

Do you believe contact centers should be forced to reveal their location? 

Share your thoughts on our Facebook page 

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A More Efficient Call Center in One Minute?

These are just some of the real-world benefits experienced after implementing Monet WFM software.

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