Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Contact Center Decisions                                                            July 2016

As the leader of your contact center you are under constant pressure to improve agent performance. 
But is it really about improved performance or is about meeting and exceeding goals that senior management has put in place for the contact center.  Depending on the industry it could be incoming increase revenue or reduce outgoing payments. 

What we come to realize, in the contact center, is that agents, team leaders and even you the manager are caught, off guard and unaware of the jump in customers contacting the business.  Fifteen, twenty years ago customers called us and we were quickly alerted by the flashing red light mounted to the cubicles in the call center.  In today’s world customers are emailing, sending chat messages or going out to social media.  This is how the contact center can be thought of as unaware and not taking care of the customer.  

How do we eliminate this “not aware” problem?  What can we do to provide agents, supervisors and even ourselves with the information we need to be made aware?  We have choices that we need to make to improve, maintain or exceed our business goals. 

Digital Signage in the Contact Center:

Large LCD screens showing calls, emails, chats, or social media information can be very valuable to the contact center.  Questions that you need to answer:
     1.       Who is the audience for the LCD Screens?
a.       How many will you need to have for your audience to see the screens?
b.      Do the supervisors and managers walk the floor and need to see this content because they are not at their desks?
c.       Is mobile not allowed in your contact center?

     2.       What content is needed to improve performance and can that content be displayed?

     3.       Weather, traffic, social content is needed do your internal policies allow for this content?

     4.       Will your budget cover the software, hardware and hardware installation? 

Data can be combined together showing the agents that current status of critical KPI’s such as the emails and chats waiting to be answered.  The positive or negative social media posts that need addressing. 

Going beyond the usual contact center data having the LCD screens to communicate with the agents provides added value to the daily job the agents must endure.


Data from multiple sources combined together into a single report makes it quick and easy for anyone to see the current status.  It does not matter the method in which the customer is trying to contact you because you are now immediately aware of the status.  Questions that you need to answer:      1.       Can you combine the data together into a single dashboard?
      2.       Will the right people have access to the dashboard?      3.       Can you segregate the data to the correct audiences?Dashboards if properly designed will provide the best information for its audience.  The design of the dashboard must also meet the audience’s personality. Some people are unable to review a lot of data and want critical stats in graphs and charts.  Others do not want graphic input they only want data.  Dashboards are able to eliminate, solve and or reduce problems for just about every call center.  Are you willing and able to combine data together in a format that works for you?



Real estate!  Agents have limited room on their desktops for a dashboard with a lot of data on it.  So the resolution is to have only the critical data on the desktop wallboard.  Display Calls, Emails, Chats waiting to be answered and you will see an improvement in contact center performance.  Yes, each of these applications show this status but are they combined together so the agent does not have to look at three separate reports or notifications?  Questions that you need to answer:

1    1.       If the agents have this desktop wallboard will they read it and react to it?

      2.       Will the desktop wallboard have the proper data for the agents?

      3.       Will one more application on the agents desktop overwhelm the agent?

Agents are always working heads down.  They are focused on the current customer and the applications they are working.  Having an alert on the phone works only if it is for calls waiting and the agent is looking at the phone for a blinking LED light.  Giving the alert notice to the agent who is looking at their screen will improve performance.

Mobile Web Reporting:

In today’s world we are mobile.  We are out working with the team leaders, agents, in meetings, traveling, checking on status from home, or providing senior management access to the critical statistics.  If we are a BPO our customers need to see the reports.  Mobile web reporting is crucial in the contact center today.  Questions that you need to answer:

1. Do you have access to your desktop 100% of the time while you are working? 
     Of course not. You are mobile so having access to the critical data at all times manages the performance of the contact center.

     2. While being mobile do you need to know the status of the contact center?
     3. Do you need quick drill down access to multiple layers of data?

Web based reporting allows for easy mobility for key team members.  The reporting may not be pretty pictures with graphs and charts but it does contain the crucial data that offers team members quick solutions to the daily challenges. 

In the real estate industry it is all about location, location, location.  For the contact center industry we have decisions, decisions, decisions.  Which direction you should go is funded by the budget and anticipated outcome.  If the direction needs to be contact center improvement in daily functionality then reporting is the proper direction for you to go.

Spectrum is a leading provider of Unified Contact Center Reporting.  Contact Spectrum today to discuss difficult contact center reporting decisions.  For more examples of reporting visit our website and the products page. http://www.specorp.com/products

Follow Spectrum Corporation:
Dan Boehm
VP Sales and Marketing

+1 713 986 8839

Voice, Chat and Email Wait Times                                  June 2016 

What is an acceptable wait time?  The answer to this question is a whole list of questions. Which industry? What department within the business? What product or service? Paying customer or customer looking for free support? What time of day? What day of week? What time of the year?  A simple question generates potentially troubling replies from the targeted audience.  Next we want to know the wait times for the different contact methods.  Should chat and email wait times be same as voice? Should they be different from voice but the same as each other? Or should all three be different? The answer to the wait time questions really is from the business itself.  Because there will be different targets and goals within the business the wait times will vary.  Let’s take for example a call center that sells consumer products.  A buyer is calling, sends a chat or an email for a product they wish to purchase.  The business would like that contact to be replied to as quickly as possible or the potential customer will go somewhere else.  Wait times for any customer contact method should be very short.  According to Spectrum customers ten to thirty second wait times for voice, chat and email would be ok for most businesses.  If this customer wants to return something they have purchased does the business have the same urgency?  Of course not, the wait times can be considerably longer and it would not change the customer business decision.  However, an argument can be made that if the business reacts quickly regardless of the transaction that business will earn a very highly positive reputation that can build their business.  Spectrum works with many contact centers around the world that have voice, email, chat and social media as ways of contacting an agent.  We have seen wait time thresholds set at many different levels for each of these contact channels.  There is not an entire industry by industry set level.  However, there are some good parameters that businesses use. 

Voice:  On average the old 80 / 20 and 70 / 30 rule still seems to apply for most businesses.  Please note this is not true for incoming new business where the 90 / 10 rule is demanded by the managers.  I recall a meeting that I had with the head of a large contact center at a mutual fund company.  We were talking about the wait times for incoming new customer calls.  The IT manager has suggested and hoped that a 10 second wait time was ok for incoming calls.  The contact center managers reply “To our business ten seconds is historical not real time. The lost revenue from potential customers in one day would be enough to pay for this phone system.” Now I know this was somewhat of an exaggeration but the point was well made.


Contact centers have changed over the years and voice is no longer the sole contact method by customers.  However, it is still a primary contact method that most people use today and quick response rates are not only preferred they are required. 

Chat:  As stated above the wait times can, will and should vary by industry.  Yet there is a trend that occurs depending on the age of the customer; the younger the customer the shorter the expected wait time.  Of course that is not always the rule but it does tend to happen.  An overall call center wait time for chat has been set at two minutes.  This is not the time that the chat reply begins it is the time the chat is sent to the customer.  

A problem that has been building and continuing to happen with both chat and email to customers is the reply delay set up by the business. The delay is the auto reply and then followed by simple single level questions that could have been combined together to save time. 
                As an example: The potential customer is on line at a specific product or service page and the chat box has appeared.  The customer asks a very specific question and the auto reply is: “How can I help you?” or “Which product are you interested in?”
                The customer is pleased they are working with an “agent” but frustrated by the delays.  Had the auto reply been more specific about the product they were interested in it would have saved time.  These very similar type of auto replies extend the time needed before a real agent can join the chat.  And the results can hurt the overall customer satisfaction.  Of course conflict can also occur. But from the call center point of view it allows the agent to continue to work with other customers until they are able to end the chat.

Spectrum has customers who use chat but do not use auto replies and they push the agents to respond within 30 seconds.  But these are revenue generating chat contacts and quick response time is heavily desired.

Email:  The reply time to emails is difficult to truly track.  However, as a general overview Spectrum customers look for a 5 minute response rate.  There are so many reasons why the five minutes may not happen that it is difficult to judge an agent for not meeting the threshold. 

A financial customer had mentioned to me that they reply to all emails as quickly as possible.  If the email the agent has received is complex and difficult to clearly reply to the agents are guided down a quick to reply path.  The response idea is to let the customer know they received the email, they are working on it and briefly explain what they are doing to answer the customer questions.  

A services provider customer has an auto reply that always suggests to the customer that they log in to the website and check their account online for faster support.  Then after waiting 30 minutes they respond again asking if they can be of service.  If the customer does not reply the email is closed and considered handled.  

Social Media: There is no response time for social media unless there is an agent who is responsible for the replies.  A positive message about your business does not require an immediate response.  A negative message may require an immediate response but it depends on the negative message.  If the message is clear, concise and very specific about the problem then an immediate response can and will improve customer satisfaction.  If the message is a generally negative message with foul language then a reply is not needed because any reply can build the negative view of the business. 

There are times when customers resort to social media to get their problems resolved.  This is being seen more often in the utilities sector, some government and consumer retail.  Customers that see a problem let the world know about it through social media.  Call centers are following this and posting this information for the managers and agents to see and be able to react appropriately with the customers they are communicating directly to. 

A word of caution about posting social media messages, many messages that are captured and displayed for the agents to see contain foul language and can be very upsetting to some agents.  Language filters do not always work.  So prior to agreeing with the idea of posting all social media messages investigate the outcome of a very negative social media message. 

One challenge that happens in most call centers that offer the multichannel customer contact is the conflict.  Customers call, go to the website and start a chat session and may send an email as well.  A customer looking for fast answers can and do cause overall delays while agents multitask to reply to the customer. 

Spectrum is a leading provider of Unified Contact Center Reporting.  Contact Spectrum today to discuss reporting for wait times.  For more examples of reporting visit our website and the products page. http://www.specorp.com/products

Follow Spectrum Corporation:
Dan Boehm
VP Sales and Marketing
+1 713 986 8839