by Tobias Goebel on March 7th, 2014
Fraud is on the rise. No other industry knows this better than the credit card industry. Payment card companies have a significant interest in protecting their customers’ data, as fraud has produced global damage of $5.55b in 2012. In the US, credit cards are a predominant means of making payments, and in the ever-growing world of online shopping, increasingly the only available method. CNP (card-not-present) payments, however, are most vulnerable to fraud.
In online transactions, it is primarily SSL encryption that secures a payment and the submission of credit card data between a client (the browser) and the payment gateway servers. The same method can be used in mobile Web apps as well as native apps. This makes for some pretty good privacy. Another dominant channel for payment transactions is the good old phone. Contact centers typically take good measures to prevent agents from taking notes while listening to credit card information. However, rising security concerns as well as tightening industry requirements require different solutions.
Enter Interactive Voice Response (IVR). Not only does it help automate tedious and simple tasks within a call center, but it also reduces costs while lowering wait times for callers. It is also a more discrete channel for information sharing. Studies have shown that people actually prefer to handle sensitive information with a machine rather than a human. IVR is the perfect technology to accommodate that preference AND offer a cheaper and more secure environment for collecting payments over the phone.
In 2004, major credit card companies formed the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council and released the first version of the PCI-DSS (PCI Data Security Standard). At version 2.0 since October 2010, any organization that processes or stores PII (Personally Identifiable Information) in the context of debit, credit, prepaid or other payment cards must comply with the PCI-DSS, either by a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA), or through a Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ), depending on the amount of transactions processed.
With Aspect’s acquisition of Voxeo, Aspect now runs one of the largest standards-based IVR networks in the world with a global presence through data centers and support centers in the US, EMEA, and APAC regions. It is fully certified for Level 1 PCI-DSS and powers IVR applications and voice portals for some of the world’s largest financial institutions. By relying on standards such as VoiceXML, CCXML, and SIP, and offering their solutions both in the cloud and on-premise, Aspect can offer a highly flexible payment solution portfolio encompassing the following scenarios:
1. CSR Transfer
An agent can process an order, and when it comes to collecting credit card information, can transfer the call to Aspect, allowing the Aspect IVR (Voxeo Prophecy) to securely collect the payment information, transmit that over secured lines to a payment gateway, then transfer the caller back to the agent, submitting information to the agent about success or failure of the transaction if required.
2. IVR Sub-Dialog
The same will work for an existing, non-PCI-compliant IVR system or voice portal that wishes to securely offer payment transactions. An existing IVR application can transfer the call to Aspect and back, as described above.
3. Standalone IVR
Aspect is a RESPORG and can therefore provision toll-free numbers for standalone applications that take payments. These can be extended to full-fledged self-service portals if desired.
Interested in learning more? Get in touch with us today to find out how to make use of these highly secured ways of taking payments.
by Kathy Villasenor on March 5th, 2014
When I think of one of my very favorite people in the world, I think of my Noni. Noni is what we called my little Italian Grandma who at 103 years was still in the kitchen. The problem with Noni’s recipes is that there was not an exact measurement in any of them. When you make her meatballs it is a handful of this or a pinch of that.
I am sure many of you like ravioli, but have you ever made it? My Noni’s recipe is a time-consuming, two-day ordeal, but when the process was broken down I realized we were using many of the same tactics that make teams run smoothly in the contact center.
It was too big of an endeavor to take on alone so I dragged three generations of family into the kitchen to help. On the first day, we cooked the meat as specified in the hand written recipe. We used a food processor but the texture of the meat just wasn’t right. This is where we had to rely on the three generations to remember what the meat looked and felt like. My mom decided we need to go a completely different direction, using a 61-year-old hand meat grinder. There were odd measurements involved in seasoning the meat. We tasted and evaluated, and even more family was called upon for input.
Day two: It was time for the pasta. We hand-kneaded the dough and used the pasta machine. Sizing the ravioli turned into a huge debate. Once again, we had to rely on input from all. Then came the assembly. We worked in teams. The critical issue was not getting air stuck in the pockets. My nieces came up with a process that worked and we all adopted it.
In honor of my Dad’s 80th birthday we celebrated with Noni’s ravioli. We had three huge pots of water on the stove to cook the 18 dozen ravioli. We also had the entire family providing feedback on cooking and plating.
I was actually a little nervous as I waited the verdict. There were 26 of us at the table, and every one of us had tasted Noni’s original raviolis. Would ours be as good? The first comment was that Noni was smiling down on us. Everyone said they tasted just like Noni’s, which was the ultimate compliment.
The key to our success had to do with the team of people who made the ravioli as well as the family who provided input. Here is what we did right:
- Everyone participating wanted to succeed.
- We all brought our experience to the table.
- When we ran into issues, we talked as a group to find a resolution.
- When we could not decide among ourselves, we called in others for input.
- We listened to each other and didn’t dismiss ideas without consideration.
While my experience was with ravioli, couldn’t this same tactic be used with your contact center? Are you listening to feedback from your employees as well as the customers? Is an employee or customer survey appropriate? Gathering feedback is critical but actually listening to it and acting on it is the key to success.
When it came to making ravioli, I gathered the right team and then listened to everyone’s suggestions and the result spoke for itself. Couldn’t this same process work for you?
by Christine OBrien on March 3rd, 2014
With greater demands on budget and higher expectations for results, more business leaders are taking a close look at the potential of cloud and hosted solutions, seizing opportunities to quickly build, run and deliver a greater array of services with lower start-up costs and reduced internal support. Gathering data from several sources, the infographic below explores the rate of cloud solution growth as well as the key benefits businesses are seeing from their investments as more technology shifts from premise to cloud-based services.
Is a cloud-based contact center right for you? We’ve made it easier than ever to deploy a turnkey solution with enterprise-class capabilities. Find out how with Zipwire!
by Jim Freeze, SVP, CMO on February 28th, 2014
The Relationship Revolution continues to move at the speed of light and like it or not, the relationship between customers and companies is forever changed. Through the power of socially and very public apps, customers now hold the power, choosing when, where and how they interact with brands Consumers expect to engage, inquire, and request service whenever, wherever, and via whatever channel suits their fancy. But addressing this paradigm shift in a positive way that delivers consistent company-customer interactions across channels and throughout every engagement is something that has an impact across the entire enterprise.
With the recent announcement of Facebook’s $19 billion dollar intent to acquire mobile messaging app WhatsApp comes a new and compelling opportunity for companies to address this relationship shift.
For those that still don’t know, even though there are nearly a half a billion of you who do, WhatsApp is a cross-platform mobile messaging app, which allows users to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. The first question that may come to mind is: “How is WhatsApp different than SMS?” In the United States there are very few differences or advantages, other than free international messaging, as many wireless carriers bundle messaging into data plans. However, in countries such as Brazil, India, Russia and Spain, SMS is expensive and the masses have flocked to WhatsApp as an affordable and more feature-rich option for mobile messaging.
What makes it a compelling opportunity? Here are a few reasons:
- Conversations are personal and private so any particularly salty customer complaint will not be out there for the rest of the world to see.
- Users are always on. Most WhatsApp users have push notifications turned on meaning they’ll see messages and be more engaged in company interactions
- WhatsApp’s broadcast lists make marketing to your customers’ friends who share similar passions simple and making service offers easier to share… provided they passes the spam sniff test.
The opportunity to use WhatsApp for customer service may not be immediate but that is exactly why now is the time to think about the impact mobile apps like this have on the customer experience.
Adding a service channel that consumers use and trust makes sense to increase engagement and provide service on the terms of your customers. But if that channel is not fully integrated with access to customer data, reporting resources and the expertise of the contact center, it will hardly deliver an optimal experience. By applying contact center best practices to mobile customer engagements could occur on WhatsApp, organizations can realize better value from the channel at a lower cost, without sacrificing the disciplines and service levels that are making the contact center the de facto center of the customer experience.
If for nothing else, it could be argued that the sole reason to think about what WhatsApp means for customer service is that with a reported 450 million active users WhatsApp has almost double Twitter’s 230 million active users. And, in the age of the “persistent conversation,” contact centers can’t afford to miss opportunities to connect with millions of customers.
Additional great examples of why now is the time to consider WhatsApp for customer service can be found in The Guardian’s WhatsApp: best for customer service?.
Related story: Nordstrom Focuses on Mobile Customer Experience Retail Info Systems News
by Tobias Goebel on February 26th, 2014
Voxeo CXP is a sophisticated product that has helped hundreds of customers, including half of the Fortune 500, improve their phone-based customer self-service and call routing. It is known for covering the entire lifecycle of application management with tools for application design, development, documentation, deployment, management, reporting, and analytics. It is less known for the APIs that sit at the core of its engine, CXP Server – and that’s kind of a shame.
The SOAP-based Web Services API, a REST version for a subset of functions, and our XML-based Software Development Kit (XDK) are the foundation of the majority of tools that make CXP what it is. These include:
- CXP Developer, the GUI, service creation & administration environment
- Storyboard Manager, the prompt management tool based on MS Excel
- CXP Commander, the graphical dashboard that sits in CXP Developer for service deployment, session partitioning, log/trace file management, etc.
- CXP Analyzer, the reporting & analytics suite
The XDK exposes the full power of multi-channel application lifecycle management via an open, well-documented XML-based development kit. The XDK enables developers to use a coding environment of their choice, from simple editors like Notepad or vi, to enterprise-grade authoring and deployment environments like Eclipse, SAP NetWeaver Studio, or IBM WebSphere Studio, while still retaining full access to the object-oriented design approach taken by Voxeo CXP.
At the heart of the XDK stands CXPML (CXP Markup Language), an XML-based application markup language. It sits on top of open standards such as VoiceXML for IVR or HTML for Web apps, and provides a clear abstraction layer for truly unified multi-channel applications. Furthermore, it provides all the powerful capabilities built into the patented object technology of Voxeo CXP, such as a true object-oriented development approach and inheritance.
Oftentimes, our customers and partners mistake CXP Developer, the Eclipse-based development environment coming with the product, for what CXP is all about. The opposite is actually true: CXP Developer is NOT a representation of what Voxeo CXP is about, it is merely one (our) implementation of a graphical user interface sitting on top of our APIs and exposing the power of CXP Server, the brain of the product. Using the Web Service API and XDK, you can in fact create your very own service creation and administration front-end. Several examples exist, such as SAP’s Netweaver Voice, that embeds CXP Server but comes with its own graphical user interface. Another one would be our very own Business User Interface, a Web-based front-end for non-technical staff to manage aspects of your IVR or multichannel applications.
Voxeo CXP and its powerful CXP Server are truly more of a middleware that you can embed seamlessly in your enterprise service frameworks and processes. Furthermore, Service Providers use it to offer value-added services to enterprise clients. A lot of the applications built on top of the Voxeo CXP middleware are around what Gartner calls Communications-Enabled Business Processes, or CEBP – a prime example of an application type that benefits from APIs.
Let me give you some concrete examples of the APIs:
- You would like to deploy CXP applications directly from XML files maintained in a version-control system used in your IT department? Go ahead, you can: deployXDKService (sessionID, serverRefID, serviceDef, isURI).
- Or you’d prefer deploying your apps directly from a different system, in a “volatile” fashion based on a single XML parameter representing your application logic? The WS API allows that, too (same method, with isURI=false and serviceDef being the CXPML string representing your application logic).
- You would like to embed a dashboard of CXP status information, such as a count of current callers into your system, directly into an existing Web-based front-end that you use for other applications? Easy: queryServer (sessionID, serverRefID, aggregateData).
As a matter of fact, one of our bigger customers, a large multi-national retailer, has done just that: They embed CXP-related data in a general dashboard of application (not just IVR) status and deployment features, that they had in place before they standardized on Voxeo for their IVR applications. A service provider customer of ours uses our APIs to streamline the deployment process across their multi-data-center setup of Voxeo CXP, now being able to deploy without touching any of our own tools – the process of bringing a new application version to production can be done completely from within their existing deployment framework.
Developers often face tedious tasks such as batch creation of dialog objects, renaming operations, etc. CXP Developer does not have pre-built functions in the GUI for all of these tasks. However, using our APIs, a simple export of your application, coupled with an XML modification script in a scripting language of your choice, and a re-import, does the job:
- exportProjectVersion (sessionID, projectName, versionName, format, zipped, exportLib)
- …your XML string manipulation…
- importObject (sessionID, projectName, versionName, generateNewGUIDs, overwriteByName, objectDef, isURI)
A lot of the API revolves around security: restricting access to who can see and do what (projects, deployed applications, sites in a multi-tenant environment, etc.), exploiting CXP’s built-in user management features, tracking user access, killing connections, locking down access to certain areas of an application, etc.
I could go on and on, but I believe you get the message, and hopefully some ideas around how to use our product more efficiently for your own deployments. Voxeo CXP offers rich and powerful APIs to be truly embedded as middleware into your existing systems and processes to add feature-rich communications applications to your business, be it for self-service offerings to your customers or employees, or to enrich business processes with voice, SMS, or mobile applications to improve efficiency.
by Christine OBrien on February 25th, 2014
No longer is the business in charge of the customer-company relationship. With customers’ ability to communicate information in more ways (and in a shorter amount of time) than ever before, they can share their opinions with the world via tweets, posts, calls, texts, and emails. They also use these media to reach out to the contact center for service and help, making it essential that your contact center can meet their needs.
Aspect believes that by giving our customers innovative contact center solutions, we can help you give your clients the great experience they desire. We invite you to join us at Enterprise Connect 2014, which is being held at the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, from March 17-20. This hands-on event gives you the opportunity to learn about a variety of subjects related to the contact center including the cloud, mobility, video, and the customer experience. With two booths (#1325 and #1425) and numerous experts and demos available to answer your questions, we’ll show you how our contact center, back office, and workforce solutions can give your company an advantage in customer service and experience. You’ll also get the chance to score some great prizes, including a Microsoft Surface!
Are you ready for Enterprise Connect 2014? Register now and use the discount code XYECG062. You can also sign up for a special demo and/or a one-on-one meeting with an Aspect expert. We look forward to meeting you at our booths!
by Dawn Ely on February 24th, 2014
In the age of online and mobile shopping, where face-to-face interactions between customers and employees have dramatically decreased, providing great customer service via numerous channels is essential. Shoppers who face issues with online shopping often turn to customer service agents for assistance via email, social media, phone, or another channel. Yet when a contact center is unprepared for an increased number of customers reaching out to them, it can be a challenge to keep track of internal changes throughout the day.
If you have performance management software, this task may not be so daunting. Solutions such as Aspect Performance Management (APM) give everyone in the contact center the tools they need to check both real-time and historical progress on performance goals, call times, and customer records. Managers can easily locate statistics and records without having to manually create reports, while agents can view their performance results and compare their scores to those of their peers. Most importantly, all the information you need is presented in an easy-to-read summary with access to detailed reports as needed, allowing you to make faster decisions and decide on future coaching sessions for agents who need them.
Hayneedle, one of the world’s top online retailers, found much success using APM in their contact center. They are dedicated to making sure their 250+ in-office and remote agents provide the best service possible to their many online shoppers, especially during busy shopping times such as the holiday season. As their customer base increased, Hayneedle’s managers had difficulty tracking both caller and agent data. Shoppers visiting one of Hayneedle’s 250 websites were each calling different phone numbers but being directed to the same contact center, meaning that agents weren’t certain where to direct each call and managers didn’t know where the increased inquiries were coming from. All reports and results had to be manually collected, limiting its timely distributed to managers, directors, executive staff members, and agents. This created a reactive culture which couldn’t respond proactively to schedule changes, call volumes, or even agent contest results.
Hayneedle had been an Aspect Workforce Management customer for a long time, so when they were looking for a solution to better manage their back office data, they turned to Aspect. They selected APM for its ability to scale to their contact center’s capacity and provide much needed visibility and real-time information for their agents and managers. Aspect’s support team with remote capabilities also allowed Hayneedle the reassurance they needed that they were getting a solution that would work for them.
After installing APM, Hayneedle noticed a radical improvement in their contact center processes. They could pull data from the ACD, Workforce Management, CRM, and email databases into APM to create a single source for everyone to access contact center information. Managers and executive staff members now receive daily automatic updates about contact center performance as opposed to having someone manually gather the information and send it to them. This makes mid-day changes, such as sending some agents home when customer contact is slow, easier to predict and act on. Managers also appreciate serving the same amount of customers using less agents, saving Hayneedle both money and time spent coaching extra employees.
Agents have also benefited from APM. They are able to see their updated performance results every hour instead of the following day and have developed friendly competitions between one another to improve their results. 77% of agent sales are now in the middle to top tier of conversion percentage, as opposed to 17% before APM was installed. In addition, more customer emails are being answered within 24 hours (95% after APM was implemented versus 80% before). With more motivation, information, and custom coaching tools in their hands, agents are providing better service to Hayneedle’s customers. The result has been record sales conversions and agent performance levels.
by Kathy Villasenor on February 21st, 2014
“Like, for sure, it is totally cold out! What is this white stuff falling out of the sky?” I am a native California Valley girl. Yes, I was around when Moon Unit Zappa originally sang this anthem. I am not proud to admit that I may or may not have used this language but I will admit that the 78-degree winter months in the valley are “totally cool.”
I may sound paranoid but I think that the polar vortex is following me around the country. This year my assignments have not just brought me to the cold parts of the country but they have also brought me directly into the eye of the winter storms. Snow and lots of it! In the last month I have had two customers that could not staff normally due to treacherous road conditions. They had to move to their bad weather call processing format.
What is your contact center’s plan for a natural disaster (weather, flood, earthquake) or man-made disruption (fire, infrastructure failures, terrorism)? This is a real consideration no matter where in the country you live. While weather may be the most common element that your contact center deals with there are always emergency situations that you must have a contingency plan in place to handle. The randomness of these types of events (earthquake?) sometimes gives us a false sense of security.
Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity is a critical part of your business. Aspect Unified IP offers solutions that allow you to handle both of these activities. Depending on the severity of the situation it can be as easy as playing a unique piece of information to a caller (“Due to inclement weather your hold time is longer than normal. For faster service, please visit our web site.”) or as complex as having an additional Active system at the ready.
A detailed disaster recovery plan, which is practiced on a regular basis, will limit the interruption to your business when you have to deal with a real disruption. Even when the weather is “like, so grody!”
by Christine OBrien on February 20th, 2014
Companies pledge many things to their consumers. From low prices guarantees to lenient return policies, these promises raise the bar for customers’ expectations. When these expectations are not met, the gap between what the company pledges and what the customer actually receives can threaten to ruin the company-consumer relationship.
To ensure high quality customer service remains consistent, many companies are adhering to a set of rules that serve to proactively manage their customers’ experiences, called customer experience governance. This strategy gives employees a set of guidelines to follow that keeps the customer at the center of all business decisions and plans. Each person, from the agent to the executive, is given responsibility for creating a great customer experience for all company constituents.
Customer experience governance may include steps such as:
- Solving customer issues in a timely fashion
- Comparing company goals to a list of customer-focused questions
- Providing agent training on giving great service
By applying guidelines like these to your contact center, you can make sure your companies’ actions will please the people who matter most: your customers.
For Trupanion, a company that offers medical insurance for pets, customer experience governance comes in the form of their customer care department’s mission: “We do happy.” Their goal is to keep their customers happy and informed through providing excellent service. Trupanion implemented Aspect contact center solutions as a way to offer their valued consumers (and their customers’ furry friends) an even better customer experience. In doing so, they’ve been able to shave off thirty seconds from their average wait times, and customers get their questions answered faster due to the system routing them to the best-skilled agent that can meet their needs. Keeping their customers’ needs in mind has helped Trupanion improve their reputation as a company that truly cares about its customers’ happiness.
Interested in learning more about how customer experience governance can improve your company’s customer encounters? REGISTER NOW to attend our webinar on Thursday, March 6, from 2-3 p.m. Eastern on how customer experience governance can help your company monitor and improve its consumer service on a regular basis. Customer experience experts Art Schoeller, Principal Analyst at Forrester, and Aspect’s Michael Kropidlowski, Senior Manager of Product Marketing will offer take-away tips, real-life customer stories, and strategies to establish an effective governance program in your own contact center.
We look forward to seeing you there!
by Mark King, SVP Europe & Africa on February 19th, 2014
Since the festive period, we have seen some of the UK’s worst floods and winds for some years, particularly because they came so suddenly. Tens of thousands of us were without power from 24th December, and the subsequent damage and delays have severely affected many businesses, not least those that rely on transport.
Couriers and delivery companies don’t get the best rep most of the time because as consumers, we are an impatient bunch. With the popularity of review sites like Review Centre or Trust Pilot, people are more likely to leave a bad review, than a good one. Exacerbating the issue is that while most provide a customer service function for their clients – i.e. the retailers – very few have the resources to deal with all consumer enquiries, leading to frustration.
The aforementioned inclement weather has subsequently left a severe dent in the industry. People do not care for excuses about the weather – they just want their deliveries when they expect them, undamaged and complete.
Sadly, for one large independent courier, things went very wrong. Thousands of stories appeared online that people received half a consignment, that the courier’s tracking system wasn’t working, they were missing a package after weeks of waiting, they’ve been met with damaged/wet goods; even rude delivery drivers were blasted, clearly stressed at the situation and suffering the brunt of consumers’ feelings as the “face” of the company. Also, many felt that posting a negative review was the only option for making contact, as speaking to someone, or getting a response via email, was reportedly impossible due to the lack of company resources. It was in fact the courier’s Sales and Marketing Manager who ended up furiously tracking down consignments and making personal calls to consumers to ease the situation.
I spoke to someone recently who had a conversation with an employee. Under the surface, it was depot floods, IT issues and a lack of staff that had blighted the company. They openly admitted that they had not planned for the weather, and that their usual service rarely called for consumer engagement; only their business customers were catered for when it came to customer service. Their previous glowing record had been tainted.
This clearly highlighted the complete absence of any care for the end consumers, who were also bombarding the retailers with complaints. They had a small customer service function, but it wasn’t intended for anyone but their clients. Let’s not forget at this stage that everyone is responsible for customer care; from the Sales and Marketing Manager to the delivery drivers, whether you have a customer service function or not, everyone carries “the company badge.”
Every company should have a strategic approach to customer service that incorporates multi-channel contact, is all-inclusive of employees, and is certainly proactive. Not once did this company contact its customers or recipients to advise of the issues. Business customers were still promising delivery schedules to their customers, and naturally, they were angry, and let the world know about it.
At the very least, a contact number and email that was answered would have been a start. A sophisticated contact centre with all the nuts and bolts isn’t for every company, but a joined-up model that meant issues were resolved quickly and to the satisfaction of both the customer and the recipient would have stopped the negative feedback and often, malicious threats towards the company. Proper workforce management could have seen the customer care team engaging with people sooner, and temporary staff – from delivery drivers to customer care agents – easily scheduled to meet demand.
In effect, the company looked like it just didn’t care. It will be a long time before they are able to restore the confidence of their customers and those consumers unfortunate enough to have had a consignment with them during this period. Sadly, the web has a long shelf-life, and the negativity will serve as a reminder that there is much to be done to improve the customer experience, end-to-end.