by Christine OBrien on November 24th, 2014
Is a cloud contact center right for your business? You are thinking that it is probably is – and that the time to make the move is rapidly approaching. But sifting through all the cloud marketing hype and drilling down to the real benefits and financial implications is no easy task.
The best thing to do is ask for clarification on a wide range of variables that need to be carefully considered, from customer expectations to internal processes, long-range and short-term objectives, as well as costs, contracts, incentives and more. Better yet, Ask a CFO.
The Ask a CFO program was developed by CFOs for anyone in need of CFO-level decision making guidance regarding cloud-based contact center technology. At our upcoming Ask a CFO webinar on December 2nd, Contact Center Economics and the Cloud, CFO Bob Krakauer and Drew Wright, co-founder and principal at Technology Finance Partners, will provide insights and direct, no-nonsense answers to your cloud questions.
In the meantime, you can find Bob’s answers to many frequently asked cloud questions, including:
A: As traditional competitive advantages become commoditized, the customer experience is emerging as the new battleground for winning business and maintaining consumer loyalty. Additionally, research continues to show a clear correlation between customer experience and loyalty metrics and profitability… (Read Bob’s full answer)
Q: How do we know if we’re getting the right capabilities at the right price?
A: Find a vendor who can be a trusted partner in tailoring your contact center solution to your customer journey, thus ensuring you’re delivering the right customer experience on the right channels, with pricing that’s competitive. Once you have an understanding of the features that you require, do a side-by-side comparison and be sure you understand where there are charges for advanced services. Finally, make sure the pricing you are looking at includes a strong Service Level Agreement for high availability.
Q: What costs are often not included in “pay-as-you-go” cloud pricing?
A: You know you’ll be paying for agent seats – but you should ensure there won’t be hidden charges for product support, administrative fees for increasing capacity during seasonal traffic spikes, or expensive riders to ensure the uptime service level you need. Also, ensure you understand both inbound and outbound telco charges if you aren’t bringing your own lines.
Q: If I go cloud, will a change in the weather affect my data latency?
A: If a vendor tries to add on a charge for waterproofing your packets or blames their downtime on sunspots, you should probably stop returning their calls.
by Kim Martin on November 20th, 2014
Bad customer service doesn’t just leave customers with a negative impression of your brand, it can severely impact your bottom line. In fact, 55% of customers surveyed recently have abandoned an intended purchase or business transaction following a poor experience. Companies’ failure to provide seamless channel-to-channel interactions was a source of frustration for 58% of consumers, and frustrations can translate into lost revenue. Today’s digital consumers aren’t shy about making their preferences known. Demand for superior service is prompting many businesses to realize the importance of upgrading and modernizing the contact center experience by investing in new technology designed to improve interactions without requiring huge up-front investments, such as cloud-based contact center solutions.
Check out the infographic below for more facts that underscore the importance of providing the kind of experience that drives loyalty, boosts revenue and delivers ROI.
Want to know more? Don’t miss our upcoming Ask a CFO webinar, Contact Center Economics and the Cloud. Register now!
by Tobias Goebel on November 19th, 2014
For over 7 years now, our Customer Experience Platform, Voxeo CXP, has been supporting omni-channel experiences with a “Design Once – Deploy Anywhere” methodology. Define your self-service business logic in a graphical drag&drag tool once and deploy it as an IVR, an ITR (Interactive Text Response) app on SMS or USSD, a mobile Web app, or an interactive (but automated) Twitter conversation. While the technology has been ready for years, companies are finally realizing a drastic shift in consumer engagement, where it is no longer customer care or marketing departments that define how to communicate and market to the customer, but the consumer themselves, urging the businesses to constantly catch up. Empowered with connected devices that are rarely out of sight for the majority of us, the mobile consumer is more demanding than ever and dictating how they will communicate with businesses. With customer care channels exploding, this shift mandates a consistent experience across channels, which in turn mandates a platform that lets you manage this complexity.
I am happy to share that Aspect is more than ready to help you with this shift. We are releasing Aspect Mobility, a comprehensive suite for mobile contact center engagement. While our focus is on the customer experience, we also provide internal mobile solutions for productivity enhancements among agents and supervisors. It is not only your consumers that become more demanding…
At launch, the Aspect Mobility suite encompasses eight distinct mobile customer experience solutions that all complement your existing investment into mobile customer care infrastructure, never replace it. The platform underneath the majority of the solutions is award-winning Voxeo CXP. Delivered in the cloud (with an on-premise option as well) it can be a zero-touch deployment that means no risk for you. Start exploring what we have in store for you – literally, by browsing our brand-new Innovation Exchange. See an overview of the available solutions, or check out this handy diagram:
Over the next weeks and months, we will introduce each of the solutions in more detail. Stay tuned – we are starting to take you on a journey to be ready for 2020. More to come.
by Colleen Sheley on November 18th, 2014
Work and life – what is it that keeps you moving forward and always searching for ways to do more, do better and grow? I spent the last few weeks asking 400+ of my colleagues this very question; you will appreciate the sincerity of their responses and how together their answers are the backbone of THE COMMUNITY of Aspect Professional Services.
My marching orders were seemingly simple. Get the word out about our team.
I started with some research; you may or may not be surprised to hear that there was not one professional services firm that considered their consultants to be “average” or “good enough”. They each stated that their employees were the best and the brightest! I don’t know about you, but I started wondering how there are countless amazingly talented individuals, yet so many failed projects and deployments. I knew I needed to find a way to share what was important – the general approach of “we are the best” was not an option. We had to dig deeper into the WHY we are the best and WHY you should rely on us to create remarkable customer experiences.
All Aspect employees were encouraged to “unleash passion” and “have fun.” I took this literally. I wanted to share each and every team member’s passion and do it in a fun way, with a more social look and feel. I worked with our internal teams to help build a platform that was secure, automated with approval workflows, and with profiles managed by the end user, similar to other social platforms. Our Interaction Enablement, Collaboration and Business Process Team went to work on the solution.
Fast forward to launch week, it was time for me to initiate the “passion statement” approval process. I had no idea the journey these statements would take me on. I traveled around the world person by person, passion statement by passion statement. Some team members are driven by providing for their families, some are looking to always be learning and sharing insights. A majority had a theme around the importance of creating remarkable experiences.
With today’s mobile/global/digital/busier-than-ever workforce, having a tool that communicates specific expertise while sharing what drives each and every person is how we are choosing to unleash our passion in a way that reaches our customers and is agile enough to grow with THE COMMUNITY.
This project has reinvigorated me because I am passionate about making a positive impact, be it brainstorming innovative solutions, supporting #WomenInTechnology or cultivating sincere relationships. We have only just begun with our new platform. I, for one, am excited for where we go from here! #TheCommunityAPS
by Tobias Goebel on November 17th, 2014
Omni-channel has been a buzz word in customer service for quite a while. We typically think of omni-channel as integrating all communication channels and enabling customers to effortlessly switch channels without losing the context of the conversation. However, getting omni-channel right is more than integrating channels; it is also ensuring that self-service and agent-assisted service experiences are seamless.
Consumers frequently switch from a self-service channel to an agent assisted channel if they cannot find what they need in self-service. In the past, a customer would then have to repeat their issue to an agent and the time spent and data entered on self-service was wasted. Self-service to agent assistance does not have to be a disrupted process though. Information that a customer provided in a self-service environment should be available to the agent so the customer does not have to repeat themselves. According to Aberdeen’s February 2014 report Optimizing the Self-Service Experience: Help Customers Help Themselves, Best-in-Class self-service providers are 80% more likely to support their agents with data on self-service activities in order to give agents visibility into historical client activities. This is a step in the right direction considering a recent survey by Aspect showed that one of the biggest frustrations for customers is having to repeat themselves.
An example of integrating self-service to live without disruption is when an automatic SMS text message is sent to a customer to remind them about an appointment. An advanced customer engagement system should allow the customer to change details about the appointment such as date and time by responding and interacting with a self-service script on the SMS channel. But when the customer has questions beyond what the automated script can provide, they should be directed to live chat, optimally staying on the same channel. The agent has visibility to everything that transpired prior to the start of the live chat.
The benefits of integrating self-service into the overall customer experience strategy are numerous, from cost savings to customer satisfaction ratings. Aberdeen’s March 2013 Next-Generation Customer Experience Management study shows that companies keeping in-tune with customer needs enjoy a 4.3% decrease in their service costs while their peers that lack the same customer experience focus report an annual increase in their service costs.
Find out more about integrated self-service technology for your contact center!
by Tim Dreyer on November 12th, 2014
This week, news of the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department’s announcement of a sweeping reorganization aimed and making it easier for veterans to navigate the labyrinth of bureaucratic layers to get access to benefits and care from the sprawling department was met with broad support. VA Secretary Robert McDonald said the agency serving 22 million U.S. veterans needs to make the move in order to put a sharp focus on customer service at an agency currently devoid of anything but.
The VA has come under fire since earlier this spring when it was reported that dozens of veterans may have died while waiting or treatment at the Phoenix VA hospital. It was also discovered that appointment records were changed in an attempt to hide the rampant delays.
And while not nearly as extreme, today’s healthcare organizations are facing some of the same issues. They are a complex maze of multiple clinics, hospitals and doctor’s offices – with a plethora of phone systems barely connecting them. It’s a real challenge to get a patient what they need when such broad and diverse requests come in such as prescription refills, clinical questions, directions, appointment scheduling and billing. But unlike the VA recently, these care facilities truly want to help patients have a better care experience.
So to address the issue, providers are looking for ways to centralize communications and optimize associated processes and staff across even remote locations, creating a single point of contact for patients so they can reach the right office and department on the first try. This minimizes stress in an already stressful situation, accelerates care and improves the overall patient experience. And this is really the beginning. Transforming patient care also creates seamless patient interactions, proactive patient engagement and empowerment of Healthcare Staff.
The VA sees this as the solutions too. As part of the restructuring, the VA will hire a chief customer service officer to create a single customer service structure and reduce the regional divisions and eventually, provide veterans one user name and password for all VA services so they will be able to communicate with officials in a single region to solve problems.
Care professionals and facilities will always strive for advances in medicine to improve the health and well-being of their patients but events like the VA hospital are bringing to light the patient experience, an oft neglected aspect of patient health.
For more information on how Aspect can help transform the patient experience, click here.
by Mike Bourke, SVP & GM Workforce Optimization on November 11th, 2014
Unless you have been living on Mars for the past few years, you know that contact centers are moving their infrastructure to the cloud, and at a surprising rate. As well-known industry analyst, Paul Stockford of Saddletree Research puts it, “migration to the cloud in 2013 was more than double what was expected at the end of 2012 and continues to exceed growth expectations in 2014.”
A recent ICMI study sponsored by Aspect Software shows that low cost is still important, but the primary drivers for this migration to the cloud relate more to the need for business agility necessary to address rapidly changing conditions. It’s not surprising that these issues now rival low cost in importance. The very nature of human communication is changing at internet speed, and contact centers, as the primary clearinghouse for customer communications, are having to become increasingly nimble. They face a rapidly growing field of social media sites with mass customer audiences to engage, significant use of new channels like chat and SMS, as well as increasingly tech-savvy and demanding customers (and agents). Layer on top of that the rising emphasis on customer experience rather than productivity (see Spence Mallder’s recent blog Customer Experience Takes the Lead Over Productivity), and you have a perfect storm of events that would make any VP of Operations rethink being bound to any vendor’s semi-permanent on-premises systems.
Just as the need for business agility is driving cloud infrastructure growth, it’s also driving the growth of the contact center’s right-hand assistant, workforce management (WFM). For decades, WFM has been the most valuable tool in the high productivity/low cost arsenal, providing forecasting, scheduling, and tracking of employees to accurately project future staffing requirements and monitor intraday staff adherence in the voice channel. Now WFM is being chartered with some new missions: managing agents in new social media and customer interaction channels, providing a much better user experience for agents as well as ensuring the best customer experience (while maintaining low cost). Prospective WFM buyers can clearly see the accelerating rate of change of the forces that influence contact center operations, and they are increasingly averse to bearing the risk and IT cost burden of keeping up with these changes. If you could almost guarantee that some new, but yet unknown, workforce management requirement were waiting around the corner, you would not want to be locked into any particular long-term solution.
WFM in the cloud also opens up a whole new segment of the contact center market for much more efficient labor management. The high initial investment of most on-premises workforce management systems is cost prohibitive for many small contact centers, of which there are many. WFM delivered in the cloud eliminates the large initial capital expenditure and creates low monthly operating expenses, so many smaller contact centers will now be able to afford a feature-rich, flexible and scalable workforce management tool. To further promote this rapid deployment, Aspect has developed a new user interface that revolutionizes WFM making it easier and more intuitive than ever before, so new users can start, pick-up and run with powerful new features.
Following on the heels of the cloud infrastructure wave, workforce management is making its way to the cloud at a dizzying pace. IHS Technology estimates that the market for SaaS based workforce management solutions will grow by more than 80% over the next four years. That is explosive growth by anybody’s standards, and no doubt cloud-based quality management and performance management will be right behind.
Aspect will be in the vanguard of this growth with its cloud based WFO solutions. Last week, Aspect announced the general availability of Aspect Workforce Management Cloud, the first of our WFO components to move to the pure cloud. This new offering makes available the power of our hugely successful WFM software with all of the advantages of cloud delivery. Integrated seamlessly with Zipwire, our scalable but simple omni-channel contact center solution, Aspect brings to the table a contact center offering that is extremely effective for small and large contact centers alike. With the balance of the Aspect WFO suite slated for release in early 2015, the cloud contact center will never be the same.
by Christine OBrien on November 10th, 2014
According to research conducted by Aberdeen Group, contact centers’ adoption of social media as a customer care channel has grown more than four-fold since 2010. This increase reflects many of the benefits that organizations are seeing from investments made in this area, including elevated customer service rates, annual increases in customer lifetime value, and greater year-over-year change in client retention and first contact resolution, as well as improved average handle times.
By following the lead of companies that have successfully incorporated social media into their omni-channel mix, you can help your organization achieve similar results. The infographic below outlines several of the key steps identified by Aberdeen in their report, Social Customer Care: Steps to Success in 2014.
Discover how to implement a game-changing social care solution that integrates social media into the day-to-day contact center operations with Aspect Social.
by Rebecca Anderson on November 7th, 2014
Recent years have brought new demands on the contact center — think omni-channel, self-service, mobile applications, public venting of consumer displeasure — and thus new challenges for the workforce optimization (WFO) industry. Our customers have come to us with many questions and concerns:
- How do you best optimize agent scheduling when they handle new and multiple channels to manage?
- What can we do to best utilize agent idle time?
- How can we create the ideal mix of WFO players for a winning team?
- Beyond workforce management, what technology does my contact center need?
- How can we use the rich portfolio of WFO tools to ensure remarkable customer experiences?
We’ve collected our recent WFO blogs that address all of the questions above and invite you to take a look. There’s even an infographic with steps to become a workforce leader.
In an increasingly omni-channel world, where customers want to be able to engage companies whenever and wherever they please, a more intelligent approach is needed to manage the skilled labor necessary to address this rising consumer demand. And not only in the voice channel, but in all of the communication channels as well… [READ MORE]
Obviously, when we talk about efficiency in the workforce, we’re not striving for the kind of over-scheduling that will leave even the best and brightest agents burned out. We all need a little breathing room in our day. But excessive agent idle time should be an indication … [READ MORE]
In my last blog, I talked about the need for contact centers to create an official Workforce team. (Remember? With great software (should!) come great processes.) This time, let’s talk about the individuals that should make up this team… [READ MORE]
The role of the contact center is changing as consumer preferences evolve at an accelerating pace. A recent blog by Spence Mallder, GM Workforce Optimization and CTO points out that recently, customer experience has overtaken productivity as the top priority for contact center workforce optimization (WFO) programs…[READ MORE]
Improving the customer experience has long been the holy grail of industry analysts and B2C enterprises, but when out of the spotlight, most would have admitted that driving new revenue, cost reduction and risk avoidance were their primary objectives. However a new day is dawning…[READ MORE]
Of course you are welcome to come to us with any of your own questions about how WFO technology can improve efficiency in your contact center. Take a look at what Aspect has to offer.
by Kathleen Schroeder on November 3rd, 2014
When does Patient Care start?
In the past, when we thought about patient care, we thought of the actual provider visit with the patient. We know now that the patient experience begins much earlier than that. It begins with the first point of contact with the provider. According to Marty Hudson at MedicalGPS:
“[I]]mproving the patient’s experience starts where the patient starts, either on the phone making an appointment, or walking into the doctor’s office. This ‘first point of contact’ sets the stage, and possibly the expectation, for the entire patient experience. To improve the patient experience health systems must first improve the care and compassion for the patient, beginning with the first point of contact.”
Putting Patients First
The mission of healthcare systems is to serve patients. Besides the financial ramifications of HCAHPS and CAHPS scores, according to The White House Office of Consumer Affairs, dissatisfied patients will tell 9-15 people about their negative experience, while about 13 percent will tell more than 20 people. Do the math – healthcare systems that don’t view patient satisfaction as a high priority need to do so immediately.
How a patient is treated, the ease of making an appointment, and the ability to make an appointment with the right doctor, at the right location, at the right time impacts a patient’s opinion of your health system even before they step foot in the door.
First Point of Contact
Deloite’s 2013 study, The Patient Experience Strategies and Approaches for Providers to Achieve and Maintain a Competitive Advantage, states that as health care delivery becomes more competitive, health care providers would be wise to consider shifting their focus to attracting and retaining patients. Patients have more choice of hospitals and information available to them now than ever before, and they are increasingly acting as consumers. This makes gaining customer loyalty as important as managing costs and revenues, and hospitals should innovate to retain customers and maintain profitability. Making a strategic choice to provide patients with the best experience is a proactive and sustainable way to create competitive advantage in this dynamic marketplace.
While this strategic decision can positively impact the financial health of the organization, for most systems, making this decision a reality is not without significant effort. This effort, for all health systems begins with the first point of contact – the patient. As you develop your patient engagement strategy, you should be asking yourself how you communicate with patients and how consistent are these interactions. Some examples of communication options and possible challenges are:
1. Your patient calls you to schedule a routine physical
- Are calls being promptly answered?
- Is staff knowledgeable and able to meet the patient’s needs?
- Is the appropriate amount of empathy being displayed?
- Is the patient’s issue addressed during the initial call?
2. A parent is on your website and enables a chat session to discuss appointment options for their child
- Are chat messages being promptly responded to?
- Is staff displaying an empathetic attitude toward the patient?
- Is staff knowledgeable and able to meet the patient’s needs?
- Are patient issues resolved during the chat session?
3. A busy professional is at work and wants to schedule an online appointment
- Is your site easily accessible?
- Is your site is patient friendly?
- Does your site include location information, hours of operation and open appointment times?
- Can patients schedule an appointment during their first visit to your site?
These are just a few of the many communication options, but, as you can see, there are consistencies among all touch points. Aspect can help you create more consistent patient touch points with Aspect Patient Connect, a purpose-built solution that improves your patient’s experience before they even walk into your office. Starting with their first interaction, patients have access to physicians at any location within your health care network. During interactions, employees are empowered with a 360-degree patient view that makes for an informed and productive conversation. Notes can be easily entered within the same patient record that is visible on their screen for capturing important information shared on the call. If your patient needs to be transferred to another clinician or specialist – no problem. You can easily view who is available before transferring the call (complete with notes), without manually searching directories for the correct extension. Confidently transfer the call to the right person with the right skill set who can efficiently handle the situation.
Learn more about how Aspect Patient Connect can help. You only have one opportunity to make a great first impression. Make it count!