How do you lose a customer before you even have a chance to do business with them?

by Evan Dobkin on October 12th, 2015

Evan DobkinHow do you lose a customer before you even have a chance to do business with them? For my brother, it’s putting him on hold three times when he’s trying to book a taxi to the airport for a 7 AM flight. He was considering using a taxi service, the traditional route where he would call ahead and book. But he felt that he would have a better chance of getting an Uber at 5:30 AM in Miami for the short trip and at that time in the morning, he just wasn’t much in the mood for talking. And although he went the taxi route, he never really got the chance to talk anyway. miami-beach-674068_640

Customers don’t think of channels. They think about their goal and take the path of least resistance and most comfort to achieve it. Businesses need to ensure the channel provides a path that’s simple and intuitive so that a new customer is able to reach their goal. Interestingly enough, my brother used to drive a taxi and the only way that he knew how to engage with the taxi service was to call them and this resulted in three calls in 5 minutes, each time getting put on hold by the operator. Frustrated, he said he’d be fine the next morning with Uber and he was right.

All over the world, we’ve seen Uber take significant business away from the established taxi industry. This is due in part because of technology and part because of Uber’s ability to offer their service outside of the significant regulations that govern taxis. The key takeaway for me has been taxi services (like many entrenched industries) became complacent and did not invest enough in innovation, especially on the customer interaction side to fend off such an attack. The macro product that taxis and Uber offer is essentially the same, getting you from one destination to the other, but the entire customer journey to deliver the service is what separates the providers.

While I concede that Uber has the advantage of offering one method of interaction worldwide (so that there’s no difference in booking a ride in Miami or Krakow), the taxi industry could have easily kept this competitive threat at bay by going one step further: offering booking through Interactive Response over voice (IVR) or text (ITR). Using ITR, my brother could have provided the almost-used taxi service an address he wanted to be picked up from (or used location services), the pickup time, and the destination and then been given a confirmation receipt over SMS – just like Uber does. The next morning a text could be sent to confirm that he still needed the ride and told him the name of the cab driver and the car number. No app to download, no credit card to confirm. Just a simple interaction that helped him reach his goal: get to the airport.

Like my brother, this type of innovation is what customers are beginning to expect and they will hold you accountable if business as usual, isn’t usually great.

Quality Management with Actionable Results

by Mike Bourke, SVP & GM Workforce Optimization on October 7th, 2015

Mike Bourke, SVP & GM Workforce OptimizationNo matter how good your quality management process is, you need fundamentally strong QM tools to capture customer interactions, surface underlying issues and take corrective action. These tools typically include recording, quality monitoring, coaching and speech/text analytics. In fact, it is virtually impossible to implement a first class QM process without great QM tools. Aspect has been providing effective quality management tools for years, but recently we have made some significant enhancements to our offering, and there is no better set of QM tools in the marketplace today. Watch this short video to see what Aspect has been up to, and then read on to understand how to build a highly effective QM process.

There is a good reason why contact center spend on quality management alone is over 50% of the total spend in the WFO market: It is the most fundamental of all contact center workforce optimization tools. Quality management has been used for years in contact centers all over the world, but most organizations have not paused to develop a set of best practices for the overall process. Below are five simple best practices (enabled by QM technology) that have proven to be effective for contact centers of all sizes:

  • Identify the proper sampling size – The number of calls that should be monitored will vary by industry and type of call. On average about 6.3 calls per agent per month are monitored.
  • Establish a well-defined monitoring process – Clearly document the monitoring process, since this will force critical thinking as well as consistency within and across the contact center.
  • Design a concise but thorough evaluation form – Each evaluation form should include shared evaluation questions that are used in all of your evaluation forms as well as questions that are tailored to specific call types.
  • Create a scoring guide – In order to ensure that everyone on your evaluation team is aligned, and to create an atmosphere of fairness for the quality management process, you really need to create a written Scoring Guide.
  • Implement a system for coaching – Coaching is not an optional function, even though it often is one of the first areas to get sacrificed when interaction volumes spike. You can’t hold agents to metrics and goals when there is no mechanism to help reach them.

If your contact center has already implemented a well-defined quality management process embracing best practices like those above, you should be entertaining some more advanced best practices like the following:

  • Calibrate your evaluators – Calibration is an effective way to keep your quality management team, operations team and coaching team fully aligned, and a well-considered calibration process can help take some of the subjectivity out of the inherently subjective nature of evaluations.
  • Audit your QM process – This is a great way to hold the quality team accountable and build credibility for your quality process, because the quality team is being held to high standards just like the agents.
  • Ensure your agents are engaged – Creating healthy competition brings out strong performance in all of us, and conspicuously displaying quality scores will make a marked difference in the attitudes of your agents. Also, give agents a really robust user interface that makes QM and coaching tools easy to use, which will quickly improve competence and engagement, ensuring better customer experiences.
  • Use analytics to hear the voice of the customer – Random monitoring and surveys typically account for less than 1% of all calls. Speech and text analytics programs give you the capability to search through 100% of your customer interactions and uncover agent best practices as well as issues with individual agents or teams and operational issues that may span the entire contact center.
  • Look for process improvements – Quality management is a process of continuous improvement, and if you properly implement quality management, your contact center should be continuously getting closer to quality goals. QM also gives you a window into customer perceptions of your business with which you can improve processes, products and parts of the business well outside of the contact center.

Aberdeen Group cites “retraining of agents based on individual assessments” as a top strategy being used by WFO leaders in their recent report, Contact Center WFO: How to Balance Customer Needs with Agent Productivity. Fair and actionable individual assessments are the benefits of an effective quality management process like the one described above.  Use great tools and a refined process to ensure that you can be counted with the WFO leaders.

Celebrating Customer Experience Day

by Rebecca Anderson on October 6th, 2015

Rebecca AndersonAt Aspect we live, eat, and breathe customer experience by designing, architecting, implementing and deploying technology that enables contact centers to deliver remarkable experiences.

We are usually laser-focused on our clients’ customer experiences. But today we want to show our appreciation for our own Customer Care team that serves Aspect’s clients with relentless dedication. Today is Customer Experience Day (CX Day), a global celebration of the companies and professionals that create great experiences for their customers. We feel that CX Day is the perfect time to celebrate the hard work that our own customer care team puts into living the customer experience every day.


We encourage you to take a minute a show appreciation for all the customer experience professionals you come into contact with, whether at your company or employees at your favorite business, be sure to give them a shout out today.

Aspect’s Duluth, Brentwood and Lombard offices enjoy morning pastries.


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CX Day Brentwood_














Brazil shows their Customer Experience cheer!

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Stay tuned for more photos and details on how each Aspect office is celebrating CX Day!

Webinar: Are You At Risk for TCPA Non-Compliance?

by Maddy Hubbard on October 5th, 2015

Maddy HubbardOver the past 15 years or so, mobile phones have become ubiquitous while home landlines are disappearing. In fact, today 55% of households can only be contacted via a wireless device. This creates a challenge for contact centers trying to connect with their customers.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) has strict regulations about contacting consumers’ mobile phones and devices. That means sending a reminder, delivering an important notification, or collecting a debt without explicit consent for wireless number communication could result in huge financial exposure. TPCA-Non-Compliance-Hero

But how can you be sure you’re compliant with the TCPA?

Aspect leads the outbound dialing market with multi-channel contact options and a full set of advanced list and campaign optimization compliance capabilities that make it easier for you to comply with regulatory dialing requirements. We can help your business identify and manage wireless numbers, adopt strategies for capturing and maintaining consent, and improve efficiencies when dialing with or without captured consent – with a primary focus on addressing regulatory restrictions.

Join us for an online event, October 21st at 1:00 PM EDT to understand how Aspect can help your business facilitate compliance with outbound engagement solutions that:

#1. Remove the capabilities that trigger the TCPA “autodial/auto-message capacity” criteria while maintaining the efficiencies lost when using other vendors’ manual dialing systems.

#2. Use advanced list and campaign management for precise routing control of consent vs. non-consent wireless numbers within the same record.

#3. Maintain your ability to take advantage of routing, tracking, and recording capabilities that are needed to meet the many non-TCPA legal requirements.

Register today! 

Don’t be one of the uninformed call centers that attempt TCPA compliance by opting for systems that are inefficient, costly to the business, and devoid of the tracking features necessary to comply with non-TCPA regulatory requirements. Attend this webinar to understand how Aspect solutions can help.

If Text is the New Talk, Messaging Auto Bots Just May be Your New Buddy

by Tim Dreyer on September 30th, 2015

Tim Dreyer, Director, Public Relations and Analyst Relations, AspectApp fatigue sounds like the quintessential first world problem doesn’t it? “Oh I have way too many apps to open and close on my iPhone 6s. My thumb is sore and I’m burning…like many seconds opening and closing all these things. This is unacceptable.”

And yet, in a productivity driven world, we constantly want faster, more efficient lives. Combine the rapid growth of messaging apps like WhatsApp and Snapchat with the maturity of social apps like Facebook and Twitter and throw in texting and emailing and you could literally hold 10 conversations on 10 different platforms with just a single person. Imagine then the challenge brands face. How best to reach and engage customers in the era of everything? The answer? Robots. Or bots to be exact. Messaging Buddies

A great article by the Teamchat CEO in TechCrunch this morning on the rise of messaging bots which could be just what the doctor ordered to cure us from our suffering.

Messaging bots can understand and create messages just like people do and can tap into any data cache to answer questions and actually execute actions automatically. Which for brands, creates automated, accurate and incredibly quick service responses to customers who prefer text and messaging interaction anyway.

Bots can automatically respond to questions like “Where is the power cord I ordered?” or “Can I add international roaming to my plan next month?” Aspect calls this technology “Interactive Text Response” because it automates conversations, transactions and workflows over text-based channels. Consumers get faster answers using channels they prefer and companies deliver convenient service at an ultra low cost.

As I wrote back in July, messaging apps are rapidly becoming a greenfield engagement opportunity for brands. The user bases are growing by the millions and these consumers are increasingly looking for easy self-service options for engaging the companies they do business with. An automated customer service bot that can handle all simple transactions and service queries may just be the perfect addition to your customer service team.

8 WebRTC Questions You Need to Ask

by Maddy Hubbard on September 29th, 2015

Maddy HubbardToday’s tech-savvy customers aren’t afraid to abandon their shopping carts or move along if they can’t quickly find the help they need. They know all too well that finding other options are as easy as a click or a swipe away.

What if you could always be at the right place at the right time to give your customers the help they need directly from your mobile app or website?

It’s easier than you think! crm-xchange-logo

You’ve likely heard of WebRTC, but do you know why it should be a part of your integrated contact center strategy? Read our new whitepaper, Q&A: What You Need to Know About WebRTC and find out!

And, if you’d like to see WebRTC in action, register  for the CRMXchange Tech Showcase, How WebRTC Resolves the Conflict of Increasing Customer Touchpoints While Decreasing Cost, presented by Aspect on October 15, 2015 at 1:00 PM EDT.

The Shifting Sands of Customer Service

by Michael Kropidlowski on September 28th, 2015

Michael Kropidlowski, Senior Manager, Product Marketing, AspectFor decades companies big and small have been trying to figure out how to provide customers with better service. One theory is that the better service your company provides, the happier your customers are and in turn they reward you through their loyalty.

Sounds simple, right?  Some of you reading this are thinking, “Ahhh…not so much.” Millennial Snip It

That’s probably because many of you feel like today’s customer service expectations are like shifting sands – always changing and difficult to keep pace with – making it challenging to plan for and strategize about service improvement and differentiation.

Today’s consumers are different. They are smarter and more powerful than ever before. They have greater expectations of the organizations they do business with. The challenge is meeting and then exceeding these expectations to build a meaningful relationship with customers.

Consumers are defining the service standards for brands. And the scary part is that brands, in turn, are not able to define their customers or even recognize them…and that is a big problem because their very market success depends on delivering service experiences that drive customer loyalty.

The good news is we are starting to see patterns in survey data that definitely give us solid information about what today’s consumers are looking for when it comes to service. In our own Aspect research in conjunction with the Center of Generational Kinetics, we looked at consumer attitudes, expectations, preferences and customer service priorities by generation and found the following:

  1. Customer Service = Customer Experience
  2. Communication Preferences Drive Customer Experience Expectations
  3. The Future of Customer Service is Self-service

This research is important because never before have CEOs, marketers and customer experience leaders been responsible for navigating such a challenging set of customer expectations colliding with rapid technological innovation. Today’s leaders are grappling with how to serve four generations of customers and integrate mobile, digital, social media, in-person and content strategies—all at the same time! Omni-channel is the channel.

There is light on the horizon however. In a September 3, 2015 Huffington Post article, 2015 State of Service – 15 Key Business Findings, Vala Afshar summarizes the recent annual survey of more than 1,900 global customer service leaders into 15 key business findings to better understand and highlight service trends in 2015.

Similar to our research around consumer attitudes, expectations, preferences and customer service priorities by generation, Afshar wrote of the 2015 State of Service report that the research found customer service leaders are realizing that Omni-channel customers drive a service sea change and stated, “Not surprisingly, the research found that customers today expect service on their own terms: whenever they need it and in whichever digital channel they inhabit. The challenge for service providers is to ensure delivery of consist customer experience, across all channels, at all times.”

In addition to Omni-Channel, self-service was reported as surging due to the changing customer mindset and a preference by Millennials for self-service options and online support over live service. Again, service leaders report that they understand that today’s consumers want self-service options that are personalized and available how and when they want it.

To learn more about consumer expectations and gain insight from global leaders of service organizations, I encourage you to reference the above mentioned resources to understand today’s consumer and how service leaders are planning to stabilize shifting sands and build a strong service foundation for better customer experiences in 2015 and beyond.

The Ultimate Guide to Avoiding the Call

by Tobias Goebel on September 24th, 2015

Tobias GoebelEnterprises right and left struggle with a number of strategic imperatives around customer engagement. One among them is “avoiding the call.” Competitive pressure and an ongoing desire to cut costs drives organizations to look for ways to automate customer service and elevate the role of their contact center agents by leveraging them for more sophisticated inquiries and complex problems. Automation however cannot come at the price of customer alienation. And it doesn’t have to as it presents an opportunity to differentiate.

Research shows us that customers, among them the millennial generation (Gen Y), now the largest group of the current workforce, actually prefer to self-serve. They even tell us that many of them would rather clean a toilet (ouch!) than talk to a customer service representative. And if they had a choice, they would pick texting as the preferred method to communicate. And they prefer other mobile channels to phone calls. web-iStock_000024283016Large

I hear the contact center managers among you counter: “But voice traffic isn’t actually going down as much as you think! Our customers are still calling us, so what are we to do? And besides that, we already have a mobile app for customer care, but it isn’t being used!

I believe the answer lies in two things: psychology and technology (in that order).

Psychology For decades, customers have been trained that the only meaningful way to get in touch with a business is to pick up a phone and dial a number. “That’s how we’ve been doing it for almost a century now! It’s worked great, why change!?” I see “human inertia” at work. So changing that behavior requires some training and re-education. And that’s where we need to come in and become proactive.

Technology In a previous post (Innovation and Connecting the Unconnected), I pointed to some showcases of how connecting existing technologies can actually produce innovation in customer service. Most mobile apps have been developed in silos which is problematic because there are always cases where the mobile customer needs live help. Forcing customers that are already using a mobile app to call and go through an IVR that then asks them to pre-qualify for their agent contact or offering them a list of phone numbers to dial is throwing away all the precious contextual data from the app experience (authentication, usage, navigation history). Keeping the entire interaction in one location like the rich environment of the mobile app or a website brings all that context together for a far better experience.

Here’s how organizations can ‘Avoid the Call’ while actually improving the customer experience:

Integrate your mobile app with your contact center

Leverage the assets you have. Adding contact center integration does not require rebuilding your app. It just requires some re-factoring as well as a redesign that prequalifies the call where it belongs, thus bypassing the IVR completely and equipping the agent with everything they need to know before the first word is spoken. This helps reduce Average Handling Time (AHT), increase First Contact Resolution (FCR).

Integrate your Website with your contact center

Add contact center integration and turn your static phone number into an actionable button for help. As a next step, add collaboration and co-browsing to your website so your agents are enabled to help the customer in ways not possible before. “Let me show you what I mean” suddenly becomes a reality. As the final step, introduce video where it makes sense. Video can translate to trust, which is what you need in an eCommerce environment.

Offer callbacks vs. wait times

Stop forcing customers to remain on the line. It costs you money and them time. The alternative? Tap into the contact center queue for wait times, communicate those wait times on your website and mobile app (hide it behind an authentication wall if necessary), announce it in your IVR, and let your customers schedule or ask for immediate callbacks. There are even ways to predict the best time for YOU to call your customer back – you still have a contact center to manage after all.

Gracefully lead your customer from phone to mobile channels

There will still be those customers that pick up the phone and call you. So what can you do? Help them. Show them what’s possible. Offer them a callback when they “zero out” of the IVR or get to the point of transfer. Better yet, suggest mobile self-service to customers to try while waiting for the callback. Customers won’t lose their position in the queue, and chances are they might resolve their issue in your self-service application. At Aspect, we call this InQueue Self-Service. The app gets sent via a link embedded in an SMS text message (no download required) and it works across all smartphone platforms, and it is fully context-enabled: no tedious login screens or long menus to navigate; the app continues the experience from the IVR application seamlessly. The best part? If it thinks it could resolve your issue, it asks you to cancel the callback. If you still think you want to talk to someone, it rewards you for having tried self-service by putting you in a higher-priority queue.

Bottom-line: Engage your customers where they are. Show them the art of the possible. Do good, and then talk about it. Tell your customers what you are doing to improve their experience. They will thank you. And save you costs.

The New Patient Advocate in the Back Office: Workforce Management

by Bob Trine on September 22nd, 2015

Bob TrineDuring the throws of day to day operations, nurses, medical secretaries and physicians are often facilitating communication between physicians and patients. Patients call daily with triage questions, inquiries about medical instructions, updates on changes in conditions, and to receive test results.  Patient calls are typically categorized by a clerical operator and in turn sent on to nursing staff or the physician for further action.

Telephony is very antiquated in the back office resulting in high wait times. Consider these familiar dynamics: web-iStock_000037305950Medium.jpg

  • Clerical operators and secretaries use roll over and voice mail when they are busy assisting other callers.
  • Patients often call the offices repeatedly until they hear a live voice.
  • Patients invariably complain that they do not receive a return call from their physician’s office.
  • Office managers use anecdotes or word of mouth to measure the call volumes by provider.

Call volumes to the doctors’ offices have increased since the discussions around the Accountable Care Act began to circulate.

At a time when consumers are spending less time on the phone overall, patients are phoning their doctors more than ever, medical professionals report: Phone calls to physician practices have increased between 25 and 50% since 2008, estimates Mary Pat Whaley, president of Manage my Practice, which advises doctors across the country on running their offices. Between the economic downturn and rising insurance co-pays and deductibles, “People are really trying to avoid going to the doctor if at all possible,” Whaley says. Instead, they pick up the phone, looking for free medical advice: Physicians “have seen a drastic change in how many phone calls the practices are getting,” she says.

With the changes in Healthcare, workforce management is a necessity not only for call centers but for the doctors’ offices as well. In order to accommodate the rise in phone communication; tracking of call patterns as well as the seasonal ebbs and flows is a must. Trends must be analyzed and forecasted by specialty. Average handle times of calls can also be documented. A practice can examine the types of calls and their length in order to restructure their staffing matrix. Practice administrators must alter their staffing to allow for clerical and clinical staff to focus on inbound and outbound calls.

Workforce management will allow for proper staffing to enable the back office staff to manage the coordination of the physician’s schedules based on the patients’ demand for communication. There will be accountability for responding as well as standard turnaround times depending on the type of call that was placed by the patient. With the addition of workforce management in the doctor’s offices, physicians can ensure that none of their patients are forgotten. Aspect’s Workforce Management has the potential to become the new patient advocate in the back office!

We be Celebratin’ Talk Like a Pirate Day

by Tim Dreyer on September 18th, 2015

Ahoy Matey, Its’s the Eve of Talk Like a Pirate Day but shiver me timbers no one talks anymore. Everyone texts.

Find Your Pirate Name. Text ‘Sail ho’ to: 407-902-2226.


It be a good thing then that arrrrr CXP platform makes it easy to design, implement and deploy yer customer contact applications across multiple communication channels, like voice, text, mobile web, social networks and them smartphone applications. So we be invitin’ ye to experience how Aspect CXP works on Talk Like a Pirate Day. You’ll be wantin’ ta TEXT like a pirate ta learn yer real pirate name and hear a few good jokes over the phone if yer feelin’ jolly.

Go ahead and text ‘Sail ho’ ta 407-902-2226. And if ye be bold enough ta share yer name on Twitter you’ll be wanting to use the hashtag #TextLikeAPirate.