Category: Industries

Category: Industries
West Corporation

Posted on March 21, 2013 by West Corporation 

Sound Off: Opinions Are Important in Customer Care

Everyone wants to be heard. What’s more, it’s only natural that we possess the desire to share our opinions and experiences with others around us.

So, given that, would you believe it if I told you that the companies you do business with not only want, but actually depend on your opinion (good or bad) in order to survive and grow?

Before the Internet and modern contact center environments were in place, the barometers for a product’s success were in large part, limited to published product reviews (newspaper, industry rag), word of mouth (literally), and, of course, bottom-line sales.

Today, consumers have a smorgasbord of tools to review and rate products and service, and as a direct result, they can influence future functionality and features for pretty much everything.

Likes on Facebook, social media posts, surveys, reviews on, etc., are at our fingertips as consumers. All of which literally cost us nothing more than our time and basic Internet connectivity. Couple all of this with our desire to be heard, and it’s a slam-dunk.

As a consumer, there isn’t much that I don’t want to sound off about. Before making any purchase, I typically find myself reading reviews products well ahead of making any purchase. In my case, I tend to skip to the summary section where reviews are grouped into their respective graphical ratings, e.g., 1 star, 2 stars, etc. I also tend to throw out the very high, and the very low, and look to see where the majority landed in their opinions. Preferably, of course in the four-star range.

Assuming I’ve actually made a purchase, I typically join the rank and file of the reviewers, and add my honest assessment of the product, whether good or bad.

As I mentioned, not only do these tools spell good news for customers, but the feedback itself is invaluable to companies providing such products and services. Constructive (key word) feedback, either critical or praise-based in nature, allows a company to grow its product or portfolio into a feature-rich solution based upon direct user feedback.

Modern contact centers, too, can be equipped not only with tools to capture your electronic sentiment via social media and surveys, but also quality management tools to govern and improve your overall experience when communicating directly with a customer service agent via voice or e-services.

The whole point here is that analogous to the presidential election, your vote really does count. Chances are high that both your written and verbal comments are indeed being reviewed and taken seriously, and companies are hungry to take direct action based on constructive feedback.

It’s a safe assumption that someone is listening, so, by all means, constructively sound off and share your opinions because they really do matter.

West Corporation

Posted on March 19, 2013 by West Corporation 

Data Analysis: The Needle Has a Thread

In our world of big business intelligence, where the size and complexity of our data keeps multiplying before our eyes, it can become an overwhelming task to find the answers we’re looking for. But do we even know what questions to ask or what problems we are trying to solve?

As an example, I received a request for my analytics group a few weeks ago. The requester was in a panic. He asked for a full performance analysis of his IVR application, top to bottom, and needed it in a week. He was in a panic because his client was complaining that “something was wrong” and too many calls were getting transferred to the call center. A full behavioral analysis of the entire application with thousands of data points and millions of monthly calls, if done thoroughly could take several weeks. I grabbed him for a chat, had him take a deep breath and asked him the proverbial question, “What is your true objective, or what problem are you trying to solve?” He had to pause and think about that for a moment.

“Well,” he said, “I want the client to be pleased with our performance. If we are letting too many calls through to the contact center, then we need to fix that.” That’s a pretty broad objective, so I broke it down for him.

Question: Has anything changed recently that would cause more transfers?
Answer: No, there haven’t been any changes in the past quarter.

Question: Through your reports, have you seen or observed increased transfers?
Answer: Yes. Transfers have increased in the past week but for no apparent reason.

Question: So, if nothing has changed in the program, but something has changed in the transfers, did the client change something?

The account manager immediately went back to his desk and called his client and asked the ultimate question. Within an hour he called back with the answer. Unbeknownst to us, a new caller type had been added to the client-side database which feeds in real time to our application. Because our application was not programmed to recognize it, callers of this type were transferred to the contact center by default.

So, the moral of the story is that sometimes we feel as if we need to find the needle in the haystack by sifting through every straw when the solution to the problem may be as simple as tracking the thread back to the first stitch.

West Corporation

Posted on March 18, 2013 by West Corporation 

Supporting IT Infrastructure Can Be Like Painting the Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most photographed objects in the world. Built over 75 years ago for a mere $35 million, this majestic suspension bridge required the tallest towers, the longest, thickest cables and the largest underwater foundation piers ever built. The view from Golden Gate National Recreation Area on a clear day — overlooking the Bridge and San Francisco Bay from the north side — is breathtaking. Its trademark color is a brilliant vermillion (“international orange”) that resists rust and suits the natural beauty of the area.

On my first visit to the area in the 70s during a family vacation, an interesting fact stuck in my mind. The bridge is constantly being repainted — a maintenance initiative that is never finished. It turns out that exposure to salt-laden fog wreaks havoc on the paint job and also limits the hours when painting can be done.

Fast-forward a couple of decades, and one of my responsibilities was maintaining a very large IVR platform. The Golden Gate Bridge came to mind as I worked to justify the constant need to refresh system hardware. Keeping the platform up to date was a big job, requiring lots of planning, coordinating, purchasing, configuring, staging and installing — followed by more configuring, testing, and occasionally troubleshooting, fixing and retesting. Sometimes, we refreshed because of age; other times, we were upgrading because of tremendous growth. Still other times, we replaced systems because new software versions required more power, more disk, and/or more storage. Over time, we developed a great deal of expertise in this maintenance activity — just as the Golden Gate painters no doubt did.

Avoiding the burden of installing, managing and refreshing IT infrastructure is one of the significant advantages of using a hosted service provider. Other advantages include avoiding the effort associated with software upgrades, bug fixes, and security scans and audits. And, of course, there is application design, development, integration, testing, and support — all of which require a considerable amount of skill and experience.

A cloud solution negates the need to hire, train, manage retain and/or replace the subject matter experts who make it all happen. You get to focus on your core business, and we get to focus on ours. Let us do the painting — you get to use the bridge and enjoy the view.

West Corporation

Posted on March 8, 2013 by West Corporation 

Customers Are Your Rock Stars; IVR Is the Green Room

Legend has it that the members of the band Van Halen were such spoiled rock stars that they included a clause in their contract that while M&M’s were to be provided, no brown M&M’s were allowed.

Brown M&M’s: Rock n Roll’s greatest foe.

You might think that this is just another example of greed gone haywire, but there was a real reason for the madness. The contractual clause condemning brown M&M’s was wedged in between two very technical requirements, which detailed electrical specifications to keep people from being electrocuted.

Except for Tesla. He was the Chuck Norris of science.

So, if there were no brown M&M’s, then Van Halen could be reasonably sure that all of the other requirements were also met. That is, the band could trust that all the more important details were followed, since everything — right down to the littlest thing — was covered.

And it’s the littlest things that are important, too, in an IVR. Callers need to trust an organization to provide good customer service, and in many cases, they need to trust a company with sensitive information, such as a credit card number on file.

 It’s all in the details.

Even a small mistake in the IVR gets noticed. A caller might notice that the way the numbers play back went up at the end, like a question, was wrong.” How can an IVR be trusted with big details, like the security of credit card information, if small mistakes are allowed to play to the public? Does it potentially predict other deficits in the system? In the whole company at large?

Resources may be stretched beyond capacity and deadlines shorter than ever, but customers have to believe that an organization can be trusted, right down to the smallest detail. And although a flawless IVR experience doesn’t get much conscious notice, the little things do.

West Corporation

Posted on February 14, 2013 by West Corporation 

Consider Automation When Regulations Require More Calls

Financial and insurance companies have a multitude of regulations to follow based on the legislative acts passed in recent years. Regulations now require companies to disclose account information that in the past has not been shared with consumers. Or, in some cases, companies are required to ensure that they have done due diligence to talk to a consumer or consumer’s relative regarding an account before they can take an action such as to closing the account, charging a fee, or taking the account to a collections agency. A lot of times these disclosures cause the consumer confusion and lead them to call the company. And, more calls equals more costs. Read More >