Friday, August 22, 2014

Realtime Workforce Assignment for Contact Center ACD

When operating an inbound ACD contact center, it is quite often the goal of the center to minimize the amount of calls that fall outside of the specified service level agreements for their queues. Clients may lose faith in the center's ability to handle the expected call volumes if these numbers are too high. Abandoned calls are not a desirable outcome either, as those calls get aborted in the IVR and never had the chance to get routed to an available CSR. In this situation, it is vital for managers to be able to reallocate CSRs to the appropriate queues.

On the opposite side of the coin, center's may find themselves in a scenario where there are too many available resources for the current call volume. It can be counter-productive and costly to keep these abundant CSRs on the clock, so floor managers and supervisors may need to decrease those numbers on the fly. These two important use cases can be solved by the ability of the Q-Suite to reassign employees on demand.

As a manager or floor supervisor, monitoring the center in realtime is paramount to ensuring that the center is running in an optimal fashion. By utilizing realtime reporting and the dynamic capability to assign CSRs, in a skills-based manner, to overwhelmed queues or to remove agents from queues whose volume is lower than expected, agents will be better situated to work in a much more productive manner.

With these tools and features in place, Asterisk based center's are able to manage their workforce with exceedingly effective methods, which should translate into superior results for the client. These favorable outcomes will strengthen the relationship with the client, which should be the end goal for any and all businesses.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Dynamic Script Switching for Customer Service Representatives

Here is a situation we have all encountered over the years. When dealing with service providers via their contact center ACD, whether it is a cable, internet, phone, or insurance company to name a few, we will offer our best description about our issue to the current customer service representative (CSR). Too many times we are presented with the outcome of needing to be transferred to someone else who can better handle this particular inquiry. Once on the line with the next CSR, we are then forced to reiterate the exact same scenario that we had explained to the first CSR. This is not how a caller wants to spend their time.

There are certain circumstances where the current CSR may be capable of handling the issue (based on skills based routing), but does not have the proper scripting available given the selected path that the caller chose while navigating the IVR. This is where dynamic script switching comes into play. Using the script builder to integrate the script switching mechanism (currently in alpha phase) into the script, CSRs using the Q-Suite's agent interface can leverage a new script component that will allow them to swap out the current script for the desired script at the click of a button, while maintaining their connection to the customer.

This functionality could also be used effectively for upselling or cross-selling certain products or services. Using the service provider as an example, the customer makes a call and asks to upgrade their internet service. With the active customer's data on the screen, the agent notices that the customer lacks a home telephone service. The agent can then make the pitch to the customer about the home phone service and if the caller wishes to pursue this, the agent can finish up with the internet based script and initiate the script switching component to dynamically load the home phone script while maintaining their live connection to the customer.

This new feature of the Q-Suite call center software will allow for a more streamlined process, for aptly skilled CSRs, when situations arise on a customer call that may have resulted in a transfer in previous iterations of Indosoft's Q-Suite product.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Impact of Cloud Contact Center Services on Inbound Call Routing

Cloud contact center services are a natural progression of distributed computing where both voice and data services are made available through hosted platforms. Cloud-based solutions offer flexibility and benefits where services can be scaled on-demand and does away with the need to implement and maintain, hardware or platforms.

Inbound call routing services benefit most from distributed setup. From a customer service perspective, this provides opportunity for 7x24 operation with employees from different regions and time-zones working normal eight hour shifts to provide a round the clock operation. It is also a convenient way to handle overflows as different time-zone working hours overlap.

Skills and queues are the fundamental to Automatic Call Distribution. Within a contact center ACD (Automatic Call Distributor), every queue should have an assigned priority with associated skills required for handling its calls. The employees of the contact center operation have skills with skill-levels identifying the their proficiency in the skill.  The ACD routes the inbound calls to the appropriate queue based on the dialed number or the IVR selection. If multiple employees are available to handle the call, it will be routed to the highest skilled employee immediately without making the caller wait in the queue. In the case of a tie, the longest waiting employee will handle the call. When no one is available immediately, the calls waits in the queue.

There are functionality available to improve customer service when callers are forced to wait in a queue. An ACD capable of callback capability will permit the caller to either accept a callback based on caller-id or leave a different callback number, while preserving the priority of the call. Another option is setting up multiple queues with same skill requirements but with different priority. This allows preferential treatment to customers who are valued based on a variety of factors. It is also possible to move calls from one queue to another after the lapse of a specified wait time where more employees (like supervisors) are available to handle the call.

With all this in mind, a Cloud contact center solution opens up the possibility for ACD call routing as more employees from different time-zones are included there by enhancing customer service.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Integration to Cloud Contact Center Services using API

Application Program Interfaces (API) are essential for integrating business and third party systems into the contact center solution work-flow. This is an important consideration when selecting a Cloud contact center solution. Mature service providers offer web services API that allow external applications to automate tasks. Almost all contact center software functionality available through a user interface can be exposed through Web API. 

There are four distinct areas of integration associated with contact center solutions: 
  1. Setup, management and operations of the contact center solution
  2. Dialer and contact center ACD data integration 
  3. Integration to third party and back-end business application to manage the work-flow
  4. Reporting data and Analytics to measure contact center performance 
The maturity of a cloud contact center service can be judged by the extent of the availability of Web services API for the solution. Service providers are offering Cloud contact center solutions based on different telephony engines but Asterisk based Cloud services have stolen a march over other telephony platforms by offering a powerful, cost effective, and open solution.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Integrating Phone, Email and Trouble-ticket support through Multi-Channel ACD

Providing good support to existing customers for your products or services will preserve customer loyalty and generate long term support revenue. This is especially true with software and information technology products and services. In the global market place, phone, email and web based support are the norm for offering customer service but they consume significant resources. With so much emphasis on sales, a lot of programs are offered to push sales, resulting in large volumes of customer inquiry. It is useful to look at how phone, email and web inquiries are organized before presenting them to a multi-channel call center software for routing.

Phone support is offered through a voice portal (a dedicated toll free or regular phone number). For email support offered through the organization's web site, the portal may have a web form for the customer to furnish details. Otherwise it might be just be an email address for the customer to send a free form email. For every new email inquiry, an automatic reference identification is inserted in the subject line while generating an auto-reply, acknowledging the inquiry. This reference is used to link all the emails associated with a specific customer request or complaint.

Web based support is an access to report a trouble-ticket. A trouble ticket system is a web based system that is accessible to both your customers and your employees with different privileges. The system saves and organizes all customer requests in its database. For every new request, the system can be made to generate an auto-email answer and reply back to the customer to acknowledge the receipt of the customer inquiry. A ticket number will be generated for every single request. The customer service employees will address these ticket issues and resolve them in some sequence. The customer can view updates to the issue or get email updates depending upon how the system is configured.

A multi-channel contact center ACD for phone, email and web customer support can be used to effectively streamline work flow processes, remove inefficiencies and improve overall productivity. In a typical Help Desk environment, even with long term data from Work Force Management (WFM), the difficulty is in having appropriate staffing level to handle the phone calls within the service standards set by the Service Level Agreement (SLA).

A call center ACD will offer queues with skills based routing where the calls are routed to the the most appropriately skilled employee available to handle the call. A multi-channel ACD will offer skills based routing for queues for phone calls, emails, and web channels. This provides the flexibility to setup as many queues and as many skills as the work-flow demands. Queues can have different priorities levels as well.

Call routing is dictated by skills based routing and queue priority. Multiple queues can be setup to handle customer support from each category, namely phone calls or emails or trouble tickets. These individual queues can have different priority levels, depending on how a business wants to offer support services. When an employee becomes available to handle a customer, the longest waiting customer from the highest priority queue will be offered. If multiple employees are available when a customer inquiry comes in, the most skilled employee will handle it.  Contact center software offering multi-channel ACD provides a wonderful opportunity to introduce efficiency and bring in cost savings.

The availability of Asterisk based multi-tenant systems offering multi-channel ACD solutions for contact centers has created a wonderful opportunity for organizations to bring in greater efficiency without investing heavily in infrastructure and software. Asterisk as the underlying telephony layer, brings in significant technology advantage and considerable cost savings.  Multi-tenant contact center software, capable of scaling to manage multiple Asterisk servers will accommodate large user base and growth. Cloud based service offerings with multi-channel ACD will enable smaller organizations to offer efficient help desk and customer service options.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Visual Call Flow Designer

Call flow management influences the efficiency of service delivery through the voice portal of an inbound contact center. Interactive Voice Responses (IVR) are an important sub-set that open up opportunity for self-service and automation within an multi-channel contact center center operation. A visual call flow designer is a graphical tool to build work-flows for interaction with the caller, perform automated tasks, make decisions on branching based on customer input, and dictate the routing. A sophisticated contact center software will include a call flow building tool with a web Graphical User Interface (GUI) designer capable of drag and drop flow management with revision control. 

Call flows within an IVR can be complex, handling detailed customer interactions driven by the organization's business processes. A powerful visual call flow designer will simplify the task of building, testing, and managing these call flow interactions. Both the IVR functions and the contact center ACD functions should be available from the call flow designer GUI to allow the integration of the IVR capability with call routing functions. Call routing decisions assist in directing the right traffic to queues where skills based employees  can better handle the calls with greater efficiency.

The biggest advantage of a GUI driven visual call flow designer is in empowering the contact center management staff to develop, change and manage call-flows, IVR, and dialplans, without the assistance of a programming staff. Based on visual representations, a call flow designer will allow incorporating capabilities like database interactions, along with mundane tasks like playing audio prompts, collecting responses, and directing calls into queues with the right priority.

Modern dialplan builders with visual call-flow designers unleash the full functionality of a call center software and the underlying Asterisk telephony, by providing a dynamic visual modeling tool for designing the IVR applications. A multi-tenant deployment requires a scalable contact center solution employing a cluster of Asterisk servers controlled by a powerful contact center ACD. A visual call flow design tool with revision control is critical for self-service IVR management in a multi-tenant Cloud offering.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Contact center work-flow changes due to CRM use

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has become vital to marketing. Most organizations have a similar process in converting leads to sales even though their businesses are varied. A CRM software provides insight into the progress of the leads from the time they were generated as a contact record, through their life-cycle, till they reach fruition. Along the way, contact centers are used to increase the effectiveness of reaching out and communicating with current and future customers. 

The contact center solutions follow work-flow processes meant to increase the effectiveness of taking contact records to positive conclusions. The days of the predictive dialer being unleashed on a large cold list is long gone. The process of customer contact has evolved and it has required changes to the work-flow of a call center software to accommodate the lead flow management within the CRM software.

Most contact centers handle inbound, outbound, email, and chat, all in a unified work-flow. Therefore the user interface for the customer call handling representatives should have the inherent flexibility to allow the management to modify the work-flow to suit the initiatives of the organization. This is possible only if the contact center ACD and dialer software has the required flexibility and interfaces.

There are many CRM vendors like Saleforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Netsuite, SugarCRM and Kana. Similarly there are many more contact center software providers. The growth and evolution of Asterisk as a telephony platform has impacted the availability and economics of the contact centers tremendously in a positive sense.

Both the CRM software and the contact center solutions are available as Multi-tenant cloud offering from managed service providers. Work-flow integration should be an important consideration while selecting a service provider. Multi-tenant contact center ACD and Dialer solutions based on Asterisk telephony offer viable back-end integration to CRM software and databases providing the necessary work-flow integration.