Tuesday, February 28, 2006

New Call Center Industry Search Engine

If you look to the right of this post, you will see a search field. This belongs to a new call center industry search engine. You will also see a "cloud" of frequently searched terms that is updated based on actual search volume. If you conduct a search, you will see that you can send feedback on the results that will affect future rankings. I'm not sure how this will be safeguarded against people who unethically try to influence search engine rankings. Anyway, give it a test run....

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Crutchfield turns up the volume in its' call center

Crutchfield turns up the volume in its' call center quality assurance

Sharing a commitment to provide exceptional customer service, it might be fate that renowned electronics cataloger Crutchfield Inc. would implement Coordinated Systems, Inc.'s (CSI) Virtual Observer call center quality assurance solution.

Initially looking for a quality assurance product that would help develop consistency in phone staff interactions, increase phone sales and eliminate the need for manual recording, Crutchfield found that Virtual Observer (VO) delivered much more than that. VO provides a mechanism for not only improving agent performance, but also in training new agents.

"With a canned event, we can go over it with a new hire, pausing to identify each important statement or mistake. We can train them on what should be said," said A.J. Miller of Crutchfield's IT department.

In researching call recording vendors, Crutchfield investigated three or four competitors of CSI. CSI was more affordable than the other vendors, but Crutchfield wanted to make sure all of their main requirements would be included in the CSI base product, Virtual Observer. They went through their list: call recording, evaluation, extensive reporting, ease of use, compatibility with their phone systems. VO covered all of that. In terms of comfort level, "we were comfortable with them. They were the least expensive and offered all of the critical features. The agents who tested it and saw the demos liked VO" AJ added.

Upon installation, the CSI team trained Crutchfield's call center managers, who were then relied upon for training the rest of the team. The agents accepted VO favorably, as they had been used to manually being recorded, with the added benefit of recognizing the chance to improve their skills.

"As a Sales Team Leader, VO has helped the folks on my team see, hear, and feel their calls, and has allowed us to pinpoint things they could improve upon. Sometimes it's things they could say differently, sometimes its different things they could do on the PC to make them more efficient. Reviewing a recorded VO event is like reliving the call, a great coaching tool," says Adam Stoffel, of Crutchfield's Sales department.

Crutchfield has recently upgraded from Virtual Observer version 2.1 to version 3.0. AJ was assertive about the upgrade stating, "the upgrade has made a big performance improvement. In particular, the auto-purge feature saves us time and the new visual playback feature allows us to pinpoint call activity easier."

Crutchfield's main priority has always been providing exceptional customer service beyond expectations. They see CSI as a similar natured partner further stating, "when we call them with suggestions, they respond rapidly. Their support is proactive - they often have identified the few system hiccups that occur before we even notice."

As a catalog company that once featured primarily car audio equipment, Crutchfield has expanded into every type of consumer electronics device that exists. Their website offers secure online ordering, and of course, extensive customer service options.

CSI has installed other Virtual Observer at other catalog company call centers. "Virtual Observer has evolved into the perfect call center quality assurance solution for catalog companies. The time-to-improvement after implementing our VO solution, when agents are making more upsells, saves and new sales compared to pre-VO, is realized so much sooner with each new functional enhancement - making it a compelling solution and a logical choice," stated Rich Marcia, Director of Marketing at CSI.

Coordinated Systems, Inc. (CSI) is a leading software development company. Established in 1972, they have consistently evolved their products over time and grown their business by building high quality long term partnerships. The CSI flagship product, Virtual Observer (VO), is a call recording and quality assurance solution for call centers. VO is making inroads against major competition by offering robust, user friendly feature sets that exceeds client requirements and enhances client satisfaction.

Crutchfield sells consumer electronics and has grown from humble beginnings to the ecommerce giant they are today. Founder Bill Crutchfield states that "My customers told me they didn't know much about car stereos and were intimidated by the thought of installing one by themselves. Listening to my customers, I decided to fill the Crutchfield catalog with information so readers would be comfortable with car stereo. And I decided to take good services and make them even better. That seemed to work well."

"Emphasizing complete information and exceptional customer service were what it took to get this company off and running, and these values continue to define our company culture today. Now we're a thriving organization located in Charlottesville, Virginia, with a satellite facility in Norton, Virginia as well."

Virtual Observations # 2 - call center monitoring newsletter

Virtual Observations - a newsletter featuring call center tips, strategies, and news.

* Best Practices - Customer Service

Make your customer service goals highly visible throughout your entire organization. Well-placed banners with a colorful mantra such as "Make everyone who talks to you feel better than they did before they talked to you!". Think about it - do people generally leave your presence extremely happier, generally the same, or worse?

* Crutchfield turns up the volume on call center quality assurance...

Sharing a commitment to provide exceptional customer service, it might be fate that renowned electronics cataloger Crutchfield Inc. would implement Coordinated Systems, Inc.'s (CSI) Virtual Observer call center quality assurance solution...read more!

Initially looking for a quality assurance product that would help develop consistency in phone staff interactions, increase phone sales and eliminate the need for manual recording, Crutchfield found that Virtual Observer (VO) delivered much more than that. VO provides a mechanism for not only improving agent performance, but also in training new agents.

* Call Center Knowledge Share

In this section, we will share tips, techniques and data used by successful call center managers. This month we look at "call performance" statistics.

From http://www.wikipedia.org - Typical call center performance criteria that can be measured quantitatively are:

- The average delay a caller may experience while waiting in a queue

- Average Talk Time (ATT)

- Average Handling Time (equal to ATT plus wrap up time)

- The percentage of calls answered within a determined time frame (referred to as a Service Level or SL%)

- The percentage of calls which completely resolve the customer's issue (if the customer does not call back about the same problem for a certain period of time, it is considered a successful resolution).

Some more practical reporting metrics would be similar to those in Virtual Observer's "Call Performance Report", where the system digs deep to reveal agent performance histories, including but not limited to, "# of scheduled recordings", "# of successful recordings", "# of high scored events", "# of low scored events", etc. Looking at such a report for all of your agents would quickly show which agents require additional training.

* Tips for Improving customer service performance

Conduct a customer survey and learn what your customers really think about your service. You can even have survey functionality integrated with your phone system. When a customer has completed their call, they are then given the option to answer a few questions. The data is then compiled and reported. Another way to conduct customer service is via an email campaign. Allow your customers to fill out the survey anonymously online using a form on your website. Gathering customer feedback is invaluable in shaping any changes in your customer service methodoligies, with the goal of continuous performance improvement.

* Call issues that occur and the resolutions that solve them

Customer call volumes can swell based on public relations...good or bad. Your ability to entertain or inform customers while they are on hold is paramount to keeping their aggravation levels at a minimum. Some companies use music on hold, and others fill the dead air with promotional campaigns. What about using something more educational, such as industry statistics, or an audio news feed? If you were a customer calling that was upset, would you want to hear about a "blowout sale...this weekend ONLY! ONLY! ONLY!" or would you rather hear classical music...or maybe an audio feed with some sports news...?

* Demystifying Common Acronyms:

CTI: Computer Telephony Integration

From http://www.wikipedia.com:

Computer telephony integration (CTI) is technology that allows interactions on a telephone and a computer to be integrated or co-ordinated.

Common functions:

  • Calling Line Information Display (Caller's Number, Number Called, IVR Options)
  • Screen Population on answer, with or without using calling line data.
  • On Screen Dialing. (Fast dial, preview and predictive dial.)
  • On Screen Phone Control. (Ringing, Answer, Hang-up, Hold, Conference etc)
  • Coordinated phone and data transfers between two parties
  • Call Center phone control (logging on; after call work notification)
  • Advanced functions such as call routing, reporting functions, automation of desktop activities, or multi-channel blending of email or web requests

* Day-Timers, Inc. selects Virtual Observer...

Coordinated Systems, Inc. (CSI) , a leading provider of call center quality assurance solutions, proudly announces that Day-Timers, Inc. has selected CSI's Virtual Observer solution. Virtual Observer will be installed in the Lehigh Valley, PA call center and will allow Day-Timers, Inc. the ability to record customer interactions, evaluate the events, deliver relevant training content to employees and generate powerful analytics.....read more!

* How to maximize your use of VO 3.0

  • Do you forget to run the auto-scheduler some months? Don't you wish it simply ran on its own?

    Well, in version 3.0 of Virtual Observer it does. A new enhancement will automatically run the auto scheduling process a few days before the next month or week depending on your normal auto scheduling period.
  • Did you ever want to simply take a call (audio and screens) from within an event and be able to email it to someone without having to send the entire event? With VO 3.0, you can do this. - it allows you to select a call (audio, screens and evals) and send it as an email attachment that when opened, will play on any pc which has Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player.

    * Top VO 3.0 Support FAQs

    Question: How can I use on-demand recording if I do not have an "On-Demand" Channel?

    Answer: Go to Schedule Editor, enter an event dated in the past (make sure it is a scheduled workday). VO always goes to the "oldest event in the schedule" so a backdated event will be the "next event recorded", which will get you pretty close to "On-Demand".
  • Wednesday, February 15, 2006

    Are you encrypting your recorded calls?

    If you process credit card transactions, it is most likely that customer credit card information is being stored in their account record in your customer relationship management (CRM) software. Most web based CRMs use Secure Socket Layer encryption to protect your valuable date. Most companies use some form of customer quality assurance - for example, call monitoring and recording. Often these QA systems are also capturing screen data during the calls.

    Capturing the call as well as the screen activity, as well as any chats or emails sent during the call, comprises a "recorded event". Events are typically stored in a database for later playback or for archiving. This process is usually tagged as Media Encryption.

    Events should definitely be encrypted to protect customer data. Visa requires it now("Payment Card Industry - Data Security Standard"). Encryption should be 256-Bit and all media should be stored and archived in encrypted format. Files are decrypted locally to prevent network exposure.

    ...more on Visa security standards

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