Thursday, February 28, 2008

Polar Extremes of Customer Service

Recently I encountered two extremes in customer service. This isn't call center-related, but it's relevant never-the-less because it again proves why customer service is the single most important thing in business.

I went down to the Ikea store in New Haven, CT, wanting to browse some of the room interior designs for ideas. Typically, I've received good service at Ikea, but this particular event was so bad I simply had to post about it. I was looking at a rack of bathroom mirrors, and didn't see the one I wanted in stock. I looked over, and thankfully, there was an Ikea employee nearby. I asked if he'd mind helping me with a quick question. He grunted, rolled his eyes, and told me he didn't really have time. Now, I didn't overreact, or report him, or anything, but I'm sure the good folks at Ikea would appreciate the incident report. When I told the employee to "never mind", he simply turned and went back to what he was doing, with no further communication. I couldn't believe it.

My second experience (a few weeks back) found me trying out a new wing chain in Milford, CT. I had heard of "Buffalo Wild Wings" during various super bowl and march madness advertising campaigns, and I always wanted to try them. What a wonderful experience. Not only did they have great food and a pleasant atmosphere, but the waitress was filling up my soda glass before I was even finished. That's a good sign of a good operation. Three other employees stopped by our booth to see how everything was. They were going out of their way to show us how much they appreciate our business, and it really made the whole experience shine.

I will be back to Buffalo Wild Wings soon, but it will be awhile before I return to Ikea.

Lessons learned here for all. Stellar service rules. In the call center industry, contact center agents should never, ever forget that they're expected to give stellar service. Every contact center should hang a motivational banner as a constant reminder. Maybe the team should all agree on what it should say - that way, all the individual members can take ownership. You can get your banners printed at your local PIP printing - I've had excellent service there, so I don't mind giving them the referral. If you noticed, Ikea got no link love today.

Starbucks yesterday closed its' stores from 5-9 pm EST for barista retraining - an obvious PR move to show how committed they are to quality of service. They left a sign in their drive-through window which read "We are currently closed so that we can improve the quality of our products." It was a bold move, and it is more likely that complete retraining and improvement would require weeks of ongoing training - but nonetheless, it makes a statement about Starbucks' re-commitment to quality.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Growing catalog and internet company uses Virtual Observer for quality training

This came in this week from Stephen McDevitt, Call Center Manager for Cigars International:

"As the Call Center Manager for a growing catalog and internet company, sales call quality and customer service call quality are paramount.

In our industry what separates one company from another is the level of service.

We recognized that in order to raise the bar (to become the company of choice) we need to do something more, continually improve on call quality.

After a lengthy due diligence we chose Coordinated Systems Inc’s Virtual Observer as the application to assist us in our quest to be number one.

Virtual Observer has provided us with exactly what we need to guide our representatives to success.

I have used several applications in my career and this system is as straightforward as you can get.

The support team made training and implementation a breeze; making the bottom line cost of the entire application very affordable."

What preceded this testimonial?

The best kind of lead, a referral from an extremely satisfied customer.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Credit Union customers speak to Virtual Observer's impact

As a marketing director, it is extremely beneficial to have the kind of customer retention which we have at CSI. One particular market where Virtual Observer (VO) performs extremely well is the credit union market. Credit Unions benefit from both call logging (for legal/liability/compliance) and from the powerful quality monitoring and employee development toolset which comes included with VO.

In a conversation with a quality and training manager from Eastern Florida Financial Credit Union, he spoke of the many ways which VO has helped improve call center agent performance:

- "It has helped our call center by giving our coaches and supervisors the ability to provide our phone agents with concrete examples of where their opportunities may be."

- "VO has improved the use of our company’s resources when offering services."

- " We can identify good/not-so-good service and habits and has helped is in the development of our task force."

- "We can maintain a very high level of service by providing us the ability to see and listen to our agents in action."

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Call Center Technology Posts from around the blogosphere

I've created a news feed of the latest blog posts relative to "call center technology". This feed will always be updated, so you can bookmark and come back here anytime. You can also add this feed into your feed reader, Google Reader is a recommended one.

Email subscribers: you may have to come back to the web version of this post if your email client or RSS feed reader doesn't support JavaScript.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Making your call recording changes seamless

It's important to CSI that we make our customer transitions seamless. Whatever changes are taking place, we like it to be behind the scenes, with the only impact being to your continued call center performance improvement.

Change is also a continuous thing, sometimes happening slowly, other times it needs to happen yesterday.

What kinds of changes do we encounter?

- Changing from one phone system to another. We recently added Shoretel support because three of our customers moved to the Shoretel IP telephony platform.

- Changing from a block-of-time recording model to call-by-call recording. This happens when we can capture your phone system's SMDR feed. Most phone systems provide SMDR feeds.

- Changing from selective recording to capturing all calls. Depending on your industry, many companies face new regulations requiring all calls to be recorded. Some companies have also wanted to simply record all calls in order to help resolve disputes or "just in case".

- Changing from analog/digital/TDM to VoIP or hybrid environments. Every company's next phone system purchase may indeed be a VoIP system. We're one of the industry leaders with support for Avaya, Cisco, Nortel, Siemens, 3com, Shoretel and Mitel VoIP.

- Change from expansion or adding locations to be recorded. Many growing companies add locations. Some have centralized networks, some have completely different phone systems in each site. We have such a large array of supported platforms, it may have little impact. Going VoIP allows many companies to extend their internal network to any location, and even to at-home agents.

- Change from one version to the next. All CSI customers with active support agreements are brought along to the latest version of product. We also make periodic updates throughout the year with product enhancements.

- Change from other recording vendors to Virtual Observer (VO). We've rescued many companies from call recording vendors who force re-buy situations every time they have a new point release. Many companies also switch over to us because VO is a very user-friendly system with robust features which may be added as needed.

Whatever your change may be, our goal is to make it as seamless as possible to your day-to-day business operations.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Call recording technologies are found in more than just large call centers

When people think of call recording or quality monitoring, they usually associate it with call centers, customer service centers, etc -- Dozens or hundreds of people taking thousands of calls. We also have quite a few customers running Virtual Observer in much smaller customer service centers where the call volume is much lower, yet the importance of the calls is just as high.

In one telling example, a convenience store chain has a small center with three to four service agents answering the incoming calls from store managers at the individual stores. These calls are equally as important to the business as customer service calls may be to other businesses. The calls are recorded to prevent and resolve disputes, and in one particular recorded interaction, the resulting call yielded an investigation which solved the theft of store credit cards. Read more about this convenience store's call recording implementation.

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