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The 9 Most Important Call Center Trends of 2022

We’ve seen a lot of changes to the call center and customer experience landscape over the years, from cloud communications and virtual agents to more strategic thinking around analytics, more flexible social media interactions, and innovative ways to involve artificial intelligence. And when the pandemic pushed businesses to modernize their business communications overnight, we’ve seen even more shifts in how businesses meet the evolving needs of both customers and their employees.

Here are nine technology trends that are helping companies deliver the best quality customer experience. See how far your business has come in building customer relationships that last — or which of these trends may need to be on this year’s to-do list.

1. Artificial Intelligence

As early adopters continue honing AI applications for call routing, we expect to see more connections forged between various media channels and streamlined call center response.

2. Digital Transformation

A forward-looking digital transformation strategy is going to be essential for business competitiveness. And it’s not just about using the right channels to interact with customers where they are; the smartest businesses are integrating technologies to provide full customer context with each interaction and leveraging system data to provide proactive service.

3. Better Contact Center Analytics

Gone are the days of relying on supervisor skills and know-how to get the most out of contact center agents. Now, even smaller businesses are taking advantage of sophisticated analytics to turn data – like call and screen recordings, chats, SMS messages, and more – into useful feedback for their agents. We expect more advancements in analytics as companies continue to implement more unified communications platforms and strategies.

4. Omnichannel Communications

More businesses are recognizing that while a customer journey may begin on one channel, valuable insight and feedback from the customer can be gained on a completely different channel. Responsive businesses are using this trend to create a superb customer experience by unifying communications across channels into one stream. This helps their customers by connecting them with an agent who knows their purchase and service history and provides valuable context. Most importantly, the two-way conversation is public on a social media platform, so other customers can see how the business solved the problem.

5. Cloud Communications

Many businesses have already adopted cloud communications as part of their communications strategies, but cloud communications have become particularly important for contact centers. The steady increase in remote call agents has made cloud communications a necessity for businesses who want to take advantage of seamless team communications and collaboration. With cloud communications, traditional office-based contact centers can take on new locations, and grow and contract workforces as market needs demand.

6. Employee Engagement

Just as customer expectations have evolved in the last few years, so have the expectations of the employees that make quality customer experience possible. And dissatisfaction in the work environment and culture has led to high agent attrition in the contact center space and beyond. Businesses that want to remain competitive will provide their employees with the culture and technology that empowers an efficient, productive, and flexible workforce.

7. Flexible Working Options

Lower overhead, time zone flexibility, and variable working hours have made remote contact center workers a stable trend in 2022. With constantly improving unified communications, remote workers have become a permanent and beneficial part of the contact center environment. By using collaboration tools, contact center agents can be mobile, with access to real-time analytics and customer context.

8. AI-Powered Self-Service Tools

The high priority on process improvement and self-service since the pandemic has addressed the issue of increasing workload for contact center agents, as well as the difficulties around achieving the desired service levels or Average Speed of Answer (ASA). Giving customers information quickly helps reduce call volumes, and easy-to-navigate FAQs help narrow down calls to those with sufficiently complex issues. Quick access to self-serve solutions also provides an emotional benefit to customers (that DIY-fix high!) and reduces overall call times.

9. SMB’s Leveraging All Employees to Support Customers

SMBs are extending traditional contact center agent desktop features to employees that work outside of the contact center to supplement customer-facing employees. Blended UC/CC solutions that bring customer and employee experiences together into a single user experience tear down the silos between traditional contact center agents and the rest of the organization.

If you need more help determining how to apply these trends to your call center, TCI’s local experts are here to help. Contact us today: (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Live + Digital… Ready to Deliver a Seamless Customer Experience?

There’s no question that the customer experience (CX) has undergone a dramatic shift in the past few years. Consumers are online more than ever. Like the rest of daily life, CX has become a true blend of the digital and “live” worlds.

Most people channel-switch without thinking these days and consumers will only want the process to become more seamless as they return to brick-and-mortar stores. In-person shopping has nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels, while smartphone purchases have undergone a 70% increase since 2019 and continue to grow.

Digital, but Make it Personal

Because so many transactions take place in the digital space first, it’s more important than ever to prioritize investment in technology that supports client engagement. Being able to deliver curated products and personalized customer support goes a long way in making your customer feel like you truly care.

CX is tied directly to Employee Experience; customers are increasingly sensitive to the person on the other end of the line and can tell when a company doesn’t prioritize staff well-being. Equipping your employees to work in hybrid or remote settings and giving them the tools to make informed decisions at any point in the customer journey makes everyone feel empowered.

Tips for Building Trust

A little investment in the CX goes a long way towards building loyalty, ensuring customers will continue to use and recommend your services. So, how can you build trust in this complicated, digital-first world?

  • Lead with digital, finish with personal: Ultimately, customers want to feel that human element. Customize their experiences and connect with them personally to keep them engaged.
  • Discover new customer journeys: Your clients will be accessing your products from multiple channels. Do you know how to meet them every step of the way?
  • Define your values and follow through: Not only do consumers want to understand your values, they also need to know that you see them through. Showing that you care about the same things as your customers will bring them back time and time again.
  • Provide excellent customer service: Employee happiness translates to customer happiness. Give your staff the technology they need to maximize CX.
  • Ensure data privacy: Customers are willing to give more of their personal data if they know it will be handled securely. This data can be used to customize interactions even more.

The Commercial Advantages of Blended CX

Consumers are willing to pay a premium for positive transactions and are increasingly tying their personal values to their purchasing decisions. If you can meet customers on their terms, speak to them on a personal level, and develop their trust, your investment will yield returns far beyond your expectations.

TCI is ready to implement technologies that help your business maximize the Customer Experience. Contact us today: (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Surviving on Good-Enough Communications? A Guide to Upgrading Your Business Technology

Business leaders have been running in emergency mode trying to adapt to workplace limitations imposed by COVID and the mandates intended to limit its spread. Often, businesses made do with a mix of communications solutions from different vendors – with varying results.

Now is the time to re-assess and refine:

Integrate Communications

Many businesses are working with an unwieldy patchwork of solutions from different vendors, each implemented separately at different times. This Frankenstein-type framework is okay for just getting by. But compatibility and efficiency issues can hamper your capacity to grow and thrive. An integrated platform ensures a seamless experience for management, employees, and ultimately customers.

Adapt Processes to Make the Most of Communication Technology

If you find yourself spending more time on communications tools after a partial or complete migration, you may not be making the best use of them. Define optimal ways of working before you implement the tools. Will you recreate your current processes with your new cloud solutions? If so, go back to the whiteboard. Set up measurement tools before you deploy. You can’t improve what you don’t measure.

Develop Flexibility and Security

Whether your employees are remote, hybrid, or in-person, they’re likely to use personal devices for work purposes. With the right solutions, you can support secure work and promote collaboration regardless of which devices your employees use.

Offer Robust Tools to Avoid “Shadow IT”

Keeping employees from using unauthorized IT isn’t easy. You’ll need to offer modern and agile tools and establish an IT infrastructure that works for everyone. One central, lean IT infrastructure with well-documented interfaces will always scale better – and be more secure – than a hodge-podge of departmental apps and databases.

Invest in Omnichannel Customer Communication

Customer experience is an essential part of any communications upgrade. Customers want flexibility when they reach out. They may start on social media, switch to email, and then give you a call. An omnichannel communications solution removes friction and helps you meet customers where they are.

Prepare for Takeoff

The pandemic accelerated many businesses’ digital transformation, but many were forced to choose between speed and strategy. If your business has been getting by with emergency quick fixes, it’s time to redefine your communications strategy and upgrade.

TCI experts are here to help. Contact us today: (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

How Contact Centers Help Drive Success in Small & Mid-Sized Businesses

Some organizations, particularly smaller ones, may still have doubts about the real value of a contact center. From the customer perspective, however, the value of a contact center could not be more real.

For example, a small online retailer is just like a big retailer that makes their profit from repeat customers. If consumers are dissatisfied and share that feeling with others or rate the service poorly on an assessment, it could have a downstream effect that hurts your best efforts to get customers back to the cash register.

Providing an optimal customer experience is at the forefront of many planning discussions in every industry and business model. In a world that lives on posting the good, bad and ugly on social media, keeping an eye on customer satisfaction is an absolute must.

Retaining clients means more profit. By having a strong contact center solution, you can:

  • Measure and analyze customer behavior and prepare the right strategies to respond when you identify service gaps.
  • Prioritize calls more effectively by providing pop-up information on repeat callers. This allows your staff to be smarter in how they answer the phone and who they may place on hold – routing the call to the beginning of the queue versus later.
  • Leverage real-time analytics to see what’s really happening at the first point-of-contact, identify staff that require more training and determine if a customer had a negative experience – before they have a chance to leave a bad review.

A robust contact center solution can improve operational efficiency and deliver a better customer experience, while keeping you apprised of what’s really happening. Your response can drive better satisfaction surveys and online ratings.

Let’s discuss how to improve your customer experience by implementing a contact center to support your business. Contact TCI today (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

3 Easy Ways to Strengthen Customer Relationships with Unified Communication Tools

Darwin’s Theory is that species must adapt to their environment in order to survive. The same is true in business, and the pandemic has been a hard lesson for many companies as they battle to stay afloat. The “fittest” have embraced (and even accelerated) digital transformation, finding new and meaningful ways to engage customers remotely. Even when social distancing restrictions relax, customers have grown accustomed to digital interactions. And for good reason: they’re faster and more convenient. But people still want to feel connected, perhaps even more so than before.

So how can you strengthen ties with customers and create a personal experience in a predominantly digital world? Unified communications technology makes it possible. Here are three specific ways to leverage digital communications tools to solidify customer relationships—and business survival.

1. Know Your Customer

We’re all in need of a little extra TLC these days, and companies that can find a way to show they care are rising to the top. What better way to do that than to demonstrate how well you know your customers? CRM integration with your communications system gives staff real-time access to information that can be used to create a memorable experience. As soon as a customer contacts your business, agents can see detailed customer data, ranging from past order history and previous communications. Agents can immediately jump into action, providing updates on recent orders and answering questions the customer may have before they even ask them.

2. Make It Omnichannel

Customers have been interacting with businesses across multiple digital channels for years now, but the pandemic has forced even the most tech-resistant customers to become more digitally savvy. Consumers will be more likely to use digital wallets or cards in the future, and the use of chat and social media has seen a huge increase.

Today, customers expect to be able to communicate with businesses via multiple social media channels, web chat, SMS messages, email and messaging apps. But it’s not enough to offer multiple means of communications. They all need to play nice together, allowing customers to seamlessly move from one channel to another. The digital customer simply expects to be able to start a conversation with a chatbot and move to a live agent via chat or phone (depending on their preference) without having to repeat any of the information they already shared. Smart bots powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) make this possible by routing customers to an agent with the right level of expertise and providing them with a full history of the interaction.

3. Personalize It

Customers may be looking for ways to avoid physical interaction with your staff, but they’re craving personalization more than ever. They want to know you understand their needs and desires, that you value their time and business and that you truly care about giving them what they need. When agents have access to a full customer history, they can personalize the interaction and make customers feel appreciated and valued.

AI technology takes personalization to a new level, with virtual agents monitoring conversations and providing human agents with relevant information to resolve issues and answer questions more quickly. Integration with other internal systems such as supply chain and logistics platforms empower agents to answer just about any question a customer may have.

Powerful unified communications technology arms your business with the right tools to outperform the competition and adapt to changing customer expectations. Contact TCI today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Top Tech Trends in the Hospitality & Lodging Industry… Some May Make Sense for Your Business

Hotels, motels and other hospitality businesses once occupied a fairly simple space in people’s lives – they were a place for guests to lay their heads while away from home.

But anyone who’s spent time on the road in recent years knows that the role of technology has greatly expanded. Here are some of the top communication technology trends in hospitality today…

  1. Cloud migration – The hospitality industry is making the transition to the cloud, where opportunities abound for back office efficiency with low technology acquisition costs. Cloud technologies are simplifying operations, reducing staffing needs, and providing a better guest experience.
  2. Service automation through AI – Automation continues to be a trend that’s changing the way guests are served. With the advancements in Artificial Intelligence, hotels are interacting with guests digitally while freeing up hotel staff to work on other tasks. This also improves the travel experience as language differences can be eliminated, ensuring clear communication with travelers wherever they’re from.
  3. Integrated guest applications – Guest apps for personal mobile devices are the natural place to host everything from deal notifications to hotel services to loyalty programs. Innovative capabilities can be integrated into these hotel applications to grant guests increased ability to engage with hotel staff and other guests.
  4. Touchless interactions – The pandemic has emphasized the need to reconsider how guests interact with amenities. From digital room keys that allow guests to unlock doors using their phones to motion sensors that turn on lights, to voice-activated control of appliances, reducing contact with commonly touched interfaces allows guests to stay safe and housekeeping staff to sanitize and prepare rooms faster.
  5. Self-service meeting spaces – No longer are meeting spaces just about table and chair arrangements. Today’s meetings rely on multimedia presentations and videoconferencing to bring in remote attendees. And for marathon meetings, access to services like catering must be handled with minimal interruption. Advanced technology enablement is also becoming a must-have in ballrooms and event halls.
  6. Predictive Analytics – As more technology is added to improve the guest experience, more data is being collected about how guests interact with staff and amenities. When analyzed, the data can provide insights that can improve internal operations as well as the guest experience, resulting in your property becoming a preferred place to stay and the one that gets recommended to others.

If you see an application here that could help your business get ahead, reach out to the experts at TCI. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Digital Transformation in 2021… Keeping Up with Touchless & New Ways to Connect with Customers

Adaptation has always been a necessity for survival, but now businesses are finding that they have to adapt virtually overnight to stay afloat. Touchless technology in the form of contactless payments, expanded mobile app offerings and remote contact centers is becoming the new normal for businesses across industries.

Touchless technology is impacting the B2C world primarily in payment transactions and customer communications. For example, contactless digital payments are replacing traditional paper checks in many transactions. While the primary driver is health and safety, there are other benefits: digital payments are received faster and cost less to process, improving cash flow and reducing costs.

B2B companies, as well as organizations with call centers or large sales teams, have had to quickly figure out how to stay in touch with customers and clients via a largely remote workforce…

  • Unified communications technology keeps the lines of communication open from any device and any location.
  • Cloud-based VoIP phones enable employees to communicate and collaborate via voice, text and screen share, making it easy to assist customers even when working from home.
  • A unified communications contact center empowers businesses to communicate with customers via chat, SMS, voice, email and social media – all with a virtual workforce.

All companies should consider the impact touchless tech will have on how their business is run, and we encourage you to explore Digital Transformation and new avenues of communications with your customers.

Looking for new ways to connect that will grow your business? Contact TCI today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Creating a Superior Customer Experience to Grow Your Online Business

In the brick-and-mortar world, windows entice shoppers into the store. Online, your website is the “window.” Is it visually exciting? Does it encourage shoppers to explore your services and capabilities? Is it easy to navigate, and does it load quickly?

These are only the basics. If you haven’t already, you’ll want to cover all the bases when it comes to developing a strong e-commerce platform. Here’s why…

Responsive communications

Today’s consumer won’t tolerate slow service. Shoppers want answers quickly – in minutes, not hours – and certainly not days. They’ve come to expect 24/7 service, where someone, somewhere in the world, is available to resolve any issues they encounter. And while they expect and use self-service options, consumers’ patience runs thin if they can’t find the answers they need quickly. When that happens, they expect a live person to step in and help.

Personalized service

Consumers expect service reps to know everything about their communications with the company, as well as key personal information and history. Successful online businesses use CRM tools to capture all customer data, across all channels, to create a seamless experience. By using the cloud and integrating with other internal systems – like supply chain and logistics platforms – service professionals can have all the information instantly available to meet customer requirements.

Easy, safe online check out

The desire to limit exposure to COVID will continue to influence shopping behavior for the near term. Enhancing the online shopping experience with tools for attracting and retaining customers becomes even more vital. That can mean offering the ability to save items in a cart and apply coupon codes to offering a range of payment and shipping choices. Shops that aren’t properly set up for online transactions will lose out.

Multiple delivery options

Along with increasing their demands on customer support, consumers have come to expect flexibility when it comes to shipping and delivery. Due to the pandemic, delivery services are expected and many companies are making delivery options part of their core business and arranging Just-in-Time inventory to help reduce costs.

Customer reviews

An essential part of today’s online shopping experience is the ability to read credible product reviews. That means not just publishing your customers’ thoughts about their purchases, but responding to any concerns they might have in the review section. Businesses that demonstrate that they’re listening to – and doing something about – complaints develop greater respect from both current and potential customers.

Remote teams

The pandemic has moved more employees into a virtual work environment, which can actually improve customer service. Call centers don’t need a physical location when reps can connect to the network from home. With the right communications tools, businesses can be more responsive and nimble.

The pandemic has put great pressure on businesses, but it has also presented them with great opportunities… TCI can help your efforts to exploit better technology go smoothly. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Chatbots Are helping Small & Mid-Sized Firms Compete With Big Businesses

Small and midsize businesses are regularly challenged to compete with enterprises that have deeper pockets, larger contact centers and more options to serve their customers.

By embracing chatbots, smaller firms can improve their Customer Experience and compete head-on with larger companies. Here’s how…

  • Basic question-and-answer functions. When customers start an online webchat they can get routine information such as overnight mailing addresses, product information, links to knowledgebases and physical location hours. Customers get their information faster – via their preferred device – and your business doesn’t need to rely on more costly employees to answer basic questions.
  • Addressing complex, customer-specific inquiries. These include looking up account balances, linking to extended warranty terms and scheduling service calls. The chatbot asks for information to confirm customer identity and then accesses the appropriate database, knowledgebase or apps to complete the request.
  • Delivering scripted information. By directing a customer to a chatbot, companies can ensure there is no human error that may result in potential industry compliance and regulatory liabilities.
  • Making recommendations. By asking customers a few questions, the chatbot can make product or service recommendations, thereby increasing sales. Further, analytics tools can track customer preferences and make proactive recommendations in the future.
  • Assisting human agents. Chatbots also can listen to conversations between agents and customers, offering real-time suggestions on upsell opportunities. Or, if a customer becomes upset, the chatbot can summon a supervisor to join the call.

Once trained and implemented, chatbots cost roughly 10% to 20% of a human agent, and leading AI platform vendors like Google, IBM, Amazon and Oracle are teaming up with contact center providers like Mitel to make chatbots even more intelligent.

Looking for more innovative ways to improve your customer service? Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Using Contact Center Metrics to Boost Customer Experience in the Real World

No surprise… Your customers want personalized service and consistent answers when they speak with multiple reps in your business. Further, they don’t want to wait on hold or repeat themselves when transferred. Here’s how three organizations are leveraging the Cloud today to benefit their customers…

  • A Medical Supply Company, which serves its market with 45 agents, gains actionable insight into call center operations. By monitoring system performance in real time, managers can identify heavy call-volume periods, so staff can be allocated in ways that keep wait times to a minimum. Historical reporting reveals patterns so managers can determine if they need additional staff at certain locations or during specific days or times.
  • A Non-Profit that provides temporary assistance to those struggling to pay their energy bills can now move representatives from one queue to another based on call volume. That reduces wait times for customers during peak hours. Call monitoring allows managers to review calls for quality and service levels, improving training and accountability. Call recording comes in handy when a customer and agent have different recollections of a conversation, allowing any miscommunication to be resolved quickly.
  • A Government Contractor implements a nationwide energy efficiency program with a new always-on cloud contact center, allowing 24/7 support to be offered to customers. While remote access had been an issue with the old system, now remote agents have seamless access from satellite offices. Improved call quality translates into fewer dropped calls, which makes customers happy. Real-time call handling metrics let managers analyze the level of service customers receive. Issues can be identified immediately and lay the foundation for future training sessions.

New technology is providing the tools and insight you need to turn your call center into a well-oiled machine.

Let’s talk about more practical ways a cloud contact center solution can help your business serve and support demanding customers… Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.