ServiceNow: what we learned

Last year Pyrios embarked on a journey to replace an ageing service management platform. The driver for change was quite a common one. Although it did the basics we were locked out of upgrades and automation, preventing us from serving our customers the way we wanted to in the future. After months of evaluating various systems, ServiceNow came out the clear winner to be our platform of the future.

After just eight months on from go-live, we’re enjoying across the board improvements in service delivery for clients. Here’s a snapshot of these and some advice for our customers thinking of embarking on a similar project.

Service delivery improvements
Automated reporting has been life changing, with scheduled email delivery of custom reports to both clients and managers replacing a flurry of manual information curation and formatting. There’s less risk of report inaccuracies and it has set the foundation to have customer reporting available by self-service in the next step of our journey.

ServiceNow dashboards graphically plot our performance in real-time. Screens in our network operations centre display a live graph of ticket closure, providing at-a-glance views of our run rate. This real-time view of incidents and closure rates allows us to dynamically reallocate resources to jobs so we can deliver a better level of service to customers. For example, when SLA adherence comes under pressure we can see what’s happening and put it right, rather than disappointing our customers.

The combined effect of these improvements shows up where it really matters, in our network operation centre’s primary key performance indicator SLA adherence. This metric has increased across the board and for lower priority incidents we’ve improved by more than 10%.

Right now we’re working on synchronising Virsae Service Management (VSM) with ServiceNow. Alarms and traps generated by VSM will automatically populate ServiceNow as incidents, so engineers can get to work faster with all the required information. 

After that, we’ll deliver a portal to customers where they can log tickets, view updates and request services, and track everything online.

Looking back
The key reason for ServiceNow’s universal acceptance and quick uptake at Pyrios was clarity of vision among the team. You have to know what you want and what you need.

ServiceNow and other service management platforms are incredibly powerful and customisable, they could end up looking like anything, so being clear about what you want it to do is crucial. Pay special attention to the processes you expect to automate – they must be crystal clear, up to date and perfectly correct.

Finally, get help from a pro – an authorised implementation partner – when designing and setting up how you’ll use your chosen platform. You could quite easily sweat a lifetime into these systems and miss 95% of the possibilities.

Authors:

Kevin Pitout, Services Operations Manager &

Betty Mani, Service Delivery Manager at Pyrios

What is Adaptive WFO?

Adaptive workforce optimisation is set to change the rules of agent management

Pose a mathematical problem to a classroom of smart students and most will find the right answer. As they work, peek over their shoulders to observe a mixture of problem solving techniques. While each student’s approach is important to their overall mark, the only real gauge of success is the correct answer.

The lion’s share of our daily work involves problem solving. In the contact centre, agents must solve customers’ problems, leaving them in a happier place than when they made first contact. To the customer, how the agent got them there is almost incidental.

Like students wrestling a maths problem, people work in different ways to reach the same goal. And yet current workforce optimisation approaches don’t always recognise individual thinking and behaviours, instead treating contact centre agents as a single species, applying blanket KPIs, scheduling, training, and development pathways. So when agents fail to satisfy generic processes, their performance is considered non-compliant or even poor, even when the customer positively rates the overall outcome.

But things are changing, and new tools will balance the strengths of individual agents with contact centre processes, driving better engagement among agents and improving customer experiences.

Adaptive workforce optimisation recognises that each employee possesses specific attributes and skills that must be factored into processes, coaching, and even talent scheduling and forecasting. One size does not fit all.

The approach ensures workforce planning and development adapts to each agent’s persona and work style. The process itself involves advanced analysis of data gleaned from multiple sources, including desktop activity, ACD information, voice/text analysis, CSAT scores, coaching results, past work experience, preferences and education.

Software does the heavy lifting, also harvesting new data as agents work, building a detailed picture of agent behaviours, strengths and weaknesses, helping managers to create an environment for agents to do their best work, with individually tailored KPI’s that align with business objectives.

But that’s just the start. Managers are able to match agent personas with tasks and workflow supporting cross-channel customer journeys, adjusting things like agent scheduling, training, incentives and goals in a way that ultimately leads to better customer service.

This more ‘adaptive’ approach to workforce optimisation promises broad ranging benefits, including higher quality service through flexible persona-based routing, scheduling and forecasting; tailored on-boarding and coaching that delivers a more flexible learning path for each employee; improved CSAT through tighter alignment between customer experience and agent performance; and personalised engagement plans that improve employee retention.

Adaptive workforce optimisation is finding better answers to the industry old conundrum of balancing the needs of individual agents with business objectives. Different folks have different strokes, and when staff are managed accordingly the ultimate winner is the customer.

Contact Pyrios to learn how new technologies are making workforce optimisation more adaptive – and contact centre agents more engaged.

Author: Paddy Neill

Business Development Manager and Contact Centre solutions specialist at Pyrios. 

Paddy has spent most of his career working with customers to create better communications and contact centres. His more recent interests include customer engagement and workforce optimisation.

Connect with Paddy on LinkedIn.

8 Steps to More Customer Centric IVR

IVR systems slash contact centre costs and even win favour with callers when they get answers easier and faster. So why do IVR disaster stories outnumber successes?

Trouble starts when companies stuff too many options into their IVR systems, confounding callers with so many pathways that they’re often left wandering deep in a forest looking for an escape route. So much for efficiency.

However, amid the hang-ups and teeth-gnashing, some providers have found a way to architect their self-service to deliver a great experience. Look no further than banks, whose introduction of ATM machines pioneered automated self-service in the modern age.

Customers lapped up the opportunity to withdraw cash, check account balances, and deposit funds at their leisure. It was good for the banks too, because it reduced in-store traffic and lowered cost per serve.

To their credit, banks kept their doors open (granted, there are a few less doors these days) but this was no act of goodwill, it was common sense. Imagine the customer revolt and vilification had bank managers required customers to use an ATM before they could walk through the doors of the bank to eyeball a bank teller.

ATMs were designed to offer a convenient mechanism to perform simple transactions, without a bank teller in sight; they function as a service enhancement, not as a replacement. And that’s the key to designing a great IVR experience.

Every company should periodically assess their IVR experience, because your customers will love you for it. We’ve identified 8 key areas for improvement to get you started on the road to a more customer centric IVR.

Here’s a quick taste, covered in detail in our new IVR Best Practice Guide.     

  1. Automate repetitive transactions
    Prime candidates for IVR automation include account activation, balances and new services.
     
  2. Understand your customers
    Segment customers according to their expectations of your availability at key moments.
     
  3. Design with the customer in mind
    Observe contact centre agents, listening to callers to understand why they’ve called and the language they use to describe their needs.
     
  4. Always provide the option for a live agent
    Some callers prefer human contact, even when IVR system design hits all the right buttons. The question, then, is option placement.
     
  5. Focus on customer effort
    Put yourself in the customer’s shoes to gauge the level of effort you’re asking customers to expend. If it’s too much they’ll drop out.
     
  6. Sweat the so-called small stuff
    Lots that you can consider here. For starters, restrict IVR menu options to five or less, and no deeper than three levels; keep messages short, no longer than 8 seconds; link to CRMto fine tune CX; test call flow to gauge effort.
     
  7. Design with measures in mind
    Monitor and report the performance of IVR using a combination of high and low-level metrics.
     
  8. Use IVR to its full potential
    Most IVR deployments perform as a ‘gateway’ to an organisation – a way in for callers. But IVR also does great work in a number of outbound situations.

Get the full detail on how to design a better IVR experience in eight steps with our complimentary IVR Best Practice Guide.

Get your IVR Guide here

Contact Pyrios for a free consultation on how to improve your IVR system.

 

Jo Pietersen - edit.jpg

Author: Jo Pietersen

Business Analyst Team Leader at Pyrios

7 Quick Fixes for VOIP Call Quality

On March 27, 1977, a pair of fully loaded Boeing 747s collided on the runway of Los Rodeos Airport on the island of Tenerife, killing 583 of the 644 passengers on board the two jets, and forever changing aviation industry views of air safety and communication.

Investigators drew several conclusions from the crash, but the main one highlighted communication. "Language needs to be very clear," the investigator said, highlighting the source of the confusion between pilots and air traffic control that led to the catastrophic collision.

Voice communication is always mission critical, but rarely results in human tragedy. Bad communications, however, can be a sure way to lose business. Degraded communications can cause callers to misunderstand each other, in some cases forcing them to call back over and over again and, if aggravated enough, could force them to try an alternative company.

What’s going wrong?

In the business world, unified communication systems manage a fast increasing amount of voice-based communication. Vendors like Microsoft have made it extremely simple to set up unified communications, but often users underestimate the planning required to keep voice functioning at peak performance when it must compete with other data and users sharing the same network. Things go wrong.

For example, VOIP systems that worked like a dream during a trial often fluctuate when call volumes spike and or network traffic increases. Suddenly that expensive ‘nice to have’ QOS switch becomes essential and would have paid for itself. These types of switches prioritise VOIP traffic over less critical network data so as to guarantee high quality voice transmission.

However, ignoring the importance of QOS is just the beginning of a long list of problems awaiting adopters of so called plug-and-play VOIP systems. Here’s a list of other common mistakes:  

  • Incorrectly managed IP network switches
  • Inexperienced and untrained IT staff
  • Absent ITIL discipline
  • Poor voice/DATA models that neglect DIFFSERV/TOS and 802.1P/Q protocols, and LOSSLESS and LOSSY compression conventions essential to voice/telephony network design
  • Bandwidth assumptions
  • Inferior hardware, including switches, termination patch panels and cables

Getting a measure of call quality

While call quality, or rather instances of poor call quality, are immediately apparent to callers, getting a more formal measure of quality helps network managers understand the performance they should expect, and diagnose weaknesses likely to degrade voice quality.

The most reliable predictor of quality is based on the MOS Standard (Mean Opinion Score) – a transmission planning tool based on the ITU-T G.107 standard that calculates expected voice quality based on the experience of a typical telephone user under conversational conditions.

A number of communication vendors, including Avaya, have adopted this MOS standard for VOIP quality measurement.

Tools like VIRSAE VQM and Prognosis, use the E-model (ITU-T Rec. G.107) to detect and remedy voice issues. In the case of VIRSAE VQM, RTCP packet data is captured and uploaded to the VIRSAE cloud, which provides the ability to analyse the MOS data remotely and also gives the ability to alert.

Without these tools the investigation of voice quality problems is difficult. Real-time built in tools like those on the AVAYA CM system could be used, but require special skills and additional software to decipher the information – a job that is further complicated when data is gathered across a WAN, ISPs and telco providers.  

7 quick fixes

Before splashing out on new tools to improve call quality, network managers can do a number of things to make immediate improvements.

  1. Calm jitter
    VoIP delivers voice information in packets, which must be evenly spaced and delivered in a constant stream to preserve voice quality. But configuration and network errors disorder voice packets, scrambling audio and making it difficult for callers to understand what’s being said. One way to fix jitter is to replace Ethernet cables with a Category 6 cable and use high-end switches with jitter buffers to accelerate the transfer of information. The combination of cable and switching stores and organises voice packets, keeping everything in the right order.
     
  2. Contention
    Like all services, VoIP communication competes with other applications and users on the network – and as competition intensifies, call quality suffers. The easiest way to free up bandwidth is with a contention ratio that measures the difference between available bandwidth and the possible maximum demand for service, and allocates bandwidth accordingly.
     
  3. Don’t overlook the simple things
    Sometimes it’s the simple things that make the biggest difference to call quality – like headsets and cords. Cheap or aging IP telephones and headsets often have thin, poorly-insulated cables and reduced audio clarity design. High-standard approved IP telephones, headsets and cables are more expensive, but cost less in the long run.
     
  4. Monitor bandwidth usage
    Limit downloads (and block YouTube) and other network activity during business hours. Reschedule patching, backups, and file transfers to afterhours, or during low business traffic periods. Consider running regular network speed tests on computers, servers, and network switches to identify patterns of network usage and the times of day best suited for outbound calls.
     
  5. Calibrate quality of service
    Adjust your network's QOS features to prioritise VoIP calls above other applications. Use your router to prioritise VoIP traffic to ensure calls always have sufficient bandwidth, regardless of other activity on the network. For example, when VOIP traffic is carried over switched Ethernet LANs (where the QOS is excellent and there is plenty of bandwidth for voice and data functions), use 64 kbps G.711 PCM voice coding rather than G.723.1 or G.729A to reduce the processing requirements of IP telephony. Should compression be required, the PBX (or Ethernet Hub) will do the job. This setup minimises DSP processing requirements and paves the way for a lower cost DSP, or even a single RISC processor core for the entire IP telephony system that does the work of the DSP/MCU combo. The RISC processor performs Host Signalling Processing (HSP) functions that handle basic voice and other processing requirements. However, a DSP could still be required to manage more intense processing functions, including acoustic echo cancellation, multiple lines, and conferencing features.
     
  6. Compression software
    Like all systems that involve digital signals, VoIP networks compress data to eliminate as many data bits as possible. LOSSLESS compression eliminates redundant bits, leaving information essentially the same – perfect for sending faxes over your VoIP network. LOSSY compression eliminates all information deemed to be unnecessary, which makes it ideal for audio conversations, as it minimises bandwidth use and eliminates ambient noises unrelated to the VoIP conversation. However, compression software can eliminate too much information, making conversations unintelligible. In this case you should buy new compression software that preserves a larger portion of the original data.
     
  7. Control feedback
    Turn down the volume on your speaker phone. Failing that, use a phone with a lower frequency (high frequency phones pick up more ambient sound, increasing the potential for feedback). 

Mastering quality is harder than it looks

Thanks to packet voice networking, almost any network-enabled device can carry voice. However, implementing VOIP technology requires sophisticated real-time software to address QOS and network interoperability. Delivering consistently high quality voice is much harder than it looks. But with the right set of eyes and toolsets like Virsae VQM, network managers can keep voices crystal clear and avoid the pitfalls of crossed wires and miscommunication. 

Contact Pyrios if you’d like help improving your VOIP call quality.

Author: Louis Barbosa

Senior Engineer in Pyrios’ Network Operations Centre (NOC)

A specialist in the telecommunications industry with more than 35 years’ experience, Louis has extensive expertise at both the provider and business partner level. 

Connect with Louis on LinkedIn.

 

 

Sizing up Skype for Business

Forget about telephone numbers, think about contacts. That’s the allure of Skype for Business – Microsoft’s communications and collaborations software.

With multiple communication channels and collaboration tools in a single integrated package, workers can focus on who they need to contact rather than finding the right phone number – a shift that encourages businesses to re-evaluate how they interact with people.

It’s a quantum leap from traditional telephony, which businesses seem happy to make. But with different deployment options, licensing models, and integration considerations, you’ve got to think carefully before taking the plunge.

Is Skype for Business right for your business?  

That depends.

If your workers spend most of their time at a desk and you simply require a new phone system, then Skype for Business is overkill. Certainly, it’ll do a good job of managing calls. But it’s a bit like buying a turbo-charged 4WD to drive to the end of the road to pick up some groceries. You’re buying a bunch of features you’ll never use.

On the other hand, if your workers are mobile and need to see each other’s availability, work with different groups, and share information quickly and easily, then Skype for Business offers a powerful toolset to reimagine how your business communicates and shares information.

Getting going with Skype for Business  

There are three ways to deploy Skype for Business: On-premise, from the cloud, or a combination of both formats.

On-premise deployment lets you wrap your hands around the software and maintain oversight of infrastructure and upgrades. So you’ll need a capable IT team to configure sites on your network that contain Skype for Business components and keep everything running smoothly. Alternatively, you’ll need the services of an external organisation who has skilled engineers to deploy and manage your Skype for Business environment for you.

From the cloud, Skype for Business is ready to go across a range of devices, and the Office 365 portal makes buying additional services quick and easy. Skype for Business manages service delivery from Microsoft data centres, which means systems maintenance and support staff aren’t your problem. A monthly per-user subscription fee takes care of everything. However, you’re not totally off the hook. Because you still need to connect and marry Skype for Business with your network. What’s more, you’ve got to source and configure your own devices, and maintain licensing for each user.

A blended hybrid approach comes into play when the contact centre is part of the solution. While the addition of cloud PBX and PSTN calling to Skype for Business introduces some calling functionality, large enterprises continue to tread carefully, retaining core contact centre systems inhouse while offering mobile workers cloud services.

While it can seem confusing, having a clear understanding of your business needs quickly turns up the model that suits you. It also pays to seek advice from a credible provider to help you understand which is the right option for you.

Licensing requirements  

As with all Microsoft products, licensing is required from a Server and Client perspective. You may well have Skype for Business licences already. Microsoft has done a great job of seeding in entry level Skype for Business licensing into businesses over recent years.

You’ll need a User Subscription License (USL) to set up Skype for Business Online. Secure a license through either Office 365 or the Skype for Business online plan to use presence, instant messaging (IM), peer-to-peer and multi-point VoIP and HD video, and consumer Skype connectivity.

If on-premise Skype for Business Server is your thing you’ll need Client Access Licenses (CALs) to connect users and devices to Skype for Business Server for presence, IM, peer-to-peer VoIP and HD video, and Skype connectivity.

The Plus CAL in particular provides access to PSTN in/out, emergency calling, and other enterprise-grade phone features. Businesses looking for the additional functionality should explore Enterprise and Plus-CAL license options.

Both on-premise and hybrid deployments require a Skype for Business Server license for each server providing registrar services. Neither Edge servers nor Mediation servers require a specific Skype for Business server license.

The key is checking what license entitlements you have as part of the planning process, so there’s no unpleasant budgeting surprises when you make the leap (or when Microsoft calls to perform a licence audit).

Integration

Microsoft doesn’t make hardware devices – handsets, gateways, session border controllers (SBC) and the like. So you’ll need to consult an authorised reseller, like Pyrios, to design and integrate your devices with Skype for Business.

Polycom, AudioCodes, and Sonus are your safest bet in Australia and New Zealand. These vendors have tested and certified their products to work with Skype for Business.    

There’s more scope when it comes to contact centre integration. Microsoft Lync and Skype for Business have certified over 20 different contact centre solutions. Enghouse and Interactive Intelligence are the most popular vendor solutions deployed in Australia and New Zealand.

Individual contact centres come with their own quirks. Discuss your requirements with a specialist before taking the leap.

Plan for success

New technology has never been so accessible. But readier access shouldn’t invite less rigorous planning. Take the time to understand current Skype for Business licensing entitlements and where your intended usage will leave you under-licensed.

A clear deployment and transition plan, including hardware and integration requirements, will smooth the change process and ensure your new technology is up to the mark from day one and into the future.

Contact Pyrios if you’d like help to assess your readiness and to build a plan to migrate.  

Author: Al Cowan

Solution Consultant at Pyrios

Al has worked in the IP telephony and UC environment for over thirteen years with Pyrios. Specialising in Microsoft, Avaya and AudioCodes product suites enables an objective view on current and emerging technologies.

Connect with Al on LinkedIn.  

Getting the Measure of Interaction Analytics

You can’t improve what you can’t measure, the saying goes. Software tools have largely solved the problem of information capture and measurement. But information itself is largely useless – unless it is interpreted and then used to address business objectives.

Contact centre managers know the drill. Looking to drive continuous improvement, steer training and unearth new sales opportunities, managers turn to Interaction Analytics systems to get answers to burning questions from data in recorded telephone conversations, emails, web chats, and even social media.

However, managers come up short when they don’t have the time or skills to interpret the information and use it to change behaviours and processes impacting business objectives.

It’s one thing to invest in an analytics tool and quite another to do the job well.

What’s going on?

Unlike, say, consumer apps, which are ready to go from the moment they’re downloaded and opened, analytics tools are more like CRM – an operating architecture and templated processes that must be fitted to users and the wider business.

Simply processing phone calls, emails, social media or webchat will only add to the mountain of data.

The key is to follow a managed approach that combines speech analytics and contextual metadata to organise, analyse and, most critically, operationalise discovery and change. It’s a dynamic process requiring ongoing refinement, targeting and assessment. Only then can answers that drive performance improvements be found.

Approaches to speech analytics

There are two technology approaches to speech analytics: transcription and phonetic analysis.

Transcription uses language models to render text from spoken words and phrases. Text is analysed alongside other sources (i.e. email, chat, instant messaging and social media), uncovering emerging topics, quantifying related phrases, and categorising interactions according to topic.

Phonetic indexing is based on phonemes – actual sounds that make up language.  Combined with analytical processing, phonetics is the quickest way to analyse information contained in the audio files.

Both approaches have pros and cons. Transcription is slower and must be reapplied to audio for every search. However, it provides insight without predefined words and phrases. Phonetics, on the other hand, is extremely quick, more accurate, and searches can be re-run from the phoneme database.

A combined approach delivers the best results, with transcription driving the formulation of a hypothesis, and phonetics gathering empirical data to quantify the size and shape of the problem, and the impact of improvements.

Doing a good job of analytics

Interaction Analytics done well will increase contact centre revenue, reduce costs, and improve customer experience.

On the revenue front, analytics tools identify critical agent skills driving successful sales or collections. They also help precisely target training and coaching to focus on those key skills. And they continuously monitor conversations to gauge skills development.

Operating costs tumble when analytics tools are used to identify and remedy the root cause of high Average Handle Times (AHT). They also pave the way for automation, by identifying types of contacts ripe for self-service methods.

And when contact centre managers eliminate key causes of dissatisfaction, lifting the rate of first contact resolution (FCR), customers will notice.

Contact Pyrios to learn how these powerful tools will make a difference to your business. 

Author: Paddy Neill

Business Development Manager and Contact Centre solutions specialist at Pyrios. Paddy has worked in the telecommunications industry for many years, recently with particular focus on customer engagement and workforce optimisation.  

Connect with Paddy on LinkedIn. 

WebRTC: What’s the story?

WebRTC – a new web standard that lets you make audio and video calls from your browser (plugins not required) – is gaining traction. Web RTCstats research shows almost half (47%) of businesses surveyed are planning to use the technology within the next 12 months.

What’s the story?

Blame consumers, who these days expect instant personalised service. Coupled with the rising tide of online video – a report published by Cisco Visual predicts video will represent 69% of all consumer internet traffic by 2017 – and it’s not hard to see why WebRTC will pave the way for brands to show a friendly face when customers demand.

New possibilities for browsers

Like the name suggests, web browsers are a window to the online world, allowing browsers to sit back and take in the view. WebRTC changes all that, delivering consumers a ‘sit-forward’ experience that lets them talk to providers instantly.

  • A customer wants to know more about a product they’ve seen on a website. They click a button on the website to talk to a company product specialist. Later, the customer clicks another button to start a video call to watch a live product demonstration
  • You email a question to a work colleague. The answer is complex, and the recipient ponders a written response and thinks, too hard. So they click a link in your email signature to call your desk phone

Just two examples of new contact behaviours made possible by WebRTC. 

WebRTC defined

WebRTC stands for Web Real-Time Communications. It’s an open standard for embedding real-time voice, video and data communications capabilities into web browsers and mobile applications.

WebRTC at work in contact centres and unified communications

  • Click-to-talk: Customer browses company website and clicks a button to talk to an agent
  • Customer to web agent: Customer uses a non-WebRTC channel (e.g. PSTN) to call a contact centre. Agent answers call in their browser, paving the way for unifying other channels and data
  • Web agent to customer: Salesperson calls customer from the company CRM system, without picking up a phone
  • Web customer to web agent: Customer browses company website and starts web chat with contact center agent. Customer decides to talk to agent and clicks voice or video button
  • Virtual DDI: Employee email signatures include a link to personal WebRTC-enabled web pages. Email recipient clicks link to initiate a call on the employee device (mobile, desk phone, PC), based on rules defined by the employee
  • Voice and video conferencing: Employee emails a unique URL to invitees. Invitees click URL to join conference via voice-only or video, from their browser

Benefits

WebRTC delivers wide ranging benefits. Suffice to say it is free, secure, interoperable, delivers great quality, adapts to network conditions, and supports rapid application development. Learn more here.

  • It’s free
  • Platform and device independence
  • Secure voice and video
  • Advanced voice and video quality
  • Reliable session establishment
  • Multiple media streams
  • Adaptive to network conditions
  • Interoperability with VoIP and video
  • Rapid application development

Architecture

For the technically minded, see here for more under the hood detail.

WebRTC supported browsers and platforms

Browser and platform support varies. However, things are picking up as WebRTC’s popularity rises. Currently supported browsers and platforms:

  • Google Chrome         
  • Mozilla Firefox            
  • Opera
  • Android                       
  • iOS                             
  • Microsoft Edge

Talk to us if you want to explore the value WebRTC can offer your business.

Author: Khurram Awan

Technical Lead at Pyrios and specialist in the design, build and integration of contact centre and unified communications systems and applications. Khurram holds a Master of Computer Science. Prior to working at Pyrios, he led the contact centre infrastructure, planning and implementation team at Mobilink, the largest telecom company in Pakistan with 35 million customers and serving 0.6 million calls per day in its three contact centres across the country. Connect with Khurram on LinkedIn.

Turn Quality Management into Continuous Improvement

Quality management can be tough work. Unless you have an expensive analytics tool, contact centre managers are faced with a mountain of interactions to pinpoint improvements. To make the job easier, they base their improvements on a small sample of interactions. But this is dangerous territory, which often misrepresents contact centre performance, obscuring weaknesses and opportunities to make useful tweaks. So much for improvement.

However, observing a few basic rules can effectively transform quality management into sustainable continuous improvements – even when you’re dealing with a small sample of interactions.

Read the signs

  • Do your agents regularly score 100% or thereabouts? Then you’re asking the wrong questions. Measuring what they do well doesn’t pinpoint where you’re performing poorly.
  • And what about the questions being asked? A questionnaire bulging with internal compliance assessment won’t tell you much about customer experience.
  • Then there’s the issue of question weighting. Analysing a heap of questions with relatively similar weightings won’t help to identify problem areas.

Better questions provide better answers   

  • Asking fewer pointed questions is better than asking a whole bunch of general questions. Ensure every question relates to an agent-related performance improvement goal.
  • Think long term. Month-on-month performance variations show blips. However, longer-term trends are more valuable indicators of meaningful shifts in performance.
  • Use trended data to identify poor performing behaviours and areas for improvement.
  • Set one or two individual improvement goals for each customer service representative (CSR) and measure improvements over time. When achieved, re-assess results and choose the next lowest performing question and set a new goal.
  • If necessary, eliminate questions that fail to indicate problem areas.

Crowd source

  • Involve as many CSRs as possible – it will deliver better results. Lots of CSRs making small individual adjustments will deliver far better results than a single CSR upping their game on two-to-three measures

If your quality management doesn’t pinpoint improvements, you’re doing it wrong.

Stop and think. What limit are you approaching? And is that really the best you can do?

Author: Peter Dougherty

Business Analyst and Quality Management Trainer/ Consultant at Pyrios. Peter has specialised in NICE Recording and Quality Management Optimisation in his eight years with Pyrios. Prior to that he had fourteen years NICE QM experience on the operational side in a large banking contact centre.  Connect with Peter on LinkedIn.

Workforce Management: three more reasons to ditch spreadsheets

Spreadsheets are the Swiss army knife of workplace applications, providing owners with a single tool packed with clever functions to do all sorts of work. However, certain tasks are better left to specialist tools. Just ask contact centre managers, who lose huge chunks of time and productivity to complex spreadsheets.

When it comes to workforce management, specialised tools trump spreadsheets every time.

How to grab the Golden Opportunity in your Contact Centre

Looking for a golden opportunity? Every time someone rings in to your contact centre, it’s staring you in the face. After all, you have someone on the line who has made the decision to get in touch and is therefore in the mood for a chat.  If they are an existing customer, they already do business with you; and if you can address their query rapidly and effectively, they could be so impressed that…

…you can successfully offer them something else for sale.

Video Etiquette

Here's five simple tips to maximise video communication value.

Video is becoming an increasingly popular mode of communication, driven partly by the fact that as people get comfortable with it, up goes their usage – and they use it more because it delivers a more effective interaction. By taking some time to consider how you use video, you can get more from it, more of the time, without annoying co-workers in the office or those you’re calling.