Beyond The Cloud: The Next Generation of Virtual Call Centers

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CEOs and customer service executives understand the value of offering a world-class call center. It’s often the first contact a customer has with an organization, and it plays a major role in establishing customer loyalty. But these executives also understand the need to keep customer support costs down.

It’s these two opposing forces that are driving call center technology to continuously evolve to meet customer demand. One major step in this evolution occurred with the advent of hardware-free cloud-based virtual call centers, which were less expensive to deploy and maintain than on- premise, hardware-based solutions.

And recently the call center has taken another step forward in its evolution by integrating cloud-based virtual call center functionality with other technologies. This new hardware-free integrated virtual call center brings together interactive voice response (IVR), CRM integration, help desk integration, automated call distribution, call routing, and call recording to take customer support to the next level.

This white paper highlights how the different parts that make up the new integrated virtual call center work together to provide a superior level of service. It also explains how voice-based marketing automation technology brings them all together in one solution.

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Beyond The Cloud: The Next Generation of Virtual Call Centers

  1. 1. eBook WHITE PAPER The Next Generation of Virtual Call Centers: Beyond the Cloud
  2. 2. The Next Generation of Virtual Call Centers: Beyond the Cloud 2 © 2013 Ifbyphone, Inc. | (855) 867-0704 | www.ifbyphone.com | twitter.com/Ifbyphone | Ifbyphone.com/blog Executive Summary 2 CEOs and customer service executives understand the value of offering a world-class call center. It’s often the first contact a customer has with an organization, and it plays a major role in establishing customer loyalty. But these executives also understand the need to keep customer support costs down. It’s these two opposing forces that are driving call center technology to continuously evolve to meet customer demand. One major step in this evolution occurred with the advent of hardware-free cloud-based virtual call centers, which were less expensive to deploy and maintain than on- premise, hardware-based solutions. And recently the call center has taken another step forward in its evolution by integrating cloud-based virtual call center functionality with other technologies. This new hardware-free integrated virtual call center brings together interactive voice response (IVR), CRM integration, help desk integration, automated call distribution, call routing, and call recording to take customer support to the next level. This white paper highlights how the different parts that make up the new integrated virtual call center work together to provide a superior level of service. It also explains how voice-based marketing automation technology brings them all together in one solution.
  3. 3. © 2013 Ifbyphone, Inc. | (855) 867-0704 | www.ifbyphone.com | twitter.com/Ifbyphone | Ifbyphone.com/blog 3The Next Generation of Virtual Call Centers: Beyond the Cloud 33 What Is A Virtual Call Center? 3333333 A hardware-free virtual call center is a cloud-based SaaS (software-as-a-service) model that enables your staff to answer customer calls at anytime, from any phone, at any location. Virtual call centers use automatic call distribution (ACD) to transfer incoming calls to a group of agent phones – whether they are in your office, working remotely, or both. Users can set up their virtual call center ACD system with custom on-hold messaging and specified wait times for callers waiting in a queue. With a virtual call center, you can view average caller wait times and statistics about agent performance while recording every call for reference. Small businesses became the early adopters of hardware- free virtual call centers when they realized that this cloud technology eliminated the need for an on-premise center. With the availability of virtual call centers, smaller businesses could save on the costs of expensive hardware and equipment while allowing agents to work from any location. Enterprise businesses began implementing virtual call centers next, in the early majority. Large businesses often maintain their physical location and implement a hardware- free virtual call center for several reasons: • Easy implementation without the assistance of IT staff • Advanced reporting capabilities that improve agent productivity • Automatic software and systems updates • Ability to quickly set up multiple virtualized centers • Flexible, easily updatable software for specific business requirements • Utilize VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) phones
  4. 4. © 2013 Ifbyphone, Inc. | (855) 867-0704 | www.ifbyphone.com | twitter.com/Ifbyphone | Ifbyphone.com/blog 4The Next Generation of Virtual Call Centers: Beyond the Cloud 44444 But IVRs have become increasingly more sophisticated. Now they can be used to provide callers with information and services they previously had to wait for a live agent to receive, such as: • Account and billing info • Order renewals • Order status updates • Changes to contact information • Payment collections Automating this functionality with an intelligent IVR enables customers to serve themselves quickly and saves your agents for more detailed support calls. Also, where IVRs used to require a programmer and a help desk ticket to update, they can now be updated quickly by anyone. This means that companies can continually update their IVRs to reflect customer feedback and changes in business processes. 4 While moving from an on-premise to a hardware-free virtual call center is an excellent way to cut costs, it is only the first step in implementing first-class customer service. The next step is integrating the call center with other internal systems and complementary technologies. Having these parts all work together seamlessly speeds up agent efficiency, improves customer service levels, and cuts operating costs. Below is a list of the important pieces that make up the modern integrated virtual call center. Inbound IVR for Managing Calls Inbound IVR (interactive voice response) is nothing new for the call center—companies have been setting up inbound IVRs as their virtual receptionist for years. IVRs are the automated menu that customers interact with when they call a business: rather than having a live agent answer every phone call, the IVR can pick up the phone and route the call to the correct department. The Integrated Virtual Call Center: Taking the Next Step
  5. 5. © 2013 Ifbyphone, Inc. | (855) 867-0704 | www.ifbyphone.com | twitter.com/Ifbyphone | Ifbyphone.com/blog 5The Next Generation of Virtual Call Centers: Beyond the Cloud 5 You can also schedule an outbound IVR to go out after a certain number of days. This IVR will call the customers and ask them questions that enable you to measure their satisfaction with the support they received. Knowledge is power, and knowing how satisfied (or dissatisfied) your customers are with your support team helps you to improve your service. 5 Another way to improve efficiency with IVR is by creating a menu that can gather customer information. You can set up an IVR that asks questions about customer name, organization, product/service they are interested in, support requests, etc. The customer can interact with the menu to answer the questions. By using a series of automated IVR questions, you can determine a customer’s needs up front and then route the call to an agent accordingly. Before the agent speaks with the customer, the agent receives a “whisper” message containing the name of the customer recorded in the IVR menu. This enables the agent to respond directly to the caller’s needs, and provides the customer with a feeling of personalization. The more information your agents have about their callers, the more successful they will be in providing superior assistance. Outbound IVR for Customer Phone Surveys You can also configure your virtual call center to use outbound IVRs to conduct post-support surveys. After your customer has completed a phone call with your support team, the IVR can immediately transfer the call to a short 1-2 question survey to ensure the customer was pleased with the service. If they express dissatisfaction, you can transfer them directly to a manager to remedy the issue. As you plan your IVR phone survey, it’s important to keep the questions simple (to respect the taker’s time) yet informative, so you get meaningful data. Try these out: • How satisfied are you with the service you received? • How satisfied are you with your interactions with our representative? • How satisfied are you with our company overall? • How likely are you to use our service again? • How likely are you to recommend our company to others? IVR phone surveys also have capabilities that enable you to ask open-ended questions and questions with multiple choices. A Short IVR Phone Survey Goes a Long Way Collect Customer Information with Your IVR
  6. 6. © 2013 Ifbyphone, Inc. | (855) 867-0704 | www.ifbyphone.com | twitter.com/Ifbyphone | Ifbyphone.com/blog 6The Next Generation of Virtual Call Centers: Beyond the Cloud 6 Virtual call centers can be integrated with CRM systems, such as Salesforce.com, to maintain a database of customer information and requests. Just as your agents can receive “whisper” messages with customer name, they can also receive detailed account information on their desktop panel when a call comes in. Figure 1. Agent Panel 6 Not only does this information give your agents the opportunity to provide personalized customer support, it also benefits your entire company by integrating your systems to maintain an accurate record of every phone call and customer request. When an existing customer calls your business, their information will pop up on your agent’s desktop. See Figure 1 for an example of an agent screen for an incoming call from an existing account in Salesforce.com. Any unanswered calls will have a new case automatically created in your CRM to ensure you never miss a customer support request. If the unanswered caller ID matches a contact, the case will be associated with that contact. If the number is unknown, a new contact will be created. Figure 2. Salesforce cases from phone calls CRM Integration for Personalized Customer Service
  7. 7. © 2013 Ifbyphone, Inc. | (855) 867-0704 | www.ifbyphone.com | twitter.com/Ifbyphone | Ifbyphone.com/blog 7The Next Generation of Virtual Call Centers: Beyond the Cloud 77 Customer Support Help Desk Integration Your business receives tens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of support calls on a weekly basis. This call volume can be a lot to manage. But if your support team is taking too long to respond to customer requests, you’ll never be able to provide superior quality customer service. By integrating your virtual call center with your customer support help desk, such as Zendesk, you can turn every phone call into an actionable, organized support ticket. For each customer support call, a ticket will be created automatically in your help desk. If you’ve already integrated with your CRM, a detailed email can be automatically sent to your customer after they’ve submitted their request. This integration enables you to serve more customers with voice- based tools that help you shorten response time. VIP and Emergency Support Businesses that receive a high volume of support calls can set up custom rules that place VIP customers and emergency requests at the top of your support team queue. The faster your support team is able to respond to and resolve support requests, the more satisfied your customers are going to be. FundNET Systems Uses an Integrated Virtual Call Center to Automate Client Interaction FundNET Systems wanted an automated way to increase client support. They also needed to ensure that all support requests received via phone were automatically entered and tracked in Zendesk, the company’s help desk software. Ifbyphone’s solution was ideal because: 1. When clients call FundNet, Ifbyphone transcribes the voicemail and logs it as a Zendesk support ticket. 2. The client automatically receives an email confirming the support request that includes the transcription and a link to the audio recording. By using Ifbyphone, FundNET reduced their phone support costs by almost 80 percent while adding substantial functionality. Now, all of FundNET’s phone support requests are automatically logged in Zendesk. Because Zendesk is also integrated with FundNET’s CRM system, FundNET now has end-to-end visibility of client requests throughout all key systems.
  8. 8. © 2013 Ifbyphone, Inc. | (855) 867-0704 | www.ifbyphone.com | twitter.com/Ifbyphone | Ifbyphone.com/blog 8The Next Generation of Virtual Call Centers: Beyond the Cloud 89 Automated call distribution technology enables your business to maintain flexibility by using any phone to answer customer calls. Inbound phone calls that reach your virtual call center can be distributed to an office phone, home phone, cell phone, or even Skype. With call routing, your company can direct incoming phone calls according to your own rules: • Route by schedule: You can create custom routing based on your office hours, the time zones of your customers, weekends, holidays, and more. • Route by agent: Want your best agents to receive the highest call volume? Ensure that your best performing sales reps or customer service reps receive the most calls by routing incoming calls to agents via percentage. • Route by geography: If your business has multiple locations in various geographical regions, set up incoming phone calls to be routed to the nearest store location. By detecting area code or zip code of the call, the caller can be routed to a location close to them. • Route between multiple call centers: Set up multiple call centers and route call flow to respective centers based on caller information, distribution schedules, and location. • Route by number: Screen incoming calls and set up custom routing and queuing rules for specific phone numbers. • Route based on IVR menu responses: Many businesses use this option to score leads and then have them passed off to a qualified agent to nurture the lead. Conditional Call Routing Minimize the risk of important calls going unanswered by implementing conditional and selective phone call routing. Use this type of forwarding to route incoming calls to different types of phones (cell phone, work phone, home phone, etc.) and agents based on various schedules. • Ring an agent’s home, work, and cell phone simultaneously to ensure that the call is answered, whether the agent is working from home or travelling. • Ring agent phones in a specific order; such as work phone first, cell phone second, home phone third. • Ring several agent phone numbers at the same time: the first agent who answers gets the call, even if they are working from home. • Forward calls to various agents based on your office schedule. With virtual call center conditional call routing, prospects, customers, and staff can reach agents at any time on any phone, regardless of their location. Customizable Call Distribution and Routing
  9. 9. © 2013 Ifbyphone, Inc. | (855) 867-0704 | www.ifbyphone.com | twitter.com/Ifbyphone | Ifbyphone.com/blog 9The Next Generation of Virtual Call Centers: Beyond the Cloud 910 With web-based voice reports, you can monitor the success of your agents in real time, online, at any time. Use the agent activity report to view call data for your various agents. This report can be sorted by date or campaign, and it shows the number of outbound and inbound calls an agent handled and how long the call lasted: Figure 3. Agent Activity Report Real-Time Web Reporting
  10. 10. © 2013 Ifbyphone, Inc. | (855) 867-0704 | www.ifbyphone.com | twitter.com/Ifbyphone | Ifbyphone.com/blog 10The Next Generation of Virtual Call Centers: Beyond the Cloud 1011 Use the call distributor summary report for a breakdown on how incoming calls were handled. How many calls were answered? How many times did the call hang up and how long into the phone call? What was the average time a customer waited to speak with an agent? Figure 4. Call Distributor Summary Report Call Distrubutor Summary
  11. 11. © 2013 Ifbyphone, Inc. | (855) 867-0704 | www.ifbyphone.com | twitter.com/Ifbyphone | Ifbyphone.com/blog 11The Next Generation of Virtual Call Centers: Beyond the Cloud 1112 Use the call distributor agent modes report to see exactly what your agents were doing all day. This report shows the number of hours your agent spent busy on incoming calls, outbound calls, on breaks, lunch, etc. Also view what time they opened their agent panel in the morning and what time they closed it in the evening. Figure 5. Call Distributor Agent Modes Report Call Distributor Agent Modes
  12. 12. © 2013 Ifbyphone, Inc. | (855) 867-0704 | www.ifbyphone.com | twitter.com/Ifbyphone | Ifbyphone.com/blog 12The Next Generation of Virtual Call Centers: Beyond the Cloud 1213 Call recording enables you to monitor the interactions between your customers and representatives. You gain valuable insight into what are callers’ most frequent questions, recurring issues, and greatest areas of need. You can also use call recording to monitor your agents’ productivity and quality of support. If you have doubts about a certain agent, listen to their recorded calls for insight. Voice-Based Marketing Automation Makes It Easy The primary reason virtual call centers are now so easily made to be interactive is the recent availability of voice-based marketing automation technology. Previously, on-premise call centers required full assistance for setup, updating, and maintenance from an IT department. They lacked the ability to integrate with IVR, CRMs, and ticketing systems. Now, with voice-based marketing automation tools you can integrate a hardware-free virtual call center with your CRM and help desk. This is what enables your IVR to gather customer information and display it on your agent screens, as well as what automatically creates support tickets in your help desk. This technology also enables advanced automated call distribution, routing, recording, and reporting. Call Recording to Monitor and Improve Performance 10 Questions to Ask Your Virtual Call Center Provider 1. Can I customize the on-hold experience for my customers? 2. Can my agents receive calls from any location on any type of phone? Even Skype? 3. Can I set up schedules based on my individual agents? 4. How can my agents receive caller information before answering the phone call? 5. Can I access call reports and records online, at any time? 6. Does your service offer call recording and transcription? 7. Are there any setup fees or contracts? 8. Am I able to transfer callers to another agent, department, or IVR? 9. Do you charge per-agent or per-seat fees? 10. What kind of support do you offer?
  13. 13. © 2013 Ifbyphone, Inc. | (855) 867-0704 | www.ifbyphone.com | twitter.com/Ifbyphone | Ifbyphone.com/blog 13The Next Generation of Virtual Call Centers: Beyond the Cloud 1314 Conclusion Next Steps Call Ifbyphone today at (855) 867-0704 to learn how an integrated virtual call center will help your business provide exceptional customer support. You can also learn how successful customer support teams are using interactive virtual call centers at www.ifbyphone.com Integrated virtual call centers are the next step in the evolution of customer support. The integrations with technologies like IVR, CRM, help desk systems are making it easier for businesses to provide world-class customer service. The customer support established with hardware free, integrated virtual call centers has helped businesses of every size cut support costs and build profitable, loyal customer bases.
  14. 14. About Ifbyphone Ifbyphone manages, measures, and automates voice conversations with your customers and prospects. These conversations cannot be managed using marketing automation or CRM software alone. Without Ifbyphone’s voice-based marketing automation platform, catching these interactions is like fishing with a hole in the bottom of your net – leads and information fall out. The Ifbyphone suite is a set of software-as-a-service applications including ad tracking, lead distribution, hosted IVR, and voice broadcasting. Companies of all sizes and across all industries use Ifbyphone, including direct response, health care, real estate, home services, and lead generation. Learn more at www.ifbyphone.com. www.ifbyphone.com Twitter: http://twitter.com/ifbyphone Facebook: http://facebook.com/ifbyphone 800-568-1121 300 West Adams Street, 9th Floor Chicago, IL 60606 About Ifbyphone Ifbyphone manages, measures, and automates voice conversations with your customers and prospects. These conversations cannot be managed using marketing automation or CRM software alone. Without Ifbyphone’s voice-based marketing automation platform, catching these interactions is like fishing with a hole in the bottom of your net – leads and information fall out. The Ifbyphone suite is a set of software-as-a-service applications including ad tracking, lead distribution, hosted IVR, and voice broadcasting. Companies of all sizes and across all industries use Ifbyphone, including direct response, health care, real estate, home services, and lead generation. Learn more at www.ifbyphone.com. www.ifbyphone.com Twitter: http://twitter.com/ifbyphone Facebook: http://facebook.com/ifbyphone (855) 867-0704 300 West Adams Street, 9th Floor Chicago, IL 60606

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