Equipping Reps for Call Resolution

Social media support and self-service options are on the rise, but companies shouldn’t unplug their phone systems just yet.

Today’s consumers expect an exceptional user experience as brands continue to raise the bar for e-commerce service through their online channels.

Still, the contact center remains a vital component in any complete support strategy.

According to BusinessNewsDaily, a Five9 study revealed that 70 percent of American consumers will contact businesses via phone as their primary method of communication.

The right tools for the job
Contact centers are still going strong, but customers today have higher standards for what they consider to be good support over the phone.

Managers can hire the world’s most talented, experienced representatives but still struggle to deliver quality support if they lack adequate customer service technology.

In an age where a great deal of shopping is done online without the help of live agents, contact centers are often the first interactive touch point consumers will have with a brand, making it all the more important to ensure customer satisfaction.

In addition to heightened consumer demands, the stakes have also been raised for e-commerce service, thanks to the widespread use of social media and anonymous review sites.

Related article: It Should be a No-Brainer: Online Customers Want Better Experiences

BusinessNewsDaily pointed out that dissatisfied customers between the ages of 18 and 34 are likely to air out their grievances online, sharing with their networks harsh words that can leave a bad mark on a brand’s reputation. Despite the potentially negative implications of these social activities, the source explained that live call handling is the defining feature of a company’s service.

“Ultimately, it is the contact center agents who have the biggest impact on the customer’s experience,” said Rich Guth, vice president of marketing at Transera, according to the news source. “Contact centers should encourage their agents to deliver a personalized and optimized customer experience. A focus on quality always delivers more rewarding relationships than quantity.”

Mixing the old with the new
To make a lasting impression on customers in the digital era, companies must provide their representatives with more than just a phone.

Contact centers that maximize first call resolution integrate the use of consumer information, extensive knowledge bases and additional services such as co-browsing to guide consumers through online portals.

Managers can also increase productivity by segmenting their staff into specialized roles, allowing them to develop more specific expertise and receive calls that pertain to their niche.

According to BusinessNewsDaily, collecting and organizing relevant customer data is essential in offering an advanced level of service.

“Contact centers collect tons of data from their customers,” Guth said, as reported by the source. “It starts from the time a customer picks up the phone, but information gets scattered throughout the conversation and stored in a disparate system. Together, this data forms historical performances and real-time context to make better, data-driven decisions. These decisions are backed up with months’ and years’ worth of detailed data, not just high-level summaries or snapshots of specific time periods.”

Beware of omni-channel pitfalls
The intersection of applications and information is the new standard in customer service. However, companies must be cautious not to get carried away with implementing more channels than they can effectively manage, Examiner.com recently noted.

Live help technology must be used sparingly to be most effective, and representatives need to have a firm grasp on each channel if customers are to get the best experience possible.

In addition to training agents properly, decision-makers should build their contact center strategies piece by piece rather than layering an overwhelming number of services that will create more problems than they solve.

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This article originally appeared on the LiveLOOK blog, and is reprinted with permission.

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We’re Doubling Down on the Cloud-Based Contact Center with Google

Nearly every business, no matter its size, has some mechanism in place to engage with their customers. For the world’s smallest companies, that’s usually a voicemail number or email address that one person responds to in their spare time.

In contrast, the world’s biggest companies deploy sophisticated, multimillion-dollar systems capable of efficiently processing hundreds of thousands of customer interactions per hour, using tens of thousands of customer engagement agents working 24/7.

But what about the millions of entrepreneurs who find themselves between these two poles?

Companies that are ready to improve their customer engagement, but aren’t ready for a big upfront investment, are increasingly looking to cloud-based, subscription services first.

Read: Avaya Chooses Google Cloud Platform for New Cloud-Based Contact Center Solution on the Google for Work blog

Analysts at Frost & Sullivan estimate the cloud-based customer engagement market will grow 11.6%, roughly twice the growth rate of premise-based customer engagement solutions.

Today, we’re announcing the Summer 2015 availability of Customer Engagement OnAvayaTM Powered by Google Cloud Platform. August 2015 update: The product is now available. Please click here for details.

I want to take a closer look at some of the new features we’ve been hard at work on, and why they’re so exciting.

This new solution provides low-cost agent setup, and allows agents to work from anywhere, right in the browser.

Imagine opening up your Chromebook and logging into the Customer Engagement OnAvayaTM Powered by Google Cloud Platform app with a simple username and password. No VPN required.

We do this by using HTTPS to establish a secure connection between the app and Avaya Secure Border Controller Element, software that verifies access to the database and routes relevant traffic to and from the app. Interactions inside the app are handled by WebRTC, an emerging Web standard that we’re strong supporters of.

HTTPS opens up a temporary information tunnel between the app and the enterprise, which closes as soon as the agents logs off. Every time you use Gmail, buy something online or check your bank balance from your phone, you’re using HTTPS.

Application-specific access using HTTPS has three major benefits for the enterprise: Simplicity, security and scalability.

First, simplicity. Onboarding a new agent is a snap, and can be done completely remotely. Instead of provisioning a new VPN token and sending the agent a complicated sheet of instructions, they log into a Web app–just as simple as logging into Gmail.

Second, security. VPN opens up a bigger tunnel into the enterprise, essentially placing the entire computer on the network virtually. With HTTPS access, data to and from the enterprise is limited to a single application. Nothing else gets through.

Lastly, scalability. The solution is hosted on Google Cloud Platform, which offers world-class reliability. It’s easy to scale up as your business needs grow, and new features are added automatically as they come online.

All customer data exists in the cloud, so if the agent’s Chromebook gets lost or stolen, your risk as an enterprise is greatly reduced.

The result is a truly virtual customer engagement solution, perfect for companies looking for a subscription-based cloud software model.

Customer Engagement OnAvayaTM Powered by Google Cloud Platform is widely available in the U.S. through certified Avaya business partners and Google for Work services partners.

Spring into the Avaya Technology Forum

It’s that time of year, again. The Avaya Technology Forum (ATF) is once more upon us.  Despite the added workload and dizzying deadlines, it really is my favorite time of year at work.  It’s like the Avaya version of Spring.

As seasons go, Spring stands out as a New & Improved version.  The grass is green, again.  My wife is out tending to all of her blooming plants and flowers.  The kids are racing around on their bikes and scooters getting reacquainted with playing outside and burning off months of pent up energy.  And I get to enjoy the view over the top of my computer screen, while trying to focus on conference calls instead of the little frolicking fawns in my backyard.

ATF blog ss-1

In the same manner, ATF is full of new life and energy.  The demo floor is filled with passionate partners and curious customers.  The engineers are busily attending to new products and solutions.  Some of the brightest minds at Avaya are bouncing around from demos to whiteboards and all in between passionately listening to the challenges of different businesses and collaborating on the best ways to address them through technology.  And I get to soak it all in throughout a whirlwind of activities, while trying not to be late for my own sessions as I’m caught up in the energy of the conversations.


While ATF is a fantastic event for corporate folks like me to engage and stay in touch with partners and customers and validate priorities for development, it’s ultimately an event for you.  ATF is focused on helping you make the most informed decisions possible about migrating, designing and implementing the right networking, customer engagement, unified communications and engagement architecture for your enterprise. It’s the only place you’ll find all the experts from Avaya in 1 place at 1 time, and their sole purpose is to showcase the latest innovations and provide the latest information to you through 3 days of planned sessions, scheduled meetings, demos and casual hallway conversations.  We’ll be introducing new products, making strategic announcements and providing full access to the roadmap, and you’ll be right there to hear it first and pose your questions to the people behind it all.  It’s the ultimate inside track.


Of course, you can hear about it from the comfort of home…or your office if you prefer.  The coolest thing about ATF is all the technology on display.  We don’t just talk about it.  We actually show it.  On the demo floor, you’ll see existing equipment, as well as, the equipment that’s becoming generally available around the time of ATF.  You can get an overview of the setup from experts tending the demo and even get a firsthand view under the covers at the keyboard.  It gets better than that, though.  You’ll get the same experience with some of our strategic technology that’s still under development for release later this year.  The only way you’ll get any closer to the future of Avaya is to come join our team at ATF 2015, at the Buena Vista Palace Orlando, FL, from February 24 -26, 2015.


So, as you can tell, I’m quite excited…and I hope you are, too.  Why wait for Mother Nature?  Come celebrate the Spring of technology with Avaya, and don’t forget to say, “hi.”  I’ll be easy to find.  Just listen for the loud Texas drawl bouncing around from conversation to conversation.  Once you find it, you’ll find me starry eyed, like a kid in a candy shop.  I can’t wait!

So head on down to the Avaya Technology Forum 2015website and register to attend today!

See you in Orlando!

Avaya Helps Track Santa This Christmas Eve, and Brings Military Families Together

Engagement is in our DNA. It’s in the way our teams communicate and collaborate. It’s in our vision for how customers and businesses will interact. It’s about bringing people together to forge deep, meaningful connections.

This year, engagement extends to the holiday season in a very special way. As we’ve done in years past, Avaya will help bring families closer to Santa, powering the contact center at NORAD where nearly 1,250 volunteers will answer calls and emails from kids inquiring about Santa’s whereabouts on Christmas Eve. Each year, the NORAD Tracks Santa team relies on the power of Avaya technology to make sure they can connect with children calling in from around the world.

The NORAD Santa tracker helps to connect kids with Santa’s helpers on Christmas Eve. It also reminds us that there are those who can’t make phone calls as easily as we can. Military servicemembers deployed overseas during the holiday season see the simple act of a phone call home to their loved ones as the best gift they could receive.

In an effort to help bring those families closer together, Avaya is supporting #SantaCause, making a donation to Cell Phones For Soldiers. This nonprofit organization–started by two kids who emptied their piggy banks to purchase phone cards for our military stationed abroad–has now donated more than 210 million minutes of talk time to troops and their families to make phone calls a possibility. We’re proud to be associated with Cell Phones For Soldiers and their incredible efforts to connect families all year long.

We would like to encourage you–our friends and partners–to join us in our effort to make the most important connections a reality this season. We’d like to also say thank you to our friends at @Plantronics for their generous donation.

To track Santa on Christmas Eve visit www.noradsanta.org or call 1 877 HI-NORAD.

To learn more Cell Phones For Soldiers and to make a donation: www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com