How to Maintain Communication During Store Closures

My Post (17)We are living in a time when a retailer’s ability to communicate with customers has never been more important, or more challenging. Many businesses were shut down without adequate time to prepare to handle customer inquiries while physical stores and/or physical contact centers are now closed. Customers, however, still expect quick service and first call resolution, not phone numbers or voicemails that go unanswered.

If you’re a retail business owner, you can keep up your communication with customers and continue to address customer inquiries—from the ordinary to complex—with cloud communications and contact center solutions. Here’s how to make it happen.

Customer Call Routing Ensures 24/7 Coverage for Retail Businesses

Most retailers have closed their brick-and-mortar stores and shut down corporate offices—but business operations must continue, remotely. What’s your plan for keeping communications flowing to and from customers, employees, and executives, not to mention individual stores and globally dispersed workers?

Manual call forwarding is a lot more challenging than it can seem at first glance—especially in a remote work environment—and the sheer scale of incoming customer calls can be difficult to manage. Look for a cloud contact center platform with advanced call routing options, such as skills-based call routing, which lets managers create rules to automatically allocate calls to the right customer representative, based on their level of skill and experience.

It’s also important to be ready and able to communicate with customers on their channel of choice, which, for many customers nowadays, is social media. You’ll want to implement an omnichannel communication platform with social listening capabilities, so your team gets notified every time your brand is mentioned on social media and they can respond to consumer queries voiced on social media in a shorter time frame.

Forward Store Calls to Remote Agents 

When customers dial local (closed) stores, their numbers must quickly be forwarded to new locations so your remote workers can then answer calls on their own phones. If retailers use regional carriers for their stores (e.g., AT&T, Verizon) that have different call forwarding capabilities and rules, this can lead to an administrative nightmare of dropped calls, crossed signals, and missed customer service requests.

A cloud-based centralized phone system can help your team manage inbound calls. Call routing helps your team stay organized in times of chaos by creating clarity around call management as your incoming call load increases. A softphone can remotely transform any PC or Mac into a sophisticated call controller, so you can begin managing and delegating calls to employees’ cell phones without the addition of any new hardware.

Call Routing for Team Leaders

Generally, call delegation is used by administrative assistants to route calls to executives (or other staff) for whom they work. Retailers can take advantage of this feature by using call delegation to put one senior customer service executive or corporate staff member in charge of routing calls to up to 10 assistants. At the central console, your senior exec can just pick what numbers they want to forward and to whom—they can even set rules to route calls from certain numbers to a specific employee or voicemail system.

The benefit a cloud solution provides is that the assistant can still perform their duties while working from home, thereby protecting executives from disruptions at a critical time.

Respond to Customer Queries on Every Channel

Delegating calls is one thing, but what about when a customer leaves a voicemail message or asks for a phone call to follow up on a customer service request that was submitted digitally? It’s easy for open customer cases to fall through the cracks if you don’t have a system to assign customer queries to specific employees. Fortunately, some cloud contact center solutions also let your customer service managers assign tasks to specific employees in their app, make notes, share files, add team members, and request evidence of task completion from specific employees. – Read more

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6 Best Practices for Effective Remote Team Communication

My Post (13)With more organizations allowing remote work every year, team messaging is critical to keeping distributed teams communicating and collaborating effectively. The problem is, communicating through text is vastly different than communicating in person. Ideas can be misunderstood, expressions can be misconstrued, and walls of text can get glanced over. Team messaging has an entirely different form of etiquette, and by understanding the rules, you’ll be able to take your team’s collaborative spirit to the next level.

Here are our six best practices to effectively communicate using team messaging:

1. Consider your audience.

Texting is by nature a quick and casual form of communication, with shorthand, symbols, and slang (i.e., emojis, gifs, memes, etc.) for just about everything. When participating in business chat, keep in mind whom you are conversing with, what you are trying to convey, and the most appropriate way to express your message. Maybe you know what IMO means, but does your 60-year-old boss? And will he or she know you’re only expressing your personal opinion and not a fact?

2. Organize your team messaging tools.

Set up teams, rooms, or channels that are clearly and specifically named, and include just those working in a particular department (i.e., development, marketing, sales, etc.), with a certain client, or on a particular project to help ensure that you’re speaking to the right people and your messages make sense. You can even organize your less-formal conversations by setting up a virtual “break room” team or channel, where people can drop in to chat and bond with their coworkers.

3. Keep messages brief and concise.

Chat is, by definition, brief, so try to avoid sending messages that are more than a few sentences long. Take care to convey the essential message without over-the-top embellishment. And if you find that you need to share more detailed information, consider using another mode of communication, such as a shared document or note.

4. Make your chats actionable.

Many team messaging platforms include built-in project management and productivity tools, which means that details such as tasks, assignments, milestones, and deadlines can easily be added to team calendars and other project management features. Include all information necessary to turn your conversation into an actual to-do list. – Read more

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Examples of a virtual contact center doing it right

My Post (1)As cloud computing allows businesses to connect agents and locations across time zones and miles, the virtual contact center is quickly becoming a valuable option for modern customer service.

For many businesses, contact centers operate exclusively through their contact center software. This allows them to use a cloud contact center solution that connects every employee virtually without disrupting or degrading the quality of their customer service.

Switching from on-site contact centers to remote contact centers, in fact, has significantly improved customer interactions, employee turnover, and agent performance for many companies. So much so, that some of our omni-channel contact center clients have shared their stories to show others how they can benefit from using a virtual contact center.

Keep reading below to understand the ins and outs of a remote contact center and the ways you can improve your operations by moving completely online.

What is a virtual contact center?

A virtual contact center maintains the same goals and operations of a traditional call center, but uses virtual contact center software to allow agents to work from multiple locations. Customer service representatives who work as virtual agents often work from a home office, co-working space, or temporary workspace, such as coffee shops.

These software solutions are completely cloud-based, allowing employees to log into the contact center platform from any device with an internet connection. Agents can handle any type of call or interaction, maintaining excellent customer experiences and meeting call center quotas. Remote workforces use their software to communicate and collaborate like a traditional team, staying connected over the cloud to produce results.

Virtual contact centers also benefit business costs, eliminating the need for a physical office and the costs of furnishing and maintaining the workspace. If the business is moving from an on-premise solution to a virtual contact center solution for the first time, they can see improvements in queue times, , customer satisfaction, and disaster recovery. For both inbound, outbound, or blended contact  centers, moving to a cloud-based, virtual set-up can produce incredible results.

Is the virtual call center legit?

Making the move to a virtual contact center is a significant investment and change, so many businesses are hesitant to make the transition. A remote, cloud contact center model, however, can make a critical difference for customer service in any industry, which is why 50% of call centers currently using on-premise solutions plan to transition to a cloud platform by the end of 2020.

Below, we’ve included some of the benefits of using virtual contact center solutions for your business phone system and customer support needs.

1. Higher cost savings

Unlike equipment-heavy legacy solutions, cloud platforms require only computers or mobile devices, microphone-enabled headsets, and a reliable internet connection. You won’t need to host and maintain any hardware or software, which makes adding and removing seats a breeze. Rather than paying for unused seats, you’ll only pay for the capacity you need, exactly when you need it.

The cost of running your team will also decrease, even as your contact center continues to meet your high expectations. You won’t have to pay for utilities, furniture, real estate, or on-going maintenance at a physical location. These additional resources provide more room in your budget so you can improve and prioritize other areas of your customer service.

2. Improved workplace satisfaction

Building a remote customer service operation gives you access to a bigger pool of the top talent available throughout the world. Without the geographical restrictions of running an on-site operation, you can hire awesome customer service reps who bring powerful assets to your team. A Frost & Sullivan study, for example, learned that over 80% of virtual call center agents have experience in management and a college education. For traditional contact centers, only 35% of those in a call center job offer the same qualities.

Most importantly, your agents are far more likely to become long-term employees when they work from home, lowering employee turnover. Pipkins research found that the employee retention rate is only 25% for on-site agents but 80% for remote workers. Customer service representatives who work from home are less stressed and more loyal to their employees, which leads to consistently better work. Happy agents create positive experiences during interactions, so this can also lead to higher customer satisfaction.

3. An optimized customer experience

On-premise contact center platforms are generally harder to expand then cloud solutions. While you would need to add new equipment and software to add new features to your legacy solution, a virtual contact center platform has the features already built in.

When companies want to add live chat to their website or introduce the ability to interact over social media, they only have to adjust their platform business plans to access these capabilities. You already have access to phone calls over your voice-over internet protocol (VoIP) system, but you can also tap into skills-based routing, call distribution, video conferencing, and more with your cloud-based platform. – Read more

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