Category: CRM

Webinar: Creating meaningful Customer Experience with Unified CX Solutions

FREE WEBINAR: Creating Meaningful Customer Experience

                  Tuesday, October 22, 2013 − 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM MDT

Desired CX Solutions
Creating meaningful Customer Experience with Unified CX Solutions

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One of the key elements of any CRM plan is integration, the unification of all your company’s data sources and silo systems to create a single, holistic view of each customer.. Whether they are, business organization or system-based silos, they all conspire to make customer journeys fragmented, painful and costly.

A typical customer journey includes interactions via contact center, corporate portals and conventional emails. Yes every call, every click, every message counts. Enabling these journey points is paramount and Oracle is privileged to assist you in the strategic components to this journey via this webinar.

Join us for a webinar on

“Creating meaningful Customer Experience with Unified CX Solutions”
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
2:00 PM to 3:00 PM MDT

Oracle CRM OnDemand – Alive and Kicking?

Oracle CRM OnDemand (CRMOD) Release 16 was my first encounter with a ready to use, complete End-to-End CRM application in a SaaS model, and its needless to say that I am biased towards this application. However, the reasons are not just personal; the application now in its 23rd release (with a roadmap to R24) has come a long way. It is a mature application and is as good as (if not better) most of the other offerings in the market.

But recent events in this space have raised doubts of the application’s life term. Many would argue that Oracle’s focus has shifted to the development and enhancement of fusion applications and Oracle CRMOD is on its way to retirement. While this is not entirely false, we still need to understand that the application is part of Oracle Sales Cloud and with its existing customer base, Oracle would find it difficult to move away from this product.

This is well substantiated by the recent enhancements and the fixes I have seen in the release 23. Oracle has delivered more than 35 enhancements with major themes being – Customer experience, Industry Innovation and Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). While the below screenshot shows the focus areas of Release 23, the roadmap for Release 24 is equally convincing.

CRMOD Release 23 features

R23 talks about integration with Oracle Social Relationship Management for Social engagement and monitoring and concentrated effort to build up the Life Sciences industry vertical for CRMOD. However, in this article, I would focus on the three most intriguing features (as per me) of Oracle CRMOD, their functionalities and recent enhancements.

1] Business Process Automation’: From updating a field to building complex validation rules, used for automating tasks which were painfully manual or for defining rules that control the application’s usage, Business Process automation module of CRMOD is probably the single biggest component in terms of impact towards the application adoption. A well defined and well configured Business process can ensure that your application is controlled and structured.

Oracle CRMOD provides a robust framework to establish these business processes. As a systems analyst, you can create innumerable combinations of Actions based on the triggers available. Think of any action below and combine with the trigger to define your process.

CRMOD Business Process

The predefined functions in Oracle CRMOD boasts of a comprehensive list, which when stitched together with the operators offered can help you define and configure the most complex of rules and processes.

R23 enhancements – With R23, one of the key features in business process management is that the function ‘JoinFieldValue’ (function to extract field value from another object) could potentially have any record as the source and any record as the destination. The source records were previously restricted to OOB objects and Custom Object 1, 2 & 3. This meant that while designing the system, we had to take into consideration this limitation. However, now you could map your business entities without thinking of this constraint.

CRMOD Keynote

2] Personalizing your Application’: Driven by its theme of ‘Customer Experience’ this section has seen a number of enhancements in the last few releases. The application though designed/configured globally in a certain way, provides the user the ability to control:

a) What they want see in the system &

b) How they want to see it

The list below (not limited to) highlights what users can control in the system, apart from being able to modify one’s personal information:

Application Personalizing with CRMOD

R23 enhancementsDynamic layout capability is one of the most sought after features in Oracle CRMOD. A feature not yet available in recently developed applications. Prior to R23, users could only add/remove related information sections for a layout and this did not impact the dynamic layouts. But R23, takes this a step further by giving users the option to personalize the layout with individual sets of related information, each set mapping to a driving value in the pick-list.

keynote R23 enhancement of CRMOD

3] Ad-hoc Actionable Analytics’: Oracle CRMOD is powered with a light weight yet robust analytics engine. Having worked with multiple applications, I can confidently say that the reporting capability of CRMOD is more powerful than most of the competitive software available in the market. I like to use the phrase ‘Ad-hoc Actionable Analytics’ because with limited training, users with the right privileges could create meaningful reports and dashboards on the fly.

Business scenario* – “Head of a wholesale banking business unit wants to know the overdue opportunities by industry but at the same time wants to find out why the opportunities has not been closed” *- Screens shown below are for demonstrative purposes only and may not  relate to real time scenarios

Oracle CRMOD provides a 3 step solution to this requirement:

A)     1st Level Dashboard Statistics :: Identify the Area of Concern

1st Level Dashboard Statistics for CRMOD

B)      2nd Level List of items :: Get More Information

DAP detail report of CRMOD

C)      3rd Level Record view :: Take Action

Account plan detail of CRMOD

R23 enhancements – Apart from support from multiple languages in analytics and introduction of some important subject areas, Release 23 brings in a personalization of Dashboards for user roles. Administrators could previously remove pre-built dashboards, but now you can customize and sort the display of dashboards.

R23 enhancement CRMOD

Oracle CRM OnDemand, is a critical piece in the Oracle Cloud applications suite. It may not be the Primary Focus and preference but it is not going to retire anytime soon. As per me, Oracle has every reason to continue its enhancements and support for the next two years at least, which is quite a long time in any application’s life. Oracle CRMOD is here to stay and is very much ‘Alive and kicking’!!

Pratik Bajaj
Principal Business Consultant – CRM & CX.
CRMIT Solutions

 

Create Interactive Social Media Posts using Oracle Social Cloud

Right contents in your social media fan pages, create a big impact in engaging your targeted audience. Though creating highly engaging contents is an art by itself, having right tools to build them is another major challenge / limitation to most of the Organizations.

In the last post on Oracle Social Cloud we discussed about how Oracle Social Cloud would help you to cut through the noise and hear what you like to hear that are of your interests like your brands, products, services, competition etc.. In this post I like to highlight some of the exciting features in Oracle Social Cloud that enables you to create highly engaging contents that can be published in your Organization Facebook page in a matter of few minutes ….

In its simplest form Oracle Social Cloud makes it possible to create interactive contents and publish in Facebook using “Views” section. The views module is supported by a WYSIWYG editor with rich controls to plug in various elements that would help you to build a highly engaging Social media content. The controls are grouped under five modules as Basic, Interactive, Feeds, Forms and Custom. The summary of various controls available under these buckets are presented in the below screenshot.

Oracle Social Cloud Controls

As you see above the kind of controls that you have under various buckets is quiet rich and one or more controls can be used to build an interactive post by simple drag and drop of this Control to the editor.

Let us dig into the usage of Controls with a very simple example. Assume you would like to run a Coupon Campaign where you want to collect user persona details of your Organization’s interest in exchange for a coupon that they can reimburse in a prominent e-commerce website.

You can do in simple 3 easy steps.

Step 1, drag the form module from “Basic” section in the editor

Oracler Social Cloud Basic editor

Step 2, expand the controls section to edit the control. As a first step build a form using WYSIWYG editor collecting user persona details of your interest. As you see below you have the flexibility to capture any kind of information using custom fields that are available in the form editor

Building a form using WYSIWYG editor

Step 3, go to the images section to add an image that appears before the form is presented, here a simple compelling image which displays the intended message of “Click here for $10 coupon” and an image that says a “Thank you message” on user submitting the form is used.

Oracle Social Cloud image Section

That is that you have to do to create this campaign. Use the Preview button to view how it appears and publish it in your Facebook account. All form data submitted by users can be downloaded later from the same control in form of a simple CSV …

coupon_4

In summary I believe having a right tool like Oracle Social Cloud to manage your social campaigns enables your marketing team to quickly create interactive highly engaging campaigns that would make a significant difference to your ROI in Social Marketing.

Venkatesan Sundaram
Senior Director, CRMIT

Originally Published on Venky’s Blog

New Age Customer Self Service Portals for CRM

Traditionally, CRM self service portals used to be the web support channel for customers. Some companies extended this concept and used such portals for employee management, dealer management etc. However, such use cases are very minimal.

Even today, majority of the self service portals in the market focus on these standard functions only:

  • Register / Login
  • Search / View Knowledgebase published by the company
  • Create Service Requests

While these basic features are required, modern web support (whether it is self service or assisted) wants to go a step beyond this. For example, let us take an example of a college, deploying their own self service portal for students.

  • College students get a login (or can register) in the portal
  • They can login, see the college knowledge base / download documents
  • In case they have a support requirement, they can create a service request

Wait a minute, when you say “Service request” what do you mean?

For a student, it may mean many things: Requesting for a mark sheet, Requesting for an attendance certificate, Requesting for a change in the profile phone number etc.

While all these are service requests, their nature is not the same. For example, when requesting for a mark sheet, they may have to provide additional details such as their examination number, year of exam etc. When requesting for an attendance certificate, they may have to say this certificate is required for what purpose, from which date to which date etc.

This means, even though portals call it with a single term “Service Request”, it actually means many things. You can’t have a single form and expect that to serve every possible service request case. Either that form will be too generic not serving the purpose, or it will be too long and users will run away.

Customer Service Management

To take care of such problems, CRMIT’s CRM++ Self Service Portal is moving in the direction of dynamic SR Types Management feature. This means, companies implementing CRM++ SSP can design their own types of Service Requests, and design unique forms for each one of them, with specific fields, labels they are looking for. Customers will love this because only targeted questions are asked, Agents will love this because all the information they need to solve a particular problem is right in their hands.

Stay tuned for our next SSP release.

Oracle Sales Cloud (Fusion CRM) release 7, winning back core SFA!

Sales Cloud (Fusion CRM) release 7 is quite refreshing for those using the application since earlier releases. When I drove through the latest release 7, I knew the wait and the hype built around this release are justified.

Apart from bringing much anticipated enhancements around improving user experience, this release tried to take Mobile, Social & Analytics features to a new level.

From the perspective of an administrator, attempts made in the areas of Extensibility, Data Management and Environment Migration are appreciated.

Let me give you few specifics

User Experience: Navigation
Navigation was a major concern in previous releases. It was complicated and inconsistent or was just not there.

Now I see lot more availability and consistency in desktop UI.

Except Sales Calendar where the context of a calendar item isn’t completely built {this observation is addressed by FUSE (Simplified UI)}, navigation among core sales entities is fully enabled.

User Experience: Search
Enhancements in this area are focused around removing constraints, de-coupling search options and predefined lists and rectifying issues with filters etc.

Other notable improvements are role based saved searches (driven by admin), user level personalization of filters and introduction of record set attribute etc.

User Experience: Contextual Help
Contextual help is consistently available across all high use pages in the application. The help directory content is now fully aligned with the section form where it is invoked.

User Experience: FUSE
FUSE (Simplified UI) is for quick performance of regular tasks. A major enhancement to achieve buy-in from Sales folks.

You could perform all actions at par with desktop UI and can also quickly move to desktop UI to access more advanced features or more detailed information.

You could personalize the user experience by setting up required logo, theme etc. and setup a homepage announcement.

Though role based customization of simplified UI is possible, it is limited to overview/list pages only.

FUSE (Simplified UI) screenshot
FUSE (Simplified UI) screenshot

Core SFA: Sales Process Management
FUSE (Simplified UI) for quick action and Search, Navigation enhancements across core SFA modules brought this area back.

Other enhancements include
• Marketing insights for a Lead and Contact from Eloqua
• Customer Center Improvements –
> Competitive Presence – For Sales/Account Planning
> Graphical demonstration of Account Hierarchy (vs. Org. hierarchy)
> Tracking Contact ‘relationships’ by timeframe – An important detail sought by many customers/prospects alike.
• Lead Qualification/Management is now moved to Sales functional area

Core SFA: Sales Performance Management
Except few incremental improvements, enhancements in this area are minimal. From our experience simplification of Territory Management is very much required and it is a roadmap item.

Business Process Composer
Business Process composer is another big leap enhancement and kind of re-introduced in release 7.

As part of Oracle SOA Suite, the Oracle Business Process Management Suite contains a design-time tool for creating and adjusting BPMN 2.0 compliant BPEL processes, known as the Process Composer. Logically, as this tool can make significant changes to the way functionality runs, it is not therefore for use by normal end-users or administrators, and so is not found embedded inside Fusion Applications.

The Process Composer contains extensive options for creating new processes, as well as importing, adjusting, and redeploying the standard BPEL processes provided by Fusion Applications. Amongst other things, this includes support for manipulating Oracle Business Rules (OBR) to add complex conditional processing logic, as well as Human Workflow for interacting with users for hands-on activities, such as approvals.

Business process flows (e.g. approval flows) created using the process composer could be triggered using object workflows (e.g. of an Opportunity) that initiate based on some change in an object e.g. field update.

The seeded templates in Oracle Business Process Composer provide services, business rules, and tasks, which we can use for configuring customized processes.

Business Process Composer-Seeded flow screenshot
Business Process Composer-Seeded flow screenshot

 

Marketing: Eloqua Integration
Eloqua integration with Sales cloud is expected to augment customer interaction history in Sales Cloud, provide bi-directional lead nurturing between marketing and sales along with fully enabled Marketing automation and multi-channel campaign capabilities. Following table demonstrates what Eloqua Marketing cloud has to offer in comparison to Fusion Marketing (though it is purely driven by what is missing in Fusion Marketing)

Eloqua Marketing Cloud Vs. Fusion Marketing
Eloqua Marketing Cloud Vs. Fusion Marketing

Reports
Most anticipated feature in the area of reports is ability to drill/navigate from a report to a transactional record using Action Links and it is available in release 7. It is facilitated through calling web pages instead of using ADF contextual event.

Action Links are available for the following objects:
• Customer
• Contact
• Lead
• Opportunity

Other enhancements include
> Use alerts to proactively detect issues and business potential (condition based report scheduling)
> Add enhanced visualizations, like a waterfall chart to your reports
> Embedding OSN conversations in custom report/dashboard (i.e. see all conversations for a record in one place using report view)

Environment Migration
This allows export and import of setup data and customizations across Oracle Sales Cloud environments on the same release and patch.

Life Cycle Management
Life Cycle Management

Functional Setup Manager (FSM) is used to migrate setup data.
Customizations Migration used to migrate:
• All Sales Cloud customizations, including
> Customizations created with Application Composer, and Page Composer
> Sales Cloud security changes (role hierarchy changes)
• Customizations for other Fusion Applications (not just Sales and Marketing)

Currently available ‘Extensions Manager’ used to migrate customizations created with Application Composer (Sales and Marketing only) would be phased out.

Refer to My Oracle Support Doc ID 1534289.1 (for Setup Data) and Oracle Fusion Applications Extensibility Guide(for Customizations) migration possibilities.

Modularity Consolidation
Now we can
> Call attributes from one object to the other. This is limited to ‘Common’ application area and limited to Sales Account.
> Build relationships among objects from across application areas e.g. now we can connect a custom object created under Sales application area with a custom object created under ‘common’ application area.
> Build cross application validations e.g. When a sales account (Customer Center application area) status is turned ‘Inactive’ prevent sales user from creating an opportunity (sales application area)

Brief detail of other enhancements

Groovy Web Services Invocation
This is great. Now we could invoke a web service using the groovy in object workflows.

E.g. when an opportunity has reached ‘Closed/Won’ stage, invoke a service to create a quotation through Big Machine and update finally approved quote value back to sales cloud.

Mobile: Fusion Mobile Sales (SMARTPHONE)
Oracle Fusion Mobile Sales includes several enhancements in Release 7, including:

• Child Objects for Leads
• Forecasts
• Contact Photo
• Android Support

Mobile: Fusion TAP
Oracle Sales Cloud on iPad using Fusion Tap has become ‘general availability’ from release 7 which is a specialized application for tablet devices.
With Release 7, Oracle Fusion Tap is available in 21 languages.

Mobile Analytics: Fusion Mobile Sales
Apart from 6 standard reports, release 7 allows users to access custom reports as part of Mobile Sales application. Users can change report views and apply report filters.

Mobile Analytics: Fusion TAP
From release 7, users can access custom reports.

Social Network (OSN)
Social objects available to be enabled in Release 7 are Customer, Opportunity, Lead, Partner Account, Reference, Competitor, Organization, Person and Group. Sales Cloud administration can decide which objects to enable as social, and which fields to expose on the objects’ Wall.

Desktop UI Configuration
In Release 7, we can edit subtabs using Page Composer.

In summary, Oracle Sales Cloud release 7 is simple to use, considerably improved and strengthened its core SFA solution and ahead of competition in providing Sales Performance Management and Customer Data Management functionalists.

I would like to thank my colleagues at CRMIT Solutions for their support in writing this article.

C.A.Mohammed
Senior Principle Business Consultant, CRMIT

Originally Published on Ahmed’s Blog

Social CRM Systems and their Benefits to a Business

Social CRM is the latest update in the Customer management Industry. With the sudden growth in social media platform, it’s through social CRM that you can connect in a more personal level with your consumers and track their daily activities. Nowadays, you will find a number of software systems that are ready to help you with social CRM technology. Let’s not waste another minute in chit chat and start exploring the following points that will help you in understanding their work methods and how you can achieve effective results with the system –

Social CRM
Social CRM helps you to Connect with Consumers on Social Media Platform

Features

Do you really wish to make a difference with your social CRM techniques? Then it is essential that you buy software systems that help you to employ an equipped CRM method technique. With these software systems you will be able to collaborate efficiently with others who belong to the other side of the mark of formal authority. This will significantly help you to accomplish your goals in a definite period of time.

Now, with social CRM, you can also follow people, their status updates and even share your views with them. With every post that you update, you can even attach a CRM linked file. With social CRM, you will be able to maintain customer interactions and engagements with transactions and operations being a byproduct. The system is also enabled with active tool management that makes it really simple to connect with your consumers through comments, file sharing and links.

You can even improve your company products through social online forums, where consumers will disclose their views and regards about the products and how you can improve them to attain better customer relationships. Most of these software systems are created with web technology 2.0 as base framework. It is chiefly information sharing stand point where consumers and sellers get to know each other in a more personal level.

Benefits

These software solutions are great problem solvers. You can use them to assist you in both cross and up sells. They help you to build a strong customer bond and improve the productivity of the business. You also get to establish a number of social profiles and groups through the means of automated centric processes.

The platform is secure which makes it absolutely safe for your organization to share information with other potential members of your company. You also get to create system feeds of records that are closely followed by users.

Conclusion

Social CRM systems help you to find and import leads. You get to measure the amount of money spend on marketing. You also get to scrutinize the effect of every single marketing program. Apart from these, you get to capture the contact information and important sale news. You can also recognize the sale prospects through the means of advanced search options. I hope that the article provides you with enough knowledge of Social CRM and how they work to help you in building customer relationships.

Author’s Bio: Alisa Martin is a profound writer and is popular for her authenticate writings. She mainly writes about business advertisement such as “Social Media marketing is one of the most proficient ways of online marketing(http://completeseoservice.com/)” and several other topics.

Stop Typing and Start Speaking to your CRM

Does it sound interesting? Yes, it is  fact that Oracle is working on a new app “Oracle Voice” that works with Oracle Sales Cloud facilitating data entry / update in CRM by Sales team over voice than typing it out …

 

As you see over there some of the most common tasks like contact creation, task creation, opportunity update, meeting notes etc can all be entered by speaking over to your phone than typing it.  The added advantage over here as you see in the right side of the image is an interactive step by step Wizard where the system speaks to you to gather info in a logical manner to update it in CRM ….

The application is expected to be available soon, stay tuned …

Venkatesan Sundaram
Senior Director, CRMIT

Originally Published on Venky’s Blog

Client On-boarding and Customer Experience

Anyone who has gone through the process of setting up a B2B (Business to Business) Account with a Bank would swear by the poor experience they are met with due to highly inefficient and ineffective client On-boarding process that they are subjected to. Banks these days have to realize this to ensure they make the first best impressions to their clients to avoid losing them to competitors.

Enabling Customer ExperienceThough part of the problem is compounded by ever growing regulatory compliance requirements like Anti Money Laundering, Terrorist Funding, Foreign Tax Account Compliance Act etc that the Banks have to adhere to, they just cover only one side of Poor Client On-Boarding experience.

The primary reason for poor on-boarding experience is attributed to few other reasons too.

  • Lack of Customer Centric Systems – Most the banks traditionally inherit systems that are Typically Product Centric than customer / relationship centric
  • Viewing the process of Client on-boarding as a back office operation than as an engaging front office with collaborative back-office framework to seamlessly work with numerous back office groups who play a facilitator role in the on-boarding process
  • Lack of metric / Key Performance Indicator (KPI) driven approach in place to plan, measure, correct and reward performing groups / Individuals who make significant difference to the client on-boarding experience

Though putting in place a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is not a magic wand that wipe-out all the issues listed above in one go without fundamental change in the way Organizations operate, an effectively designed / implemented CRM that mitigates the above challenges can be a sure differentiator for Banks to improve not only the customer experience but also the Net Customer Life Cycle Value.

Here I have articulated few suggestions and tips on how a CRM system can help Organizations to effectively improve the client on-boarding process.

On lack of customer centric system…

It is never going to be an easy task to just like that replace your product centric legacy back-end systems in one go into a customer centric system. The next viable best alternative available over here is to put an overarching CRM system that wraps your entire product centric core banking systems and make the CRM as a Centralized front office Application for your Relationship managers, Product Specialists and other Sales / marketing teams. The key design attributes of this CRM to facilitate On-Boarding should be below.

  • For new customers to be on-boarded, enrich the basic prospect data that you have collected in CRM with rich info that is available by integrating with Trusted Data Service Providers like D&B, Hovers etc. These systems provide very rich info about your clients like Client Organization Structure, Business diversity, Geographic Diversity, Key Client Contacts & their profile, financial data etc. This ensures a lot of info is already built in your system to do your KYC (Know Your Customer) as well as Risk Rating / Assessment in an effective manner by asking minimal info from your customers.
  • For existing customers, ensure your customer profile details (demographic, relationship, financials etc) spread across multiple internal products centric systems are cleaned and de-duplicated in the new CRM system. This would make it easier to facilitate on-boarding of existing customers to some your new products & services lot easier eliminating duplicity in asking info from customers that you have already with you.

On collaboration…

It is a common phenomenon observed in many Banking Organizations that Customer On-Boarding is considered either as a complete Back End (risk, legal, finance etc) responsibility or in few cases as sold Front end responsibility forgetting the underlying need of effective collaboration of front-end and back-end teams to make it easier for the customers.

The CRM one deploys should have all ways and means to make this collaboration between back-end, front-end teams and customers possible without any compromise on data security.  The collaboration could be facilitated by in-built email management solutions in CRM, a self-service portal that is integrated with CRM where customers can log-in and have visibility on his on-boarding process as well as share / submit additional info & documents needed, an internal discussion thread / business social features that can make interaction between back-end and front-end teams lot seamless and easier etc. In reality today many of these happen in an adhoc & in-efficient manual manner making it a time consuming as well as frustrating experience for the end customers.

On KPI Measurements…

None of the above systems and processes would work unless people on the ground are mandated to adhere to stringent KPI (Key Performance Indicator)/ SLA (Service Level Agreement). Assuming there is a commitment at the top to make it possible in having them in place, the CRM should provide support to have in place interactive dashboards and reports to report on these KPIs to identify the bottlenecks in the process and streamline it. The reports / metrics can be as simple as one that provides info on on-boarding throughput, performance of adherence to SLAs by various departments managing the on-boarding process, overall lead time, ageing analysis to identify critical bottlenecks etc. The KPIs should serve as a key input to your performance management team to see continuous improvement over a period of time.

So in net, going back to my original point, would like to share that Customer On-Boarding is an important process in establishing a new relationship with your client and making it effective / efficient with a well designed CRM system can make a big difference to Banks as well to Customer Experience.

Venkatesan Sundaram
Senior Director, CRMIT

Originally Published on Venky’s Blog

How Call Centers Use Technology to Improve Customer Service

Whether we receive a call from a telemarketer, or have a problem with a product or service, chances are we will all have an encounter with a call center. How the call center representative responds to us helps determine our loyalty to the brand they represent. One negative experience can taint our opinion and even affect future purchases and decisions.

Call Center solutions
Call Center solutions

I have a friend who was very loyal to one of the most popular brands today. She not only purchased several products under this brand, but was saving money to purchase a new tablet and computer manufactured by this same company. She ran into an issue with one of her current products, which was still under warranty.  To make a long story short, the “call center” representative provided misinformation on how to return the product and receive a replacement. Thus, a two-day process took over two weeks. She has since decided not to make any future purchases from this company. And, she made sure to discuss this experience in online reviews and across Social Media outlets. This bad experience cost the company future business and a loyal customer. What went wrong? Most likely, there was a break down in communication and training at the call center.

Consumers expect quick solutions and exceptional customer service. Whether a company has their own in-house call center or chooses to outsource these services, it is imperative for call center representatives to be provided with the latest technology and armed with correct information to accurately and effectively represent the brand. A call center with outdated technology is like trying to make an antiquated computer operating MS-DOS run like Windows 8!

Below are some ways call centers are using technology to boost performance and improve customer service:

Cloud

Even call centers are catching on to the cloud! Not only can cloud services improve functionality, they can drastically cut costs. Most cloud platforms can be easily integrated and updated, eliminating the need for costly hardware and software upgrades. Cloud systems tend to perform faster and are often more reliable than physical networks. New components can be added easily at any time, and maintenance costs are virtually eliminated. There are plenty of cloud providers to choose from; research which one offers the services which best fit your needs.

Online Training

Keeping call center representatives up to date with the latest policies, offerings, technical support tools and procedures is imperative. Giving outdated or incorrect information reflects badly on the brand and may cause a significant decrease in customer loyalty. Call centers can keep agents up-to-date using online training modules. This convenient and effective form of training does not require participants to sit in a class and can be completed at any time from anywhere.

Multiple Contact Methods

A call center should run more like a contact center. Provide customers with multiple ways to make contact. This can include a traditional phone call, online chat, contact through Social Media or intelligent call back, where a customer can enter their telephone number and a representative will call back at a certain time. Some companies are even offering support via video. Offering a customer a variety of contact methods allows them to choose the option which makes them most comfortable.

Smart Agent Plug-Ins

Offering the wrong product at the wrong time can frustrate a customer. A number of companies offer Smart Agent desktop plug-ins to help agents determine when and if any product offerings are appropriate. They gather information from current and previous calls and make recommendations to agents. I recently called my cable/internet/telephone provider for technical support. Upon the end of the conversation they asked me if I was interested in their home monitoring package.  Their “Smart Agent” desktop knew from previous contact with me this would be a service that would perhaps interest me.

Customer Service Management

CRM++ is an example of a Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) product which

Computer Telephony Integration Framework

streamlines resources and helps maximize the customer experience. Its seamless integration with Oracle® Fusion CRM makes it easy to learn and use.  Inbound agents are provided with relevant information about each caller, adding to the ease of interaction. Over 3000 sales, marketing and service & support organizations are using this product to help generate an increased return-on-investment (ROI) and improve their bottom lines.

These are just a few of the many technologies available to call centers. Today, being in the game means staying ahead of the game. Quick, fast, efficient, reliable, and accurate information can make or break your brand!

Gina Smith writes freelance articles for magazines, online outlets and publications including Global Response. Smith covers the latest topics in the business, golf, tourism, technology and entertainment industries.