ICMI's Top 10 Customer Service Articles of 2013
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ICMI's Top 10 Customer Service Articles of 2013

It’s hard to believe, but 2013 is rapidly drawing to a close.  As we look back and plan ahead, we’re devoting this month to wrapping up the year, answering the important questions of 2013, and providing solutions for our community to implement in their own contact centers in the coming year.

Over the course of 2013 we’ve devoted quite a bit of time to offering resources on 10 specific areas of focus for the contact center:

  1. Culture and Morale
  2. Social Media Customer Service
  3. Contact Center Metrics
  4. Workforce Optimization
  5. Mobile Customer Service
  6. Learning and Development
  7. Global Service Delivery
  8. Self-Service
  9. The Voice of the Customer
  10. The Contact Center Agent

What solutions did we uncover throughout the year?

To properly recap, we’ve compiled a list (in no particular order) of ICMI’s Top 10 Customer Service Articles of 2013.  Each of these 10 articles provides guidance on one of the above topics. Many of the conversations started this year helped to shape and guide the content that we plan to share with you in 2014.  If you’re wondering what’s ahead, please check out our 2014 editorial calendar and let us know if you have a story you’d like to share with our community next year!

In the meantime, enjoy this review of 2013.  Here’s to a happy and healthy holiday season and a prosperous new year!

1. Using the Employee Engagement Cycle to Drive Culture


Contact centers with customer-focused cultures achieve their success by getting a high level of agent buy-in. One way to do this is to ensure that your culture is aligned with the five steps in the Employee Engagement Cycle. Jeff Toister shares a framework that identifies critical points where a contact center can influence employee engagement.

Read on to learn about each step in the cycle. At the end you’ll find a questionnaire you can use to evaluate your own contact center’s alignment.

2. Forecasting and Scheduling for Social Customer Service


Contact centers, and the management methodologies that guide them, are bringing order to what would otherwise be an enormous, asymmetrical challenge in serving customers. Social channels are providing a significant opportunity to shape services that differentiate, build the organization’s brand, and, ultimately, have a positive impact on customers, employees and shareholders. Just don’t be intimidated by these new interactions—your organization is probably more ready than you think, and with the right planning approach, you’ll hit a stride just as you have with other kinds of customer contacts.

 Contact centers, and the management methodologies that guide them, are bringing order to what would otherwise be an enormous, asymmetrical challenge in serving customers. Social channels are providing a significant opportunity to shape services that differentiate, build the organization’s brand, and, ultimately, have a positive impact on customers, employees and shareholders. Just don’t be intimidated by these new interactions—your organization is probably more ready than you think, and with the right planning approach, you’ll hit a stride just as you have with other kinds of customer contacts.

Read on as Brad Cleveland shares advice for forecasting and staffing with social media.

3. Critical Metrics for Standardizing Your Contact Center


Our contact centers are generating and receiving exorbitant amounts of data on a daily basis. Deciphering these facts and figures in a way that provides meaning and value to the continuous improvement of the contact center requires an understanding of which metrics require our attention – and which don’t. It is a delicate balance between quality and efficiency that, if not equally weighted, can wreak havoc on a contact center’s cost and even more importantly, their customer experience. Leading contact centers BECOME leading contact centers because they recognize which metrics to focus their time and attention on in order to achieve an ideal balance and maximum results.

Through in-depth research, industry expert insight, and case studies of best-in-class contact centers, ICMI has identified the following as the critical metrics for standardizing your contact center.  Read as Justin Robbins shares.

4. The Secret sauce to Getting WFO Right


Call centers spend a lot of time and resources analyzing the forecast based on historical trends and complex algorithms to determine the exact number of people needed for each shift and how many calls are expected to come in.

But no matter how much you plan, the unexpected happens in the call center every day. To get the right people in the right place at the right time, centers have to quickly and intelligently react to these fluctuating conditions.

Surprisingly, the “secret sauce” to getting this right doesn’t just involve planning, but planning to react. Matt McConnell explains.

5. Mobile Marathon: Customer Insight and Competitive Landscape from ICMI Research


What is YOUR competition doing about mobile? Do they feel it’s necessary? Do you have a Mobile Customer Service Strategy? Most importantly, what do your customers expect from mobile customer service?

In late 2012, ICMI wanted to find out these answers! So, we surveyed our community to get insight on how mobile was being managed within the contact center. In this article, Sarah Stealey Reed shares highlights of the research results that were published in our 2013 whitepaper, “Build a Mobile Customer Service Strategy.”

6. Inspiring Call Center Supervisors to Lead Teams


Most call center employees fall into a rut of comfort in which they try to get through their workday with the least amount of pain and hassle.  Generic pep talks aren’t what they need from their supervisors; they need proper attention, encouragement, and training.  If you’re serious about motivating your call center agents, you’ll see to it that this is what they receive. 

Read as Flavio Martins offers advice for building relationships in a relationship building business.

7. In-House Versus Outsourced Call Centers


Post-sale customer engagement has become an increasingly important part of business. To survive in this competitive market, it is just as crucial to retain customers as it is to acquire new ones. The call center acts as a business enabler in the process, and every interaction that an agent has with a customer has an impact on the overall customer experience and brand perception.

That’s why deciding whether to keep your call center in-house, or outsource is such an important decision. Read as Guarav Gulati outlines some of the important factors to consider.

8. How to Prove the Monetary Value of Your Self-Service Channels


Earlier this year, Software Advice's Ashley Verrill interviewed nine industry experts to try and come up with a way to respond to questions about proving the value of self-service. Finally after two months of swapping emails and going through dozens of iterations, they came up with three data sets that can be used together in an equation. The following is a description of this formula, which proves the monetary value of the service you provide through your self-service channels, relative to what that same level of support would have cost had the customer called, emailed or chatted with an employee.

9. Identifying the 5 Key Things That Matter to the Customer Regardless of Industry


Customers’ expectations have evolved significantly over the last decade as they have been exposed to different levels of service across a broad range of industries.  Now, when a customer’s needs aren’t met, these poor experiences are likely to be shared immediately over social media. This dissatisfaction often comes from the company not truly understanding their customers and what it means to deliver and effortless experience.

In the long run, customers will benefit when companies take an outside-in perspective when designing products, service and communication channels.  Here Cindy Garrett shares five things companies should do, regardless of industry, to make their customers happy.

10. The Top 5 Things Every Call Center Agent Should Have on Their Desk


A hammer to a nail, a wrench to a bolt, the proper tool for the job. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? In this day and age of connectivity, and even at the pace at which technology seems to make our work easier and faster, some essentials don’t change. When it comes to call center agents, what would count as bare minimum tools for them to carry out their tasks effectively?  Jodi Beuder shares the top 5 things.



Topics: Strategy & Planning, Culture & Morale, Customer Experience, Global Service Delivery, Learning & Development, Metrics, Mobile, People Management, Self-Service, Site Operations, Social Media, Workforce Management

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