Category Archives: Call Centers

Amplifying Your Call Center with AI & Automation

Forbes recently published an article titled AI And Chatbots Are Transforming The Customer Experiencewhich details how Artificial Intelligence is changing the way that customer service is offered and improved through complete automation.

What this means to the end-user or customer is that, while they may be receiving some level of service and support, they are never talking with a human representative. For call centers, the results are cost-effective and time-saving, but never a 100% complete solution for automating customer service.

“Typically, customer service chatbots answer questions based on key words. The most basic systems are actually document retrieval systems. Sometimes this is frustrating. Think of the times you may have asked Siri or Alexa a question and received the wrong answer. The computer recognizes key words but may not recognize the context in which they are being used. In other words, the computer doesn’t recognize the way people naturally speak. This causes the customer great frustration. However, these systems (including Siri and Alexa) have come a long way and continue to improve.”

The article goes on to mention that “for at least the foreseeable future, chatbots won’t be replacing humans in contact center jobs.”

AI-Lite: Automation Without Machine Learning

The machine learning put into place can gather piles of raw data on customers at the drop of a hat, as well as attempt to build relationships through key phrases and automated messages, but they can be expensive to create, maintain and fix over time – all costly and important factors. A decision process that’s been compiled from raw data using a neural network like this is almost impossible to tweak and change.

Rather than using machine learning to magically divine relationships in this way, interactive decision trees are human built, and make it much easier to tweak and debug processes. Still an automated, time-saving process, we like to think of it as “AI-lite” for call centers and businesses.

Automated & Interactive Solutions for Call Centers

Interactive agent scripts and decision tree troubleshooters guide support reps and customers to the right solutions and answers — whether it be related to a technical issue, routing to the correct department, or managing important customer data. They can help assist call centers in a multitude of ways:

  • Self-Help & Troubleshooting: Build custom, branded decision trees that allow customers to find answers themselves.
  • Measuring Effectiveness: Access reports that actively check how effective troubleshooters and support decision trees are, and identifies other key metrics through extensive analytics.
  • Tracking Agent Performance: Monitor the overall performance of customer service agents to track interactions.
  • Analyzing Trends: Export key data to import into any AI software being used for full analysis of key customer and internal call center data.

 

While AI and automated tools will never replace human interaction or the need for call center agents, the technology can aid call center managers in routing calls, managing experiences, and understanding customers and agents. The end result is a more productive and effective call center, as well as improved customer satisfaction.

Lrarn more about tools for agent scripts:https://zingtree.com/application/call-center.php

Learn more about tools for end-user support:https://zingtree.com/application/support.php

Repeating Forms in Decision Tree Data Gathering

Our call center customers are so enthusiastic about Zingtree that we get some awesome feature requests. In particular, more and more operations are using decision trees for collecting data. One essential part is to be able to collect information on an indeterminate number of items.

For example, an insurance application may need to collect names and ages of each family member – be it one or twenty. Zingtree’s Repeating Forms capability fulfills this need.

How Repeating Forms Work

Quick dive: Try this demo tree from the Gallery.

The details: A node can collect multiple forms, one at a time. First, the agent starts with one form:

The agent can click Add Another to enter a second family member:

This can continue for multiple family members. At the end of the process, when the agent clicks the Continue button in this tree, the tree’s session will data variables set for each family member, like so:

Configuring Forms for Repeat Entries

When editing a node, there’s an option in the Data Entry Fields part to configure repeating items. Here are the details:

  1. Edit the node with the form you want to make repeating.
  2. In the Data Entry Fields area, click the Repeat Form option:

  3. Enter the maximum number of items to repeat (up to 50):

  4. Click Save Changes to save your work.

That’s all you need to do! The data variable names for your repeating forms will have an underscore and an item number at the end. So, in the example above, the variables for name and age will be name_1 and age_1,  name_2 and age_2, etc.

Thanks again to Tom K. for the great feature suggestion. While your trees can gather repeating items, great ideas like this need to be repeated only once to make it into the product.

So if you have a killer suggestion, please share!

Customer Service Skills for the Next Generation of Support

As opposed to the traditional support methods focusing on being reactive, being proactive is the new way to control and scale your customer care. Beyond a customer service strategy in itself, proactive customer support is the one true driver of retaining customers and building relationships.

What does this mean for customer service teams? Anticipating customer issues and addressing them in engaging, informative, easy to understand ways. Luckily for agents and teams today, this can be done in a number of helpful formats – through tutorial videos, interactive knowledge bases, FAQs, decision tree troubleshooters, and other instructive media.

Beyond providing excellent self-service customer support methods, it’s still important to have basic contact information ready to go and easy to find, even in today’s digitally focused world. Studies show that 41% of companies currently don’t make this information visible or quick to locate – to be the best, you should always balance interactive decision trees and other helpful media with any and all platforms of communication available.

The Next Generation of Customers

Millennial customers today are like an entirely new category in their own light. Where previous generations prefer more one-on-one connection and personal relationships, young people today lean towards self-help solutions and fast-paced interactions.

In recent studies, it was found that nearly 70% of millennial females are comfortable resolving CS issues on their own, and 56% of millennials moved their business elsewhere as a result of poor customer service. With the trend continuing toward self-service support and easy, positive experiences, it’s more important than ever for businesses to be thinking about the next generation of forward-thinking, self-solving customers.

The 4 Most Important Customer Service Skills to Master

Your business’ millennial customers today will bring about the next generation of confident and well-researched purchasers. In terms of customer service skills, and in our own experience, here are the top few that agents need to truly master before that next generation comes.

1. Professionalism

The face of your business relies on the tone, grammar and writing style across digital ways of communication, as well as the professionalism and conciseness of any phone interaction. Some rules for professionalism in email or chat customer service: no abbreviations or lingo, check your information, and definitely never be pushy or leading.

Being understanding, friendly, informative and quick to respond to any customer service interaction is the best way to remain professional and help a customer resolve any issues with lightning speed. When in doubt, one of the best ways to promote better professionalism is to craft standardized decision trees and agent scripts that follow your company’s voice and brand perfectly.

2. Empathy

Every customer wants their issue to be understood and cared for. Customer service agents need to put themselves in the customers’ shoes and broaden their perspectives (and vocabularies, in some cases) to understand where the issue came from and how it can be resolved.

Everyone involved in a customer service interaction is a person — showing compassion and empathy in genuine ways for the problems they are facing, or relating on a more positive note, shows that you care and builds loyalty with the customer.

3. Assertiveness

With professionalism and empathy comes a need to be assertive in customer service situations. Now, we don’t mean aggressive — we mean being completely clear, confident and direct with the information provided and support offered. Taking control of a customer service interaction in a calm and helpful way by asking appropriate, direct questions will help guide support agents to the right conclusion far easier and faster, and the customer is much more likely to feel that the agent they spoke with is the right person for the job.

4. Expertise

32% percent of those surveyed in a recent State of Social Customer Service Report found the phone to be the most frustrating way to engage customer service (ConverSocial).

Without your customer service agents fully mastering the ins and outs of your business and product or service offering, they’ll never feel 100% comfortable and confident helping customers, and in return, customers will be more frustrated. Customer-facing agents should always be trained experts on every relevant inner working, allowing them to be more empowered to answer questions accurately and directly.


The main goal of customer service skills for the next generation is to make it easier for customers to solve problems, access help themselves, and feel totally satisfied with their relationship with your company. With Zingtree decision trees built for your business’ needs and scripts customized to your brand’s voice, customer service agents (and your customer service strategy overall) will become more effective, efficient, and automated.

Take a look at our Gallery to get more customer service inspiration, or get started with your own interactive decision tree or agent script to help streamline your customer service team. 

Validate Email and Phone Numbers in Decision Tree Data Entry

Besides address verification, Zingtree can also validate phone numbers and email addresses entered while collecting data in your decision trees. Since there’s nothing worse than missing an opportunity due to a typo, being able to ensure good clean data is now much easier.

Here’s a short animation that shows how it works:

Try it Yourself!

The Zingtree Gallery has demonstration trees for validation. Just enter a phone number or email, and move to the next field in the form. A validation status badge appears automatically.

Try the Email Validation Demo
Try the Phone Number Validation Demo

Both phone number validation and email validation work world-wide. If your are entering phone numbers for people outside of the USA, you’ll need to prefix them with a plus sign. USA numbers can be entered without a plus.

Setup

There are two steps to enabling validation:

  1. Using the Settings tool, configure your tree to validate phone numbers or email addresses.
  2. Use an email or phone field type in the data entry fields in your decision tree nodes.


How to set up your tree for Phone or Email validation:

  1. Go to My Trees, and select your tree.
  2. Click the Settings tool, and make sure Verify: Phone or Verify: Email is selected.

  3. Click Update Settings to save.
  4. Now, let’s add a phone or email data entry field to a node.
  5. From Overview, pick a question node to edit, and click the Edit Tool.
  6. Go to Data Entry Fields, and add an Email or Phone Number type field:

  7. Click Add Field, and then Save Changes to save your Node.

Please note: Using phone or email validation is an extra cost, usually $0.01 per lookup.

Tips and Tricks

  • When using validation, it’s best to make sure the phone or email field is the first field, or has at least one more field below it. The validation process doesn’t start until the cursor leaves the edit box, so if it’s the last field in the form the validation may never occur.
  • Once a field is validated, you can hover over the validation badge and get more information about the phone number or email address. Try it!

Summary

Now you have a great new tool to ensure you are getting good, clean data.

As always, if you like this feature, or have any comments or suggestions, please tell us!

 

 

Address Auto-Complete and Verification in Decision Trees

Many of our call center customers are using Zingtree to collect data from their customers, and in a sales or shipping application, there’s always an address form or two to fill out. Our customer Tom K. asked us if there was a way to make this process faster, and also to verify addresses to eliminate costly shipping errors. The short answer? Yes! Zingtree has an automatic address auto-complete and verification capability available to you.

Note: There is an extra cost for each address verification lookup: two lookup credits, or $0.02 per lookup. And currently, this is for addresses in the USA only.

Here’s How It Works

As you start entering an address, Zingtree gives you selections on every possible match:

The more text you enter, the fewer matches appear:

Once you select a match, the city, state and zip code are filled in automatically, and the address is verified against the USPS database. If the address is valid, a “USPS Verified” tag will appear in the form:

Try a demo here

How to Set Up Address Auto-Complete and Verification

Setting up a form with address verification requires two parts:

  1. Enable the Verify USA Addresses option in the Tree’s Settings.
  2. Set up your address entry forms, using the new address 1, address 2, city, state and zip field types.

Step by step, here’s how to do it:

  1. Select your tree, and go to the Settings tool.
  2. Make sure Verify USA Addresses is checked. This will enable the special address field types.

  3. Click Update Settings.
  4. Now, go to Overview, and edit a question node where your address form resides.
  5. Locate the Data Entry Fields area, and click Add to add fields.

  6. Add the first line of address entry, using the field type Address 1:

  7. Add the second line of the address, using the Address 2 field type.
  8. Add a field for the city, using the City field type.
  9. Add a field for the state, using the State field type.
  10. Add a field for the zip code, using the Zip field type.
  11. When you’re done, the data entry fields summary will look something like this:

    Important: Make sure the field types are all set properly.

  12. Save your node by clicking Save Changes.

That’s it! If you like, you can copy our Gallery demo tree and modify it for your application. Or, just examine it to see how it’s built.

If you like this feature or have any ideas on how to make Zingtree even more useful, please send us a message.

Customer Support Chart-Toppers: The 5 Best Apps for Zendesk

best apps for zendesk

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of everything that Zendesk has to offer; so are many of our own awesome customers. With its data-forward functionalities, centralized ticketing system, multiple support channels, and collaborative environment, there’s really no question why their Help Desk platform is so popular.

Another huge perk is their extensive collection of integrated applications, allowing you to do even more amazing things with the platform. In a sea of so many, we wanted to take the time to shout out to a few of the best apps for Zendesk:

1. Tasks

Tasks lets you build simple, to-do-style lists for any complex customer ticket, making it easier for support agents to flesh out (and follow) sub-tasks so customers can get the resolutions they need. With the app, you can track steps within any ticket, and even create templates for repeated tasks so every support team member involved can stay on the same page.

Learn more here: https://www.zendesk.com/apps/tasks/

2. Time Tracking

Time Tracking is perfect for support teams aiming to improve employee performance and identify resource-intensive customers, as it focuses on tracking the time spent on every incoming Zendesk ticket. Using the Time Tracking app for Zendesk, support and operations managers can more easily figure out where bottlenecks occur in agent efforts, as well as which issues tend to take the most time to resolve.

Learn more here: https://www.zendesk.com/apps/time-tracking

3. Swiftype Search

Every kind of customer wants the ability to run a quick search on a help desk or knowledge base – it’s the fastest way to find relevant information and self-solve problems. The Swiftype Search app integrates a completely customizable search bar on your Zendesk Help Center, so customers can easily access information, and your company can tap into search behavior and popular queries.

Learn more here:  https://www.zendesk.com/apps/swiftype-search/

4. Annotate

Honest, effective customer communication is key where problem-solving is concerned. Annotate is an app that allows you to guide customers in real-time through marked-up screenshots and images. This way, support agents can take them through step-by-steps, ask them to click certain areas or links, and more easily work with them to find solutions to more complex problems.

Learn more here: https://www.zendesk.com/apps/annotate-by-driftt/

5. Trello

We know and love Trello as a flexible, visual tool for organizing and itemizing tasks within various projects.  The Trello app for Zendesk lets you integrate the amazing task-based collaboration of Trello with the centralized communication of Zendesk, so agents can add support tickets to Trello cards and organize the boards they’re a part of. It’s an incredibly simple way to stay on top of it all.

Learn more here: https://www.zendesk.com/apps/trello/

In case you hadn’t heard, we have our own Zendesk apps to make your customer service and relationship-building efforts even more centralized, too:

The Zingtree Customer Support app for Zendesk allows you to integrate the steps a customer takes within a decision tree troubleshooter directly into that customers’ Zendesk ticket. If the customer can’t self-solve using your decision trees, your support people get valuable background information with every ticket, which saves everyone a lot of time and minimizes back-and-forth. You can learn more here: https://www.zendesk.com/apps/zingtree/

The Zingtree Agent Scripting app for Zendesk lets you build completely customized scripts that support agents can follow along with during each call, all while integrating with your Zendesk system. This makes it easy to streamline customer conversations, and provides powerful stats and reports on how the decision tree script is being used. You can learn more here: https://www.zendesk.com/apps/agent-scripting/


Any questions? We’re here for you

Using Decision Tree Scripts to Make a Better BPO Call Center

Call centers are the epicenter of many customer service interactions, and many have hundreds of representatives who take customer calls and solve problems in real-time. However, not every company has the bandwidth, resources or infrastructure to run their own call center — that’s where BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) call centers become important.

BPOs perform all call center-related activities for another organization. For a BPO call center to be effective, it needs to onboard new agents quickly, and ensure that every agent is following the proper processes and procedures of the sourcing company. There’s an inherent disconnect when internal processes are outsourced, and that’s where Zingtree interactive decision tree scripts can prove invaluable.

1. Standardizing for Best Practices

Written in the company’s voice and adhering to its own processes, agent scripts make it easier for support reps to solve customer problems as effectively as possible. With standardized interactive decision tree scripts to guide a BPO call center agent through each conversation, every agent will know precisely what to say (and when to say it).

2. CRM & Help Desk Integration

Zingtree decision tree scripts are easily integrated with any CRM tool used by call center agents, including Salesforce, Desk.com, Zendesk and others. By connecting agent scripts to a CRM platform and passing data using Merge Variables, BPO call center representatives can see customer information inside the script, and logic decisions can also be made depending upon data imported from the CRM. With Zingtree’s pause-and-resume feature, the most recent node and session history are saved with the ticket. This is handy if another agent takes over a ticket, or to see what happened during each call. All steps taken are clearly visible.

3. Rapid Training & On-Boarding

Getting agents up and running quickly, armed with the necessary knowledge, is an absolute requirement when outsourcing. Some BPOs use interactive scripts as a training aid, and others as a template to follow during each conversation. No matter how they are used, interactive scripts are an essential part of getting new agents online and scaling quickly.

4. Analyzing, Optimizing & Doing Even Better

After deploying a standardized agent script, reports and analytics can show how scripts are performing, and identify any areas of improvement. Interactive agent scripts allow you to automatically track each and every call center agent interaction and each customer’s reason for requiring support, as well as see how your script is being used (in aggregate or by individual agents). With these reports, the sourcing company and the BPO call center can easily locate pain points, check on agent performance, and even keep track of progress with call center KPIs.


Getting Started with Zingtree Call Center Agent Scripts

Follow our in-depth instructions for building your interactive agent script. Once your script is ready, you can:

  • Host on any web page or browser for easy access.
  • Integrate with Help Desk and CRM systems.
  • Get complete analytics and reports for optimization.
  • See full Q&A transcripts of every call for better understanding.
  • Keep track of agent performance.

Check out this short video to learn more about how Zingtree Agent Scripting can improve your call center BPO:


Ready to get more from your call center BPO? Sign up or log in and build your first interactive call center agent script!

How To Use One Tree for End-Users and Employees/Agents

updates-blog

We’ve had requests to make it easy to use one tree for both end-user support and internal agent usage. Rather than maintaining two separate trees, being able to have one source of content and show (or hide) parts between agents and end-users can be extremely helpful. So, we’ve introduced two new template tags that allow this to happen.

Demo

The Dual Use Agent and End-User Example Tree from the Zingtree Gallery shows how this type of tree is built and operated. You can switch between End-User and Agent views by opening the Show More Display Options link.

Creating Agent-Only or End-User Only Buttons

The first node in the demo has a button labelled “Other Options for Agents only”.  This button only appears when agents are viewing the tree, but not for end-users.  Here’s how this magic is done:

  • If you prefix the button label with AGENT_ , only agents will see that button.
  • Prefix a button with USER_ to show it to just end-users.

Creating Nodes with Dual Content

In the content area for any node, you can insert special tags that make the text visible to just agents, or just end-users.

To show content for agents only:

Surround the content with [[AGENT-ONLY]] and [[/AGENT-ONLY]].

To show content for end-users only:

Surround the content with [[USER-ONLY]] and [[/USER-ONLY]].

You can access these template tags from the content editor in any node:


Example

If your node content area looks like this…

This is the content for a node.

[[AGENT-ONLY]]Agent stuff shows here[[/AGENT-ONLY]]

[[USER-ONLY]]User content shows here[[/USER-ONLY]]

An end user will see this…

This is the content for a node.

User content shows here

And your agents will see this…

This is the content for a node.

Agent stuff shows here

How to Preview

The updated Preview tool lets you see content views for agents or end-users:

Implementation

Your agent-only content will appear in trees accessed via the Zingtree Agent Portal. You can also make this content appear by adding the following parameters to the URL for Zingtree hosted or embedded trees:

&agent_mode=1&apikey=YOUR_API_KEY

Substitute your API key for YOUR_API_KEY in the URL. You can find the API Key from the API page, or if you have multiple organizations at the bottom of the Organizations and Billing page.


Do you like this new feature? Or have any other comments? Please share with us!

Can Agent Scripting Improve Your Call Center KPIs?

Call centers play a fundamental part in how efficient and effective a company can truly be, but it takes much more than just providing customer service to reach new heights as a business. Each call center will likely have variations on the same metrics to be tracking as key performance indicators (KPIs). Regardless, you should spend time figuring out which ones matter the most for your company’s overall goals and start tracking them if you aren’t already.

Zingtree Agent Scripting solutions provide a helpful platform for making improvements and optimizations in many practical areas for call center agents, including the following most commonly found call center metrics.

1. First Call Resolution

First Call Resolution (FCR) is a measurement of the number of customer calls that are resolved during that interaction, and do not require any follow-up for additional information. With agent scripts in place, call center representatives can quickly and easily match customers to the right problem and/or solution through an interactive guide, making the process of improvement infinitely smoother than other options.

2. Average Speed of Answer or Resolution

Average Speed of Answer (ASA) is the average amount of time it takes for an agent to answer calls during a specific time period. Agent scripts allow call center reps and customers can spend less time waiting and solving problems, and quickly identify end-results. The Session List report allows you to see which agents take the most time and which achieve the best results. You can also use customer-facing decision trees to help customers self-solve, as well as quickly gather background information to speed up resolution time.

3. Customer Satisfaction

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) is a critical measurement for all organizations to keep at top-of-mind. For call centers, this metric is expressed as a percentage, with 100% representing complete customer satisfaction with the level of service provided. It’s been proven that spending less time on the phone or on chat dealing with a question/issue, and getting the right answer quickly, makes customers happier and more loyal. By implementing interactive agent scripts, every customer call is quickly routed where it needs to go, leading to faster answers and more satisfied customers.

4. Agent Performance

Agent Performance is a direct measure of how effective call center agents are; a necessary metric to keep an eye on in order for true improvements to occur (after all, your agents are at the front lines of every customer interaction!). With our Agent Scripting tool and, you can easily track each agent interaction and each customers’ reason for needing support, as well as access Session Matrix reports on how your script is being used by agents within a given date range.

5. Average Handle Time

Average Handle Time (AHT) of a customer inquiry measures the average duration of one customer interaction, including any hold time or other related tasks that follow the direct interaction. Tied directly to Customer Satisfaction, it’s imperative to improve both in tandem to achieve the best results for your call center. By using optimized, standardized agent scripts as a part of your day-to-day efforts, call center agents are able to effectively cut down on the time spent in each call by eliminating any inefficient questions or language.

Get Started with Agent Scripting

It’s easy to get started after signing up for a Zingtree account! Just select the Create New Tree button found under My Trees and select your preference for building an agent script. Let the Zingtree Wizard prompt you for the questions and answers, use Visual Designer to draw a flowchart, or even import from Google Sheets or Excel.

Follow our in-depth instructions for building your interactive agent script. Once your script is ready, you can:

  • Host on any web page or browser for easy access
  • Get complete analytics and reports for optimization
  • See full Q&A transcripts of every call for true understanding
  • Keep track of agent performance and improvement

Check out our short video to learn more about how Zingtree Agent Scripting can improve your call center:

Any questions? We’re always here to help!

How to Offer Always-On, Self-Service Customer Support

self-service customer support

Self-service is a win-win for rapidly-growing (and exceedingly busy) businesses, pleasing the majority of customers while at the same time providing an efficient, always-available support medium for customer service teams. Empowering customers to solve problems and answer their own questions means less work for support teams, and overall more satisfied consumers!

Don’t believe us? Here are some statistics about customer support self-service from our friends at Desk.com:

  • 72% of people think that self-service support is a fast and easy way to handle support issues
  • 40% of customers place a call after already looking for support or answers themselves
  • 91% of customers would regularly utilize an online, self-service support center if it was tailored to their needs

Your business doesn’t have to get swept up by the new wave of customer service; get your support team up-and-running with self-service support options with these 3 steps.

1. Bulk Up Your Knowledge Base & FAQ

It all starts with your FAQ and knowledge base of information — 56% of customers cite a lack of information as their reason for abandoning a website, so it’s critical to make sure that the content in your support center is totally user-relevant, helpful and currently up-to-date. Revisit and revamp knowledge base articles, FAQ answers and other support-related content on your site on a regular basis (quarterly or even monthly), to provide your customers with the most important, accessible information possible; both your customers and your team members will certainly thank you for your proactive customer care!

2. Implement Interactive Troubleshooters

It’s pretty amazing that in today’s world, you can easily provide 24/7 access to support without doling out for any extra staff members. Creating and integrating interactive, customer support troubleshooters makes it easy to help your customers even when no one is there for a one-on-one. Additionally, Zingtree decision trees make it possible to quickly gather customer background information in case a support ticket is submitted, so you have all of the key information you need in one place.

Pairing your existing knowledge base with interactive decision trees is the best way to cover every base where support is concerned, and simplifies the process of finding real solutions. In fact, organizations that use these decision tree troubleshooters have spent an average of 20% less on support costs overall.

3. Reach Out, and Be Easy to Reach Out To

When a customer is having a major issue, or really just prefers a good old fashioned human interaction, it’s always a good idea to provide a way to get in contact with a real live person. Make it as simple as possible to reach out to your support staff, sales team, or anyone else who could help out – having this kind of clear pathway laid out on your website can mean the difference between a super happy customer, and one that is completely stressed out by your online presence.

Better yet is the idea of reaching out to your customers before they have the chance to have a problematic situation occur; this makes people feel at ease whenever something does inevitably come up, and sets a positive tone for any future communications.


Zingtree makes it easy to build customized, informative decision trees to satisfy your customers and your business. Contact us to learn more or get started today!