Category Archives: Call Centers

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

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!

Making Dynamic Data Collection Forms

YouAsked

One of our larger customers requested the ability to make a list box that can change depending upon a selection made previously while using a decision tree. If you are doing data collection, this can really simplify things for your end-users.

Demo

For a demo, we’ve built a tree that asks you to select a state in the USA, and from there shows a list of cities in that state.  You can try the demo here.

Setup Overview

This tree uses Zingtree Webhooks. Here’s how we built it:

  1. We created a PHP script for our state-to-city list box generator. This script receives a state code, and returns JSON with a variable called pick_a_city that contains an HTML list box to pick a city in that state. This will be the Webhook URL. It looks like this:
    https://zingtree.com/demo/get-cities-from-state.php?state=#state#

    Substitute #state# with the 2 letter abbreviation for your state to see the results, or just use this example for Alaska.

  2. We created a new Webhook called “City/State Lookup” (under Account > My Apps) with the URL in step 1.

  3. The first node contains a list box with all of the states. The selection is stored to a variable named state. The only button in this node goes to node #2. The end-user view for node #1 looks like this:

  4. Node #2 calls the Webhook we created with the state variable from node #1. The Webhook returns HTML for a list box that replaces a placeholder in node #2 called #pick_a_city#. Here’s the content area for node #2:

    Under Advanced Options, we tell node #2 to send a message to our City/State Lookup Webhook before it loads, like this:

Source Code

  • You can see the entire tree here.
  • The PHP source code for the Webhook URL script is here.
  • The URL for the Webhook is:
    https://zingtree.com/demo/get-cities-from-state.php?state=#state#

Need More Info?

Questions or suggestions? Just holler!

Zendesk Agent Scripting App – Version 9

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Our Contact Center customers using Zendesk are becoming more sophisticated, so we’re continuing to improve our Zendesk Agent Scripting app in response. This version 9 update automatically chooses scripts based upon one of the following:

  • The Zendesk brand field
  • Zendesk ticket tags
  • The value of a custom field

If you’re just using one script for everyone, this is supported as well.

Here’s how the app appears in the right hand sidebar in Zendesk:

Zingtree Setup

Script matching works by matching tree tags you set in Zingtree to values in the Brand, Tags, or a custom field in a Zendesk ticket. For example, if a tree is tagged with “astrology”, and the ticket tags include “astrology”, then that tree appears. If several trees match, then they will all appear.

First, add tags to a tree in Zingtree as follows:

  1. Select a tree from My Trees.
  2. Go to the Settings tool.
  3. Enter or select a tag from the tags field.

Zendesk Setup

You’ll need to download and configure the Zendesk Agent Scripting App version 9:

  1. Download the Agent Scripting app.
  2. In Zendesk, click the Admin icon and go to Apps > Manage.

  3. Click Upload Private App.

  4. The Upload App page appears.

  5. Enter “Zingtree Agent Scripting” for the App Name.
  6. For App File, locate the file zingtree-agent-scripting-v9.zip you downloaded in step 1.
  7. Click Upload, then confirm if necessary.

Configuring the App

Once you’ve uploaded the app, the configuration screen appears:

Here’s what each item does:

Title: A title for the app, as it displays in Zendesk.

Tree ID: If you’re installing just one script for everyone, enter the ID of your tree here.  If you will be offering multiple scripts to your agents, leave this blank.

Height (pixels): The height of the app as it appears in the Zendesk ticket sidebar.

Display in Panels Style: Tick this option to use the Panels style to display your scripts.  Untick to use Buttons style.

Open Script based upon Brand: If this option is checked, the subdomain of the selected brand will be matched to a tree tag.  Any matching tree or trees will appear.  For example, if the brand subdomain is xyz.zendesk.com, any trees tagged as xyz will appear. (Requires the Zingtree API key in this configuration.)

Open Script based upon Tags: If checked, the values in the Zendesk ticket tags will be matched with your tree tags to show one or more matching scripts. (Requires the Zingtree API key in this configuration.)

Open Script based upon Custom field: If you want to use a custom field value to show matching scripts, enter the field ID here. The Field ID can be found in Zendesk under Admin, Manage, Ticket Fields. Click Edit to see the field ID. (Requires the Zingtree API key in this configuration.)

Zingtree API key: Each organization in Zingtree has an API key, which is used to match scripts. If you’re using one of the tag matching options, this is required. Your API key can be found at zingtree.com under Help > API.

Try It with Example Data

You can use trees from the Zingtree Gallery to see how the Agent Scripting app works.

For a single tree, enter ’14’ as the Tree ID. This will show an Astrology web site troubleshooter example.

For multiple trees, see how a tree can be selected by tag by doing the following:

  1. Enter 6a103737e44e4aa6e1e4b6b0bcb46f83 as the API key.
  2. Make sure Open Script based upon Tags is checked.
  3. Try entering one or more of these tags into a ticket: “zingtree”, “astrology”, “pet_rock”.

Any questions? We’re always here to help

8 Call Center Technologies to Improve Your First Call Resolution

Is your call center using the most up-to-date software and tools to improve KPI’s? Zingtree was recently featured in TechSee‘s list of the best technologies to improve first call resolution, among other important customer service stats.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“First call or first contact resolution (FCR) is the golden lariat of the customer service sphere. Handling your customers’ problems the first time they call in, and making sure they remain satisfied, loyal customers has to be the defacto aim for customer support and retention teams. 

There are many significant metrics which contact centers need to monitor: Average Handling Time, Abandon Rate, Customer Satisfaction and other operational performance metrics need to be factored in when measuring your customer service performance. 

But, FCR is the most important and only KPI that addresses both ends of your contact center functionality in a single measure. First Call Resolution measures both productivity (getting the problem solved) and customer experience (solving it in the most efficient way for the customer). It’s this KPI that connects the dots in your organization.”

Read the full article on TechSee.me >>