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What’s the Difference Between a Call Center and a Contact Center?

The terms “call center” and “contact center” are often used in the same context, but they’re not necessarily interchangeable. Both provide ways to communicate with customers, business partners and sometimes vendors, but they aren’t the same thing.

So, what exactly are the differences between a call center and a contact center? We’ve put together a description of each that discusses the differences and similarities.

Defining a call center

As you might guess from the name, a call center focuses mainly on voice-based communications, usually telephone calls.

A typical call center allows both inbound and outbound call services. As a basic example, incoming calls might be from customers reaching out in response to an advertising campaign, or maybe to ask some questions about a new service or product.

Conversely, outgoing calls might involve calling potential customers to give a survey or to get in touch with sales leads created by a new marketing campaign.

Occasionally, there are other services offered by a call center, including a voicemail system, an automated menu (which typically offers a series of choices to a caller to hone in on what they need or what might best serve them), and perhaps an answering service if the calls come in after a center’s hours.

Sometimes call centers are created and run by the companies themselves, but businesses often outsource these needs due to potential expenses from equipment to personnel.

This might sound like a basic explanation of what a call center is, and something you might already have known. But it’s important to understand the fundamentals so we can show how contact centers are different.

Defining a contact center

There was a time when the majority of callers who couldn’t get through to a live agent were frustrated by their experience. And while that frustration might still exist, it’s to a much smaller degree in an era where automated interfaces are common.

And that’s the main difference between a call center and a contact center. Much like call centers, contact centers do offer voice communications and handle inbound and outgoing calls. But in most cases, they also offer online chat services, email communication, instant messaging and other sorts of digital interfaces.

This array of services makes it possible for consumers, vendors and other people to reach out in the way they are most comfortable […]

All content provided on this blog are mostly opinions of the author and is only intended for informational purposes. KOVA Corporation makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. This blog may contain external links to other sites. KOVA Corporation does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information of other websites, blogs, or these other links. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended, and do not necessarily imply an endorsement or recommendation of any views expressed, products or services offered within them.

July 20th, 2017|Workforce Management|0 Comments

The Real Cost of 911 Abuse

We’ve taken a look at some of the silliest, most misguided instances of people calling 911 for the wrong reasons. And there’s nothing wrong with taking a few minutes every now and then to sit back and enjoy a funny story..

But the truth is, there’s a downside to those abuses of the 911 system that isn’t nearly as visible. The fact of the matter is, when you look at the time and money that these nuisance calls can waste, it’s not that funny at all.

A recent extensive study of 911 abuse by the U.S. Dept. Of Justice came upon some disturbing information, made perhaps more surprising because there typically hasn’t been a great deal of data collection on 911 abuse.

But what they discovered was truly an eye-opener. The study, written by Rana Simpson, differentiated between “misuse” and “abuse” of 911, categorizing accidental dialing or multiple reports of the same accident differently than those calls that were intentional.

Looking at data from different cities around the country, they found a startlingly high rate of 911 abuse in many places. For example, in Jefferson County, KY, they discovered that a whopping 40% of the calls that came into 911 for a calendar year were intentional abuse calls – either prank calls, people reporting non-emergencies, or asking non-911 related questions like football game-times.

40% is a staggering number, and though that statistic certainly doesn’t apply to every city or county, it’s a sign that a lot of time and money are being wasted by 911 abuse.

In terms of money, it’s hard to tally a total, but we may have some clues. In 2014, a Memphis TV station did a news report about 911 abuse and estimated that each unnecessary dispatch of a police officer cost the city around $90.

That might not seem like much until you consider that the city of Memphis estimated they answered around 230,000 abusive 911 calls each year. If police were dispatched to just half of those calls, the cost is around $10 million.

And you can rest assured that a great deal of that expense is often passed on to the taxpayers – the people who need help from 911 in the first place.

And that’s to say nothing of incidents where the Memphis fire department was […]

All content provided on this blog are mostly opinions of the author and is only intended for informational purposes. KOVA Corporation makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. This blog may contain external links to other sites. KOVA Corporation does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information of other websites, blogs, or these other links. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended, and do not necessarily imply an endorsement or recommendation of any views expressed, products or services offered within them.

July 18th, 2017|Workforce Management|0 Comments

4 Expert Tips for Improving Your Contact Center Customer Feedback

Honest, open feedback is one of the most important elements of a strong relationship between a contact center manager and employee. A back-and-forth dialogue between a manager and his or her workforce is crucial to the success and efficiency of any good center.

But there’s another kind of feedback that is even more important: The feedback of the customers who call, email, or text to your contact center. There’s no better barometer of how well or poorly a call center is performing than the comments and suggestions you receive from your callers.

So how do you ensure effective caller feedback, and how do you properly parse and organize the data you’re receiving – whether it’s from surveys, follow-up emails, or the caller conversations themselves? Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your customer feedback.

Ask for feedback as soon after the caller’s experience as possible

If you want to truly find out what a caller’s experience was with your center, it’s best to do so quickly. Otherwise the information won’t be fresh in the caller’s mind.

Sometimes, call centers do this while the caller is still on the phone, with an agent asking towards the end of the call if the customer would be willing to answer some questions about their experience, and if they feel their issue was addressed.

Sometimes customers will be irate or irritated by the lack of a satisfactory solution, so the results might be a bit skewed. Overall, however, this is still an important method of gathering feedback.

Keep surveys brief

People lead busy lives, and they’re often not in the mood to stay on the line or push through a long email survey.

Hone your surveys to be as brief, but informative, as possible. Make sure not to take up too much of the caller’s time, or that could negatively affect the way they answer your questions. It won’t do any good to get feedback from a caller who’s annoyed or impatient with the way you get it.

Make sure questions are relevant to your KPIs

You can ask customers an endless variety of questions, but if the answers you receive don’t help you reach your KPI goals, they won’t mean much.

Don’t get wrapped up in questions that might seem useful, but don’t actually provide […]

All content provided on this blog are mostly opinions of the author and is only intended for informational purposes. KOVA Corporation makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. This blog may contain external links to other sites. KOVA Corporation does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information of other websites, blogs, or these other links. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended, and do not necessarily imply an endorsement or recommendation of any views expressed, products or services offered within them.

July 14th, 2017|Workforce Management|0 Comments

5 Ridiculous 911 Call Stories

It’s incredible, really, that there are still people out there who don’t seem to know when it is and isn’t appropriate to call 9-1-1.

On another level, chronicling the mystifying, often hilarious, usually misguided world of funny 911 calls makes us feel like Al Pacino in The Godfather, Part III: Every time we think we’re out, these silly, ridiculous and just plain wrong calls pull us back in.

We’ve found another batch of funny stories about people who need a refresher course in what the word “emergency” means, so it’s time to share some more outrageous 911 call stories with you. Enjoy!

But I’m REALLY Hungry!

One night in December of 2011, a man in Miami named Terry Lynn Kimbell decided his craving for Taco Bell was too powerful to resist, and that he had to hit their drive-thru as quickly as possible. The only problem was the Kimbell was too drunk to drive, and he knew that the restaurant wouldn’t let him walk through the drive through; that’s against the rules.

So perhaps thinking it was worth a shot, and maybe even thinking he was being responsible about it, Kimbell called 911 and asked to be connected to police dispatch so he could request a special favor: No, he didn’t need a ride; he wanted the police to call the manager of Taco Bell and ask if they could make an exception.

Rather than getting his snack fix, Kimbell got arrested for misusing 911.

It’s Hard To Find A Man

Back in 2010, a 57-year-old Ohio woman called 911 with what she obviously considered a serious emergency: She was having trouble finding a husband.

And she was persistent about it as well; she called three times before the exasperated operator finally told her that she was risking arrest for using 911 for non-emergency purposes, and that was apparently all she needed to hear. She happily asked the operator to send an officer, preferably a male one, right over.

Math Emergency

Let’s face it, there are some problems that are very difficult to solve, especially when you’re four years old. And for many children, no problem is more difficult than a math problem.

So what better way to get help with that kind of an issue than to call 911, where the little boy in question had […]

All content provided on this blog are mostly opinions of the author and is only intended for informational purposes. KOVA Corporation makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. This blog may contain external links to other sites. KOVA Corporation does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information of other websites, blogs, or these other links. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended, and do not necessarily imply an endorsement or recommendation of any views expressed, products or services offered within them.

July 13th, 2017|Workforce Management|0 Comments

7 Pro Tips for Contact Center Managers

Management can be a tricky job to do well, particularly when it comes to managing a call center or contact center. After all, a call center manager is dealing with both people and technology – two areas that can be challenging if you don’t have the best working for you.

But there are certain things that seem to be integral to being a superior supervisor, and we say that because these methods and strategies come up over and over again when we look at well-managed call centers.

Here are 7 pro tips that you can incorporate into your management style to help you become a better asset to your call center and your employees.

Do your employees know you, and what you stand for?

We’re not talking about occasional conversation or check-ins with the agents at your contact center; we’re talking about making sure your employees have a familiarity with both your personal and professional lives.

Have an informal meeting, either with each individual or your entire staff at once, and tell them about your life, your management philosophy, and what you expect from them and yourself.

The more your employees know about what kind of person you are, and the more you know about them, the better your connection will be. Even getting to know people in departments other than your own can be beneficial. Creating a familial atmosphere among those you work with can foster a stronger team within your call center.

Make sure you hear them

Even if you might disagree with what your employees are telling you, it’s important to listen to their concerns. Not only will you learn more about what each of them wants or needs in their position, but they will regard you more highly as a manager.

There are few things that make a person feel more secure and confident than feeling they are being listened to. Keep that in mind as your employees talk to you.

Be visible

How often are you around your employees? How often do you walk through the call center area and check in with them, or hop onto calls with them to see how things are going? How much do the people who work for you actually see you?

Making yourself a regular presence among your employees not only fosters the sense that you’re a […]

All content provided on this blog are mostly opinions of the author and is only intended for informational purposes. KOVA Corporation makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. This blog may contain external links to other sites. KOVA Corporation does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information of other websites, blogs, or these other links. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended, and do not necessarily imply an endorsement or recommendation of any views expressed, products or services offered within them.

July 6th, 2017|Workforce Management|0 Comments

The 3 Most Important Components of Effective Call Center Technology

There are new and exciting developments happening in call center technology all the time. So many, in fact, that it can often be easy to get caught up in the lure of a new product without considering how helpful it will actually be to your center.

Flashy ideas are great on the surface, but what about the substance of the new product? Is it something that will help you run a more successful call center in the long run?

One way to figure out what you do and do not need for your specific center is to consider what the most commonly-used software and tech systems are at other centers, from the viewpoint of the supervisors who bring it in. Here’s a list of the most essential technology that managers need for their centers.

Automatic call distribution

Automatic call distribution, or ACD, performs a great deal of the most important functions of a call center – in effect, it acts as the spine to your telephone system’s skeleton.

ACD is what routes the incoming calls to the agents within the center, and it also what collect and measure wait time, the length of the calls, call volume, the amount of time a caller has to wait, and other administrative functions that are vital for a supervisor. Even more important, ACD is what lets managers monitor their agents’ calls.

IVR (interactive voice response)

Another of the most basic forms of call center software, IVR can also be the most helpful, particularly when it comes to helping callers solve more minor issues through automated system. It’s essentially a menu system that, through the customer’s responses, routes their call to the correct queue, whether it be an agent, a department or an automated system.

If the first two forms of tech we’ve discussed were skeletal, the IVR is like the circulatory system, getting the important information where it needs to go.

It’s also one of the most vital areas that call center managers would look for opportunities for improvement and increased reliability.

Think about how frustrating it is when an automated system asks you a question and despite repeated attempts, seems to ignore your answer.

That’s the sign of an outdated or inefficient system, and it’s an area that a smart manager will keep track of and make improvements […]

All content provided on this blog are mostly opinions of the author and is only intended for informational purposes. KOVA Corporation makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. This blog may contain external links to other sites. KOVA Corporation does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information of other websites, blogs, or these other links. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended, and do not necessarily imply an endorsement or recommendation of any views expressed, products or services offered within them.

July 4th, 2017|Workforce Management|0 Comments

How Does Physical Security Information Management Work?

Physical security information management is one of the most important developments in the history of public safety technology. PSIM is a type of software that integrates multiple security applications and devices and runs them through a single, all-encompassing interface.

Why is this so groundbreaking? Because PSIM can collect and sort data  from different, unconnected security systems.

Security personnel who monitor the system can then use that data to make proactive, fast, and well-informed decisions in potentially dangerous situations. In terms of reduced cost, increased personnel empowerment, and efficiency, PSIM represents a dramatic step forward for the security industry.

Physical security information management first came to national notice in 2006. The theory behind it was simply that all of the information being transmitted by security systems around the world could simply be regarded as data, and that once that data is properly combine and analyzed, it can be used to make better, more informed decisions. Simply put, the core of PISM is the idea of taking the data-management practices of business and applying them to the practices of security.

A truly comprehensive PSIM software system focuses on six key factors:

Data Collection

Independent software gathers data from separate security devices and systems.

Analysis

The system analyzes and correlates the data, events, and alarms, to identify the real situations and their priority.

Verification

PSIM software presents the most important information about a given situation in a fast and easily understood format in order for an operator to quickly grasp the situation and verify the pertinent details.

Resolution

The system provides the accepted operating procedures and detailed instructions on how to proceed based on the organization’s current policies. It also lists the proper tools to resolve the situation.

Reporting

The PSIM software keeps close track of all the data and the necessary steps in terms of compliance, training and, if needed, further investigation.

Audit trail

The PSIM monitors how operators interact with the system, tracking any manual changes to the security systems and calculating potential reaction times for each event.

There are some exciting areas of PSIM innovation that seem to be producing new and exciting results every day.

Here are some areas of rapid development within PSIM.

IT security integration

New technology is allowing PSIM software to incorporate a company’s existing IT system, working with their needs and requirements for compliance.

This gives users the ability to move […]

All content provided on this blog are mostly opinions of the author and is only intended for informational purposes. KOVA Corporation makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. This blog may contain external links to other sites. KOVA Corporation does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information of other websites, blogs, or these other links. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended, and do not necessarily imply an endorsement or recommendation of any views expressed, products or services offered within them.

June 29th, 2017|Workforce Management|0 Comments

Why IT Support Agents Need the Latest in Call Center Software

One of the best things that any business can do is be on the lookout for new innovations that can help it be more successful and efficient. Even if a business is working at peak performance, that doesn’t mean they can afford to stop looking for ways to make things run more smoothly.

That’s especially true in IT support, where keeping up with new developments is a must. In an IT call center support situation, that can often mean bringing in new software to keep things up to date within  the center.

Though a manager might be reluctant to bring in new software if the current system is running smoothly, there can be important benefits to upgrading your technology now rather than waiting. Here are some key benefits that might be available to your call center with an increased investment in better software.

Better perception

It might sound odd, but making improvements in your call center technology can help to improve its perception, both from inside the company and outside. The more willing a center is to stay current on technology, the better equipped they’ll be to deal with whatever IT issues a client base is having.

That willingness to improve will reflect well on your call center, even from within. Your employees might be impressed by how far you’re willing to go to stay at the top of your game.
More reliable metrics

The better your call center software is, the more easily your managers can make vital decisions about where the center’s resources are being directed, and how to make changes that will keep things running smoothly.

Analytics can create a virtual mountain of data for your supervisors to dig through. The better your software is, the easier it will be for them to do so quickly and efficiently. And the more they can figure out what the numbers really mean, the more tools you have to make improvements.

Increased productivity

Once your employees have a better way to record and document information about each call they take, they’ll be better able to address any IT issues that their callers might have. With the improvements that have come along in call center software over the last few years, it’s easier than ever for various departments to send and receive information about a client’s IT […]

All content provided on this blog are mostly opinions of the author and is only intended for informational purposes. KOVA Corporation makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. This blog may contain external links to other sites. KOVA Corporation does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information of other websites, blogs, or these other links. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended, and do not necessarily imply an endorsement or recommendation of any views expressed, products or services offered within them.

June 27th, 2017|Workforce Management|0 Comments

Books Every Call Center Manager Should Read

Managing a busy call center can be an incredibly challenging job, and it often might seem like, with all of the non-stop changes and innovations coming to the industry, it’s impossible to find the right guide for a manager who needs some tips or just a little help.

But as it turns out, there’s a healthy market of call center-related books for a manager or supervisor to choose from, and even the ones that might have been published before the recent trend towards automation might have something to offer.

Here’s a list of books that every call center manager can benefit from.

The Call Center Handbook: The Complete Guide to Starting, Running and Improving Your Call Center (5th Edition), by Keith Dawson.

Dawson’s seminal book was published back in 1996, but if you’re a new call center manager or an experienced member of the industry, it’s indispensable. It takes a basic but helpful approach, talking about important strategies for creating a successful call center, keep the everyday operations of the call center as efficient as it can be and focusing on key chances to improve performance in various areas.

In other words, it might be older than most of the other books on this list, but it might also be the best one for any call center manager  to read.

Managing and Motivating Contact Center Employees: Tools and Techniques for Inspiring Outstanding Performance from Your Frontline Staff, by by Kurt Friedmann, Malcolm Carlaw, Peggy Carlaw, and Vasudha Deming

As a manager, you know better than anyone that a satisfied employee is a productive one. And yet, employee satisfaction is an oft-overlooked factor when it comes to creating a successful call center. This book was created to help you remedy that; the authors have made a helpful guide aimed at keeping your workers happy and making them as productive as a possible.

Call Center Recruiting and New-Hire Training: The Best of Call Center Management Review (2nd Edition), by Brad Cleveland and Susan Hash

As we alluded to with the previous entry, your employees are the most important ingredient for success. And that success begins in the training process. Any good manager should know how to recruit and prepare the best workforce possible, which leads to less turnover and more production goals being met.

Call Center Recruiting […]

All content provided on this blog are mostly opinions of the author and is only intended for informational purposes. KOVA Corporation makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. This blog may contain external links to other sites. KOVA Corporation does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information of other websites, blogs, or these other links. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended, and do not necessarily imply an endorsement or recommendation of any views expressed, products or services offered within them.

June 22nd, 2017|Workforce Management|0 Comments

5 Ways to Help Your Contact Center Employees Relieve Stress

The general public doesn’t often think of contact center work as particularly stressful.

However, customer service can be an extremely stressful profession. Contact center employees have to deal with any number of possible stressors, from angry customers, to ineffective training, to staying on top of new policies or procedures that may have just been put into place.

Add to that the focus on meeting quotas and ever-evolving technology and training, and it’s easy to see why your employees might need to blow off some steam. But how can you relieve your employees’ tension while making sure they remain focused on their work?

Here are a few tips for helping your contact center workers deal with on-the-job stress.

Effective evaluation

Feedback and conversation are essential for the health of any staff, but in a contact center situation, they might be even more vital.

Talk to your employees to gauge the stress-level among them. Take a look around the center to see if you can pick up any signs of what might be causing frustration or burnout among the employees.

The first step in solving any problem is understanding it, and speaking to or observing your workers can help create that understanding. And speaking of understanding…

Figure out where the stress is coming from

Are there confusing policies or procedures that are causing headaches for your staff? Are they spread too thin? Is there an issue with the workspace itself or with specific employees towards each other? Is your schedule too taxing, or are your quotas unrealistic?

Often, the biggest cause of stress can cause more stress in other areas. Figuring out what your main problems are and creating a plan to fix, or at least modify, those factors depends on diagnosing the problem correctly.

Making your plan

A plan, even in a rough draft form, is a concrete way to begin relieving stress on your employees. Even if it takes revision or time to implement, the fact that you’re attempting to make changes will likely resonate strongly with the people working for you.

Goals and expectations

Do you have specific outcomes in mind for the various phases of your stress-relief plan? The more a workforce knows about where you’re headed, the more comfortable they will be with the process.

Are you looking at less turnover or higher job satisfaction? They aren’t […]

All content provided on this blog are mostly opinions of the author and is only intended for informational purposes. KOVA Corporation makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. This blog may contain external links to other sites. KOVA Corporation does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information of other websites, blogs, or these other links. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended, and do not necessarily imply an endorsement or recommendation of any views expressed, products or services offered within them.

June 20th, 2017|Workforce Management|0 Comments
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