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Talkdesk Executive Interview

Gillian Heltai, SVP, Client Services, Talkdesk


What do businesses need to do to adapt their contact centers to the evolving needs of both customers and front-line teams as well?

One of the first things that a business should do to adapt their contact centers is to uncover the ways in which it provides value beyond creating efficiencies. Since contact centers were first introduced, their primary function has been to maximize resources and reduce costs but, in today’s business environments, that’s a limiting and short-sighted purpose. 

Here are a few things that businesses can do to adapt their contact center and meet evolving customer and front-line needs: 

  • Implement programs to capture both voice of the customer and voice of the front-line employee insights. This will provide data on common complaints, requests for new products or services, suggestions for process and product improvements, and other information that can only be found by directly asking the source. Once the data is collected, share it with all relevant stakeholders: research and development, operations, logistics, executives, etc.
  • Engage frontline employees in the evaluation of new systems and processes that would affect their every day. One of the most common contact center pain points is that the systems, tools, and processes prohibit frontline employees from providing the best possible customer experience. By making these employees a part of the evaluation process, they can provide a unique point of view and will more readily buy-in to the implementation of whatever is ultimately decided. 

When properly leveraged, the contact center can deliver efficiency, be a primary driver of customer satisfaction, and offer robust, strategic business insights.

What tools do agents need to be equipped with to maximize efficiency and effectiveness?

The job of the contact center agent is increasing in complexity which means the tools that they need have to be centered around making their job easier. There are a few critical components that will make their life easier while helping them to maximize their efficiency and effectiveness. 

  • A comprehensive agent interface that enables them to have insight and context on who their customer is, where they’ve been, and the details of their current need. When agents have to navigate multiple, disconnect systems, or are missing important customer data, they’re not working efficiently, their frustration increases, and the customer is negatively impacted.
  • A knowledge management system that is accurate and easily searchable. One of the greatest gaps in today’s contact center is a system and process for keeping knowledge up-to-date and readily available. Without it, inaccurate answers are provided, repeat customer contacts increase, and the contact center simultaneously drives up costs and reduces its effectiveness.
  • Ongoing training and coaching on handling difficult customer contacts, delivering exceptional customer service, and business process or product evolutions. Agents can have the greatest systems in the world but, without effective training and ongoing coaching, their ability to maximize effectiveness and efficiency will be severely limited. One of the best tools that they can be equipped with is a coach or mentor who’s invested in their ongoing development. 

How can managers use quality management solutions to create customized call scorecards based on both specific team priorities and targeted call topics?

The quality management process is an internal measure of process adherence, regulation compliance, or the application and effectiveness of other skills as deemed important by the organization or contact center’s leadership. It’s important for contact center leaders to be nimble in what they measure, when and how they measure it. A contact center is an evolving place and it’s important for the quality management to adapt to these shifts and evolutions.

But, we believe that many quality management programs are flawed in that they use an often outdated, static form that features not applicable items, leads to no or limited coaching, and don’t apply well to non-voice channels. It’s for this reason that we believe contact center managers should revisit, revise, and customer their scorecards based on shifting priorities, targeted topics, or specific contact types. Depending on their existing quality management solution, many contact center leaders are limited in the types of contacts that they can evaluate, the ways in which their forms can be modified, or the process for using scorecards to deliver coaching and feedback.

In looking at a quality management solution, we encourage contact center leaders to leverage something that can be easily modified to meet changing business needs, supports ongoing coaching and feedback processes, and is deployable in non-voice channels. It shouldn't matter whether it’s a phone call, email, or live chat interaction that’s going through the quality management process - if it can be evaluated and coached, it should be captured through a unified system.

Can you explain why gathering customer sentiment and mood in a feedback system creates for a more effective metric for measuring customer satisfaction?

Despite its popularity, customer satisfaction is all too often a limited view into what actually happened during a customer’s experience. The question itself is typically asked at the conclusion of the interaction, sometimes hours or days later, and possibly on a different channel altogether. Organizations capture a yes or no response and the results are rolled up into daily, monthly, or annual averages to be reviewed at scale. It’s a very broad measure of a small percentage of the customer base that, given many of these surveys are produced reactively to customers that experienced a problem, may or may not be biased. Like many metrics, it’s imperfect and easily manipulated.

Customer sentiment and mood, however, add another layer to measuring customer satisfaction and engagement. They vary throughout the course of each interaction and reveal the moments of truth and trigger points that are unique to any customer’s journey. Think of it this way - measuring a customer satisfaction rating is much like looking at the score at the end of a football game - you understand the end result but not what happened to get there. By measuring customer sentiment and mood, you’re looking at the key plays of the game - where there were fumbles, touchdowns, or unsportsmanlike conduct. It empowers contact center leaders with tangible insights on how customers respond to certain words, phrases, emotions, and offers and enables incremental coaching and adjustments to agent behavior, processes, or offerings that will ultimately affect customer satisfaction.

How does a visual IVR make it easier for customers to take advantage of self-service options?

Talkdesk Self-Service SDK lets non-technical users build a powerful Visual IVR solution with clicks, not code.

Self-Service guides callers with clear visual instructions

Talkdesk Visual IVR provides a list of topics that help categorize calls. These allow different levels of selection where the contact will navigate inside the SDK and can reach to different outcomes depending on the selected topics

Provide direct access to articles and information

Talkdesk Knowledgebase is an easy way to support customers as they self-service their issue. Using Studio, you can define a list of topics and provide links to external web pages, which can be opened by customers within their mobile device browser.

Can you explain how your technology enables you to offer a 100% uptime SLA?  

We’ve build the more reliable contact center on the planet. It starts with a 100% cloud-native, microservices architecture. This provides customers with high reliability, so if one microservice fails, the others will continue to work and enable zero-downtime maintenance because Talkdesk can focus maintenance on a single service rather than on the whole monolith. Additionally, we provide redundancy in the form of distributed systems using Amazon Web Services (AWS) industry-leading cloud infrastructure. We have geographically distributed data centers and invest in redundancy on every level to eliminate single-point-of-failure. 

Because we are built on CPaaS, the public switched telephone network (PSTN) is woven into one global super telecom network. Using software intelligence we mitigate many common issues associated with traditional telco providers such as degraded quality of service and outages. We monitor over a billion data points for end-to-end performance every single day, so we can identify issues and disruptions early and then automatically reroute customers’ communications.

What are some of the key factors that have led to Talkdesk’s exceptional growth over the past several years?  

  1. A modern cloud-native platform that:
    1. Is designed with consumer app-like ease of use, so agents can get started with little or no training
    2. Provides enterprise scalability, reliability, and security unmatched in the industry 
    3. Offers unparalleled speed and adaptability with our “clicks not code” approach that allows front-line users to evolve and make changes as their business evolves.
    4. Enables rapid innovation so that we can develop and roll out new capabilities, such as AI, faster than our competition.
  2. A company culture focused on customer success. Talkdesk customers get dedicated Customer Success Managers who work to optimize their operation. This “white-glove” treatment has resulted in a 98% CSAT rating and 99% enterprise customer retention rate. 


Join us this Thursday, January 24, 2019 for the webcast Avoiding the Perils of Metric Mismanagement featuring Talkdesk.