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TECH, TELECOM GIANTS TO FIGHT ROBOCALLS AS WHEELER THREATENS FCC ACTION

A group of 32 telecommunications companies, phone manufacturers and tech firms will join AT&T Inc. in developing standards and procedures to fight robocalls, the automated calls and texts made to individuals to either sell products or commit scams.

AT&T Chairman and Chief Executive Randall Stephenson is heading the so-called Robocall Strike Force, which will include Apple Inc., Google Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. The task force will report back to the Federal Communications Commission by Oct. 19 with “concrete plans to accelerate the development and adoption of new tools and solutions” to combat the prevalence of robocalls, as well as suggestions for what the role of government should be in addressing the issue.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said that while he was happy to see the industry tackle the problem of robocalls, the agency could step in if they don’t see the task force making significant progress.

“This is an industry group,” Wheeler said at the opening of the task force’s first meeting at the FCC on Friday. “We believe in multistakeholder solutions. And when the whole ecosystem can come together, it can produce good results. But without results, we will be forced to look for other solutions, because this scourge must stop.”

Wheeler said robocalls are the “number one complaint” the FCC receives from consumers, noting that more than 200,000 calls and web complaints about robocalls are sent to the agency each year.

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said there were nearly 87,5000 complaints about robocalls in just the first half of 2016.

“We want to ensure that these solutions directly target the problem,” Clyburn said at the meeting. “The Commission has a long history of prohibiting abusive or anticompetitive use of call-blocking technology, but consumers want real relief. I am optimistic that beginning with today’s conversation we will be able to deliver to consumers the change they are clamoring for.”

“Americans have a right to be fed up with this scourge,” Wheeler said. “It’s an invasion of privacy and it is ripe with fraud and identity theft. The problem is the bad guys are beating the good guys with technology right now.”

The Robocall Strike Force is meant to tackle that problem by developing industry-wide goals and action plans to ensure consumers aren’t pestered by illegal robocalls anymore. However, AT&T’s Stephenson said it’s difficult to weed out the malicious robocalls from those that are within the bounds of the law.

“These unwanted calls span a wide range,” Stephenson said at today’s meeting. “We have calls that are perfectly legal, but unwanted, like telemarketers and public opinion surveyors. At the other end of the spectrum we have millions of calls that are blatantly illegal. They are violating the Do Not Call registry or, worse, trying to steal your money or identity.”

At Wheeler’s request, companies agreed to discuss the feasibility of a “Do Not Originate” list designed to stop robocalls at the source. Federal agencies and other institutions commonly imitated by robocallers would register their numbers on the list, and the service providers could then block any calls coming from those numbers outside of the United States. Many robocall scams originate from outside the country.

The companies also agreed to conform to other technical standards once they become available or are deemed viable. They also will “further develop and implement solutions to detect, assess and stop unwanted calls from reaching customers,” Stephenson said at the meeting.

The group will work to facilitate other carriers’ efforts to implement call-block technologies on their networks.

TELEVERGENCE SOLUTIONS (TSI) COLLABORATED WITH A RURAL CLEC TO IMPROVE CALL QUALITY, REGULATORY COMPLIANCE AND PROFITABILITY

BACKGROUND

A CLEC operating from, and providing service in, multiple rural markets was faced with the following:

  • Budget cuts
  • Declining revenue from traditionally stable CABS billing and reciprocal compensation
  • Team reductions
  • The need to upgrade switch infrastructure
  • Recent local and federal rural call completion requirements

CHALLENGES

As a result of multiple mergers and acquisitions, the company’s network contained various switches, such as Metaswitches, DMS-250s and 5ESS hardware, with limited least cost routing functionality. There were both TDM and SIP interconnections to multiple carriers with varying degrees of efficiency and quality.

SOLUTIONS

TSI’s CTO and technical team have extensive experience working with divergent switches, including regional and national networks. TSI acted as a neutral third party during the due diligence process and subsequently designed a project plan to consolidate the network into a homogeneous environment.

RESULTS

The Company now maintains a redundant voice switch facility, utilizing state-of-the-art systems that enables their dedicated staff to route and monitor traffic from a central network operating center (NOC) facility.

The Company has successfully consolidated vendors, and negotiated significantly lower rates, without the need for volume and/or term commitments. Excellent call quality has been maintained and they continue to be in compliance with the FCC Rural Call Completion Order.

TSI now enjoys a stronger relationship with the customer and their team. As a result, TSI has earned a significant increase in traffic and revenue.

ABOUT TELEVERGENCE SOLUTIONS (TSI)

TSI is a telecommunications carrier who attributes over 30 years of success to quality and competitively priced products. The company was founded and is managed by the CEO, Deb Ward, whose integrity and industry reputation is exemplary. She is the 1st and current Chairwoman of INCOMPAS (formerly Comptel), the industry’s leading competitive telecommunications trade organization.

TSI’s CTO, David Deutsch, has extensive technical expertise in the call center telecommunications space and manages the Company’s fully staffed, U.S. based Network Operating Center (NOC). We maintain an on-premise TDM to SIP conversion capability and loan equipment program for legacy platforms. Our portfolio includes High Call Completion and High Call per Second Capability Inbound Toll Free and Outbound Long Distance with a No Obligation Free Trial. Membership is maintained within INCOMPAS (formerly known as Comptel), Marketing Research Organization (MRA), National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Nashville Chamber of Commerce, Professional Association for Customer Engagement (PACE), Telecom Association and Women in the Channel (WIC).

CALL CENTER STRATEGIC THINKING MANDATES

Putting Value Ahead of Cost

CallCenters2.com

Successful call centers require strategic perspective, the right mix of motivated people, mature business processes and CRM software systems. It seems every consumer has a frustrating or ridiculous call center story they can tell. They often involve calling in to a company's call center to seek information or help, only to be 'served' by someone who may not speak English well, is rude, unempowered or just unwilling to help.

Dissatisfied call center experiences are the number one source for customer churn, according to a 2011 research report by CRMsearch.com. Yet despite the frequency of such occurrences many companies just turn a blind eye to their call center operations, seemingly unaware of the consequences.

If you are investing in a call center and it's not satisfying your customers, you're wasting your money and burning through valuable customer relationships. However, for companies that choose to confront business reality, improving contact center performance has the two prong benefit of reducing customer churn and creating customer goodwill - and may be the best financial investment you can possibly make for these two critical business objectives.

Contact centers are often the first place where your customers go to communicate with you. They can write in with e-mail or the U.S. Postal Service, sure, but when they reach out to call your contact center staff, they're looking for direct communication and immediate response or resolution.

Call centers are important for customer service because they let your customers talk directly with your business. This is the place where a customer problem or complaint can be defused and ultimately become a customer success story, all because you had someone there to listen, talk and help your customer at their time of need. That's huge. Essentially, it's human Customer Relationship Management (CRM). It's just as important as that big, enterprise software CRM system you also have in your business, but this one has the human ability to truly communicate with your customers.

So now what? Much of call center success starts with a positive attitude. To begin looking at call centers strategically, they can no longer just be seen as a necessary expense. They need to be seen as strategic, customer bonding tools that can help turn an angry customer into a satisfied and appreciative customer who will remember their excellent customer service experience, tell all their friends and grow their spend with your company.

A great call center will help you keep your customers, generate highly qualified referrals, increase customer share, increase market share and grow your business. A bad call center operation will feed the frustrations and high customer support representatives turnover rate that plague far too many contact centers.

The worst experience your customers can have is if they dial in to your call centers for help and come away angry and distraught due to the perceived poor response from your company. Those are the alienated customers you are turning away to competitors. And that's not why you built and staff your call centers in the first place. Bad call center experiences undo your customer relationships. It's that simple.

There are some interesting developments happening in the call center industry that could impact your call center operations and strategies. Instead of locating call centers offshore, some call center operators are placing outsourced call centers in rural America, where labor and facility costs can be materially lower compared to large urban areas. Don Tennant, a former editor-in-chief at Computerworld, recently interviewed Monty Hamilton, the CEO of Rural Sourcing Inc., on this increasing trend. "According to Hamilton, it's not just about waving the American flag, but about serving a sweet spot that falls squarely in the middle market," Tennant blogged.

This new rural call center location sourcing is being established to address one of most cited concerns by customers who complain about having poor, ineffective and frustrating communications with call center agents in other countries. Is it such a solution for your business? Ask your customers. Your customers should be your first line for call center strategy. Ask them how they feel about their call center experience with your company. Listen hard and ask good questions.

A decision to locate a call center offshore or in rural America shouldn't be only about expense. Call centers must be viewed as a business building asset and not just a cost center. Effective call centers are a place where your customers can be nurtured, assisted and turned into lifelong customers, all due to live conversations with well-trained, compassionate and respected call center agents. This value must be quantitatively understood and appreciated for call centers to receive the executive sponsorship, and respect, they deserve.

Only then can those old attitudes about call centers begin to change.

TURNING CUSTOMER SERVICE INTO YOUR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

Posted on: July 2nd, 2016 by Cirrus
Written by Jason Roos, CEO, Cirrus

In today’s highly competitive environment, the war for customers is intensifying. Customers are increasingly value aware, but this should not be interpreted as simply lowest price. Although customers are demanding, they do recognize when they receive service that is seamless. A report by The Institute of Customer Service revealed a strong correlation between providing higher customer service levels and those experiencing stronger sales growth, with Amazon coming out on top.

Many businesses talk about the importance of Customer Service, but so few actually deliver it. Delivering customer Service is a continuous experience with no real start or finish point. Think about how your business can help the customer throughout the entire purchasing journey. Whether it’s the initial pre-purchase research phase, browsing in-store, at the point of purchase either online or in-store, and through to post-purchase and installation/implementation. Crucially, the customer views their experience with that supplier as continuous, across multiple channels and interacting with different people.

Customer Journey Mapping is an effective tool for identifying key customer touch points. Focusing on the experience with the contact centre, here are five ideas of what can be achieved to set you on the path to delivering an exceptional customer experience:

1. Sorry we Missed your Call.

You are experiencing exceptional call volumes, queue lengths are higher than you would like, a customer gives up waiting and hangs up. You immediately text them, apologise for missing their call, and then call them back as soon as an agent becomes available.

2. Let the System Queue for your Customers.

Nobody likes waiting. Remove this frustration by letting your customers hear a message which advises them to press a number to have their place held in the queue when they hang up. The call centre then rings them back when they reach the front of the queue.

3. Cut to the Chase.

A customer is browsing your website, they click the button to speak to someone. When the agent greets them, they not only know who the customer is, but also what they have been looking at on your website.

4. Using Customer Data To Personalise Your Pre-Agent Message.

Your customer calls, you know who they are from their mobile number, you can see that they have an order with you and are awaiting delivery. You play an immediate message, “Hello Mr Smith, while we connect you to an agent, we just wanted to let you know that your order for the Harry Potter Book was dispatched today and should be with you by midday tomorrow.”

5. I Hear You.

Your customer posts an update on social media that they are frustrated with the service that they have received from your Organization. You respond within minutes with an apology and then call them immediately to address their problem. When done well, this turns your biggest hater into your biggest advocate.

For more ways Cirrus can help your Organization improve your customer service get in touch on (0333 103 3440).

TELEVERGENCE SOLUTIONS SERVICE AS A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE & RATES IMPROVES INDEPENDENT WIRELESS PROVIDER’S CALL QUALITY & LOWERS COST

BACKGROUND

This regional wireless provider services one of the U.S.’s largest state’s mobile phone markets with expectations to connect all calls made on their platform regardless of the destination. The service from their existing long distance provider was “fair”, however, a substantial amount of time was wasted on trouble tickets due to call quality and completion issues. They were also interested in a cost reduction.

CHALLENGES

Located in a rural area of a large mid-U.S.state, their options were somewhat limited as they required a TDM/non-IP connection. They had conversations with several alternative providers, however, since there had been no visits from any of those providers, the Customer assumed an apparent lack of interest.

SOLUTIONS

Televergence Solutions was one of very few, possibly only, voice services providers that provided C-Level Account Management pre- and post-sale. We visited the customer’s rural location to clearly understand the issues. After reviewing the traffic details and discussing a TDM private line connection between the Customer and the long distance provider, we delivered a winning proposal that met all of their needs including a TDM connection from their network into the Televergence Solutions’ network.

RESULTS

The Customer moved all U.S. off-net traffic to Televergence Solutions and all U.S. traffic now traverse the Televergence Solutions network with all calls completing. In the 30+ months this Customer has been routing calls through Televergence Solutions, there have been very few, quickly resolved trouble tickets.

The TDM connection provided a substantial savings for the month-ly usage for routed long distance calls. Reduced costs, C-Level Account Management, our ability to connect all calls with minimal trouble tickets, and detailed reporting has made this customer very happy. They have realized the 35% savings original Televergence Solutions proposal.

ABOUT TELEVERGENCE SOLUTIONS (TSI)

TSI is a telecommunications carrier who attributes over 30 years of success to quality and competitively priced products, complemented with C-Level Account Management and Customer Service.

The company was founded and is managed by the CEO, Deb Ward, whose integrity and industry reputation is exemplary. She is the 1st and current Chairwoman of INCOMPAS (formerly Comptel), the industry’s leading competitive telecommunications trade organization. TSI’s CTO, David Deutsch, has extensive technical expertise in the call center telecommunications space and manages the Company’s fully staffed, U.S. based Network Operating Center (NOC). We maintain an on-premise TDM to SIP conversion capability and loan equipment program for legacy platforms.

Our portfolio includes High Call Completion and High Call per Second Capability Inbound TF and Outbound LD with a No Obligation Free Trial. Membership is maintained within INCOMPAS (formerly known as Comptel), Marketing Research Organization (MRA), National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Nashville Chamber of Commerce, and Professional Association for Customer Engagement (PACE), Telecom Associates and Women in the Channel (WIC).