VQ Simulator. Get your Poisson.. on!
Today we are unveiling the latest version of our virtual queuing simulator. We are pretty excited about how this version has turned out. Take a look and let us know what you think! — check out http://corp.lucyphone.com/vqsim
United We Hold
Ever since we did our airline hold times piece back in August, folks know where to come for comparative data on customer service. When Virgin America switched their reservation systems in the fall, we were first to notice the long hold times (along with thousands of disgusted travelers in the Twittersphere).
Now we’re seeing the effects of the biggest airline merger of all time. United Airlines and Continental Airlines, in their $3B merger have finally, after almost 2 years moved to a single computer system, and it’s wreaking havoc on their hold times. Our enterprise sales team has been reaching out to their customer service folks for the past 8 months to help them through the transition, but even as recently as March 1st a United spokesperson said, "We don’t expect any interruptions in operations or customer service". Um … okay.
Actually, here’s what Lucyphone sees. In January, the average hold time was 7 minutes. In February, the average hold time was 11 minutes. And as of today, 3 weeks into March, we’ve already seen four times our normal volume to the United numbers and we’re recording a 24+ minute hold time … on average!
We spoke with United personnel yesterday who said they didn’t expect the problem to “right itself” for another 2 months, so we’re taking it a step further. We’re giving United callers the ability to TEXT themselves into queue and wait for a callback. Just send a text (sms) message to 650-532-9574 and you’ll get a response asking for your record locator (or “0” if you don’t know it). Then Lucyphone will call United’s number and wait in queue for you.
We hope United Airlines will tell its customers about this number as an easy way to “stop the bleeding.” Because long hold times aren’t nearly as long as their brand repercussions, and this is certainly no way to launch a “new” airline.
SMS Callbacks for the Enterprise!
"Your current wait time is 97 minutes" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDMkxati5DI . What a great Allstate commercial. Wouldn’t it also be great if, instead of having to call to find out what the wait time is, you could just “TEXT” your company and see the wait time, and, if you wanted, request a callback?
Well… now you can. We are excited to announce our new enterprise offering - SMS-based callback requests.
We chose to support an SMS-based front-end to our virtual queuing service because we believe that SMS is an excellent channel in which to offer callback requests.
Here’s a few reasons why:
1. SMS-based proactive customer care. Companies are looking for ways to be more “proactive” with their customer care, rather than reactive. Knowing those customers who would prefer to be contacted via SMS in the event of some customer care issue is the first step to providing the proactive customer care. SMS-based callbacks offer the opportunity to get to know your customers in the SMS realm.
2. SMS is not your 1-800 number. Calls into the 1-800 are expensive. An SMS-based front-door to your customer care environment allows for deflection to possible self-service alternatives.
3. SMS caller-id is more reliable to use for callback. Setting up a callback requires knowing the customer’s phone number at which to be reached. SMS provides an almost failproof caller-id for a mobile phone which is presumably the number at which to be reached. Web and Phone-based virtual queuing requires confirmation of a callback number, whereas SMS-based virtual queuing can more safely assume it.
Learn more at http://corp.lucyphone.com
Text 424-999-LUCY when you do not wanna be held
SMS, SOS or both? We say both. According to study findings from Pew Research, text message users send a little over 40 text messages per day. Which means we think it can safely be assumed the average person is pretty well acquainted with SMS. That being said, LucyPhone is excited to cater to those users by introducing an SMS option! With this new addition, using LucyPhone gets easier.
Here’s how it works: Users have the option to text the name of the company which they’re trying to reach to 424-999-LUCY. They then will receive a text message with a list of numbers to choose from which will direct them to the correct company and/or department. After a number is chosen, the user will be called by LucyPhone to connect the call to the chosen number . While LucyPhone waits on hold, users have the option to text “S” for the status of the call, “J” for rejoining the call, or “H” for additional help.
Try texting “Dish” and see the list of available “DISH Network” numbers. Reply with “1”, and LUCY will connect you to the first result. Sometimes you just want to be held … and sometimes you don’t! LUCY lets you do the latter.
Get Human, Lose the Hold
We’re always excited to get more folks using Lucyphone to “Never Wait on Hold Again!” For this reason, we’re proud to announce our partnership with GetHuman.com to provide callbacks to users of their service. GetHuman has earned considerable notoriety for providing a listing of “cheat codes” to help customers break through the phone menus of the most frustrating 800 numbers. A crowd-sourced repository of useful sanity-saving sequences has been a mainstay of the savvy consumer for many years. Now, in addition to looking up the cheat code which gets you to a human, callers can have Lucy enter this sequence on their behalf and wait on hold for them right from the GetHuman.com website. Look up a number and select “details” and you’ll see an orange button that says “Call Me Instead.” Let us know what you think, and stay tuned for more integrated offerings between our two companies.
Reducing Average Handle Times
Everyone knows we’re focused on improving the customer experience. What started as a free consumer to skip hold times evolved in full enterprise turnkey virtual queuing software-as-a-service. While we knew that saving customer sanity was a big deal for safeguarding brand loyalty and repeat revenue, the fact is that the gains from operational efficiency are nothing to be scoffed at. There are 2 main factors which drive the shorter call times:
Audio Intros and Customer Metadata
When our enterprise customers forward their calls to Lucyphone, we collect pertinent data from the caller. Sometimes it’s an order id, sometimes a customer id. Sometimes we collect it via speech entry, sometimes via DTMF entry. In all cases, we give this information to the Customer Care Representative, and they are “record-ready” when the customer gets a call back. This happens faster than if the customer gives this information in real time, because they’re looking up numbers on bills, or slow to answer.
Fewer Apologies and Less Browbeating
When Customer Care Representatives pick up a Lucyphone call, they’ve already delivered the beginnings of a great customer experience. They get right to business, rather than having to de-fuse an angry customer who just spend 20+ minutes listening to Kenny G.
Reducing AHT has been a great way to further demonstrate the ROI achieved by implementing the LucyQ. Contact us to hear the case studies in greater detail, and we’ll share what we’ve learned.
The Lucyphone Song
Everyone knows National Customer Service week celebrates the hardworking CCRs who actually make customer service possible. But what about the other unsung hero of the game? You know - that sweet someone whose very voice calms you, lowers your blood pressure, and reduces the angry “been waiting on hold” forehead veins. The one who’s taken it upon herself to endure endless hours of smooth jazz elevator music from the 80s, 90s and today? You know who we’re talking about. Here’s a love song written and sung by yours truly; go ahead and sing it with us:
Now I Found Lucyphone
Sitting waiting, listening to smooth jazz crush my soul.
Half an hour now this company has had me on hold.
Oh no don’t you bring me down. Well I know when I’m getting the runaround.
I try to love, but this I hate. I wish I just could lose the wait.
Now I found Lucyphone; I don’t make these calls alone.
Lucy she waits for me … calls me back when an agent’s line comes free.
I got my bill from last month. I can’t believe I was charged so much.
Went to their website - “Contact Us” - yeah, but good luck getting in touch.
No numbers to be found - I had to read the fine print - had to scroll way down.
You say my call is important to you. Why do I feel that’s just not true?
Now I found Lucyphone; I don’t make these calls alone no more.
Lucy she waits for me. She calls me back when an agent’s line comes free.
Lucyphone; I don’t make these calls alone no more.
Lucy she waits for me. She calls me back when an agent’s line comes free.
Happy Customer Service Week!
As we celebrate Customer Service Week and the many professional Customer Care Representatives who go out of their way to provide extraordinary service to callers, we thought it’d be a good idea to remind CCRs the many ways in which Lucyphone helps them to perform their job more effectively.
Happier Callers (who just got a callback)
Shorter Handle Times (because of our audio intros)
Higher First Call Resolutions (because of dropped-call callbacks)
We typically have only provided this guide to our Enterprise customers, but all of the ~3000+ toll-free numbers that we call enjoy the fruits of the Lucyphone architecture. Attached is the latest CCR guide. Happy Customer Service Week, and thank you CCRs for Listening for Lucy!
Flight in August
Summer travel can have its share of woes, and August has certainly been no stranger to delays. We thought it’d be compelling to take a good look at the hold times with each of the major domestic airlines this summer. Of the over 10,000 calls Lucyphone has sent to these airlines over the past month, here’s how their hold times stack up.
With catastrophes like Irene and airport closures up and down the Eastern seaboard, nearly 30% of calls to airlines have exceeded a 5 minute hold time. Furthermore, when it’s bad, it can be really bad - see US Airways with 16% of their total calls taking more than 20 minutes to speak to an agent!
Introducing Audio Intros and Record-Readiness
"May I ask why you’re calling?" politely asked Suzanne, the reservation agent. [Take a deep breath. Let it all out…. That was just the TENTH time you’ve been asked that question during this call!] But let’s not take it out on Suzanne. She is doing her best.
Then why is this experience so infuriating?
People don’t like to repeat themselves, especially when they have to repeatedly tell the painful reason why they are calling customer service.
That’s why we launched “Audio Intros” ~ the latest of our Lucyphone features. This feature has been active for a while in our enterprise solution but we’ve gone ahead and activated it for the consumer service as well.
So here’s what’s new… With audio intros, you’ll have an opportunity to record a short message for the Customer Service Rep before leaving Lucy to wait in queue. For instance, I’m calling an airline and after I select “existing reservations” and that I need to speak with an agent, I press ** to engage Lucy. Instead of her usual “I’ve got it from here,” she allows me to record,
"Hello, this is Mike Oristian; I need to change my return flight; my confirmation code is QXR245".
This means that when the customer gets a call back, the CSR could already have my record pulled up and be ready to help me with my issue. Or perhaps the CSR pulls up my record and realizes there is a another agent that is better suited to handle the call. In that case, the first CSR can just pass the call over to the other CSR. Meanwhile, Lucy is as cool as a cucumber ready to re-connect or re-play the message.
When the agent finally takes the call (presses 1) they are re-played the audio intro so that they can be looking up the record during the callback to you.
When you receive your callback, the agent is “Record-Ready” and prepared to deal with your specific issue.
Ahhh…. that’s better.