Virtual Customer Service

Posted on March 14, 2018

Virtual customer service. What does it mean? There are plenty examples of human interaction causing more customer dissatisfaction than desired. At the same time, not everyone cares to interact with a machine when trying to get customer service questions answered. Virtual customer service is the application of technology in customer service functions that replaces or reduces human interaction. Why? Two reasons: It reduces the possibility for human error, and it’s much more cost effective.

Appointment Works uses Web and voice technologies to provide solutions around scheduling, applying, registering, and more. End users of our technology can quickly and easily get answers, hear information, schedule appointments, and apply for services offered. They can do so at any time of the day, over the phone or over the Web, allowing much more flexibility and convenience. For what we do, Virtual Customer Service is a win/win proposition for small and medium sized businesses.

That’s our take, we would love to hear what you think about Virtual Customer Service.

Is Time Really Money?

Posted on September 19, 2017

We’ve all heard the line: time is money. For many, it can conjure up images of a thick Brooklyn accent negotiating a deal, or a long-haul driver trying to make his next transport. It may sound arrogant, but in so many ways, time really is money.

It couldn’t be more true for grantees (often Community Action Agencies) who distribute funding for low-income programs such as LIHEAP. Often, the grantees (agencies) have a specific time period during which they are tasked with fully allocating to those in need the budget awarded to them. The limitations of time create pressures on grantees to operate efficiently and effectively. This is where we come in. We provide customer service solutions that help Community Action schedule, remind, register and qualify those in need. Within that, we deploy technology that minimizes the potential for wasted appointment time (duplicate appointments, wrong location assignments, etc.).

An analysis of data from the scheduling activities of one of our customers showed that we prevented about 450 appointment slots being incorrectly scheduled. Since a typical LIHEAP allocation can be as much as $300, this equated to $157,500 worth of potential unallocated LIHEAP funds. When it comes to LIHEAP, time really is money. That is our opinion. What do you think?

Data Driven Decision Management

Posted on July 13, 2017

Data-driven decision management has been around for decades now. It may not seem to have much relevance for small to medium-sized businesses, but the results of data analysis can be enlightening.

For example, we analyze call volume data to better improve the workflow of our interactive voice response systems. We also analyze data to identify patterns of abuse of our systems.

The benefits of data-driven decision management are enough to encourage all businesses to be in a position to collect and store data. That doesn’t necessarily mean that individual businesses have to invest in software and data warehousing. When outsourced vendors provide SaaS solutions to your business, they can often be very good sources of useful data.

As a business owner or manager, it makes good sense to think about ways in which you can collect, get access to, and use data to help you deliver better service and better products. That’s our opinion. We want to know what you think.

IVR For Customer Service

Posted on April 12, 2017

The Internet has certainly made a tremendous impact on the business world. All one needs to do is look at the business climate of brick-and-mortar retailers to be reminded of the impact of online capabilities.

What about the phone? Is it still relevant in today’s business climate?

The answer is yes. A recent report by a leading research company stated that the IVR market will continue to grow past $1.5 billion toward the year 2020. Visual IVR, an emerging technology, is believed to remove any doubts about the future of IVR in general.

What does this mean? People still want to use the phone to interact with business. Some people still have to. The end result is that the phone does not have to be your enemy. Your customers and potential customers may be able to get the answers they need from an automated system. This means you can free your staff to handle more pressing matters while letting your IVR do the rest.

Let us know what you think.

Two Approaches to Appointment Scheduling

Posted on February 17, 2017

Not all scheduling systems are the same. A relatively unknown, but important technical approach to calendaring can be the difference between accurate scheduling and customer headaches.

The process of getting your customers scheduled into appointments involves a fundamental choice of how to approach scheduling. Many schedulers are designed around the basic concept of blocking out times that are not desired for scheduling. For example, you might block out Saturday, Sunday, and the lunch hour of 12 o’clock to 1 o’clock. You would then be leaving open everything else.

This approach can suffice getting the job done, but it can also lead to problems. For example, what if you forget to block out holidays, vacation days, or inconsistencies in availability? Using the all open – block out what you don’t want – approach can lead to having customers booking into open times when you did not mean to leave them open.

Here at Appointment Works, we turned the approach to scheduling upside down. Our system is designed around an approach that has everything closed. You only put into the system openings for which your customers can schedule. By requiring a process of appointment opening and review, you know exactly what appointment times will be on your schedule without needing to remember what to block out. This preserves the Integrity of the block out function to be applied only to times you opened in the first place.

Ever have problems with schedulers? Let us know what you think about our approach.