How Best-in-World Customer Support Found a Best-in-Class Contact Center Solution
There are three things you should know about me: I love black cats, I thrive in chaos, and I am passionate about building relationships.
In my eight years at , I’ve built relationships with our top vendors and have come to appreciate what a true business partnership looks like. Technology is important, but finding a partner who shares your vision and values, volunteers roadmaps, and engages you by scheduling QBRs and regular meetings is a better predictor of success. That relationship is a big part of what I look for when choosing a new system for our Customer Operations team.
Alarm.com provides security and automation solutions that protect millions of homes and businesses. Our products are available through licensed security experts who offer professional design, installation, and 24/7 monitoring services. We are a B2B2C company supplying products to independent contractors who install, operate, and maintain our equipment, either under our branding or as white-label solutions. As the head of Alarm.com’s Customer Operations Systems team, I oversee contact center applications and analytics, work on integrations with our product and engineering teams, and ensure our partners receive the support they need from our customer care team, through our systems. I am also responsible for our contact center platforms (phone system, Salesforce Service Cloud, chat, etc.), knowledge base, Skilljar LMS, and apps like Slack and our workforce management and QA tools. I’ve built a team to help manage and support each system so I can allocate more time focusing on strategic initiatives.
Replacing Our Aging Contact Center Solution
When it came time to replace our contact center solution, I realized that we weren’t just upgrading our hardware and software. We were changing policies and processes, developing new metrics, rethinking our success criteria, and retraining our customer care agents. It was an “all hands on deck” scenario, and I was excited to dive in.
In 2020, we decided to make the change. It was the height of the pandemic, but the solution from our previous vendor was falling short. We were dealing with repeated outages, dropped calls, and extended wait times. Their support was non-existent, and they treated us like one of many customers instead of as a technology partner with shared goals. We aim to offer best-in-the-world customer service to partners and service providers, and our phone system was holding us back. Alarm.com’s products showcase the best and most reliable technology in the world, and we expect the same from our system partners. After a needs assessment, we established our primary requirements: reliability, support, ongoing collaboration, and a near-100% uptime. We wanted to reduce occupancy and handle time while increasing efficiency with callbacks and customer satisfaction.
We spoke to a number of providers during our RFP, and stood out as the vendor that best reflected our needs and our values. After evaluation, we followed up with reference calls which played an important part in our selection process as we narrowed the list of potential partners. Every Talkdesk customer spoke highly of the company and how well the team listened to customer feedback, worked with customers’ product teams, and provided constant updates on issues of concern. Once we made up our minds, it took less than two months to roll out Talkdesk to our customer support team.
Deploying Talkdesk to Our Remote Workforce
Deploying Talkdesk was an entirely new experience for us. We had pivoted to a remote work model, and it was the first time we were rolling out a platform to a decentralized network of customer service agents working from home. A number of our team members were understandably change-averse and having already transitioned from office to remote work, having them learn a new contact center platform was a big ask. We wanted to give them the training they needed to get up and running, and we wanted to make it fun, too!
Our employees support thousands of security partners who serve more than six million customers. Keeping them happy, healthy, and productive is critical to Alarm.com’s success. The cornerstone of our transition to Talkdesk was a six-week training period. We started by releasing training modules and attending small group team meetings to demonstrate what the Talkdesk system would look like. We conducted internal beta testing with our operations team before championing Talkdesk to everyone else. During this time, we continued to use our previous contact center solution while we ironed out the bugs and finalized our configurations.
During launch week, we created a fun theme for each day. On Monday, we asked people to write break-up texts to the old system in our Slack channel, a hilarious exercise in which everyone gladly participated. Next came Talkdesk Taco Tuesday; we provided gift cards to our agents to show our appreciation and allow them to celebrate the occasion "together" by treating them to lunch. We held raffles and asked people to submit their Talkdesk best practices. The more tips they shared, the more they could win. We also encouraged team members to share their customized Talkdesk dashboards on Slack. It was a new functionality, and we wanted to raise awareness of how it worked in an engaging and interactive way.
We started working on our internal project plan for communications, training, and change management from the moment we signed, and Talkdesk helped us every step of the way. We built an internal implementation team and were in constant contact with the Talkdesk implementation team. Both teams connected multiple times each week, and it was reassuring to know they had built a comprehensive project plan and were fully equipped to guide us in our efforts to roll out the new platform.
Because we had such a short implementation period and everyone was remote, communication was key. I learned many valuable lessons along the way. Most important is allotting yourself more time than you think you'll need: something unexpected will always crop up, so holding weekly change management meetings allows the project team to brainstorm, pivot, and adjust as the deadline approaches. Bringing team members into the loop as early as possible and keeping multiple channels of communication open is essential to ensuring a smooth transition. Finally, being conscious of various adult learning styles and adjusting your training approach to include a hybrid, dynamic, and engaging approach ensures everyone gets up to speed.
Increasing Visibility, Efficiency, and Customer Satisfaction
We launched Talkdesk in November 2020, and the results have been incredible. Our CSAT survey response quadrupled from 5% to 20%, supplying us with a clearer picture of caller sentiment. The Talkdesk callback system yielded efficiency gains equalling two full-time agents, translating into significant cost savings and an improved customer experience. The CSAT SMS survey within Talkdesk aggregates the scores with our CSAT survey sent via Salesforce. As Alarm.com looks into 2023, the voice of the customer will be a huge initiative; we expect to see increased utilization of feedback and survey tools which will help us provide the best customer experience to customers.
We substantially reduced occupancy and handle time, optimized our ring groups to better serve customers and help new hires learn the job, and lowered the number of cases opened. The most significant change we saw was enhanced visibility into our contact center operations. Before adopting Talkdesk, we had no way to measure key metrics like occupancy, handle time, and after-call actions, and we couldn’t see the number of tickets and bug reports submitted to operations and IT teams. Along with Talkdesk, we purchased , a workforce optimization platform that seamlessly integrates with Talkdesk and offers speech-driven quality monitoring, coaching, eLearning, compliance, and performance management tools. We also have enhanced support metrics and robust reporting through the integration.
Talkdesk has dashboard-driven reporting and its many integrations help Alarm.com create a visual representation of our overall health as an organization and a clearer picture of the customer lifecycle. We don’t use these metrics to micromanage our agents but to understand the bigger picture, identify agents requiring more support, and determine potential training needs. The result is happier employees, lower turnover, and optimized training for new hires. Our newfound visibility allows us more opportunities to analyze our environment and adjust our operations based on what we see. And while metrics are helpful, we ensure that both the employee and the customer have a positive support interaction. For instance, we do not require our agents to keep their calls under a specific length if the interaction requires additional time to investigate, identify, and resolve. We seek to provide a best-in-the-world customer experience, which could take two minutes or two hours—whatever it takes to meet our customers’ needs.
Talkdesk Supports Us While We Support Others
We didn’t receive much support from our previous vendor, but it’s one of my favorite aspects about partnering with Talkdesk. Our CSM has been with us since day one and has worked tirelessly to resolve any issues, escalate our concerns to Product Managers, keep us in the loop on internal conversations about these issues, and respond to us outside of normal business hours if necessary. Our account manager is equally enthusiastic. He’s more than a salesperson; he jumps in to assist us as needed. We've interacted with the same Talkdesk sales, technology, and support reps since day one, a sign that indicates to me that employees are happy and Talkdesk invests in their growth, just like we do at Alarm.com. Talkdesk listens to customer feedback and we’ve already seen feature enhancements and improvements in response to our requests. They also provide root cause analyses (RCAs) for every incident, detailing the problem and the steps they took to resolve it. That level of transparency is precious when dealing with a complex system like a contact center platform.
Alarm.com has a modernized customer support system that empowers our agents to provide best-in-the-world service to the thousands of security partners and millions of customers we support. On a tight schedule and under challenging circumstances, we trained our remote workforce to use our new tools and switched to a new platform with no disruptions to our operations. We couldn’t have done it without the dedication of our people and stellar support from Talkdesk.
The postings on this site are my own and do not reflect the views of Alarm.com.