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Having a Modern Contact Center Means Putting Customers in Control

Jul 12, 2017 2:45:00 PM / by Chris Klardie

Topics: Contact Center

Chris Klardie

Chris Klardie is the director of our contact center professional services team at ShoreGroup. He has over 25 years of experience with the Cisco contact center platform, including 17 years at GeoTel and Cisco in the contact center business unit and advanced services teams. He has worked on some of the largest global designs for Cisco and managed their Assessment-to-Quality (A2Q) program as their global solutions architect.

Woman on labtop and screen says customer serviceCustomer experience drives the modern contact center. That means contact center solutions for any industry must focus on ensuring that customers can be in control of their service experience, choosing the way they want to do business with your contact center. It may come as a surprise, but your customers don’t want to call you. In fact, 40% of customers will call into a contact center only after they’ve exhausted all other channels. For example, a member looking to see if a specific physician is “In Network” for their insurance provider’s plan on the website, they are forced to pick up the phone after an exhausting search on the web. Customers prefer to be in control, so it’s no surprise that 72% will opt for self service first before being locked into a queue to speak to a person to ask their questions.

Contact Centers Are Now Part of the Overall Marketing Motion

Contact centers represent the company and the brand as the external “face” of the company.  Organizations are seeing the alignment between customer service, the people who are actually answering the phone call, and sales and marketing, who are also customer facing, but with much different roles. The way the contact center provides service impacts the company brand just as much as any marketing campaign.

Beyond typical contact center metics for handle time and speed of answer, customer care, using the latest contact center technology, is now supplying valuable data and actionable information to the sales team as to how customers are being maintained post sale. Customer care can mine the customer for additional up-sell and cross-sell opportunities to sales and marketing to ensure the company is tracking and closing opportunities for existing customers.

Making Customer Care Aware of Customer Interactions

As customers choose the ways they want to communicate with your company, the contact center must be able to understand all of the customer interactions across all channels. Omnichannel visibility for the contact center takes into consideration all the different ways that people can communicate with a business. Unlike multi-channel communications which expects the customer to pick a channel and complete their transaction in one media – voice, chat or e-mail, the omnichannel view lets the customer “jump” channels for the same conversation, really taking the interaction to the next level by providing the customer with channel choice and the agent visibility to the entire interaction. A good example is Cisco’s contact center solutions which enable businesses to track interactions across channels to create a single view of the customer and all their interactions that may be related.

Evaluating Contact Center Performance

Gathering all of these contact points under one view is important, because the evolving role of the contact center is compelling contact center managers to rethink the way they measure and evaluate agent and group performance. Today, contact centers are expected to achieve goals that were not part of the plan even as recently as five years ago. Using Omnichannel tools allow agents to quickly understand and resolve the customer “ask” across channels, developing customers into promoters. Addtionally, being proactive to monitor and interact with social media can help avoid people writing anything negative about your company on Twitter and Facebook and all of your fan pages. Contact center managers have always been focused on customer satisfaction, but now need to protect the company brand and help increase sales and the company reputation as well.

At the same time, contact centers are still expected to operate at peak efficiency, keep operating costs down and function as a profit center. These multiple goals are often in conflict with each other as it can take longer to resolve queries on the first contact, increasing handle time and cost.  Making use of agent productivity tools and Omnichannel views of customer interactions can make agents more productive and increase customer satisfaction.

Intelligent data creates better contact center experiences

Organizations that leverage their omnichannel interaction history can connect callers to the right agent in the contact center the first time.  Intelligent data directed routing from information gathered in a previous contact with the customer, you can make sure that the person calling in reaches an agent that is aware of the caller’s history – did they contacted you in the past via e-mail or social media, or SMS text or IM or Chat? With the pressure to provide customers with the flexibility they want, which means getting the service they want when and how they prefer and the need for the contact center to integrate with other functional areas, the requirement for a modern contact center technology is really apparent.

Cloud contact center solutions should align with your business and customers

Having a modern contact center means understanding your customers.  For instance, a very large fulfillment and logistic company had a contact center that was using inbound voice and email for interacting with its customers. Because of the lack of integrated contact information, the company believed that inbound voice was the favorite channel for their customers and only focused on improving the voice experience for its customers. Through consultation and discovery though, they came to realize that 75% of their communications with their customers was via e-mail, which included initial communications as well as ongoing communication. By drilling into that, they were able to figure out that there are a number of different ways for them to utilize contact center technology. They were able to improve agent efficiency in handling customer e-mail by integrating e-mails with their Salesforce CRM. With e-mails and responses automatically logged, agents could learn from prior interactions and requests as well as get better reporting on customer interactions and critically important integrated voice and e-mail contact center analytics all in one place. With integrated interaction data, they have a complete picture of their customers and how their contact center operates.

What does it take to build a modern contact center that’s  right-sized for your business? It means focusing on these five areas:

  • Weeding out old and un-supported technology
  • Thinking customer centric
  • Simplifying workflows
  • Considering the future with scalability
  • Enhancing the overall customer experience

Good partners help make great contact centers

Contact centers of today are complex to manage and make changes to on a daily basis. That doesn’t mean a business can’t do it on their own, but doing so may mean diverting time from things that really matter to the core business.  Or, it may mean putting an army of people on the payroll to cover all of the complexities of a modern contact center. Working with the right partner with certifications and experience will help ensuring that your customer contact center is truly your customer experience center.

Interested in learning more about how your contact center can impact the bottom line? Download our guide: "3 Ways to Inspire Customer Loyalty".

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