We’ve all been there. We’ve all reached out to a contact center for help from an airline, hotel, or company looking for the answers we need. And often, the result is:
- Waiting for an extended period of time to speak with an agent.
- Suffering through excruciatingly long Interactive Voice Response (IVR) prompts.
- Being unable to talk to a human despite repeatedly shouting “representative” into the phone.
- Having to re-identify yourself to the live agent after already having done so to the bot.
While addressing these issues at your organization takes some effort, planning, and forethought, providing a frictionless Contact Center experience proves your company really cares about its clients and customers.
Yesterday’s Call Center Is Today’s Contact Center
These days, many people would prefer not to talk on the phone. They’d rather text, chat, or utilize another medium (e.g., WhatsApp or Apple Business Chat). Ideally, your contact center should be flexible enough to support the user’s preferred communication medium, whichever that may be.
Next, your Contact Center should be able to synthesize customer data and leverage it for a useful purpose. For instance, when a customer contacts your organization, you should be able to predict the context around why the customer is reaching out—based on the information you already have about that customer. This will save that customer time by offering something useful—rather than making the customer suffer through menu prompts. For instance, if a customer calls regarding their order, the system should know when they have an order that’s en route to be delivered. So why not begin the interaction by asking, “Are you calling about your flight today?”
Common Contact Center Challenges
If you hear “we’re experiencing unusually high call volumes, your wait time is greater than 15 minutes,” it either means that the organization hasn’t hired adequate staff or hasn’t implemented the technology to let customers save their place in line. Companies that respect their customers’ time are sure to implement this technology, especially considering it pays for itself in the long run. Instead of paying for customers to sit on hold, frustrating them, why not automate the entire process and give them a call-back option?
For more information on how to apply intelligence to connected experiences, check out: How to Expand The Intelligence of Your Contact Centers.
Why Enterprise System Integrations Are Key
Many organizations use disparate systems; they’re not properly networked or they lack the capability to be networked at all. Applications are often siloed when they should be a complete, integrated tech stack that can gracefully transfer customers from one channel to another. When your system transfers a customer to a representative, that rep should already know who you are because you’ve already been authenticated by an integrated system.
The process is not a difficult implementation, but it does require discovery sessions to evaluate the enterprise system environment and identify what you’re trying to accomplish. How large is the gap and how do we tactically plan to get traverse it? These contact center conundrums have existed for decades. The solution resides in recognizing the gap as a problem and engaging with the right vendor to devise an improvement strategy.
The Criticality Of Customer Experience
The average consumer values her/his experience above all else, and they allocate their loyalty to brands that are respectful of their time. If customers enjoy doing business with the company, they will continue to use and promote that brand. From the business perspective, the cost is still important, but the real sales opportunity comes with repeat business garnered from an amazing customer service experience.
Boosting Long-Term Value
The Contact Center is no longer a cost center—the ROI pays for itself very quickly. Even measured in seconds, the reduced call duration offsets the technology investment fast—especially if you’re a large organization handling millions of calls. However, this ROI is often missed because when companies upgrade their twenty-year-old application stack, they simply move it from one platform to another without changing anything. Companies need to take the time to ideate and innovate their customer service/sales experience to determine how they can create a frictionless experience for their customers.
The Evolution of Predictive Forecasting
Traditionally, organizations would record calls and randomly evaluate a percentage of them. But what if the review process were more granular? For example, reviewing all the calls that referenced a particular product or that contained a specific phrase or calls where the agent failed to read a certain disclosure. All of this is possible because calls can now be digitally recorded and analyzed surfacing the proper calls to QA. Organizations can scientifically sample calls in a manner that’s explicit and prescriptive to evaluate the representative’s performance. In fact, with today’s technology, organizations can identify customer sentiment based on their words, tone, and volume to determine which calls need further investigation or which agents need more coaching.
Further, many companies manage their contact center staff on a spreadsheet, which fails when it comes to modeling. Leveraging historical trending volumes to create predictive forecasting models based on the traditional cyclicality of your business, enabling more accurate staffing levels to prevent excessively long hold times, etc. These applications have come a long way over the last few years and the cost has dropped to the point where they’re accessible to smaller contact centers that may not have been able to afford them previously.
Benefits of Migrating to a Cloud-Based Contact Center
Historically, call-processing systems were on-premises. Such systems were limited, so businesses started bolting-on technologies. As a result, many on-premises systems are an amalgamation of applications from several companies. As a result, upgrading an on-premises application is complex and expensive. Modern-day cloud-based platforms are based on a microservices architecture making them easier to upgrade, easier to implement, and can be consumed on a usage basis. Capabilities that traditionally required a separate application are now pre-integrated in a single application stack and can be upgraded without impacting other areas of the application.
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The Importance of Omnichannel Support
Organizations are trying to balance cost with experience and choice. While it is true that a typical chat agent can handle four chat streams at a time, statistics show that roughly forty percent (40%) of digital transactions end up requiring a live agent interaction. Organizations that truly care about their customers’ needs not only offer them a choice of how to interact ranging from text and chat applications like WhatsApp and Apple Business Chat to email and voice but pay attention in the design phase to ensure that when switching between channels the call context isn’t lost. This negates the requirement for your customer to repeat themselves.
The Role of Contact Center Automation
Organizations looking to reduce the cost of call handling should consider automating tasks. Often, the reason an agent puts a caller on hold is ultimately related to the series of tasks and applications they must interact with in order to surface the answer to the customer’s question.
Thankfully, today’s automation practices are able to develop inference engines to capture and analyze data until the system can “understand” what the customer is asking for. The ultimate goal is a well-designed conversational IVR that understands the customer and can even predict why they’re calling and offer solutions before they even ask. Over time, increasingly complex issues will be solved through automation. But the agent-assist model will dominate at first: a live agent with an AI bot listening in and providing suggestions. As customer acceptance of AI bot assistance increases and as compute processing costs come down and inference engines improve, AI bots will become more adept at increasing the complexity of issues the bot can address.
How To Start Building a Contact Center Strategy
The key to managing huge amounts of data is being able to synthesize it into something useful that helps customers, drives your business forward, and inspires actionable insights. The key to Contact Center success is dependent on deriving context from the conversation, by evaluating data over time. Anexinet is passionate about helping clients improve their customer experience and that starts with a conversation. What are you currently doing? Let us show you how we can make it better. If your organization is looking to attract new clients and retain existing ones but you haven’t begun to contemplate how your customer experience can be improved, you need to start now. Because this is how the business world will compete over the next decade.
Need more reasons to embrace Contact Centers? Read 4 Reasons to Consider Contact Centers as a Service (CCaaS).