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Contact Centre Technology

The changing contact centre – and what you can do about it

8 min read
Author Business Systems UK
Date Sep 8, 2014
Category Contact Centre Optimisation

CONTACT CENTRE GUIDE BLOG: 1/9 recently published ‘The Contact Centre Guide’ which was sponsored by Business Systems. For those short on time, we created a series of blogs covering the highlights from each chapter.

Please find the 1st in the series below.

Call it a renaissance, a revolution or a transformation, the reality is that Contact Centres are at a critical juncture in their evolution. Ann Marie Forsyth from the Contact Centre Association tells us “If you’re not looking ahead and you’re not being transformational then you and your organisation are not going to be successful.”

A sobering thought for those contact centres who are not currently applying the latest technologies and tools to address the opportunities that social media, multichannel and cloud computing can now provide.
Ann goes on to comment that ‘most contact centres are a 70% investment in people, if they can see even a 5% return on that investment’ using technology like speech analytics for staff training and coaching for example, ‘then clearly it is a big win’.

So where does Social Media fit into the Contact Centre?
Social Media is increasingly becoming the customers platform of choice for voicing dissatisfaction, forcing businesses to use the channel to interact with customers. If the volume of customer interaction really starts to escalate within social channels then your organisation needs to think about how workforce management can be applied so that social can be added to the broader mix of contact types to be handled.

This has certainly been the case for Tesco, according to Ann Marie, who have created a team of 30 full time people working with social within the contact centre.

If you’re dealing with greyer areas such as customer communities, where customers help each other and troubleshoot problems, you need to tread cautiously, putting the right comments out there and identifying whether this is something the marketing department should be handling versus the contact centre. Obviously where the communities tend to lean towards more straightforward actionable service requests, it makes sense for the contact centre to handle these rather than the more bespoke, niche comments and issues being raised.

Social shouldn’t however distract from the problems with addressing traditional channels and in particular email. Response times from organisations have typically been pretty poor in this area which is surprising as whenever consumers are asked about how they want to contact businesses email is always high on the list.
Emails may be harder and more costly to manage for organisations but increasingly technology is coming to the fore to assist with this and according to Art Schoeller at Forrester there is now “real queuing, routing and reporting so you can get a better handle on what traffic looks like and do a better job of managing it.”

Trying to bring all channels together into an integrated offering is a huge undertaking and J Arnold principal of Arnold & Associates suggests businesses answer a number of questions before delivering a multi-channel contact centre. These include; which new channels should you add? which channels for which customer? how do you bring new channels to market? and how will each of these channels be managed?

Becoming a value centre and not a cost centre
Gone are the days of prioritising efficiency over satisfaction and Paul Smedley from the Professional Planning Forum notes “Where companies have been successful in turning contact centres into things that genuinely add value… is where they are actually joining these things up from a customer point of view”.

Adding value to the contact centre is one goal but so too are the shareholders demanding value. It’s a fine balancing act investing in the contact centre, whilst also being able to return shareholder value. Enter cloud computing, which is opening up a whole new host of opportunities for contact centres to become more profitable operations and deliver more value to the wider organisation.

What we are now starting to see is software vendors integrating social media modules into their solutions, enabling agents to rapidly identify social conversations that are most relevant to client’s businesses. This is not just in the social space but you also have speech analytics providing similar value for voice traffic as well.

Ann Marie Forsyth leaves us with some sage advice “Don’t become cocooned and transactional.” Contact centres need to have relationships with marketing, finance, IT and Ops, if you don’t understand their issues, how can you identify where to add value?
Download Chapter 1 of the Contact Centre Guide here >