It’s a new year in the contact center, and many companies are finding themselves with new challenges. Luckily, they’re also finding themselves with new budgets. But since few contact centers have the freedom to spend as much as they want, managers and operations executives are often tasked with determining how best to spend the resources they’ve been given.
While a small number of high-tech contact centers are experimenting with high-tech ideas such as live customer support via video conferencing or voice print technology for customer authentication, most contact centers are still struggling to implement the technologies they need just to keep up with competitors.
According to a recent survey by cloud-based contact center solutions provider Magnetic North, the multichannel customer experience is still at the top of the challenge list for many contact centers. The UK-based survey of 250 contact center managers and directors found that 44 percent identified managing customer experience across multiple channels as their key challenge for 2014. Following that, 40 percent of respondents said they are concerned about ensuring that technology keeps pace with changing customer behavior. In third place, 34 percent of respondents said their biggest challenge was driving operational efficiencies and cost savings.
But the picture is much bigger than this. The study noted that there are some marked differences in challenges reported between organizations using cloud-based contact center solutions versus those using premises-based solutions. For starters, none of the respondents already using cloud-based solutions considered managing the customer experience across multiple channels as their key challenge, presumably because their solutions already allow them to do so. A majority of contact centers (67 percent) already using cloud-based solutions considered developing agent skill sets to be their number one challenge.
Cloud-based contact center solutions, such as those offered by Five9 (News - Alert), allow agents to move seamlessly between live voice calls, mobile customer care, social media, Web chat and e-mail, offering the customer the same high quality service regardless of channel. If a customer begins a transaction in one channel and continues it in another, the agent is able to pick up where the customer left off. The link to social media is particularly critical: While only a small percentage of customers are using social media to contact companies, that number is growing, and the customers who do use social media are some of the most influential. They can be either major brand promoters or detractors, depending on how their contacts are handled.
Companies that have already put a first-class multichannel contact center in place via the cloud are free to spend their time fine-tuning other issues in the pursuit of customer service excellence, putting them several steps ahead of their competitors still using premises-based solutions.