Modern Technology is Helping the Call Center...Isn't It?
October 08, 2012
By Susan J. Campbell
, TMCnet Contributing Editor
The call center has been an integral part of businesses across the globe for quite some time, offering not only an interaction point for customers but revenue opportunities for the company. Of course, the role of the call center has evolved over time, but do updates to technology threaten to make it obsolete? It seems like a legitimate question to consider, but are there serious impending threats when considering such a question?
In an article featuring the details of a real-time debate hosted by Software Advice, industry experts from four different companies were asked to weigh in on how customers utilize different contact channels, what new technology is available, and why all this could change the future of the call center.
There were several key themes repeated throughout the discussion. First, advancements in technology have made it possible for customers to communicate with companies in a variety of different ways; customers decide how they want to initiate contact, and companies must oblige.
According to Mike Hennessy, Marketing VP for IntelliResponse, improvements in the self-help industry are transforming the customer experience by allowing customers more options in selecting their communication channel of choice. Long gone are the days where customers are limited to dialing a call center during select business hours. Now, they can interact when it’s best for them.
Identifying most valued channels also makes it easier to know where to direct communication resources. Shervin Talieh, CEO of Drumbi estimates that future demands for customer contact will initiate via a tablet computer or smartphone.
A second frequent theme highlighted the importance of using a variety of channels together to offer the best customer service possible. For instance, if a customer initially used a virtual agent to get answers, this information should be available for the live agent when contact is initiated with the call center.
Laura Bassett, Director of Customer Experience Management at Avaya (News - Alert), discussed a study conducted by the company indicating that the bulk majority of buyers use the Internet as a research tool before they contact a call center for purchase. This reiterates the fact that technologies such as self-service, virtual agents, and FAQ’s are not replacing voice communications, but rather simply complementing them.
The final reoccurring theme was that the call center has undergone a transformation. Gone are the days where agents just respond to phone calls. Today’s agents are part of a ‘command team’ that addresses customer communications, no matter how they’re initiated, such as through phone, Twitter (News - Alert), or live agent. The ability to integrate these disparate channels into one seamless communication interface is the way of the future, and agents will have to be adept at navigating such systems.
The addition of new technologies in the area of customer service has led some to wonder if, overtime, the call center will endure. While experts agree that customers are utilizing new methods to communicate, it’s really the person behind the technology that makes the difference. In conclusion, while the call center has evolved, it doesn’t appear that it is going anywhere anytime soon. It will rather adapt to the times, as we all do.
Edited by Allison Boccamazzo