Implementing Integrated Contact Center Software from the 'Outside In'
October 01, 2012
By Susan J. Campbell
, TMCnet Contributing Editor
Improving customer service in the contact center starts with reframing one’s perspective. Taking a step back and really viewing things through the eyes of the customer can help yield positive gains in contact center software and enhance the overall customer experience. This is a method that Art Schoeller, analyst at Forrester Research (News - Alert) in Massachusetts refers to as ‘outside-in.’ Many business managers already know this, but find they “don’t have time” or “need to focus on other business aspects.” But when it comes down to it, you can never have enough time for what should be your number one priority – the customer.
Too often, he says, businesses take the approach of trying to design customer service strategies around archaic systems that are no longer a good fit for serving today’s tech savvy customers. Instead of trying to back-in to customer service, Schoeller recommends embracing a new approach – streamlining contact center software and breaking down barriers that inhibit the flow of information across departments.
Contact center software should make it easy to process information across various channels, according to this Tech Target (News - Alert) report. So, if a customer decides to send an email, post a message to Facebook (News - Alert) or Twitter, or leave a traditional phone message, the goal is to integrate these communication methods into one platform.
Also, the ability to transfer this information across departments is critical to customer service and satisfaction. There is nothing more annoying than placing a call and providing a slew of information through an automated system only to have to repeat the information again and again because systems are outdated or aren’t properly aligned.
Schoeller says when it comes to knocking customers’ socks off, taking a different approach is not only suggested, but essential. He advises that businesses can’t simply keep updating traditional contact center software with like technology and expect different results. He recommends approaching change by having departments collaborate and work together on a closer level.
Departmental collaboration starts by forming a team that has members from various departments who work together to achieve a multi-channel customer support solution. Sometimes it can help to assign a customer service officer to manage the team.
A journey map is another handy tool in this process that highlights points of customer contact with the business. This ensures the development of a more streamlined contact center software application because companies know where best to invest their resources.
When it comes to choosing the right call center technology, Schoeller advises companies to consider what tools agents and managers need to successfully integrate communications over various channels. He also suggests investing in SOA web services that will improve flexibility and minimize the cost of assimilating multi-channel communications. Finally, he underscores the importance of data organization, which allows for easier and more frequent examination of customer feedback.
While fully integrated contact center software programs that accommodate multi-channel needs do not yet exist, Schoeller suggests starting by cutting down on the number of vendors used. Reducing applications to only those really suited to customer needs will also help simplify operations. Many times, software is used as a substitute for personal interaction on the part of the agent, but he reiterates that there will always be a need for that human connection.
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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo