Virtual Call Center - Changing the Face of Customer Interactions
October 16, 2012
By Susan J. Campbell
, TMCnet Contributing Editor
In September, Google (News - Alert)+ hosted a real-time debate regarding whether technology was going to make the call center as we know it obsolete. Many experts weighed in on the subject, and although everyone had their own take on the subject, there was a consensus among speakers that customers are taking advantage of newer communication channels such as the virtual call center and self-service options like FAQs.
One of the speakers, Jim Iyoob, who serves as the Senior Vice President for Etech, stated that his company has had reports from customers that virtual call center options may be used in nearly one-third of all interactions. There’s a common misconception, however, that this type of technology, which was promised over five years ago, will kill the common call center. The truth is, virtual call center solutions are being layered on top of traditional call center services.
While many still want the option of picking up the phone and speaking with a live agent at times, consumers are demanding the ability to communicate through a wide range of different channels. Ultimately, end users are now utilizing the Web, virtual agents, and mobile apps as their first point of contact to conduct pre-research. Panel speakers all concurred that an opportunity exists to fully integrate disparate channels to provide a more seamless customer experience.
In an article covered by IntelliResponse, Mike Hennessy, the company’s VP of Marketing, pointed out that virtual call center options are a good fit for this pre-purchase, research phase because roughly half of all customer inquiries are generalized. These interactions are also less expensive because they don’t require live agent services.
Essentially, it’s important to let customers choose their preferred means of communication so they can initiate contact at the time and method of their choosing. Hennessy says that once the most popular methods of communication have been identified, companies can then direct resources toward improving technology offerings in those particular channels.
The call center is no longer comprised of agents simply answering phone calls. Today’s contact center is comprised of ‘command teams’ that field inquiries from a variety of different sources, including online chat, e-mail, and self-service options. For this reason, many companies are implementing virtual call center options like those provided by 8x8, Inc.
8x8 (News - Alert), Inc., recently named the number one provider of hosted IP telephony and unified communications (UC), currently does business with over 30,000 companies in the field. Setting up a virtual call center with 8x8 requires no hardware and only a nominal monthly fee. And, because it’s hosted, set-up is extremely easy. In no time, companies can take advantage of features such as real-time monitoring, skills-based routing, and multimedia queuing that all contribute to enhanced customer service.
The virtual call center model provided by 8x8 ensures that customers immediately get routed to the appropriate agents who can best meet their needs, decreasing instances of annoying call transfers. Finally, 8x8 offers a pay-as-you-grow structure, allowing scalability and eliminating inefficiencies resulting from misaligned call volumes and available resources.
To learn more about 8x8’s offerings, visit www.8x8.com.
Edited by Allison Boccamazzo