Major Trends Disrupt the Contact Center in 2013
February 28, 2013
By Amanda Ciccatelli
, TMCnet Web Editor
Today, more and more disgruntled customers are voicing their frustration through social media, enabling their complaints to go viral rapidly. So a new challenge has evolved for contact center managers to find a way to offer the best customer service at the lowest cost.
With all of the changes to the traditional contact center model over the last few years, where will contact centers go in 2013?
In the contact center world, trends come and go, but according to Paul Lang, vice president of Application Portfolio Management at Siemens (News - Alert) Enterprise Communications, multichannel contact centers are again making the latest statement. He told DestinationCRM the addition of social media and mobile apps are impacting the contact center, while recycled and emerging trends are also disrupting the traditional model.
The "Un-Contact Center" – As contact center technologies evolve, virtual skill sets are becoming the norm as supervisors no longer collaborate face-to-face with most of their staff, creating management issues. So new paradigms for collaboration are taking over the enterprise with integrated video and social tools are being leveraged to drive "high touch" collaboration.
Today, the idea that everyone services customers is truer than ever as the walls of the traditional contact center are breaking as organizational silos become a collaborative environment, according to Lang. Additionally, mobility and social media will help people find the best resources regardless of where they're located. The future of the contact center, he says, is a combination of the traditional centralized location and the newer model of people sitting in their living rooms addressing questions via live chat.
The Customer is the Contact Center – According to Harris Interactive (News - Alert), 72 percent of adults who had a memorable product purchase, use or service experience said they followed up with positive action. And 57 percent communicating about their positive experience with others, and 41 percent recommending that someone make a purchase.
In the future, Lang sees unified communications helping enterprises to find the best person to address customer issues. Customers are uniting to form communities of common interest, to support and evangelize your brand or destroy it.
So your contact centers must proactively seek out positive and negative chatter about your brand.
First Comes Self-Service, then Comes the Contact Center – With more customer making purchases, banking, booking trips and asking questions online, the best way to keep customers loyal is to make it easy for them to contact you. According to Lang, you make this happen by setting up every online interaction to leverage browser-based (WebRTC) contact. Customers can click-to-contact from a webpage and tell the contact center how and when to contact them, and then key customer information is captured, analyzed and passed to the agent.
The requirement for a seamless transition between Web self-service and agent-assisted service is more pronounced when customers/prospects are using a smartphone or tablet to interface with you. Once they’re communicating with an agent in real time, adding multiple modes such as video, chat, e-mail, screen sharing, file sharing and cobrowsing enhances the experience.
Lang suggests contact centers will need to ensure that agents can respond and utilize new tools.
The Renaissance Agent – Today's agents must master multiple new media and channels. In the past, customers have been transferred from person to person, but now contact centers are mandating new interaction channels to accommodate their needs. According to Lang, to stay relevant, contact centers must align with this shift in technology, staffing and training.
In addition, different age groups prefer different methods of communication—so matching a 30-something caller with a 30-something agent is imperative for maintaining a competitive edge.
Big Data – Today's customer can touch the enterprise in a number of ways, including chat, phone, Web collaboration, e-mail, even face-to-face at a retail establishment. So contact centers need to have a 360-degree view of the customer to accurately predict and anticipate customers' needs.
Whether you’re launching a new product or resolving major customer issues, Lang suggests taking the opportunity to mine the massive data volume in your contact center to advance goals. Organizations are now using big data to understand the history and to forecast the future in order to proactively manage customer relationships.
DR Should Require No PR – Your disaster recovery (DR) strategy must be seamless, with zero impact on users and customers. Lang says organizations should assess cloud options to determine how close to zero impact they can get. With natural disasters and weather disturbances on the rise, premises-based contact centers are implementing a cloud-based overlay DR architecture or migrating to private and/or public clouds which have DR built into the platform.
Mobile Web Self-Service – Mobile apps have evolved to valuable tools for buying goods and services and transacting business. The average consumer prefers self-service on the Web to talking with a live agent. With the proliferation of mobile phones in the hands of consumers, mobile apps are becoming the new channel for self-service.
Edited by Braden Becker