I recently heard a fantastic description of the role of a contact center as, “the front door to your value-chain.” It captures the essence of the transformation of the criticality and perception of “modern” call centers from cost-draining inconveniences to the front line of organizations’ efforts to improve business optimization by improving customer experiences.
Much contact center and IT department attention has been around efforts to improve the customer experience. It has also been about leveraging business intelligence and analytics to obtain an integrated capability to generate actionable insights from across the enterprise, of which the wealth of data, knowledge and skills that reside in the contact centers is a core element.
But that makes it seem like business optimization is solely about technology. It is but it also is not. I will explain.
A holistic approach
In a recent webinar I moderated, “Islands of Excellence in a Sea of Mediocrity: Blueprint for a modern Call Center,” Dave Rocker, COO at Covation, Craig Mento CEO at NexxLinx and NexxPhase and Matt McConnell, CEO at Knowlagent, discussed all of the atmospherics that have brought not just a new focus to the value of contact centers by C-levels, but why we are at a tipping point where the path to success requires a new way of thinking.
The context for this is pain points. We are all aware of the pressures across the board to do more with less at the same time that in a commoditized world differentiation, e.g., the customer experience has emerged as the path to sustainable growth and profits. It means that in the “sea of mediocrity,” empowering enterprises with the right business optimization solutions is key.
The problem is that most contact centers, which truly are the front doors to the value chain, have legacy technology that is not up to the task of dealing with things like the need to be responsive to the way in which customers increasingly wish to interact —via smartphones and tablets when mobile, chat, IM, video, etc.
Indeed, doing more with less while improving the quality of customer interactions, the speed of issue resolution and responding rapidly in a world that is changing dramatically – and doing so in a cost-effective manner – is the reason why moving much if not all of contact center capabilities to the cloud has emerged as a preferred solution for those looking to get ahead of the curve.
Technology is obviously very important, as Covation’s Rocker noted: “Simply stated we can’t manage what we can’t measure. We need real time visibility into our operations. If we expect to be empowered to manage our business real-time, then we must have technology that enables that.” In short, it is time for significant change, and standing pat is not a winning alternative.
Therefore, what capabilities are needed to obtain optimal value from technology?
Quality Management: This includes such things as web-based centralized access and administration with dashboards, scorecards, desktop tickers, reporting tools heat maps and custom metrics. It also means the ability to create and enforce powerful business rules and ensure advanced security.
Performance Management: Everything from an HR perspective from automated workflow monitoring to goal management to compensation management, and things like compliance. The goal is to improve accuracy, decrease turnover, improve performance, increase revenue and create a performance-based culture.
Enhanced Business Intelligence: This speaks to the notion of integration with a variety of enterprise databases to leverage insights from the democratization of data. It is the way to get near real-time information on just how good the customer experience is, while giving managers the tools to react quickly in a desirable manner.
It comes down to people
The above speaks to the technology requirements, but as all of the experts agreed, at the end of the day it’s about making people more productive and have the tools to not just monitor them, but create an environment of continuous learning and feedback where people want to work.
Knowlagent’s McConnell shared a variety of insights that are of interest. The graphic is a great visual for an interesting facet of contact center operations that many administrators may not be aware of but can now be measured and addressed for improving both productivity and creating a better workplace.
Knowlagent’s solution, RightTime, which de-framents wasted idle time giving administrators a granular look at agent activity. And surprisingly agent response to being given opportunities as to how to use this idle time tends to be positive.
Integration and a total view
NexxPhase completes the virtuous circle needed for providing a holistic view. It offers a cloud/SaaS (News - Alert)-based platform that is open standards based and fuses business process management (BPM), IP telephony and enterprise web services.
Key features include: unified communications (UC) for all inbound and outbound traffic types (voice, fax, e-mail, chat, SMS, etc.; PBX (News - Alert), ACD and skills-based routing; voiceXML IVR and automated attendant, CTI and screen pops; ease of third party integration; call/work transfer capabilities to optimize first call resolution (based on business rules, priorities, availability of resource and skills); a graphical look at BPM; anywhere access and connectivity as a result of being in the cloud; quality assurance monitoring; and a comprehensive set of metrics, reporting and real-time operations tools on an intuitive and administrator friendly dashboard.
The bottom line is as stated at the top. Tomorrow’s contact center needs to be flexible, extensible, secure and capable of leveraging cross-enterprise knowledge, while empowering agents through tools that improve the customer experience as well as their work environment. The cloud is providing the means to do so, but not without ensuring that the information required to optimize results is accessible and usable, and that the needs of the people using all of this technology are never far from being a top concern.
When someone comes through your front door, you do not have a second chance to make a first impression, and creating the ability to ensure most if not all interactions are compelling can only be done using a holistic approach that takes into full consideration all of the things necessary to achieve the desired results.
Edited by Braden Becker