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The Missing Link In Customer Contact Solutions

By Bill Hunt, Stroudwater Contact Point


An increasing number of companies are realizing the true value of customer contact. Since you are reading this magazine, you probably already recognize the one fundamental fact that seems to be lost on so many companies: as far as the customer is concerned, the individual on the phone in your contact center is your whole company. That customer is not seeing your building. He is talking to an individual whose words, tone, knowledge and attitude will directly determine how he or she views your company.

Today's contact center systems provide detailed reports on everything that happens to a call. Systems like the Concerto Spectrum ACD can provide everything anyone could possibly want to know about a call, right up to the time it is delivered to an agent. But ACDs, whether from Aspect, Avaya, Concerto or another company, will not tell you what actually happened during the call. Call recording systems can provide you with recordings of what was said as well as analytics and search capabilities. But these systems alone cannot provide a complete picture of the transaction, nor can they manage what happens as the conversation is taking place.

The software that is used by the contact center agent is a critical part of the success of the call. Many companies expect their agents to be able to navigate among several different applications just to handle one call. Think about what happens when you are on the phone in your office. If you are like most people, you will take the opportunity to try to catch up on reading your e-mail. But many times, you find yourself in a situation in which an e-mail catches your attention and subsequently you have no idea what the person on the phone just said. The process of reading the e-mail distracted you from your call.

In your call center, is the software the agents are using distracting them so they cannot LISTEN to the caller? Are your agents writing down the caller's name, account number or other information on a piece of paper because they aren't on the right screen to record it, or because they will need the information at a later time for a screen not yet displayed by the software?

Contact center agent software needs to be different from the other software you use every day. Most software is designed to be used in a one-on-one environment ' user and computer with the user focused on the computer. In a contact center, you want your agents to be focused on the CALLER and the caller's needs. The software must provide the agents with the information they need when they need it. It must be fast, simple and reliable. It must guide the agent through the call with appropriate prompts and reminders.

Remember that there are only two reasons why a person calls into a contact center: to give information or to get information. There is nothing else. The software must facilitate the giving and getting of information in the simplest, most efficient way possible. The software must also let you see what systems the agent is accessing and why, and identify factors that are making their jobs more difficult. It is only then that you begin to understand where to focus improvements and training. CIS

Bill Hunt is president and chief technology officer of Stroudwater Contact Point (www.stroudwater.com).

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