New channels for communication have empowered customers to take more control of the conversations they have with brands. But at the same time, this has also increased service expectations. While some companies would argue this creates customer experience challenges, it also offers opportunities for organizations to deliver differentiated customer experiences and better meet consumer demand.
According to an Aspect (News - Alert) survey, 77 percent of Americans think companies that offer multiple channels as part of their customer service are easier to do business with, and 74 percent say they provide better service. Each time a customer interacts with a company, whether it's a Tweet, Facebook (News - Alert) post, phone call or discussion board comment, valuable information is shared. Consumers have the expectation that the information from those exchanges are recorded and shared from channel to channel so they don’t have to repeat to a live agent what they shared earlier in the week on an IM. Many companies trail the consumer when it comes to managing this information.
The good news is that the ability to capture data is increasingly becoming less and less difficult. Instead, the process of cutting through the incredible volume, velocity and variety of data to find what matters and make that actionable for the enterprise is today’s challenge. In fact, over half of customer service strategy decision-makers stated they struggle with data and that creating a single view of customer data and information is one of their biggest challenges (according to a Forrester survey commissioned by Aspect Software). Without the proper understanding and application of the data collected from these conversations, the collection of it becomes almost pointless. Parsing and sharing customer data and making it easily accessible to any employee who engages with a customer is a real challenge.
After data capture, applying effective business rules that simplify things like identifying the reasons for repeat customer calls or how certain call types are being resolved is essential. When a contact center implements precision monitoring and recording classification and evaluation based on call resolution types, recording can be graded to identify root causes and ultimately, to alter processes and behavior that increase first call resolution. This applied knowledge produces a complete, consolidated view of the contact center’s operations, including both quality and performance metrics, and allows the organization to uncover best practices and opportunities for improvement.
Broader participation is the best way to make a continuous improvement loop. Companies should get agents involved in the process by enabling them to flag the interactions they want to record and review, and provide opportunities for self-evaluation and supervisor co-evaluation. This empowerment not only fosters agent buy-in for self-improvement, but also ensures quality is not just a top-down initiative. Making customer feedback a part of the quality process is another opportunity by using integrated survey capabilities to measure satisfaction with interactions. If organizations can leverage their quality systems to capture feedback, it helps ensure that interaction context is maintained, and allows you to use the results to instantly inform KPIs within reports and dashboards as well as alerts and coaching workflows.
How can organizations make this happen? The first thing is for companies to look at where their communications and workflow bottlenecks are and begin to think about how to introduce smarter, automated, business processes. Through our research and customer conversations we’ve found that many of these workflow issues happen because of a disconnect between a company’s contact center and its workforce optimization activity. Unifying the contact center with the back office creates an environment where information is easily and seamlessly shared creating greater business efficiencies. In fact, our research has shown that inefficiency and errors in the back office have been shown to drive up to 20 percent more agent interactions in the contact center.
From a broad perspective, companies need to shake the notion that the contact center is an inward-facing, savings-oriented cost center. Technology makes it possible, and competition makes it necessary, for the contact center to become an active contributor to revenue goals. Efficiency is no longer enough. To succeed in a fiercely competitive global economy, businesses have to realize that a contact center can be a profit center and can make significant contributions to the bottom line by fostering customer satisfaction and loyalty, winning new business, and increasing revenue.
To transform the contact center from a cost center to a profit center, managers have to consider every type of contact center system: contact routing applications, interactive voice response systems that deliver self-service, workforce management software, and tools for reporting and analysis. And while these are good tools for keeping the cost of communicating with customers down, the technologies also offer new capabilities that can go beyond cost savings and directly support enterprise goals such as expanding business reach and building new revenue streams. Perhaps more important, businesses need to look at the way these systems work together. Tight integration can substantially increase the potential of each individual application while making the contact center function a results-driven, unified whole.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi