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Evolving Contact Center Goals Can Be Supported by Evolving Contact Center Technology

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Evolving Contact Center Goals Can Be Supported by Evolving Contact Center Technology

October 07, 2015
By Tracey E. Schelmetic
TMCnet Contributor

In the decades since its birth in the 1950s, the call center, or contact center, has evolved technologically. Once a “boiler room” of telephones designed simply to make and take calls for the purpose of selling and answering simple customer queries, it has now become an amorphous, distributed entity that might be located in one room, one building, one state, one country or spread out all over the world. Technologies such as voice over IP (VoIP), unified communications, the Internet and cloud contact center solutions has enabled this change, and allowed companies to serve their customers wherever they might be, at any time. These technologies have also enabled customers to help themselves.

But the contact center has evolved in ways that involve more than just technology. Once considered a cost center, or a “necessary evil,” the contact center today is recognized as a vehicle of great opportunity to delight a company’s customers and grow the customer base. It has become a competitive advantage, and companies all over the world are trying to figure out which technologies and processes (and people) will enable them to succeed in this this endeavor to build a link between customers and a company’s brand.

In a recent report based on extensive surveying, Call Center IQ examined how contact centers are evolving today to meet their potential. Highlighting this report, Eptica’s Pauline Ashenden discussed how companies are taking different approaches to achieve their goals. The report found that, when asked who handles day to day management of the contact center, 41 percent of respondents said operations, while 19 percent said C-level executives and 14 percent said the custom experience team. When it comes to determining the “big picture” strategy, 56 percent of respondents said the C-level took responsibility, while 15 percent said operations and 10 percent reported the customer experience team as taking the lead. Interestingly, 65 percent of responding companies said their contact center function is fully-in house.

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When it comes to contact center objectives, these were fairly similar across all responding companies. The top objectives included improving customer satisfaction, improving customer loyalty, improving brand reputation, improving customer advocacy, decreasing costs and gaining customer insights. While different companies in different industries might go about achieving these objectives in very different ways, some important differences came up in how the companies are measuring these goals. Performance metrics are the number one way, and today, these are enabled by advanced features that often come with cloud contact center solutions such as analytics, recording, performance management and reporting.

Specifically, the top methods for measuring success included quality metrics (accuracy, adherence to procedure, error/rework rate, etc.), customer metrics (customer satisfaction, Net Promoter Scores, customer loyalty, repeat rate, etc.) efficiency metrics (average handle time, service level, average speed of answer, etc.), resolution metrics (first call resolution, call back rate, transfer rate, etc.) and accessibility metrics (blockage, uptime, hours of operation, self-service availability, abandon rate, etc.)

So how well is this approach working? It would appear that while the goals and objectives in most companies are solid, the methods they’re using to achieve them are less so.

“When asked to rate how well they are achieving their current objectives, only 13 percent of the sample declared their contact centers “extremely successful,” wrote Ashenden. “Clearly the majority understand that customer service excellence improvement is a continuous process, and they are realistic about their current progress.”

Areas in which companies are trying to improve in order to boost achievement of their objectives include boosting agent knowledge (both in training and in the availability of knowledge bases and collaboration), improving first-call resolution rates, boosting the usability and integration of contact center solutions while reducing maintenance costs.

Interestingly, these objectives are precisely the strengths of using a cloud contact center solution: reduced costs, better integration, simpler agent desktops, expanded to knowledge bases, and powerful scalability. For companies looking to change the way they approach customer engagement, an evolving attitude is important, but it’s unlikely to be achieved without an evolved infrastructure. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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