In today’s dynamic market environment, an organization’s success depends primarily on its ability to respond to its customers’ demands in a timely manner. Speed and consistency are the cornerstones of any customer service program, and in the last few years the contact center has become the champion of the customer experience. It’s more often than not the first place many customers go when they have a sales or customer service issue, and meeting and exceeding customer expectations is critical to long-term growth! Because of this, contact centers have had to adapt new technologies and strategies to keep pace with their constantly evolving environment. Simply answering the phones is not enough! The call center needs to offer its customers the finest service and individualized attention, while maintaining high productivity rates and overall productivity.
The rapid deployment of new technologies, including other channels such as social and self-service, and customer experience strategies offer clear advantages in this customer-driven market. However, a wrong implementation of that new technology may lead to serious failure; since an increase in the diversity of channels also increases complexity of what the contact center staff has to deal with. Each channel requires different priorities, service levels, skills or even agent training. The proper assignment, monitoring and follow-up of each interaction handled through each new channel has to be carefully tied together so the contact center isn’t creating multiple versions of each customer’s experience. For instance, does your CRM recognize that @customer123 and firstname.lastname@example.org and caller John Smith from Boston are the same person? If not, the next time John Smith calls in his entire social experience is missing from his customer record! That puts the agent at a disadvantage and could comprise the quality of that phone call. Without careful management, each new channel’s service levels may be completely compromised because the technology isn’t “talking” to its partners.
Incorporating automated or self-service solutions like a website FAQ can also affect your contact center’s quality and productivity if these new tools are not completely integrated with your existing technologies and tools. For instance, customers are bound to become frustrated when they have to provide their account information not only during a self-service or IVR, but also when the call finally reaches an agent. While validating the identity of a caller is important, how many times does a caller have to rehash the same story in order to get a simple question answered?
For instance, one time I called my credit card company to inform that I was traveling overseas. I spent 20 minutes verifying my ENTIRE LIFE, including the last 4 zip codes I have lived in. This negative experience compounds when a customer is transferred to a second level support, and they end up asking again for the same information. Eventually the perception is that your company cannot handle their request professionally and they begin to question whether or not you deserve their business. These repetitive questions also negatively affect the contact center’s productivity, since it increases the average handling time by having to collect data already provided by the caller earlier in the call.
While adopting new technology has the ability to dramatically revolutionize the way your contact center does business and interacts with customers, unfortunately, many traditional solutions do not adapt to a contact center’s real needs, thereby hindering their operations instead of simplifying it. Old technology doesn’t play well with new and therefore it’s hard to justify needed improvements because the powers-that-be are concerned that their shiny new project will actually make things worse than better.