By Rod Brownridge
The modern contact center has come a long way over the last few decades. The standard used to be dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of agents forced to sit in the same room and answer phone calls from customers.
Technology advances have made it so that many times a robot can give customers the information they’re looking for without the need for a conversation with a human. It’s a drastic change that has had considerable impact on the way contact centers do business in the twenty-first century. It’s not just the how that’s come a long way, it’s also the what.
Modern contact centers have many more tools at their disposal and advances in technology have allowed for a skills-based approach that ensures contact center agents are able to easily connect a customer with the best resource to fix their problems.
We now can solve more problems on the first call, and we’ve created a better pathway to customer/client retention and loyalty backed by a commitment to customer service.
But even though technology has improved the contact center over the years, 59 percent of consumers “would rather go through additional channels to contact customer service than have to use their voice to communicate,” according to Business Insider.
The report says that interactions with legacy customer service channels fell 7 percent over a two-year period “due in part to poor customer service.” We have the tools necessary to avoid the deterioration of customer service, and results like this should open the eyes of companies who aren’t putting an intense focus on customer interactions.
Here’s how modern-day technologies are driving effective resolutions while creating a more seamless customer experience and improving customer engagement.
The Advanced Use of Data
Our world has more data now than ever before. And the greatest advantage the modern contact center has now is access to information we didn’t dream possible in the past.
Today’s contact center should use analytical and qualitative tools to track calls and requests every step of the way. And each call or request should result in a detailed automated report that provides information about how the call was set up and what happened along the journey from beginning to end. The purpose of this is educational.
Your customer success teams should learn from each call and use the data and analytical tools to improve future outcomes. Using data to track key performance indicators, learning about call demographics, and using it to track quality control metrics is great, but you need to be able to dig deeper.
Access to conversation-level data enables a better level of customer service. According to McKinsey, companies are going wrong because they “do not have the right foundation in place, due to entrenched organizational structures and processes, legacy IT systems, and other challenges.”
McKinsey says the two root causes of slow advanced analytics adoption are a lack of integrated data across channels and an inability to link analytical insights to actions. With access to advanced analytics, we can reduce call volume and drive down the average handle time, creating a more efficient process.
Meeting Customers Where They Are
Many of today’s customers choose to not call contact centers. We still need to make the contact center work for them. Providing customers access to an integrated, help center portal that acts as a dashboard to supply information and tools—like the status of a request or an active chatbot—gives them options to get help.
Advanced technologies make these options available to the customer on their phones through an app, which they can use to sign up for text updates or automated calls to keep them abreast of what’s going on with their request.
Being nimble is key, and modern solutions supply more options. There will always be some customers who prefer to call and speak with a human. We need to be able to meet them where they are or risk them taking their business elsewhere.
Anticipatory Experiences for the Present and Future
The future of customer service—and where many modern-thinking organizations are going—is in the category of anticipatory customer service. The anticipatory approach allows you to see a customer profile with detailed information before you get on the phone with them, leading to quicker resolve times and shorter conversations.
What’s a straightforward way to impress a customer? Give them the impression that you have all their information at your fingertips and that you’re spending time working on their services when they’re not around.
Don’t forget to delight them with your communication style, frequency, and genuine care. Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solutions enable this type of customer experience through the cloud, improving customer engagement in many ways.
The standard customer experience has for too long revolved around a reactive approach, and companies have long failed to stand out. It’s the old leaders versus followers debate.
If you don’t stand out, you risk becoming interchangeable from your competitors. Instead, our approach should always focus on creating loyal customers through positive customer service interactions.
When you can anticipate the services your customer needs before they express those needs to you, you become more valuable to them than even they expected.
Today’s Contact Center Knows You Better
One thing hasn’t changed over time and probably never will: Customer service is all about relationships.
Advances in technology have allowed us to bridge gaps and get to resolutions faster and more efficiently than ever before. We’re now able to deliver more consistent results while focusing on managing relationships instead of managing problems.
It’s a two-way transaction. It’s never been easier for the contact center to work for both the company and the customer.
Rod Brownridge is a senior vice president of customer service at Fusion Connect, a provider of managed security and collaboration services. Rod brings two decades of operations, engineering, and customer success management to the role. He leads an award-winning customer success team at Fusion Connect, with a focus on providing frictionless experience to clients and customers alike.