By Bob Brittan
The call center industry experienced a disruptive technology change forty years ago with the availability of the first ACD (Automated Call Distribution). Although the intent was to efficiently route large numbers of customer calls to the most appropriate agent, it soon became apparent it could also help with up-sell activities while improving customer satisfaction.
Today, ContactBabel states in US Contact Centers in 2015 (3rd edition, March 2105) that there are 44,000 contact centers in the United States, with over 3.4 million agent positions focusing on the same ideals. However, the contact center of today and the future is dramatically different, with a heightened goal to not only deliver an enjoyable customer experience but also provide a quality experience that can identify and address the needs and preferences of each customer, regardless of the point of contact.
For example, recorded call analysis can improve customer experience, while other departments (including marketing, sales, and back-office functions) can contribute to customer satisfaction through accurate transaction processing, shipping, and billing. Customer satisfaction has become an enterprise-wide strategy, not just a charter of contact centers. This is where contact center and back office integration becomes a critical factor for success.
Consider the steps required to transform the enterprise in order to deliver a quality customer experience that starts with the initial customer contact. With so many contact options (phone, mobile, text, chat, and social media), the complexity of managing these channels puts service quality at risk. The things that irritate inbound callers are legend. One issue is when an IVR front-ends the connection only to have the agent request the same information.
Investing in cost-effective software applications to unify customer interactions is beneficial to customers as well as employees. This is especially true when all customer contact, interaction, and transaction data (including CRM and ERP data) is linked to one place. When all customer information is centralized and easily accessible, agents can mitigate placing customers on hold, time-consuming data lookup, or having customers repeat information after a call transfer.
The next step is to capture all data from each communication channel. Many organizations have information but struggle to use all that “big data” in meaningful ways. Integrated data capture, data unification, omni-channel analytics, and process automation tools can be automated, unified for evaluation, and analyzed to discover valuable knowledge that then can initiate automated actions (such as coaching an agent for next-best actions), perform 100 percent quality assurance, and manage compliance and liability.
When an angry customer threatens to end their relationship, real-time critical event detection can trigger an action to get a supervisor involved and save the account. This capability goes beyond conventional workforce optimization (WFO) and extends capabilities to incorporate optimization, automation, and unification of a broad range of enterprise functions.
A major challenge in this is managing the end-to-end flow with the ability to provide a holistic view of the critical data, since each part of the process generates valuable information. When accomplished, this enables users to generate actionable knowledge or even automated actions – from simple to advanced – without concern for how each individual element is used in the workflow chain. The goal is to create timesaving and actionable reports, notifications, and APIs (application program interfaces) – and even launch applications to discover new opportunities or obstacles.
This holistic view of data, analyzed through omni-channel analytics, generates powerful information to leverage predictive analysis into what is going to happen as well as prescriptive analytics that can help shape future events by assessing predictive analytic trends and taking appropriate actions. This is not futuristic – solutions that solve real-world business problems like these are available today to help grow business and maintain existing customers with a quality experience.
The final step in integrating the front and back office is finding the right vendor with the most optimized solution, applying realistic return-on-investment (ROI) models, and implementing it using the call center’s own data, processes, and methodologies to make the solution work for that operation.
This is the only way to have a WFO project work optimally for a particular environment. Once implemented, this cost-effective WFO solution can automate and unify customer interactions, transactions, and processes performed in contact centers, back offices, and IT organizations into an easy-to-administer solution.
Bob Brittan is the marketing director at OnviSource, Inc. and has more than twenty years of experience in best practices consulting for emerging technologies and contact centers, with a focus on front and back-office optimization and automation.
[From Connection Magazine – Sep/Oct 2015]