The contact centre as touchpoint for service excellence

Monday, 16 May 2016

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In our latest guest blog, Niki Waters, Projects Manager at Premier Holidays, identifies the trends and challenges shaping the contact centre of the future.

They haven’t always been viewed as a company’s most valuable assets, but with customer service critical to winning new customers and enhancing loyalty, the role of the contact centre is fast taking centre stage. So what are the key challenges faced by those responsible for the performance of the contact centre? And how are evolving staff roles and customer expectations influencing the way service is delivered by organisations seeking to achieve brand differentiation?

Customer experience is king

Typically occupying the front line of customer communications, call centre agents own responsibility for critical interactions with customers, where each and every conversation must be regarded as a “moment of truth”. As such, they have the ability to shape the customer experience (or “CX” as it is more commonly known), so it is essential that agents are armed with the tools and systems required to deliver quick answers by a variety of communication channels. Agents need fast and easy access to information and they need access to it via a simple and consistent interface without the need to log into a multitude of different systems. Quite simply, confident and efficient customer service responses and the ability to quickly collaborate with colleagues to answer a difficult question, mean the difference between average and first-rate customer relationships.

Arise the universal agent!

Customers want more from their interactions with a contact centre and expect any agent they speak with to be equipped to answer all their questions. They don’t want to be transferred to another agent or department or put on hold, so how an agent performs will shape the perceptions of the business and influence whether a customer will engage or remain loyal.

There’s no doubt those organisations which facilitate the introduction of “universal agents” will benefit from considerably improved first call resolution, better customer retention and an increased lifetime customer value.

Omnichannel is the name of the game

Digital innovation is having a profound influence on the contact centre. One of the key drivers is the widespread use of mobiles and smart devices, offering instant access to multiple channel including email, social media, video and web chat, and allowing customers to make contact how they want to, regardless of location and time.

The key to success lies with a clear appreciation of how today’s digitally-savvy customers want to engage. This means that businesses must understand which communication channels matter most to their customers and ensure that the service operation is equipped with the right technologies to enable a seamless and integrated customer journey.

The flexible working revolution

The days when employees all worked under the same roof are numbered with home-based and remote working all becoming more prevalent and work being something you do, rather than based from a specific location. Equally, organisations are striving to recruit and retain the best skilled workers, so offering flexible working practices is a top priority for the digitally-savvy millennial generation.

Promoting seamless communication and the exchange of rich information across physical boundaries is vital to the performance of the contact centre. Get this right and organisations will be able to leverage the benefits that improved collaboration and customer contact deliver, by empowering an increasingly mobile workforce to provide a consistently superior experience - one that actively engages customers and reinforces value.

Analytics for continuous improvement

Access to call analytics and management information about the quality of agent performance and customer interactions will help pinpoint areas for improvement. The ability to view real-time information is vital in enhancing performance, while the ability to compare historical data will give a better understanding of trends to plan optimum staffing levels. This will help ensure that agent availability is scheduled appropriately, supporting the drive to achieve enhanced customer interactions.

Optimising performance

One of the key challenges in optimising contact centre performance is achieving the balance between human interaction and the convenience and efficiency of automation. Utilising new technology can significantly improve first call resolution via intelligent call routing, leading to a reduction in call waiting times and repeat calls into the contact centre, which in turn enhances the customer experience.

Cloud is becoming the norm

Cloud-based contact centre services allow companies to rent bundles of equipment and software, and stay competitive while pursuing an operational commercial cost model. If contact centres want to transform their contact centres without capital outlay in order to improve the customer experience, communication services can easily be consumed on a utility pricing model with Cloud and hybrid solutions.

It is clear that we live in an age of increasing consumer power, where the customer is now in the driving seat as to how they want to engage with companies. The success of companies is being defined by their ability to listen and interpret customers’ requirements. What better place to act on this knowledge than at “coal face” of service delivery – the contact centre.

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