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Consumers unhappy with current contact center operations

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Despite the widespread understanding that customer service is among the biggest differentiators between companies, often leading enterprises with exceptional care down the path of success, many organizations have failed to augment their contact center to meet consumer demands. In many cases, decision-makers continue to use outdated technologies and fail to adopt strategies that make it easier and less irritating for prospective and existing clients to communicate with business representatives.

A recent study of roughly 2,500 Americans by a major contact center management service provider revealed that more than 40 percent of respondents feel corporate representatives do not help them resolve an issue. In fact, 64 percent of consumers believe they are not treated as an important customer, while a significant portion believe enterprises have ignored their requests to update traditional phone systems and services that use outdated automated response technologies.

Choice is becoming an increasingly important component of the contact center industry, as consumers today use a variety of collaborative tools, including mobile devices and social media. However, enterprises are not embracing multichannel approaches in customer service departments as much as they should be.

"Unfortunately most companies have been slow to respond to fundamental shifts in their relationships with their customers, and this is part of why the experience of too many is falling short," contact center management expert Jim Freeze said. "Expanding channels is increasingly allowing customers to take more control of the care conversation but it has also increased their service expectations."

In other words, the evolving contact center industry is providing both challenges and opportunities that enterprises need to embrace if they are to improve sales effectiveness, keep consumers happy and encourage individuals to come back for more purchases in the future.

New doors in the contact center are opening

Businesses that want to stay on the cutting edge of the private sector need to consider embracing a multichannel contact center, as this provides individuals with more choices regarding how they interact with a company. The survey found that 77 percent of Americans think this strategy makes it easier for people to collaborate with corporate representatives, while 74 percent believe it provides better service. Another 67 percent of consumers feel the multichannel technique gives them more control over the customer-company relationship.

Yet simply implementing these tools will not inherently invite new opportunity to the contact center. Decision-makers need to change their whole perspective of the situation, as a new mentality is critical to ensuring long-term customer service endeavors end in success.

"Companies must align their people, processes and the growing number of company-customer touch points to lessen frustrations and deliver consistent and remarkable customer experiences," Freeze asserted.

Although the business phone system is still a critical factor in contact center communications, the fact of the matter is that it is no longer the only tool available. This was highlighted in a recent report by the Aberdeen Group, which outlined how the multichannel strategy will continue to impact contact center operations in 2013 by introducing unified communications and the consolidation of video conferencing, social media and instant messaging solutions, among others.

The Aberdeen Group also noted that the proliferation of smartphones will play a role in the development of the contact center, suggesting companies need to embrace innovative enterprise VoIP systems and other solutions that support mobile connectivity.

As the telecommunications landscape continues to evolve, the contact center will transform along with it, introducing new opportunities and challenges that decision-makers will need to address to survive in the long run. Neglecting to emphasize customer experience will only introduce new problems.