Contact Centers Can Revitalize Customer Management Landscape
Properly Managed Contact Centers Now Have The Opportunity To Augment Client Management Strategies
Until a few years ago, businesses assumed that contact centers - the problematic departments consisting of antiquated communication technologies and processes - were a dying breed. Companies quickly realized that depending on teams that continued to used inefficient collaborative solutions was no longer an effective survival method, as many groups failed to meet their most critical objective: resolving customer queries efficiently enough to keep clients happy and reduce churn.
The problem with these contact centers was that they were relying on old phone systems, as voice was their primary - and often only - means of communication. If the collaborative landscape didn't evolve as quickly as it did, the contact center likely would have died out, putting more pressure on the workforce to take client relationships into their own hands. Fortunately, communication did evolve and organizations were offered new technology.
TechTarget highlighted how today's contact centers now have the power to reach out to customers, rather than waiting for disgruntled clients to call in and complain. This is largely due to the proliferation of social media, video and instant messaging solutions that has provided the business world with new opportunities to augment the customer engagement cycle.
Unified communications and emerging collaborative tools, such as click-to-call and instant messaging, are providing company representatives with more information about incoming queries, which can result in faster resolution times and more satisfied clients, TechTarget noted. These solutions often provide employees with data pertaining to why an individual is seeking help or things they may be interested in, which can improve the conversation as a whole. Now that companies can combine numerous communication tools together within a single platform, contact centers are more efficient than ever.
"A few years ago the contact center was almost given up for dead - it was thought of as lines of cubicles with old technology. With multi-channel modes of communication available, businesses began to realize they could differentiate their customer service by not only making and receiving calls, but by adding web chat, email and social media communications," said Joe Staples, chief marketing officer for Interactive Intelligence, according to TechTarget.
In addition to the underlying business phone systems being used in the contact center, decision-makers began to take a new focus on key performance indicators, as simply knowing how long calls lasted simply doesn't provide enough information for a progressive organizations.
The New Age of Reporting
Businesses today are familiar, though not necessarily happy, with people speaking poorly of them on social media and other Internet-based platforms. This trend has forced companies to take more pride in their customer relationship management skills, encouraging workers to take the time to resolve issues on the first go.
John Hernandez, vice president and general manager of collaboration business applications at Cisco, told TechTarget that organizations are no longer content with solely finding out how long a customer-to-employee interaction lasted. In the past, this metric was all that mattered, as cutting down call duration times supposedly meant that individuals were being more efficient. Today, businesses know better and are beginning to prioritize measurements that identify whether a consumer had his or her questions answered on the first query. This means that organizations are emphasizing call back rates, which are better indicators of first-contact resolution success.
A PR News report highlighted that contact center managers should define key performance indicators (KPIs) through specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) goals. In general, the difference between KPIs and other metrics is the fact that organizations can tie KPIs back into their operations to understand how they can resolve specific issues and define new objectives.
The use of social tools can help companies acquire greater insight into contact center operations, as these platforms are commonly used by consumers around the world. At the same time, however, PR News emphasized the importance of starting a project with social in mind from the beginning, not necessarily tacking the technology onto another initiative that doesn't really have anything to do with client relationship management.
"Content is king, but content without context is a figurehead with no power - give content some context to prove its importance," digital and social media communications expert Joy Hays said, according PR News.
As the contact center evolves and continues to gain importance in today's business world, decision-makers need to understand how developing a customized client management program that works for them and doesn't necessarily include technologies that are trending may be able to result in higher customer satisfaction rates and reduced IT costs. As communication services transform during the next several years, forward-thinking executives must consider augmenting current practices to ensure their contact centers have the tools and skills needed to maintain healthy relationships.