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Keeping clients engaged through customer service portals


Contact centers must embrace new technologies to keep customers engaged, satisfied and coming back for more.

The business contact center is becoming much more sophisticated than it was in the past, especially as communication technologies evolve and mature. There are numerous innovative services that are emerging within the enterprise, largely driven by the consumerization of IT, which is encouraging decision-makers to adopt solutions in the workplace that individuals use in their personal lives.

In the past, everyone - both consumers and employees - was familiar and comfortable with using the conventional land line business phone system. While these services often experienced performance hiccups and other issues, there was simply no other option. This is not the same situation today, as cloud, mobile and social computing technologies have introduced a variety of options for enterprise communications, providing companies with the chance to innovate, reduce costs and, most importantly, keep prospective and existing customers happy.

In addition to speaking with company representatives through an enterprise VoIP system, individuals are now using sophisticated web applications to collaborate with partners. This was highlighted in a recent research study of more than 200 U.S. contact centers by ContactBabel, which revealed that 43 percent of respondents are now offering web chat services as a customer service tool. This jump from only 15 percent five years ago suggests that businesses are recognizing the need to provide consumers with innovative service portals.

"While web chat has been around for many years, we are seeing a definite increase in the use of this channel, which has huge potential. The real-time nature of web chat means it is akin to a voice conversation in immediacy, giving it an advantage over email. Multiple concurrent web chat sessions can be run, cutting cost per interaction, which means there are sound commercial reasons for businesses to support this channel," contact center expert Steve Morrell said.

If enterprises want to appeal to tomorrow's employees and clients, decision-makers will need to adopt innovative communication platforms in the contact center.

Tomorrow's converged contact center

The emergence of the IP phone system has forever changed the contact center, providing enterprises with the opportunity to leverage multiple web-based applications to improve customer service and collaboration. Web chat is quickly rising the ranks among the most popular communication tools to use in the workplace, as approximately 18 percent of respondents said they plan on implementing a web chat solution within the next year, ContactBabel reported.

This is largely because web chat platforms are designed with the end-user in mind. This is especially true as mobile devices are used more frequently by consumers browsing websites and cannot locate the information or service they require at that time.

"Web chat is ideally suited to provide assisted service, in case where a customer has tried to use a website but cannot find the information that they are looking for. Customers do not have to break from the website in order to call a business, but can quickly and seamlessly move from self-service to assisted service, improving customer satisfaction, cutting call queues and closing more sales," Morrell said.

At the same time, web chat is not the only technology gaining momentum in today's contact center. Social media, video conferencing and other tools are also being driven by ongoing consumerization trends. Enterprises that want to stay competitive and improve revenue streams need to prioritize the deployment of these solutions, as doing so will be critical to improving overall customer satisfaction.

Meeting client demands by providing options

There is no doubt that without customer support, organizations will essentially cease to exist. Because today's consumers are much more connected than they were in the past, keeping individuals happy is even more important.

A recent study of more than 2,000 consumers by NewVoiceMedia revealed that roughly a third of people are currently unsatisfied with how enterprises manage their clients. Unfortunately for businesses, these emotions can be quickly shared across social channels.

"Not long ago, customers would tell friends and family if they experienced poor customer service. While this is damaging to a brand, it's not nearly as powerful and immediate as customers who take their complaints online. Within hours, a business can suffer irreversible damage to its reputation, resulting in lost revenue and growth opportunities," said Jonathan Gale from NewVoiceMedia.

In the coming years, enterprise decision-makers need to consider improving customer service strategies by offering consumers the ability to choose from multiple collaboration applications. In many cases, deploying an IP office phone system will make it easier to support several tools that can be used to interact with clients to answer queues and eliminate problems.

By planning ahead and working with a trusted telecom vendor, enterprises can find a scalable, manageable and sophisticated platform that offers organizations numerous options for communication without jeopardizing the budget or client service.