Tech-heavy contact centers
Tech-heavy contact centers
The call center has evolved into the contact center, and technology plays a key part in its operation. Danny Bradbury explores how the tech-heavy contact center could change your business.
It's 2012. A customer uses her smartphone to check in to a retail store using a popular social media site. The retailer (which is also her Facebook friend) notices the check in and quickly references her purchase and support history. It notices that she has purchased 15% more goods than the mean per-customer average in the past year and sends her a text message offering her a special discount if she buys in-store in the next 30 minutes. The result: more revenue and a happy customer: and back at the company's contact center, all of this happened automatically, without human intervention.
role changing dramatically
The role of the contact center is changing dramatically, and technology is playing a bigger part. Ten years ago, telephones were mostly the only communications mechanism that contact centers had to support. Today's customer has a panoply of different communications options to choose from, to all of which the effective contact center will cater. Now it is possible to interact with social media, texting, email, and even video in addition to good old telephone calls.
Customers may see an advertisement online and then go to a social media site to see what others are saying about a product. Customers can visit company Web sites and engage in a text chat session with a customer support rep or simply use a "click to call me" button and have someone dial them.
New touchpoints for the customer are appearing all the time, especially as mobile computing catches on. For example, modern identification tags such as QR codes make it possible for customers to interact directly with products or advertisements by scanning them, and that information can be documented as part of a customer's history.
Soon, phones will ship with near field communications (NFC) capabilities that will enable customers to make physical purchases directly with their phones opening up still more possibilities for contact centers to interact with the customer at an intimate level.
This breadth and depth of information creates some unique opportunities for the company that knows how to gather and use it. Individuals could be identified as valued customers based on their level of interactions with a company. Perhaps they could be entered into competitions based on the number of times that they check in to a social media site from a company's retail location.
how can companies integrate this vast array of technology into their contact centers to gain a competitive advantage?
They can start by defining how they want to differentiate their customers' experience. They should ask themselves questions likesuch as: "What will make someone buy from us?" For some companies, price will be the defining factor here, while for others, it may be brand loyalty, or convenience. All of this will influence how the technology-centric contact center evolves.
how does a company plan to gain feedback from customers and use that to inform product development?
After focusing on how this customer interaction will happen, companies need to partner with a company that has both the technological know -how, and the business expertise to serve the customer.
"We offer 'Managed Contact Center Express' that integrates a lot of the interactions with the customer together," says Dan daCosta, who manages global marketing for voice and telephony within Orange Business Services. "You can interact with email, SMS, and other channels. An agent can see all of your history."
key role for cloud
Cloud-based services are a key part of the picture, says daCosta, "These technologies are cloud-based, and hosted by Orange Business Services, which can give a contact center more agility," he says. "As an agent, you can use any PC or any phone, including your home phone or a mobile one. You access all of this technology using a platform that resides anywhere in the world."
Making the workforce more global and location -independent dramatically expands the base of labor available to a company, potentially decreasing costs while increasing the quality of staff.
The call center may not be dead, but the future lies with the contact center - and the sophisticated mix of technology and business knowledge that underpins it. Perhaps the most exciting part of the story is what new technology it will embrace next.