It’s time to fix broken processes in the contact centre
Go back little more than a decade and most contact centres followed the traditional model of being office-based with headphone-wearing operators packed together like battery hens answering fixed line phone calls on weekdays between 9-5, writes Jeremy Payne, the international vice president of marketing at Enghouse Interactive.
This version of the contact centre effectively acted as a switch for customer enquiries. The customer service representative (CSR) would make notes and fill in a form or route the caller to another department. Typically, the approach was low intelligence – basically repeating steps that the customer could have taken themselves through a self-service mechanism.
Today, the role of the contact centre is evolving fast. The emergence of cloud contact centres is breaking up the traditional bricks and mortar model. Organisations are bolstering the front-end layer which allows smart streaming and triaging of customer queries at the interaction stage, based not just on the nature of the query but on information intelligently gleaned about the customer’s value to the business. The aim is to create a frictionless interaction, making it easy for the customer to get what they need from the engagement process.
To deliver all this, however, requires organisations to tightly integrate or closely align a wide range of systems, solutions and working methodologies and equally it often necessitates them building more of a connected infrastructure. Unfortunately, contact centres often fall short of these requirements and often it is because they are running broken processes that they either learn to live with or don’t realise are there. Here, we look at three of the most common of these and consider how contact centres can best address them.
In many cases, customer relationship management (CRM) solutions aren’t properly integrated with other systems within the contact centre. This is a serious issue for any customer-facing organisation because it causes a loss of contextual information and means customers are forced to repeat themselves every time they speak to a different member of staff or use a different mode of communication.
This isolation of systems is detrimental across the board as it drives up inaccuracies, extends the customer journey time and leads to frustrations both for customers and for contact centre employees. For this to be avoided, contact centres must align all customer interaction management and develop a system in which they use all the data and information they have on the customer to anticipate what it is they might need. Pulling up this information as soon as the customer makes contact will ensure all processes are speeded up.
Call recording not fit for purpose
Call recording processes is another area where many contact centres are falling short. If the system is used purely to track voice interactions, rather than capturing both sound and screen, there is a disconnect that makes it all but impossible for the business concerned to get a full picture of the situation. This will in turn make it hard for the organisation to determine where issues might be coming from and areas for improvement. Similarly, a lack of real-time speech analysis can cause non-compliance issues as it makes it impossible to verify whether legal requirements are being breached.
Struggles with scheduling
Finally, broken processes within workforce management and scheduling are resulting in the wrong levels of staffing at pivotal times. Contact centres must integrate their unified communication (UC) platforms with customer interaction management to ensure as much as possible that they anticipate how many staff members and at what level of seniority they require for each shift.
There should also be a backup solution that comes into play at peak times. For example, if the call wait time reaches two minutes, customers should receive a message offering them an alternative solution, such as a callback, once lines become less busy. Call centres must shift their focus back to the customer and ensure their journey is as smooth and quick as possible and iron out any kinks within processes that are keeping them from providing this service.
Keeping processes on track
Today, as organisations continue down the path to digital transformation, they are marshalling new digital communications solutions and methodologies to enhance customer engagement and customer service. As we have seen, the role of the contact centre has evolved rapidly in line with this migration to digital. But one thing has not changed in this whole process. The contact centre still has a critically important role to play in the customer service mix.
For organisations, it still provides critically important opportunities to differentiate their service offering, as well as gain feedback and build customer loyalty. But to tap into these benefits it is crucial that organisations don’t fall into the trap of running with broken processes but instead focus their attentions on ensuring all their contact centre process are carefully planned, tightly integrated and well connected. Get all that right and it will help the business eliminate broken processes and set them up for customer service success.