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Getting bang for contact centre buck

Innovation in contact centres should be driven by the ability to demonstrate gains in productivity, the ability to deliver improved service and the ability to achieve satisfying customer interactions.

That’s why the integration of business processes or workflows, mobility and speech recognition should be at the top of the list for organisations seeking to achieve more from the contact centre.

Let’s begin with the notion of integrating business processes or workflows. Typically, when contact is initiated, be it through a phone call, an SMS or a web form, it occurs more or less in isolation from the rest of the business.

For the agent to perform any actions, separate processes must be initiated, with data entry and likely ‘handovers’ of information and/or tasks. Immediately, this presents the possibility of errors – but that’s the least of the worries. It is also inefficient and lacks ‘start to finish’ traceability.

If that contact triggers a workflow which can be integrated into the back office, it immediately provides visibility.

In addition, with a unified communications component (presence), the system can see who is available with the right skills to address the caller’s request and route the call appropriately.

All the metrics related to the instant of initiation through to the point of resolution are tracked, made available for analysis and provide opportunity for improvement.

For businesses looking to boost contact centre performance, process integration can deliver the biggest gains.

The rise and rise of mobility

Tablet computers and smartphones are dramatically changing the way we interact with technology. They are also providing a platform to change the way people interact with the organisations of which they are customers – and that is largely aligned with the concept of the app.

Apps are no more or less than small programmes which optimise information exchange for specific devices.

Together with the integration of business processes, company-specific apps provide the ability for the operators of smart contact centres to instantly pick up on what their customers want.

With a custom designed app, downloadable from the respective Android, Apple or Microsoft app store, the business is effectively placed in the hand of the customer.

While most apps will provide a level of functionality and information exchange, that can be taken a step further by routing the exchange to the contact centre.

Should the customer require assistance of any sort, the agent is equipped to know who the individual is, see what they have been doing, and be in a position to provide informed assistance proactively.

Of course, implementing such a solution should raise a flag common to many ‘BYOd’ scenarios – that of the necessity to develop for a variety of platforms to cover the multitude of handsets and platforms in the market.

Fortunately this isn’t a major issue, with ‘write once, deploy anywhere’ solutions available on the market today.

That’s a significant issue as it brings the concept of a connected contact centre on the handset within a realistic development cost on the one hand.

On the other, it ensures consistency of experience regardless of the phone or tablet being used.

This is a step away from the ‘typical’ approach to apps taken by most businesses – where the marketing department tends to take the lead, with little integration into back end business processes.

Watching what your customers (and agents) say

The final ‘hot spot’ for the innovative contact centre is the emerging field of speech analytics.

The information which is created in a typical voice call is essentially unstructured data – that means it is difficult to search it.

When call quality is being monitored, the only real way to do it is to listen to the calls... not something which one imagines to be either a great deal of fun or a way of adding great value.

Speech analytics allows the system to ‘listen’ to both sides of the conversation to determine what is being said.

Phrases to look out for can be programmed into the system ‘on the fly’, providing easy flexibility to, for example, tie in with promotions or offers, or any one of a range of applications.

When a predetermined phrase is detected, it can kick of other actions or processes automatically.

For example, ‘I want to close my account’ (always an attention-grabber for any organisation seeking to retain customers) could initiate processes to change their mind.

The agent could be provided with a script to help identify the issue and special offers could be made.

These technologies are available and are being trialed or deployed in new Zealand right now.

Already, they are showing great promise; more than the examples provided, they provide headroom for innovation in the contact centre – with these powerful tools at their disposal, managers can differentiate their contact centres, deliver better experiences to customers and improved value to business.