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What does the future contact centre look like?

11 Jan 2013

The days are gone of customer satisfaction being achieved by having a good product at a good price with good service.

The new kid on the block which is now an essential part of the mix is a good customer experience.

If you are not doing all of this, then how engaged is your customer with your business?

These were among the questions raised by Phil Grudzinski, CEO of the professional Association for customer Engagement, at the recent ccinZ conference.

Measuring the level of engagement is not a simple matter. let’s use buying a cup of coffee as an example.

Maxwell house coffee = good price, Mcdonalds coffee = fast service, Starbucks coffee = good experience. What is Starbucks doing to drive customer engagement?

It is simply listening to what customers want. What customers want isn’t particularly difficult to identify.

They are:

• Convenience – Ease of contact through multiple channels, short wait time, and available 24/7• Competence – consistent experience across all available contact channels, and knowledgeable staff• Personalisation – Knowing who the customer is, and understanding their needs• Proactiveness – Informing the customer about things that are relevant to them, and offering relevant products/ services.

While the example may revolve around a simple cup of coffee, these are principles which, when brought into the contact centre, can set the scene for more successful, productive and satisfying engagements.

Bring these four elements into the contact centre, support them with analytic techniques, and a sound starting point of how to better engage with customers is established.

These principles can assist in designing the roadmap of the future of your contact centre.

More questions to consider

While considering the contact centre of tomorrow, the first factor that should be considered is this: What will your customers look like in the future? do you know who your customers are now? Have you tried to talk to gen Y?

These questions are not simple and nor do they have definitive answers, in many cases.

Customer demographics have different preferences in terms of how they want to engage with service providers.

‘Baby boomers’ prefer voice (first option), and email (second option). gen X want to engage with the contact centre by email (first option), and voice (second option).

The next generation is coming of age; the gen Ys and Millennials want to communicate via text and social media.

In 2015 the youngest of the people who still prefer voice as the primary means of contact will be in their mid 50s. The bulk of the market will be made up of people seeking to communicate via mediums other than voice when they conduct business.

Not only will customers be younger, employers will be too. All will be communicating through multiple channels.

They have adapted to new and emerging technologies; to meet their needs and deliver an engaging customer experience, your contact centre needs to adapt, too....but the phone still rings

While the internet is emerging as the number one channel for communication, it isn’t replacing older modes.

The advantages of the web for customers are extensive; they can search products, sign up for notifications, ask questions via email or web chat, review FAQs, and track purchases.

Social media has enabled sharing of information through Facebook, it equips people to post reviews, watch YouTube videos, and review blog posts.

It enables instant feedback, up to the minute reviews, streaming of purchase experiences, tweet opinions, and snapping QR codes for instant access to more information.

This means the channels for interaction are growing phenomenally. It is more than likely that customers are doing business with you while they are out and about with their smartphones, instead of from the comfort of their home.

In order to engage successfully with customers, the contact centre must encompass and embrace these multiple channels.

It should be the hub of the organisation; regardless of the channel chosen by the customer, it should link back to the contact centre.

But does that mean the telephone is in decline? Absolutely not. When it comes to first call resolution voice is still king, no matter the demographic of the customer. The new channels join but do not supplant the old.