Let’s face it: today’s customers are savvier and more mobile than ever. They have probably already used your digital self-service solution to find answers to common questions, so if they are calling your contact center, it means they have relatively complex issues.
However, if your 2018 contact center is treating incoming customer conversations as blank slates, you are ignoring the rich context that could make this call an opportunity to create loyalty. These customers live in a world of instant interactions, so they don’t have a lot of patience for even minor waiting times or duplicative requests for information. In fact, a customer’s experience with support can make or break a company’s chance at repeat business: three out of every five Americans would try a new brand or company for a better service experience. If you are using a legacy contact center, it may be holding you back from providing the kind of customer support that would make a customer stay loyal.
To meet the increased demand for top-notch service and get an edge on the competition in 2018, more than 80% of contact center executives have made it their top investment priority to improve their future customer experiences. For many of the older contact center providers, their legacy infrastructure has proven too expensive to maintain, with huge investments to upgrade, and too slow to adapt to evolving technology and customer needs. While newer, digital-first companies are adopting cloud contact centers, which allow for seamless integration between web and mobile experiences, older companies are stuck with the painful option of either paying millions of dollars to upgrade and maintain outdated software or doing nothing and sacrificing operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. When evaluating contact center options, consider these six specific characteristics a contact center should have for 2018 and beyond:
#1: Intelligent routing that makes customer experiences effortless
The majority of today’s customers are digital first and prefer to handle simple issues with self-service technologies. When customers call your contact center, their issues are likely urgent or complex. Due to the high emotional element of these calls, it is essential to provide a smooth and effortless customer service journey to improve CSAT. Unfortunately, many legacy voice vendors think “digital first” means grafting digital channels onto their legacy voice solutions (voice solutions that were originally designed as an extension to their private branch exchange (PBX) solution). The call routing in legacy systems is still designed for the PSTN era has no call context other than IVR information. You need a next-generation solution that incorporates context from a customer’s other interactions. Using this complete context in your routing is a win-win for your company and your customers. Customer-centric metrics like first call resolution, handle time and CSAT will improve while agent effort will decrease and efficiency will increase.
#2: Agents who have an end-to-end view of the customer journey
To address the complex issues coming into your contact centers, your agents need an end-to-end view of a customer’s journey as soon as they pick up the phone. In a legacy contact center, agents are probably just seeing the information that customers entered in IVR: things like account number and type of issue. Imagine how much better your customer service would be if agents could view a timeline of past purchases and service interactions as well as recent context about activities on a website, mobile app, chat, email and social media. This real-time contextual information is a superpower that generates business value from better service, higher retention and improved case handling.
#3: AI-empowered agents who use customer insights to provide better service
Do you know what happens with interaction data in your contact center? Are you able to mine that information to figure out a customer’s intent, sentiment and other insights? Information like this can help your company drive product development or clarify the training needs of your agents. Will your agents benefit from an always-on AI assistant that can proactively find answers to your customer questions? How is AI helping make better routing decisions? This is the future of the contact center and we believe that AI working together with agents will define the next level of customer service.
#4: Executives who run all of their contact centers across the globe in one logical system
Legacy contact center solutions were designed before Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) was developed. This traditional infrastructure forced businesses to run separate contact center instances in different regions or countries and tie them together with pre-routing. With CPaaS, the public switched telephone network (PSTN) is stitched into one global super telecom network. Modern platforms like Talkdesk are designed from the ground up to give you one singular, global contact center that allows you to simplify routing and save money by not having to replicate your infrastructure in each individual contact center location.
#5: Business strategy that drives decisions with a cloud-native technology stack
The only thing consistent about the technology landscape is that it is constantly changing. Your contact center should have the agility to innovate according to your business needs. Unfortunately, if you are working off a rigid infrastructure, you are probably spending most of your budget and resources around maintenance and upgrades instead of innovation. Unlike legacy vendors, modern contact center platforms are born in cloud and have cloud-native architectures, microservices, DevOps and agile development practices. Break away from costly, disruptive and infrequent legacy upgrades and innovate at the pace you choose with an agile, cloud-native contact center stack. You’ll be able to better serve your customers and your business partners.
#6: Infrastructure that supports your company’s digital transformation
If your company hasn’t begun the digital transformation, it’s time to start. If your digital data is stored on a CRM system like Salesforce, you need a contact center that allows your agents to handle calls through the CRM to make sure that information is tracked. Legacy solutions that were designed before the modern CRM don’t have decent APIs and can’t handle this type of activity.
Mixing a legacy contact center with a modern CRM system is like mixing water with oil – no matter how hard you try, they don’t integrate. Make sure your contact center integrates with your CRM, it’ll save your agents a lot of time and your customers a lot of frustration.
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