By Pam Plyler
Simplicity. It’s an important goal for every organization. But too often, the technologies and processes that govern contact centers are intricate and confusing—and that’s a problem because too much complexity inevitably damages the quality of the brand’s customer experience.
With exceptional customer experiences increasingly driving brand success, it’s time to re-evaluate contact center dynamics. Simple technology and processes enable brands to compete more effectively because they allow agents to focus on an organization’s most important goal—satisfying customers’ needs and expectations.
The Need for Simplicity
According to recent estimates, by 2020 the customer experience will outpace both price and product as a company’s most important brand differentiator. Organizations cannot afford a business model characterized by complexity, confusion, and inefficiency.
Without simple technology, agents lack access to the tools and resources to meet customer expectations. For example, overly complex technology and processes can make it difficult for agents to quickly and effectively answer a customer inquiry, causing unnecessary delays, repeat contacts, and a poor reflection on the brand.
Designing processes centered on the needs of the customer and front line support team enable the agents to fully resolve the request and take care of the customer in a highly personalized way. Usability studies also clearly identify workflow improvements, which drive a more efficient interaction as well, maximizing the value of the time spent on the contact.
Technology solves problems. But to optimize its use in the contact center, it’s critical to understand the problem that needs to be solved as well as the processes that support specific applications.
In other words, it’s no longer about merely implementing the latest and greatest contact center solutions—it’s about learning how to combine the right technology with the right processes and training to maximize the quality of the customer experience.
With that in mind, a handful of core solutions form the backbone of any contact center technology solution.
Leveraging robust information gained from customer data, speech recognition systems, personality profiles, and channel behaviors is a powerful way to drive personalization. The key is to leverage these big data insights to target the right solution at the right time, route customers to the best agent to help, and ensure they are able to interact with a company through the channel of their choice.
Increasingly, customers expect to have their issues resolved during the first contact with an organization. Knowledge and learning management systems build on the capabilities of personalization technologies by ensuring that agents have easy access to the information they need to resolve customer problems. Most of these solutions also offer targeted agent development features and integration to workforce optimization systems.
Customer relationship management (CRM) solutions bring a vital ingredient to the contact center experience: a 360-degree view of the customer. Armed with robust CRM technology, agents can clearly see all of the customers’ interactions with a company across all lines of business and channels. The result—a highly personalized experience. Customers want businesses to know them, respect the history they’ve had with the organization, and tailor their experiences to what matters most to them. A well-designed, comprehensive CRM solution is critical to making that a reality.
Quality Monitoring and Speech Analytics Technologies
Exceptional contact centers are characterized by a disciplined focus on quality, process re-engineering, and an engaging culture. Quality monitoring and speech analytics solutions enable organizations to gather the necessary data to gauge the quality of interactions and develop targeted action plans for improvement. Feedback is a wonderful gift and creating a culture centered on coaching, development, and personal growth is critical to long-term success. In addition to fueling the coaching process, insights gleaned from these solutions can also be used to analyze cross-functional breakdowns, identify policy or process issues, and mine contact data.
Ideally, technology and processes work together to support the delivery of an exceptional customer experience via an organization’s contact center. By focusing on business processes centered on the customer and agent needs, organizations improve the value of technology and enable contact centers to achieve their full potential.
However, like technology, it’s important to keep contact center processes as simple as possible. Key elements of a simple process approach include customer focus, agent training, and minimal customer effort.
Customer focused means that all contact center processes must center on the customer. Likewise, each process needs to be evaluated based on how it affects and improves a brand’s overall customer experience. Although it’s possible to implement a series of processes that ensure seamless contact center operations, those processes—and the technologies that support them—are worthless unless they enable agents to consistently delight customers by quickly and accurately resolving often messy, complicated problems.
Effective contact center onboarding programs don’t simply teach agents how to use the technologies at their disposal—they focus on teaching agents how to articulate the company’s value proposition, and demonstrate how processes and technology empower agents to flawlessly deliver the value proposition to customers. To encourage continuous improvement, training should also include voice of the customer feedback mechanisms, two-way dialogue, coaching, and other tools or processes that help agents consistently provide a top-notch customer experience.
Processes should be designed to minimize the impact and burden on the customer. Given how time starved everyone is these days, anything an organization can do to help them quickly and effectively navigate through a situation is welcomed and valued. Agents should always look for ways to resolve the issue on behalf of the customer, even it means creating a three-way call with another organization to do so. Also, customers don’t want to choose between a low average handle time and a high first-call resolution rate—they expect both. By properly equipping contact center agents with the right information, tools, and processes, businesses can streamline interactions without sacrificing their ability to accurately resolve customer concerns.
Customer Experience Improvement
Customer experience improvement is an ongoing focus in most organizations. Investing time and energy in designing a simpler approach to contact center technology and processes prevents serious headaches downstream—and more importantly, transform contact centers into focal points for a brand’s customer experience improvement efforts. SW
Pam Plyler is the executive practice lead for customer experience and contact center management at The Northridge Group.
Oct2014, DPS Magazine