In the 21st Century, delivering high-value customer interactions is a fundamental best practice. Today’s customers expect businesses to provide top-class service and support. That top-class customer support includes prompt responses to handle customer service promptly and professionally — without long hold times or countless transfers — as well as multimedia queuing to provide the same high level of service whether the interaction is through phone, fax, e-mail, Web chat or SMS.
Over the past several years, businesses have increasingly focused on improving customer support as a key element in their top-line strategy. In fact, industry analysts report that more than 80 percent of North American companies use customer experience as an area of differentiation. Contact, customer interaction and service centers are now clearly aligned directly with C-level objectives.
But companies need to provide exceptional customer service within the parameters of their respective budgets. The larger the customer base, typically, the tighter the margins and the more critical it is to provide best-in-class service in a cost-conscious matter. This is particularly true of middle-market companies and industries where expenses come under regulator scrutiny, like financial services providers and utility companies.
Among the myriad considerations for deploying your next-generation contact center, there are five major issues to consider when evaluating customer contact technologies. To meet the service needs of customers, both public and private enterprises today must look at technologies that provide:
Skills-based routing. This function gets the customer to the right agent quickly and easily. It greatly reduces or eliminates the need to transfer calls from specialist to specialist to resolve an issue. The quicker the issue is resolved, the more satisfied the customer and the less costly the interaction for the company.
Multimedia queuing. Today’s customer is likely to call one day, send an e-mail another time, and use SMS messaging for his next contact. This person expects to be able to contact a company via any and all of these methods, quickly and easily, and he expects the same high level of service on each communication channel. It is unacceptable to answer a call within a few rings, but to take several hours to reply to e-mails.
Presence. Any next-gen contact center needs powerful presence. This technology needs to accurately provide real-time information on the whereabouts and availability of staff, regardless of location. The most accurate and reliable solutions track mouse and keyboard movement as well as personal schedules to determine if a person is actually at his or her desk. This level of detail and intimacy helps maximize contact center efficiency by routing communications to the best available personnel.
Proven technology. A system might seem to have all of the elements necessary to deliver best-in-class customer service, but has it worked in practice? Does it scale to meet the increase in volume during promotions or other peak times — such as during a power outage for a utility? Have other firms successfully deployed the technology? What have been their results?
Professional services. Tied closely to the concept of proven technology is professional service for training, support and other business optimization activities. This enables the company to concentrate on what it does best and optimize workforce effectiveness while integrating a new system.
By leveraging the proper contact center technology with the right support, companies can provide the premier service that is necessary to differentiate from the competition. Organizations that realize this truth are adopting advanced customer interaction solutions to drive a sustainable competitive advantage.
A volatile economy has intensified the need to become more cost-effective and make decisions that will help your company evolve into a more effective, streamlined operation. The companies that will emerge successful when the economic dust settles will be those that invest in next-generation contact center and customer interaction solutions today to avoid customer and revenue loss tomorrow.
Ernie Wallerstein Jr. is President of Zeacom (www.Zeacom.com), a global provider of contact center, unified communications and process automation software, solutions and services. Nearly 4,000 enterprises across the globe count on Zeacom to optimize their workforce and drive operational efficiencies, cut costs and increase customer satisfaction.