Contact center solutions offer businesses a wide range of features and functionality. But what key areas should businesses be looking at when making a decision?
The contact center is a vital part of any business that deals directly with the public. Yet it's also one of the most-maligned parts of many operations. Having to call into a business, navigate a maze of menu options, wait on hold and potentially end up being passed around several departments before getting the answers they need is often a hugely frustrating experience, and one that leaves customers with a poor impression of a business.
However, this does not have to be the case. Contact center software solutions have come a long way in recent years, and there are a range of options available that should help businesses tackle issues and deliver a more streamlined service. But in order to get the right one, there are several questions that will need to be answered. Here are a few key factors you should consider when evaluating your options.
1. Do agents have access to the information they need?
Businesses now have more data on their customers than ever before, and this can be hugely useful to contact center agents when it comes to helping consumers. However, having the data and being able to access it when needed are two very different things.
Deloitte's 2017 Global Contact Center Survey found that the biggest challenge for businesses is integrating their contact center solutions with existing systems, such as customer relationship management tools. Almost two-thirds of respondents (62 percent) highlighted this as an issue, so it should be a top priority for any company looking to improve their contact center solutions.
2. What security protections are on offer?
Security and fraud prevention is becoming an increasingly important part of any contact center's responsibilities. Many of them will be handling customers' most sensitive personal information, and in an increasingly tough regulatory environment - with incoming rules such as GDPR set to greatly increase the penalties for security failings - having a provider that offers the highest levels of security is a must. This is especially true if businesses are going down the route of cloud contact center offerings.
They should also consider the potential fraud risks that their contact center may be expected to deal with. For instance, issues such as account takeover, where fraudsters pretend to be legitimate customers, are increasingly challenging for businesses today, and standard defenses such as security questions may not be enough to guard against these issues.
3. What automation tools are available?
There are a wide range of functions that today's contact center tools can offer, and many of these will be able to greatly streamline calls through smart automation and AI tools. For example, intelligent call routing is a great way to reduce customer wait times and frustration by ensuring the first person to respond to a call is the right one.
Effective interactive voice response (IVR) tools can also be useful. Figures from JD Power suggest callers may spend up to 30 percent of their time interacting with an IVR rather than a human agent, so its vital these services are as quick and efficient as possible. The latest generation of voice recognition tools, guided by AI, are huge improvements on what has been possible in the past and can help ensure calls are handled as effectively as possible.
4. Does it provide a seamless omnichannel experience?
Contact centers today are about much more than voice. Any decent businesses should have a range of ways for people to get in touch, including live online text, social media, chatbots and video. Indeed, Deloitte found that by 2019, voice will make up less than half of contact center interactions (47 percent), while chat and messaging will grow from six percent to 16 percent in the same period.
This means businesses need effective omnichannel solutions that can not only engage with customers on their preferred channel, but also lets them seamlessly switch between them at will. So, for example, if a consumer has been interacting with an AI-driven chat bot, but needs to move to the phone channel to handle a more complex issue, the agent should be able to pick up exactly where the chat bot left off, with no need for the customer to repeat information.
5. Is it easy to deploy and use?
Usability and speed of deployment are also critical factors that must be taken into account when selecting a contact center solution. It is all very well having access to a powerful range of functionality and data, but if it's unintuitive for an agent to navigate, this will directly impact the level of customer experience they're able to provide, as well as annoy your staff.
Therefore, businesses should ask what level of training will be required to use the technology effectively, as well as how much support a provider offers to help meet these needs. This should also extend to technical support post-deployment - if there is an issue with the technology, how quickly should the business expect a resolution? In today's always-connected world, any lengthy downtime that means customers can't get in touch can be hugely damaging to a firm's reputation.
Insights for Professionals provide free access to the latest thought leadership from global brands. We deliver subscriber value by creating and gathering specialist content for senior professionals. To view more IT content, click here.