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Six tips for a successful contact centre

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Technology – follow business needs, not the crowd’s
There is no safety in numbers when it comes to contact centres – history shows users that the crowd can make mistakes that are as bad, or worse, than those made by individuals, writes Elingo’s Ian Goss-Ross.
The technology a company chooses for their contact centre is critical, and the costs of heading down the wrong road can be enormous and protracted. It’s not just money wasted when it goes wrong – the planning and implementation can set the organisation back years.
The future also needs to be seriously considered when technologies are being assessed. Today users might need simple functionality, but tomorrow they could require a lot more, or even less.
Given the pace of change in the market it’s often impossible to figure out what future requirements might be. Structural flexibility is the watchword; if the vendor can’t start over or change course in quick time, the technology could damage the brand.
Contact centres aren’t just for the big guys
Cloud-based services have cracked the contact centre open for smaller organisations, who in the past simply didn’t have the budget to compete with larger rivals. The barrier to entry has lowered significantly, so if users instincts are that they can’t go there just yet, they might be surprised at what’s possible via the cloud.
It’s best practice that matters
Benchmarking against global best practices always sounds very good, but the reality of the exercise is a little more nuanced than the catch phrase suggests. Every business views best practice through a different lens, and how users define a best practice depends on their type of business.
When they are working towards setting their best practice benchmark, make sure users are comparing apples with apples – it’s context that really counts.
Outsource – ignore track record at own peril
Outsourcing all elements of a contact centre, including the crucial customer service interactions, can be a cost and resource saver. But if users make this choice, remember that the track record of their provider must be very strong.
It must also be relevant to the specific industry. If they are satisfied that the provider’s credentials are top notch and appropriate to their industry, the other critical factor is negotiating an air-tight service level agreement. If users choose to outsource the full contact centre there is no margin for error on service levels.
Skill defines the quality of the blend
The division between inbound and outbound contact centres has all but disappeared. Most modern brands need to operate a blended centre, with inbound and outbound functions operating as part of a greater communications whole.
Strong management of a blended centre involves two key elements:
* Predicting interaction volumes accurately; and
* Ensuring staff are adequately trained to deliver in critical areas.
Weakness in either area can see the blend between outbound and inbound hurt the business, rather than help it. Which makes a focus on skills levels across the centre vitally important. Skills development has to be viewed as part of the company culture, rather than an intervention.
Look to the future
Powerful new tools are emerging in the contact centre space, and contact centre strategy development should take place with these in mind:
* Speech analytics – some 10 000 voice recordings are taken per day in a contact centre, but much of the potential value in these conversations isn’t realised, because the content itself is not analysed. New speech analytic systems investigate the recordings for key words, and then offer significant analysis to decision makers.
Equally, some new systems are tracking tone of voice in real time and escalating calls to supervisors when there’s too much heat coming down the line. Either way, speech analytics tools are quickly changing the status quo.
* Mobile – with the youth and high income professionals now carrying sophisticated smartphones as a matter of course, brands are developing applications that deliver a new self service paradigm. No more mind numbing IVR menus and holding in contact centre queues. Mobile Apps mean efficient and personalised service, at the customer’s convenience.
* Content management – back in the day a document was scanned and simply filed, but today’s companies require seamless anytime, anywhere, anybody access to workflow details that incorporate staff, customers and suppliers. New object orientated contact solutions allow attributes to be assigned to an item that determine how it is stored, who has access to it and what future action must be taken.