Contact-center infrastructure purchases can be costly, but they
also bring serious ROI through a boost in efficiency and
Whether companies are expanding their contact-center presence or trying to
become more efficient with the agents...they have, they often turn to contact-center infrastructure upgrades to achieve those results. Stepping into the modern contact center era can be costly and
time-consuming, but companies need to do so to enhance customer
experience. Routing customers to an agent who is not properly skilled and
then requiring a customer to repeat all the information related to their issue is
a waste of time and frustrating for customers.
At the heart a call center infrastructure upgrades is customer call routing and
quality. For many companies, upgrading contact-center infrastructure means
heading to the cloud, particularly in areas such as telephony. According to
Gartner, in 2017, cloud-based telephony will surpass premise based and according
to recent research by Aberdeen Group, infrastructure changes are on the
agenda primarily to improve customer experience (95%). Other important drivers
were to improve agent productivity (79%), increase cross-selling opportunities
(71%) and reduce operating costs (70%).
Contact-center software has evolved from a simple ACD platform with various
add-on modules to more fully integrated technologies. From call-routing
software to help desk ticketing and knowledge bases to help agents as they
try to help customers, there are a series of important technologies companies
need to consider as they make upgrades. Many of these technologies come in
on-premises or cloud-based versions. One important buying criterion should
be how well these systems can work together. And, in some cases, cloud-
based software will more easily integrate with other elements. Much on-
premises software is legacy and will suffer from integration problems.
As organizations consider upgrading contact-center software platforms, they
should ask some key questions:
- Which add-on technologies does my company need?
- Is it best to have a contact-center software platform with the technologies already integrated, or is it best to acquire the technologies as separate modules?
There are at least nine pieces of technology that must be considered when
looking to purchase a new contact-center technology platform:
- Multichannel support;
- Contact recording;
- Call monitoring;
- Workforce management;
- Integrated voice response (IVR);
- Post-contact surveys;
- Speech analytics;
- Knowledge database; and
- Workflow management.
The following focuses on the functionality of each specific add-on module.
Whether to acquire a platform with the technologies already integrated or as
separate modules can be decided at a later date.
Multichannel support. Customers often communicate through multiple
communication channels in their efforts to make a purchase or get a problem
resolved. So, contact centers need ways to monitor those multiple channels
and aggregate the data to create an Omni-channel view, or complete of the
Multichannel support provides the ability to funnel all types of customer
interactions -- e.g., voice, email, chat, SMS, social media and video -- through
one platform using an integrated queuing strategy. There are two key benefits
that come with this approach:
- Work is moved to agents via predefined rules and, therefore, processing efficiency increases. An agent would not have to log off the telephone system and work emails via a system such as Outlook.
- There is an ability to monitor key metrics -- e.g., volumes, average handle time and so on -- to evaluate and track the resources required to perform resolving inquiries on various channels.
Contact recording. Contact recording provides the ability to review contacts
after the fact for various reasons, including quality assurance, compliance,
escalations and more. The recording of contacts primarily focuses on inbound
and outbound calls where a written transcript of the interaction is not
available. There are many recording options, including 100%, random and per
predetermined schedule, among others.
Contact monitoring. Contact monitoring provides the ability for individuals to
review contacts, either live or recorded. Live monitoring allows an individual to
listen to a contact while it is happening -- valuable for supervisor monitoring.
On the other hand, listening to a recorded contact improves efficiency in the
quality-assurance program -- users don't have to wait for phone calls to arrive
for a specific individual. In addition to monitoring contacts, it is critical to be
able to utilize preloaded forms in the system, so calls can be scored and
reports automated to support the quality-assurance program.
Workforce management. Workforce management software helps plan the
allocation of resources to meet customer demand. Workforce management is
the engine that evaluates inbound work volumes and recommends staffing
schedules to attain predetermined service levels. Workforce management
has many modules, including budgeting, forecasting, staffing and scheduling,
and intraday management. Automated workforce management becomes a
critical tool as contact centers grow larger in size.
Integrated voice response. IVR allows customers to self-service during a
phone interaction. As a result of a caller pressing specific keys on their phone
or speaking specific items into the telephone, the system can access a
database and provide specific information in response to a customer inquiry.
Post-contact surveys. Post-contact surveys allow for customers to provide
feedback to an organization immediately following an interaction with the
contact center. The technology exists where the contact-center system can
ask the customer to stay on the phone following an interaction or can call a
customer back following an interaction with the contact center.
Knowledge bases, provides a repository of information that agents can
access when they have a question or need assistance in resolving a customer
inquiry. A knowledge base provides a single version of truth, which eliminates
the need for agents to have manuals at their workstation that need continuous
updating. Two critical requirements for a successful knowledge database are
to have a search engine that is easy to use for the agent and the assurance
that the knowledge database is up to date.
Workflow management, provides the capability to manage and monitor the
process of moving work from one area to another. Workflow management
automatically moves work from one queue to another, with the ability of
presenting the work item in an automated manner. Workflow management
also provides reporting on volumes, aging and more.
Contact-center technology has advanced tremendously, and there are many
capabilities beyond call routing that are available. These technologies include
intelligence for agents to better serve customers and software to bring new
efficiencies to service processes.
As companies consider upgrading their contact-center technology platform,
they should evaluate whether these additional technologies could provide ROI
by reducing the number of agents required or by boosting call quality and
enhancing customer experience.