Your Contact Center Has a Bright Future

Trends in the contact center space include customer demand for self-service: what many customers today consider the quickest and easiest way to resolve issues. When customers do personally reach out to companies, they are often rankled by the service they receive. In fact, the majority are dissatisfied. Does this mean your contact center’s days are numbered? On the contrary!  There’s good reason for optimism.

First of all, today’s contact centers are focused on providing a valuable customer experience. Quality is paramount. This is why many companies that shipped their customer service organizations overseas have pulled them back to shore. Customers just weren’t happy with language barriers and cultural differences that often came to light.

Improvements in meeting customer expectations are reflected in the multiple communication channels many contact center facilities now provide to “be where their customers are.” Customer preferences are considered a top priority. This means that interactive voice response (IVR) systems are now easier to navigate, and customers receive callbacks rather than waiting on hold for a customer care Communicator.

And while contact centers are responding to consumer demand for self-service options, the top-notch ones continue to provide live Communicators for more complex issue resolution. While research shows that customers prefer to resolve their own problems when possible, a personal touch is desired when things get complicated. This approach means that today’s Communicators develop expertise regarding their company’s products and services.

Today’s leading contact centers also ensure that Communicators can leverage intelligence across the organization—from data collected in corporate networks to staff in other departments. This requires integration of internal systems and intelligent routing capabilities, which—if not already in place—are on the docket for contact centers eager to respond at the highest level to customer needs.

A 2017 report by JLL Research on U.S. contact centers states that the contact center industry showed steady growth across global markets in 2016, outpacing economic growth. The U.S. contact center industry maintained the largest share of the global market, with 1.5 percent annual growth in contact center spending. In 2015, the U.S. market supported 2.6 million contact center employees—a gain of 34.5 percent over the past five years.

The report also revealed that third-party providers, which represent 25 percent of the contact center industry, are expected to increase revenues as corporations turn to outsourcing basic business and analytics functions. North American contact center outsourcing providers had 2015 revenues of $9.4 billion—up 22.3 percent from 2013.

Even online businesses that have moved away from contact centers in favor of social media and virtual help centers are coming back. In fact, an Econsultancy article reveals that 76 percent of companies learn about website problems as a result of calls to their contact centers. In addition, many Web transactions are still completed with the help of a customer care agent, and many customers will go elsewhere if the interaction is not smooth.

The contact center is actually more of a central hub than ever because customers expect to be able to jump to a live Communicator from any channel. The contact center is also the place where businesses are bridging gaps between online and offline channels, giving companies the complete context of their customers’ interactions. With these insights, the contact center is shaping the customer experience with extraordinary service that should bring customers back again and again.

Is Your Business Ready To Serve the Instant Gratification Generation?

The instant gratification generation is upon us. That is, millennials are populating today’s buying landscape and demanding its restructure along the way. What they are asking for is new customer care best-practices by way of multi channel marketing solutions—specifically, tools like text messaging and live Web chat that will help them gain more autonomy when making customer care inquiries.

In fact, 69 percent of millennials—and 65 percent of all generations—say they feel good about their experience with a company when they can resolve a problem without speaking to a customer care agent, according to a recent study from Aspect Software. In addition, the report revealed that 76 percent of all generations view customer service as the “true test” of how much a business values them.

It’s important to note here that although the majority of customers desire more autonomy in their service interactions—via self-service options like IVR and FAQs, for example—the majority of respondents feel that customer care is how a company shows their appreciation for its consumers. Therefore, a degree of human interaction must remain in the equation.

What we mean is, catering to your consumers’ needs involves providing them with every method of communication within your means to satisfy differing and changing customer care preferences.

For example, it’s important to maintain the best quality of phone-based customer care practices so that you don’t appear to be forcing your consumers to be autonomous in their search for company-specific information or guidance. In contrast, integrating digital channels into your customer care practices would be wise so that you can more easily engage with consumers who do want to take research into their own hands. Offering multiple channels of communications, both digital and person-to-person, will enable your contact center to be the most well-rounded in terms of addressing varying preferences.

Customer care is just that—caring for your customers. Offer them some autonomy, but remember that human communication is just as important in a well-balanced and effective contact center.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several University boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s highest honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.