Contact centers based upon unified communications platforms can deliver a true omnichannel experience.
The traditional call center is essentially a telephone system with call routing and other features that enable multiple agents to handle incoming and outgoing calls. These legacy systems are ill-equipped to support today’s customer demands for a multichannel communications experience.
Deloitte’s global contact center survey found that while voice is expected to remain the dominant communication channel in 2019, it is expected to fall to just 47 percent of contacts. Meanwhile, chat and instant messaging are expected to increase to 16 percent of contacts and social media to 9 percent. In light of this shift, many organizations are expanding the use of multiple communication channels to enhance customer service.
However, companies with significant investments in call center platforms are often reluctant to replace them. They tend to “bolt on” non-voice channels such as email, text, chat and social applications to their existing systems. This creates complexity for customers and makes it difficult for agents to keep up with non-voice traffic.
Organizations need a fully integrated solution for their contact center operations. This requires a new approach to contact center technology — one that will require a greater emphasis on unified communications (UC).
UC systems that unite telephony, email, voicemail, messaging, mobility, conferencing and more into a single integrated platform can boost customer satisfaction. UC’s all-in-one architecture enables organizations to route all communications channels through a single queue for a seamless customer experience.
When integrated with CRM software, UC systems can also collect relevant data about existing customers and push that information to the agent through screen pops, allowing more personal and effective service. Click-to-call or instant messaging functionality within consumer-facing web pages simplifies initial contacts, and gives agents contextual information about the caller before a conversation begins. Armed with the upfront knowledge of the product or service the customer is interested in, agents can find the right information quickly and improve the odds of a first-call resolution.
UC-based contact centers offer a number of compelling business benefits as well. They can help reduce network management costs, provide consolidated reporting across all media types, and eliminate the need for multiple databases. They also create the ability to build geographically dispersed contact centers that satisfy “follow-the-sun” business-hour coverage and help ensure business continuity.
Improving Customer Satisfaction
The move to UC-based contact centers should be a high priority in light of numerous studies illustrating frustration with customer support channels. A study conducted by Consumer Reports found that 57 percent of consumers were so frustrated with their customer service experiences that they abandoned communication without a resolution. An Arizona State University survey found that customers need an average of four contacts to resolve issues. The integrated functionality of UC-based contact centers enables agents to respond faster and more consistently to customers — regardless of the communications channel the customer chooses.
Customers aren’t the only ones who experience improved satisfaction through UC in the contact center. UC enables the virtual contact center, in which calls can be routed to agents working at home. Various industry studies show that home-based agents have a far lower turnover rate than office-based agents. Leveraging a home-based workforce also drives down the real-estate costs of brick-and-mortar operations.
The contact center is the focal point for customer interactions in many organizations, and thus a critical factor in optimizing the customer experience. That experience has evolved from a simple phone call to a complex interplay of communications channels — the so-called “omnichannel” experience. By facilitating multimedia communications, UC-driven contact centers provide organizations with a powerful edge in their quest to deliver better customer service and cement customer satisfaction.