Trends and technologies to transform the contact centre from 'cost centre' to 'profit centre'
By Cecilia Jofr'e, business development and account management executive of Intuate Group
Technology investments, particularly those that are supported by a strong business case, have quantifiable benefits, and a quick return on investment, are on the rise, according to Cecilia Jofr'e, business development and account management executive of Intuate Group.
Regardless of the economic climate, organisations are expected to make investments that improve the customer experience, and in management applications and analytics to help them to make the most of every customer contact.
Often overlooked, the contact centre is re-entering the spotlight as a valuable channel for driving customer loyalty; in fact, it is increasingly being seen as a critical component in improving the customer experience and informing CRM processes, fostering relationships and gathering valuable data from key customers.
As advancements in contact centre technologies transform the contact centre from "cost centre" to "profit centre", businesses are beginning to notice the value that contact centres contribute, not only to the bottom line, but also to the loyalty-generating customer experience.
As a whole, the contact centre industry relies heavily on understanding the trends that affect client communications and ultimately lead to customer satisfaction. With new technologies, channels and expectations, it's essential that these businesses stay on top of their game to offer the best customer experience.
Here are two of the top trends that Intuate Group believes contact centre CIOs need to understand and address this year, in order to stay competitive and deliver a great customer experience.
Turning data into action
Managing and analysing the big data is a challenge that has jumped to the forefront of technology. The days of simply capturing and storing data are over, today we are faced with the considerable challenge of how to use "big data" to take specific action, to improve business processes and indeed, to turn data into a source of competitive advantage. According to the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) 2013 survey, entitled "A WOW Customer Journey: Actionable Data in Today's Multichannel Contact Center", 48% of contact centres consistently collect and report on metrics they do not use. The rigorous study received information from 542 respondents internationally (primarily executives, directors and managers), representing every major industry.
For the majority of contact centres, post call performance metrics are still the primary use of big data. This is of no use to agents dealing with callers in real-time, who cannot provide effective customer service without access to up-to-the-minute information on the specific customer's account.
Fortunately, enterprise contact centres are starting to deploy real-time analytics tools that uncover and analyse consumer context and sentiment, enabling agile agent response and more effective customer service.
More and more we are seeing contact centres moving away from their dependence on post-call analytics towards real-time tools and metrics that provide immediately actionable data to impact outcomes of live calls.
Aside from real time analytics, another data challenge facing companies is reaching out to new and existing customers at the right time and place. This has been borne out of the customers' ever-changing preference of communication method, compounded by the restrictions placed by some governments and courts on the number and the frequency of contact. By effectively using data analytics, organisations can more efficiently connect with their customers at the right time and achieve all of their outbound objectives within legislative boundaries. In fact, through data analytics and powerful predictive algorithms, data can be effectively mined to determine who, how and when to contact the customer to obtain a positive outcome; thus giving contact centre agents a competitive edge and making sure their time is spent talking to the best prospects.
According to DMG Consulting LLC's 570-page "2013 - 2014 Cloud-Based Contact Center Infrastructure Market Report", now in its sixth edition, cloud-based infrastructure is the fastest growing area for the contact centre industry, predicted to almost double between 2013 and 2015.
The numbers do the best job of telling this story. In 2008, the adoption of cloud-based contact centre infrastructure solutions was only 2.%, yet in just three years, adoption nearly tripled to 5.9% in 2011. As of, September 2013, DMG estimated that more than 62% of organisations are using some type of cloud-based contact centre solution as part of their operation. Furthermore, approximately half (45.6%) of the companies that are not yet using cloud-based contact centre solutions are planning to move in this direction by 2016.
While cost reduction continues to be a key objective, it is no longer the dominant driver. Contact centres have come to appreciate the wealth of other benefits that cloud-based solutions have to offer; namely faster deployment, flexibility and scalability, managed compliance and the ease of managing remote agents
The contact centre is no longer just a cost centre. As the front line tool for improving the customer experience and increasing customer loyalty, organisations are increasingly turning to the contact centre to gain insight into customer needs and provide benchmarks for continued customer loyalty. Transforming contact centres into customer loyalty engines that support a positive and seamless customer experience will be the biggest challenge for enterprises in 2014 and 2015.
Whilst these trends may seem similar to those in previous years, the priorities have changed, and there are new twists that are being driven by a more open, creative and flexible view of the role of contact centres and service organisations as a whole.