Embracing the multimedia call centre
Call centres today stand in marked contrast to those that first appeared in the 1960s. And while every generation can lay claim to disruptive technologies changing the face of the market, few are as influential as the adoption of multimedia that integrates voice, data, video, and Internet technologies in a call centre environment.
"Even the focus on moving call centres offshore in the 2000s pales in comparison to the benefits multimedia offers companies looking to enhance their customer service environments," says Wynand Smit, CEO of INOVO.
As with many industries, the call centre environment is a highly competitive one. With so many solutions providers claiming to offer the next big thing, there is a constant clamour to find that differentiating factor. This means that clients are in the pound seats as they are able to make decisions that are best for their business instead of being held to ransom by only a handful of operators.
"If the digital world of business has shown call centre providers anything, it is the fact that the market has become incredibly customer service oriented. The rise (and power) of social networking means companies can ill afford to ignore what their customers are saying about them. Those companies best able to engage and listen to their customers are the ones that will be able to differentiate themselves in the market," says Smit.
This has a significant impact on how call centre operators develop their solutions. Companies are looking for not only cost-effective ways of servicing their customers, but also functional, easy-to-use tools. Multimedia is a great example of providing this and embracing the real-time environment that requires dynamic solutions.
"Multimedia is able to encapsulate all the latest innovation and package it in such a way as to give companies the customer service edge they need. Gone are the days where customers are restricted by a service number or e-mail. They want to engage with brands using the platforms that they are most comfortable with. And if companies are not able to effectively integrate this multimedia approach, they lose a great deal of momentum in the connected environment," he says.
According to Smit, multimedia integration into a call centre, such as the module INOVO offers, allows for the blending of all customer channels based on priorities, skills, and business rules.
"This provides organisations with the highest level of productivity and customer satisfaction. Furthermore, it gives call centre supervisors the ability to set up pre-defined responses and templates which can be included in communication with a single click," he says.
But a multimedia approach is not only focused on customer channels. It is also about handling the large volumes of data that this inevitably leads to. It is one thing to use video, audio, instant messaging and similar technologies to engage with customers, but quite another to extract value out of the large amount of structured and unstructured data.
"It is not good enough to just tick the multimedia box in a call centre. Decision-makers need to be able to pull reports and analysis from the customer data they are collecting to help shape business strategy. This can only be done with a multimedia environment that integrates effectively with the back-end systems."
With technology continuously evolving, companies and call centre providers need to be flexible and willing to adapt to changing market requirements. But it is essential the multimedia approach be implemented sooner rather than later, as playing catch-up to newer technologies will prove to be a costly exercise.