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Contact centres must up digital platform management

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The pace of digital uptake isn't reaching its potential according to the latest Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report.
The pace of digital uptake isn't reaching its potential according to the latest Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report.

While telephone interactions in contact centres are managed, tracked, and quality controlled, the same performance rigour isn't always applied to digital channels.

This is according to Rob Allman, Dimension Data group principal director, Customer Experience and Collaboration. Allman explains this lack of management and quality control of digital platforms within contact centres can lead to an inconsistent and degraded customer experience across a brand or company services.

A new research published by Dimension Data in the 19th edition of its annual Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report has revealed most organisations are not clear about who owns, oversees, and manages the digital channels in their contact centres.

According to the report, this is caused by a lack of management focus which impacts the effectiveness of their digital solutions, and by consequence, how customers engage with their businesses.

Dimension Data interviewed 1 320 organisations across 14 industries in 81 countries in Asia Pacific, Australia, the Americas, Middle East & Africa, and Europe who participated in the study.

The research revealed half (50%) of the report respondents said they track quality on digital channels compared to 89% who track phone interactions.

Some 82% reported that they have processes to identify sales opportunities on phone compared with 60% on digital platforms. Measurement of cost and time per interaction is also missing on the majority of digitally assisted-service channels, which suggests an absence of consistency in management approach, says the report.

Allman notes while digital technology is fast transforming the global contact centre industry, advancements in customer experiences are being slowed by people, and not the technology itself.

He explains this means the pace of digital uptake isn't reaching its potential, resulting in widening gaps between service delivery and customer expectations.

"Our research reveals that almost half (47%) of the organisations are excluded from, or are partially involved in the design phase of new technology solutions in contact centres, while 55% have little, or no involvement in solution approvals.

"In fact, two in five (40%) organisations said that their digital channel systems don't meet existing business needs, and 19% are confident that their future requirements will be met," he adds.

The Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report says digital volumes are on the rise, last year alone, phone transactions handled by contact centres fell by 12%, but traffic increases were recorded across almost every digital channel.

The report further found by the end of 2016, digital volumes will overtake phone interactions, this year we'll see most contact centres provide up to nine contact channel options.

Marco van Biljoen, portfolio manager: Communication Solutions Enterprise at ICT solutions company Jasco says if contact centres don't revive their omni-channel functionality, they will get left behind.

"It's important for the new generation to be contacted on the digital channel of their choice. Many people may not be available to take phone calls from contact centre agents, but they may prefer to respond to an e-mail or SMS correspondence," he adds.

Van Biljoen explains the omni-channel approach makes it possible for the different forms of communication to be managed from a central point using a single system as opposed to using multi channels of communication run from different systems.

"Research has proven that there's a 99% retention rate when customers are contacted on their preferred channel of communication.

"Using customers' preferred communication method and phoning them during their preferred time can play a role in influencing the customer to change their mind about ending a contract with an organisation," he reveals.

Jay Reddy, Middle East and Africa executive of Dimension Data's Customer Experience and Collaboration Business Unit, says the transition towards digital isn't reaching its full potential as the gap between service delivery and customer expectations is widening.

"New digital technologies must be designed with how they'll be consumed in mind. Organisations also need to understand the user experience and customers' expectations if they want successful adoption of the technology and achieve the desired business outcomes," he explains.

He adds the complexity of providing customers with a connected experience frequently spans multiple channels including Internet, Web chat, social media, and phone.

"This requires greater capability and understanding of the customer journey when engaging with an organisation's contact centre. To be effective, the technology solutions need design, ownership, and especially a human touch," he concludes.

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