At Conn3ct, we are dedicated to helping our customers implement the right Contact Centre solutions for their businesses. In this guide, we outline everything you need to know about the modern-day Contact Centre, as well as how you can optimise yours.
Contact Centres play a vital role in business communications, joining the dots between you and your customers.
The Contact Centre has evolved significantly in recent years, with Cloud Contact Centres on the rise and the emergence of new technologies transforming the way we do business.
In this guide, we explain everything you need to know about the modern-day Contact Centre.
Traditionally, call centres provided one core communication channel: voice. Over time, as demand for multiple communication channels increased, businesses expanded their offerings to incorporate additional communication channels, such as email and web chat. From here, the multi-channel Contact Centre was born.
While providing customers with more ways to communicate is a positive step, these channels must be fully integrated to work efficiently. For example, a customer may start a customer service query via an email, but subsequently make a voice call for an update the next day. If your system is not fully integrated, then the agent will be unaware of the previous interaction. This means the customer has to repeat their query, wasting time and harming customer experience. The solution? An omnichannel approach.
Omnichannel Contact Centres feature multiple communication channels for your customers to choose from, with the added benefit that they talk to each other. This makes your operation more efficient, providing cost-savings, freeing up resources and, most importantly, empowering your agents to provide an outstanding customer experience.
Cloud Contact Centres are the opposite of local, on-premises Contact Centres, and are hosted in the Cloud. Introducing Cloud Contact Centre software in your business can allow you to enjoy the following benefits.
Cloud solutions are intrinsically scalable. Unlike a local on-premise solution, you can scale cloud capacity up or down instantly. For example, Amazon Connect offers a pay per usage model, allowing businesses to manage short-term peaks in demand without overpaying.
Cloud Contact Centres typically provide more flexibility and agility than their traditional counterparts. For example, new features and capabilities can be rolled out faster, enhancing the customer experience. Cloud solutions are also easier to customise, allowing businesses to create bespoke call centre flows that help callers reach the right department quicker.
Cloud solutions have the capability to draw on sophisticated technologies such as natural language processing, which help to provide a more personalised customer experience. For example, AI-enabled speech recognition can offer more accurate routing responses, resulting in more seamless interactions. Voice technology can also integrate into your existing IVR system to further enhance the customer experience.
Having machine learning capability in your Contact Centre allows you to automatically analyse thousands of customer interactions (instead of having to do this manually). This enables you to resolve issues faster and improve the customer experience.
Cloud-based Contact Centres link more effectively with other cloud-hosted enterprise systems. An all-cloud technology environment avoids systems operating in silos, equipping agents with access to customer details across business systems. This helps to provide a more personalised experience and achieve a better outcome for the customer.
Finally, the cost savings associated with migrating to the Cloud can be significant. This is because many Cloud Contact Centres (such as Amazon Connect) offer a pay per usage model — meaning you only pay for what you use and no more wasted agent seats.
Regardless of where you are on your journey, the challenge is to provide all the communication channels your customers want to interact with your business. Traditionally this may start with proving a voice-only channel before over time more communication channels are added such as email and chat (multichannel).
The challenge at the multichannel stage is although having more channels is good, they need to be fully integrated, i.e. talk to each other. For example, a customer may start a customer service query via an email but subsequently, make a voice call for an update the next day. If your system is not integrated then the agent will be unaware of the previous interaction. That means the customer has to repeat their query, wasting their time and your agent's as well as providing a poor customer experience.
The solution? Omnichannel.
At the omnichannel stage, your business still has multiple communication channels for your customers to choose from but the key difference is all channels talk to each other. This makes your operation more efficient, providing cost-savings, freeing up resources and perhaps most importantly empowering your agents to provide an excellent customer experience.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are having a significant influence on the contact centre space. Not only have these toolsets matured to a level that they can be incredibly useful in a contact centre, but the Cloud delivery models available now make them very cost-effective to deploy.
AI and ML provide businesses with the ability to both assist the agent in servicing customers, but also to address many of the interactions directly with the customer without even needing to speak with an agent.
Something else that is changing the contact centre landscape is CRM vendors. Historically, customer relationship management (CRM) and Contact Centre technology purchases were separate decisions for separate areas of the process.
Where Contact Centre technology dealt with the channels and interactions, the CRM dealt with the business processes that resulted from those interactions. However, this is now changing.
CRM and customer service management (CSM) systems are now taking on the delivery of digital channels such as chat, messaging, and email. This dictates a different role for the Contact Centre platform, which is reduced to providing the voice and occasionally the video channel, but now with a tight, customised, and deep integration into the CRM/CSM system.
That brings us to the optichannel stage.
Optichannel can be thought of as an improvement on omnichannel. Offering every channel possible to the customer, even if that channel is not appropriate for completing their request, is not a sensible approach.
Optichannel means providing the optimum channel to deliver the correct outcome at that stage of the customer’s journey.
With improvements in technology, particularly Natural Language Understanding (NLU), some Contact Centre interactions can now be dealt with robotically. This helps to create a positive customer experience without the wait time often associated with speaking to a live agent.
We tend to refer to these robots as chatbots or virtual agents, the latter being the preferred term implying a quality of experience that a chatbot may not be thought to deliver.
Virtual agents benefit both the customer and the Contact Centre provider. They improve customer experience by solving customer requirements without the need to wait for an agent to become available. Virtual agents also benefit the Contact Centre by allowing simpler transactions to be handled without the need for a live agent. The number of live agents needed can therefore be reduced, or they can be refocussed on more revenue-generating tasks.
No virtual agent can be effective without a Knowledge Base to work from. A virtual agent essentially needs the same ‘training’ or resources that a live agent needs. Often the same Knowledge Base used by your live agents and/or your website FAQs can be used by chatbots. A Knowledge Base can also be developed using AI techniques (i.e. machine learning and big data). By taking recordings of agents’ calls or transcripts of digital interactions, the virtual agent AI can build, maintain and improve its own Knowledge Base by learning how the best live agents successfully answered given queries.
Chatbots can be used to not only support customers directly, but to assist agents in finding answers within the Knowledge Base or recommending the next best action.
AI can be most easily thought of as a combination of machine learning and big data. Contact Centres are full of historical data — both structured and unstructured — and can be considered as one of the original big data environments. AI is now available to the masses through what is in effect ‘Machine Learning as a Service’ (MLaaS) from the likes of Amazon, Google and Microsoft. The combination of that Contact Centre data with easy access to machine learning makes the Contact Centre an ideal place to exploit AI.
Data historically used for one purpose (for example, voice recordings used for quality management) can now be used for another (in the case of voice recordings, through transcription, sentiment analysis and natural language understanding to provide customer journey analytics) and combined with other data sources (e.g. CRM, website etc.) then analysed by AI to find correlations or patterns. Similarly, those insights can be used to better inform contact routing strategies or to offer more personalised self-service options.
AI and machine learning can be applied to numerous areas and there are many vendors in this space. Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are obvious examples. There are also specialists who are tightly focused on the Contact Centre with specific, niche offerings.
To find out more about emerging Contact Centre technologies, download our ebook, ‘Everything You Need to Know About Contact Centre Technology’ today.
Your Contact Centre is essential to the success of your business. Making it efficient and integrated will allow you to handle more customer interactions and provide a better customer experience to your customers. It will also allow you to collect valuable information about your products that the rest of the business can use to improve and expand.
As you would expect, there are multiple options for your Contact Centre solution. Below we talk about two options:
Genesys Cloud is an all-in-one cloud-based contact centre software solution built to improve the customer experience. The platform serves as a single hub for all your customer interactions be it SMS, email, voice call or social media messaging. Genesys Cloud offers incredibly fast internal adoption for small- to mid-market organisations, as well as a growing list of larger customers. With impressive functionality and a true cloud architecture that supports continuous improvements that are automatically implemented with no downtime, Genesys Cloud meets your needs now and wherever you want to go in the future.
A customer experience technology with a proven transition roadmap from a provider with a track record of investment in innovation.
An intuitive interface enables fast account setup and seamless integration with existing systems. No complicated training needed.
Genesys Cloud gives you a flexible environment that instantly scales to meet peak demands. Meet evolving customer demands with continuous feature and capability updates.
Interactive dashboards give you a consolidated view of customers, call centre agents and interactions—across all channels and locations. Reap the benefits of proactive contact centre analytics and insights.
To learn more about Conn3ct's Genesys capability, please visit our Genesys page.
Amazon Connect is an on-demand contact centre service that helps businesses of all sizes deliver an enhanced customer experience at lower cost. Operating on the globally recognised AWS cloud infrastructure, Amazon Connect offers built-in high availability, dynamic scaling and global reach.
The underlying technology for Amazon Connect has been used by Amazon customer service executives around the world to power millions of customer conversations for over a decade. Through an intuitive, graphical self-service interface, Amazon Connect allows a non-technical user to design contact flows, manage agents and track performance metrics.
By using an Amazon Lex conversation bot in your call centre, callers can perform tasks such as changing a password, requesting a balance on an account, or scheduling an appointment, without needing to speak to an agent. These conversation bots use automatic speech recognition and natural language understanding to recognise the intent of the caller.
Amazon Lex can query your business applications to provide information back to callers, and make automated updates as requested without agent intervention. Amazon Lex conversation bots also maintain context and manage the dialogue, dynamically adjusting responses based on the conversation.
To find out more about our Amazon Connect capability, please visit our Amazon page.
While your business’ Contact Centre costs will largely depend on the type of solution you’re using (for example an on-premise vs. Cloud Contact Centre), there are several types of cost you can expect to pay in most instances:
An efficient Contact Centre makes it easier to provide customers with the support they need, improving their overall customer experience and increasing their brand loyalty. However, as is often the case in business, resources can be scarce, and as call volumes go up, it can become more and more difficult to handle the increased volume with your current team.
Here are some ways to reduce costs in your Contact Centre:
Being proactive when solving problems wards off issues before they reach your team, reducing their workload and allowing them to attend more closely to the calls that do come through.
To reduce call volumes, you will need to implement issue tracking software. This will enable you to identify common problems customers face, and you can use this to update the FAQ section of your website.
You could also utilise an automated answering service such as Amazon Connect, which harnesses Amazon Lex technology to understand and recognise the caller’s intent and solve problems quickly without the need for an agent.
Another call-saving option is to introduce a Contact Centre chatbot to solve simple customer queries quickly and efficiently.
Discover how to use chatbots to enhance the customer experience in this article.
Good call routing software enables you to route calls to the right agents based on their expertise and availability. While this will require a small investment, it will positively impact your call volume capability, and it doesn’t require you to expand your staff or absorb excessive infrastructure costs.
This is because good routing software ensures your most efficient and productive agents are dealing with the largest number of calls they can handle.
Automated solutions can also help to dramatically improve your routing capabilities. At Conn3ct, we helped a large supermarket chain client improve their call routing from 25% accuracy to 90%. These kinds of results save considerable time and money, and they also help you deliver a better customer experience.
If you are not already, you must dedicate some time to listening to your recorded calls. Your chances of delivering an excellent customer service depend on it.
Start by going over calls that took the longest, or that ended before the issues were resolved. You may be able to identify patterns in the way your agents are handling problems, allowing you to assess and adjust these to reduce time spent on calls while increasing customer satisfaction.
No time to go through call recordings? Fortunately, AI, machine learning, and big data solutions can help. For example, Amazon Transcribe allows you to take voice recordings and convert them into text. Amazon Comprehend will analyse these texts to help you better understand customer needs, common issues, and overall customer sentiment.
Recruiting, interviewing, training, and onboarding new agents can become costly fast. It can also reduce efficiency in your Contact Centre, as each new agent will require full training.
To reduce staff turnover and minimise the effects, there are things you can do to keep employees happy and engaged:
The happier your agents are, the more proactive they will be when serving customers, helping to ensure an excellent customer experience.
Last but not least, providing sufficient training is essential for Contact Centre success. Using the information you have gathered from monitoring issues, as well as the time you have spent listening to recorded calls, allows you to discuss more efficient ways of working during your regular all-team meetings.
Informing employees of new tools they can use or shortcuts they can follow to serve customers better will help to boost morale and efficiency.
In the meantime, you can ask employees if there is anything in particular that they would like to receive more training on, so that you can plan this in as and when budget becomes available to do so.
A customer experience strategy provides you with the opportunity to craft a series of interactions using multiple channels to support a more personalised customer experience.
Bring your organisation onboard with the customer experience revolution by looking at the data you currently have on how your customers interact with you and making a customer journey map to identify the pressure points. You can then fix those pressure points.
For example, could self-service channels improve customer satisfaction? If your IT teams are finding themselves challenged to keep up with developments and the growing array of communications channels used for customer interactions, multimedia might be key to a better customer experience.
An effective customer experience strategy is designed around the ways your customers are interacting with your Contact Centres, enabling you to adapt your Contact Centre environment to better meet their expectations across the different touchpoints.
In this webcast, we explore the market drivers influencing next generation customer contact, the principles and architecture of this new solution, and how to adopt it in your environment.
Key to a successful strategy is a customer journey map, revealing which touchpoints your customers experience when interacting with you and what their expectations are as they move along this journey.
Consider the following questions as a starting point:
What channels does the customer use to engage with your brand?
How does the customer move between these channels?
How do these channels complement one another?
What expectations does the customer have around each channel?
What will deter them from engaging with a channel or cause them to drop out?
Where are the moments of truth in the customer journey, those key points of interaction that could leave a positive or negative impression of you?
Where are the opportunities for you to delight your customers?
How can you plan to achieve these outcomes?
A journey map offers a visual representation from which you can draw actionable insights into moments of customer truth and or pain points where customers drop off. A customer journey map should be both recognisable in the eyes of a customer and easy for the delivery team to take action from, but that isn’t to say a standard blueprint exists.
How you design and present the map is up to you; what matters is its content and the key steps it touches on to most accurately map the customer journey.
Consumers want a valued interaction, not to be treated like a number. What does this mean for the traditional Contact Centre environment and cost-driven model powering it, and how can you evolve to deliver better customer service? Download our ebook to find out more.
Improving Contact Centre performance is a common goal among Contact Centre managers. There is immense pressure to deliver better results. Customers are getting ever more demanding, and it can be a challenge to develop a cohesive team of agents to manage the fast-paced environment customer services can be.
Here are some best practice Contact Centre strategies to help you get started:
Any effort to improve should begin with an audit. You need to have a clear idea where you are right now to get to where you want to be
You need to understand the business goals and the customers’ journey across all touchpoints. Take a top-down approach to understand your business issues:
Next, view your business from your customer's perspective:
The outcome should provide valuable insight into the following aspects of your Contact Centre performance:
More importantly, the audit will help you identify areas of weakness — as well as opportunities to improve — providing you with a blueprint for how to move forward.
Another important aspect to consider is the type of technology you will embrace moving forward (and how you will implement it).
Technology can undoubtedly help you develop better communications that will help to improve customer experience. For example, better call routing software or chatbots can ensure customers get through to the agents most likely to help them.
It is important to enhance the systems you already have before adding new technology in an intentional way, i.e. only adding what’s necessary and ensuring full integration with other systems. As such, it is critical you take a strategic approach to Contact Centre technology and consider:
All of these questions are important to answer. It is vital to identify your specific needs and devise a plan that allows you to implement technology in a way that improves your Contact Centre and supports your overall business goals.
Contact Centres generate huge amounts of data. But the challenge is in managing it. AI and machine learning solutions such as Amazon Connect can help you gain insight so that you can identify recurring issues and other areas of improvement.
This information is useful when updating your knowledge base tool because it makes it easier for you to determine what topics you need to cover and how you can better support your customer.
In the end, the data you collect should essentially tell you what you should be doing to improve your overall operation. Or, at the very least, it should tell you what issues are most glaring and need your full attention.
The more qualified each one of your agents is to deal with different issues, the better they will be able to handle customer enquiries, leading to speedier and more pleasing customer service.
When auditing your operation and collecting data, look for areas where gaps in agents’ skill sets are the reason for below-average performance. There may be a need for more extensive training.
Perhaps agents are being asked to work with a computer program with which they are simply not familiar, or maybe they are being asked questions they simply do not know how to answer.
When this is the case, it does not matter what you do — performance will not improve. The only solution is to bring in some outside help to provide your agents with the tools they need to do their job better, which will soon result in an overall boost in Contact Centre efficiency.
A big hindrance to improved Contact Centre performance is Contact Centre attrition (employee turnover). Training is part of this, for when people feel they are well-equipped to do their jobs, they tend to be happier employees.
But there are other things involved, such as providing people with other professional development opportunities, making sure they have enough time to tend to their personal lives, and establishing a connection between them and the company that extends beyond just the employer-employee dynamic.
It is important to go beyond just making your employees happy. You also need to empower them so that they will be motivated to go above and beyond. Here’s how:
At Conn3ct, we offer a range of fully customised consultancy packages for Contact Centre and Unified Communication optimisation based on over 30 years of knowledge and experience. To find out more, get in touch.
Intelligent Contact Centres harness the latest technologies (such as artificial intelligence, natural language processing and machine learning) to glean detailed customer insights, equip agents with the tools to serve customers more effectively, and enhance the customer experience. A key example is Amazon Connect from Amazon Web Services (AWS).
AI in Contact Centres delivers valuable insights that can be used to streamline, optimise, and personalise customer journeys. Here are three ways AI can transform your Contact Centre:
AI in Contact Centres can provide agents with additional context and customer information, which can be used to help them resolve more complex issues where self-service may not be suitable.
While it would be impossible for a human to analyse all of this data manually (not to mention incredibly costly and time-consuming), a machine can analyse 10,000 interactions per second, revealing trends instantly.
Being able to surface Contact Centre information rapidly removes complexity and empowers businesses to gain a deeper understanding of the customer journey and therefore how to best serve customers.
Predictive analytics, a key feature of AI, can be utilised to prioritise customer queries and recommend solutions which, when actioned, can lead to increased customer satisfaction and reduced operational costs.
Many businesses are already taking advantage of AI in Contact Centres; a key example is Ocado, which utilises AI and machine learning to automatically filter customer emails as they come in.
By forwarding complaints of a higher priority, Ocado is able to quickly resolve any issues to ensure excellent service and maintain their positive reputation in a way that it simply would not be able to achieve manually.
Having AI-driven analytics in your Contact Centre can also enhance your self-service offering. Unlike IVR systems found in traditional Contact Centres, which typically lead to frustrating customer experiences (‘press 1 to...’), having AI capabilities in your Contact Centre allows you to provide a more personalised and efficient service based on context.
Pairing AI in your Contact Centre with a natural language understanding application, such as Amazon’s Lex (found in Cloud Contact Centre Amazon Connect), will enable you to provide a seamless customer experience every time.
AI in Contact Centres is also more cost-effective for businesses, as it reduces the number of live agents required.
Today, the most successful Contact Centres are those capable of understanding their customers in order to deliver meaningful value and genuinely help. In this regard, AI capabilities are unparalleled, allowing your business to concentrate on what matters the most — your customers.
Related Read: Why AI is the Future of Cloud Contact Centre Technology
Rarely does a one-size-fits-all approach satisfy an organisation’s specific needs. However, while all voice bot applications are unique, there are applications with a common purpose where virtual agents and automation can step in, such as:
Conn3ct successfully designs and delivers natural language automation to improve operational efficiency and the customer experience, drawing on our extensive knowledge and experience of:
Modern speech or voice bot design and development techniques and new technologies from cloud vendors such as Google and Amazon provide more flexibility and options for end-to-end solution design, integration with Contact Centre and IVR platforms and commercial models.
Conn3ct offers cloud natural language automation services and on-premise solutions or a hybrid of both, even within one voice bot if required for where sensitive information is being processed, e.g. ID&V and payments.
To find out more, please visit our dedicated Natural Language Processing page.
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At Conn3ct, we understand the importance of digital engagement, and the increasing demand on businesses to be more connected with their employees and customers.
No two users are the same, and with a multi-generational audience base, the need to provide both traditional telephony and IVR systems and digital communication solutions — such as social media messaging and web chat — is greater than ever. By combining these approaches, we can help you create a unified, consistent experience for your employees and customers through digital transformation — without sacrificing the need for a more flexible, tailored service.
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Through our unique blended operational and technical consulting programme, and vendor-agnostic method, we can define your plan for digital transformation and evolve your Contact Centre technology. We work in partnership with key stakeholders to develop clear outputs at every stage.