For quite a few years now, two trends have put the contact center on a collision course. First, the technology used to handle customer inquiries has been evolving quickly, moving organizations farther and farther away from the traditional mode of primarily answering voice calls. At the same time, consumers have become much more demanding. There’s no doubt that customers are more likely to use quality of service as a gauge for whether they should continue doing business with an organization. They’re more willing to bolt for a competitor if they have a bad experience. In short, they want more of everything, and contact centers have been trying to accommodate these expectations.
Traditional key performance indicators used for performance measurement in contact centers are no longer sufficient. These outdated standards don’t reliably inform mid- and upper-level leadership about the true impact of agent work and behavior. Organizations should begin to expand the notion of what’s important in order to make the contact center a stronger organizational institution, more closely tied to others who impact the customer experience. Outside the contact center, people are keen to understand the relationship between what’s being spent and what’s coming in: revenue and growth.
Through 2025, establishing customer experience application suites on a common platform will be the focal point of the drive to optimize customer and organizational engagement. Organizations that are passionate about improving the customer experience are choosing to empower processes and people with intelligence through smarter applications that embrace analytics, artificial intelligence and automation to personalize and optimize the customer journey, whatever the channel of customer choice.
Today’s contact centers need to revisit core assumptions around measuring agent performance. Changes in business conditions influencing agent engagement raise new questions about whether traditional performance models are sufficient to address the more complex customer needs that have taken center stage in recent years.
Outbound communication is used in a number of different contexts. For potential customers, traditional telemarketing still exists, though it is limited these days due to its minimal effectiveness. Instead, many customer-experience planners have substituted digital outbound over voice for lead generation and nurturing campaigns. Customers find text messages in the channel of their choice to be much less intrusive, and they are considerably less expensive than having contact center agents reach out.
Zoho presented analysts with a deep look at its strategy and roadmap at its July analyst conference, describing how it intends to meld its many business applications together through integration at the level of the platform. The company, which is privately owned and funded, has generally sought to build its own tools rather than buy or partner. This approach has allowed the firm to create a suite of tightly linked tools that share a common interface.
The contact center industry is reexamining how organizations engage with contact center agents. One thing that we learned from the forced movement to work-from-home was that organizations have to provide agents with appropriate tools to collaborate and communicate with peers and supervisors as well as workers in the back office who participate in all sorts of customer-facing or customer-adjacent processes. It is also important to provide supervisors with visibility into agent activity. That means extending existing coaching and evaluation methods. Ventana Research believes that by 2025, nearly every organization will have dedicated systems or processes that help supervisors manage remotely.
Field service is a segment of customer experience that is dominated by two elements: the complexity of the issues handled, and the high cost of providing on-site services. It is recognized as a critical component of the service experience, especially when managing the condition of high-precision equipment in the medical, manufacturing and utility industries. It is also a high-risk moment in the customer life cycle. Consumers often experience the process as a series of disconnected visits and handoffs that fail to resolve issues the first time.
At Enterprise Connect in March, Amazon announced new functionality in its cloud contact center platform, Amazon Connect. The company is now including a full Workforce Optimization component, which includes built-in forecasting, capacity planning and scheduling capabilities. It's no surprise that Amazon is adding these capabilities, as WFO has become a core component of a complete CCaaS platform.
Contact centers are undergoing a radical reshuffling of the workforce, partly because the pandemic shifted agents to remote work. But the trends were in place to reorganize the world of work long before the pandemic. Digital contact channels, which are gaining in popularity, require workers that are better informed and capable of handling more complex and interdependent interactions and processes. That’s changing the nature of training, management and even process design between departments.