by Kate Kompelien and Robert Wakefield-Carl
What is the Role of a Contact Center?
A contact center is an organization’s hub for customer communication management. In many ways, a contact center is the backbone of an organization’s entire customer experience strategy.
Today, customers expect more from the brands they patronize. It’s essential to meet your customers on their preferred channels. Moreover, many consumers are expecting that omnichannel service to be fast and friendly - no matter the time of day - with most consumers wanting customer service to be available 24/7.
At its core, the role of a contact center will always be the same. But as consumer preferences adapt and change, the way a contact center fulfills this role must change as well.
What is a Contact Center?
A contact center is an organization’s hub for customer communication and service management - handling all of the inquiries and needs of your customers, both by phone and across all digital channels.
Unlike a call center, a contact center handles omnichannel communications ranging from emails and traditional mail to phone calls, texts, and live chats. Some contact centers are even equipped to manage social media channels. Agents in contact center environments are tasked with creating a unified experience despite the numerous ways a customer engagement may start or continue.
While some may use “call center” and “contact center” interchangeably, the distinctions become more important as digital customer communications continue to become more prevalent. Just a few years ago, it might have been unreasonable to expect customer service on social media or in a live chat after business hours. But now, consumers are learning to expect unlimited access and limited redundancies. In fact, 90% of consumers expect consistency in cross-channel communications. This shifting dynamic will drive more organizations to prioritize cross-channel connections and even proactivity.
So, when it comes to contact center vs. call center, the clear distinction is that a contact center better aligns with the modern customer experience.
of consumers now expect consistent interactions across channels and devices used to interact with brands.
Forward-thinking organizations have been making moves to simplify and automate processes inside the contact center to improve both employee and customer experience. One critical change they’re implementing is in the way they view their tech stacks.
While contact center tech stacks once consisted of siloed tools aiming to solve for different problems, a number of organizations are moving to better integrate them by establishing a unified vision for tech solutions and how they can work together.
It’s no longer sufficient to add more tools to the mix - they must be strategically integrated and carefully positioned alongside pre-existing solutions to make the greatest possible impact.
Another key transformation many contact centers are undergoing is the move from a traditional contact center to a cloud contact center. Many financial and logistical benefits are offered by moving your operation to the cloud, but doing so requires a comprehensive short and long-term strategy.
Before moving to the cloud, you must consider security, network readiness, end-user impact, and more. An experienced partner like TTEC Digital can help address these considerations and overcome common obstacles to build a successful migration strategy that accounts for every detail.
Learn how to overcome the top 5 cloud migration obstaclesRead the Blog
By making better, more efficient tools available to your team, you’re benefiting both your agents and your customers. The best CX enhancements have always been informed by data, and making that data more easily accessible to your agents could be one of the keys to improving the overall experience.
Without customer data at the ready, agents are forced to restart the data-gathering process - frustrating customers and slowing time-to-resolution.
Agents aren’t the only ones asking for a more streamlined process. Customers want the organizations they interact with to have a better ability to pick up a conversation where it left off - regardless of the channel it started on. It’s now undeniable: pleasing your customers is more likely when you have a strategy in place to create one streamlined conversation across the entire omnichannel contact center experience.
In spite of every technological advancement made in the past decade, many contact centers are still facing the same problems. Consumers continue to report frustration from long call-in wait times, inefficient service routing, or a disjointed experience when switching between channels or support staff. To truly transform a contact center, more organizations must adapt the simple solutions that already exist and be prepared for those that are coming down the pipeline.
As we look to the near future, a number of new tools are already in development, and they’re sure to make an impact on the early adopters. At TTEC Digital, we have an eye on listening technology that serves up answers for agents without necessitating a manual search.
Most contact centers are equipped with CRMs, and many agents have access to a variety of other tools for customer data management. But oftentimes, organizations underestimate the impact switching between tools and desktops can have on efficiency.
A unified desktop experience offers the opportunity to avoid unnecessary inefficiencies. A single dashboard, curated with all of your organization’s essential tech solutions, can save your agents time and duplicate data entries.
Despite these technological advancements, one thing remains the same - your agents are one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. Agents that are empowered to deliver better experiences are irreplaceable, but many organizations still fail to provide the necessary authority to their agents.
Build a better employee experience with these 7 agent enablement tools.Read the Blog
When an agent is forced to take numerous steps to provide answers or take action for a customer, the customer experience suffers. In many cases, solutions that could abbreviate or eliminate the escalation process already exist.
As you consider your agents, also consider whether you’re providing the best possible agent experience. By creating clarity around a customer experience roadmap and investing in agent enablement solutions, you’ll not only provide your agents with the tools to provide more efficient service, you’ll also stand to retain better talent in the process.
Does your training and development program account for agent needs? Without clear, timely training and proper success metrics, agents may struggle to understand when they’re truly succeeding in their work.
In the end, every contact center stands to benefit from simple solutions for complex problems. The customer experience industry is evolving, and tools like AI, chatbots, and virtual assistants are maturing. As surveys continue to show a shifting consumer preference toward self-service, these and other solutions will become an increasingly important part of the customer experience.
Self-service solutions also enable more efficiency throughout the CX journey. By taking full advantage of opt-in updates, mobile applications, and other tools, you stand to reduce the load you place on your live agents and please more customers all at once.
Self-service is a win-win. It frees up your agents to focus on high-value interactions, while giving your customers the freedom to explore, learn, and transact on their own time. And it’s important to remember that an employee is just as important a recipient of these innovation tools, as is a customer.DAVE MURASHIGE, HEAD OF INNOVATION | TTEC DIGITAL
Tools like Workforce Management (WFM) also make a major difference in the eyes of the customer - whether they realize it or not. Modernized contact centers and call centers can benefit from more accurate call volume forecasting, positive agent attitudes, and more. Customer experience oftentimes starts with employee experience.
At TTEC Digital, we spend a lot of time considering both. We develop and implement solutions that make contact centers and call centers alike more productive. Everything we do considers the end users - your agents and customers - above all else.
Our team of strategic consultants are ready to overhaul your processes, map your customer journeys, and implement technological solutions that better your broader CX efforts.