Contact Centre 101 – Your Ultimate Guide to CX

Your guide to the modern Contact Centre

Contact Centre 101 – Your Ultimate Guide to CX

The contact centre is one of the most valuable tools that any business has. It’s not just a place for making sales calls and accepting orders. Your contact centre is the heart of your customer experience strategy, the tool that you rely on for building loyalty among consumers.

As Walker studies tell us, by the end of 2020, customer experience will have completely overtaken product features and price as the key brand differentiator. The contact centre is how your company ensures that it’s ready to stand out for all the right reasons.

Without an effective contact centre, you can’t deliver the meaningful moments that your audience expects. However, finding the right CC solution can be difficult in an environment where the customer journey is constantly changing. With omnichannel interactions to think about, the rise of AI and bots, and even remote agents to manage, the contact centre is evolving into a very different beast.

What is a Contact Centre?

The contact centre has come a long way from the old-fashioned call centres of days gone by. A few years ago, if customers needed to connect with a company, they would have to rely on email or calls to get their message across. Yesterday’s contact centres were often complex, expensive, and not always as efficient as they needed to be.

Today, the concept of the contact centre has evolved into something much more immersive. Now, our contact centres aren’t just call centres, they’re communication hubs. Within these new environments, agents can manage customer queries and experiences through everything from instant messaging to SMS. This ensures that businesses can meet their clients wherever they are, rather than sticking to a single mode of communication.

The modern contact centre splits into various segments, including:

  • Inbound contact centres: Dealing with queries, and customer service
  • Outbound contact centres: Delivering sales calls and pursuing opportunities
  • Internal contact centres: Like IT teams and service desks offering assistance to employees
  • Blended contact centres: That handle a multitude of different calls and conversations

A contact centre doesn’t just come with tools for taking calls and tracking conversations on multiple channels. Today, these environments can also feature a host of other essential components for boosting customer experience. For instance, your contact centre might include:

  • Call recording tools and analytics platforms
  • Workforce management and optimisation tools
  • Interactive Voice Response systems (IVR)
  • Artificial intelligence and virtual agents
  • Automatic call distribution (ACD) software
  • Security services and Quality of Service monitoring

Contact Centre Trends

The modern contact centre is evolving on a consistent basis. As companies continue to discover the importance of excellent customer service, the contact centre is becoming increasingly advanced, with new opportunities to explore like artificial intelligence and sentiment analysis. As a result, the contact centre market is set to grow at a CAGR of 19.7% from 2020 to 2027.

Perhaps the biggest trend driving the contact centre industry today is the demand for cloud technology. As remote work continues to earn more popularity, business leaders are turning to the cloud for their contact centre agents, as well as office workers. The CCaaS environment provides flexibility for today’s companies, while also allowing for business continuity in times of crisis. Other trends driving the contact centre landscape forward include:

  • Artificial intelligence and analytics: Artificial intelligence is becoming an essential part of the modern business landscape. 83% of companies say that AI is a strategic priority for them going forward. As contact centres continue to collect huge amounts of data about the customer journey through daily conversations, AI provides a way to collect data securely and use it for things like predictive analysis and business optimization.
  • Virtual assistants: As the contact centre becomes increasingly complex, artificial intelligence isn’t just making it easier to collect information. This environment also provides a reliable way to empower your agents too. Virtual assistants can instantly screen pop information about a customer from a CRM system or sales tool onto your agent’s screen. This allows for more relevant communications.
  • Remote contact centres: At the same time, the cloud environment and a host of new AI support systems means that agents can work more autonomously from any environment. Through CCaaS services, businesses can provide their agents with the same technology that they would have in the contact centre, wherever they are. This makes it easier to scale your contact centre when you need to take extra calls, or even hire more advanced talent from around the globe.
  • Sentiment analysis: Some sub-categories of artificial intelligence in the contact centre help to enhance the customer journey by assessing the sentiment or emotion in a client’s voice. When an agent can see that a customer is unhappy, the system can even launch suggestions that might help to move the conversation in the right direction. Alternatively, when combined with workforce optimisation tools, these analytics can inform a supervisor when an agent needs help.
  • Supporting omnichannel: The modern contact centre isn’t just about taking calls anymore. CCaaS providers and leading vendors are beginning to experiment with more advanced ways of building a complete omnichannel contact centre. This means providing teams with the right tools to communicate through chat, video, and social media with heir customers. It also means having a single-pane-of-glass environments where businesses can monitor all interactions.
  • Workforce optimisation: As the contact centre workforce becomes more dispersed, management tools that allow supervisors to track everything from the number of calls taken to satisfaction levels are essential. These services can ensure that the quality of service provided by a contact centre remains consistent.

Contact Centre Events

Events in the CC landscape are one of the best ways to learn about the latest strategies available for enhancing customer experience and strengthening business connections. Here at UC Today, we’re always the first in line to attend the latest events as they happen and bring the news straight to you.

Today’s leading contact centre expos and conferences highlight some of the latest trends in the contact centre environment, including new opportunities to improve customer service management, and new tools for protecting your business and customers from security issues. Often, contact centre events even discuss things like toll fraud and security, with insights into how things like AI and biometric security could reduce the security concerns that customers and companies face every day.

Stay tuned to our events page to see what’s coming up in your area, or check out our reports on events that cover things like:

  • Recording and reporting in the contact centre
  • Security and privacy measures
  • Workforce optimisation and management
  • Customer journey mapping and service management
  • Better data access and integrations
  • Improved productivity and agent engagement

Contact Centre Vendors

As the demand for advanced contact centre solutions continues, vendors are doing everything they can to stay on the cutting edge, delivering everything from advanced new tools to solutions that operate entirely over the cloud. If you’re on the hunt for the perfect contact centre vendor today, you’ll need to think carefully about what you want to achieve with your CX solution.

Our insights into some of the market-leading contact centre vendors should give you an overview of the kind of Contact Centre and CCaaS technology available. When you’re checking out your options, remember to think about:

  • Features and functionality: What kind of cutting-edge features can your provider deliver? Will the company be investing in things like artificial intelligence and sentiment analysis? How easy is it for you to install things for multi-channel management?
  • Provisioning: How easily can you get your new contact centre set up? Can your provider deliver the kind of strategy that’s right for you, including hybrid environments that combine on-premise and cloud equipment? How quickly can you add new people and seats to your contact centre stack?
  • Security: How will your vendor help you to protect your contact centre? Are all conversations encrypted as standard? What do you need to do to do make your environment more secure on your side? How compliant is the contact centre offering with things like GDPR and data protection standards?
  • Reliability: How is the contact centre’s architecture deployed? If you’re accessing CCaaS on the cloud, where are data centres located, and what does this mean to your uptime and security strategy?
  • Flexibility: How well does your new contact centre solution work with the existing tools and hardware you’re using in your workplace? Can you continue to use the same phones, or do you need to rip and replace everything?

Contact Centre Reviews

To help you make more informed decisions about the contact centre landscape, the UC Today team regularly conducts reviews of some of the leading products on the market. During our contact centre reviews, we can guide you through some of the most compelling features of today’s contact centres, ranging all the way from workforce optimization tools, to speech to text capabilities and even AI.

When you’re conducting your own research into the contact centre options that might be right for you, think about the functionalities that you want now, and the tools you may need to access in the future. For instance, while you might not need a remote contact centre solution today, the demand for CCaaS could be greater in the future. As the benefits of remote teams continue to grow, it will be useful to work with a company that can offer a phased migration into the cloud.

Remember to think about what kind of customer service you can expect from the contact centre provider that you choose too. If you want to deliver an excellent experience to your end customer, then you need to ensure that your contact centre is on-hand to answer any questions you might have about redundancy and reliability.

Contact Centre Comparisons

Can’t make your mind up about two of the leading contact centre solutions available on the market today? Maybe you love the cognitive elements of Cisco’s contact centre, but you want the cloud focus that comes with a company like RingCentral? Our UC Today comparisons will guide you through the pros and cons of each solution so that you can make a more informed choice.

Remember, when conducting your comparisons, it’s important not to focus just on price, but also on:

  • Customised service: Can your contact centre vendor deliver everything that you need for success, including phased migrations, a flexible environment for adding new agents, and local or national numbers. Create a list of all the features that are crucial for you, from call recording to workforce management tools, and make sure that your vendor delivers.
  • Easy adoption: The contact centre solutions that you choose for your team need to be easy to use for your employees to leverage them. Make sure that the technology is easy to adopt, and that it works well with your existing technology. If you have any issues with adoption, see whether your vendor can offer support and training.
  • Security and compliance: Security will always be important in a contact centre. Ensure that your vendor can deliver the kind of meaningful measures that you need to protect your team. From toll fraud detection that uses AI and biometrics, to enhanced encryption methods, the company with the best security will often win in any comparison.

The UC Today Contact Centre Smart Guide

Still, want to learn more about the evolving contact centre? Check out the UC Today Contact Centre Smart Guide for your complete overview of the industry. In this guide, we discuss everything from the importance of customer experience, to the age of the empowered customer.

We’ll walk you through concepts like predictive and automatic dialling, and the rise of the omnichannel communication environment. We also discuss some of the biggest trends in the contact centre, from agent headsets and accessories, to AI, call analytics, and workforce optimisation. Whatever you need to learn about the CCaaS or contact centre environment, we’re here to help, with insights from some of the leading professionals in the market. Get your free download here.

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