Contact Centre 101 – Your Ultimate Guide to CX
Your guide to the modern Contact Centre
In the past, if a customer had an issue they needed to resolve, or a question to ask a company, their only option will be to call a business number and wait in a queue for an agent to be available. However, as the demand for stronger customer experiences has developed over the years, the standard “call centre” has evolved into something far more immersive.
A contact centre is a central hub of consumer interaction, intended to provide customers with the support and guidance they need. Contact centres often include call management tools and phone conversations, but they’re also beginning to explore other interactions between businesses and their clients too. For instance, a contact centre might have strategies for SMS, instant messaging, and even video call support.
In an era where customer experience is king, the contact centre is becoming less of a call-focused environment, and more of a space focused on enabling better service, regardless of the channel a consumer uses.
What is a Contact Centre, How Does it Work?
Contact centres come in many different formats, including:
- The inbound contact centre: Designed to manage incoming calls and conversations
- The outbound contact centre: Intended to support sales calls and lead generation
- The blended contact centre: A space that blends both inbound and outbound calls
As customer expectations have evolved, contact centre solutions have expanded beyond desk phones and softphones, to include software platforms packed full of features that can support agent performance and increase client satisfaction. Importantly, while new methods of client/company communication are emerging, 79% of consumers still say that they prefer to access the support they need via telephone.
Aside from the standard PBX, contact centre technologies may also include:
- Automatic call distribution (ACD) software
- Interactive voice response (IVR) systems
- Workforce management and optimisation tools
- Call recording and analytics platforms
What Are the Benefits of a Contact Centre?
A contact centre is the crucial bridge between a consumer, and your company. Without the right contact centre solution, you wouldn’t be able to provide your customers with the support they need. Contact centre technology and platforms are how modern companies combine the services and solutions they need for better customer experience (CX) into an easy-to-use and manage environment. A contact centre platform:
- Improves customer service management: With a cloud-based or on-premise contact centre solution, business leaders can track incoming and outgoing calls, and ensure business productivity. The better your insight into your day-to-day client conversations, the easier it is to increase sales and improve customer satisfaction
- Enhanced reporting and compliance features: Many contact centres come with recording and analytics services that allow you to track agent performance, and ensure information is handled correctly. In today’s age of regulations like GDPR, it’s important to know how your agents are supporting consumer privacy
- Increased productivity: Workforce management and optimisation tools allow administrators to track agent performance in real-time. Contact centre solutions can help you to see the bottlenecks in your customer service strategy so that you can speed up time to resolution
- Greater customer satisfaction: Today’s contact centre platforms come equipped with countless features intended to improve customer satisfaction. For instance, a contact centre with intelligent routing abilities ensures that you send your customers directly to the agent best-equipped to offer a first-time resolution
- Improved data access: many modern contact centres now integrate with various existing tools in the enterprise environment, including CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems. When your agents have access to important information about each client, they can offer more personalised
Top Contact Centre Vendors
The demand for new and improved contact centres has prompted the rise of various new vendors in the contact centre space. Some companies have even begun to focus on specific kinds of contact centre offerings, such as omni-channel services or contact centre as a service (CCaaS) solutions. Some of the leading vendors in the contact centre space today include:
Trends in Contact Centre Solutions
For the most part, the trends in contact centre solutions and platforms are being driven by the rising demand for stronger customer experiences. According to studies, over four years, the number of customers who changed suppliers thanks to poor customer experience rose from 59% to 89%. What’s more, many customers would happily pay more for a guaranteed good experience. To provide the meaningful moments clients are looking for, some contact centre vendors are looking into disruptive technologies like:
- Artificial Intelligence and analytics: Businesses are increasingly investing in AI solutions to streamline call centre experiences. For instance, bots with Natural Language Processing abilities can deliver a more accurate call centre experience than a standard IVR program. Speech analytics can even help to determine the sentiment or feeling of a caller and offer advice to agents to help them manage unhappy customers
- Omnichannel contact centres: Many of today’s customers expect to be able to connect with their favourite brands through more than just voice. Omnichannel contact centres give companies a way to serve their target market through various channels, including email, social media, SMS, and instant messaging. What’s more, because the different avenues available in an omnichannel environment are connected, agents can bring context into the conversation
- Embracing the cloud: While some larger, more complex contact centre environments require an on-premise setup, many agile businesses are beginning to explore the benefits of the cloud. Cloud-based contact centres allow for new agents to be added or removed from a system rapidly, allowing for the turnover common in contact centre What’s more, the cloud ensures that your team can always have access to the latest tools without time-consuming integrations of new technology and excessive on-site maintenance