Contact Center Pipeline September 2022 September 2022 - Page 29

Digital technology gives customers more choice and more control , and with that comes a sense of empowerment .
This has given rise to the notion of customer experience ( CX ), where contact center interactions are just one factor driving their overall satisfaction with your products , your brand , and even your organization . Customers expect more now , which means they cannot be taken for granted , and every interaction with them is a “ moment of truth ” to earn their business .
Many businesses now recognize what these higher expectations mean , and in response , have made CX a strategic priority .
This requires different thinking about the contact center and moving beyond the reactive model of customer service .
To fully meet customer expectations , agents need to understand their journeys , and to interact based on customer preferences .
This requires having the ability and flexibility to communicate with customers on the channels of their choice . And it also mandates having real-time access to information that help them provide proactive , empathetic , and personalized forms of customer service .
While CX is ultimately about human interactions between customers and agents , digital technologies are key enablers on many levels . Likewise , their absence creates constraints , and contact centers are learning that continued reliance on legacy , analog world technologies is giving rise to the customer service gap .
Customers have embraced digital technologies because these tools are readily available , easy to use , and either free or affordable . Not to mention that they ’ ve become indispensable for today ’ s digital world .
Moreover , digital natives are now the dominant demographic . They now expect contact centers to follow suit by having--and the agents fully conversant on--these technologies .
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A key part to thinking differently about the contact center is recognizing what technologies need to be adopted to deliver a more digital CX and to close the customer service gap .
The starting point is to look beyond legacy contact center solutions , as those technologies were built for a different type of CX . These solutions may still perform well for their intended purpose , but they lack the flexibility and integrations needed for today ’ s CX .
One option is for contact centers to keep those solutions in place , largely because it ’ s too daunting a task to make a wholesale change to modernize .
Systems have to be taken down and software , and in some cases hardware , installed and tested . IT staff and agents have to be trained on the new solutions . Meanwhile customers may face unwelcome service delays and outages .
Instead , patchwork updates can be made by bolting on other premises-based elements that add digital capabilities .
There is no shortage of point solutions for every application related to the contact center , and that may seem easier and more familiar for IT than starting with new technologies they may not be ready for yet .
On the other hand , this approach puts more onus on IT to make sure these new additions integrate effectively , not just with the existing infrastructure , but also with each other .
Yet another option would be to consider cloud-based platforms and adding some pieces that way . These would be paths of least resistance , and so long as the customer service gap isn ’ t too big , this will at least be a step in the right direction .
A more holistic view here goes beyond point solutions and trying to keep building on a foundation that isn ’ t built to support today ’ s CX .
There ’ s a bigger picture to consider ; namely to stop viewing the contact center as an island and as a cost center that is not worthy of more than maintenance-level investment .
A good precedent to follow here would be the PBX . For decades , these systems were the gold standard for enterprise telephony , but they required a separate dedicated network that did not integrate with anything else .
With the advent of VoIP , telephony could move off the PBX island and integrate with other applications , paving the way for what would become unified communications ( UC ).
Businesses have never looked back , and telephony has become almost entirely cloud-based . The installed base of PBXs remains large , but nobody buys them now , and the vendors cannot move away fast enough from having to support these phone systems .
First-generation UC offerings have evolved into UCaaS ( unified communications as a service ), which is now a standard offering for all the PBX vendors as well as countless cloud service providers . This exact scenario is playing out now for contact centers , albeit a few years later .
Given the success that vendors are having migrating businesses from premises-based UC to cloud-based UCaaS , it ’ s not surprising to see contact centers now following suit with solutions incorporated as CCaaS ( contact center as a service ).
As with UCaaS , CCaaS is a cloud-native version of premises-based platforms . Both fall along the growing spectrum of XaaS ( anything as a service ) solutions , all of which are based on the SaaS model ( software as a service ).