#1 Posted: 30 May 2013 13:18
As children, we were taught that dinosaurs started to go extinct 65 million years ago, due to a massive asteroid impacting the earth. I'm not trying to insinuate that the extinction didn't happen, because it did. What I do find interesting is that many scientists believe that birds and reptiles, such as crocodiles and komodo dragons, evolved from dinosaurs by learning to adapt to the new geological era they were living in after the asteroid impact. i.e. they adapted to survive.
What has any of this got to do with contact centers?
Give me some poetic license here. Traditional contact centers are our dinosaurs for the purposes of this argument. They're huge, they've dominated an entire space for a generation and they are now on the brink of extinction. The asteroid? The explosion of multiple consumer touchpoints and self-serve technology that has reduced traditional customer interaction "overnight", by eliminating most of what the center does — being the first point of contact for customers.
Is survival possible? If so, how?
Just like the birds and other large reptiles who adapted to this new shift in atmospheric and biological conditions, traditional contact centers can and need to adapt to the new era of self-service technology by making a few small changes. Here are some ideas to consider:
1. Use self-service technology across all online consumer touchpoints
Online self-serve technology, delivered through Virtual Agent technology, doesn't eliminate the need for the contact center, but it does eliminate the customer's need to pick up the phone to get an answer to simple, mundane questions. When eliminated, what's left are customer questions that absolutely require human assistance. These more complex interactions are where a contact center can develop customer loyalty, in providing a 'premium' support experience, a service customers will always value.
2. Cut down hold times and call transfers by giving your agents the same tools
By implementing Virtual Agent technology on CSR desktops too, the need to put customers on hold to find information or transfer customers to more experienced CSRs get dramatically reduced. The technology allows CSRs to answer customer questions on the spot, by typing difficult questions into the Virtual Agent question box and getting the precise answer every time. Resolving customer issues the first time results in higher levels of customer satisfaction, as reported by Matthew Dixon in his article "Stop Trying to Delight Customers" for the Harvard Business Review.
3. An omni-channel web deployment doesn't mean that contact centers go out of service
After customers have attempted to self-serve and still can't get an answer to their questions, perhaps because it is more unique or personal in nature, escalating to a live contact center agent should be a normal route for resolution. The customers who do so are looking for one thing: a flawless interaction. Basically, call center reps have the opportunity to make customer service count, by giving customers a more personal experience and eliminating the 'run around'. The result of flawless interactions should be no surprise — increased customer loyalty.
The traditional contact center may never go back to being the apex predator it once was. Contact centers can, however, still remain ferocious and dominant entities in this new era of advancements in customer self-service technology; partially by embracing the technology for itself.
Blog post by Dwayne Weppler
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