Six different ways technology can be used to improve contact centres

The reputation of the contact centre can sometimes be a little shaky in the eyes of the general public, but new technologies and new thinking are improving how they work. Companies rely on contact centres to improve their service but often need a little help and practical ideas on how to improve the experience.

Selecting a contact centre supplier that understands the range of solutions available and can integrate the best of breed in many different areas is a must. It is no longer a case of placing phones on desks and claiming “I have a contact centre”. It has to be deeply integrated to the business and be seen as a driver for the business’ goals rather than – as contact centres are often perceived – a tick in the box to cater for the luddite customers that refuse to use the internet.

Here are six different ways that technology can be used to improve your contact centre:

Knowledge Management:

Knowledge management is a relatively new addition to the contact centre. It provides a means of countering the traditionally high levels of staff turnover by capturing information in a knowledgebase which is provided as a searchable reference for all agents. This allows the agent to answer customer questions knowledgeably and provides template responses to ensure accuracy and consistency. Ensuring that the information agents have to hand is not dependent on the individual’s experience not only improves agent efficiency but also virtually eliminates the need to transfer calls and significantly improves customer satisfaction scores.

Managing a customer expectation:

Mobile-based technology can be used to guide customers as to the best time and method to make contact. For example a customer can be alerted to current call queue times, or provided with an alternative, quicker channel or method of contact, lowering customer frustration and improving customer service.

Improve data flows through integration:

Contact centre software that allows for deep integration into the wider business’ systems and CRM systems allows agents to improve data flows and provides easy access to complete account information and history, regardless of channel. Today's phone call might be about yesterday's email, which might have been a follow-up to a chat session or a tweet the day before. CRM ensures that the customer’s business records (purchases, subscriptions, outstanding orders etc.) are all in front of the agent in a single interface. Without this thorough detail, customer service can be undermined simply by a lack of context.

Data-driven selection:

Understanding what drives customer behaviour and agent behaviour and developing strategies to positively influence both is a critical part of developing agents and customer interactions that are more effective in every way. Random sampling can never be enough – data-driven selection focusing on areas of customer frustration and difficulty can help improve the way that agents and customers relate. Add to that a structure that promotes positive interactions and actively trains staff on these will dramatically improve the results shown in customer surveys and give a much more positive response to that necessary evil of a contact centre interaction.

Workforce management and quality monitoring:

Workforce management and quality monitoring enable continuous improvement in the contact centre. A contact centre that simply records calls for compliance or complaint purposes but doesn’t actively monitor and develop training specific to the agents is missing entire opportunities for self-improvement.

Using routing technology to give a local feel:

Technology can be used to intelligently identify the caller, look across all of their interactions (across all media types) and determine who the customer most recently spoke to, what about, or indeed who the centre would most like them to speak to. Previous satisfaction survey scores can even be used to route the customer towards the agent who they liked best.