3 Must Read Operational Benefits of Multi-Channel Contact Center
By Chris Recio, Director of Contact Center Operations
The multi-channel contact center is no longer a thing of the future, but is the here and now. Despite this fact, many contact centers have yet to deploy or combine the various communication processes customers are demanding, i.e., voice, email, web chat, SMS, social media, outbound dialing, and callbacks. If you’re looking to maintain an edge on customer satisfaction and customer retention, having a multi-channel contact center is a necessary part of operational must-haves.
I have had the opportunity to visit many contact center operations and while most acknowledge the need for supporting a multi-channel contact center, many are still caught in the crossfires of older technology and/or they are using application silos to meet the needs. Oftentimes it is necessary to bring in another application to augment the contact center, but the tradeoff is significant, operationally speaking, and many do not realize the added cost of maintaining application silos. The costs here relate to dollars and cents, but more importantly, there is a cost to the ACD operation. Overall, this has a negative impact on the customer experience.
Adding to that, the first rule of thumb I consider in adding 3rd party applications for multi-channel support can be distilled down to one question: How does this affect reporting and/or my ability to report as an overall performance metric?
In a recent visit with clients who have a well-run contact center, I too learned that the process of web chat is relegated to an external application. While the voice ACD allows agents the ability to go “unavailable” so that the agent can handle the chat, the downside is that the ACD is not blended and there is zero customer activity awareness between these applications that could otherwise fine tune the ACD process for greater customer handling efficiency. While the customer is not aware of this disparate process, ultimately the contact center operation is taking a hit, even if ever so slightly. I argue that any deviation from a truly blended, multi-channel contact center works against your individual efforts to really harness the customer experience.
Benefits of the Multi-Channel Contact Center
Today, customer satisfaction and providing exceptional customer service is at the forefront of any industry that has customers. With the rapidly expanding adoption of technology by virtually everyone, customers are becoming more and more savvy, and customers too now know they are in the driver’s seat more so now than ever.
A key benefit of maintaining a multi-channel contact center is the ability to widen the communication options for your customers. Whether you realize it or not, your customers are looking for easier ways in which to contact you and your contact center. As a customer with technical understanding and knowledge of contact centers, I judge a contact center’s operation and whether or not I choose to continue doing business with a provider based on how they do or do not utilize technology to make it easier for me to get what I need in the least amount of time.
The ability to maximize performance of agents and improve processes that streamline all communication into a single, all-in-one application. An all-in-one application and process is easier to manage, will take less time to report, and will provide a unified global view of performance, typically allowing the operation to isolate where bottlenecks in the operation exist. Also, and in my opinion the most important piece, reporting across channels becomes a much easier task, whereas having application silos requires IT or someone with Analytics know-how to create a process to cobble data together for daily use. Data is the single-most important piece of the contact center. Without viable data, you are unable to adequately isolate performance issues to help you improve your contact center operation, and ultimately, the customer experience.
Ability to assign multiple transactions to a single agent, where appropriate. It is fairly common nowadays to have the ability to give an agent three or more web chats simultaneously, along with three or more emails. This is a huge benefit for two reasons: 1.) some agents are great at multitasking and have grown up understanding how to “game” applications. This is a great way to put those multitaskers to work in ways that suit their personality and general thought methodologies and, 2.) not all agents are great on the phone. But, that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t fit brilliantly in the context of the contact center. It’s about matching skills to processes. Sure, we all want every agent to be proficient at all tasks, but the reality is that successful teams are about recognizing human nature and matching aptitude to the appropriate task. Having a multi-channel platform gives you a bit more freedom to improve agent retention and tenure by matching skills to individuals that can outperform as a multitasker.