Broaden the Scope of Your Contact Center and Focus on Your Customer Engagement Strategy

By Chris Recio, Director of Contact Center & Advanced Applications

In our last blog post, we discussed the rate at which technology is challenging and transforming our contact center operations. With the rapid development of technology and the seemingly endless supply of features and options, it has become a daunting task to filter out the noise among the masses to arrive at the right solution for your specific environment. Ultimately, everyone suffers from FOMO: Fear of Missing Out.

As we look forward and create a new view of the Contact Center morphing the operation into a much broader customer engagement strategy, how we view solutions and their feature-rich options is a critical aspect of laying the foundation.

The technology you may purchase today will, directly and indirectly, impact how far you can extend your customer engagement strategy, and oftentimes, the decisions you make now will cut short any long-term visions of where you might go in the future.

Developing a solid and impactful customer engagement strategy requires technology that can grow with you for years to come. With technology rapidly changing, oftentimes it’s not a single feature that will take you there, but rather, a deeper process that will leave open the doors for options regardless of features.

Whenever I review solutions and options, I have a hit-list of items that any potential solution must contain, which I refer to as MUST-HAVE OPTIONS. If the impending solution does not have these options, it’s a complete non-starter for me.

In addition to my so-called must-have options, I spend a great deal of time looking at the user interface for ease of use, easy to understand, easy to self-manage – AND HERE IS A CLUE – without the need for extensive direction. The user must be able to make sense of it at face value.

If an application process requires that I sit through 8 hours of training, even for administrative purposes, then it is likely not a good fit for the average user. Contact Center users are not typically technical. Their sole focus, regardless of industry, is customer satisfaction and building loyalty.

Gone are the days of applications that require a Ph.D. level of education for simple day-to-day process management. Years ago when I was a telecom engineer supporting a large multi-site organization, I learned very quickly that in order for me to do what I do best, I had to bring in applications that did not require a dedicated IT resource to help the contact center and their users adopt the application or for making on-demand changes as required by the business user.

The user environment is not like any other environment. Users need to be nimble and the applications placed in front of users, especially contact center users, need to be easy to manage and use. Ultimately, overly complex applications do one thing and one thing only: Distract Your Representative From Focusing on the Customer.

I can’t say that enough. I have said this very thing over and over the years, and yet, I see overly complex environments completely negate the value of having streamlined, easy-to-use applications, freeing up your customer representatives to focus on the customer experience.

If your choice of application solutions does not take into consideration the direct impact to the user responsible for providing customer care and customer dialogue, you’ve already lost.

Here is a great quote that I love to share on a fairly, regular basis:

Part of taking care of your employees is in the selection of the proper tools to ease in the management of their respective roles. 

This perspective should not only apply to the end-users who deliver on your brand promise – your agents – it should also be taken into consideration as it impacts staff from an internal technical support point of view: the IT personnel supporting the internal operations. 

Today, I jokingly say: “Applications should allow the user to point and click their way to happiness” in supporting the configuration and processes involved. With the advances in technology, I don’t believe it’s too much to ask that applications be easy to use and the UI and Administrative processes should reflect that, because users are not technologists. They are your internal customers of the chosen application that are directly impacted by the solution. This often can make or break the agility of the operation and is always high on my list of must-haves.

With that overview and preface out of the way, here is the list of Must-Have options I believe your contact center solution should provide as a great foundation for laying your broader customer engagement strategy.

  1. Plug-n-Play Data Integrations
  2. Multi-Channel/Omni-Channel Functionality
    • Voice/SMS/Email/WebChat/SocialMedia
  3. Flexible IVR – Web Services Accessibility/Dynamic Control
  4. Fully Documented Open API w SDK availability
  5. Outbound Campaigns (Voice/SMS/Email)

These 5 components lay the foundation for developing a rich and robust customer engagement strategy. Of course, there are details associated with each of these options. We will delve into the details of these options in our next two blog updates.