Advances in technology are creating new opportunities to redefine customer experiences forcing businesses to apply intelligent automation, data analytics, Cloud models and mobility to create compelling and personalized engagements to sell products, build brand awareness and resolve issues.
Digital technology is also redefining contact center operations. The integration of data analytics and intelligent automation enables continual data collection and analysis that yields actionable insights. Examples include segmenting and routing callers to appropriate channels in real time, or instantly providing agents with on-screen customer data, purchase history and tips on upselling strategies.
Today, contact center providers are rapidly expanding the breadth and depth of their solution portfolios of standard offerings. Competition for new customers, moreover, is intensifying giving customers in all market segments a wider range of increasingly affordable options.
Businesses considering a third-party provider of contact center services should consider these five criteria:
Technology agility and flexibility: Simply investing in tools and capabilities isn’t enough. Provides should focus on a strategic approach to the integration of people, business processes and technology. The ability to leverage smart tools to offer add-on services that address unique requirements is essential. Relatedly, your provider should be able to integrate technology components and deliver a tailored solution.
Delivering insight: A customer contact center is a potential gold mine of business insight. To take advantage of that opportunity, a provider should have a strategy in place for ongoing data collection, analysis and insight generation. The ability to integrate social media analytics into service delivery models is another must, particularly for consumer-facing brands. In addition to improving the customer experience within the contact center, insights generated should be fed back to the business for broader utilization.
Measuring performance: As technology transforms call center operations, key performance indicators are similarly undergoing redefinition. Meaningful metrics that reflect business value are therefore essential. For example, Average Handle Time (AHT) has traditionally measured agent productivity. In an automated environment, however, a low AHT by human agents could mean that people are handling easy issues that should be resolved by the automation tool. Conversely, a high AHT could suggest that agents are properly focused on resolving complex issues that require time and investigation.
Location: Labor arbitrage has historically been a key driver of outsourcing. By applying process expertise and leveraging large pools of low-wage workers in specific geographies, service providers efficiently managed the delivery of a wide range of routine, administrative tasks. Customers, meanwhile, enjoyed significant cost benefits.
Today, intelligent automation is eroding that competitive advantage by making geography increasingly irrelevant. A robot can work from anywhere, and connectivity and collaboration tools are expanding opportunities for remote and home-based agents. Location still matters, however. Notwithstanding the impact of technology innovation, providers continue to rely on traditional contact center operations. In a maturing market, meanwhile, the criteria that determine an outsourcing “hot spot” have evolved. Wage rates are becoming less essential, while access to an educated workforce is essential.ç
Business understanding: By outsourcing customer-facing activity, you make a service provider your brand representative. Without insight into your business, agents risk alienating customers and damaging your reputation. In other words, trusting a provider to engage with your customers is not a decision lightly taken. In assessing the ability to earn that trust, the admittedly subjective “cultural fit” factor remains important. Executives touring a call center operation can often sense if a provider will be an effective brand ambassador, one who will help increase customer loyalty. A more quantitative indicator is training – providers should ensure that agents are fully steeped in your business before engaging with customers. Constant churn among support teams is another red flag. When assessing providers, demand detailed information on agent turnover rates.
Learn more about contact center trends.