How do you blend telephone, e-mail, web and chat in your contact center?
Historically, contact centers delt only with telephone, hence the name call center. Since a couple of years there is a trend to blend other channels into there. Because your customers communicate with you in different ways. They call you of course, but they also send you e-mails. They visit your web site. And they might visit you face to face. Faxes, SMS, MMS; more and more channels are on their way. You need to manage each of these communication channels as effectively as possible.
More and more, customers are bouncing between the different channels and expect you to follow them. They will write in an e-mail: "as I told you yesterday on the telephone ..." or tell your agents on the telephone that this is what they filled in on a form on the web site. And you cannot have your agents staring at them with a blank face.
They will visit your web site to double check information that they have received from you by telephone. So your company has to be able to communicate across all channels in a common manner - with one set of business rules. If you have different rules then you will make mistakes.
In order to be an effective, cross-channel contact center, you must use the same systems across all channels, namely:
- use a common ticketing system
- use a common reporting system
- use a common history system
- use a common knowledge base system
This unified approach has a substantial impact. Unified contact centers will deliver a superior service at a greatly reduced cost. This is because each channel will become more efficient, and the different types of interactions are driven to the channel where they belong. Also, customers will feel that they are not a number but that they have a relation with you, however they contact you. This will enhance your customers' satisfaction, retaining them longer.
Multi-channel contact centers will also provide you with a better insight into your customers' main concerns, helping you improving your customer care. Fragmented communications on the other hand will create big problems. People will get calls from frustated customers that get wrong information from different systems, repeatedly answering redundant question. They cannot add new items to the knowledge base. And, worst of all, companies with call centers that separate telephone, e-mail and web can't adequately understand, let alone address the top service issues of their customers!
It is not too difficult to make the change from a call center towards a contact center - many companies have already done so, and many more are on their way. Their success stories offer real proff that multichannel contact centers deliver a better service at a lower cost per interaction.
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