Contact centers provide a vital avenue through which a business interacts with its customers. Whether through inbound or outbound communications, businesses need to provide personal, professional, and reliable opportunities for customers to engage with them. The software that a company uses in their contact center plays an important role in facilitating these interactions and has the potential to either enhance or detract from a customer’s experience.
Contact Center Software
Gone are the days of call centers consisting of switchboards and operators. Instead, competitive companies have shifted to contact centers, which expand customer interactions beyond the telephone to additional channels such as web, email, text, messaging apps, social media, and others. Companies must choose the software and features that will best meet their business and customers’ needs. This diversity means that customers can interact with the most appropriate customer service agent for their needs in the channel they prefer, leading to faster resolution of issues and a more positive experience for the customer.
The software options available allow companies to prioritize the features that are most relevant and important to their business to improve the customer experience. There are numerous features that companies can include through their contact center software, including:
- Intelligent call routing, which routes calls to the appropriate agent based on the issue and other parameters set by the company such as priority level, agent expertise, etc.
- Video chatting, which allows customer service agents to connect with customers over video, providing a more personalized response and experience.
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR), which provides the customer with an immediate touchpoint when they call a center to reduce hold times and help appropriately routes calls quickly for better customer experience.
- Text, live chat, and/or instant messaging, which allows customers to directly message with a customer service agent and can often resolve issues quickly. For those issues that can’t be resolved via messaging, the agent can connect the customer for further support through one of the other channels. Messaging channels can also be utilized for other means, such as to provide status updates on product deliveries or links to customer satisfaction surveys.
The above examples are illustrative of the multiple other features that companies can integrate into their contact centers to improve customer experience. Furthermore, with the shift from hardware to software, many contact centers are now based in the cloud. This allows the option for contact center agents to be based remotely from anywhere in the world and still provide excellent customer service.
As contact centers have increasingly offered more channels to engage with customers and shifted to the cloud, companies need more flexibility to determine which software features are best for their business. Whereas contact center systems were previously pre-determined, “off-the-shelf” systems that a company would buy that offered limited flexibility, more diverse software features provide greater options to design a contact center with features that respond directly an individual company’s unique needs. While many contact centers use SaaS or API options, the new wave is shifting to an application platform. An application platform combines elements of SaaS and API functionalities that allow for easier customization and testing. This provides companies with the opportunity to design a contact center model with features that best meet their needs and can be more easily modified as their needs change in the future.
Contact Center Data
Because contact centers are interacting with customers across a variety of channels, they can provide important data related to customers’ experiences with the company and products. Companies can integrate software options that collect data (e.g., through customer surveys, call times), analyze variables such as call times and issues, and produce reports compiled across various contact center channels. Whatever software options a company chooses, they should collect and leverage data to guide planning and decision making in an effort to further enhance the customer journey.