According to IBM everything now has to be “smart,” and its latest announcement heralding smarter commerce addresses customer-related activities. I find it interesting, as I have been researching for some time about the need for a smarter agent desktop and smarter Web self-service. My perspective, derived from observations in my research, is that companies need to focus on effectiveness in providing positive customer experiences rather than today’s almost exclusive focus on efficiency in customer service operations.
Topics: Social Media, Customer Experience, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), Call Center, Commerce, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Sales Performance Management (SPM)
There is a lot of talk today about customer experience management, but use of the term is vague, much as customer relationship management meant different things to different people. For some it is much the same as CRM, for others it is about using the voice of the customer to gain insights to make customer-related decisions. I have another view. Let’s consider phone calls, which according to my research into the use of technology in contact centers, is still the main way consumers interact with companies. What makes these calls good or bad experiences? Being driven mad by a badly created IVR system and waiting in a queue both come down on the “bad” side, and companies should do something about them. Those aside, my research into agent performance management(APM) shows that the majority of companies correctly believe that how their agent deals with the call makes the difference. So it makes sense that companies should take action to help agents deliver good experiences. Here are four things they can do.
The contact center market is buzzing with talk about cloud-based computing. It began with applications such as CRM from salesforce.com, then came IBM with services based on hardware in the cloud and recently vendors such as Contactual, inContact, and LiveOps have brought nearly complete contact centers into the cloud. As well, vendors such as Interactive Intelligence have announced communications in the cloud. Now I have always considered public communications to be in the cloud: How else does a telecommunications operator route a call from one part of the world to another? Likewise how does the Internet log users into websites, which are based who knows where? What Interactive Intelligence and other such vendors do is add intelligence to call-handling – they make communications smarter. For example, they add smart routing so calls can be delivered based on a predefined set of rules. This is beneficial to companies running “virtual” contact centers because a call can be routed to the location and person best qualified to handle it.
Topics: Customer Experience, Operational Performance Management (OPM), CallTower, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM)
Running a contact center has never been easy, and today it is harder than ever. Customers have become more demanding of good service and less tolerant of errors and are inclined to communicate over multiple channels of communications. Companies not only have to get all the technology together to handle all these forms of interactions but must also ensure that their contact center agents are working as efficiently and effectively as possible. My latest research into the technologies companies use in trying to achieve these objectives shows that three goals dominate most companies’ planning: improving the information they have available to monitor and assess their overall operation, agents’ performance and the outcome of interactions; focusing training and coaching to better target the needs of individual agents; and improving their interaction-handling processes.
With the new year has come a significant advance in contact center technologies, enabling enterprises to roll out new applications and interaction-handling processes in record time. What used to take six months to a year to develop and deploy – and that was considered fast! – can now be done in a week or two, creating more potential for innovation in contact centers than I have seen in the last 20 years.