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“The times they are a-changing,” wrote Minnesota legend Bob Dylan in 1964. [Though for the singing I am more of a fan of Eddie Vedder’s version.] For today’s contact centers, these words ring truer than ever. Contact Centers are faced with a dramatically changing industry environment and managers are being asked to report back to the greater enterprise on how well their operation is adapting. These changes and demands may
hold challenges, but they also present a significant opportunity for contact centers to be a more strategic asset to the overall business.
We recently sponsored a white paper with Frost & Sullivan titled “Can your center keep up with the changes?” which discusses these changing business dynamics and how contact centers can capitalize on the resulting opportunities. Over my next couple of posts, I will explore the most salient points. Today, I’ll focus on changing business dynamics. Next, how your contact center currently behaves in response to change and, finally, discuss some forward-moving tools and strategies.
To kick things off, let’s first look at the four ways the contact center environment is evolving.
- Influences from the Enterprise – Historically, the enterprise evaluated contact centers by looking at “cost-containment” and measuring outcomes such as number of calls. That view is changing. Enterprises are more aware of the strategic importance of delivering strong customer service and measuring customer satisfaction, which can translate to increased revenue.
- Generational Shifts – Today’s contact centers are managing to two very different generational workforces. Those from the Millennial generation, aka Gen Y, are accustomed to smart phones and other connected options, whereas older employees may struggle with the latest technology advancements and communication channels. Managers must revamp processes around quality evaluations and incentives, for example, to align with the shift in staff competencies.
- Customer Complexity – What channel should I use today? Contact centers face the challenge of addressing customer concerns and delivering high quality service in a multichannel environment. At our Calabrio User Group last fall, that was a common theme voiced by attendees. They’re operating in a world where customers not only call, but initiate chat, send e-mails, and voice their concerns in forums and other social media. Payoffs to engaging in these channels include stronger customer relationships and new opportunities to resolve problems.
- The Center Isn’t Always a Center – Geography has become irrelevant. Operations are no longer confined within a large brick and mortar establishment. AAA Western & Central New York, for example, is connecting customers with the best available subject matter expert, regardless of location. Today’s technology unifies multiple locations, storefronts, at home agents and subject matter experts into a single operation to help customers anywhere, any way, any time.
With all that is changing, it’s obvious to me that contact centers cannot be complacent. Progressive business leaders seek value as much as cost containment. If contact center leaders can’t demonstrate that value, they risk making the department irrelevant.