It’s as true now as it has been for decades: the customer always comes first. One of the most important things a business can do is develop strong relationships with its customers, and contact centers are the front lines of that effort.
Companies the world over are constantly searching for new ways to maximize their call center experience, but such a task is always easier said than done. If you want to upgrade your contact center, you need to know the ins-and-outs of how it works first. The better your customer call center experience is, the more successful your business will be — and it all starts with your contact center.
For as long as businesses have existed, customers have been getting in touch with them. As technology has advanced, more and more methods of company-customer communication have been established, making these kinds of interactions more difficult to manage.
The contact center is the place where all of this communication is centralized and managed. Today, customers may get in touch over the phone, via email, through instant messaging, or using a tool built into your platform. By bringing all of these channels into one place, they can be streamlined and moved between with ease.
When most people think of customer service, they’re likely imagining some form of a call center: a place where disgruntled customers shout at someone holding a phone and reading from a script.
In reality, call centers are one part of the larger contact center system. Whereas traditional call centers manage everything from the phone, contact centers make calls one portion of a larger system of support.
The defining feature of the modern call center is its integration with technology: cloud-based contact centers allow customer experience experts to call upon client data and produce valuable performance reports in real time. By combining standard call center infrastructure with cutting-edge software, contact centers are paving the way for a more human customer experience.
While you may have a grasp on the workings of your contact center, every company curates a different customer experience strategy. In order to further develop the way your business handles its clients, it’s important to have a thorough understanding of what makes a contact center function.
The goal of any contact center is simple: provide the best possible experience for the customer. Businesses may go about this in different ways, but the gist is typically the same: accurately identify the customer’s needs, then fulfill those needs or direct them to someone who can.
In today’s business landscape, customers have more diverse needs and more diverse ways of expressing them than ever before. Contact centers work by making it as easy as possible for your customer service representatives to hear and solve the problems of your customers. Communication comes in and is sorted electronically before being appropriately distributed.
Every contact center is structured differently, but there are a few common layouts that make up the vast majority. Here are some that you should be aware of:
Cloud-based contact centers are quickly becoming the gold standard for customer experience management. These contact centers are hosted from a remote internet server and are therefore accessible anywhere by anyone who has the appropriate credentials — allowing you to create a cohesive workflow across different offices and remote teams without having to worry about any physical maintenance.
In contrast to their cloud-based counterparts, on-site contact centers are hosted on physical servers held and maintained by your company. While keeping everything in-house can allow for some added security, opting for on-site options requires you to have an all-star IT department that can ensure everything runs smoothly.
If you think of a call center as a single-channel contact center, then any contact center that incorporates one or more distinct lines of customer communication is a multichannel one. Multichannel contact centers allow your team to manage several different fronts while still specializing in just a few.
Omnichannel contact centers, on the other hand, bring all of your different routes of customer communication — calls, email, IMs, and so on — into a single place. The goal of all omnichannel consolidation is seamlessness: if your workers can handle customers who are coming at them from every possible angle, then your contact center is working effectively.
Inbound contact centers are the kinds that those working in customer service will be most familiar with: calls come in and are dealt with thereafter. The purpose of an inbound call center is to deal with customers’ queries as they come up and respond to any problems they may have.
Outbound contact centers are normally reserved for teams interested in making calls directly to customers or potential clients, such as sales. Increasingly, outbound calls have become a crucial part of the customer experience through surveys, follow-ups, and preemptive customer check-ins — showing customers that they’re appreciated by your business.
While each different style of contact center listed here has different requirements and capabilities, a contact center can easily be a mix of two or more of these at a time. Many omnichannel contact centers, for example, have both inbound and outbound capabilities.
Call center software is constantly evolving, and the list of “must-haves” will be different for every business. Even so, a few key pieces of tech remain crucial for building and maintaining a high quality call center experience:
Automatic call distribution, or ACD, is technology’s greatest gift to the outdated call center model. ACD analyzes calls based on the number dialed, customer requests, and available representatives in order to funnel all incoming queries to the right place. Even in an increasingly digital world, customers want to communicate over the phone, and your business needs ACD in order to facilitate that.
For many companies’ products and services, talking over the phone or via email simply won’t suffice — a video connection is required to get your customers the help they need. Interactive video platforms allow both your customers and employees to share their screens and respond to dynamic prompts regarding what their next steps should be, making it easy to solve tough problems on the fly.
For omnichannel contact centers, there needs to be a way to get all forms of communication sorted into a single format. Going back and listening through old calls can be a time-consuming exercise, so your call center needs to be automatically transcribing every call that comes in. Post facto analysis of these calls can make future interactions more successful and allows for increased accountability as well.
Nearly every business today with a digital platform has incorporated some kind of chatbot to boost customer engagement, but your company should go one step further. Integrate your chatbots seamlessly into your contact center by allowing your actual customer experience experts to jump into chatbot conversations when necessary — allowing them to answer difficult questions and keep engagement levels high.
Simply put, every business needs a centralized location to store all of the information their customer service representatives might need to draw upon. A system of knowledge management can make it easy for all of the necessary employees to access whatever content they need to make life better for both them and your customers.
Knowing the nuts and bolts of contact centers is absolutely necessary, but what does it all add up to? Cutting-edge technology and omnichannel structures mean nothing if they’re not being used to create a better call center experience for the customer.
With all of the focus on technology and efficiency, it can be easy to turn your call center experience into a clinical process — customers identified, tagged, and moved to wherever they need to be.
No matter what format your contact center takes or what software you adopt for it, be sure to continue to put the customer first above all else. Maximize opportunities for human interaction, value your customers’ time, and listen as much as possible.
Instead of using tech to get customers in and out the door as fast as possible, try using it to personalize and humanize the experience. Invest in software that allows your customer service representatives to know your customers’ names and history with your company in advance. Emphasize voice and video whenever possible; make it clear that they’re always dealing with humans.
Don’t just let the end of a call be the end of an interaction, either — use outbound technologies to check up on customers, see how they’re feeling about your service. Your customers aren’t just abstract numbers and figures: they’re potential relationships for you to nurture and cultivate.
Every person who interacts with your contact center is just that: a person. By treating your customers with the respect and humanity that they deserve, you’ll be building a more grateful and loyal clientele in the process.
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Five9 is a leading provider of cloud contact center software. We are driven by a passion to transform contact centers into customer engagement centers of excellence, coupled with a deep understanding of the cost and complexity involved in running a contact center. Check out this video to learn more about how we can help you transform your business today.
Five9 Contact Center Software enables agents to be more effective on the phone - so they can sell more and service better. Smart Dialers give agents more time with live prospects. Intelligent Routing gets calls to the right agent. On-Screen Caller Info puts customer information at their fingertips. And everything is automatically logged to your CRM.
Outbound call centers dial out to reach customers or prospects, and are typically used when a sales team is prospecting for new customers. Outbound call centers may utilize autodialer and predictive dialing solutions to help maximize agent productivity by increasing the amount of connections agents can make with customers.
Deliver exceptional customer service using the sophisticated routing capability of the Five9 Inbound Cloud Call Center software. Next-generation systems route calls to the right agents at the right time and automatically put the customer’s information on agents’ desktops so they can resolve the issue quickly. Customers can perform routine functions through intelligent IVR with...
Use omnichannel management applications such as real-time and historical reporting, recording, workforce management (WFM), quality monitoring, CRM integrations. Add Intelligent Routing and ensure that every interaction is delivered to the right resource at the right time, every time. With our channel hopping and escalation features, you are empowered to create true consumer-centric omnichannel experiences.
Five9 utilizes the latest server technology in its data centers from the most trusted names in cloud infrastructure and technology, including Cisco and HP. Our cloud software architecture delivers flexible application and storage capacity. Using a distributed and redundant server farm, Five9 can scale rapidly on demand and nimbly shift resources in response to a natural disaster. Five9 data centers currently process over 3 billion customer interactions a year.
Five9 provides robust pre-built integrations with leading CRM solutions — Salesforce, Oracle, Microsoft, Zendesk, NetSuite, and Velocify — so that agents have the information they need to make customers happy. Use a different web-based CRM? No problem. Five9’s Agent Desktop Toolkit offers a rich, extensive framework of REST APIs, reference UIs, and other tools to build solutions that power agent experiences and business results in turnkey and custom environments.
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