Contact Center Transformation Featured Article
Contact Center Transformation Begins with Agents
October 23, 2013
By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor
“Contact center transformation” is a concept that is much used in the trade press today, and for good reason. With the goal of a successful contact center today being customer experience management (CEM), a business idea that means aggregating customer information and turning it into useable intelligence that helps drive better inbound and more proactive outbound, too few contact centers are finding themselves prepared for this. They are finding they need to completely rebuild their contact centers to be data rich and centralized. It’s not an easy task.
Companies seeking contact center transformation are spending a lot of money on new systems, platforms and solutions. This is important: CEM can never be attained with patchwork legacy systems that imperfectly integrate and communicate with one another. So while call centers are busy onboarding cloud-based, multimedia contact center platforms, better customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, call and performance monitoring and cutting-edge self-service, there is still a task to be done that is less about technology and more about people.
While technology can take a call center part of the way toward transformation, it’s important to remember that a call center isn’t just the sum of its systems. Call center agents have the most important jobs in a customer-facing enterprise. They are the gatekeepers of the organization, brand ambassadors who can make or break customer relationships. This is why tapping agents for their extensive knowledge becomes highly crucial, according to a recent blog post by West Interactive’s (News - Alert) Ben Page.
“From our own experience of both running our own contact centers and the technology within them, we know that agents have been a great resource for new ideas,” wrote Page. “From an operations perspective, they are the front door to your customers. They know what calls are coming in, the types, and what the end results typically are. Any call center supervisor can hypothesize what their most frequent calls might be based on the time of year or specific product being advertised; however, supervisors aren’t on the phones and might not be exposed to conversations that might cause agents to pull their hair out because it is not a good use of their time.”
Front-line agents become one of the most critical sources of information for what is working and what isn’t in the contact center. It’s important to involve agents in planning, requesting their input in an effort to better categorize calls, locate bottlenecks, improve automation and isolate barriers to customer service excellence. It not only improves service levels, but it can also lead to all-important employee engagement and retention, according to Page, who notes that this sense of contribution and accomplishment is often the best motivator for any employee — from agent to corporate executive.
“By putting together focus groups, companies can assess their centers with agent roundtables that can help produce qualitative evidence based on agent feedback (what types of calls are they taking and what are the reasons for these calls),” Page writes. “Management can then better act on this firsthand evidence and will not only realize additional savings, but also will improve the customer’s experience at the same time.”
Tapping employees as a critical resource can benefit the contact center both from the outside and on the inside, reducing turnover while at the same time achieving excellence.
Edited by Blaise McNamee
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