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If you still look at the contact center as a cost center where customers press 1 for X and 2 for Y, it’s only a matter of time until your business will lose customers. Digital transformation, remote work, and evolving CX expectations are just a few things fundamentally changing the way contact centers operate. Companies that understand this are retooling to work more efficiently, competitively, and cost-effectively. Here are four core focus areas that every company should be addressing.

Remote work

COVID-19 has proven that agents can work effectively from anywhere (87% of agents were successfully working remotely in 2021 compared to 19% in 2019) and the potential for cost savings is huge. Nemertes estimates that a 100-agent contact center can save over $400,000 per year in capital expenses by allowing just half of its staff to work from home. Overall, 86% of customer service organizations say they’re planning to implement a permanent work-from-home or hybrid model.

From a technology standpoint, moving some or all contact center functionality to the cloud makes remote work easier. Without complicated on-premises connectivity, you can enable agents to work from anywhere with an Internet connection and take calls using their mobile phone, desk phone, or soft phone. You’ll also need to factor in remote onboarding, training, and retention. Servion’s CEO Laurent Philonenko provides some helpful strategies in this blog.

Omnichannel agents

Customers want multiple contact options – traditional voice, IVR, online chat, email, social media, text message – and the ability to seamlessly cross over them during their service journey (i.e., starting an interaction via social media, channel jumping to chat, then escalating to phone). Agents need the right technology to handle these customer expectations.

Agents dealing with multiple channels require a 360-degree view of a customer, from basic contact information to past and present purchasing data to recent interactions with your company and what channels they occurred on, all in one place. This gives agents highly relevant, personal, and timely information that they can act on in the moment, even as customers jump channels. Customers won’t have to constantly repeat themselves, and agents can work smarter and faster.

In this context, agents also require elevated training and coaching. Consider, for example, deploying an AI assistant that actively follows interactions across channels and provides real-time agent coaching and recommendations including sentiment scoring, pop-up alerts, and reminders.

Digital transformation

The goal of digital transformation is to use digital technologies like AI, automation, and data analytics to improve operations and experiences by making smarter, more data-driven decisions for your business. Simple technology integrations and over-the-top partner services make it easy to start collecting data and improving customer and agent experiences. For example:

  • Real-time AI transcription: only half of agents say they feel confident in the accuracy of the customer information they manually enter into company systems. AI can transcribe customer conversations in real-time to fill gaps in notes and ensure more complete and accurate data entry. These transcribed conversations are also helpful for ensuring compliance.
  • Call deflection: chances are most customers who call your contact center do so from a mobile device. Imagine offering these mobile callers the option to leave your call queue and “talk” with an AI-based chatbot instead. Questions can be addressed faster while the bot simultaneously collects useful customer insights, and live agents will become more available to handle complex matters.
  • AI-powered speech analytics: better understand why customers are calling and how they feel during conversations. Spot key trends and get ahead of customer demand.

Finding the right balance between agents and bots

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) seamlessly links front and back-office processes through scalable virtual robots that perform definable, repeatable, rule-based tasks with high efficiency. The technology is innovative, but it can disrupt your business without the right “human/bot” balance.

There are times when customers prefer to speak with a human, and it gets frustrating if they are not able to get past the bot. Don’t trap your customers in hellish phone and chat menu loops. Instead, have bots and agents work together on semi-automated processes (ex: the customer speaks with a live agent while the bot works in the background to automate required actions for issue resolution). When customers want to self-service, bots can be used to fully handle automated processes without human intervention. Make sure your human-to-bot ratio is right, and that both work harmoniously together.

A whip-smart contact center preserves market share that competitors are all too happy to grab. See how Servion can help you reshape and modernize your contact center.

Servion Blog