It’s time to replace your contact center duct tape and bailing wire

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“Just hold it together for one more year!” I had an operations-day flash back for a moment thinking about needing to squeak out every inch of life from my systems.

Upon reflection, I also remember the downside of holding on too long to systems and how much time, energy and frustration that created.

Meeting with Jens Eckels from Avaya at Customer Contact Week in Las Vegas I started thinking about how in our rapidly changing world – where customers place speed extremely high on their needs list that being operationally slow due to your systems is foolishly risky.

Tell me what you think after watching or reading this edited transcript of my interview with Jens:

Jim Rembach: Hey this Jim for the Fast Leader Show and Call Center Coach and I’m here with Jens Eckels of Avaya. Jens, how do you help folks get over the hump?

Jens Eckels: Well, getting over the hump these days is a little bit confusing honestly. For a lot of people because they’re hearing a lot about artificial intelligence and cloud and deployment choices, right.

That can add a lot of noise to problems that they actually want to solve. At Avaya we’re really focusing on the things that are making a difference within the contact center and how we interact with customers more intelligently. We’re all doing ninety percent of the same thing in this industry anymore.

There’s not a huge differentiation anymore. We want to focus on the things that are really going to add value to the business and to really start checking some of those boxes of the next step for people – like artificial intelligence, cloud solutions and some choices that we don’t think others are offering.

Jim Rembach: So now when I think about Avaya, when I was in operations, I still remember the days of my Avaya rep coming in and telling about all the things that they can do. It always kind of just blended together. I couldn’t quite tell what I needed. That was always a struggle for me.

But I think as I’ve gotten some age behind me and some of things that you’re mentioning – is I start seeing some really pretty interesting impacts that Avaya could bring that others can’t.

Like for example, if we start talking about agents having to navigate fifteen different systems, you actually have the option to eliminate a lot of that don’t you?

Jens Eckels: Right, and some of what we’re working on right now is really around consolidating a lot of solutions into one easy to use interface – one easy to use managed solution. Because right now, we see agents that over time have been band-aided with a lot of solutions that have been coming in. You might have one screen for your recording solution, another screen to interact with the customer, if you’re trying to do another channel you’ve got yet another solution. And we’re making customers sit on hold while the agents are dealing with the logistics of just doing their everyday job.

It’s heavy for the agents and it’s heavy for the business to manage. And frankly we want to eliminate the friction for the agent and we want to eliminate those operational tasks that are just pulling out the duct tape in the baling wire just to keep the lights on with all of these disparate solutions. So, we’re looking at integrating a lot of that – whether it be call recording, screen capture and different kinds of compliance all into one place so that both operational professionals and agents and supervisors themselves are really just looking at one single solution that they can deal with.

Jim Rembach: So now speaking of supervisors, we know that’s a critical role in the contact center – so how is it that you’re making their job easier.

Jens Eckels: Well there’s a couple ways. One is by consolidating like we just talked about. They have one pane of glass to look at so they can really understand what’s happening across the contact center. But with some of the artificial intelligence solutions that we’re working on right now that we’re deploying into the Avaya contact center – they actually have visibility (live) into every single conversation that’s happening across their contact center as it happens and the ability to interact directly with that conversation and with that agent in real-time.

So, we’re using artificial intelligence to really practically improve call resolution, after call work and the ability of supervisors to influence things when they matter the most – in the moment.

Jim Rembach: So, I actually had the opportunity to have a listen to a keynote speaker who was saying how for them opening up different channels and even using AI – the whole fear mongering thing that’s happening in regards to it’s going to reduce head count as far as if you’re in that role – you’re worried about if I’m going to lose my job with AI. They’re saying, that’s not what they’re seeing happening.

They’re actually saying that customers are actually coming and they’re getting access to pockets of customers that they weren’t getting access to before because they have new channels. So, their overall volumes keep rising and their call traffic isn’t really dropping. Is that what you’re seeing too.

Jens Eckels: I would agree, that tends to be a trend. It’s a fair question to ask especially if you’re an agent or supervisor – are disruptive technologies going to take my job?

You naturally asked that question like we all would. You would ask if we had an automated solution for interviewing people, right? Does that work out? No. You immediately have some friction to that idea.

What we’re focusing on is the ability to augment that experience. How are we connecting the right people together at the outset of a call? How are we affecting that call while it happens so that we can enhance that experience and resolve that call more quickly and whether that conversation starts in chat, on the web through chat bots and automation, all the way through making the traditional voice call.

How are we mapping that across the journey to really be able to affect that outcome? That doesn’t really eliminate agent jobs. Frankly, it makes them a lot smarter as they go. They’re getting connected with the right kind of people, the right kind of problems, that their best are solving.

By resolving customer issues quickly, we see their satisfaction going up and we see the customer satisfaction going up at the same time. Not really seeing this replacing any agents or supervisors or a whole lot of contact center interaction, like you said. It’s increasing the volume and increasing the speed at which we’re resolving the issues.

Jim Rembach: So how do folks learn more?

Jens Eckels: You can always go to Avaya.com – we’re updating a lot of cloud solutions on Avaya. And of course, we’re going to have more demos and details about the solutions as we move forward.

Jim Rembach: Jens thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom and we wish you the very best.

Jens Eckels: Thank you, appreciate it.

Do you have any duct tape or bailing wire to get rid of? Leave a comment below?

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