The quest for contact center efficiency goes at least as far back as the introduction of computer telephony integration (CTI), which first landed in the market in the 1990s. CTI’s premise was simple: Deliver call center agents not just the phone call, but also critical caller information at the same time, such as name and account number. This usually came in the form of a screen pop that appeared on a call center agent’s computer desktop when the phone call arrived. Instead of asking callers questions to look up their customer record, the information was already there. As a result, agents could save 10, 15, or perhaps 20 seconds or more on each call. For a larger scale contact center, this could translate into saving hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in contact center costs.
“A fundamental organizational change of mindset that focuses on the customer, along with operational and IT improvements, can generate a 20% to 30% uplift in customer satisfaction and a 10% to 20% improvement in employee satisfaction.” – McKinsey & Company
Fast forward to today, and CX executives and contact center managers all over the world are continuing on this quest for contact center and CX efficiency. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since the days of CTI with companies having more options than ever to improve the experience for their customers — and their agents. The number one goal for most companies is to find a way to improve contact center efficiency without compromising the customer experience.
The reality is your customers want simplicity, speed, and efficiency — and a good overall experience—as much as you do. And they are willing to help themselves if they can get the info they need or complete a transaction without assistance—efficiently. To do so, companies need to focus on a few key areas that will impact CX efficiency, and then ask the right questions to improve business outcomes.
Here are three questions to help you get started:
- Are your customers getting connected to the right resources at the right time?
- Are agents spending too much time searching for answers?
- Are you looking for automation opportunities in the right places?
Understanding who’s calling and what their intent is can be one of the most time-consuming and challenging aspects of managing the customer journey. This requires easy-to-use dialogue management and omnichannel routing to ensure customers are connected to the best self-service resource or best available agent, regardless of channel. To do this, you need to implement an approach where most interactions can be resolved in self-service — while ensuring there is an easy, transparent way to connect to a live agent. Finally, today’s innovative conversational AI solutions are taking front-end CX efficiency gains even further, enhancing routing strategies and saving more time by automating the process of verifying customer ID and determining the caller’s intent.
Despite continuous efforts to consolidate the contact center agent desktop, it’s been difficult for companies–and vendors—to keep up. Today, there are hundreds of customer-centric apps in use at companies—both internally and externally—constantly collecting data on your customers. The challenge is that contact center agents are often forced to move between multiple apps and user interfaces to find the information they need—if they even have access to it. This process wastes precious time and leaves both customers and agents frustrated. The good news is that APIs and increasingly open approaches by solution vendors are enabling companies to more easily bring customer data together in a single place for agents. This helps provide agents with a complete context of the customer’s interaction and situation, including their history of contact across channels, apps and systems.
Perhaps the newest frontier in contact center efficiency, today’s intelligent process automation solutions are setting a new standard for efficient customer journeys. By understanding a contact center’s most common tasks—like updating customer records as part of after call work—today’s contact center managers can automate support for both agents and customers. To get automation right, companies need to look across the end-to-end customer journey. In many cases, intelligent automation solutions can complete back-end customer processes without the need for an agent. If help is needed, providing direct access to an agent is not only easy, it can be made to be totally transparent whether the customer is moving from a bot interaction, automated voice assistant, or messaging app.
By understanding what business outcomes you are want to achieve will ultimately help guide your next steps in your automation journey. From there focus on how you can effectively and efficiently make these changes in the contact center and across your company while optimizing along the way. The opportunity is fairly significant when companies can successfully deliver an improved customer and employee experience – as well as financial gains.