Bring Innovative Thinking to Contact Center Operations

By: Brian Cantor

No one doubts importance of contact center “operations.” Some may, however, question whether it is as an exciting a focus as cutting-edge engagement technology, innovative experience design or edgy digital marketing strategies.

To them, I have one simple message: wake up to the reality of the customer contact landscape. There are so many questions to answer — and opportunities to explore — within the world of contact center operations.

It is why “operations” will be a focus track at the upcoming CCW Nashville. Ahead of the event, I wanted to share some of the most pressing operational questions.

What is the contact center?

We love to say the “customer experience” is a task for the entire business. We love to trumpet the importance of unifying all contact channels.

In reality, few of us are realizing these lofty ambitions. The contact center remains a physical “room” in which agents sit at cubicles and answer calls.

As we begin 2020 and look to 2025, it’s time for a pointed conversation about the state of the contact center. Where should it fall within the business? On what tasks and objectives should it focus? Should it incorporate engagement behind traditional customer support? Should it accommodate a high percentage of remote workers?

What role will outsourcers play?

When most think about the stereotypical “call center experience,” they think about outsourcing.

As the contact center function evolves to meet changing customer demands, will that connection change?

For most companies, the answer will be a combination of “yes” and “no.” With automation handling simple tasks and companies emphasizing more nuanced customer conversations, the idea of hiring a bunch of random outside, low-cost agents to read from redundant scripts no longer seems relevant.

That said, being able to quickly scale, add new technology and cultivate digital expertise are more important than ever. Since outsourcing supports those initiatives, it will arguably have a bigger place in tomorrow’s contact center operation.

What processes can we automate?

We often talk about “automating simple tasks so agent can focus on complex work.”

It is time to stop talking and start identifying specific opportunities. Which specific tasks should we take off our agents’ plates? Are there are any complex tasks that also make sense for AI-driven automation tools?

Once we answer these questions, we can begin to develop “return on automation” metrics. We can also prepare our agents for changes in workflow.

How will we define value?

About 10-15 years ago, a popular contact center topic involved the transition from “cost center” to “value center.”

It is time to think critically about what value we are ultimately trying to create? Is creating a more satisfying customer experience enough? Or, do we want our representatives to focus on driving revenue through renewals, upsells and cross-sells (or at least potential revenue through social media advocacy)?

Alternatively, should we start to view “customer data” as a source of value in its own right? After all, the insights the contact center gathers can enhance every single element of the organization!

Learn more about Customer Contact Week Nashville 2020 by downloading the agenda today.

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