Not All Call Centers Are Created Equally.
A call center needs to be cloud-based and omnichannel to leverage today’s technology while laying the foundation for tomorrow’s technology. First, let’s look at what it means to be based in the cloud. Traditional call centers are on-premises, meaning employees sit at a desk with a phone and computer in a physical location. Contact center as a service, or CCaaS, operates in the cloud.
Omnichannel simply means having the ability to communicate across all channels: text, email, voice, social media, video, live chat, and web chat, including messenger apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. It enables an organization to start a conversation with a customer using one method and continue it using another. For example, if a customer contacts via text but needs to speak to an agent, as the customer is transferred, so too is their information. I’ll talk more about this in a minute.
How CCaaS Benefits Businesses.
The benefits to an organization are immediate and substantial. By opting instead to use a contact center as a service, or CCaaS, a business no longer needs to invest in a physical location. It saves on contact center equipment, hardware, and software. It gains data storage security, scalability, reliability, and the ability to communicate across all channels. These time, money, and energy savings are then reallocated to elevate the customer experience.
There’s also future protection built into this type of call center. Organizations don’t need to worry about buying and implementing an entirely new system when the next communication method comes along. For instance, webchat has been the top digital channel (especially for e-commerce brands) but is set to be surpassed by messengers in the near future. New channels that don’t exist today will be readily available to companies who opt for a cloud-based call center solution.
How CCaaS Transforms the Customer Experience.
In addition to benefiting an organization, the true value of a cloud-based omnichannel call center is in how it improves the customer experience. More than improvement, it transforms. When customers can contact organizations using whatever method they prefer, they will be more satisfied with the interaction. If they can’t, they may be frustrated. (At best, they’ll stop engaging with that business. At worst, they’ll influence others to stop, too. Word of mouth has taken on new meaning thanks to social media.)
It’s also safe to presume customers aren’t always on a computer. Smartphones have forever changed human interaction — apps put news, shopping, and social relations at our fingertips. Customer trends for mobile devices show 90% of text messages are read within 90 seconds of receipt. Mobile technology takes the traditional customer journey map and tosses it on its head: right before a researched, planned purchase, a customer’s mind may be changed or enhanced through a single text message.
The world is truly global — the internet allows US-based customers to purchase directly from other countries. Messengers like WhatsApp were first embraced in Latin America and Asia. They’re rapidly gaining ground here in the US. This is great news for businesses poised to implement messengers in their call centers, as these types of digital channels reduce friction and increase efficiency for both the customer and the agent. This is the hallmark of an improved customer experience.
I previously mentioned transferring a customer from one channel to another seamlessly. This is where the magic happens. For a customer, they no longer have to repeat information because their conversations carry from text to phone, from email to web chat, and so on. They can also send photos and videos, relieving both the customer and the agent from the cumbersome tasks of describing problems and potential solutions.
More than that, when a call center integrates with a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, the agent is empowered to solve a customer’s problem from a holistic point of view. The customer receives assistance that’s educated, skilled, and efficient. Keeping in mind that most of the time a customer contacts a business to report a problem or ask for help, this type of service relieves their burden, creating a relationship based on trust. This brand loyalty is the pinnacle of excellent customer service experience.
Empowering Customers is Good Business.
I’ve discussed a lot of one-on-one types of communications, but that’s not the only way a digital call center levels up the customer experience. Artificial intelligence (AI) actually puts the customer in the driver’s seat. Through interactive voice response (IVR), a customer can either choose a number from a menu or speak a command and direct their call where it needs to go. As life gets busier, customers want instant customer service help. For example, customers are used to finding their shipment status, inventory levels, and sale information whenever, wherever they want it. Rather than sit on hold, a customer is able to start the process of receiving help. Meanwhile, customer service agents are spared from the basic task of call routing. Their expertise is better used for more complex issues.
When we think of a call center, we naturally think of receiving inbound calls, but that’s only half of its capabilities. Outbound call center technology allows businesses to proactively reach out to customers and deepen their relationships. Through survey links, coupons, and other initiatives, businesses can give their customers a voice and show appreciation for their patronage. Imagine receiving a text message from your favorite store that simply says, “thank you.” That’s the level of customer service a call center can take it to.
The Digital Transformation of the Customer Experience
Digital transformation is becoming less about being on the cutting edge and more about just keeping up. People expect relevant information quickly. They want to connect to someone instantly and be able to talk to that person in whatever manner they choose.
Just as other business tools are evolving, so too are call centers. They are the front lines of the customer service experience. A cloud-based omnichannel call center equips a business with the ability to meet people where they’re at, giving them the experience they desire. It’s a win-win for everyone.