5 Applications to Boost Contact Center Performance in a Tough Economy
As enterprises tighten budgets due to the troubled economy, contact center leaders are under greater pressure to improve productivity while enhancing the customer experience (CX). Making the situation even more complicated is the increasing scale and complexity of these operating environments; volumes are expanding, as are the channels in which interactions come and go. Fortunately, many innovations that have been under development during the past few years are ready to be rolled out and are positioned to help contact center managers achieve their departmental and corporate objectives. Here is a rundown of some of the applications to consider as you build your budgets for the future.
Analytics-enabled quality management (AQM) (a.k.a. automated quality management). This application can fully or partially automate the quality management process and allow companies to evaluate up to 100 percent of interactions cost-effectively. These solutions should provide actionable insights that improve CX, increase first-contact resolution (FCR), reduce customer holds and transfers, provide timely feedback to agents, eliminate subjectivity in the QM process, and enhance agent engagement. AQM will take three to six months to implement and should pay for itself in six months or less.
Real-time guidance (RTG). It provides agents with easy-to-follow procedures and information that enables them to resolve inquiries properly, handle objections, close sales, and increase collections, while enhancing soft skills such as communicating appropriate levels of empathy and professionalism. Implementation will take one week to three months, and these applications should pay for themselves within three to six months after implementation.
After-contact wrap-up and summarization. This app is used to create and post a summary of each customer conversation to a CRM solution, eliminating the need for agents to spend time on this important but time-consuming step. It improves the agent experience by automating a high-pressure process and ensures that a proper interaction summary is captured, which improves the CX if the customer has to follow up. Although agents may have to review and modify the summary, it will save contact centers an average of five to 25 seconds of wrap time per interaction. These applications are some of the newest to enter contact centers and are expected to improve substantially the more they are used. These solutions can be implemented in a few weeks but will take a few months to deliver the expected benefits.
Gamification. Applying gaming techniques to more fully engage and coach agents can enhance CX and the employee experience (EX) while improving quality and increasing productivity. To be effective, the gamification solution must have the flexibility to gamify a variety of contact center key performance indicators (KPIs), including the traditional ones, such as average handle time (AHT), QM scores, and FCR, as well as the more sophisticated ones, like interaction sentiment, customer satisfaction results, and knowledge management usage. Implementation time frames vary from a couple of weeks to two months; however, these solutions improve through usage and learning. Now that newer KPIs are being gamified, contact centers are experiencing a payback in nine to 12 months.
Intelligent virtual assistants. IVAs use conversational artificial intelligence to improve the customer self-service experience and increase the number of inquiries and interactions that can be fully or partially automated in both voice and digital channels. Implementations are taking six to 18 months (depending on the complexity of the implementation), and the payback is typically less than three years, even for companies that already automate 80 to 85 percent of inquiries with a speech-enabled interactive voice response (IVR) system.
There are many other systems and applications that make positive and quantifiable contributions to contact centers, but these five are relatively new, use AI, and are likely to be first-time implementations instead of replacements, which typically increases their odds for budgetary approval. Contact center leaders should be able to build a strong business case and return-on-investment model for these applications, as most of them are expected to start paying for themselves in less than one year. As importantly, all of these investments do what all good contact center solutions should: They enhance the CX and EX while reducing operating expenses and improving productivity.
Donna Fluss, founder and president of DMG Consulting, provides a unique and unparalleled understanding of the people, processes, and technology that drive the strategic direction of the dynamic and rapidly transforming contact center and back-office markets. Fluss can be reached at email@example.com.