CCW Outlines 5 Strategies for Modernizing Contact Centers

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By 2025, most contact centers will have eliminated many of the bottlenecks that are present today, according to a report by Contact Center Week (CCW) Digital, a division of the International Quality and Productivity Center (IQPC).

By employing better data transparency and evolving technologies, like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and reprogramming their interactive voice response (IVR) systems, companies will finally transform their contact centers from transaction-based cost centers to customer relationship hubs that support revenue-generating activities, according to the report.

To complete this transition, the report recommends that contact center leaders take the following five steps:

1. Rely on customer touchpoints for critical data. Modern technology can collect and synthesize data from various sources, providing companies with actionable insights, according to Kindra Cooper, a writer and editor at CCW Digital and author of the report. This includes AI, which can help not only with recommended improvements but can also forward these recommendations to the right people.

Cooper notes that customer feedback and related data today continues to reside in the contact center and does not make its way to the people within the organization who can use it to make improvements. It’s a common problem, with 88 percent of customers thinking that companies don’t care about their opinions. Previous CCW Digital market studies found the same results, but the trend is on pace to change by 2025, Cooper’s latest report maintains.

2. Unify data for a 360-degree customer view. Systems need to be able to track structured and unstructured data, including metadata, across every channel to analyze the entirety of the relationship. Too often, though, different departments are using different CRM systems or ones that aren’t properly integrated, leading to silos of customer data, Cooper says, noting that “it is better to think of data unification as bringing business functions together to achieve a business goal rather than simply making sure your sales tracking system integrates with your email marketing software.”

To achieve the 360-degree customer view, companies might have to retire older systems that don’t have data-sharing capability, she recommends. “If your current CRM system does integrate with other enterprise systems, make sure that this feature extends to reporting and analytics. It’s of no use to you if you can simply view data from other systems; you need to be able to analyze your dataset as a whole.”

3. Optimize human-AI interaction. Though many contact centers operate under the principle of using AI for simple customer interactions and human agents for more complex interactions, the reality is that most still have issues with chatbots misunderstanding questions, website interruptions, or other glitches, Cooper says. As a result, for most companies, the contact center remains a cost center rather than a revenue generator.

The report says that businesses need to learn how to optimize self-service channels while enabling customers to still contact live agents when needed. Companies can further leverage their live agents by employing intelligent queues and routing to deliver communications to the best and most appropriate among them. This will also help agents build customer relationships, which the report says is more important with higher-value customers.

4. Connect customer experience to business outcomes. Many product-oriented businesses still don’t treat customer experience as a differentiator, Cooper argues. While that is not a good practice for anyone, it is particularly problematic for service businesses that must provide superior customer experience for onboarding, consulting, and troubleshooting or customers will let their subscriptions lapse. Service businesses can’t succeed by providing good or superior customer experience in one area and failing to do so in other areas, she adds.

5. Evolve contact center metrics. Older metrics, like resolution times or number of tickets resolved per agent, are no longer meaningful, Cooper says, because they fail to measure the quality of the interaction, which is more important than efficiency and speed. Customer retention, she adds, is a better way to measure customer service success and will help the contact center quantify its impact on company revenue, further removing its stigma as a cost center.

“The best way to evaluate customer satisfaction isn’t [Net Promoter Score]; it’s dollar spend,” Cooper concludes.

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