Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Customer Experience Management – the Business Value of Collaboration
It’s June already – a new month has begun, and that means it’s time for a new topic on the CIO Collaboration Network. Last month, the focus was on video and now we’re shifting to a functional area of growing importance to all businesses – the contact center. I say “all” for good reason, and Unified Communications is very much a driver here.
Prior to the advent of IP, contact centers were mostly facilities-based, centralized and costly to operate. This made them relatively easy to manage, but beyond the means of small businesses. This creates a natural paradox in the sense that smaller businesses have a harder time getting customers than large enterprises, and for them, the contact brings great value in terms of keeping those customers happy.
My readers should understand the economics of IP, and how that has opened up great opportunities for businesses of all sizes. One of the great benefits has been in the contact center, where affordable, scalable solutions are accessible to every business, even those who have no in-house infrastructure to support it. In short, there are no major barriers today to keep any business from having some semblance of a customer service operation.
Just as with UC, the call center has become a rather fluid concept, again, mainly due to the impact of IP. The call center has become the contact center to reflect that fact that agents now use more than just telephony to interact with customers. As SIP and UC have made real-time, multichannel communication more commonplace, the emphasis has shifted from agents in the contact center out to the marketplace where the impact of their actions has the most important impact.
Where a simple call to a toll-free number once constituted customer service, UC gives agents greater latitude for more engaging communication which ultimately should lead to faster, better problem solving and increased customer satisfaction. This milieu gives rise to a new area of focus – CEM – customer experience management. Instead of being evaluated on how quickly problems are resolved on the phone, agents are now gauged by how well they create and manage a customer experience.
This may seem like a tall order, but in the right hands, it can be fairly seamless and intuitive with UC. Not only can UC extend this to any agent willing and able to deliver this level of service, but for any business as well. That’s why the concept of customer experience management is exciting – it’s accessible for anyone ready to embrace the tools. UC provides the integrated environment for agents to interact – and collaborate – with customers as each situation requires. Some customers will just want one mode and others will want multiple modes. Similarly, some will be happy just dealing with one agent from start to finish, whereas others will want direct access to specialists, either brought in during the initial call, or on a subsequent call.
The scenarios here are endless, and that’s the point – as well as the business value of collaboration in the contact center. Ultimately, the value of collaboration is reflected in the results, many of which are directly measurable; transactional metrics such as AHT and FCR. There are also indirect metrics that should tick upward with effective uses of collaboration, such as customer satisfaction, repeat purchasing, referral business, etc.
Whatever the positive impact, the main idea is that collaboration adds value to the contact center by allowing agents to interact with customers on their terms. Customer expectations have come a long way from the time when all they could do was call a toll-free number, wait endlessly on hold and hope for the best. With UC, whatever works for the customer, works for the agent. Business has never been more competitive, and the timeless maxim “the customer is always right” has never been more true. By providing agents with the tools that let them respond to any situation on the fly, UC levels the playing field and meet today’s expectations, in whatever form collaboration may take. If that doesn't create value for a business, I don't know what does.
This post sponsored by the CIO Collaboration Network and Avaya