All contact centers aspire to deliver top quality service and positive experience across every customer journey. However, achieving this goal can be a Herculean task, especially with the rise of customer demands as well as the influx of customers depending on seasonality, new products, and more. With easy access to information nowadays (thanks to the rise of the cloud, mobile devices, and social media), smart consumers demand that every interaction with a company provide them with real-time information, quick solutions, and positive experiences. So how can today's contact centers meet these challenges and stay competitive in a customer-centric business environment?
Enghouse Interactive, a leading provider of customer contact solutions, is making it possible for contact centers to improve the user experience as well as the customer experience in order to inspire brand loyalty and drive revenue growth through their omnichannel, cloud-based communication solution. John Cray, the Vice President of Product Management at Enghouse Interactive, also offers some insights on the importance of the customer experience and the user experience when it comes to contact center solutions and explains to Voip-Info the difference between traditional contact centers and today’s cloud contact centers.
A Shifting Contact Center Landscape
On-premises communication solutions were the technology of choice for many traditional contact centers until the advent of the cloud and the proliferation of mobile devices and social media. The steady adoption of cloud-based communication solutions and unified communications platform contact centers have enabled employees to communicate seamlessly and cost-effectively with their consumers. “In the early 2000’s, many contact centers adopted multichannel communications, enabling their customers to choose their form of contact – voice, email, web chat, and so on,” said Cray. “But in the past 3-4 years, driven by the rapid growth of unified communications platforms (such as Skype for Business), traditional boundaries between communication channels have blurred.”
Cray also explained that today’s cloud contact centers allow companies to place more of a focus on optimizing the complete customer journey through an omnichannel approach. “Now an interaction that starts as, say, a text message, might escalate to a mobile website visit, followed by a live call or chat session,” explained Cray. “This has resulted in what contact centers refer to as ‘omnichannel communications,’ where they must manage and track an entire customer “journey” seamlessly across channels.”
No longer limited to providing solely phone-based support, today’s cloud contact centers are keeping up with the ever-changing expectations of customers while concurrently reducing operational costs. “The omnichannel approach can improve customer experience and satisfaction, but it has another benefit as well,” added Cray. “These alternative Internet-based communications – messaging, chat, email, and even video – can be less costly to support for the contact center. That said, voice still remains the most frequently utilized channel, so contact centers must ensure they protect great service across a combination of traditional and new communication options.”
Enhancing User Experience and Customer Experience in Modern Contact Centers
“Happy agents translate into happy customers,” noted Cray. And given the challenges of supporting customers in real-time across multiple channels, the user experience really matters.
Oftentimes, with a majority of contact solutions, agents often lack the tools to perform at a high level, and this translates into a poor user experience. One common example is starting over with the customer when switching from one agent to another or across channels. Another popular example would be the limited functionality of using additional channels to get collaborative support from supervisors or other agents during a call. There is also the common frustration of switching between screens or programs to access all of the information necessary to fully support a customer. All of these represent a poor user experience that impacts service quality for both the agent and the customer.
“When customers aren’t happy, they go elsewhere; and when agents cannot perform effectively, they lose motivation and eventually go elsewhere as well,” added Cray. “A company that focuses on a unified, empowering desktop environment for their agents will retain both customers and agents at a much higher rate.”
According to Cray, modern contact centers can help their agents work more productively by enhancing the overall user experience in the following ways:
Creating a highly personalized, highly context-rich environment. Customer identification is key to improving customer-agent interaction. “Treating customers as individuals with history and context is critical, so providing a user experience for agents that automatically pops and displays the customer record, past interactions, and context of their current interaction journey can make a world of difference in the quality of the transaction,” explained Cray.
Providing communication tools that can help boost productivity. “Common responses, automated-speech-enabled coaching, and integrated back-office collaboration can speed up and improve the accuracy of service,” said Cray. “Tools for supervisors can really help, if they include coaching and training capabilities to continuously improve agent quality.” In turn, these tools help businesses become more customer-centric, especially if the call center or contact center continues to measure what is important and has processes in place for continuous improvement going forward.
Cray also emphasized the need for contact centers to communicate seamlessly and effectively across multiple channels to create a unified omnichannel journey with customers. “This [omnichannel approach] ensures that context flows across interactions, and enables one agent to pick up exactly where another left off,” he said.
Beyond this, modern contact centers should also focus on how to be proactive when it comes to appointment reminders, shipment notifications, and service changes. “The idea is to get to the customer before they get to you,” explained Cray. “And contact centers must serve an increasingly mobile customer base, as customers expect the same level of smartphone-enabled, mobile customer service they get from their bank or their health care provider or their retailers.” Plus, interaction handling is getting smarter and more sophisticated, with intelligent self-service over the web and tools to assist agents in addressing the most common types of customer inquiry.
Taking Contact Center Performance to the Next Level with Enghouse Interactive
Today's cloud contact centers differ from traditional contact centers in terms of how they operate and achieve their customer service goals. Since interactions now take place across different kinds of channels (including website comments, forum posts, social media, Web chats, mobile phones, instant messaging, webcams, and more), today’s contact centers should have an omnichannel strategy that allows their business and customers to communicate with each other seamlessly.
To deliver this seamless user experience and customer experience for contact centers, Enghouse Interactive offers customer contact solutions that offer a wide range of capabilities to today's modern agent. “Enghouse focuses heavily on capabilities for the manager, to control performance metrics and concerns in real-time; to survey and measure customer satisfaction; to measure and coach agents through interaction and desktop recording, evaluation, and analytics,” said Cray. “The key to all of this is an emphasis on the measurement and improvement of customer service.”
Through their Communications Center 10.0 (CCv 10), Enghouse Interactive provides modern contact centers with more flexibility and scalability in order to track customers across all interaction channels. This way, businesses can achieve a singular holistic view of each customer (an omnichannel view) and deliver exceptional customer experience. “From an IT perspective, Communications Center 10.0 supports hybrid environments, including those delivered through a cloud-managed service, which speaks to its flexibility benefits,” said Cray. “This means that newer elements can be hosted, either in a private or managed cloud space. “Now, IT doesn’t need a capital budget to modernize the contact center, and valuable office space can be re-purposed from housing servers to expanding seats for new agents.”
CCv10 also provides supervisors greater abilities to monitor agents through the TouchPoint interface, from which they can manage workflows and channel escalations. There’s also greater intelligence and a focus on proactive outbound communications, including the management of outbound SMS campaigns.
Additionally, CCv10 also helps live agent during inquiries. With tighter Skype for Business integration, CCv10 makes it easier to switch back and forth among channels or to initiate deeper customer engagement with screen sharing. Other key Skype for Business (SfB) enhancements for agents include broader presence reach across the organization for more collaborative customer support, as well as richer free-text searching for the right contact to facilitate problem-solving on the fly with customers.
Enhancing Contact Center Communications with Enghouse Interactive + Skype for Business
For more than a decade, Enghouse Interactive has helped Microsoft address the contact center needs of their rapidly growing unified communications (UC) market solutions. Enghouse Interactive's experience is rooted in a substantive track record with over 500 deployments and more than 10,000 active agents using SfB. Furthermore, this footprint includes both cloud and premise-based deployments, so Enghouse Interactive enables Microsoft to support any contact center environment, ranging from conventional in-house solutions to leading-edge hosted platforms.
“Enghouse Interactive’s contact center portfolio has long had native SfB integration, making it easy to add new applications and APIs, and strengthen their omnichannel value proposition,” said Cray. “This also makes SfB a core focus for Enghouse Interactive’s innovation initiatives, with a prime example being the recently-launched TouchPoint Attendant Console.” This capability provides enhanced call routing and user productivity capabilities for both the contact center and across the enterprise, which in turn positions SfB as a complete communications and collaboration solution, especially for businesses looking to leverage the cloud.
Additionally, Enghouse Interactive’s position as a Microsoft Gold Certified partner for Communications and Application Development, and as a High Touch partner for Office 365, enables the solutions to stay completely aligned with Microsoft’s continually evolving roadmap for the communication platform.
To learn more about the company’s comprehensive customer communications solutions, visit Enghouse Interactive’s website.
About Enghouse Interactive
Enghouse Interactive has over 25 years of experience delivering contact center solutions to every vertical market. Established in 1984, the company brings decades of knowledge and best practices to the table in defining the delivery of great customer service. Many of these best practices and techniques are embedded in the tools and capabilities of Enghouse Interactive’s contact center solution, including customer identification and self-service, intelligent skills-based routing, visual productivity tools for the agent, supervisor real-time control and so on.