Call Center Strategies Growing from UC
Today, call centers can no longer rely on voice alone to deal with customers. Customers and prospects expect to reach a company by the channel of their choice, which could be text, email, video or web...
Today, call centers can no longer rely on voice alone to deal with customers. Customers and prospects expect to reach a company by the channel of their choice, which could be text, email, video or web conference, chat, Instant Message, and social media, as well as voice.
Unified Communications (UC) promises to bring together all those technologies, services, and devices into a single integrated platform that makes it easier for people to communicate and collaborate on desk phones, cell phones, home phones, and mobile devices, wherever they are located
Developing call center strategies with UC gives businesses a strong customer service differentiator – an important development because customer service must live up to a company’s brand promise and expectations.
Helping agents collaborate
Unified Communications is extending this capability even further. Allowing customer service agents to collaborate quickly and easily with experts and colleagues outside the call center when they need support to resolve a difficult customer issue.
Call centers can now base their support strategies on a range of skills wider than those available in the team of agents.
UC bridges the collaboration gap
A collaborative contact center strategy draws on the reach and flexibility of UC, together with the availability of subject matter experts. This level of collaboration has been a problem in the past because many companies run separate phone systems for the call center and the rest of the business, and the systems may not be compatible.
Collaborative contact centers integrate both phone systems so that agents can quickly reach experts outside the center, regardless of their location. This enables managers to extend skills-based routing beyond the contact center to find the right specialist.
Integrating technology with an internal social network can make it even easier to identify the right contact. Businesses recognize the importance of sharing and accessing all the skills in the organization and social media supports that process. By setting up an internal social network, employees can post details of their own expertise and knowledge, and offer or request assistance.
Contact center agents can use that network to find an expert if they need help to resolve an issue. UC’s Presence feature lets agents know if an individual specialist is available to provide support.
The agent can then invite the specialist by Instant Message or phone to join the customer call. Agents can use UC functionality to escalate the incoming voice call to an audio or video conference call and use screen sharing services to exchange or view essential support information.
This type of collaboration provides a number of important benefits. Agents can bring in experts quickly while the customer stays on the line. That eliminates the need for call backs or putting the customer on hold. It speeds up response times, lowers the cost of handling complex calls, improves resolution time, and increases customer satisfaction.
Helping customers collaborate
Call centers are also adopting another form of collaboration as part of their new strategy. They are inviting customers to provide feedback on their products or services and encouraging them to collaborate with other customers . They can share advice and tips on using the products or dealing with problems.
Businesses recognize that customers are already practicing this type of informal collaboration on social media and review sites. And, user communities are well established on many company websites. By offering customers tools to share their knowledge as part of the call center service, they are endorsing the information and extending the reach and scope of customer service and technical support.
Extending mobile customer service
Support for mobile is a key element of Unified Communications and call centers are now leveraging smartphone capabilities to develop new strategies for handling inbound and outbound calls.
Smartphones support Visual IVR – a visual indication of an IVR menu. Using a suitable app, smartphone users no longer have to navigate through long strings of voice prompts; they view a visual menu on their phones or other mobile devices and choose the option they want.
When they are connected to the call center, they can enter any necessary personal or security details on their screen. The call center system can offer a self-service solution or the option of speaking to an agent. Some systems also offer the option of a call-back so that the customer does not have to wait on hold.
Visual IVR is a practical solution for contact centers thanks to the widespread availability of smartphones and the increasing demand for mobile customer service. This contact method offers customers a solution that is quicker, simpler, and less frustrating. By tapping the right menu option on their screen, customers can get through the navigation process in seconds.
Adding the option of a call-back enhances Visual IVR even further. Customers can enter their personal details or use a login screen to identify themselves. They can then select a convenient time and date for a call-back. The agent who handles the call-back now has the essential information to give the customer a quick response and not waste time on verification or establishing the customer’s needs.
Using Visual IVR and call-back can improve productivity in the contact center. It reduces the time spent on verification and frees agents to spend more time on handling more complex calls from customers.
Proactive notification growing
UC’s ability to integrate with business applications provides call centers with the ability to develop a ‘Click to solve’ strategy. By converging voice and data networks to support the UC platform, call centers can integrate communication channels with applications such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems.
By centralizing customer profiles and increasing understanding of customers’ habits and preferences, agents can use the technology to identify possible issues, send customers notifications, and include a possible resolution in the notification.
For example, if agents identify a potential stock shortfall for customers who order regularly, they can alert the customer and offer to deliver new stock. All the customer has to do is click the ‘agree’ button in the text or e-mail.
Call centers go social
UC also supports the increasing use of social media as a key channel for the call center. Businesses find that customers are complaining about products and services on social media or review sites rather than contacting call centers.
By using social media monitoring tools to identify comments or discussions about their products, agents can proactively communicate with customers by joining the dialog or contacting them directly.
Improving customer satisfaction
Developing strategies based on Unified Communications and collaboration tools is helping call centers improve satisfaction levels by making it easy for customers to access information on-demand as well as live assistance.
Collaboration enhances the range of skills and knowledge available to solve customer issues, while UC provides a platform that gives customers greater choices in the way they deal with a company.