Call center executives must realize that the ability to optimize first contact resolution lies with effective digital services.
Call center optimization may seem like a simple equation; increase sales, reduce costs and ta-da, your call center has been optimized! But as any honest operations manager will tell you – it’s never that simple. First contact resolution involves an ongoing and delicate balance of improving customer service without busting through budgets, to ultimately increase revenues.
Since the onset of the Internet this “playing field” has changed and then changed again. Prior to the 2000 dot-com bubble, the call center was the epicenter of customer service activity, where costs were high with a huge demand on resources and personnel staff. Enters the Internet, and there was suddenly a new medium through which customer service could be provided, but at significantly reduced costs. The Internet paved the way for a digital transformation, where a large range of customer service activities could now be completed just by visiting the company’s web-page.
All went along merrily as the list of online services continued to expand, but eventually, organizations found that even as their call volumes may have reduced initially, operational costs continued to grow. Although customers were using digital services such as the company webpage, and then later the app and social media channels, they still wanted to speak with an agent. In fact, reports show a positive correlation between higher customer activity on digital assets with more frequent contact to the call center.
Now, almost two decades later, the current challenge presents itself: how do you harness online assets to optimize first contact resolution?
First contact resolution is achieved by automating business processes and maximizing digital usage in any interaction. In a three-stage process, a centralized and comprehensive digital engagement platform enables an organization to:
- Create: Create automated service journeys that address limitless process requirements.
- Publish: Those automated journeys can then be published to a variety of digital channels creating a seamless omnichannel service environment.
- Engage: Customers can engage the platform and interact with agents in a virtual branch-like experience through the use of advanced collaboration tools.
Let’s address each of these three stages of optimizing digital services:
A digital engagement platform offers endless flexibility with the ability to create communication flows, visual screen displays, and digital documents. Creative tools are designed to be easy-to-use and offer a wide variety of editing capabilities for administrators to implement any required operational processes quickly and efficiently. Administrators can apply policies to ensure that processes guide customers through service pathways correctly. The created journeys can also be integrated with existing back-end data systems, such as the CRM and corporate databases, so that company data is consistently updated and reliable.
Customer journeys can be published to an omnichannel environment that enables customers to consume a seamless customer experience, even if changing digital channels (e.g. from the web to the app), or devices (change from smartphone to PC). Likewise, all material can be published to the agent’s portal, so that all material is accessible to agents as they support customers through any service issue.
As the digital engagement platform is integrated with back-end organizational systems, any information previously provided by the customer is automatically populated to any type of new form they are filling out.
The standard call center IVR can also be incorporated into a digital engagement platform. A Visual IVR can be used to provide augmented visual display menus to which automated process flows, visual screens and digital forms can all be published. Likewise, a Conversational IVR that uses AI and NLP technology, enables callers to immediately arrive at the relevant service destination. Here too, service journeys can be published that are capable of addressing the full variety of customer issues.
Quality customer engagements are supported by the digital engagement platform as it facilitates superior interactions that foster strong customer loyalties. Service and sales activities are enhanced with a comprehensive and app-free digital self-service. The digital self-service enables customers to complete customer journeys and resolve any number of issues independently.
Where the customer wishes to speak with a live agent they are invited to join a collaboration portal where they can share rich media – such as forms and images, co-browse documents and have live video chats. As customers communicate with agents they can digitally provide their signature, upload supporting documentation and switch devices or channels without losing any data. These advanced communication tools facilitate more efficient conversations and expedite issue resolution.
The boundaries of digital capability are constantly expanding, and with it, customer expectations. It is, therefore, becoming increasingly critical for an organization to keep pace with a highly integrated and centralized customer experience platform. First contact resolution which is characteristic of quality customer experiences simply cannot be facilitated when there is a disconnect between platforms, agents, administrators and customers. Rather, a unified approach is needed that incorporates all stages of customer engagement.