Mobile-Minded, Socially-Connected Contact Centers Attract And Retain Business

    Nothing can sour someone on a business faster than poor customer service. With so many methods of communication to choose from these days, people want to be able to use whichever one they feel the most comfortable speaking over, be it email, instant message or voice. In many situations, these channels all need to be centrally located on a mobile app. The rise of personal smartphones and tablets has created new standards for convenience and unified communications.

    "Virtually all executives talk endlessly about customer-centricity," according to Call Center IQ's 2014 Call Center Executive Priorities Report. "Yet when push comes to shove, call centers continue to underperform and customers are left in an ongoing state of dissatisfaction."

    More companies are starting to realize this every day, and 2014 is expected to be a year where many companies take the necessary steps to modernize their call centers. According to the report, 62 percent of businesses will allocate for more spending in customer support on mobile devices. Additionally, 60 percent of businesses plan on increasing spending for assistance through social media.

    If a company's contact center is not equipped to handle requests outside of landline telephone calls - or if systems are out of date or inefficient - customers may start looking to competitors.

    Improving Operations Becoming Universal Priority

    The trend in underperforming contact centers has not gone unnoticed by those who are tasked with running them. In addition to the 62 percent of companies that are increasing spending, Call Center IQ found that another 62 percent of respondents considered the improvement of efficiency a concern of great magnitude.

    The first step to accomplishing this is by streamlining all methods of communication across one channel. This can be accomplished by digitizing phone lines through a VoIP PBX connection. Doing so will allow unified communications solutions to be deployed more effectively in the contact center. According to Call Center IQ, 81 percent of companies still rely on email and voice as their primary modes of contact. Bringing them together and combining them with instant messaging and social media will allow contact center representatives to conveniently stay in touch with both customers and other members of the organization.

    Social Media In The Contact Center

    While texting and video might seem like logical additions to call center operations, other channels are beginning to sneak their way in, as well. Social media services like Facebook and Twitter - which are commonly accessed through mobile apps as opposed to Web browsers - are already being leveraged for customer interaction at many organizations. According to the International Customer Management Institute, social media as a support medium is now seen as essential by 67 percent of leaders involved with call centers. This may have something to do with the one in three customers who prefer to reach out to an organization through social media rather than over the phone.

    But like most unified communication initiatives, deploying social media into the contact center is a process. According to Software Advice managing editor Ashley Verrill, these tools have normally belonged to the marketing department. A strategy must be developed in a manner that accounts for collaboration between both those who actually operate the accounts and the people who will be tasked with customer service. Who will respond to customer queries? How do these questions and/or comments need to handled? This could require call center software integration into desk phones and docks elsewhere in the company.

    Whoever's responsibility social media support ends up being, they will need to pay attention to what is being said, from private questions about products to publicly-displayed negative criticism. By trying to handle issues under the watch of other potential clients, businesses can sell themselves as organizations that are attentive and eager to assist.

    Collecting Data For Quality Purposes

    The digital nature of unified communications technology not only makes companies more accessible, but it also makes them higher functioning. Verrill said that analytics should be collected on the effectiveness of social media customer service in order to make sure it is constantly improving. By measuring average handle and response times in addition to the quality of the interactions, contact centers will be able to gain a better understanding of how to keep the client base satisfied and representatives productive.

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