Turning The Contact Center Into a Competitive Advantage

    Today’s contact centers play a vital role in managing customer relationships from start to finish. Since it is central to the overall customer experience, more companies are recognizing that a well-run, well-equipped and well-staffed contact center can help to differentiate a business and become a real competitive advantage.

    In fact, 85% of respondents to the Deloitte 2015 Global Contact Center Survey view customer experience as a competitive differentiator. That’s up from 62% in 2013 – a noteworthy jump. Businesses now overwhelmingly believe that going beyond plain-vanilla customer service to offer a more personal experience can drive top-line value.

    According to Deloitte, customer satisfaction is the most important objective of the contact center. Nearly all – 96% – of the organizations surveyed expect contact center growth in the next two years to support business expansion and customer experience demands.

    On paper, delivering a top-quality customer experience doesn’t appear to be difficult. But despite the Deloitte findings, the Dimension Data 2015 Global Contact Center Benchmarking Report said customer experience levels have dropped for the fourth consecutive year – even though customer experience was cited as the most important strategic performance measurement.

    Creating Opportunities

    Companies that succeed in delivering exceptional customer experience have a unique opportunity to set themselves apart. So what can the contact center do to create the kind of experience that will have clients singing its praises?

    According to Deloitte, the three top customer experience attributes are accuracy and quality of information, access to the contact center, and first contact resolution. With the right tools and technology, businesses can make enormous strides in satisfying customers in these areas. To start, consider these three steps:

    • Integrate customer data from across the enterprise with the phone system. A customer’s experience is vastly improved when agents have easy access to their history. Simple actions, such as greeting a customer by name when answering the phone, can make a lasting impression. On top of that, agents are in a better position to solve problems when they have details about the customer’s business and its challenges at their fingertips. This increases upsell and cross-sell opportunities, which directly affect top-line growth.
    • Resolve problems on the initial outreach. Integration with internal systems allows agents to resolve issues on the first call. But your contact center solution should also make it possible to streamline workflows. For example, agents should have instant access to a playbook of common problems. But that’s not enough. They also need a fast way to reach subject matter experts to solve the most complex issues. In other words, the best contact centers enable agents to find and connect with colleagues using tools such as call-routing, presence and instant messaging.
    • Enable customers to connect with the contact center using their communications channel of choice: While digital channels are growing in importance, customers predominantly prefer to get answers by voice. Still, smart businesses know they can distinguish themselves by enabling multi-channel access. According to Deloitte, web self-service (83%), email (80%) and mobile (77%) are preferred for simple inquiries, while voice (68%), web chat (55%) and email (53%) are expected to grow for complex inquiries.

    The contact center may be one of the most strategic assets a business can have. With the right technology in place, it may also be one of the most effective tools for making a positive impact on the customer experience. Bottom line: With the right contact center solution, you’ll gain the competitive edge.

    Learn more about ShoreTel’s contact center solutions here.