Multi-channel customer contact is not an option for today’s contact centers; it’s a necessity. Phone calls may still rule, but the alternatives to real-time voice are too numerous and significant to ignore or treat as second class.
Most centers handle each medium in distinct organizational siloes, informally. Few companies integrate channels or use sophisticated tools in contact routing and handling. Most have little to no reporting on media beyond phone calls, and what data they have isn’t used for staffing and planning. This approach might “work” for small volumes with good people making up for bad technology and/or processes. But it’s not scalable or sustainable if:
- Marketing start pushing alternative channels
- Web self-service become so commonplace that it generates lots of email and/or chat requests
- Workforce planners strain to find staff suitable for each medium
- Customer satisfaction decrease due to inconsistent treatment and/or quality across media
- The voice platform hit end-of-life and trigger a need to consider multi-channel platforms
These changes cry out for a technology change!
Start by looking at available technology to stimulate your thinking about what is possible and what you should consider. Understand the functionality and its benefits. For example…
A multimedia routing and reporting engine will provide a common framework for the administration of agent profiles, skills, and routing rules. As you apply those routing rules, the ability to trigger logic based on what is happening with all media queues and agent skills and availability will optimize resource utilization as well as responsiveness to customer needs.
You gain a more credible story as a “contact center” leader or support resource as your integrated reporting lets you present performance across media. Accurate insights into agent utilization and time in work states lets you really manage your most valuable (and expensive) asset.
The data generated feeds into and integrates with performance tools – e.g., workforce management, quality monitoring, analytics, voice of the customer. And common knowledge management tools provide consistent answers to questions regardless of channels.
With those considerations in mind, it’s time to think about how to get there. Consider all possibilities for sourcing: premise or hosted, suite or “best of breed,” CTI-like solutions for external multi-channel routing. Use technology replacement as an incentive to change processes, not just technology. And as you define your path, consider the impact your new multi-channel environment will have on your adjunct systems (performance tools, CTI, KM, CRM, etc.) as you expand media under consideration.
Read Multi-Channel Technology Comes into Its Own to get some ideas on where and how to start.