We have the privilege of working with contact centers of many sizes, across a wide range of industries. They all have a few things in common: they want to deliver a great customer experience, meet their target metrics, operate efficiently and effectively, and use technology to their advantage.
Credit unions are a bit unique in that they are more willing than most to share information about how they are doing and what they plan to do next. We recently dove deep into their response to the COVID-19 pandemic and conducted a comprehensive contact center survey covering strategy, operations, metrics, and technology.
In analyzing the survey results and formulating recommendations, we identified clear opportunities that apply to all contact centers. They merit serious consideration, especially given all the disruptions that 2020 has brought and the great possibilities going forward.
Implement Process Optimization and Knowledge Management
Because process-intensive labor constitutes the vast majority of contact center costs, we can all agree that process optimization is a good thing. With the global pandemic, we now realize that process optimization also helps organizations become more resilient when confronted with unforeseen “shocks” to their markets and business models.
With management paying closer attention to their organization’s capacity to sustain operations and meet service levels under duress, it’s time to seize the moment and get the resources to tackle this issue.
Be sure to assess the wide range of contacts that the center handles and the interdepartmental “ecosystem” within which it works. If you’re excited about “bots” and artificial intelligence (and who isn’t?!), look at how these technologies can help customers self-serve and how they can help agents comply with processes, gather appropriate information, guide the customer to the appropriate “next best action,” and bring interactions to closure.
A searchable, dynamic knowledge management platform with the support resources to maintain it serves as another key strategy for improving organizational resiliency. It can enable staff (even those who aren’t normally in the contact center but are “pitching in” during the workload crunch) to become proficient faster across diverse, complex contact types and reduce their reliance on other people. A “single source of truth” promotes consistency and compliance. It also provides an effective means to disseminate updates rapidly.
Pursue Technology Improvements
Global pandemic or not, customers continue to raise the bar on expectations when they interact with your contact center. They want more self-service across a variety of channels – web, mobile, IVR – and want that self-service to be more user-friendly, with easier authentication and a more personalized experience. They want to seamlessly move to assisted service via live calls, chats, texts, and email. All of these capabilities benefit from omnichannel routing that is integrated with the desktop tools to ensure that customers reach appropriately skilled resources and are accorded quick response times with low level of effort for all involved.
Cloud technology continues to gain traction throughout the industry. Concerns regarding security, control and costs are waning. Buyers have been won over by the value of agility (e.g., to support home agents), continuous innovation, ease of integration, and technology support.
Improving the agent desktop still sits atop many contact center “wish lists.” Too often, the agent is the point of integration amidst several isolated applications and user interfaces. Fixing the desktop can have a huge impact on handle times, customer experience, and employee engagement.
Contact centers need to strengthen their authentication and fraud protection protocols while striking the delicate balance between ease of access for legitimate business transactions and providing appropriate levels of protection for customers and the company.
Optimize Support Resources and Free Up Supervisors
Technology doesn’t deliver the desired effects if support resources aren’t in place to use it well. The center needs skilled IT, HR, training, and business analyst personnel with sufficient bandwidth to address the assigned workload and tasks. These support resources need to handle the day-to-day demands as well as one-off projects to support process changes, interdepartmental coordination, and technology implementation. Moreover, centers also need to offload support tasks from Supervisors so they can refocus on training, coaching, and transactional support.
Develop a Plan
While it’s uncertain how the coronavirus will affect the future of the contact center, the disruption in operations provides an impetus for change. Take advantage of the spotlight to initiate improvements that will benefit the center, as well as customers and employees, and make your center more agile going forward.