This week saw several of the Confirmit team heading to Victoria in London to take part in Engage Customer’s Future of Contact Center event. The focus of the event was on how contact centers, usually seen a cost of doing business, could transform to become the beating heart of an organization. The way to do that? Building outstanding customer experiences that not only generate great word of mouth, but which can enable the entire company to perform better.
There was a brilliant line-up of speakers, with a lot of very high profile brands being incredibly honest about the journey they’d taken to make their contact center approach fit for the modern world. There was far too much said throughout the day to cover in a single blog post, but a couple of key themes stood out.
It’s about the people
Time and again, the speakers talked about the importance of having the right people in the contact center and training them well. While historically this part of the business has been focused on metrics such as first call resolution and call duration, there was a lot of acknowledgment that these metrics need now to be tempered with a more human element. Virgin Atlantic were able to prove that with some additional training, agents’ confidence improved so much that the whole operation became more efficient. Calls were shorter, and fewer were escalated to team leaders who were then able to focus on finding new ways to improve the customer experience.
There was also agreement that the insight captured through teams in the contact center is invaluable. It’s all very well asking a customer “how can we improve?” but chances are, the customer won’t really know. However, agents who spend all day every day “papering over the cracks” as Confirmit’s Lisa Garthside described, are in the perfect position to identify what’s going wrong and what needs to be done about it.
Technology will change everything…and nothing
To no one’s surprise, there was a lot of talk about the types of technology available to enhance or simplify the contact center experience for customers. From AI and chatbots to voice biometrics and and livechat. There also seemed to be a pretty solid consensus that there will still be a need for the contact center for a very long time. Self-serve options enable consumers to take care of many processes themselves, but that leaves the more complex, high value pieces to the contact center. This means that, if anything, its role will become more important than ever, with agents needing to be trained on the more sophisticated requirements. Confirmit’s customer Bupa was speaking, and James explained that their agents were trained to take longer on calls if necessary in order to make sure they resolved client’s questions. Rather than focusing on getting the call answered and finished first, they were taking the time to fully understand a situation and deal with it.
I’ll finish with a quote from Lisa Garthside which summed up a lot of what was said during the day (and which is, in fact, true of any element of VoC, not just contact center). “If we asked customers for their feedback and fail to take action, we do them a disservice.” I think from the conversations I heard, contact centers are taking that message to heart.