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Thursday 8 October 2009

The contact centre dilemna

Recent studies have highlighted the current dilemma most companies have with contact centres: they are both critical in maximising customer value and considered poor in meeting customer expectations. A YouGov survey conducted in the UK showed that phone and email were by a significant margin the most likely channels used by customers to contact a company for customer service (75% and 70% respectively). Self service comes third with 43%. At the same time, consumers were unhappy with the quality of service provided: 83% were frustrated with the interaction and 60% of agents agreed with them!

This matters enormously because “on average, 40% of customers who suffer through bad experiences stop doing business with the offending company” according to a recent survey published in the Harvard Business Review by Dave Dougherty and Ajay Murthy from Convergys. They go on to define the same reasons for the frustration as identified in the YouGov survey: lack of knowledge of the agent and incapacity to resolve the query on the first call. With increasing access to relevant information online through the internet and social networks, I expect customers to become more and more demanding of the contact centre agent in the future. With the simpler queries being increasingly resolved thorugh self-serivice, interactions will become more complex and more critical and the cost of failure will increase.

So what stops contact centres providing the right customer interaction? The main reason is the proliferation of applications on the desktop. The Corizon Contact Centre survey of 90 Contact Centre Managers shows that agents have to use on average 5 different applications during a call. It is not uncommon to find more than 20 on each desktop. In such an environment, it is proving very difficult to provide to the agent, cost effectively, the right information at the right time and, crucially, the tools that allow them to resolve the query in a fast and efficient way and stop customers needing to call back.

Fixing this problem has proved very difficult as demonstrated by the generations of legacy applications one can find by walking in a contact centres, from ancient green screen applications to the most recent CRM systems. Resolving this issue cost effectively requires a new approach. This is where process mashups come in. They deliver a step change in agent productivity by providing a dynamic UI that guides the process and gives agents the right information at the right time. Agent desktops can be integrated using a step by step approach, fixing the most broken processes first and delivering immediate improvement. The process mashup approach enables the easy creation of fit for purpose desktops, changing the economics of integrating applications for people by extracting “mashable” components from existing systems to deliver an initial solution in days. Once initial process hotspots have been fixed the business can iteratively work towards delivering the ‘perfect’ application for the contact centre agent that can constantly evolve with the business needs, all within a governed and secure IT infrastructure.

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