Is the next-generation customer service center one that amps up what we have in place with the added ability to communicate with customers via newer channels such as email, IM, mobile, social media and possibly video channels? Or is it going look entirely different, possibly leveraging technologies like WebRTC and/or employees throughout an organization as opposed to dedicated agents?
Those are some of the questions a panel of customer service experts discussed today at the ITEXPO session called From Call to Contact: The Next Generation Customer Service Center. ITEXPO, which is just getting started, is taking place through Friday this week at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
Panelists on the session mentioned above included Max Ball, product marketing for contact center at 8x8; Rick McFarland, president and CEO at Voice4Net; and Brian Spraetz, solutions marketing manager at Interactive Intelligence. Jon Arnold, principal at consulting firm J Arnold & Associates, moderated.
The possibility exists that rather than operating a traditional contact center the next-generation contact center could simply consist of a company assigning all or several of its employees a chunk of time to address customer service requests related to their areas of expertise, said McFarland. The technology is available now to do that kind of thing, he added.
Another new model of customer service involves enabling the customer to call for help direct from the device with which they need assistance. We’re referring here to Amazon Mayday, which allows Kindle users to click a button on the device to launch a videoconference with a customer support person.
Arnold noted that other companies could adopt this model for other products. For example, he said, down the road a company like GE could build a Mayday-type button into its microwave ovens.
WebRTC would be great technology to enable that kind of thing, said Ball.
The high-profile launch of Amazon Mayday is great for the customer service space, Ball added, because it raised the bar on customer service. However, Ball voiced his concern that not all customer service representatives will be a video-ready as the lovely young lady on the Mayday commercial.
“I’m not sure I want to see the guy with the purple mohawk,” he said.
This conversation is all very exciting, but it doesn’t really accurately reflect the norm of what’s actually happening in customer service today.
The reality is that there’s a lot of technology available today that could help companies deliver better customer service by doing even simple things like providing contact center agents with customer information like account numbers to expedite agent-customer exchanges, but many companies are not using such solutions. That’s too bad, because using such solutions can not only improve customer satisfaction, the panelists indicated, it also can lower customer care costs.
A Dimension Data report indicates more half of the IVR systems out there don’t provide any customer information, Spraetz said. That’s a mistake we should not repeat as we launch mobile self-help applications, he added.
Gen Y says the phone is No. 4 on their list in how they want to communicate, so that’s pretty far down the list, Spraetz said. But for all the talk about the new, more empowered and connected customer, and how companies need to cater to these people with multimodal/omnichannel contact centers, the bottom line is that sometimes people need to talk, he added, and voice is the channel people use when they can’t fix their issue using the other channels.