Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Increasing Contact Center Efficiency While Reducing Costs

June 10, 2019

Businesses are constantly looking to do more with less.  That means increasing operational efficiency and increasing revenue generating opportunities.  The contact center has traditionally been a cost center, showing up as a red mark on corporate budgets.  But, they are a necessary cost of doing business and serving customer needs.


However, modern contact center technologies allow customer service teams to operate much more efficiently to reduce cost per interaction, increase customer satisfaction and brand loyalty and, ultimately, generate revenue opportunities.  Many companies have found ways of turning these traditional cost centers into profit centers by deploying the latest technologies and strategies.

Self Service

Today’s customers exhibit an increasing desire to solve problems on their own.  IVR systems are ideal for promoting self service options – either traditional IVRs or modern Visual IVR that offers a screen-based navigable representation of the IVR system.  They allow customers to solve their own problems without ever having to involve a live agent.  By encouraging customers to find their own answers, businesses reduce the number of human interactions, reducing costs, but also ensuring prioritized callers receive immediate assistance, increasing satisfaction and reducing costs thanks to faster resolution.


Messaging

More than 8 trillion text messages are sent every year; Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp account for about 22 trillion more.  It’s a dominant channel and one that customers prefer, so it makes sense they would react positively to being able to receive customer support across it as well.  From text messaging to in-app messaging and chat, messaging can be a non-disruptive tool for customer support that reduces costs and increases agent efficiency.  Live chat and messaging apps allow agents to manage multiple customers simultaneously, and automated chat takes agents out of the interaction entirely.

Chatbots

Customers want to use automated self service options and they expect to have the options available.  In fact, the majority of customers report trying self service as the first customer service option.  Solving their own problems gives them a feeling of control and empowerment, and allows them to do it on their own terms, without having to wait for live agent.  Many self service options, from knowledge bases to interactive chat can be automated, reducing the burden on live agents and allowing them to focus efforts on more complicated needs, while giving customers access to the answers they need.

Proactive Engagement

Based on customer histories and other product or service information, businesses can easily use IVR, messaging, or other channels to deliver important information to customers.  These may including subscription renewal offers, appointment reminders, upgrade opportunities, or simply information on purchased products or other related products that might be of interest.  Proactive campaigns not only reduce calls to contact centers, but can increase revenue in the process.

Interactive Voice Response

Despite the emergence of other digital channels, IVR remains a key customer service tool.  Customers tends towards those channels that are most convenient at the time, which is often voice.  In fact, voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana are teaching customers to leverage automated speech recognition, which allows IVR to behave almost like live agents, delivering accurate, contextual information and answers quickly.  There are also advanced IVR services, like Visual IVR and IVR2Text, which integrate voice with modern digital mediums for greater flexibility and efficiency, and give customers additional options for their self service needs.  Visual IVR provides a text- or graphics-based representation of an IVR tree, allowing customers to use their screens to navigate the system, rather than voice.  IVR2Text options allow customers waiting in queue to request a link via SMS to Visual IVR systems, allowing them to attempt to solve problems on their own.  If they are not able to accomplish their goals, the system can be set up so they not only keep their place in the call queue, but are actually prioritized for faster connection with a live agent.

Caller Intent

Understanding why customers are calling enables a high level of continuity of experience and reduces duplication of information and content.  By properly organizing customer journey data and other related information, intelligent contact center software can not only identify callers, but based on other available data, can accurately predict the reason for their calls.  This allows more effective routing to the best resources, whether that’s a live agent or IVR system.  Understanding caller intent reduces time to resolution – and anytime solutions are found quickly, customers tend to be pleased.

Call Routing

One of the biggest wastes of time comes from failing to route callers to the best resources for handling their concerns right away.  Part of it is a residual effect of older, limited IVR systems that were not able to leverage speech recognition to more precisely recognize callers’ needs and direct them to the best agents.  Modern solutions are able to leverage the entire customer journey, including previous calls, to route calls to the best available agents – not simply the next available agent.  Effective routing requires leveraging all available customer data to understand their prior experiences and ensure they continue to have positive engagements.

Cloud Solutions – One of the benefits of cloud-based technology is its ability to be accessed anywhere there is network connectivity.  Cloud contact center technology allows companies to hire agents anywhere in the country – or world – allowing 24/7 coverage without having to staff live agents during overnight hours or other slow periods.  Remote agents in other time zones may be able to cover those calls, and the ability to hire agents in various geographies can benefit local regions with high customer populations, giving them native agents for more comfortable engagements.  Cloud-based solutions also make it easier to scale up and down to handle volume fluctuations – whether seasonal or daily.

There are many ways modern contact centers are able to increase efficiency and reduce costs.  Essentially, though, they all amount to leverage a combination of data and omnichannel engagement to maximize the impact of every customer touchpoint.


Edited by Erik Linask



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