2015: End of Contact Center

Original author: Francis Carden
It seems radical, and I do not believe that we are close to seeing a world full of tables and chairs, telephones, keyboards, and computers in abandoned contact center buildings, still echoing the phrase “How can I help you?” ? ”However, many of the professionals I've met seem to be keeping the focus on lowering customer service costs. This is a universal concern that you will have to reduce the cost, perhaps to the imaginary point when there is nowhere to reduce!

Almost all of us in everyday life strive to buy goods of ever better quality. When we buy something, we usually focus on the price-quality ratio, and both of these factors affect the ability of sellers to make a profit. Profit is usually invested in the development of the enterprise, it becomes more and more out of competition!

Every day I meet with experts who are looking for ways to improve customer service, which is necessary to maintain the company's reputation and increase its competitiveness. With rare exceptions, these specialists simultaneously seek to reduce the cost of maintenance. And this is only the change that occurred during my 10 years in the contact center industry (and plus 30 years in the field of information technology) - the cost reduction is accelerating.

Over the past 10 years, the contact center industry has experienced varying successes with SOA, BPM, cloud computing, speech analysis, screen recording, IVR, unified communications, WFO, etc. Although all of these technologies have been introduced, millions of dollars have been spent on improving contact center productivity, why do industry leaders still see a lack of efficiency?

Specialists in the field of information technology and business have always helped the market by introducing innovative solutions and effective technologies, and I see a widespread increase in activity in this area. So, what do they see and where will they direct their efforts in 2015 and beyond?

Automation, Automation, and Automation

Simple, this transformation and simplification through automation. Automation is the key for managers, allowing them to fulfill their promises to shareholders about increasing profits. Automation is the key to a quick return on investment, to better customer service and lower cost at the same time. There are many types of automation.

Automation of business processes. This term becomes ubiquitous for large projects, but it is also effective when used as part of small projects.

Robotization This technology takes what a person types from the keyboard and does it with a programmable robot. This is effective because it does not change any parts of the process or application, as well as accepted business rules, but it automates many keystrokes, mouse clicks and non-changing actions previously performed by a person. New technologies do it better by replacing legacy screen data analysis.

Robotization allows you to perform processes much faster, but this is not always important. Even if this is done at the same speed as a person can, it still makes sense to use robots (virtual machines) if you want to increase hourly productivity!

Workplace automation. This type of automation is similar to robotization, but it does not replace a person, but helps him to work at a computer. This is a key step in processes that do not require human involvement. Again, this does not change the applications used, does not require a census of applications, and the existing business logic remains 100% unchanged. Operators are still involved in working with customers - this is something that has not yet been automated.

Automation is not new in the field of information technology or business, but what’s new is the quality of products on the market and the success that it has brought to organizations serving customers. This approach was used by many contact centers in the world, and automation provided a significant increase in productivity. It is known that many specialists have built a successful career by introducing automation in the industry.

Automation is a good solution because it solves the problems of both the contact center and the back office. "How to make a profit without much expense and not spend years on it?" Automation is a logical decision, because when you look at the work of the contact center operators of the back office employees, you realize that the computer performs many functions that were previously performed by people. You don’t have to be a specialist in rocketry (or have a black belt using the Six Sigma system) to look over someone’s shoulder and say: “Why did you enter this data twice?” Or “Why are you trying to sell the wrong product?”

Automation scales easily. You can start the automation with half a dozen obvious processes, such as: “Automatic registration”, “Single sign-on”, “Ordering in real time”, “Automatic update”, and move on to more complex automation, which will provide integrated reviews, “Smart” workplace, integration with computer telephony, process control, hot calls, etc. In the future, you can automate everything you can, and immediately benefit and save time.

The key difference between automation and other “integrations” or cost reduction strategies is that these other strategies usually do not make a profit until the project is completed, and as a result, sometimes it’s too late to correct errors. Automation allows you to quickly return the investment, its consequences are obvious and predictable, and you quickly get what you expected.

Last but not least, automation goes hand in hand with the reduction of errors from the moment you automate part of the operator’s actions, this reduces its load when servicing the client. This can play a key role in solving particularly complex problems that may arise during manual call processing.

In fact, contact center specialists have been seeking to increase efficiency for many years, but, showing a favor for information technology, I note: only recently have appeared ways to effectively solve many problems. And these new technologies do not stand in the way of progress, but rather accelerate it.

So, innovative technologies are needed for contact centers. The last question begs: “Does this really work?” The answer is unconditional: “Yes.” For many years, automation was out of sight, until its usefulness and necessity became obvious. And now it is widely used. From a small contact center with 150 contact points, to a large distributed contact center with 35,000 operators, workplace automation is the catalyst for the transformation process leading to world-class customer service. Large or small, any successful contact center uses a combination of business process automation, robotics and workstations.

Contact center managers and specialists are under constant pressure because of problems related to improving the quality of customer service and lowering the cost of this process. This situation should not lead to the death of the contact center. Armed with modern automation technology and a comprehensive deployment plan, the contact center will ultimately achieve optimum efficiency.

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