Death. Contact Center. of the. Are the Rumours True? 7 Things Service Executives Can Do to Control their Fate

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1 Death of the Contact Center Are the Rumours True? 7 Things Service Executives Can Do to Control their Fate

2 The Traditional Call Center is Dead Driven by the explosion in communication options and widespread customer acceptance of new self-service channels, the era of the traditional call center has well and truly passed. The call center is no longer the first port of call for consumers who want fast answers to simple questions. Today s customers are increasingly using web, social and mobile channels as their first contact point with businesses. As evidence, consider the data from when customers began heading online en mass, in 2011: 24% 25% 27% 24% of consumers reported using an online virtual agent 25% of consumers reported using online screen-sharing 27% of consumers reported using the click-to-call feature from a company website None of these methods of self-service were even widely measured just two years prior, a testament to how quickly customers have shifted their preferences for engagement. For simple, straightforward inquiries, customers don t want to pick up the phone and speak to a live support agent. So What s a Customer Service Leader To Do? Let s not move forward with any funeral plans just yet, however because the death of the traditional call center merely gives rise to the contact center of the future. Live support channels are still critical for customer service; they just need to evolve in order to keep pace with rapidly shifting consumer preferences. This report outlines 7 tips to help customer service leaders in the contact center, not just to avert death but to become a vital part of the multi-channel customer experience now and in the future 2013 IntelliResponse Systems Inc. 2

3 The Contact Center of the Future: 7 Tips for Success 1 Right-channel Customers so Live Agents Handle Only Complex, Higher-value Interactions Up to 60% percent of customer questions are general, or informational questions, which do not require human assistance. The place to resolve these questions is online, on your customer-facing website, in a self-service manner. When customers are able to find answers to general questions on your website on their own, calls to your contact center are reserved for those cases where questions are more complex and legitimately require human assistance. Enter the HIGH-VALUE Live Agent When customers are empowered to go online and resolve their lowcomplexity queries on their own, the nature of the live agent role changes completely. With the robotic nature of reciting the same old routine answers gone, the live agent of the future will engage in high touch, high value problem solving. In this environment, as call volumes go down, Average Handle Time (AHT) actually goes up, because these in-depth, high-value conversations take on a new importance and become integral to delivering the kind of premium live support experience that locks in customer loyalty. The Key is to Get Online Self-Service RIGHT Virtual Agents are software services that engage in automated conversations with customers online. They excel in delivering accurate answers to low-complexity questions, thereby reducing call and volumes by as much as 50%. But this only works when your online self-service technology is effective in its ability to deliver the answer customers are looking for. This is an area where today s virtual agents excel. A virtual agent can instantly deliver the one right answer to simple questions in an automated fashion, eliminating the need for human interaction for frequently-asked, low-complexity questions that typically flood contact centers IntelliResponse Systems Inc. 3

4 2 Focus on Customer Experience to Drive Revenues This is yet another piece of evidence that illustrates the undeniable. Multiple studies have examined the correlation that a positive customer experience can have on both customer loyalty and revenues. One study in particular showed that companies that were independently rated by customers as customer experience leaders outperformed the S&P 500 Index by 27% in Because customer experience matters more than ever, today s contact center leaders must look for ways to achieve performance metrics and cost reduction without sacrificing the customer experience. Many have paid lip service to this noble pursuit, while secretly believing that the two outcomes were mutually exclusive. Today, however, enabling technologies, such a Virtual Agents for CSR desktops are turning the past on its ear, proving that customer experience, efficiency metrics and cost reduction can all be optimized synergistically. 27% Companies deemed customer experience leaders outperformed the S&P 500 Index by 27% in Get Tough on Hold Times and Transfers Subjecting customers to long hold times and repeated transfers from agent to agent has no place in today s contact center. Sluggish, fragmented content repositories that hinder agent performance during a call need to be replaced with technology that allow agents to get accurate, approved answers to questions in seconds. This is another reason to explore optimizing your agent s screen with virtual agent technology that makes it easy for CSRs to achieve rapid, consistent answers across a breadth of categories, naturally reducing the need for hold times and transfers. Live Phone Support Usage 68% Live Phone Support Satisfaction 64% While 68% of US online consumers engage in live support channels, only 64% report being satisfied with the experience. Long hold times and transfers between agents have a damaging impact on customer satisfaction IntelliResponse Systems Inc. 4

5 4 Simplify the Live Agent s Desktop Customer service leaders are recognizing the breadth of benefits that improving the agent experience can deliver to contact center performance. Here s how Forrester Research, Inc. recommends this be achieved: Customer service organizations will continue to work on simplifying the agent workspace and making it more usable. This includes removing extraneous data elements from agent screens, automating tasks to increase agent productivity, and ensuring that relevant information is easily accessible to agents... Bringing virtual agent technology to the agent desktop accomplishes all of these recommendations with a single solution. A virtual agent tool automates the entire knowledge retrieval process by allowing the Customer Service Representative (CSR) to key in a question while they have someone on the phone, in natural language, and get the single right answer. Gone are the days when CSRs have to sift their way through documents or search results to get the answers to the most common questions they receive. This live example from employee health benefits provider Bloom Health shows what CSR agents see on their desktop: In addition to the Virtual Agent workspace that allows the CSR to ask a question in natural language and get the correct answer, the CSR is also armed with easily accessible answers to follow up questions that the customer is likely to have, all of which are accessible instantly with a single click. Confidential knowledge base information has been obscured IntelliResponse Systems Inc. 5

6 5 Tear Down Old IVR Barriers Because old school online self-service like FAQ pages and site search have traditionally done a poor job of helping customers find answers, most companies relied on IVR systems as a way to manage the resulting call volumes. Unfortunately, the endless cascade of helpful menu options on most IVRs drive customers to the brink of insanity on their quest to reach the holy grail of a live agent. Today, organizations that get online self-service right see a drastic reduction of call center volume. This then allows them to enrich the live channel experience, by removing the frustrating old IVR barriers that were originally intended to deflect calls. With low-complexity calls being effectively resolved in a self-service manner online, the need to put customers through IVR hell is gone. An effective virtual agent solution on your customer-facing website can reduce call volumes by up to 50%. 6 Ensure Consistency of Service by Matching Agent Technology with Self-service Technology The level of sophistication available in online self-service tools today is light years ahead of what it once was. For example, today s virtual agent technology enables synchronous assistance, such as directed browsing (also known as page-pushing) to happen in an automated, self-service fashion. As the caliber of online self-service experiences continue to rise, contact centers will need to keep pace by equipping agent desktops with the very same tools and features that are being used by customers online. When customers and agents are using exactly the same tool to retrieve approved answers to questions, the consistency of answers and service delivery across multiple channels is virtually guaranteed. Directed Browsing ( Push pages ) hits the self-service channel Today s leading virtual agents can deliver an answer as well as an actual page from the website where additional relevant content on the topic is found IntelliResponse Systems Inc. 6

7 7 Get Crystal Clear on the Contact Center s Role in the Multi-channel World Customer service leaders need to understand how customers today are actually using each channel in order to guide investment decisions that will have the greatest impact. For example, our experience in serving more than 360 enterprise organizations has shown us that today s customers flock to customer-facing websites first when in need of answers to questions. Live support channels come next, typically in cases where escalation is required. Both web and agent interactions are increasingly taking place from the customer s mobile device. In contrast, a company s social media channels tend not to be the place where customers go when they re in search of specific answers to questions. 60% of customers say they continually change how they contact organizations, which underlines the importance of establishing consistent service experiences in every channel. For the contact center, which is the place where customers go after they ve tried to get answers online, the CSR needs to handle these critical escalation calls flawlessly. Most have had enough experience to know that escalation means more personalized, focused service and expect to be treated better as they get deeper into the channel. In today s hyper-competitive world, with so much riding on customer loyalty, contact centers now play a vital role as the guardian of this loyalty. Contact centers that embrace this role need not fear that technology will spell the death of the contact center. On the contrary, virtual agent technology on agent desktops ensures that live agents are appropriately equipped to handle their refined role of delivering higher-value service by resolving complex queries swiftly and completely IntelliResponse Systems Inc. 7

8 Next Steps IntelliResponse is here to help you in your immediate next steps. Having deployed world-class virtual agent technology solutions at more than 150 enterprise organizations worldwide, IntelliResponse has a wealth of expertise to support you as you travel on the path to delivering an online customer service experience that s right in-step with the expectations of todays customer. Contact IntelliResponse to schedule a no-obligation 30-minute assessment of your website s self-service capabilities About IntelliResponse Systems IntelliResponse is the leading provider of virtual agent technology solutions for the enterprise. We create profitable online conversations for our private and public sector customers around the world. With our patented Enterprise Virtual Agent (EVA) solutions, corporate websites, mobile applications, social media channels and agent desktops can all be transformed by an engaging virtual concierge, empowering customers to ask questions using natural, conversational language and delivering an effective and engaging online experience. Twitter.com/IntelliResponse Facebook.com/IntelliResponseInc YouTube.com/IntelliResponseInc To learn more about taking online self service to the next level for your customers, visit IntelliResponse Systems Inc. 8

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