THE AGILE CONTACT CENTER: A New Approach to Customer Service

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1 THE AGILE CONTACT CENTER: A New Approach to Customer Service

2 Rob Brazier Director of Product Management, Twilio The traditional contact center technology platform forces customers into a broken paradigm. Do you realize that your customer service call center is built on ten year old technology? Maybe it s even older. Aging and hardware-centric infrastructure can t keep pace with your customers and the technologies they rely on for communications. But this is nothing new. What you need is a new approach, one that s more agile and flexible. An approach that will allow you to deliver the caliber of customer experience necessary to win in increasingly competitive markets. To help companies address the need for an Agile Contact Center, Twilio developed an interactive workshop. First presented at the Future Call Center Summit in 2014, since then a range of companies have participated. This white paper covers many of the topics discussed in the workshop, which walks people through some of the common problems facing traditional contact center technology and how a new approach can address many of these issues. It also introduces the Agile Contact Center approach and describes how the power of software and the cloud is enabling businesses to operate in completely new ways. 2

3 1999 Designed THE CLASSIC CONTACT CENTER TECHNOLOGY TRAP Many businesses operating contact centers are subsisting on systems deployed half a 2004 Built 2007 Evaluated 2009 Installed decade ago. Those systems were expensive and time-consuming to install and customize, so businesses are (understandably) reluctant to update them. But think about it, if you launched your system in 2009, you most likely started the buying process two years earlier with an RFP, vendor evaluations and contract negotiations. Given the product development cycles for contact center hardware and software, the product proposed by your chosen vendor in 2007 was probably first released in 2004 and initially designed five years before that. So here you stand today in the midst of a technology trap with an aging and costly infrastructure that impedes future progress. TODAY 3

4 Ineffective Agents Fragmented Systems LINEAR AND WATERFALL APPROACHES ARE OUTDATED When you deal with old technology, you are often required to accept old paradigms for project management, system integration, and deployment. In fact, most call center technology projects still use the outdated multi-stage waterfall approach to software development. Waterfall development works like this: You start with a lengthy requirements phase, followed by a design phase. From there, you move to deployment, where you attempt to get proprietary and complex systems to work together. In this phase, you re often forced to make a series of compromises that limit your effectiveness. After that, you test (and make further compromises), finally moving into production and maintenance modes. Wasted Time & Money Dissatisfied Customers This linear, time-consuming approach to call center deployment and technology choices is often the root of many consumer and agent complaints: Consumers feel the lack of integration between systems. Agents become frustrated because they can't access the information they need to help solve problems. The constant searching for data, repeating of information as customers are transferred between departments, and inability to address consumers preferences wastes everyone s time and company resources. 4

5 A NEW MODEL: THE AGILE CONTACT CENTER APPROACH A new model, however, is emerging. Agile software development is now the norm. It promotes adaptive planning and learning, continuous iteration and improvement, and rapid, flexible responses to change through shortened development cycles. The agile approach unlocks the ability to experiment and learn as you go. In the classic contact center model, you have inflexible and proprietary platforms. You re unable to address disruptive changes in consumer behavior. But with the agile contact center approach you use simple APIs to rapidly integrate with new platforms and channels of communication, and to change the way communications are used by your agents and consumers. Simple and straightforward APIs are virtualizing the entire telecommunications and VoIP stack. With tools that any web developer can use, the power to engineer the customer experience is back in your hands. The agile contact center approach allows businesses to build communications applications using a better methodology and set of technology tools. It allows you to be in control of building and iterating on the experience that you want to deliver to your 5

6 Classic Contact Center Problems Responding quickly to new and changing business needs using existing solutions. customers and do so in a way that s integrated with little to no telecommunications knowledge required. Instead of taking an off-the-shelf contact center from a telecom vendor and accepting a monolithic feature set, the agile approach allows you to build exactly the solution you need, when you need it. As the points of integration, flows of usability and channels of interaction change over time, you can adjust in real time and create the customer experiences you need to stay competitive. 6

7 Massive Scale Global Reach Reliability Elasticity FIVE ADVANTAGES OF THE AGILE APPROACH Thanks to the power of software and the cloud the agile approach delivers some major advantages: Scale you can expand usage needs on-demand, without headaches, without time and expense. Global reach you don't need to negotiate with carriers in every country in which you do business. Cloud platforms allow you to buy a phone number in that country and deploy immediately. Improved reliability by aggregating the requirements of tens of thousands of customers, cloud platforms offer greater reliability than what most can afford to implement independently. Elasticity you can scale up and scale back down just as easily, responding to changing needs without penalty. Use what you need, when you need it. Cost control with a software-based solution, you can convert capex to opex. By moving communications into this realm of cloud-based software, rather than classic hardware, you unlock a lot of advantages. Without compromising quality, you can Cost Control 7

8 prototype quickly, you can build quickly, you can deploy quickly, you can change quickly, and you can do that in a loop that gets better with each cycle. THREE WAYS TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE AGILE APPROACH Augment Build Migrate The agile approach unlocks the ability to experiment and learn as you go. It enables you to develop iteratively, and ship small changes frequently. In the classic contact center model, you have inflexible and proprietary platforms. You re unable to address disruptive changes in consumer behavior. But with the agile contact center approach you use simple APIs to rapidly integrate with new platforms and channels of communication, and to change the way communications are used by your agents and consumers. Companies are taking advantage of this agile approach in a variety of ways. You can build net new applications to solve your communications needs. You can simply augment your existing solution with an application to extend the life and value of your existing investments. And you can take a migratory path. If you are running an existing solution, this approach allows you to migrate your current infrastructure one case or application at a time, without disrupting your existing business. 8

9 Jamie Moore Director of Sales and Support, Wix Wix successfully doubled its capacity to handle customer requests without any added staff, while reducing call handle times 30% AN AGILE CONTACT CENTER CASE STUDY: WIX Wix helps people quickly create stunning websites for free. Founded in 2006, the company has grown at an impressive clip. Over the last eight years, Wix has added more than 550 employees and has gone public. The company is now worth more than $1 billion and has 45 million registered users with thousands more coming online daily. Given its explosive growth, Wix was facing a few customer support challenges. Although it gave customers a self-service knowledge base and provided support to address customer questions, the company wanted to do more. Because many Wix customers are new to technology and website building, they often need help, even when using a great product like the one Wix provides. In those moments when a customer becomes frustrated trying to build a website (and is close to giving up and walking away), support is not always the best option. To provide the best customer service possible, Wix decided to build a custom-made contact center from scratch. It wanted a platform that could scale as quickly as its business was growing; allow for tight control over its customer experience; and integrate well with its public product and internal web-based tools all without incurring the overhead of a complex legacy system. 9

10 Twilio s communications API solution made this possible. Using the same web-development tools that power the rest of its products, Wix built and deployed the first release of its contact center platform on Twilio in about six weeks. Now, when Wix decides it needs a new feature, it controls how that feature looks and behaves and decides when to push it into production. To address customer needs online, Wix came up with an innovative solution: it built an online call-scheduler. The system allows website visitors to request a callback from customer support; verifies the callback phone number; and even allows the user to upload a screenshot, if desired, to show where they are having trouble. To control demand on agents, the system funnels calls according to agent scheduling and blocks out hours when the business is closed. It also integrates with the user authentication system, so agents know who has requested the call. By building an agile contact center that runs completely in the cloud, Wix successfully doubled its capacity to handle customer requests, without any added staff; reduced call handle times by 30%; and minimized total points of failure in the environment. Most importantly, it gained complete control over the roadmap for its communications platform. 10

11 CONCLUSION Forward-thinking companies that want to cost effectively deliver excellent customer experiences require an agile contact center platform. They need to be able to rapidly build and deploy powerful, flexible communications solutions. By unlocking access to the latest in communications technology, the agile contact center does for telecom what Amazon Web Services has done for computer power and storage; what NetSuite has done for enterprise resource planning; and what Salesforce has done for customer relationship management. Indeed, it provides quick and easy access to the tools and services businesses need to communicate in the modern, webbased world. 11

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