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The Future of Customer Service & Cloud-Based Contact Centres

Puzzel, formerly known as Intelecom, takes a look at Forrester’s highlighted trends in customer service for 2015

A recent report by global research and advisory firm, Forrester suggested that “In the age of the customer, executives don’t decide how customer-centric their companies are — customers do”[i].   The advancement of new digital technologies added to big data from customer loyalty and retention schemes has had a significant impact on customer expectations.

Amid this rapid change, the fundamentals of great customer service remain constant. Customers expect to feel valued, recognized and listened to. Smart organisations will need to continually evolve their service offering to address the needs of their customers, which in turn drives growth and brand loyalty.

Three of the trends highlighted by Forrester particularly stood out in the report:

Customers Will Embrace Emerging Channels to Reduce Friction   

Customers want to engage with organisations easily and speedily when looking for issues to be resolved or questions answered.  They want to interact at any point during their engagement journey and they expect the interactions to be simple and pain free.  Forrester predicts that customers will use emerging channels such as Web Chat to engage with organisations.  The survey stated, “Web self-service was the most widely used communication channel for customer service, surpassing use of the voice channel for the first time.”

Puzzel’s own experience echoes these findings. Customers have found that Web Chat actively contributes to customer satisfaction by offering a swifter, highly personalised service that leads to higher rates of resolution.  It also boosts agent productivity by saving time and, at up to half the price of a typical phone call, tangibly reduces costs for contact centre operators.

Contact Centre managers can match customer expectations and future-proof their operations by employing a Web Chat solution that meets the growing demand for Web Chat but is also secure, fully integrated and multi-channel.

Improved Agent Experiences Come Into the Spotlight

The ultimate goal for any customer service organisation is to deliver a personalised service experience for their customer, achieving customer loyalty and delivering incremental revenue back to the business through upsell and cross opportunities.  However, organisations must provide these services at a cost that makes sense to the business and therein lays the challenge.

Operational efficiency should be a concern to all organisations. Forward thinking customer service leaders measure productivity in relation to end-to-end customer service satisfaction which includes front and back office systems and processes.

Findings from Forrester showed that some customer service agents can typically use tens or even hundreds of disparate applications during their working day, each with potentially a different login and look and feel.  This disconnected approach leaves agents struggling with fatigue from the constant interruptions of switching from one application to another. There is also the challenge of training new customer service agents in these numerous applications and the wider costs to IT in supporting legacy systems. The result is a less productive and engaged workforce and a poorer customer experience.

Forrester predicts that organisations will streamline operations, “Equipping agents with simpler and more modern, automated task-based user interfaces augmented with relevant information to increase their productivity.”

Puzzel has seen this trend in action within its customers. More organisations are seeking contact centre solutions that streamline their environment without compromising the features and functionality that they use.  They want seamless integration with other 3rd party business critical applications and an intuitive user interface, negating the need for extensive agent training.  In summary, forward thinking contact centre managers are empowering agents with contact centre solutions that enables them to focus on solving the customer’s issues instead of battling with a cumbersome technology tool set.

Customer Service Organisations will Adopt SaaS Solutions for Agility

Forrester data shows that 15% of software decision-makers, that are planning to or have already implemented customer service and support, have already replaced all or most of their on-premises customer service applications with software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, and a further 24% complement their existing on-premise solutions with SaaS.

One of the main benefits of a Contact-centre-as-a-Service (CCaaS) solution is the increased flexibility it offers, both in terms of innovation and business agility as well as operational and cost efficiency achieved through a pay-as-you-use model. However, not all call centre software providers are the same, – its imperative to choose the supplier that is right for your business by asking the right questions. Start with generic questions such as:

  • How does the utility pricing work? Make sure to compare apples with apples.
  • How can distributed centres retain control over local administration and customisation?
  • Is a multi-channel, social media capability fully integrated or is it regarded as an add-on?
  • How is support provided – direct or via partners?

And then ask more intimate questions around innovation, support, speed of changes, and frequency of adding new features, modules and social channels?

Whatever option is selected, be sure to choose a contact centre solution that fits your business model, from a supplier with an extensive pedigree and with clients that can testify to service delivery and exceptional customer support.

[i] Forrester – Trends 2015: The Future of Customer Service, March 2015

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