Shift Your Paradigm: 10 Ways To Innovate In Your Contact Center

by Akbar Jaffer
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Overview of Contact Center

10 Ways To Innovate In Your Contact Center

At a customer conference a few years ago, I asked an analyst what was the last groundbreaking development in the customer communication space? His answer was, “The Internet.” After 10 years the answer is still the same.

Overview of Contact Center

Overview of Contact Center

Before I talk about innovations in Contact Center, let me describe contact centers in a nutshell. For an organization, contact center refers to a telecommunications infrastructure and software applications system that handles inbound and outbound communications between an organization and its customers, prospects, and partners. These interactions are conducted over any number of channels like email, voicemail, phone, fax (yes they still have those), SMS, Web chat, and social media such as Burberry’s Twitter support channel. Increasingly, customers expect to blend in these channels and switch between them without skipping a beat as they go about their day. This is referred to as Omni-channel customer experience. More on Contact Center Technology.

Traditionally, contact center has been synonymous with customer support. Today, in saturated markets for goods and services, organizations are moving towards delivering greater customer experience as one way to differentiate themselves. As contact center increasingly becomes a marketing tool, expectations from the underlying technologies become higher to enable marketers to deliver great customer experience. So much so that contact center is now being dubbed as Customer Experience Center.

So assuming that there is no new game changing or disruptive technology coming in the near future for contact center and the increased pressure for contact center to transform itself into a marketing tool, I present the following 10 Ways To Innovate In Your Contact Center:

1. Keep up with the technology

Adapt the latest innovations in infrastructure, business software, communications technology, and programming languages that take advantage of latest hardware and operating system enhancements.

2. Know the difference between “greater connectivity” and “greater connection”

The former does not necessarily signify the latter. Technology is never a substitute for a personal touch. Use your contact center as a tool to re-establish the human-to-human connection and make your customers feel special.

3. Actively seek out enhancement opportunities

Actively listen to your customers and not just to the survey responses, review processes, and audit user interface to look for opportunities to innovate.

4. Focus on the right numbers

Performance metrics do not mean much if they don’t drive the desired business outcome. For instance, reduction in call handling time could be causing lower customer satisfaction scores. Try to find similar correlations and focus primarily on their business outcomes.

5. Embrace Big Data the Right Way

There is too much focus on technology and not enough focus on actual application when it comes to big data. Start with a few critical insights and continue to add more data points as you become more comfortable handling multi-dimensional data analysis.

6. Remember and Reward your agents

Call Center agents, just like sales agents, have direct contact with your customers. Empower them with the right tools. Incentivize them for delivering exceptional customer experience and “gamify” their reward system.

7. Collaborate with cross-discipline experts

Different departments interact with your customers for different purposes. Leverage all of their unique perspectives on your customer needs and challenges as you seek to identify opportunities for innovation.

8. Remember your customers

Change the name from call center to “Customer Engagement Center.” It’s a humbling thought to have a constant reminder of who’s paying your salary.

9. Think Omni-Channel

Today’s mobile, social, and device-agnostic customers want to, for a single issue, be served at any time, on any device, and wherever they are with multiple touch points. Apple’s Omni-channel customer interaction model is exemplary.

10. Human Connection

This common sense is not so common. I consider this the most compelling area a company can innovate and significantly differentiate itself. How do you feel after talking to an Apple support team member?

At the end, the true innovation in customer experience is not to innovate in any one area or to invent your own “iPad.” The key is to find ways to mesh-up and stitch together using what you already have to create new ways of doing things.


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