Category Archives: Cloud

5 Pillars of Success for the Modern Contact Center

As we’ve come to know that understanding our customers and meeting their needs is one of the key building blocks for this new decade, it has also become one of the most competitive areas in business. Two-thirds of businesses surveyed report that they compete mainly on customer experience.

The global call center market is predicted to grow to $481 billion by 2024, propelled by the need for businesses to deliver customer-focused services.

We also know that tech changes fast. With ever-growing competition, staying one step ahead of competitors can be difficult. Companies that want to stay competitive are evolving to better equip their support teams and improve service for their customers.

It can be a little overwhelming for companies that are launching tech or trying to update the tech they already have. It is difficult to know where to start.

The 5 Pillars of the Modern Contact Center

To help organizations understand where to start, we defined the 5 pillars a modern contact center should have to deliver the type of experience customers want.

1. Omnichannel Capabilities that Makes Customer Service Seamless

Today’s customers communicate across channels and platforms. Being able to facilitate conversations across channels is no longer an option. Also, it’s not enough to be able to connect with customers on these channels, you need to have a unified customer engagement solution.

Here’s why: Google research shows that more than 90% of people in the U.S. switch between devices every day. Customers may start a conversation on social media, move to text, and then switch to live chat. Being able to seamlessly follow the conversation as customers switch between channels is crucial.

Phone support, email support, social media all need to work cohesively into a comprehensive customer experience that empowers employees to be more effective and allows self-service capabilities so your customers can quickly find answers to their questions.

For companies with legacy systems, they may face a variety of roadblocks that prevent this seamless interaction from taking place:

  • Siloed infrastructure
  • Lack of (or broken) processes for handling the entire customer journey
  • Inability to easily hand-off queries from one agent (or department) to another
  • Inability to forecast volume across channels or departments
  • Stumbling blocks with hardware or software talking to each other

You need an omnichannel solution that allows for an integrated solution to get past these roadblocks.

2. On-Demand Self-Service Model for Customers

One of the best things you can do for your customers and your support team is to beef up your self-service tools. When customers are seeking information, they want answers and they want them quickly. Providing a self-service option for queries gets them the info they need fast while taking the burden off your support teams.

Some common self-service options include:

Chatbots

AI-fueled Chatbots can do much more than just answer routine questions. Advances in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML) have moved interactions from pre-programmed commands to more human-like conversations. Contact centers are using Chatbots to provide instant answers to common questions, direct queries to the right agents, and reduce call volume.

Customer-Facing Knowledge Base

Whether it’s an FAQ, an in-depth library of How-Tos, or video tutorials, customers are more interested in getting answers than talking to a person.

Callback Request

For your customers, it’s all about speed and ease-of-use. The modern contact center allows customers to request callbacks rather than sit on hold while waiting for available agents.

24/7 Access

All of these items above allow for 24/7 access by customers. Investing in this technology and resources provides a better customer experience.

3. Advanced Tools for Agents to Provide Better Support

For most companies, a major concern in providing exceptional customer support are agent burnout and turnover. Dealing with difficult customers and having to handle the same routine inquiry over and over will wear down even the best teams.

Anything you can do to relieve these burdens will improve the environment for your team. The right software and infrastructure can lessen the burden and lead to significant improvements in productivity.

The modern customer contact center employs advanced tools, including:

  • Cloud-based CX solutions for seamless integration across departments and support channels (which helps remove silos between teams)
  • Single screen dashboards focused on relevant customer information provide a full view of customer history and any prior interactions regardless of the support channel
  • A seamless customer experience from start to finish across channels, hand-offs, and escalations
  • Automation technology to reduce or eliminate repetitive tasks
  • Support tools to manage, monitor, and coach support teams

4. AI & Predictive Analytics

Artificial Intelligence is enabling significant changes in the way modern contact centers operate. In addition to driving Chatbot interactions, AI is infused in all parts of the contact center. Large amounts of data can be processed to detect patterns while Predictive Analytics can guide agents and surface support materials before they are needed.

Seamless cloud integration allows AI to have access to data across systems for improved reporting and analytics. An AI-integrated system can accurately make customer predictions for more efficient workforce forecasting and scheduling, as well as how to guide agents through interactions with customers. It allows for a more tailored approach for support teams.

This leads to enhanced employee performance, a better customer experience, and improved operational cost control.

5. Scalable Infrastructure

When volume increases or operations grow, it’s important to be able to move quickly to scale. Cloud infrastructure allows for the rapid scaling of solutions across growing teams, departments, and locations.

As customer behavior and technology changes, a cloud infrastructure allows you to adapt to quickly and maintain your business agility. Legacy systems may require a significant overhaul across multiple teams, departments, and locations, which can be slow and costly. A cloud solution lets you leverage existing technology and integrate emerging technology based on your needs.

It also provides multiple points of access for employees regardless of location. Work can be handled in-house or remotely. Cloud infrastructure and automated routing can direct customer contacts to the right agent at your location or to specialists working anywhere.

Employing the 5 Pillars of the Modern Contact Center

Employing these 5 pillars of the modern contact center will provide long-lasting benefits including:

  1. Reduced operational costs
  2. Streamlined processes
  3. Improved employee performance and satisfaction
  4. Improve customers satisfaction and CSAT scores
  5. Faster contact resolution

By empowering your employees and your customers, the modern contact center simply provides for more efficient operations. These areas of opportunity translate to a better customer experience, higher retention rates, and more loyal customers.

Aria Solutions Can Help

Over the past 22 years we have empowered 550,000 agents and completed over 1,200 successful projects, collaborating with our customers to help them achieve their business goals and find better ways to serve their customers. Our customers don’t just see us as contact center experts or vendors. They see us as a part of their internal team responsible for building strategies and direction, recommending technology and providing direction on how the solution should be implemented.

If you are looking to replace, update, or improve your customer contact center, Contact Aria Solutions today for help. We can help you achieve your business and customer service goals.

The Steep Costs of Contact Center Outages

Many disasters and disruptions can impact a contact center: hurricanes, floods, fires, hackers, hardware failures — even “inside jobs” by malicious employees.

If you’re a VP of Customer Service or Chief Information Officer, the prospect of widespread contact center outages likely keeps you up at night. And it should.

Most contact centers, and especially those running premise-based systems, are not prepared to ensure continuity during an emergency, and the costs associated with contact center outages are steep and tend to multiply quickly.

They can be broken down into three categories:

1. Intangible

Before getting into the costs that are easy to quantify, let’s take a look at the intangible costs of contact center outages— those that are not easily converted into dollar form but are very real and can have a huge impact on the health of your business.

People and entire departments that are constantly putting out fires suffer from a lack of focus that leads to significant productivity loss. According to a study conducted at UC Irvine, it takes roughly 23 minutes to refocus after even a minor interruption.

The Washington Post reported that interruptions consume an average of 238 minutes per day. That’s not including the other 84 minutes it takes to refocus, or the 50 minutes lost to fatigue and stress. That’s 6 hours a day and 31 hours a week.

If you’re a manager or director of a contact center, you’ve seen the productivity loss and high turnover rate as your agents get slammed with increased call demand and become overwhelmed.

If you’re a VP of IT, you’re well acquainted with the fact that only 31 percent of the IT budget is allocated for new projects — and that only 14 percent of that 31 percent (so about 4 percent) goes to sell-side investments that can generate new business. 69 percent of the budget goes to MOOSE — Maintaining and Operating the Organization, Systems and Equipment.

2. Financial

Property damage caused by flooding or fire can be covered by insurance. Your loss can be made whole. Not so with the financial losses caused by damage to your brand, poor customer experience, and lost sales.

Customer experience is crucial in maintaining your market share and growing your business.

Bad customer experiences are directly tied to revenue losses. A multichannel bank, for example, leaves $124 million on the table for every 1-point decline in its CX Index score.

Repeatedly spending money on vendors to patch your outdated infrastructure also results in considerable financial drain, and the increasingly complex work-arounds don’t solve the underlying issues.

3. Operational

The operational costs of contact center outages quickly multiply if the disaster recovery solution is not cloud based.

FEMA estimates that basic services should be restored to an area affected by a serious disaster within 3 days. If your hardware isn’t redundant, downtime could be even longer as you try and install new software and servers.

If the disaster renders your premise-based contact center unusable for weeks or months, you’ll have to try and move your agents, along with your hardware, to a new site. Even once such a move is made, call volume is likely to increase past a capacity you’re able to handle, making a bad situation worse as customer experience — the key brand differentiator — suffers.

What’s worse, if the disaster has taken out your contact center, other areas of your operations are likely affected as well, removing supports to other parts of the business and making it harder to mount an effective response.

Are You Vulnerable to Widespread Contact Center Outages?

Your company is likely at risk of a contact center outage if:

● Your contact center is premise-based and manned by a fixed number of agents

● Your disaster recovery program runs on a legacy system that’s incapable of scaling quickly to add additional agents when call volume surges and/or agents cannot login

● You have failover in place, but it’s less than optimal, and activation would result in sub-optimal customer experience at best, and at worst a complete system failure.

Contact Aria Solutions today to learn more about our new cloud disaster recovery solution.

 

Cloud + Automation: The Future of the Contact Center Infrastructure

Technology fuels so many aspects of businesses today, that it is now the lifeblood of the organization. CIOs and Infrastructure leaders must own the design for the full eco-system to deliver an infrastructure that can be the foundation for the business.

Evolved infrastructure trends

Infrastructure powers everything and therefore is the foundation of every customer experience. For CIOs and Infrastructure leaders this means they must focus on the technology, systems, and processes to win, serve, and retain customers.  But new and emerging technology has changed traditional infrastructure and infrastructure design must now be looked at in a new way.

1.Cloud services

It’s true, infrastructure now comes in more forms than ever including the always expanding family of cloud services. But even though cloud has certainly changed the game, we must embrace it!

Instead of trying to control what happens within these technologies, CIOs should focus on governing how their organization should use services, such as cloud, and the best way to integrate these services into technology, systems, and processes.

When looking at cloud services, it’s helpful to consider the 3 main types, and analyze where these fit in the transformation strategy:

IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) – organizations keep pre-owned or custom software, but save on hardware infrastructure costs

SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) – organizations migrate a business application to the cloud, doing away with the app infrastructure completely

PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) – offers organizations many infrastructure options, from acting as cloud based “glue” between existing systems, or a way to more quickly build your own cloud app without starting from scratch

2.Automation

Automation has become extremely powerful and created a changing environment when it comes to traditional infrastructure. Embracing automation gives organizations the agility to change, speed of execution, security, and dependability that delights customers.

For example, by integrating CRMs such as Salesforce with other systems, organizations can centralize data and eliminate silos that impact customer and employee experience. As the company grows, this type of infrastructure can also scale providing the organization with the agility it needs to adapt to changing customer demands.

How to start the infrastructure transformation journey?

In Forrester’s Infrastructure Transformation Playbook, they define 4 phases that Infrastructure teams should consider when approaching their transformation. In our view, these 4 phases can be described in the following manner:

First, you need to discover how you will transform your infrastructure to service design which includes thinking about the role that cloud services might play in your organization especially if you have existing on-premise systems.

After that, you’ll plan your transformation path, which should not only include your timeline and steps, but also the purpose for doing the transformation.

This brings you to phase 3, implementation, which will likely be the longest of the 4 phases.

And finally, the last phase is where you’ll optimize service experiences by continually measuring and refining. Once you’ve reached this phase, you can benchmark your progress against your competition and, depending on where you fall, determine the area to look at next.

To learn more, download the complimentary January 2018 Forrester report where the above phases are discussed: “Master Automation & Software To Transform Your Infrastructure”.