Today, most contact centers consist of three core systems: a CRM application, a contact routing (ACD) application, and the underlying communications infrastructure. Traditionally, these elements have been on premise, hardware centric and vendor specific – limiting their ability to fully integrate with one another. In turn, these limitations have resulted in a set of challenges for contact centers:
Redundant Management and Administration – contact centers have to separately manage CRM, contact routing and other applications, which takes up valuable time that can be spent improving customer satisfaction and contact center performance.
Separate Reporting – each silo captures its own data and creates a separate report on the information, making it difficult to create a single, end-to-end view of the results.
Expensive Integrations – application integrations tend to be costly, especially if they involve leveraging CRM data to make routing decisions.
Silo’d Management of Interaction Channels – customers expect seamless service across voice, social and other channels, but using different applications to handle each of these prevents a uniform customer experience.
The good news however, is that in the face of these challenges new solutions are being developed to create a simplified, more cohesive management experience. For example, with call routing, there is a shift from the current proprietary model to more open, cloud-based applications. The benefit here is that these applications can easily integrate with other contact center systems, and allow for the unification of data from disparate silos to create a complete, seamless view of the customer’s journey. A similar evolution is also occurring within the Communication Services layer, where contact centers are moving from TDM-based services to open-standard technologies that can leverage voice and session initiation protocols (SIP).
When compounded, these innovations will unify the three core systems within the contact center, and ultimately empower supervisors and agents to be more effective while delivering new value to the customer experience. On a fundamental level, we’ve identified four characteristics that embody the “next generation of the contact center”:
1. Complete integration across CRM, Contact Routing and Communication Services systems.
2. The ability to address omni-channel customer service issues, via any and all methods of customer interaction.
3. Data is leveraged across systems to make better routing decisions, provide superior customer service and better manage the overall contact center environment.
4. All services are delivered from the cloud, providing greater business flexibility and a higher return on investment.
By implementing deeply integrated applications, the next generation of contact centers will be able to streamline operations, customize the user experience and achieve the ultimate goal of improving customer satisfaction, retention and loyalty.