Stockford, Research Director, National Association of Call Centers and
Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research, Paul.Stockford@nationalcallcenters.org
reading research reports back in the late 1990s from esteemed analyst
research firms claiming e-mail would be the dominant form of customer
communications in the contact center by the year 2000. I was a bit
skeptical but who was I to argue? These analyst firms are full of
really smart people, aren't they? Isn't that why they make so much
Anyway, 2000 came and went and voice remained the dominant customer
communications channel in the contact center. Now that 10 years have
passed since those first forecasts were made by analysts who would
probably deny ever saying any such thing if you could find them today,
and we were all supposed to be e-mailing each other and ignoring the
phone, we thought it would be interesting to see what communications
channels are getting the most use in the contact center today.
In our 2010 survey of contact center professionals conducted over this
past summer we asked which channels were supported in the respondent's
contact center and the answers were as follows:
|Live web chat
services or forums
|All of the above
survey results clearly illustrate, voice rules! 134 years after
Alexander Graham Bell made the first long distance phone call from
Brantford, Ontario to Paris, Ontario the contact center industry still
understands that voice is the preferred customer service channel.
E-mail is no laggard, though. It has nearly caught voice and may, in
fact, catch up to voice over the next ten years, only 20 years later
than when all those analysts predicted that it would. What I found most
interesting about these survey results, though, was the relatively high
percentage of respondents supporting social media as a customer
communications channel. The 11.6% of respondents supporting social
media was actually much higher than I would have thought it would be.
We were also surprised by the number of respondents supporting all of
the communications channels we listed in the survey. We did some
cross-tabulations and discovered that the majority of these respondents
were in the telecommunications market, including wireless
telecommunications, and had one contact center as opposed to multiple
contact centers. That is a fairly narrow segment and clearly a market
that tends to be on the leading edge of the adoption of new
technologies. It is also a highly competitive market that often
requires exceptional customer service in order to minimize customer
I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area when the Loma Prieta earthquake
struck in 1989. It took hours to get home from work after the ground
stopped shaking and when I did finally step through the door I had only
one service still working -- telephone service. There is something
comforting about the reliability of the telephone network, so it is no
wonder that so many contact centers still rely on voice as their
primary customer communications channel. As I said, voice rules!
Your Best Multichannel Customer Contact
Lori Bocklund, President and Maren Symonds, Consultant
-- Strategic Contact,
customer contact landscape looks a bit like farm country -- there are
silos everywhere! Different departments own different channels; lines
of business call the shots for their own set of applications. As web
chat, social media, mobility, proactive outbound alerts, and more
continue to push the boundaries of customer contact, the all too common
troubles with non-integrated services can only get worse, impacting the
company's efficiency and the customers' experience. Typical challenges
-Customers log in to different services using different IDs. [Is it a
wonder that they have trouble remembering their passwords and call the
center -- or stop using the service?]
-There are inconsistencies in services and user interface across the
-Few have systems that track customer interactions across channels.
[Yes, we still need real CRM, and we need it to cover all channels).]
-Transitions between channels are bumpy -- e.g., IVR to CSR, web to CSR.
Customers who were mid-stream in a transaction often have to start from
the beginning. CSRs may not know much about the services that their
customers were trying to use and, therefore, can't provide helpful
advice or take note of where customers are struggling.
-Reporting and analytics (if present) only address the individual
channels and lack insight into the customer experience. First Contact
Resolution doesn't get the attention that it's due.
-In the rush to get on board with social media, few are paying
attention to the processes that create appropriate responses to
-Channel enhancements are driven by the loudest advocate, not the
customer's or corporation's needs.
It's easy to shrug your shoulders and resign yourself to the current
state of affairs given the complexity of getting all the players on the
same page. But when a recent study shows that customer loyalty is
highly correlated with solving problems quickly and easily, it's time
to get your act together. The need for cross-functional collaboration
across the organization is very real, and the contact center can play a
vital role in making it happen.
Top Six Things on Your Strategic "To Do" List
1. Secure executive sponsorship. This step heads the list as it is
crucial for securing cross-functional collaboration. If you are
fortunate to have an executive who "gets it," get him or her engaged
early and often! This person is pivotal for establishing a multichannel
governance council to prioritize channel development initiatives,
identify synergies and points of integration, allocate resources, and
track results. He or she will also provide visible support and
reinforcement for people and process changes as you roll out your
2. Get a clear understanding of your business strategy and how it
impacts the multichannel strategy. Know your industry, markets, and
customers and how various transaction types and channels suit their
needs and preferences. Consider whether you should steer different
groups toward different media or respond differently (e.g., faster)
based on cost, value, or other factors.
3. Conduct a baseline audit of customer contact. What do you offer? Who
owns each channel/customer interaction? How much is each channel used?
How does it perform?
4. Engage all stakeholders in defining a vision for multi-channel
customer contact. Identify the right channel(s) for each
function/application by considering the level of effort for the
customer to use them and the likely value the customer and corporation
will gain from them.
5. Take a critical look at your current technology, its limitations,
and the requisite integration to support multi-channel efforts. Assess
the level of effort to realize your vision by qualifying the
development, deployment, and support costs for technology, process
changes, and one-time and ongoing resource demands. [Be sure to account
for training and skill requirements within the contact centers.]
6. Build a 3-5 year road map for channel enhancements, channel
integration, and new channel development. Note which gaps can be filled
with process improvements and other low investment actions and which
require technology enablers and/or significant cultural change. Address
known areas of customer dissatisfaction as you build organizational
momentum for your strategy.
First Look at the Web 2.0 Desktop
Research Director, National Association of Call Centers
and Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research, Paul.Stockford@nationalcallcenters.org
If you're a loyal reader of In Queue, you've probably figured out by
now that I am very bullish on Web 2.0 services and framework in the
contact center. More than social media services, Web 2.0 represents the
next generation of contact center solutions. Web 2.0's open
architecture provides a highly flexible framework in which to create
and customize applications to suit needs ranging from the entire
enterprise down to the individual level.
Figure 1 below is the prototype of the Calabrio One agent desktop that
can be customized to fit the applications needs of the individual
agent. In this preview of what the final release of the software will
look like, the desktop is arranged in a way that makes sense to the
agent and is easily customized via the use of web-based widgets as
appropriate. Navigation is convenient and efficient, leading to an
enhanced customer experience. Web 2.0 provides the flexibility to
create the ideal desktop.
Figure 1: Prototype of Calabrio One Agent Desktop
If you haven't already done so, I encourage you to download a copy of a
paper that I wrote that discusses the value of Web 2.0 in the contact
center beyond social media services. There is a link to the paper at
the bottom of this newsletter and it can also be accessed by clicking
on the Calabrio banner at the top of the newsletter. Calabrio sponsored
the paper so there is no cost to you to access a copy and I believe you
will find the information useful as you consider changes in your
contact center in response to evolving customer care requirements.
Call Center Comics!
If you like
this comic and would like to see more write Ozzie at
firstname.lastname@example.org and visit his website at http://callcentercomics.com/cartoon_categories.htm
or just click on the comic to take you to his page. The NACC
appreciates Ozzie letting us use some of his comics in our newsletter.
Click on the image below if
you would like to download a copy of this Web 2.0 report from Calabrio
written by Paul Stockford.
view past issues of In Queue, please click here.
If you would like to contribute to In Queue, please reply to
this email with "Contribute" in the subject line.
2010 National Association of Call Centers