Customers want to be able to reach a company at any time, using any device of their choosing. It could be voice, email, web chat, web form or perhaps social media. What's more, they may choose to start a dialogue using Facebook and expect to be able to continue the conversation via email before moving on to a voice call.
Contact centres are being tasked with integrating these multiple channels whilst reducing operational costs at the same time. The biggest challenge contact centre professionals face in achieving this task is complexity. Consider the following:
System navigation: Multiple channel applications require agents to spend a lot of time navigating between different screens and systems. Each application will require its own agent sign-on and will probably have its own quirks, screen layouts and data fields that need to be learned. As new channels are added, the overall impact is to slow down agent performance.
System administration: Each individual application will need to be administered separately. Accessing support may involve contacting multiple suppliers. The more systems you have which need administering, the greater the time, resources and therefore cost required.
Incomplete transactions: Having to populate different applications with operational data, some of which may be common to multiple applications, often requires manual data entry. This tends to introduce human error and may result in some data fields being missed altogether. The impact of this becomes apparent during subsequent interactions. Agents will see incomplete records.
This incompleteness can impact other business activities which consequently trigger further inbound interactions, and so the spiral continues. Call volumes will be higher, and resolution may take longer as customers may be protesting about the poor level of service arising from an earlier interaction.
Poor reporting: Those responsible for providing contact centre reports will typically have to pull data from each individual application and then manually manipulate it to generate useful reports. It's unlikely that these individuals can produce real-time reports that can be used to actively manage peaks and troughs. It's more likely to be a set of historical reports.
Compromised agent capability: Agents faced with incomplete information, having to navigate multiple systems and being measured on availability and successful first-time-fix resolutions, are unlikely to have the time or motivation to up-sell and cross-sell. This will probably remain the domain of dedicated outbound teams, which only serves to keep operational costs high.
There are also implications regarding consistency and compliance. These are much harder to achieve when agents have to navigate multiple standalone systems.
So, reflecting on all the above, it's clear that trying to manage a multichannel contact centre without an intelligent integration strategy is unsustainable.
What should that strategy be?
The most effective approach, which also has the lowest Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), is to use a single integrated multichannel solution from a single vendor. These solutions are designed to minimise complexity. They offer a unified agent view of interactions from sight of all inbound channels - voice, email, web chat and social media - through to an integrated view of associated CRM and transactional records..
All of a sudden, the ability to accommodate interactions from any channel, at any time, whilst reducing overall operating costs, finally becomes achievable and sustainable.
For a more detailed guide on how to integrate a multichannel contact centre successfully whilst reducing operational costs, follow the link to find out more about our multichannel offering.