4 Essentials for Going Global with your Contact Center

Globalization presents a wide set of challenges, and approaching it right the first time around is crucial to long-term success. As organizations expand internationally, enabling a global communications system across multiple countries and locations is at the heart of this challenge, even more so if local expertise and knowledge is lacking at each business location.

There are a number of reasons for organizations to expand their contact centers globally. For growing companies, the need to support customers and prospects around the world becomes more apparent, as does the fact that there is a wide availability of highly skilled, lower cost talent in many places abroad. While running a global organization can be exciting, opening a contact center in another part of the world introduces a whole new set of challenges. Here are the top four things to consider when going global with your contact center.

The most obvious sign of a successful contact center is the quality of the call. This can often be jeopardized when contact centers take operations abroad, due to latency caused by distance. In many cases, cloud vendors will serve international customers from a single data center in one part of the world. This means calls that take place far away from the data center need to travel around the world and back -- even if they are connecting customers with local agents.

This hair-pinning method creates latency, which causes big lags in the conversation, so people end up talking over each other, apologizing, then setting off another round of attempts to carry on the conversation. This delivers a poor customer experience, but it can be avoided. The most mature cloud vendors provide their customers with a solution to this problem with multiple data centers around the world and by routing calls through the best possible path. This type of access makes it almost impossible to distinguish between domestic and international calls, delivering better customer experience and more satisfied customers.

One of the biggest benefits of a cloud contact center system is that your agents can work remotely, but this system can be more challenging in a global environment where agents need to connect to different data centers around the world. Most cloud vendors cannot create a system for a company (generally referred to as a tenant) that spans multiple datacenters. This means that each physical location is required to function as a completely independent unit, with separate management tools, reports, and administration. This makes it very hard for global contact centers to function as a single team.

The solution here is to create a global tenant, which separates the media server function from the administration functionality. This means that you can have agents working around the world, connected to their local data center, but managed from a single, central location. You can also manage your distributed contact center as a single team with one set of administrative tools, one set of reports, and a single configuration tool. Additionally, this approach allows you to provide local phone numbers to your customers to make it easy for them to reach you, ensuring high-quality calls by avoiding having to bounce calls around the world.

Many countries have compliance or security requirements that can be difficult to satisfy. That's why it's a good idea to ask what standards a contact center solution meets before you sign up for service. Do they comply with PCI-DSS 3.0, a common credit card processing protocol? What about other standards, such as those for data protection and privacy? What about any standards particular to other countries in which you're doing business?

Contact center providers that make compliance a priority can often supply you with expertise to navigate the appropriate standards. Vendors who have dedicated security and compliance officers can better walk you through how their services are set up to facilitate compliance and provide you support in building a secure and reliable contact center. You should also look for third-party verification by respected experts, so that you don't jeopardize your company's compliance. If a provider's references won't talk about its ability to offer security, reliability and compliance, that's almost as big of a red flag as unwillingness to address the issue.

Customer service is so much more than telephony. In fact, according to a Northridge Group report, 55% of consumers use two or more communication channels to contact a company or brand before an issue is resolved. Customers want to communicate via the channel of their choice, and the ability to meet this growing requirement can make all the difference when closing or losing a sale.

In a global environment there is also the challenge of language support. The ability to find skilled agents is tough enough for one market. Adding customers from different countries, speaking different languages, makes it even harder to ensure your contact center has coverage for all different possible languages, at all times.

Enter chat translation -- What if you could have customers type chats in one language and have the system translate that chat into the agent's native language? Supporting customers in their language of choice, no matter where your agents are in the world, provides flexibility in your contact center and allows you to deliver a follow-the-sun approach.

Providing support for global operations is a serious endeavor, but with the right contact center technology, it's doable -- and definitely easier than juggling -- to grow your customer base far beyond your current boundaries. The key is to focus on and prioritize the facets that make the largest impact from the very beginning. These four essentials are a wise starting point, so be sure to keep them top of mind when going global with your contact center.