CCaaS Levels the Playing Field

Small- and medium-sized businesses may not have to contend with the same contact center volumes as larger enterprises, but that doesn't mean their needs are any less significant or that enabling a great customer experience is any less of an imperative. Cloud contact center platforms can deliver all the right features and functions for them, as I learned in conversations with a number of IT and customer experience executives who have taken their companies down that path.

A Unified Approach

Consider, for example, SICOM Systems, a front-to-back-of-the house technology provider for large-brand quick service restaurants in 62 countries globally. Following a private equity buyout two years ago, this once family-owned business has been undergoing a business transformation aimed at supporting an aggressive growth strategy. One of its priorities has been to replace disparate homegrown systems, including a mishmash related to customer service and support, Mike Zarzeka, SVP of IT and Systems at SICOM, shared in a recent interview. "We had no unified CRM, no unified contact center," he emphasized.

The contact center platform SICOM brought on would have to support single sign-on and integrate with Salesforce, its new system of record for customer interactions, Zarzeka said. "We wanted our reps serving the customers and not worrying about how to get around different screens in different systems," he added.

The contact center platform would also need to be cloud-based, for ease of expansion given the company's growth goals as well as to support a work-from-anywhere strategy for its customer service and support personnel. And, of course, it would need to provide the IVR, reporting, and other features and functions common to modern systems. SICOM had been voice only, with 5,000 to 7,000 calls coming in weekly. But its new platform would have to support a variety of other channels, enabling the creation of cases within Salesforce directly from chat, Web self-service, text, or phone inquiries, Zarzeka said.

After investigating three or four different contact center providers, SICOM selected Talkdesk's call center software, a cloud-native offering that stood out for its simplicity, straightforward plugin with Salesforce, and ease of use, Zarzeka said. "It didn't have thousands of bells and whistles, but we didn't need that," he added. "Sometimes bells and whistles are distracting to employees. Our goal in building out the system was never to have our customer support reps say, 'Hold on, let me get to this screen.'"

Integration Imperative
Discovery Education, which provides digital content and professional development for K-12 classrooms worldwide, also had Salesforce integration top of mind when it began evaluating replacements for its legacy contact center system, said Megan Haller, VP of inside sales and customer success at the company. "As a business, we're constantly looking to enhance and grow our systems and our tools to ultimately allow us to properly and efficiently support our educators," she added.

Talkdesk passed Discovery Education's muster for the efficiencies it enabled, not only for the company's inbound support operations but also for its outreach efforts, Haller said. On the inbound side, incoming calls, chats, or email queries automatically generate cases in Salesforce, as is the case at SICOM. For outbound calling, Discovery Education leverages the Talkdesk click-to-call functionality built into Salesforce, she said.

Beyond the Salesforce integration, Discovery Education also weighed potential solutions based on factors such as real-time call routing for after-hours support and the ability to identify and monitor activity for service levels and responsiveness, Haller said. The ability to get off the ground and running quickly was also an imperative -- which Talkdesk finessed in three and a half weeks, she added.

Communicating in the Moment

For Dorel Juvenile, a multi-brand car seat manufacturer, the desire to support an omnichannel contact center was a primary driver for its move from a limited on-prem system to cloud contact center as a service (CCaaS), shared Michelle Williams, who joined the company in 2015 as director of customer care. At that time, "aged" was the best way to describe the call center environment, with only three disjointed lines of communications -- email, phone, and fax (or, if you count regular mail, four) -- for handling troubleshooting and warranty inquiries, she said. No chat, no texting, no video... and that just didn't cut it given its customer base.

"We have parents who are digital natives and on their cellphones pretty much since they were born. We weren't able to provide them that connection," Williams said.

Bear in mind, too, that many of Dorel Juvenile's customers are often sleep-deprived or overwhelmed when they reach out, and they want to leave an interaction confident that they've set up their car seats properly and aren't jeopardizing the safety of the children in their care. Likewise, when customers reach out with warranty questions, Dorel Juvenile wants to be sure it's not sending them off with car seats that aren't functioning properly, she said.

Dorel Juvenile is achieving this today with omnichannel contact center services from CCaaS provider Sharpen Technologies. In addition to its traditional modes of communications, it now also supports chat, SMS/MMS, social media, and Web channels, as well as video, for each of its five brands, Williams said. When customers have a question about their car seats, they can snap and send pictures of them to agents via text. And if a picture isn't enough, agents will advise a video session, via FaceTime, Skype, or other video app, she added.

Since migrating to the CCaaS platform, Dorel Juvenile has seen improvements in a number of key metrics. For example, average call handle time has improved by 60%, while the call center has resolved 30% more calls without increasing staff count, and costs have dropped by slightly more than 20%, Williams said. In addition, customer satisfaction ratings have doubled, to about 80% -- a figure Williams said is about is good as she expects it to get given that customers are calling regarding product issues.

As for the future, while Williams said leveraging artificial intelligence is a next step for the company's contact center operations, she added that it's really a matter of having the flexibility to define her strategy as she goes. After all, she said, "The technology world just keeps changing."

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