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5 Questions to Ask About Your Next Contact Center
Historically, organizations have viewed contact centers as cost centers, a necessary channel for customer support. However, many are now finding that by evolving their contact centers into multichannel platforms they can actually drive sales and customer loyalty. This also allows them to optimize costs of running their contact centers down to fractions of percentage points.
The largest expense is usually human cost, a blend of employee salaries and the physical infrastructure that houses employees. Traditionally, contact centers have operated in physical buildings outside major city centers, and high turnover presents the challenge of attracting talent to these locations.
But safety restrictions and other COVID-related changes have forced the industry to reconsider asking employees to work in a traditional contact center setting. Before COVID, work-from-home (WFH) scenarios were not the norm in the customer service industry. Most solutions that have enabled WFH during this crisis were not actually designed with a goal of facilitating remote work — and if that solution was on premises, administrators had to get really creative in making it work for remote agents.
In setting up WFH, contact center managers spend a lot of money shipping encrypted laptops, and once the equipment is delivered, the setup and connectivity is complex and laborious, with the security of these devices being an afterthought. Some on-premises infrastructure solutions require routing calls to private phone lines. On-prem solutions can also require a virtual private network, essentially an encrypted tunnel established on both ends, to connect at-home devices to the office network. Agents often require training and assistance to learn this technology, an added expense that is often unaccounted.
Using Cloud-based Contact Centers to Adapt to Changes Quickly
Cloud-based solutions naturally solve many of the problems associated with supporting WFH agents. These solutions simplify contact center operations and improve agent productivity for superior customer service. Amazon Connect offers pay-as-you-go pricing so that organizations can reap the benefits of cloud-based contact centers at a lower cost and without up-front commitment.
Considerations for the Future of Customer Service
I believe the term “contact center” is very limiting. Cloud-based contact centers can be used in many types of use cases, and this has never been more apparent than it has during the COVID-19 pandemic. Connect strives to help agents quickly get up to speed, assists to quickly get the right answers to customer questions, and enables agents to focus on their relationships with customers. We are seeing state, local, and national public-sector organizations setting up hotlines for citizens to get information about COVID-19 testing. We are seeing dental offices enabling remote call centers so that patients can schedule visits. Restaurants are even taking orders from home using Connect. Today it’s not just a contact center — it’s a customer service center.
If you’re a contact center manager thinking about making the move from an on-premises solution to a cloud-based one, here are five things I encourage you to think about:
- Are my customers getting the information they need quickly? Start with your customer and work backwards by analyzing service tickets. Do your agents consistently provide your customers with the information they need the first time, no matter what happens? Think about what changes you can make to meet your customers’ needs.
- Do I need to pay for a contact center office building? What else could I do with that budget? Take stock of what you’re spending on a physical infrastructure to house contact center agents and how those funds could be redirected to improve customer experience.
- Am I protecting my corporation’s intellectual property when people work from home? Without the proper security, remote work can leave sensitive company information vulnerable to leaks. What mechanisms do you have in place to protect critical data?
- How can I most effectively equip contact center agents to help customers efficiently? Agents need tools to help customers remotely, and there are options to help them get what they need. Invest in the right infrastructure, from headsets to cloud services.
- Is my contact center equipped to meet changing customer needs? Contact centers should be designed to be flexible. This allows managers to quickly adapt and iterate operations as customer needs change.