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Getting Your Arms Around Today’s (and Tomorrow’s) Contact Center
On an Enterprise Connect webinar last week, analyst Blair Pleasant of COMMfusion and BCStrategies made a few points about the state of contact centers that I found intriguing. Most notably, she pointed out both the new realities of customer experience and the challenges they bring.
For example, Pleasant said that while voice is still the leading channel for customer interaction, the average customer uses nine different channels to interact with enterprises they deal with (presumably not all at the same time). And she noted the strain that’s putting on agents; for example, response times to emails can be several days.
Our other speaker on this webinar, Ron Stevenson of Dialpad (which sponsored the session), noted that this challenge is well-suited for the application of AI, which can drive workforce management (WFM) systems so as to optimize response times across channels and agents.
Of course, no solution is as simple as, “Just add AI!” The challenges of building out a contact center for the future are multifaceted, and the scope of the task is expanding as customer contact merges into digital transformation, sales, marketing, and other parts of the enterprise.
That’s why this year’s Contact Center/Customer Experience track at Enterprise Connect 2022 is broader and more expansive than ever, reflecting both the strategic issues as well as the nitty-gritty, how-do-we-migrate level of challenges.
For example, on that issue of WFM, consultant Juanita Coley of Solid Rock Consulting states the issue plainly in her session title: Your WFM Solution Alone Can’t Save You. She’ll discuss the complex interaction of WFM systems with the company culture and business issues around which these systems must function.
And what is AI really good for? Analyst David Myron of Omdia will tackle this issue in a session titled, Where AI Pays Off in the Contact Center. He’ll show real-world examples of the areas where investment in AI-driven contact center capabilities have delivered the greatest benefit.
Given the growing importance of contact centers to the enterprise communications/collaboration professional’s work, Enterprise Connect has taken to running a General Session on our main stage to discuss strategic contact center issues, led of course by Sheila McGee-Smith of McGee-Smith Analytics. This year, in recognition of the broader enterprise issues that impact contact centers, that session is on the topic, Who Should be Making Contact Center Decisions in 2022? IT? Customer Service? Marketing? McGee-Smith will sit down with top executives from leading contact center technology providers to get their views.
That’s just a sampling. Pleasant will lead a session on UCaaS Plus CCaaS: What’s Real, What’s Hype, and What’s Next, and we’ve also got sessions on Key Steps to Building a Stellar Self-Service Experience led by Robin Gareiss of Metrigy, and Meeting the New CX Digital-First Mandate: Are you Leading or Falling Behind? led by Mila D’Antonio of Omdia. And to help you get down into the weeds, we have a session on How to Get Contact Center Capabilities Into Your Microsoft Environment, led by Microsoft expert Randy Chapman of Symity; and Overcoming Real-World Obstacles to Transforming CX, led by consultant Elizabeth English of EE and Associates.
It’s a wider net than we’ve ever cast into the roiling waters of the contact center, but the time is right. In a No Jitter post last week, analyst Dave Michels of TalkingPointz made a perceptive point about where contact centers may be heading—over the long term:
“The contact center has become an intangible concept. We can no longer think of it as a place, a channel, a liability/cost, or even a department. It’s a concept that recognizes the tremendous value derived from handling and analyzing interactions.”
Michels leads our annual Innovation Showcase effort, where we seek companies new to the enterprise communications space that are doing interesting and, well, innovative things. Every year he picks an area of focus, and this year, it’s customer engagement. I’m excited to see what Michels and his panel of expert judges uncover.