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The Interaction Center

Contact Centers are so Web 1.0! As the Web 2.0 takes off, businesses should revamp their Contact Centers into Interaction Centers to take advantage of the next generation of communications capability. The business objectives are the same in terms of; quicker communication (AHT), accuracy (FCR), and improved results (sales & satisfaction), but the approach will be one that is web centric vs. telephony or email centric.A web centric approach means that all business-to-consumer communication should evolve around a company's web site. Marketing, sales, delivery, support, and billing information should all reside on the web site as the "source of truth," and other channels of communication are used to drive people to the web site and handle the questions that arise.

Web centric interaction vs. contact centric is:

* Web as Source of Truth--The web is a source of truth for all business information. A call center agent is using the same web system as the customer when answering a question via voice, email, chat, Twitter, etc., with the only difference being level of access.

* Available 24/7--Someone is always available to handle questions, just like the web is always up.

* Asynchronous--Start a conversation, go away for a period of time, then pick up immediately where the conversation was left off.

* Wow!--That each interaction is positive and memorable experience, not just a brief conversation. Knowing the context, situation, need, ... equals caring vs. just meeting a basic need.

Web 2.0 technologies that will benefit the Interaction Center include:

* Internet TV--YouTube, Hulu, Apple TV, are taking off. Multi-media communication is a great way to cost effectively engage consumers, whether for soft-selling or education. Every business should have an "infomercial" for each of their products.

* Mobile Web--Smart phones are becoming predominate, enabling people to surf the web from anywhere. The next generation of the mobile web enables people to communicate across multiple channels simultaneously, resulting in a richer and quicker communication.

* Real Time Tracking--Twitter and Facebook are examples of tracking someone. Why not do the same with a business process? Every time a change occurs, update the status vs. someone having to call in and check or even worse, wait for a letter to arrive.

* Location--GPS and other location technologies allow one to determine where someone is physically, which adds context to the communication. If snow is coming down at their location, this information may change the approach of the communication.

* Personalization--Since personal information is usually cached, the need to input information into an IVR and to repeat a lot of information to an agent goes away. This is especially true for the "power consumer."

* Virtual Reality--Blending information with entertainment to make communicating enjoyable. Reading directions is so 20th century! Having a bot pop-up and explain it is the coming wave.

* Click-to-Connect--Click to call, chat, co-browse, and conference applications start with being on a web site and wanting to communicate with someone. Most businesses say that the web is their cheapest form of communication, but the phone is the most effective. Blending the two offers the balance between efficient and effective communication that businesses seek.

Customer satisfaction is based on expectations and the corresponding results. A business should be able to set and meet expectations on the web for standard services. Exceptions and changes will occur which require human interaction. Keeping this interaction consistent, quick, entertaining, across multiple channels, and meeting expectations will keep customers coming back.