E-Handbook:

Evolving contact center services reshape engagement strategies

BACKGROUND IMAGE: ARTQU/iStock

The call center gets an extreme makeover

Please wait for the next available agent. The traditional customer call center, with its familiar prompts and varying wait times, is becoming extinct.

Contact center services are evolving rapidly, propelled by two symbiotic forces: rising customer expectations and technology. The routine questions that prompted people to seek out a resolution over the telephone are being absorbed by self-service channels, such as chatbots and online communities.

Back in the call center, automation technologies like robotic process automation and AI are increasingly augmenting -- or autonomously handling -- routine tasks, freeing up human agents to handle more complex problems. Even the look of the call center, with its rows of wired-up agents tethered to monitors, is being refashioned by technology. Feature-rich mobile device desktops now enable agents to work from anywhere anytime. Moreover, the growing popularity of customer-agent video chats requires a different backdrop from the noisy drone of call center hives.

Contact center services were designed to dispatch customer complaints and questions as quickly as possible and at a low cost. Cost savings and time to resolution are still important metrics, but customer service has been reinvented by the likes of Amazon and Uber, where the quality of the customer experience, not the product, is the selling point.

Smart companies see contact centers -- rechristened customer experience centers -- as brand differentiators: Aided by technology and manned by upskilled agents, they're becoming powerful vehicles for building customer loyalty and driving revenue.

This handbook traces the evolution of the customer complaint department, from call centers to CX centers. It explains how AI is the foundation for the quick, personalized service customers demand and forecasts how technologies like augmented reality will eventually show -- not tell -- customers how to get the most out of companies' products and services.

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