Cloud telephony, omnichannel service main trends at ICMI Expo

At the ICMI Contact Center Expo, users were interested in how to make their centers more efficient while serving customers in whatever channel they choose.

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A modern contact center infrastructure takes advantage of cloud technology and advanced analytics tools that promote speed of service as well as insight into customer needs and behaviors. Some larger centers might already be there, but smaller companies might just be starting to delve into these technologies. SearchCRM sat down with Bob Furniss, customer care practice director at consulting firm Bluewolf, to discuss these trends and others that emerged at the 2015 ICMI Contact Center Expo and Conference in Orlando, Fla., May 4-7:

Moving to the cloud: Companies saddled with on-premises data are exploring cloud technology, which was the biggest trend at the ICMI Expo, according to Furniss. He said that users are attracted to the fast computing power the cloud offers, which can speed internal processes and timely customer service.

Omnichannel and self-service: To achieve multichannel customer service, contact centers need to build a presence on multiple channels, including social media, a company's website, email and more. Furniss said the industry is starting to move a step beyond that into omnichannel service; that is, the "ability to make all of those channels work together with a smooth transition for the customer, whether they … visit the website, chat, or interact through [self-service] portals or communities." An omnichannel strategy's goal is to promote continuity between different channels, Furniss added.

Bob Furniss, customer care practice director, Bluewolf

Analytics: Furniss said that some conference attendees were confused as to how to run analytics through contact center metrics already in place and how the two differ. He said the vendors of some analytics tools might be a few years ahead of companies still wary of using them, causing some users to ask, "How is analytics different from what I'm doing today?" It's more than just collecting data, Furniss said; it's about gaining insight from the data and seeing how it can augment service processes.

Agent training: Many companies came to the conference to explore new trends and tools in workforce training. Furniss said that many companies are plagued by a lack of focus when purchasing these tools and need to make decisions based on how agents can learn and improve efficiency and productivity. "I want to make sure I'm building technology through the eyes of the agent," Furniss said. "The folks who make decisions on training have to be connected to the front line. It makes a difference when it is tied to customer survey information."

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