Customer Contact Center Best Practices and Considerations White Paper


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Best practices and considerations for implementing customer contact centers, including inbound and outbound phone, email and social media customer engagement.

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Customer Contact Center Best Practices and Considerations White Paper

  1. 1. © The Outsourcing Institute Best Practices and Considerations for Multichannel Contact Center Implementation DATAMARK, Inc. White Paper in association with the Outsourcing Institute
  2. 2. © The Outsourcing Institute 2 SUMMARY Tech-savvy Generation Y and Millennials and a growing number of technologically adept baby boomers are leading the charge toward multichannel customer communication. These and other customers expect companies to offer service and support – and to respond to praise and complaints – through multiple contact channels, including voice, email, social media and more. To succeed in this new era of customer contact and reputation management, companies must assess customer channel preferences, embrace and select the right bundle of services to deliver on those needs, and plan an implementation strategy. Companies must continually train agents to provide leading-edge service and ensure the organization maintains the highest levels of customer response and support.
  3. 3. © The Outsourcing Institute 3 Many Customers, Many Contact Solutions In today’s customer service marketplace, contact channels are as varied as the consumers who use them. From tech-savvy Generation Y and Millennials (those born from 1983 to 2000), to the Generation X population (1965-1982), to a growing number of technologically adept baby boomers (1946-1964), they’re seeking service support, searching for answers to product questions, and reading or writing reviews, via a variety of contact channels. These include phone calls with live agents, interactive voice response (IVR), email, web chat and social media. Today, a company’s reputation can depend on how easily and seamlessly these contact channels are blended into the overall customer experience. Increasingly, the evolution of channel preference is forcing companies to diversify their contact delivery options. To do this, companies must internally – or seek out a vendor who can – capitalize on the expertise, ability and knowledge needed to provide the best solution amid this multichannel customer contact environment. According to a survey of 487 contact center executives by the Aberdeen Group, six customer contact channels are most widely used. Among those, businesses rely on the following channels most often: phone (98%), email (96%), web (90%), IVR (76%), mail/fax (76%), and social media (55%). More than half of all companies surveyed use all six of these channels, Aberdeen noted. Pursuit of a multichannel model delivers real dividends, the analysts reported. "[B]usinesses following a multichannel customer care strategy achieve more than twice greater (9.7% vs. 3.9%) year-over- year improvement in customer satisfaction, compared to peers using only a single channel," Aberdeen wrote in its Multichannel Contact Center Analyst Insight report (November 2012). Multichannel Challenges Organizations often face a multitude of misunderstandings or roadblocks related to multichannel contact solutions. These can range from: 1. Poor talent recruitment and ongoing training regarding customer interaction and even the client’s brand and messaging; 2.Not investing in required technology and infrastructure needs; 3.Underestimating total cost of ownership, which can range from thousands to millions of dollars. This lack of inherent knowledge about contact centers and the implementation process also can delay – or even threaten the viability – of any project. Among the questions to ask when designing a center and its offerings are: 1.Has the organization selected the right channels based on research into customer demographics and preferences? 2.Has the organization hired the right team, both for domestic and international or multi-lingual customer needs? 3.Has the organization created an ongoing training program to keep
  4. 4. © The Outsourcing Institute 4 agents versed in company strategy, corporate tone and channel management? 4.Has the organization budgeted for the endeavor’s short-term launch and long-term survival? Assessing Customer Channel Preferences Program development begins with an assessment of customer channel preferences. This can be done by analyzing the use of existing resources to gather data on current traffic and use patterns. Obtaining data and other useful information can be done through surveys, focus groups and employee input. Data collected through every available channel – live voice, IVR, web self-service, email, SMS text, IM/web chat, social media and blogs – can be incorporated into an overall strategic analysis. By analyzing available data, the organization can determine which channels customers currently use – and how often they use them. It’s a dangerous proposition to assume that because certain channels are not popular that customers prefer not to use them. This could mean that the channels are poorly implemented or in the midst of a customer adoption period. Engaging a Consultant for Planning a Multichannel Approach After gathering and analyzing available data, the next step is to start forming an understanding of the current state of your customer service/contact center processes and developing a vision for where the organization would like them to be. As the organization transforms data into intelligence to be activated in its implementation plan, it might be wise to engage a consultant or multichannel contact service provider to help draft a strategic plan. A business consultant can conduct a business process analysis to map out the organization's current workflow and processes, and then sketch new workflows to eliminate duplicate processes, improve efficiency and improve the ability to serve customers in each channel. The consultant also can help the organization explore whether to maintain or create a contact center on-premises, or if an off-site or off- shore solution offering 24-hour service will allow the organization to better focus on core competencies. Other considerations: Can an onshore destination serve multiple languages? Does the organization understand the training needs required to infuse agents with product, brand and company messaging? The consultant also can help consider and identify contingencies that may arise during the implementation of a center, as well as the needs of a growing organization or customer base.
  5. 5. © The Outsourcing Institute 5 Select Multichannel Technology Based on intelligence of customer needs, should the contact center solution encompass several stand-alone services that will require some software development to make them interoperable in an overall end-to- end solution, or should it engage a suite of services from a single vendor? The business consultant can assist with determining which approach to take, as well as the technology services that would best fit the existing business model. Among those technology solutions to be considered are: Self-service: IVR or web-based forms allow customers to solve problems themselves. Universal queue and multi- routing capabilities: This offers customers the channel of their choice: voice, email, web chat, etc. No matter the channel used, the customer is routed to agents who can support multichannel contact from their laptop or workstation. Performance reporting: Real-time and historical data to help supervisors effectively route calls and manage workforce. Cloud-based solutions: Avoid high capital, infrastructure and other start-up costs. Scale quickly to meet seasonal volumes. Agents can work from any location with web access. Third-party developer kits: Allow developers to integrate and customize applications. Social Media Management: Monitoring and prioritizing so customer concerns, complaints and praise can quickly receive responses. Video connection: Some customers/business models may require communication with agents via video conference. Implementation, Recruiting and Training Consultants can create highly detailed, step-by-step implementation or transition plans for a multichannel contact center. The transition plan assigns responsibilities and deadlines for each step. If moving an existing contact center to a new outsourced center, this Process Migration Methodology assures no loss of customer contact and service. Agents should be selected based on skills and capabilities. Whether choosing agents for centers located domestically or abroad, skills and capabilities may include technology awareness, multi- lingual capabilities and even intangibles like personality and “people skills.” Agents then are trained to learn the customer’s specific process, internal culture and “point of view.” Their training is bolstered by incentives that reward first-contact resolution, whether over IVR, email, web chat or social media, or by meeting sales quotas. By the time agents take their first call, they are “an extension of the brand.” The Hunt for Continuous Improvement Organizations should take advantage of the reporting tools available to them (real-time, historical) and incorporate them into a process strategy of continuous improvement. A formal continuous improvement strategy can use scenario modeling to find ways to make processes more efficient; solicit feedback from customers and agents to improve customer interaction and
  6. 6. © The Outsourcing Institute 6 satisfaction; and apply continuous monitoring of the market for technological improvements and proven contact-center best practices. Conclusion Raising customer satisfaction and quality interactions, while lowering costs, all can be achieved with a multichannel contact center. The effort requires a skilled approach that may incorporate a blended solution of outsourced service centers, cloud technology solutions, a visionary team, and consultants experienced in the implementation of the ideal solution. Organizations hoping to explore a multichannel customer contact environment should assess their internal capabilities and weaknesses. Then, they should seek out prospective partners who can mentor the organization and/or deliver on needed skillsets and technology to improve on existing solutions or to introduce new options. The result can be a finely honed network of services that reaches customers, no matter where – or who – they are. About DATAMARK DATAMARK is a leading provider of multichannel customer contact center services, digital mailroom and mail center management, data entry, document processing services and business process re-engineering services for Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and other large enterprises. Founded in 1989, the company is the strategic business process outsourcing ( BPO ) partner for companies across numerous industry sectors, including healthcare, insurance, banking and financial services, and transportation and logistics. DATAMARK offers on-site, onshore and offshore processing facilities, delivering enterprise content management (ECM) and process-automation technologies and solutions to help organizations improve efficiency and profitability in all business functions.
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