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Preparing Your Contact Center for 2018

October 11, 2017

preparing your contact center for 2018

Sheila McGee-Smith did not disappoint in her latest webinar appearance, also featuring the Auto Club Group and Altivon. As always, she wove a clear narrative through the hour-long discussion on key topics including omnichannel, analytics, artificial intelligence and the operational challenges presented by change.

Here are a few highlights

  • Aged infrastructure. Contact center solutions often have a 10 year life cycle. The older the architecture the less likely it is to support modern innovations particularly in response to senior executive initiatives around using customer experience as a competitive differentiator. A poll at the beginning of the webinar showed that 30% of respondents have infrastructures that are 5 years or older. Sheila noted that the 70% with younger systems likely are in the enviable position of being able to add significant new capability within their existing framework.
  • Uber as harbinger. Sheila introduced her brief discussion on the state of the industry by using Uber to illustrate how quickly expectations can change. It wasn’t long ago that Amazon was the harbinger.
  • The over and under. A study of communication methods by age shows that if you are 44 or older, the typical contact center does a good job of using the communication channels you prefer. However, if you are over 44, not at all. Smartphones have changed how customers interact with contact centers, because all the channels are right there in the hand. Frank Tersigni noted that a similar analysis identified the emergence of Generation C (connected), which crosses all age and other demographics again because of the ubiquitous smartphone.
  • Transforming digital transformation. Ten years ago, digital transformation was synonymous with IT. Now digital strategy drives everything and the CIOs are the most integral members of the C-suite. How IT impacts customer experience is the most important question.
  • Industry consolidation requires contact center consolidation. The Auto Club Group merged in 2011, doubling its membership to over 9 million. They found themselves with 2 distinct and aging contact center architectures, neither of which could really scale or support new capabilities. They went with an IP-based software architecture to increase control and hardware independence. Older contact centers in general are seeing End of life and siloed technologies as strong change drivers. Dimension Data reports that more than 50% of respondents said that legacy systems that inhibit flexibility and progress are their biggest challenge.
  • It’s the requirements…. It can be tempting to use a new technology as the motivation for change: speech analytics, artificial intelligence, cloud and omnichannel all promise strong payback. Still the best approach to change is to start with identifying the real requirements that will enable better customer experience and operational performance. Requirements must always come first.
  • Go where needed. Meet your customer where they want to be met. A poll during the webinar showed that 70% of respondents already support more than 3 channels. This demonstrates the movement toward omnichannel, as organizations add channels and integrate them. This integration is key in making sure that there is always context around the customer. If an agent ends up with the interaction, they need to know what happened earlier in order to provide a strong customer experience. The Auto Club Group is currently handling inbound calls and email, integrated at the agent level. They also do outbound calling. Everything is managed through a queuing mechanism and statistics are available through reporting.
  • Data Mining and Analytics. The Auto Club Group is able to leverage call telemetry to connect multiple interactions to a specific postal survey and analyze interactions both good and bad for future coaching and training. They also use speech analytics in real time to quickly identify calls that require interdiction and those that should be used as best practice.

The discussion was wide ranging and delved into details from both the Auto Club Group and other Altivon customer stories.

The full recording is available at “Preparing Your Contact Center for 2018”.

Read our related blog “Replacing Aged Contact Center Infrastructure: the Time is Now!”.