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Sheila McGee-Smith - Contact Centers

Consumers are driving business innovation more than anytime in history. This is the message Sheila McGee-Smith, President and Principal Analyst at McGee-Smith Analytics, LLC, presented during a recent webinar to leaders in call center quality assurance.

She explained how the smartphone and mobile device revolution continues to evolve the economic landscape by empowering consumers to shop online. Consumers may complete the entire sales cycle from their mobile devices. Purchases can take place at any time from any location without any human-to-human contact.

This trend is not slowing. E-commerce share of global retail at about 7.4% in 2015 is positioned to more than double by 2021.

E-Commerce Graph - Contact CentersSource: Statista

To meet this growing trend, the store, or e-commerce marketplace, must remain open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week -- including all holidays -- to meet customer needs. Thus, an inherent challenge exists between customer demand and the consistent delivery of quality customer service.

The New and Improved Digital Customer Journey

The digital customer journey is not entirely new, but it is a process that continues to evolve as technology innovates to meet demand. Customer service professionals have always been charged with meeting the needs of the consumer. But today they are further put to task, faced with increasingly fast-paced demands plus a variety of growing contact channels to monitor, engage and connect with consumers -- phone, email, chat, social media, SMS, digital advertising, blog posts.

Contact Channels for Contact Centers

Some of the many digital opportunities available to consumers who wish to connect with brands and contact centers. 

This is important to pay attention to because phone conversations are no longer the default contact center route. The customer journey is shifting. Consumers are coming to call centers from a variety of digital channels and with far more knowledge than ever before.

They’ve likely crowdsourced information, done price and product comparisons, read reviews and testimonials. In fact, McGee explains, consumers are often not interested in opening a chat or phoning a customer service representative until they have exhausted all other options and are unable to self-service a problem on their own. This means that they often arrive to a call frustrated and seeking a quick resolution.

Today consumers are connecting with contact centers empowered with more information than ever before. They want fast, concise interactions and immediate solutions.

What About the Contact Centers Agent Journey?

With more responsibilities than ever before, the call center agent journey deserves time for reflection.

Global management consulting firm, McKinsey and Company, reported that while about 29% of agent work may, at some time, be usurped by artificial intelligence, the majority of the skills needed for successful consumer interactions require a human touch.

Not convinced? Here’s a quick list of some of the things a robot can’t do:

  • Respond to customer problems or complaints
  • Explain regulations, policies, procedures
  • Interview employees or customers to collect information
  • Execute sales or financial transactions
  • Make recommendations 

“Super Agents” to the Rescue!

Automation is not taking over any time soon, so focusing on the agent journey and career path is essential. Consider making feedback mechanisms available, offer training and development, and encourage work/life balance perks such as remote work opportunities.

Agent retainment will continue to be a pertinent part of call center sustainability and one that should be taken very seriously. Agents know your business and understand how to best provide solutions that help your customers. These are the employees on the front lines; the ones who regularly speak to your customers one-on-one. Hire the highly skilled future, multi-channel leaders and managers to create the necessary “super agents” of tomorrow -- the experts who know how to manage more complex customer interactions. 

The #1 Challenge Affecting Customer Service Technology

The biggest hindrance to call center agents and overall contact center success are legacy systems that inhibit flexibility and progress

Legacy Systems - Contact Centers

These outdated platforms do not easily (if at all) provide the real-time feedback or self-scoring mechanisms from which agents can learn and grow. Nor do they provide ways to seamlessly follow-up with and survey customers. An all-in-one, full-service dashboard is necessary to empower agents and leaders with data-driven insights that pinpoint opportunities for improvement.

This is the innovation that consumers are driving

This is the innovation that contact centers must implement in order to continue to thrive. A contact center must be multi-channel in its approach to connecting with consumers. It must employ best-in-class technologies to empower contact centers and their agents with the speed, resilience, and customizable strategies needed to scale. 

Watch the entire Quality Scoring - Empowering the Contact Center Manager and The C-Suite webinar hosted by Sheila McGee-Smith and Derek Corcoran, Founder and CEO of Scorebuddy, or view the slides from the presentation.