The “whole company” contact center

Pekka Porkka, Head of Contact Center Product Unit, and Sonia Lopez Esquilas, Sales Director, Iberia and Northern Europe, at SAP Digital Interconnect, consider the impact contact centers have on the success of an enterprise.

The contact center is a critical factor in how brands engage with their customers. A brand could be running a campaign with multiple calls to action, and in some instances, it may succeed in achieving a light-touch conversion, where the customer sees an offer, clicks on a link to redeem it, and no further interaction is necessary.

But there are many instances where the customer, or potential customer, needs direct engagement with the brand, and in this scenario, the contact center is usually their only option, and the brand’s only opportunity to have a relationship with that customer. So, it’s vital that the experience is a good one.

The key to delivering this good – no let’s be honest, great –  experience is enabling the customer to engage with the brand through the channel of their choice, whether that’s voice, chat, email, or any of the myriad social channels, from WhatsApp to WeChat. Brave – or rather foolish – is the brand that wants to dictate the channel or channels a customer can use to interact with them. If they don’t support the customer’s preferred channel, the customer is more likely to switch brand allegiance than download and install whatever app the brand requires them to. Customers today want and expect enterprises to recognize their channel preferences and engage with them on their terms. Offering multichannel customer engagement is part of a superior brand experience.

Integrated data and processes
Data is another key factor in running a successful contact center operation. When you think about the many touchpoints and engagements a customer might have with a brand in the course of their relationship, you can see that it’s often a fragmented journey from awareness to conversion. A brand might start a conversation with a customer via SMS, perhaps a promotion to its opted-in mobile database. The conversation may then switch to e-mail, or to an OTT (Over The Top) social messaging channel like Facebook Messenger. A web chat may also play a part in satisfying the customer’s need for more information, and finally, there may be a voice call with a human call center agent.

For the customer, this can be a frustrating experience, in which they are asked multiple times for the same information, because when it’s received, even though it’s logged, the brand’s systems cannot communicate with each other, so the information shared with the brand via one channel, is not available to it when engaging via another.

On the other hand, in contact centers with omnichannel capabilities, agents have access to all the information ever provided by the person they are currently speaking to. This detailed customer profile, including purchase history, account status, and preferences, has several benefits. The first is that it enables more first-time resolution of cases, which is a better experience for the customer, and a more efficient use of the agent’s time. Second, it provides actionable insight, so that the agent has an opportunity to cross-sell or up-sell the customer. And thirdly, it waves a red flag when the customer on the line is identified by his or her profile as one of the brand’s top customers in terms of customer lifetime value. If he or she has a problem, the brand had better make sure they fix it fast.

Agent optimisation
Another key consideration is agent optimisation. There are two factors here. One is that the contact center should be equipped with the right tools to respond to enquiries. The second is that the automation elements, such as chatbots and AI, are in place to manage enquiries which can be easily and quickly answered by serving as a kind of Frequently Asked Questions service, and only escalating to a human agent when the customer’s need requires more specialised knowledge.

With the right contact center solution in place, many enterprises have now achieved what might be thought of as the ultimate expression of this automated escalation process. It’s what we call the Whole Company Contact Center.

The concept is a simple one. Instead of leaving all calls, problems and complaints in the hands of contact center agents, the enterprise makes the whole company available to answer them, right up to the senior managers who were long since promoted away from dealing with customers. It might seem like an unworkable concept, but it’s all manageable with the right routing system in place, and with the senior product, legal or finance expert’s time pre-allocated so that agents know exactly when a problem can be escalated to them. Bringing these senior experts back to customer-facing engagements also have the added benefit of reacquainting them with customer needs and expectations, leading to the creation of better products and services. And it leads to a more motivated and effective contact center overall, as the service quality increases.

CPaaS simplifies complexity
The most efficient way to achieve this vision of the integrated, intelligent contact center is to partner with a Communications Service as a Platform (CPaaS) provider. The infrastructure is all in the cloud, so it helps enterprises reduce contact center complexity, add new channels and services, and scale operations to meet business and customer needs now and in the future.

SAP Digital Interconnect’s SAP Contact Center 365 end-to-end, cloud-based solution provides omnichannel communications capabilities, skills-based routing, agent optimization, supervisor and reporting tools, and customer views to improve experiences and first-contact resolution. It runs alongside ERP, CRM and other enterprise and third-party apps or can be embedded in them to join digital service channels together to deliver a streamlined, consistent customer experience. Onsite and remote agents alike have the tools and real-time customer information to broaden the scope of customer service solutions and deliver a superior omnichannel experience for today’s connected customers.

Want to learn more and learn how omnichannel contact centers can improve your customer experiences? Register now for a SAP Contact Center 365 30-day free trial, read ”SAP Contact Center 365 Delivers Enhanced Customer Service”, and join the SAP Digital Interconnect community.