Call centres need to evolve to meet customer needs

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Real customer service in the future means today's call centres need to evolve into multimedia contact centres, providing fast and efficient solutions to customer enquiries, wherever and however they originate.

With industry experts forecasting that by next year, 20 per cent of all customer contacts will be via web/email, companies need to take action now to ensure they meet customer demands tomorrow, according to speakers at a seminar hosted by the Interchange Group.

Delegates at the seminar were warned that customer service delivery within call centres needs to change to keep up with the demand for eServices.
“Today's customers want one central point of contact - one universal way to do business, said Dave Burrows, Interchange's Director of Research and Development. “They don't want to have to go to lots of different departments to find what they want.

"Companies need integrated CRM systems and processes in place, backed up by fulfilment. They need a single view of every customer using single database technology which is available for all employees to access, no matter in which department they sit. Customers expect results, whether their contact is by phone, email or customer portal, and in turn, call centres need to maximise the use of new technologies to get the most out of their agents."

For companies, that means massive growth of e-fulfilment web-based access and fully integrated solutions which use a single database to access all the functionality and systems needed to serve customers simply, easily and quickly across all trading architectures.

The need to change to survive was underlined when call centre guru John Goodeve-Docker revealed that only 50 per cent of call centres are currently delivering their full potential. A combination of poor systems and processes and a lack of strategic definition and staffing issues are key failure points and businesses need to wake up to recognise the real capability they have under their roof.

"E-commerce and customer demand is pushing the drive towards the provision of eServices but the human touch is still critical and that means many call centres will only deliver their full potential by becoming multimedia contact centres," he said.

As well as systems integration, that means considering options such as self-service (artificial intelligence and speech recognition) and outsourcing to experts who really understand how customer service should be delivered.

With IT budgets constantly under the spotlight, Pete Neville, Interchange's Director of Business Strategy, said businesses need to consider issues such as needs and benefits analysis, change management, implementation and exploitation to ensure return on investment. Only by doing so will they start to understand the real quantified and deliverable business benefits that can be achieved from the implementation of the right IT systems, he concluded.

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