Your new contact centre location: everywhere and nowhere…
Avaya built its empire on the back of tech that underpins the modern contact centre. Is it now time to re-think the concept entirely?
One of the most dramatic – and surprising – ways digital technology has changed society can be seen in the way it has undermined the idea of ‘place’.
With the roll out of high speed broadband, plus smartphones, wearable’s and other endpoints, you don’t need to ‘be’ somewhere to get something done. Well, not to the same extent as before.
Think about banking. Branches are closing en masse. Hardly surprising when customers can do everything inside an app that they can do inside the building. It’s why Brett King’s landmark book about the topic, Bank 3.0, has as its subtitle ‘Why Banking Is No Longer Somewhere You Go But Something You Do’.
And so we come to the contact centre.
Like the bank (and the supermarket, bookshop and travel agent), the contact centre was traditionally tied to a physical location. But should it – will it – be that way forever?
We say no.
We reckon the contact centre is set for huge change. Out will go the ‘cube farm’ filled with specialist agents and those large LED banners blinking out wait times and total calls answered.
In its place will be… well, nowhere in particular. Instead, a central UC system will match any caller to exactly the right person inside the organisation to help them get what they need. That employee could be in the office, at their desk at home or even in the car.
The contact centre will be nowhere and everywhere.
Let’s compare the two experiences with a hypothetical example.
In the traditional scenario, a customer calls a dedicated customer care number. She is then asked guided through an IVR process to determine the nature of her query. The system uses skill-based routing to direct her to the agent best qualified to deal with her call.
Everyone knows the flaws in this system. People tend not to like talking to machines (at least, if it sounds like a machine). It takes too long and they’re asked to give up all kinds of non-relevant information. When – if – they’re finally put through, they’re already frustrated enough to jump to another supplier.
Now consider one vision of a bold new future. Here, the caller dials the main business line, but there’s no frustrating IVR process. Instead, the system infers a mass of information about the caller by matching her number against sophisticated CRM data. She is instantly routed to the employee – who may or may not have a traditional contact centre role – that’s best placed to help. Or, even better, it connects her to the employee who dealt with her previously.
This all happens in milliseconds and without the need for the caller to do anything.
Bingo. The physical call centre goes away. The entire organisation is a call centre.
Now, to a degree, this kind of intelligent ‘inspection’ of a caller’s credentials has been around a while. Avaya’s IP Office Contact Centre product gives smaller companies some insight into who called and when and why.
But what’s new – and increasingly available to mid sized companies as well as global corporations – is how many more meaningful insights you can glean when you design in workflows that hook into existing APIs.
When you do this, you can link your UC system to other solutions inside your business such as Salesforce or Cisco Meracki. That ramps up how much you can know about a customer when she calls.
In the Avaya world, this is all possible thanks to Breeze.
To remind you, Breeze is a platform that makes it easier to create new UC-based applications. Avaya’s vision is for developers to be able to create a library of these apps and make them available for others to use and build on for their own use cases.
Avaya calls these apps ‘snap ins’ to reflect this idea of ‘snapping in’ to existing programmes. Developers simply drag and drop any new API module into the main design screen to create one.
It’s clearly a much more efficient system than designing a new software development kit from scratch for every new workflow.
At Formation, we believe the Breeze/Snap In concept is deeply undervalued. But it won’t stay that way.
At Gitex in October last year, we met several developers that are hugely excited by its potential. In fact, we are working with one now to design snap-ins that can pool customer contact data from different sources just as this article describes.
The outcome, for far-sighted organisations, will be striking. It will transform the customer experience in a positive way while also providing operational efficiencies for the business.
The call centre is no longer a place. It’s a state of mind.