“I don’t need a contact center. My business is too small, and I don’t have my own agents.”
“Customer service drags down productivity and costs me revenue. I’m better off spending as little as possible.”
These statements may have been true 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago, when call centers housed hundreds of agents at a single location. However, the traditional contact center model is being replaced by one in which geographically dispersed agents, including work-from-home, on-demand, and seasonal hires, are linked through cloud-based contact center applications.
Today, customer interactions are no longer confined to a formal call center setting. The modern contact center is far less formal, with interactions happening anytime, anywhere. Every organization, large or small, has structured or unstructured groups who have frequent or sporadic contact with customers, as well as business partners, vendors, suppliers, and other stakeholders.
Employees within individual departments or even specific workgroups serve as informal contact centers, where customer questions are answered, problems are solved, and service delivery is expedited. These pockets of engagement can strengthen or damage the customer relationship as much as interactions with agents whose sole job function is fielding inbound inquiries. The customer experience you deliver will have a direct impact – positively or negatively – on brand perception, sales, and loyalty.
More than a customer service platform, your contact center is a competitive differentiator.
The Customer Experience Drives Loyalty
According to a recent report from Zendesk, 74 percent of customers feel loyal to a particular brand or organization, and 52 percent go out of their way to purchase from these companies. However, about half of customers said they would leave a brand for a competitor after a single bad experience. 80 percent would make the switch after more than one bad experience.
Every interaction with your organization represents a small part of the larger customer experience. Unfortunately, some of the most frustrating interactions happen in the contact center. The Zendesk study revealed that poor customer service was far and away the top reason for a poor customer experience.
What Customers Expect from the Contact Center
A customer service study from Microsoft found that nearly three-quarters of respondents expect contact center agents to have access to previous interactions so agents know who they are and what they’ve purchased. Two-thirds actively use at least three communication channels, such as voice, email, text, chat, and social media.
Another study from NICE inContact found that 91 percent of consumers expect to be able to seamlessly move between channels, but only 24 percent of organizations give themselves a rating of “excellent” for this capability.
94 percent of consumers expect to be directed to the communication channel or agent that will resolve their issue as quickly as possible.
This data also confirms the findings of the two previously mentioned studies, as 77 percent of consumers expect organizations to know their purchase history, and 81 percent are very likely to switch to another company after a bad experience. With these expectations, it’s no wonder technology can make or break customer loyalty.
The Business Value of Modern Contact Center Technology
Contact center solutions bring structure, accountability, collaboration, and automation to just about any area of the business that communicates with customers. Each represents an opportunity for business improvement, not only by increasing efficiency and productivity, but by providing visibility into performance and customer satisfaction. These areas include but are not limited to:
- Tech support
- Human resources
- Sales (both internal and external)
- Shipping and receiving
- Field service (HVAC, plumbing, roadside assistance, contractors, appliance installation, etc.)
Today’s cloud-based contact center, especially when combined with a modern unified communications solution, allows you to meet heightened customer expectations and deliver the kind of experience they demand. Features and capabilities such as omni-channel communication, intelligent routing, reporting, and analytics deliver measurable business value through improved first-call resolution rates, increased operational efficiency, and better customer service performance by employees and dedicated contact center agents. All contribute to increased sales, loyalty, and profitability.
In addition to improving the customer experience, your contact center solution can help you perform everyday tasks with greater efficiency and accuracy, including:
- Updating work orders
- Checking inventory or ordering parts
- Evaluating maintenance contracts and warranty information
- Collaborating with technical support personnel
- Researching upgrades or product replacement in alignment with the customer’s purchase history, needs, and preferences
- Scheduling a follow-up visit for repair or replacement of a product
- Training customers on proper usage and maintenance of a new product
- Automating tasks like payment reminders, appointment confirmations, service notifications, and more
Why a Cloud Contact Center Solution Makes Sense for Small Businesses
Two words – simplicity and usability. An informal contact center with a powerful, cloud-based customer engagement center delivers the features of a traditional, on-premises solution without the high capital expense or agents.
Omni-channel capabilities let users interact with the customer on any channel and access their interaction history through a single interface without switching between applications. Regardless of how customers choose to interact with your brand, they’ll enjoy a five-start customer experience when your team has the right tools and capabilities in an easy-to-use solution.
Want to bring a modern, cloud-based contact center solution to your small business? Our communications experts would like offer you a free demo and consultation to see how Utility VoIP Contact Center and IVR can fit into your business.