Ask a CTO: Exploring the Contact Center's Biggest Problems

Mar 18, 2020 10:15:00 AM

Call Center Problems

Last week we discussed moving to the cloud, sharing reasons  why on-premise systems can't provide the service today's customers demand. Continuing our Q&A series with Edify Chief Technology Officer Bracken Fields, this week we’re talking about pains in the contact center, why point solutions fail both employees and customers, and how companies can improve the CX they deliver by going cloud-native once and for all.


What do you think are the biggest pain points for agents right now in the contact center space?

Agents have many apps they must use in order to accomplish the work that’s in front of them. If you were to chat with your bank right now, for example, and ask a simple question, here’s what might happen: 

  • They’ll authenticate you in one system.
  • An agent will use a knowledge base to figure out how to answer your question in another system.
  • That agent will then access a different system to get the data that you and they want.
  • Finally, then they will respond back to you.
  • They might even be on a phone call in another system with someone else while they’re doing all of this for you over chat.

That’s about five or so steps just for an agent to get the answer to a basic question. The process is so tedious because the bank is using multiple vendors for each of these tasks (and let’s not even get into how that equates to completing compliance interviews for all of these different products). 

 

So all of those different channels live in completely different systems. What’s the trickle-down effect of having a call center set up that way?

With legacy systems, one system is managing phone calls, one is managing chats, one is managing emails, and so forth. Agents are constantly bouncing back and forth between all of these screens. Call center managers are literally buying bigger screens so their agents have more visible real estate to have more apps open at any given time. It’s a giant band-aid on a larger problem.

Beyond being a headache for agents, all of this wastes the customer’s time! This is something everyone can relate to because I’m sure in our own customer service experiences we’ve been told many times, “Sorry, I’m just waiting to get a response here,” or “Sorry, my system is being slow.” In the majority of contact centers, all of those various systems don’t talk to each other--not even in the slightest. 

 

Why are companies still leveraging point solutions then?

A lot of it is a cost problem. Companies that bought on-premise hardware after 2008 are waiting for that to be depreciated. It’s a very heavy lift to change out your contact center and an extremely expensive decision. Companies source their IVR (Interactive Voice Response) from one vendor, rely on a CRM that doesn’t share data with that IVR, source an ACD (Automatic Call Distributor), etc. That’s where the benefits of today’s cloud-native solutions come in. And that’s exactly why I co-founded and built Edify. I wondered why a do-it-all solution didn’t exist, knew there had to be a better way, and then Cameron and I set out to build one.

 

We know agents are struggling to try to serve customers and need to manage 4-5 or more systems in order to do so. I feel like in 75% of my personal customer service interactions, the agent is as frustrated as I am. And I can almost never get complex issues escalated to someone else. How do companies manage the quality of their customer service experience? 

In short, they don’t. Their agents have to learn and move between all of these various systems, and then physically see all of them on their screen. Customers receive a questionnaire at the end of each experience, asking how likely you are to recommend that company to another person. If their experience was a failure, who is to blame? Which system let the agent and the customer down that time? Or was it just the agent themself? 

But let’s assume you had an “OK” customer experience. You’re not mad but you’re not really that happy either. A logical person might rate the experience a 7, which could be considered a passing score in most contact centers. (Even though what you should be striving for is a 10 every time!) The NPS, or net promoter score, can really be used to prove whatever data you want to. Quality control can’t be measured accurately in this way.

Again, is a bad score the BPOs fault? Is it the internal contact centers fault? No one can identify that. 

 

How can companies improve and change then? I mean, as a customer, I’m long past wanting just an “OK” service experience. 

Since I don’t believe the NPS score is truly telling of customer experience, I think the best thing to do is show them the tools they need in order to be delivering an outstanding experience every time. And most of the time, contact center administrators have very little to no ability to make changes to the contact center--they don’t have access or it’s in code and they’re not developers. Technology should be empowering the people on the frontlines, like team managers, who do most of the work and yet feel the most powerless. If you can positively affect their day, you’d make everything a whole lot better. 

Call center managers spend a ton of time handling escalations. They fall into a vicious cycle of their agents not having the info they need to answer complex questions, so they have to answer them, which means they have less time to help train and develop their teams. It’s completely ineffective and we built Edify with the frontline people in mind.

 

Can’t workflows be tweaked to help people work better?

Most companies have yet another point solution for quality management i.e., coaching. Typically, managers will randomly select an agent and a call they want to listen to. The five calls they listen to might be good while the other 40 were awful--but they have no idea, so they’ll give that agent a pat on the back. Nobody wants to unknowingly incentivize bad behavior, right? This is why built-in sentiment analysis and interaction flagging is so important, not to mention top-notch coaching and training features. If your machine learning bot can detect upset customers and transfer them to the most appropriate agent right away, everyone benefits. And if your system can also flag interactions that are going south quickly, make recommendations to the agent, and pull in a manager for help, the ending will be much much happier. 

 

It seems like putting everyone on one platform was the ah-ha moment that Edify was born out of. 

We are all customers too and deal with customer service in our daily lives, so it’s easy to identify the things customers care about and translate that into the contact center space. Every business is unique. Whether they have 50 users in 1 location or 5,000 users in 10 locations, we built Edify to serve them better. And with a steady stream of today’s workforce moving towards remote work, it was a no-brainer to have unified communications as part of our solution. Companies should be able to easily route calls between all of their agents and let agents and other internal employees connect and collaborate to solve customer issues faster. You can find great contact center agents worldwide instead of being limited to just your city, stop letting customers down because your current vendor causes a ton of outages, turn your customer interactions into smart feedback, and so much more.

We built something new for customers and for employees. Because we had to.

We hope you enjoyed part 2 of this Q&A! As always, if you have any questions, reach out. We’re here to help.

Kendal Rodgers

Written by Kendal Rodgers

Kendal is the Marketing Manager at Edify and has been writing and curating content most of her professional career. She’s passionate about working with start-ups and sharing life experiences through storytelling. Kendal earned her B.S. in Marketing and International Studies from the IU Kelley School of Business.