Thought Bubbles Q&A: Discussing Contact Center Basics

Sep 2, 2020 10:09:48 AM

We get a lot of questions whenever we meet new people at conferences, host webinars, give one-on-one demos, and even as we onboard new customers. We welcome the opportunity to answer these questions, dig deeper, and help organizations elevate their customer support to be truly great. When we get questions like these from prospects, analysts, and customers, we can't help but answer them here. See what Edify CEO and co-founder Cameron Weeks had to say recently about contact center technologies and features.

cameron - How important are tech-based customer service tools like bots and self-service capabilities?

cWeeks2SM-2-2While there will always be complex issues that only a human agent can manage, many shoppers are engaging with voice-activated and self-service type tools to connect with brands because these tools make lives easier -- both for the agents and the customers. That’s a good thing! If you make it possible for your customer to do less, they will love you more. Customer effort is a strong driver of customer loyalty. 

Ask yourself, is your brand easy to get in touch with? Self-service tools can be very beneficial in this aspect. It’s been reported that  67 percent of millennials and Gen Zers are leveraging self-service tools, and the recent pandemic is only making these numbers go up. In May, NPR and Edison Research shared results of a poll, which revealed the number of people using voice commands at least once a day rose from 46 percent to 52 percent during the start of the pandemic. 

These stats are just two of many validating that every company should have a smart bot at play, giving customers the option to serve themselves. With that said, it should also be easy to reach a live agent to get help on complex issues (or when someone just wants to talk to a human). Bots + humans is the best way to go.

Is omnichannel communication really better than multichannel?  

Many businesses are playing catch-up -- trying to rapidly fit all of the channels customers use today into their contact centers. It’s challenging to piece together a solution and improve your service level when going about things in a piece-meal fashion. A true omnichannel platform is the best, scratch that, it’s the only solution that works in 2020 and beyond. 

It’s the only way to unify all of your customer communications across multiple communication channels within one pane of glass. Today’s technology allows you to move from chat to SMS to phone to email and back again, without ever transferring or disconnecting or asking customers to repeat themselves. We have these capabilities in our daily lives, so we need them in our contact centers, too.

What are the key things to watch in order to evaluate how well a contact center is performing?

KPIs are more than numbers you report on weekly… they’re critical to the health of your business. Leading indicator KPIs help you predict what will happen in the future and thus predict your future results. It’s a way of knowing whether you’re on track to achieve the results you want. Leading indicators have two characteristics: they are measurable & you can directly influence them. There are a lot of important KPIs in contact centers, but some of the stand-out ones include: average wait time, abandonment rate, handle time, first contact resolution, customer satisfaction, and agent turnover. Your platform should have built-in analytics, coaching, and training tools to measure these types of things… alerting you to flagged interactions that need to be addressed, while helping to coach and train your team to be more effective -- improving the experience for everyone.

It’s also a good idea to revisit your KPIs during times of change, like the current pandemic we’re all in. Chances are, the KPIs needed to thrive in the post-COVID-19 world aren't the ones you're currently focused on. DMG Consulting recently published a report that explores this topic. Check it out.

AI is the phrase that our industry uses most often, so why do you put more emphasis on ML? 

ML (machine learning) is a subset of AI (artificial intelligence) that identifies patterns based on large sets of data and then uses those patterns to make predictions. It offers top-notch emotion detection and data analysis capabilities, including sentiment analysis and speech analysis, which can transform the customer experience. And that’s not all. Your ML-powered technology gets better over time, often without much human involvement, by giving systems the ability to learn and improve with each experience. The information ML provides helps agents know how to best navigate customer dilemmas. ML can detect upset customers and transfer them to the best agent right away, and so much more. 

ML is thriving right now while AI remains a concept, but not a reality. Surprised? defines AI as: "The capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior." This certainly isn’t a reality quite yet. ML is, however. Today, ML is capable of supporting your business, your employees, and your customers, all while adding value and ensuring that you will create remarkable experiences.

How do I implement these things - bots, ML, etc. - without a degree in computer science?

You don’t need to have extensive computer science knowledge in order to take advantage of these technologies. Today you can choose a cloud-native contact center solution that includes all these capabilities natively, with a no-code interface. It’s fast and simple. And it’s what it takes to give today’s customers the experience they expect.

Liz Cahill

Written by Liz Cahill

Recognized as one of PR Week's “Ten Rising Stars” in 2005, Liz Cahill has been working in the public relations industry for more than two decades with a focus on technology and lifestyle. During this time, Cahill has partnered with clients big and small, working on strategy development, message creation, media outreach, social media programming, event planning, ghostwriting, and pretty much anything else her clients throw at her. Originally a “Jersey girl,” Cahill has lived in Boston, New York City, and Los Angeles. She currently resides outside of LA with her husband, daughter and twin sons.