The future of call and customer contact centers: the customer relationship center
The future of call centers and customer contact, the customer relationship center.There are three generations of centers: the telephone-only call center, the customer contact center that uses a multi-channel approach, and finally the relationship center that combines a multi-channel approach with a global approach to customer needs. The first two generations have specialized agents who […]
The future of call centers and customer contact, the customer relationship center.
There are three generations of centers: the telephone-only call center, the customer contact center that uses a multi-channel approach, and finally the relationship center that combines a multi-channel approach with a global approach to customer needs. The first two generations have specialized agents who respond to one-off needs, whereas the relationship center aims to build customer loyalty through a global approach, which means breaking down traditional silos.
First-generation call centers
These classic call centers are generally divided into two parts: outbound and inbound calls.
Company management generally perceives the inbound calls department as a cost center, so priority is given to keeping the average call time as short as possible, with every second saved estimated in thousands of dollars. Sales are limited to a few complementary products that are easy to offer, and agents decide to stop selling when they’ve reached their quota, then try to reach their call time target by shortening communications to each customer. When management realizes that the customer satisfaction rate is too low, it relaxes a little on call times, but after a productivity meeting with the vice-presidents, it tightens call times this time, and so on. Those who work in call centers know all about this pendulum swing.
Section heads have teams of 18 to 22 agents, which limits structural costs, but makes effective coaching difficult. Not to mention the fact that coaching desks have been replaced by parking spaces for the last returning agents.
The surface area is divided into cubicles as small as possible to maximize the number of agents on the floor, salaries are limited, and agent turnover varies from 40% to 100% per year, which is costly in terms of training, leading to a reduction in training budgets and, as a result, new customer satisfaction problems later on.
Think you’ve recognized a company? No, almost all call centers are like that, in Europe, in Canada, whether in Quebec, the Maritimes or the West.
Outbound call sectors are favored because they are generally considered to be profit centers, which translates into relative freedom of call time and latitude of realization in their customer relations pitches. On the other hand, calls are generally limited to targeted customer groups, and offers limited to a few products or services.
The customer relations center of the future
Let’s face it, the old model based on cost and single-channel contact can’t work for much longer, simply because it will be impossible to contact customers in this way. Take young people, for example: it’s no longer possible to reach them by e-mail, for the simple reason that most of them don’t have one. It’s also impossible to call them on the phone as they don’t answer, so the only way to contact them is via text messages or Facebook. A company that neglects this reality will see a whole section of its customer base disappear over the next few years, as younger customers will simply go to the companies they want to work with.
Here are the key points of the relationship center of the future
– The customer relations center of the future will become the center of the sales organization, it will be customer-centric and multi-channel, meaning telephone, e-mail, chat and videoconferencing, which will present a united front and work with stores, salespeople on the road and the whole sales organization.
– As the customer is at the heart of the machine, he or she will be managed by a Cloud-based CRM enabling all contacts, whatever their geographical location or channel, to have an identical customer history.
– Contact centers, currently located all over the world, will shrink in size as agents are “uberized” across the globe.
– Every contact and relationship with the customer will be an opportunity for consultative selling based on the analysis of customer needs by agents, assisted by intelligent analytical systems. The reason for this sales orientation is simple: customers are tending more and more to inform themselves and buy on the Internet, so any interaction with the customer is a privileged opportunity to try to sell to them.
– The sale will be global, covering all the customer’s needs in order to build loyalty, and the customer will be transferred to level 2 specialists or even to an on-the-road representative if appropriate.
– The company will therefore have to train its employees to sell globally on each channel, i.e. telephone, e-mail, chat or videoconferencing, which will also present new recruitment challenges. They will also be trained in the use of social networks to reach their customers through all media.
– Voice recognition, coupled with intelligent systems, is already being used for service orientation and authentication.
– The call quality control team will be largely replaced by software capable of tracking all calls in real time. Quality is assessed by their ability to identify certain key words, but also the feelings of individuals based on voice inflections. When the systems detect a potential problem, they send red flashing lights to the coaches.
– Agents will undergo long and thorough training, and benefit from “Google”-style working conditions to build loyalty.
– The most effective tool will be the telephone, coupled with the customer’s view on a split screen of what the agent wants to show the customer, and the camera’s field of vision. All laptops now have a camera, and software such as Skype is already frequently used by some vendors.
– All the company’s services will be available on cell phones, as Monique Le Roux explainsWe want to be able to have all our services on our phones, and we want to be able to pay without having to go anywhere. Issues related to adaptation, technology, mobility, digital and innovation are absolutely essential for the financial services sector.”
– When customers visit the company’s website, their behavior and interest will be analyzed, and the site will offer them products or services which, based on the analysis of their knowledge and behavior, seem to indicate a need or interest.
The customer relationship center of the future will thus become the heart of the company’s sales system, multi-channel and focused on a global, 360° approach to the customer. This does not mean that small outsourced call centers will disappear; on the contrary, they will provide a flexible and practical complementary solution for SMEs.