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The Rise Of The Smart Contact Centre

"Always deliver more than expected.” — Larry Page, co-founder of Google

The Contact Centre often plays a crucial role in delivering on the “excellent customer service” promise to which all enterprises now aspire. Having worked with numerous customer service led organisations I am well aware that the Contact Centre sits in the middle of an ecosystem of various IT applications and that integration and insight from data are key differentiators that can mature organisations from good to great.

Many organisations still need to visit multiple applications to answer a question, liaise with third parties and operate processes/systems that need binding together to give agent colleagues the tools to deliver on the excellence promise efficiently. While the introduction of new technology, like web chat, self-service regimes and bots, have a part to play in the modern Contact Centre access to accurate, real-time data is a now a must-have requirement to keep up with the competition.

As a CRM specialist, Crimson has a proven track record in helping organisations implement Contact Centre best practice, based on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 stack. However, rather than concentrate on the CRM process, I would like to concentrate on integration and data insight needed in a Contact Centre.

Data Integration for the Contact Centre

At heart, many organisations follow the BUY, MAKE, SELL, DELIVER, PAY, SERVICE business model and have implemented a plethora of supporting applications, often centred around a core ERP package to support the end-to-end business process. Unless you offer purely digital products, the latency between placing an order, delivering the said order and receiving payment can often be measured in days. Compare this to the customer call and the agent response, measured in minutes. Information must be immediately available from disparate sources if we are to honour the usual Contact Centre KPI’s.

A typical order is often captured via a website, recorded in a sales order system that is integrated with a stock system to check availability, then copied to a warehouse management system for pick, pack and despatch. At that point a third party carrier will often collect the order and transport to their hub, be sorted to a local depot, allocated to a courier and finally delivered to a customer.

At any point in this journey a blockage could happen, generating a customer call to the agent. All this before the customer has received their package, checked the product quality and possible returned a poor quality product using a carrier collection service. These days the information to answer any customer enquiry is often recorded with an organisation’s systems. However, are the salient facts at the fingertips of the agent in a user-friendly form and as importantly, can they be found quickly?

Although many companies have achieved a degree of integration, this has often proved to be expensive to implement and difficult to change. Some organisations still expect agents to go on a fishing expedition, across systems, to answer the WISMO (Where IS My Order) question. The Microsoft Azure Cloud now provides world-class integration technology on a pay for what you use model, at price points that are affordable to the SME.

Many industry sectors now retain loyal customers based on service excellence and not just the quality or price of the product. Integration is a crucial facet of providing customer service excellence in a timely and efficient manner and now is a great time to invest in Contact Centre modernisation and integration. The clouds are now aligned, the combination of Dynamics 365, Microsoft Azure integration technologies and experienced and efficient professional service partners who are experts in such tools have made Contact Centre best practice achievable for the SME.

Unearthing Actionable Data Insights

I would argue that a good Contact Centre application and the type of integration outlined above is fast becoming the new norm. The Smart Contact Centre is where our industry is heading, and recognition that no call at all is by far the most efficient will change business behaviours over the coming decade. I suspect the majority of readers already know this but what are you (personally) doing to promote right first time culture?

The Smart Contact Centre will take a leadership role across the organisation in giving a right-first-time service to customers. It is the Contact Centre that receives the complaint; it is the Contact Centre that provides the public face of customer excellence by address the complaint.

It is now time for the Contact Centre to exert more influence on the organisation in increasing “right first time” principles and a “no call is the right call philosophy”. After all, no-one likes to deal with a complaint and avoidance is the best strategy. As a matter of principle, the Smart Contact Centre already wants to provide value-add to leapfrog competitors as this is much preferable to putting things right that should not have gone wrong in the first place. The Contract Centre already has the incentive, now is the time to make it Smart.

Going Smart can be achieved by bringing Contact Centre management teams into a more central position in problem-root-cause analysis. Ask your Contact Centre staff to chair the next initiative, and other departments will gain valuable insight into the problems, slippage or sub-optimal delivery causes the customer from individuals who experience it first-hand. The Smart Contact Centre will go further than recording a reason code and closure code on a call. Why did it happen and how can we stop it happening again are the real questions? The call reason and closure code will provide your Management Information System with the core data to highlight patterns and give insight into past behaviour. Coupling this information with sales order events, stock event, warehouse performance, carrier performance will allow correlation between Contact Centre spikes and underlying cause for the spike enabling forward planning to become the norm. Measuring such correlations over time and setting performance improvement targets will set your organisation apart from your competitors. 

Integration and Data Insight are two sides of the same coin. In many organisations, the necessary information already exists, though not easily surfaced in a consumable manner. By joining disparate data sets, providing concise dashboards with a drill-down ability you can move from data, through information, into insight and generate controlled actions that make your organisation better.

Before pulling this blog together, I did a quick scan of Google on Contact Centre KPI’s. There are lots and lots, duplicated over many websites from many, many experts. Measuring contact centre performance is no longer enough, it is time to turn the talk into actionable intelligence and do something positive to provide ever-improving and sustainable customer service excellence. Crimson are wise enough to understand that people sit at the heart of all organisations and the real difference is often accompanied by cultural change and re-assessing organisational maturity against a backdrop of digital revolution.

Making the First Step

Crimson have a tried and trusted 4-step processes to enable an organisation to capitalise their data assets that avoid IT jargon and remains focussed on business need:

  1. Build your data capture and data repository, aligned and right-sized to your business needs.
  2. Create a single version of the truth, backed by self-service reporting tools with appropriate governance.
  3. Create meaning and insight, backed by drillable corporate, departmental and team dashboards containing well-understood targets and key performance indicators.
  4. Embed transformative behaviour into your organisation by linking targets and KPI’s to alerting mechanisms, action plans and standard operating procedures.

Book a Data Pathfinder Workshop

If you wish to engage Crimson in a free consultative workshop to help bring clarity to your thinking you can follow this link and register your interest in Crimson’s free Data Pathfinder Workshop. We don’t claim to have all the answers, but we have a proven track record of bringing genuine benefit from new technology and are willing to work in partnership with our customers and other supply organisations to deliver a business outcome.