Will Technology Kill the Call Center? (Video)

How Technology is Changing the Call Center
Software Advice recently hosted a Google Plus debate called “Will Technology Kill the Call Center?” Representatives from IntelliResponse, Avaya Inc., Drumbi, and Etech Global Services got together to talk about how technology is changing the way customers get in touch with company call centers.  Each of the panelists was asked the following four questions:

  • How have you seen consumer contact channel utilization change in the last decade?
  • What role has technology played in this change?
  • How might technology impact the way customers contact a company in the future, and the kind of service they receive?
  • Will technology eventually render call centers irrelevant?

Click below to watch the entire video debate:

All of the panelists agreed that the growth of contact channels is one of the biggest ways call centers are changing.  For example, customers now have many different options to get in touch with companies outside of voice communication, such as self service, live chat, and virtual agent support.  This is in large part due to the fact that consumers demand instant gratification, and contact centres must meet those expectations.

However, voice is not going away entirely.  As Laura Bassett, the director of customer experience management at Avaya, puts it, “once a customer gets to voice contact, they are at a crucial juncture in the interaction.  The company needs to be much smarter when they get there.”

Therefore, it no longer makes sense for companies to put the lowest cost, lowest skilled people at the front lines of customer service, as was frequently the case in many traditional call centres.  Rather, a company’s very best, most knowledgeable individuals should be available to provide the high levels of service that customers are demanding.

If the customer service function is outsourced, it should be to an outsourced call center that focuses on providing high quality service rather than the lowest possible cost.

If you have any thoughts to share, feel free to leave a comment on the Software Advice blog at Google+ Debate Results: Will Technology Kill the Call Center?

Making the Most of Your Call Center Agents

Making the Most of Your Call Center Agents

Your call center is a pool of unused talent that can help your growing company with more than just the basics.  While it certainly helps to have a staff on hand to answer calls for your business, call center agents can do a lot more for you if you give them the right training and opportunities.

From basic online marketing to scheduling, you can make better use of these valuable employees, which can save money and bring in new business for your company.

Get Creative

Your call center representatives often have been trained in a variety of tasks beyond their current job duties, including scheduling, marketing, and lead generation.  This makes it easy to use your agents in creative ways around your company.

  • Lead generation: Having your phone representatives generate leads with new customers or upsell current customers can ease the strain on your sales team while maintaining the same amount of sales.  Phone reps can make quick sales themselves in the course of their work or forward customers to your sales team.  If your sales team software is integrated with your call center software, your reps can make better use of leads by inputting them directly into the system.
  • Live Chat: Internet shoppers are more likely to make a purchase from your website if it employs live chat.  Live chat extends your business hours beyond a typical 8-hour day and makes it available to customers in other time zones.  Extending your hours with live chat or having chat live 24 hours a day can help bring in new customers for your business.

Ditch the Script

A great way to improve your call center customer service is to give your agents the freedom to use their own words with your customers.  Customers dislike hearing an obvious script that may not answer their specific questions or needs.

  • Having a script is good for dealing with new or heated customers but can be limiting in other situations.  Give your reps the freedom to use their intuition and knowledge of your company to confidently take their customer service to the next level.
  • Train your reps with a loose script to get them familiar with what you’re looking for in a customer service interaction.  Over time, encourage them to back away from the script and use their own words and knowledge when handling calls.
  • Give your reps guidelines for ways to handle common situations.  If they know their goals for the conversation, they can use the right attitude, verbiage, and objection responses while successfully avoiding a generic script.

Call center agents can bring an impressive array of skills to your business.  Taking advantage of those skills can help you avoid hiring new employees, support your sales team, and greatly expand the flexibility and responsiveness of your customer service.

The preceding blog entry is a guest post by Megan Webb-Morgan, who is a web content writer for Resource Nation.  She writes about small business, focusing on topics such as call center software.  Find Resource Nation on Facebook, too!

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