Jeremy PayneJeremy PayneJanuary 11, 2019
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6min698

In recent weeks, drones have caused significant disruption at two of the UK’s major airports, Gatwick and Heathrow, halting operations and causing chaos for customers.

Reported sightings of drones at Gatwick in the run-up to Christmas, one of the busiest times of years for airports, led to several days of chaos at the airport and left thousands of people stranded. In high-emotion, stressful situations such as these, airports and airlines experience spikes in calls and service volumes as for answers about the status of flights and want the most up-to-date information on the unfolding situation.

At times like this, therefore, keeping customers informed and customer service up and running are a major priority. Fortunately, technology is becoming more and more capable of providing a viable solution during these periods.

Increasingly, contact centres are choosing to opt for self-service options, such as web and voice interaction, to provide anxious callers with access to information, status updates, and to steer priority calls quickly to the right advisor. Modern voice interaction systems have taken what used to be traditional IVR to a whole new level of sophistication. Leveraging mobile devices and visually driven menus alongside AI-enabled bots working in harmony with human agents helps provide streamlined intelligent interaction handling that can scale easily.

Such systems handle high volume, repetitive requests from callers extremely well, making them ideal for dealing with high call volumes during crisis situations like those experienced by Gatwick and Heathrow. This technology can also provide an instant response, which is the priority in any highly emotive situation such as this and promotes a far better caller experience than waiting in a queue. And, when used in tandem with real agents, it also provides significant business benefits by enabling call centre staff to focus on high-value, priority or emergency calls.

Self-service options online can also be effective. Airports and airlines can keep customers informed automatically updating the company’s website to display answers to the most commonly asked questions at that time. These answers can then also be updated automatically as soon as new information becomes available.

More proactively still, these organisations can make use of outbound notifications. By sending a text or email they can tell customers about the latest situation and manage expectations. This will also help to reduce the volume of calls going into the contact centre and reduce the level of traffic and demand being placed on the website.

And, when the pressure is on, as in this situation, the cloud offers businesses the peace of mind of knowing that all these service offerings can be kept up and running regardless of the situation. Cloud contact centres enable agents to connect to the technology platform and necessary applications from anywhere that has Internet access. Companies can, therefore, continue to service the client base, reducing the impact of what could otherwise have been a disastrous situation, resulting in dropped calls, negative customer experiences and lost revenue.

The flexible infrastructure this provides allows contact centres to rapidly ‘ramp up’ resource when they are experiencing a spike in customer communication. For instance, companies would be able to call on a pool of remote agents to quickly field calls for the duration of the spike and then scale back as soon as the situation is over. This is particularly useful when the duration of the crisis is unknown. While disruption at Gatwick lasted several days, at Heathrow it was just a matter of hours, meaning that the airport would have rapidly needed extra resource but for a short period of time.

Companies can always benefit from switching on an extended contact centre at any times of raised demand – whether that is planned or unplanned. Cloud contact centres allow them to do that while only paying for what they use when they use it.

If they are launching a new gadget or game onto the market, they will need to scale, particularly if there are issues with distribution or supply. If there is a sudden customer surge due to a product failure or a serious concern, as was the case with the drone sightings, they will need to be agile enough to deal with it quickly and efficiently. The latest cloud contact centre solutions allow them to do all of this and more.

But it is in unexpected situations like this, with drones causing delays and uncertainty and putting organisations under pressure to deliver the best possible customer service, that the benefits of cloud contact centres are shown in their sharpest possible focus.


Jeremy PayneJeremy PayneOctober 29, 2018
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7min849

Go back little more than a decade and most contact centres followed the traditional model of being office-based with headphone-wearing operators packed together like battery hens answering fixed line phone calls on weekdays between 9-5.

This version of the contact centre effectively acted as a switch for customer enquiries. The customer service representative (CSR) would make notes and fill in a form or route the caller to another department. Typically, the approach was low intelligence – basically repeating steps that the customer could have taken themselves through a self-service mechanism.

Today, the role of the contact centre is evolving fast. The emergence of cloud contact centres is breaking up the traditional bricks and mortar model. Organisations are bolstering the front-end layer which allows smart streaming and triaging of customer queries at the interaction stage, based not just on the nature of the query but on information intelligently gleaned about the customer’s value to the business.

The aim is to create a frictionless interaction, making it easy for the customer to get what they need from the engagement process.

To deliver all this, however, requires organisations to tightly integrate or closely align a wide range of systems, solutions, and working methodologies and equally it often necessitates them building more of a connected infrastructure.

Unfortunately, contact centres often fall short of these requirements and often it is because they are running broken processes that they either learn to live with or don’t realise are there. Here, we look at three of the most common of these and consider how contact centres can best address them.

1. Disconnected CRM

In many cases, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions aren’t properly integrated with other systems within the contact centre. This is a serious issue for any customer-facing organisation because it causes a loss of contextual information and means customers are forced to repeat themselves every time they speak to a different member of staff or use a different mode of communication.

This isolation of systems is detrimental across the board as it drives up inaccuracies, extends the customer journey time, and leads to frustrations both for customers and for contact centre employees. For this to be avoided, contact centres must align all customer interaction management and develop a system in which they use all the data and information they have on the customer to anticipate what it is they might need. Pulling up this information as soon as the customer makes contact will ensure all processes are speeded up.

2. Call recording not fit for purpose

Call recording processes is another area where many contact centres are falling short. If the system is used purely to track voice interactions, rather than capturing both sound and screen, there is a disconnect that makes it all but impossible for the business concerned to get a full picture of the situation.

This will in turn make it hard for the organisation to determine where issues might be coming from and areas for improvement. Similarly, a lack of real-time speech analysis can cause non-compliance issues as it makes it impossible to verify whether legal requirements are being breached.

3. Struggles with scheduling

Finally, broken processes within workforce management and scheduling are resulting in the wrong levels of staffing at pivotal times. Contact centres must integrate their unified communication (UC) platforms with customer interaction management to ensure as much as possible that they anticipate how many staff members and at what level of seniority they require for each shift.

There should also be a backup solution that comes into play at peak times. For example, if the call wait time reaches two minutes, customers should receive a message offering them an alternative solution, such as a callback, once lines become less busy. Call centres must shift their focus back to the customer and ensure their journey is as smooth and quick as possible and iron out any kinks within processes that are keeping them from providing this service.

Keeping processes on track

Today, as organisations continue down the path to digital transformation, they are marshalling new digital communications solutions and methodologies to enhance customer engagement and customer service. As we have seen, the role of the contact centre has evolved rapidly in line with this migration to digital. But one thing has not changed in this whole process. The contact centre still has a critically important role to play in the customer service mix.

For organisations, it still provides critically important opportunities to differentiate their service offering, as well as gain feedback and build customer loyalty. But to tap into these benefits it is crucial that organisations don’t fall into the trap of running with broken processes but instead focus their attentions on ensuring all their contact centre process are carefully planned, tightly integrated and well connected.

Get all that right and it will help the business eliminate broken processes and set them up for customer service success.




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