Call Center: Trends & Opportunities In Call Center

Call Center: Trends & Opportunities In Call Center

Shiv Kumar Singh, SVP & Head - Technology, Himachal Futuristic Communications

Shiv boasts of having over 25 years of experience in Technology, Operations, Cross functional Management and Delivery areas, working with an array of organizations such as Govt. PSU’s, DRDO Labs, Telecom Regulatory and Monitoring Bodies.

Key to survival and success of any business lies in the manner it treats its customers. Call Centers are the direct interface of a business to its existing or potential customers. Call Center operations and its underlying processes have a direct impact upon customer satisfaction. It is therefore important to constantly monitor and continuously improve the processes being followed in a Call Center. It is a Knowledge Process driven setup and therefore knowledge is the key to its operations. This knowledge has to be kept updated, available and used efficiently for delivering what the customer seeks.

Technology has a major role today in shaping the outlook of a Call Center and its operations. Application of relevant technology directly affects the employee, incumbent infrastructure, processes, operating costs, delivery and provides the opportunity to expand operations or diversify. Technologies like Computer Telephony Integration (CTI), Automatic Call Distributor (ACD), Interactive Voice Response (IVR), Unified queuing, Administration Console, Feedback systems and Supervisory Control are more or less mandatory for efficient call handling. While the Call Centers handle calls, a Contact Center is a location for centralized handling of individual communications, including letters, faxes, live support software, social media, instant message, and e-mail.

However, it is important to be aware of customer experience and therefore it should be an endeavor to keep the hold time minimal, engage the customer through enjoyable response while on hold and maximize on the customer hold period through focused advertising.In order to achieve the best out of custom er engagement, call handling (by the system and the agent employee) has to be assisted through skill training and decision support systems. Technologies like Voice Biometrics can be used for customer authentication to speed up contact. Learning Management System based decision tree implementation system can speed up the resolution time and achieve better accuracy based on past learnings. Focus should be on Digital Transformation where all in one approach to communications (Omni Channel) should be incorporated to enable customers to connect using any of the digital channels and ensure that they are served with the same efficiency across all channels. Also, a customer today uses multiple channels to communicate and would most likely present his interaction and feedback on different channels. Thus the Omni channel approach will provide the most comprehensive input for the agents to track performance and future opportunities.

Technologies that are good candidates for immediate absorption today, from the view point of maximizing potential on the customer call time, minimizing
operational costs and improving agent efficiency are enumerated below:-

1. Cloud based Communications: Huge capex and opex costs of communication infrastructure can be reduced by shifting to cloud communications. Such shifts would enable 24x7 availability of services and also cater to seamless expansions with controllable costs. This would also provide the flexibility to locate the call centers at any location and provide the agents with the convenience to operate from anywhere, while they are connected. Remote workers can be added to the system on the fly based on the work load, without being worried about the infrastructure. Various options of Cloud offerings can be exercised as per security and financial appetite. These could be Public, Private or Hybrid Cloud offerings. Use of Unified Collaboration as a Service through cloud offerings is another optimal way for leveraging multiple digital channels (Voice, Video, Data, Conferencing, Content Sharing etc.) for reaching out to the customer and keeping track of all interactions and outcomes.

Customer satisfaction can be measured automatically using effective reporting tools based on analytics which are integrated with communications systems

2. Robotic Process Automation: Process automation for complete machine based handling of customer requirements is the emerging trend. High volume traffic handling for immediate servicing of customer needs are aimed to be automated. This automation helps to overcome the challenges of attrition rate and training needs challenge being routinely faced by the Call Centers. Customers are assisted by either of Speech to Text conversion, Web based self-help, Natural Language Processing, Chat bots or Virtual agents. Use of Predictive analysis and business logic by machines to service the customer needs is intended to cut costs, reduce errors, and increase efficiency. Since majority of the customers who are tech savvy can manage better and faster by use of self-help, use of such automation will take away good amount of load from human agents. This will also reduce call times and call holding times thereby improving the quality of customer interactions.

3. Analytics: Call Center operations generate huge amounts of data from its operations with respect vast calls and requests being handled on daily basis. Application of Artificial Intelligence based analytics would generate insights into customer needs, agent performances, forecasts on future call quantities, processes that need change, operational efficiency, customer perception and many more trends. Artificial Intelligence powered Analytics produce statistical dashboards, which can be put on user interfaces enabling the call agents and managers get real-time updates on customer experiences. Customer satisfaction can be measured automatically using effective reporting tools based on analytics which are integrated with communications systems. Call Center operations can be provided with valuable inputs by use of Analytics, on initiating right measures to achieve business growth.

Call Centers will be integrated, will use digital means and will handle more complex technologies in the times to come. However, it must be noted that a Call Center is all about providing the customer with the desired resolution and customer experience is the prime goal. Therefore, trends that should matter are the ones that are customer centric and not technology-centric. Call Center organizations practicing this approach will only be able to take further opportunities under their fold.