Intelligent Contact Centers – At the Forefront of Customer Experience

Contact centers, traditionally thought to be mere cost centers aimed at solving customer queries over phone, are undergoing a metamorphosis. In today’s uber competitive environment, customer-focused companies have been quick to realize that these centers are a critical touchpoint of customer engagement, and how customers experience them hugely influences how they experience the overall brand. When a customer calls a contact center and is put on hold for a long time, or is passed from agent to agent without any resolution, his experience with the brand diminishes significantly. On the other hand, a smooth, frictionless experience wins a loyal customer. In fact, according to the Future of CX: 2022 report by Freshworks, speed of query resolution will be the most important CSAT driver going forward. So all customer-first enterprises are working to transform their contact centers into relationship hubs not just geared at solving customer issues, but rather to make the overall customer experience better and create a good lasting impression. Also, with customers’ increasing usage of digital channels to connect with businesses, the need to upgrade and modernize contact centers is real. So businesses are investing in technologies that help them keep track of their customers’ journeys and enable them to proactively reach out to customers with timely updates, reminders, back-in-stock alerts, and more. This is especially important given today’s customers are an impatient lot, and do not flinch when it comes to abandoning a brand after a single bad experience. So enterprises are investing in technologies that are improving customer service agent efficiency, streamlining workflows and creating seamless customer experiences – they are essentially working to make their contact centers more “intelligent”.

While remote work was still present before the pandemic, call centers would typically be a physical space where agents would solve customer issues over the phone or via text. However, post the pandemic, which not just necessitated remote work but also made it more desirable given the cost savings, employee flexibility, and other advantages of remote work, working remotely has almost become the norm. And with the future of work set to be hybrid, contact centers have had to evolve in a way that would support hassle-free remote working conditions. As a result, contact center leaders are increasingly using location-agnostic technologies that can provide the same high-quality support and productivity tools to an agent who may be geographically scattered – all they need is an internet connection.

A major reason for remote work for contact center employees is easy access to cloud technology. Cloud has been an increasingly popular choice for contact centers as it is easy to set up, offers unlimited scalability, supports remote work, does not require expensive infrastructure deployments, and is cost-effective for small and medium businesses. Also, it easily integrates with existing systems and supports all leading communication channels.

As per a Deloitte survey, 32% of surveyed organizations were running cloud contact centers at the end of 2020, but 75% are expected to make the move within the next two years. Cloud-based solutions are easily scalable and have enabled contact centers to go remote quickly.

Customers now have a number of options when it comes to reaching out to companies. With the availability of various touchpoints including voice, text, social media, email, and so on, voice is no longer the center of customer support operations. In fact, many customers prefer to chat with brands rather than call them up. Others may prefer email. Today’s customers are, in fact, notorious for channel switching as they move forward in their journeys. Keeping up with these channel switches and maintaining the context of the interaction is key to customer service success. At many contact centers, agents have to open up multiple tabs on their screens and flip between them constantly to answer queries. In a six-minute service call, almost 75% of the time is dedicated to manual research. This increases average handling times and adversely impacts the customer experience. Customers also feel frustrated when they are made to wait or need to repeat personal information again and again to a new agent each time.

To avoid this, intelligent contact centers are investing in integrated platforms that provide a single, unified view of their customers’ journeys, no matter which channel they are interactin