The Business Case for Making Contact Center Applications Standard Employee Productivity Tools

Every employee plays a role in delivering an outstanding customer experience (CX), whether in direct contact with customers or supporting customer-facing co-workers A surprisingly high percentage of employees who do not work in a contact center or customer service, sales, or marketing department dedicate more than 40 percent of their time helping customers. This is the case in companies in a variety of industries, including financial services, healthcare, insurance, telecom, retail, travel, entertainment, and many others. Although customer service might not be their primary job function, every employee needs the right tools to enhance customer relationships with the brand.

Contact centers are highly productive departments, due in large part to the array of advanced systems and applications they use to intelligently manage massive volumes of inbound and outbound interactions in numerous digital and voice channels. The agents or representatives in these departments, which can receive and respond to anywhere from a few hundred to millions of customer interactions every day, are expected to deliver an outstanding and personalized experience to each and every individual, regardless of the reason for contacting the company.

It's a very tough job that requires a great deal of training and a wide variety of tools and applications, many of which are enabled by artificial intelligence (AI). Although the quality of the service experience delivered by live agents or self-service solutions (sometimes referred to as chatbots or voice bots) is not always what the consumer wants, the effort that goes into trying to do right by customers is awe-inspiring.

Contact centers are one of the most technically sophisticated operating departments in most companies, and when systems work well, their complexity is invisible to the customer. They can use up to 45 systems and applications that fall into three main categories: routing and queuing, customer relationship management (CRM), and workforce optimization (WFO)/workforce engagement management (WEM). Routing and queuing applications are used to receive, route, and deliver omnichannel interactions to the appropriate agent (live or automated). (On the outbound side, dialing systems are used to get communications to the right individuals.) CRM applications enable agents to identify and personalize the experience and keep track of what needs to be done for each customer. And WFO/WEM solutions provide the internal and external analytics to oversee, measure, and evaluate the customer and agent experience. All of these solutions are available on premises, in the cloud, or in a hybrid model./p>

While there is always room for improvement, contact centers have a major advantage over other enterprise functions when it comes to helping customers, because these solutions provide the analytics that enable employees to productively deliver an outstanding CX.

Give Employees the Right Tools to Do Their Jobs.

Contact center systems and applications should be standard productivity tools for all employees who support the customer experience, whether directly or behind the scenes. Why give enterprise employees a unified communications (UC)/unified-communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) tool set that encompasses about 5 percent of the functionality that contact center agents have at their disposal to facilitate internal and external communications? The majority of enterprise personnel should be empowered with the same robust, sophisticated, AI-enabled systems and applications that position agents to be highly effective at their jobs.

Let's put this into perspective. It's as important to capture, record, structure, and analyze communications between customers/prospects and employees who work in the executive suite or a back-office department as it is to know what a contact center employee communicates and does. Interaction analytics software, which today is primarily used to assess contact center interactions, should be applied to structure and analyze every discussion that occurs between employees and customers, to identify all the reasons why customers/prospects reach out for help. This gives executives insights into customer/prospect trends and opportunities so they can enhance their brand, increase sales, and improve CX and employee engagement.

Executives who want to do right by their customers/prospects and staff need to empower their employees with a new set of tools that enable them to up their individual and corporate game by proactively improving performance. There are good reasons why customers complain about service, and only a portion of the complaints point to factors under the control of contact centers. It's time for companies to improve their servicing dynamics with contact center productivity-enhancing, CX-enabling, and employee-engaging applications that have already been proven to improve the customer experience and contribute to the success of the brand.

Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting, is an expert on contact centers, analytics, and back-office technology. She has 30 years of experience helping organizations build contact centers and back-office operating environments and assisting vendors to deliver competitive solutions. She can be reached at