The Evolution of the Call Center to the Contact Center

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Customer service managers have the precious opportunity to satisfy what is said to be one of the most basic of human needs: the need to be heard. A business that understands the value of fulfilling this need through its call center will ultimately win in the marketplace, because customers gravitate toward brands that listen. The challenge for businesses in today's world of exploding communications channels is knowing where to be with open ears, and when.

This is why it's critical that businesses begin to embrace the concept of a contact center, an evolution of the traditional call center that incorporates multiple channels to connect with customers on their terms. While this may seem intuitive—after all, we all know the marketing maxim "Be where your customers are"—it's also a documented trend. According to the 2013 Contact Center Satisfaction Index (CCSI), there is a measurable shift in customers' preferred communications methods from traditional call centers to alternatives such as chat, social media, and email. The CCSI study is the only uniform, national, cross-industry measure of satisfaction with the quality of contact center operations in the country.

This shift makes a lot of sense. With the proliferation of personal devices such as smartphones and tablets, customers increasingly desire an online engagement with customer service, and offering them that option will improve their customer service experience and long-term loyalty.

Specific 2013 CCSI findings that make the case for businesses broadening their customer service engagement from a call center to a contact center model include:

  • The call isn't all. While the research says that two-thirds of contact is occurring through phone calls, only 54 percent of customers prefer this method of communication. Compared with 2012 research results, there is also a two percent drop in the number of people using calls as a means of contact and a three percent increase for chat as a method for contact. Customer satisfaction with chat engagement dropped the least of all the communications methods. Anecdotal feedback also reveals that customers are increasingly expecting the companies they do business with to offer chat as an option. Additionally, Millennials—those roughly 77 million young customers born 

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Posted August 19, 2014