The Future of the Contact Center Is Streamlined Data Collection

According to Statista, there are almost 3 million contact center employees across the United States. Opening more new centers than any other nation last year, the country is key to global call center markets.

Call centers serve customers across a breadth of industries, though the financial, technology, and telecommunications sectors tend to rely most on call centers. But to keep up with evolving customer demands, call centers are shifting away from traditional tools and practices toward the idea of a contact center.

Call centers tend to focus primarily on telephone communication, while contact centers use a host of different channels to talk with their customers. Using advanced analytics, contact centers can learn more about their customers and their needs and use that information to personalize each service. So, how can a call center make the jump to a contact center?

Most of the work at a call center is resolving customer issues and making sales calls. But with limited information about each customer, this approach lacks adaptation, only answering the immediate problems at hand. Contact centers, however, can go one step further with customer service by becoming a hub for more meaningful customer relationships.

By taking in information from customers across multiple channels, businesses can learn exactly what works for their clients and what doesn't. It's worth noting that contact centers still fulfill all the roles of a traditional call center, but the difference is that the information shared during a call is captured and shared across the company, from the purchasing department to product development to marketing. This helps it become more proactive in dealing with minor issues before they escalate and make more informed decisions across the business.

What truly sets contact centers apart from call centers is their use of data. CRM technology can compile and analyze all communication with each customer. By accessing the CRM system, a call handler can see complete customer records, including how many times they have been contacted and the results of those interactions.

According to McKinsey, more than 70 percent of consumers expect a personalized experience, and 76 percent are irritated when this isn't provided. Combining information across multiple channels, such as phone or webchat, and providing it in one easily accessible space helps call handlers gain valuable insights about their target audiences, making it easier for them to offer more personalized experiences.

Including even more information in customer records, such as how they prefer to be contacted, which languages they speak, and whether they are thinking of making a purchase further adds to the value of this system. Customers who are looking for more products can be targeted appropriately with information that directly relates to their interests. Likewise, customers who are not in that stage of the buying cycle can be targeted more generally.

The idea of creating super-agents fits perfectly with the move to contact centers. By using the power of technology, time-consuming administrative tasks can be automated, giving back valuable time to employees.

One of the ways this can be done is integrating the CRM system with the contact center's cloud calling system. Data can be accessed and updated almost instantly without the need for call handlers to scramble through reams of files. Some CRMs can even transcribe calls live, making notes for the call handler to review and update later.

With more than a third of customers wanting their problems fixed in a single interaction, there's a need to ensure that each call gets directed to the right place. Having advanced call routing software can help tackle this.

Rather than passing customers through multiple handlers, call routing software can connect them with the right agent for their queries immediately. Preventing long wait times for the customer, this also helps boost business productivity, as more calls can be dealt with in a shorter space of time.

There are employee benefits too, with workers being recognized for their skillset and allocated work to fit. Employees with in-depth knowledge of individual details can demonstrate their expertise helping customers solve their issues, ultimately leading to far superior customer service than a standard answer.

Call and contact centers continue to be an important hub for building better customer relationships. But there's no need to struggle with half-empty customer records and endless time waiting on hold. Embracing new technologies and making the jump to a contact center can lead to unprecedented benefits, not just for customer service departments but across the entirety of a business.

Renaud Charvet is co-founder and CEO of Ringover, a provider of multichannel customer support software and services.