‘What’s past is prologue’ – William Shakespeare, The Tempest
Upon reflection, it is amazing the extent to which elements of the past foretell the future. In many cases, such events are highlighted in contemporary popular culture. This was certainly the case during a recent episode of the popular AMC television show Halt and Catch Fire. Set in 1986, two tech entrepreneurs marvel at the extent to which network users are using a basic form of chat as a means of interacting with each other, and go on to grapple at how best to support this technology for commercial purposes. 31 years later, there are lessons to be drawn from this by contact center services vendors.
From a contact channel perspective, the differences between the mid-80s and 2017 are pronounced; however, what has not changed is the need for outsourcers to continually assess how consumers choose to interact with businesses from which they buy products and services. Thirty years ago, the lightbulb moment may well have been recognizing that a small, yet influential demographic would be the catalyst for what is now known as webchat. Today, the channel dynamic is much more complex and outsourcers need to be positioned at the forefront of this discussion to best position themselves relative to changing client needs.
A starting point for any contact center services vendor must be to determine which channels will be most relevant to their existing and prospective clients. Not only will this differ significantly by vertical market, but geographies, locations, consumer demographics, access to technology and culture will also be mitigating considerations. Equally, looking at the ongoing evolution of how channels are used by end-users is crucial in ensuring solutions that are relevant. Vendors must be thorough in their channel analysis, as the margin of error is limited in the current market.
Once this careful study is completed, vendors should swiftly determine their channel resourcing plan. This will fall into two broad categories that include technology and people. From the perspective of the former, outsourcers need to ensure the most robust platforms are in place to accommodate a wide range of voice and non-voice interactions. Obviously, this can be costly given the capital expenses involved in acquiring the needed technologies; hence, a robust partner network is a must to fill any channel gaps.
The people aspect is an equally challenging, yet imperative part of the channel equation. Staffing a range of communications platforms requires teams of agents that have vastly different personalities, backgrounds and career objectives. This places added pressure on recruiting, training and retention. The same applies for the managers needed to run the different interaction platforms, who need to bring channel subject matter expertise to the table, as well as the ability to deliver at a high standard.
The contact center of today is more complex than ever before, and much of this is due to the evolving interaction preferences of consumers. Outsourcers can leverage these changes by providing enterprises with the communications platforms needed to ensure end-user satisfaction and long-term loyalty. However, this can only be achieved by understanding all aspects of the channel dynamic, and by delivering the best possible results for clients.