The modern contact centre is changing. As customer expectations evolve, businesses are under more pressure to deliver a smooth, seamless experience through whatever channel the consumer favours.

At the same time, the demands of staff are also increasing, with more people expecting to be able to work remotely or access more detailed data to help them manage customer queries as quickly and effectively as possible.

Therefore, the tools companies put in place to manage this need to evolve as well. Modern contact centre solutions must do much more than provide a smooth, reliable experience for users getting in touch by phone – they need to support customers across every channel. Here are seven key features that every up-to-date call centre needs in order to achieve this.

Smart call routing

Even though other channels like instant chat and social media are becoming more common, the phone is still at the heart of most contact centres. But no-one likes waiting in queues, or having to go through multiple menus in order to reach the right agent when they call in. Therefore, smarter routing and queuing systems that can use predictive tools or artificial intelligence to redirect people quickly and accurately are a must-have for any cloud-based contact centre management system.

CRM integration

Customers want their issues sorted quickly, but according to research from Ovum, they believe it will take up to five interactions to resolve a problem. To improve on this, effective integration with CRM functions can be hugely useful, as it not only gives agents a complete picture of any previous contact and what has been done so far, but can also provide direct access to the tools they need to answer any queries on the first interaction, thereby exceeding consumers’ expectations.

Seamless Omnichannel Contact Centre

Ovum notes more than half of consumers will use three or more channels when contacting a company, so they must be able to move between these seamlessly, without any delays or need to repeat information. For example, when a chatbot tool reaches the limits of its capabilities and passes over to a human, this should ensure the agent can pick up exactly where the bot left off, in the same window, with a full record of the conversation. Or, once a query has been resolved, any followup emails should reflect exactly what has been done.

Improved automation

In the years to come, it’s estimated that up to 85 per cent of customer experience interactions will involve some type of automation. This can come in many forms, such as the chatbots or intelligent call routing mentioned above. But automation tools can also be used to spot issues before they occur, allowing firms to be more proactive in how they deal with customers and free up contact centre staff from mundane queries to focus on more complex tasks.

Analytics tools

Finally, contact centre solutions that include comprehensive analytics can offer businesses much more visibility into their operations. They can, for instance, offer a full view into the omnichannel customer journeys, letting you see what channels they use, where they switch between them and where any bumps in the road are occurring. Smart analytics services also help you build more efficient call routing solutions, anticipate future problems and levels of demand, and improve the quality of information available to your agents.

Call recording and reporting

Call recording tools are a vital part of any moden contact centre. In some sectors, this may be a legal compliance requirement, but all firms will be able to benefit from recording tools. As well as providing helpful evidence of what has been said in the event of a dispute, they can be a great training tool. For example, one of our customers, Vehicle Consulting, allows its sales team to tag calls they think went well, which can then be played back as examples during training meetings.

Reporting tools also show how staff are performing, which is especially vital when contact centres have shifted to remote working, where there may be less direct supervision. The Swift system deployed by Vehicle Consulting, for example, uses metrics such as call times, response rates and more to see who’s performing well, where additional efforts may be required, and when more resources may be needed to cope with peak times.

Remote access

Finally, many contact centres have switched to remote working over the last year, and for many, there are doubts as to whether they’ll ever return to the full-time, office-based approach. As such, cloud contact centre tools need to be accessible from anywhere.

Softphone solutions offer a great way to do this, as they can simply be accessed via any existing laptop with just a headset – no need for any additional hardware or call forwarding. We did this for the Recruitment and Employment Confederation in 2020 using Swift, which resulted in a 33 per cent to 35 per cent increase in efficiency during the second national lockdown, and prepared the organisation for a hybrid working future.

Learn more about the future of the contact centre and the role AI will have to play in our white paper.

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