Expert: How contact centers are transforming business
Kristina: How are contact centers being used by business currently?
Gary Barnett, CEO, Semafone: Contact centers are used in many ways, whether it be for technical support, customer service, sales assistance, troubleshooting or purchasing goods/services. Regardless of the specific function of individual contact centers, many are involved with accepting payments or personal identifiable information (PII) in some capacity. Especially over the last year, with the closure of many bricks and mortar organizations and the increased measures put in place to process transactions digitally, more payments than ever before have been processed through contact centers, either over the phone or across digital channels like chat, SMS, web or social media.
Kristina: What issues do contact centers bring to businesses and how can these be mitigated?
Gary: Contact centers had have been in the spotlight over the past year as they became critical to keeping channels open between businesses and their customers during the pandemic. However, already existing issues or risks tied to security and data privacy have been exacerbated due to the growth of remote workforces. Contact centers found themselves in a position where they needed solutions to ensure security and compliance with their now home-based employees, all while keeping, and improving upon, their already existing customer experience.
Because of this, contact centers have been rapidly seeking security solutions to help with PCI DSS compliance and other security frameworks as a way to limit any potential exposure to sensitive customer information and maintain a frictionless customer experience. Customers don’t care if the agent they’re speaking to is at home or in an office, they just want a service that is secure, consistent and positive. The last year showed how quickly the status quo can change and that contact centers quickly adapted. However, it’s important for contact centers to continue looking for new ways to innovate and provide their representatives with the tools they need to deliver great service from any location.
Kristina: Do you foresee a continuing trend in the use of contact centers as we exit the coronavirus pandemic?
Gary: Contact centers will certainly have an increasingly important role in the omnichannel
operations of the future. The pandemic has accelerated all digital transformation efforts within call and contact centers with new communication tools and workstation set ups to accommodate remote workers with security measures that keep both the business and its customers protected from fraud. As a result of the pandemic, contact centers have put in significantly more effort into providing an improved customer experience and this will continue to be an area of focus, as customer experience is critical in improving brand loyalty and driving revenues. Implementing AI solutions, such as automatically connecting a caller with the right agent, have been a major part of this as it streamlines some of the more basic functions representatives deal with, allowing them to put more focus on complex tasks and provide a higher level of customer service. Although the world will return to some sense of normal as the pandemic subsides, contact centers will still play a critical role for highly regulated industries and are very much here to stay.
Kristina: What kind of strategies can be adopted to help businesses get the most out of contact centers?
Gary: Contact centers must continue evolving with the ever-changing technology landscape and shift to an omnichannel approach. Businesses need to have technology in place that understands customers’ preferred communication and payment channels. Whether it be phone, web, chat or SMS, businesses must be able to provide that channel in a secure and frictionless way upon their request. Not only does this give contact centers peace of mind regarding their security efforts by understanding how a potential payment will be processed before it happens, but it gives the customer a consistent, seamless user experience all while staying in the channel of their choice.