Whether your business is small and gaining traction or large and reaching out for new heights, you’ll be looking at ways to simplify operations without sacrificing your reputation for good customer service. Automation, help menus, chatbots and other self-service options can go a long way towards helping your clients to get information and manage transactions. However, they can also lead to frustration and that “Please just let me speak to a human being!” moment that we have all experienced at one time or another.
It’s at this time that having a knowledgeable and empathetic customer service agent to talk to becomes a must. You can automate a great many things, but human intelligence and the personal touch require human beings with the right skill set and knowledge of your business. For you, this could mean having multilingual staff available 24/7 – yet another department to manage, and a sensitive one at that – or it could mean outsourcing to a contact centre.
Letting “outsiders” manage customer communications can have its pitfalls, but an informed choice of contact centre that is ready to act as your partner can do far more than just eliminate the need for extra staff. In this article, we’ll take you through the basics of contact centres: what they are, how they work, and how they can benefit your clients. Let’s get started!
What is a Contact Centre?
Did you think that contact centres are the same thing as call centres? You’re only halfway to the answer. So, what’s the difference between a contact centre and a call centre?
Unlike call centres, contact centres don’t just deal with voice-based communications. They handle emails, text messages, messages sent via social media channels, and online chats. Whatever the form of communication, there’s a trained person ready to field questions, complaints, or general enquiries. And since doing business internationally is now par for the course, particularly in e-commerce, it operates around the clock and across languages as well as communications platforms.
What is an Omni Channel Contact Centre?
As we just mentioned, the ability to manage both textual and verbal interactions differentiate a contact centre from a call centre. But there’s more to an omni channel contact centre than just being able to speak pleasantly, respond in chat, or write a decent email or text message.
Your clients expect you to know where they are on their journey. For example, if they sent a message on social media, wrote an email, and followed up with a call, they will expect all these communications to be taken into account by the person with whom they are currently dealing.
Your business may have progressed far beyond the “mom and pop” stage, but clients still expect recognition of all points of contact to date, and since contact agents, whether in-house or outsourced, deal with a lot of people and a great many messages, the only way to join the dots is through the use of advanced software. A true omni channel contact centre should make use of the best technology to make each client feel as if they are your most important client. A call centre simply can’t tick all the boxes. An omni-channel contact centre can.
How Does a Contact Centre Work?
When it comes to customer service, there’s always something more. We’ve already covered a few basic facts. Contact centres communicate with your customers across platforms, but there’s more to it than that.
The quality of communication is vitally important. Have you ever dealt with a call or text contact that seems to deliver everything from pre-prepared scripts none of which seem to match your enquiry? It’s almost as bad as talking to a bot. You’re looking for customised responses from someone who actually cares about helping you, but all you get is not-quite helpful responses, that have all-too-obviously been copied and pasted or read back to you.
So, a contact centre shouldn’t just offer responses. It needs to communicate personally, tailoring the information to match the enquiry. That means using agents who know, respect and love your business: people who are able to leave your customers feeling valued. You can’t do that without the human element, and you can’t do it with just any contact centre. Your choice of contact centre is a hugely important strategic decision for your business. You’re outsourcing your image, and it had better be good!
To sum up, you’re not just getting someone to answer your phones and send emails. You’re outsourcing an important element of your public image, so apart from knowing that your contact centre can track all communications from any given client and understand their situation, you need your provider to have an intimate knowledge of your business and how it works. It’s not enough having someone to “answer the phone.” That person needs to have authoritative knowledge of your business and empathy for your clients.
Contact centres work in many ways, from the basic “here’s a person to talk to (good luck)” to “you’re talking to an expert who cares (your query will be resolved).” What you get comes down to who you choose.
Besides keeping your customers happy, a contact centre should be able to give you valuable information that allows you to improve your business. What questions do your customers ask? What pain points do they experience? Acting on the issues that prompted enquiries and complaints will boost your business’s ability to satisfy its clients and it could give you the competitive edge you need to take your business to the next level.
Types of Contact Centres
There’s more to contact centres than inbound contacts. Sometimes, you need someone to get in touch with your clients or prospective clients rather than waiting for the call to come through. So, apart from inbound contact centres, we also have outbound contact centres that do this on your behalf.
There are also multichannel contact centres, which differ from omnichannel contact centres in that they handle communications across platforms but don’t go so far as to connect all communications into a “big picture” overview.
The best type of contact centre for you? It’s likely to be an omnichannel contact centre that’s open to dealing with both inbound and outbound contacts.
The Future of Contact Centres
While machine learning advocates are predicting contact centre obsolescence within as little as three years, they’re missing a vital point. Nobody likes dealing with a machine, no matter how smart it is. “I want to talk to a person” is a cry for help you shouldn’t ignore. Customers want things to be personal. They want your business to care about them. Machines can’t care.
At the same time, businesses are striving to retain focus on their core activities. That means outsourcing support functions, and it’s often more cost-effective than trying to keep them in-house. It can also be better quality. You can have an accountant or even an accounting division, for example, but unless you’re an accounting firm, that’s not your top area of expertise.
Increasingly, customer service using specialised service agents is also becoming fodder for those who want to build a reputation for great service without distracting from the provision of the goods and services that form their core profit centre. As in our previous example, the specialists do it better, because there’s nothing else to improve, manage, or build upon. It’s what they do. They have the necessary focus.
Yes, technological advances ensure that the need for personal assistance will be reduced, but they’ll never eliminate it. People like to deal with people. Searching through endless help menus that don’t quite help or talking to bots until you hit on the right wording to trigger the regurgitation of prepared info doesn’t leave customers feeling good.
In short, it’s not how MUCH help you can get, but the QUALITY of help received that leaves a lasting impression. That’s where RSVP offers an industry-leading option for businesses looking to streamline customer service.
At its best, your relationship with a contact centre is a genuine partnership in which its success depends on your success. That’s why RSVP is a contact centre industry leader. Talk to us about your contact centre needs. Quality is never an accident. Choose the communications experts and discover the difference.