16 Nov 2020 - 4 min

3 steps to becoming an agile contact center

Leading brands understand how vital it is to be proactive, adaptive and flexible. In today’s fast-changing world, this means providing customers with convenient, effective and personalized customer support. For large organizations, implementing an agile contact center does not just resolve customers’ issues but enhances a brand’s reputation and drives growth.

contact center agent handling customer interactions with agility

What is an agile contact center? Simply put, it is a contact center whose approach is more flexible and proactive through the combination of disruptive technology and highly-trained professionals. Agile contact centers leverage a software-centric approach that provides the elasticity and scalability through adaptive planning and flexible responses that can deal with sudden spikes and drops in traffic, whether through seasonal fluctuations or unexpected emergencies. No longer a cost, but a value-generating center, the agile contact center delivers world-class customer service through convenient, channel-less communication.

Read on to discover the 3 key steps to making a contact center agile and enjoy enhanced operational efficiency, elevated agent satisfaction and increased customer satisfaction (CSAT).

 

Step 1: encourage an open organizational culture

 

This openness should be reflected in attitudes and processes, especially as regards silos. Whether data or departmental-related, eliminating silos within an organization and the contact center itself is crucial to achieving increased efficiency and improved customer experience. Indeed, if a smooth customer journey is to be achieved, the flow of data and information should permeate through all departments. Agile contact center managers know that only then can agents provide rewarding customer experience (CX). Research from resource management firm Planview shows that 54% of respondents said poor collaboration resulted in missed deadlines, 35% observed a drop in quality and 26% confirmed it led to cost overruns.

Open communication between departments, agents and channels is what customers expect, as having to repeat information frustrates them and damages a brand’s reputation. Agile contact centers integrate experienced experts into customer service teams or have them serve as coaches, even joining interactions if needed. The result is the formation of cross-functional teams with multiple functions able to resolve more than 95% of customer requests during first contact, as McKinsey points out.

The era of specialization in contact centers being over, multi-disciplinary agents and teams must be able to handle end-to-end inquiries, which cuts costs and raises Net Promoter Scores (NPS). Not only are customer satisfaction levels increased, but agents enjoy more autonomy in managing customers’ requests, which in turn leads to higher agent engagement and improved agent experience.

 

Step 2: commit to open technology

 

According to Forbes, brands with superior customer experience bring in 5.7 times more revenue than their competitors. Achieving rewarding CX requires an alignment of organizational strategy, staff and support – often in the form of cutting-edge, disruptive technology.

That’s why organizations are increasingly turning to cloud solutions. The inherent scalability, continuous innovation and flexibility empower contact centers by allowing them to design customized strategies that suit their needs and reflect their goals. Moreover, open technology and easy integration are linked to cloud solutions, which explains why the worldwide public cloud services market is forecast to grow 17% in 2020 to $266.4 billion, according to Gartner. Agile contact centers look to the cloud not just for cost-cutting benefits but because it accelerates digital strategies, enables seamless integration and provides reliable security.

Connectivity is essential to this process. Connectivity means being open to collaborative tools like Microsoft Teams, AI engines like IBM Watson and Google Dialogflow and customer relationship management (CRM) providers like Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics or Pegasystems. As accessibility facilitates open communication and coordination within internal departments and external, third-party experts, an agile contact center is open to the entire CX ecosystem.

Cloud gives agents the ability to carry out their work from anywhere needing only a reliable Internet connection. Indeed, with cloud-based solutions being part of a contact center no longer means being physically in a contact center and that’s why most companies have chosen to move to Contact Center as a Service solutions during the COVID pandemic. With web real-time communication WebRTC, agents don’t even need a phone line. The increasing demand to work from home, due to unforeseen events, means agile contact centers need remote work capabilities to ensure business continuity and customer care quality.

 

Step 3: Reinforce the human element of customer experience

 

Agile call center managers understand that CX still needs the human touch.

With the help of AI-backed sentiment analysis that understands a customer’s mood and comprehensive agent consoles that provide a 360-degree view of a customer’s history, today’s agents have unprecedented levels of insight. Agile contact center managers adhere to a data-driven approach and ensure it is operationalized to its full effect, meaning data is shared between relevant departments to provide the ultimate customer service.

Contact center managers are mindful that customers should not be transferred from one agent to another as this frustrates customers and agents alike. That is why agile contact centers use intelligent routing strategies to streamline resolutions by immediately connecting customers to the right agent, thus resolving their issue quickly. Intelligent routing increases first call resolution rates, lowers abandonment call rates and adds value to customer and agent experiences.

Contact center managers should also leverage artificial intelligence (AI). Zendesk reports that AI-enabled conversational agents (bots) are expected to handle 20% of all customer service requests by 2022. Simple, repetitive tasks can be managed by AI-driven tools, allowing skilled agents to concentrate on more complex, high-value interactions that require empathy and the human touch. AI-powered tools should not be regarded as a replacement for agents, rather as assistants. Actively supporting them in their duties to adopt the right tone and anticipate next best actions. The resulting operational efficiency cuts down on costs, elevates agent experience (AX) and achieves higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.

 

Agile contact centers should be the standard, not the goal

 

As legacy systems become increasingly obsolete, contact center managers are searching for Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solutions that are scalable, flexible and intuitive. That’s why organizations turn to Odigo, a Visionary in the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Contact Center as a Service.

To learn exciting insights about the present and future of CX, consult the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Contact Center as a Service report. Download the report here.

 

Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Contact Centre as a Service, 9 November 2020, Steve Blood, Drew Kraus, Pri Rathnayake. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

 

 

Agile contact center
AI
Gartner