Contact Centers are a traditional aspect of companies and historically where and how those companies seek to interact with their customers. For years the chief expectation for these interactions was primarily via the phone or voice channel. Though as consumers embraced the internet and mobility, newer channels emerged. As this continued, along with businesses’ desires to prioritize customer relationships over their lifetimes, the value of overall customer experience (CX) has become paramount.
In fact, in a world of increasing competition and long-tail effects, one could argue that CX is becoming one of the true “last mile” differentiators. For these reasons, companies and vendors have come to take more of a software centric approach to creating CX solutions from traditional tools such as contact center and customer relationship management (CRM) software, layering in multiple channels to capture the entire customer journey. In effect, if the contact center was 1.0 – CX is 2.0.
Cloud-Based Contact Centers Enable Better Customer Experiences
As seen in other enterprise application arenas, legacy contact center software structures expose many challenges in today’s cloud-centric world. Often on-premise and being hardware-focused, they can involve lengthy implementations, high support costs, custom one-off integrations, and be constricted by infrequent upgrades and access to storage. This stifles opportunities for innovation and constrains businesses to continue operating as they were at the installation time and not instead evolving as their internal processes need to change. Users of these applications – agents, in traditional parlance – need to personalize interactions where possible, which requires context. But without the ease of integration with CRM and other databases, this becomes unwieldy across channels and leads to information spread across various ‘screens’ for the user – if they have the info at all.
Of course, traditional (and some newer) contact center vendors have, over time, come to invest in cloud-based approaches for their customers, creating the contact center as a service (CCaaS) space. This was a welcome evolution, though even it has some limitations of its own. Like all cloud approaches, it provides scalability (think seasonal based burst needs) and lowers both infrastructure and IT personnel support costs. It also opens up the capability of remote usage, a timely need in today’s age, and one that helps with the traditional concern of high agent turnover. However, there is a tradeoff in that CCaaS is a one-size-fits-all in that it is driven by the vendor’s beliefs on what their overall customer base most needs. And its feature releases and dates likewise will correspond accordingly. Due to this, with CCaaS you can wind up somewhat mapping your Customer Experience process to the vendor’s vision and not the other way around.
Transitioning to CX Styled Customer Engagement Solutions
A true vision prioritizing CX should enable an organization to embrace meeting the customer where they want to be, rather than only where you’d like them to be based on your own internal constraints. In this context, customer interactions become seamless regardless of the channel due to dynamic routing and are both proactive and reactive. Doing so while having an ease of access to historical context yields effortless relationships with customers. Some relative newcomers to the customer engagement space are taking these approaches, opening exciting new models in the process.
The Twilio platform is well recognized for its lightweight API approach to software-centric solutions. Its Flex offering consolidates many of these communication APIs into a fully modular and programmable CX solution that can map exactly to a company’s internal process and evolve with changes down the road, on-demand. This concept enables endless iterations and one unified interface, with ease-of-use integrations due to its API foundation.
When amazon.com couldn’t find existing solutions to meet their CX vision, they built their own. They now offer that service as Amazon Connect to customers via the AWS ecosystem, and it can be spun up for an organization in minutes, accessed via just a browser. That includes all the backend voice components and is strictly pay-as-you-go pricing – you only pay for the time you spend interacting. Iterations are seamless using contact flows without any coding, and it is an open platform with numerous integrations supported.
Finally, both of these forward-leaning solutions allow for extensive use of Artificial Intelligence from the ground up. This has an immense impact on both surfacing insights and allowing for automation of interactions where possible, saving costs and freeing up valuable resources for more ‘white-glove’ level needs.
In short, the notion of siloed physical locations of employees specifically tasked with being the only interface between your company and its customers is a dated one. Transforming from that viewpoint by evolving toward more CX concepts can open the door to solutions that leverage lightweight cloud-based software approaches to connecting communication channels on the fly. From that point forward, you are iterating based on your needs and your timetable, rather than someone else’s. And ultimately, you may discover that due to dynamic and easy to configure, routing any internal resources in any location can now wind up being an “agent” if needs dictate for true frictionless customer experience.