With 2015 right around the corner, it's time for business leaders in every sector to think about how they can improve their customer service in the new year. And arguably the single most important component of any company's customer service strategy is its contact center.
With that in mind, here are three strategies business decision-makers should consider when developing plans to upgrade their contact centers in 2015.
1. Head to the cloud
In a few short years, cloud computing services have exploded in popularity throughout organizations' departments, and the contact center is no exception. A recent Research and Markets report found that the cloud-based contact center infrastructure grew 12.8 percent in 2013, and that followed a 32.5 percent year-over-year increase in 2012.
"This market has never been stronger, solutions are becoming mainstream and vendors are consistently executing their plans," the report stated, adding that the diminished growth in 2013 was a sign of maturation, not diminishing interest.
"Cloud-based contact center seats grew 20 percent this year and will go up a further 20 percent next year."
That same report estimated that cloud-based contact center seats grew 20 percent this year and will go up a further 20 percent next year, 18 percent in 2016 and 2017 and 16 percent in 2018.
There's a reason for this trend. Cloud contact center solutions hold significant advantages over on-premise alternatives. They are more flexible, more cost-efficient and easier to deploy. With the cloud, a small or midsize firm can invest in and implement an enterprise-quality contact center solution, as the lack of on-premise hardware results in a much lower barrier for entry. Furthermore, a cloud-based contact center makes it easy to add new users, even if those personnel are based outside the organization's main office. This allows for a more optimized approach to customer service.
This makes the cloud an obvious choice for any company looking to improve its contact center in 2015.
2. Go multi-channel
The ultimate goal of any company's contact center is to provide the best, most satisfying service to customers. That's what makes multi-channel capabilities such an important aspect of the most successful contact centers.
Multi-channel improves customer contact in two key ways. First and most obviously, it allows clients to choose their preferred form of contact for any given issue. This is key, as customers tend to have diverse preferences in this capacity. Corvisa Cloud's 2014 Customer Service Report found that while 55 percent of customers generally prefer to use the phone when seeking assistance, 34 percent prefer email, live chat or Web forms. The only way to accommodate all of a company's customers is by providing options, and that is precisely what a multi-channel contact center delivers.
Second, a multi-channel contact center will be more popular with the company's customer service agents. These professionals want to have access to the tools necessary to maximize their job performance, and they realize that a range of communication channels is essential for that objective.
As time goes on, demand for multi-channel will increase among both consumers and agents. Company leaders that have yet to do so should consider turning to multi-channel contact center solutions as early as possible in 2015.
3. Invest in training
Tools are only part of the equation when it comes to achieving contact center success. Companies must also focus on the human element. In addition to hiring the best available personnel, business leaders should also invest in training for all staff, new and old. Even the most intuitive, easy-to-use contact center tools will often include subtle features that go underutilized if staff don't know about them. Robust and regular training can ensure that every customer service agent has the knowledge necessary to take full advantage of the tools at his or her disposal.