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The Crystal Ball Contact Center

The way technology is moving, the customer shouldn’t have to tell an agent what they want when they call in. We’ve moved well beyond that now.

Modern customer relationship management (CRM) platforms are mega data hubs that absorb and catalogue countless customer interactions. Here among the wall-to-wall data streams that record everything from gender to color preference there is opportunity. That opportunity is the advancement of customer service beyond the “how may I help you” contact center.

Crystal Ball Contact Center

Why are we not answering calls with solutions already in hand?

For web stores and online transactions, predictive and proactive involvement has been a no brainer. Agents managing online channels can look at what customers have placed in their online shopping cart, analyze past purchases and make suggestions based on products they’d likely find interesting. Smart interfaces can track shoppers through their sales journey and create push notifications when a sale stalls (ex. A user has an item in their cart, but during checkout lingers on the shipping selection. An agent may choose to use a pop-up chat window to ask if they have any questions about international shipping).

The goal is to answer questions before they are asked, and the remarkable advancements in predictive technology have given online stores an almost mystic appeal. Online stores today can tell us what we want to buy, tell us when we’ve made mistakes and notify us when it’s time for an upgrade or re-service.

It’s time for contact centers to take a similar approach.

CRMs have an obvious blind spot with regards to the contact center. They lack call and call management functions. This gap in information means companies can’t get a complete picture of their customer. The result? Customer service suffers.

The solution is simple; fill the gap by adding telephone capabilities to the CRM systems and provide call records and analysis alongside all other customer data collected. When phone records are analyzed alongside catalogs of online and in-person interactions, something magical happens. Contact center agents suddenly have a complete view of the customer’s needs. No “how my I help you?” calls but instead conversations that sound like this:

“I see you recently purchased a computer from our online store, is that why you are calling today? You say you’ve misplaced the charger? I’ve added an exact match for that charger to your online shopping cart. I can confirm payment information and ship the charger now, or if you’d like to wait I can hold the item in your cart until you’re sure that the charger is not recoverable.”

Let’s say the caller had a more technical question for the agent about the computer. Instead of connecting the caller to a cashier with little computer knowledge, wouldn’t it be nice to have the call auto route to an expert on the computer in question?

That’s the future we need to aim for in contact centers. Ask anyone, people are fed up with being passed around to multiple agents that can’t answer their questions. Even more people are tired of restating information that should already be on hand for the agents manning the phone (Don’t ask me what kind of computer I have! I bought the thing online and gave you my cell information! Neither of us should have to hunt that information down!).

We have truckloads of information about our customers from other channels, and if we can analyze that information alongside our calls, contact center agents will transform from complaint takers to superhuman service providers.