Category Archives: Unified Communications

The Power of Human

Welcome to C3’s Industry Insight blog series inspired by articles and comment on the web.

In this blog, our Marketing Manager Natasha Rutterford looks at the importance of a ‘human touch’ vs full automation.

Automation, self-service and the power of technology have revolutionized the contact centre, however when it comes to resolving some issues you can’t beat a human touch.

Often these situations are the most sensitive or demanding and you can be sure that if your organisation slips up here your clients won’t forget it!

It’s tempting to rely heavily on automated self-service in order to save costs; however it may be better for contact centre management to view humans and technology as allies in the fight for a better customer experience.

Continue reading The Power of Human

Inbound-Only Contact Centres; A Customer Service Roadblock

Recently whilst browsing Twitter I came across a conversation between a leading international bank and a client.

The customer had an urgent issue and had tried to contact the bank’s call centre but was unable to get through. They then took to Twitter, asking for help and a call back from the company.

Continue reading Inbound-Only Contact Centres; A Customer Service Roadblock

Multichannel Management: more than a buzzphrase?

The Forrester Research report ‘Ending the multichannel frustration’ demonstrates how increasingly complex it has become to provide customer service.

According to the report, only 39% of companies earned an “excellent” or “good” customer experience index rating, whilst almost two thirds of brands were rated as delivering an “ok” to “very poor” customer experience.

The report outlines three key areas where customer service departments are struggling:

  1. Supporting the breadth of media types
  2. Empowering agents with a full view of customer interactions
  3. Communicating contextual answers to customers 

These issues stem from the lack of integration between communication channels, both technically and functionally. This might have been acceptable five years ago. But we live in a multichannel age where we expect to email, call and Tweet an organisation, and for them to have a common-thread view of all those interactions.

Without an integrated contact centre solution agents are unable to track customer enquiries across channels, which is frustrating for them and the customer.

Contact is our multichannel contact centre. This browser-based solution gives organisations the ability to stream all their enquiries into one unified interface. We also support outbound campaigns across the various channels, for a complete “360 degree” view of your communications, and PCI Compliant billing across channels.

Where does outbound marketing fit into the multichannel mix?

Companies are finally getting on board with “multichannel” and investing in contact centre software that is able to unify their fragmented communication channels.

There are now a number of solutions available that simplify the management of your multichannel operation. They are designed to capture disparate inbound enquiries and send them, in a unified queue, to your agents.

However, where some of these systems struggle is with outbound capabilities. Many don’t support outbound communication at all, which obviously creates another frustrating interaction silo where valuable customer data can fall between the cracks.

The ideal situation is for your multichannel contact centre to provide inbound/outbound functionality – where outbound campaigns and subsequent inbound enquiries correlate for a substantial impact on the consistent experience. This ensures you can monitor the impact of your marketing campaigns and make any necessary changes in response to live results.

Our multichannel contact centre software, Contact, offers this fused inbound/outbound functionality giving you a 360-degree view of your channels and customers. We also support centralised (and PCI Compliant) billing so customers can easily transact between channels.

Everything can be launched and managed via one browser based interface for a comprehensive and holistic view of your customer.

Managing communication with the ‘always on’ student consumer

It is generally accepted that students have become more demanding as consumers since fees were raised to up to £9,000 per year.

The fact that complaints by students in England and Wales against universities rose by a quarter in 2012 to “record levels”, according to The Office of the Independent Adjudicator, goes some way support this theory.

As the higher education market becomes ever more competitive, universities are under pressure to act more like commercial entities and carve out a distinctive niche for themselves as individual institutions. Part of this involves a rethink around customer service delivery and reconfiguring communication channels so they reflect the preferences of users, e.g. by making support staff and tutors available over social media to engage with students.

Beyond transactional messaging

This new generation of consumers demand personalised interactions and tailored experiences when dealing with any organisation. And when individuals want direct interaction with an institution, they demand an almost immediate reply. But this is where the gap lies: between how current communication channels are being operated against students’ expectations of service delivery.

As it stands, most higher education institutions still treat email, SMS, social media and web chat as separate entities, run by different groups with individual objectives. There is no single view of the customer and no record of their cross-channel interactions with the institution. Frustratingly, this means your customers have to repeat information as they switch between channels because support staff have no centralised CRM record for them.

Getting the right technology in place that provides this single view of the customer is critical to fostering long term customer engagement.

Contact is a powerful multichannel contact centre solution that enables organisations to keep pace with the new ‘always on’ consumer.

This unique solution streamlines all your media channels (voice, email, SMS, social media, web chat) into a single, fully integrated multi-channel contact centre. The browser-based system provides queuing, routing and monitoring across these multiple channels, as well as extensive reporting capabilities.

Every enquiry is logged, irrespective of channel, in the integrated CRM. Preserving the history of these interactions makes it possible for your staff to follow students as they move between communication channels and manage interactions as they move from, say, social to email.

By monitoring cross-channel interactions and consolidating this valuable customer information, your support staff can assess the strengths and weaknesses of your customer-facing channels and make any necessary improvements, whilst your marketing team is able to analyse the cross-channel data for any themes or emerging trends that can be capitalised on. Ultimately, your organisation is better placed to deliver relevant and personalised services to customers.

Yes, it’s another pitch for the multi channel contact centre

The phrase ‘multi-channel communications is so ubiquitous that no one really pays attention to it any more. It’s become one of those overused techy phrases that  can, if used without due care and attention, induce a semi-coma state.

Well, WAKE UP! The phrase is used a good few times here – but it’s for your own good!

For many organisations “multi-channel communications” has been endlessly discussed; with plans made, heads scratched, Facebook pages opened etc.

However, very few companies have – and bear with me here – an integrated multichannel communication strategy; that is to say one which integrates multiple channels, and uses sophisticated tools in contact routing and handling. For example most organisations have no means of tracking and reporting on their non-voice communication channels.

Instead, the majority of organisations handle each channel independently of each other, on an informal basis. This approach might work where enquiries come in small volumes and employees can make up for bad processes. But it’s not scalable, or even sustainable in the long term.

Research published by ContactBabel in 2012 revealed that over 17% of interactions handled by UK contact centres were through email, web chat and social media.

In the last few years there has been a sharp rise in non-voice communication, led by email (which has risen from 10% to 15% of interactions) but also supported by jumps in web chat and social media.

Customers expect consistent treatment and quality of service across all these channels. But without a comprehensive system to track enquiries from every media, making this happen in reality is hard work.

With many traditional voice platforms reaching end-of-life, now is a good time to seriously consider a multi-channel communication platform that can provide routing, reporting and performance tracking across all your communication channels.

In this competitive environment service is a genuine differentiator. So, although the technology may not be new, the impetus to actually do something with it is.

Fusion Contact is C3’s multichannel contact centre platform. It is a browser-based solution that simplifies the management of interactions across all communication channels (voice, email, web chat and social networks) with universal routing rules.

Fusion Contact enables your customers to make contact with you using their preferred method,  always receiving a consistent, well-informed service no matter which channel they use. The system facilitates the rapid deployment of new applications; helps you improve customer service across your distributed operations, and also supports the flexible working requirements of your staff who are able to login to the system remotely.

We offer a range of hosted solutions, which remove the constraints of capital expenditure and provide operational flexibility and agility.