I had a great conversation recently with Enzo Signore, the Chief Marketing Officer and Max Ball, the Product Marketing Manager for Contact Centers at 8x8 about the trends and must haves in contact centers these days. We discussed the ways in which businesses are looking to serve their customers better (READ: make happier customers) and more efficiently (READ: lower costs) at the same time. On the first topic we dove into the concept of personalizing the customer experience and eliminating barriers to great customer service, and on the second, we discussed the need for powerful analytics that go well beyond the traditional contact center reporting we’ve grown accustomed to.
Personalizing the Customer Experience in the Contact Center
According to a recent report by Accenture, 81% of companies say that creating a personalized customer experience is a top three priority in their organization. Additionally, 89% of companies, projecting forward, see customer experience as their primary basis for competitive advantage in 2016. According to Signore, “Personalization is quickly becoming a contact center priority for brands. Companies realize that delivering a seamless interaction that proactively anticipates a customer’s needs whenever possible - similar to the way Amazon knows what books to suggest for you - can exceed customer’s expectations and create a sticky, long-term relationship.”
That of course led to the question, what exactly is personalization from a contact center point-of-view. According to Ball, it really comes down to two overarching concepts. First, enhancing the cross channel journey, meaning allowing for seamless interactions regardless of the platform the customer is interacting with the business on, as well as across media, from website, to email, to chat to phone. Second, enhancing the phone experience for customers by making it more convenient, efficient and pleasant. “Internally, we build off the concept of “Wouldn’t it be nice,” says Signore. “For example, wouldn't it be nice to leave a message in a phone queue and ask someone to call you back when they have time, and keep your position in the queue or email or chat. Or wouldn’t it be nice if while I was speaking with an agent, they could take over my browsing session and help me solve a problem quickly.”
It does indeed sound nice, and virtual queuing and co-browsing are two of the personalization features 8x8 just deployed in their new release of their Virtual Contact Center cloud-based platform. Another powerful new capability we discussed is the concept of proactive chat. According to Ball, this helps streamline interactions by tracking information like how long someone has been on the site, where they are on the site, what they are attempting to do and where on the globe they are connecting from. “By capturing this information, the system can offer helpful links to frequently asked questions, connect the customer with an agent that could be a specialist in the area they are focused on, or even implement a chat translation engine so that if someone is connecting from Brazil, the system would translate the chat back and forth between Portuguese for the customer and English for the agent.” This type of proactive chat capability is already showing that it can shave 30 - 45 seconds off of a call (which is a big deal in contact center circles), while enhancing customer satisfaction at the same time.
Upping the Game With Advanced Analytics
I remember years ago spending hours writing Crystal Reports to try and wrest information from the database programs we were deploying for clients...whether those were, CRM, accounting packages or contact centers. In many ways, if you wanted a custom report outside of the ‘out-of-the-box’ reports that came with a program, they were the only game in town. Then we saw Cognos (way before IBM bought them), and started implementing Power Cubes. Suddenly we were dragging and dropping data elements on top of other data points and watching the resultant insights show up instantly. If there was something we were interested in, whether it was a chart, a graph or simply a line item on the screen, you only had to double click on it to dig in deeper. Find something interest in that deeper dive? Drag another data element on top of it and dig deeper still. It was a game changer. Our clients called it business porn.
Taking a quick tour of 8x8’s new cloud-based Contact Center Analytics tool reminded me of Cognos. Dashboards that displayed the current big picture status of contact centers around the globe, as well as some showing information on queue performance, agent performance and group performance allows managers from anywhere to simply start clicking to drill down and get more information about something that is pleasing or concerning them. Going back to my Cognos days, this ease of access to custom insights is a game changer for businesses. It allows for the easy identification of unexpected data points or relationships in a way that is entirely new for many businesses (and my guess is for almost everyone in Contact Center management). I especially liked the bubble chart showing agent performance on an multi-axis view (sort of like Gartner’s Magic Quadrant). If there is someone doing incredibly well (big green circle), time to compliment them. Someone with a big red circle in the bottom left? Time to dig in and see what’s going on and maybe go say hi to discuss turning things around.
8x8 continues to get high marks from analysts for their products in the contact center and UCaaS space. With releases like this keeping them on the cutting edge of what customers are looking for, it’s easy to see why.