Mark Harrop Business Development Manager

Feb 08

Contact centres who don’t get social will lose the generation game

A large proportion of contact centres are risking being left behind by competitors more in touch with today’s communications channels, warns technology integrator, Aquarium Software.

Worryingly, less than 40% of contact centres are taking advantage of social media as a means of contact with their customers, ignoring deep generational divisions. This landscape is changing the contact centre like never before, as younger customers ditch the phone for text and social media based means of contact.

According to Aquarium, contact centres who do not wise-up to the trend, not only risk falling behind – they risk damaging the reputation of their brand or even worse their affinity.  The net results could be that they are even being put out of business altogether.

Ed Shropshire, Aquarium’s Managing Director, warns that while older generations choose to pick up the phone, social media and texting are far more common among the young, especially Generation Y.  A contact centre must be able to reflect such generational differences to ensure they operate at maximum capacity.  Intuitively designed software is the key to being able to respond, no matter what form of communication the customer chooses, and whatever the volume.

“The key performance metric will continue to be customer satisfaction and the ability to deliver and manage a positive customer journey,” said Ed. “Failure to recognise trends in the marketplace risks leaving companies behind and there is every chance this could translate into lost custom as people become attracted to those with better reputations in the social world.”

It is possible to play the generation game and win, firstly by embracing the technology. The right software can allow contact centres to tailor how they interact based on customer preference. So, if Mr Smith would like a web chat and Miss Smith prefers text that technology is here now. The right technology platform can drill down into customer preference making sure consistency and compliance is achieved at all times.  A spin off is that Q&A becomes easier and less time consuming.
A recent report shows that while over 60% of contact centres are communicating online, less than 40% are engaged in social media. Companies need to expand their means of communication, both in terms of online and social media. This doesn’t mean that one size has to fit all, different areas of the business can be divided.  A customer may want to follow one path to purchase say travel or pet insurance whilst a completely different route to report a complaint.
“What customers need and deserve is a smooth and seamless experience and the fact is the technology to deliver this is not science fiction, it is available right now,” added Shropshire. “Too many companies are calling customers with the left hand, unaware that the right hand has just emailed them. Not only is this inefficient, it makes it difficult to use analytics effectively, and spot key details which could significantly improve their business. Many contact centres would benefit from software which would streamline different services into one. Multimodal technical platforms help to integrate communication and the data it produces, creating a product that is smooth and easy to use for both the customer and operatives.”

The best systems are designed to the individual needs of each business and their affinities and can handle all methods of communications from calls, emails, and texts to webchat, Twitter, Facebook and of course, letters - with ease and allow staff to see all customer details at a glance. This improves the service, profitability and the customer journey.  It makes it possible to spot trends, while allowing for early identification of anomalies and cutting down on fraud.

A final change Shropshire suggests for contact centres is improving the ability to gain feedback through their online channels. “The majority of contact centres still take feedback via telephone and it is far less common to seek feedback, via email, text or social media feeds. Improving and being able to successfully integrate this with other areas of the business will allow contact centres to face the future and make the most of multiple sources of data. Given the increasing importance of data analytics, it is certain to be a big part of the future for contact centres. With the right technology, and a firm eye on the future, firms can future-proof themselves and make the most of the exciting opportunities that new technology offers.”