Intro to Contact Centers

By Ryan Ayers
Updated: February 18, 2011

More than ever before, consumers are accustomed to communicating with businesses and receiving service that is tailored to their specific situation. We are all familiar with the idea of contacting a company via telephone or email and having a running record of all conversations regarding our request. What may not be evident to the consumer in this process is the calculation and effort that is expended in setting up a contact center to effectively deal with customer interactions.

Defining the Specific Needs of Your Contact Center

Because your business operates in a unique manner, your contact center should be structured according to your specific needs and operational traits. Before implementing your contact center, you will need to assess the various methods of communication that your customers are likely to use in conversing with your employees.

  • Telephone (inbound & outbound)
  • E-mail
  • Correspondence (i.e. mailings, electronic newsletters, e-mail blasts, etc.)
  • Chat/IM functions
  • In-store dialogue

Your Customers Want to Speak to You

The telephone has traditionally been the primary method for customers to interact with businesses for reasons ranging from support issues to product inquiries, and is still thought of by most companies as the first line in dealing with customers.

Often referred to as call centers until more recently, contact centers can now be set up in a manner that is consistent with your business’ inner workings, rather than as a stand-alone department or entity. With modern telephony equipment such as VoIP phone systems, your call center can now be spread throughout your company’s offices (even if they are geographically removed from one another), enabling the employee that can field the particular issue or request most effectively to handle the call.

A contemporary contact center does not resemble the call centers of the past, but rather functions as an extension of your business’ daily operations. Your business is now able to route calls swiftly to the appropriate employee and to service your customers in a much more effective manner using several other tools that are the key components of a modern-day contact center.

Information is King

Among the most helpful and efficiency-boosting shifts in thought regarding customer interactions and contact centers has been the concept of information gathering in order to help better serve customers.

This idea is familiar to most of us from the customer side of a transaction. This is simply the process of gathering information regarding a customer’s preferences, and/or any information about a specific inquiry and collating this information for retrieval by customer service/sales representatives.

The use of a solid CRM system in conjunction with your business’ various methods of customer interaction helps to gather important data and make it available to your representatives when appropriate. These systems will allow you to filter information to effectively target specific communications toward specific customers.

Individualize Your System

As with most business systems, your contact center will only function well if you have defined its attributes and priorities appropriately. Finding the right partner to help your business create your contact center can be an important step in the process.

Also as with many other business systems in the digital age, the tools to help you create an individualized contact center to properly fit your business are surprisingly cost-effective. In addition to the hardware and service charges being relatively inexpensive for many of these systems, a solid contact center will help to streamline operations and generate revenue for your business.
 

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