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.
 

Featured Research
  • 2017 Contact Center Software Cost Guide

    Are you paying too much for your contact center software? Are you satisfied with its capabilities, or do you wish it did more? These are questions most businesses don’t take the time to think about, even though contact center software is one of the most important investments that you’ll make. With a little bit of planning, you can end up saving money and still end up with better functionality. more

  • 10 Contact Center Myths Busted

    For most forward-thinking companies, the use of contact center software is on the rise. That said, in spite of contact center software’s sudden rise in popularity, a number of myths have begun to take shape. more

  • How Workforce Optimization Reduces Agent Attrition

    The average turnover rate for contact centers is two times greater than it is across all industries. This leads many to consider high agent attrition normal, but the truth is that you can save a lot of money by working to reduce it. more

  • 7 Common Pain Points Contact Center Software Eliminates

    Owning and operating a business comes with its fair share of ups and downs. That said, the more disheartening moments almost always seem to negatively influence your company’s bottom line. Though by no means an all-inclusive culprit, much of the time, a downtrending bottom line can be accurately chalked up to poor customer service—the numbers back us up on this one. more

  • Contact Center Implementation 101

    Starting, maintaining and growing a successful business is largely dependent on great products and services. That said, there’s another important factor many eager entrepreneurs overlook…customer experience. more