An interview with Merchants’ Sales & Marketing Executive Ross Telfer (Part Two)
You've already touched on two topics I wanted to ask about the future of contact centres. The first is to do with omnichannel support and how there's a general trend towards people communicating across different channels, and the second is the increase in text-based communication. Perhaps you can go into detail about customer expectations and how these trends are going to affect the way contact centres run?
When it comes to text-based communications, we all know how frustrating it is to get a pre-populated email back from a tier one business. "Thank you for your enquiry. We'll endeavour to get back to you within 48 hours." Customers don't want to wait 48 hours. Even if this is acceptable by industry standards, the customer isn’t thinking that — they’re thinking “I need you to sort this out now”. So then they switch to another channel, such as Messenger, and they might get a reply within a few hours, but they still want an instant response. So it's the reaction of contact centres to that — the time it takes to get a response — that contact centres are really going to need to focus on.
One of the ideas that we see is that in the future people would be able to structure the contact centre like a cloud-like service. What this means is that it would be flexible, depending on the needs of the customer. Are we there, or is that something that we're working towards?
In terms of cloud technology itself, the cloud is what hosts the dialer or the CRM or the customer's information. That's available now and has been available for a while. The main problem with this technology is that it's expensive and many companies haven't budgeted for it.
In terms of a contact centre that is disparate, that can service a customer from whatever part of the world they are, again, that technology has also been available for a little while. It depends on how a business wants to be set up, and if they want to provide service to their clients 24/7.
In terms of big data and data analysis, one of the big discussions is how we need to be looking at big data analysis and how it relates customer behaviour and thinking. What do you think about the current approach to big data?
The buzzword may be big data, but it always comes back to “what information do people want to know?” People are selling analytics services, but what are you going to do with them? Many people have tried to sell to me different analytics tools over the years. But do I even need all that information? The focus should be on what is the actionable intelligence that people are going to make use of.
The idea of the Super Agent has been bounced around the industry for a while. Super agents are contact centre agents who are able to deliver excellent customer service, handle multiple communication channels at once, have a high tolerance for stress and have a positive attitude. What is Merchants’ approach to this concept?
When you look at the characteristics of the super agent, our agents are working alongside bots to achieve these goals. For example, we already have customers who come into a channel and talk to a bot. After starting the conversation, the bot will realise that a contact centre agent is needed since this is a negotiation conversation that the bot cannot handle. This is when the agent will step in. The agent will pick up the call and view the thread of the conversation, interpret the mood or context, and continue the conversation with the correct approach.
Our agents are dexterous and don’t run on scripts, so they are able to pick up discussions mid-flow without the customer realising that they've switched from a bot to a real person.
Merchants is an experienced global contact centre and customer experience provider. For more information, contact Merchants here.