When we think of call centers or contact centers, the image of a repetitive environment with long hours and low pay can come to mind. The reality today is very different, with many contact centers adding high-value services to their own organization, or even to others which have contracted them.
In fact, successful contact centers can find themselves taking on more and more roles as they deliver great results.
Read the H1 Communication AB case study >
This means that the contact center technology has to keep up with the changing requirements of the work patterns taking place in the contact center.
For instance, as consumers shift their media preferences beyond telephone calls to interact with organizations, so the contact center needs to cater for email, SMS messages, webchat, social media and so on. It is often the case that these other media types were previously handled in other areas of the organization, so the contact center needs to show excellence in all media channels to attract this new type of work.
The results are that the organization gets a consistent customer experience whatever the media type, and can measure the results centrally in the contact center.
This allows contact centers to compare, contrast and fine-tune all the different elements of the customer journey.
Increasingly, contact centers are also being asked to help with some of the functions traditionally under the purview of receptionists. Maybe it’s just to cover for lunch breaks, holidays or sickness. It could also be an overflow function when incoming call volumes are high. Or it might be that the contact center is fully responsible for the receptionist function.
Historically, this has required the contact center agent to have access to a separate ‘Attendant Agent’ application (eg Mitel InAttend) in order to be able to handle those calls and transfer them in or out of the contact center.
The dilemma is that management typically wants contact center agents to stay within their contact center application, monitoring all calls, emails SMS, webchat, social, etc in one place.
For this reason, contact center vendors are starting to build the attendant agent application, or key parts of it, into the contact center tools that the agent uses.
In this scenario, the agent can handle calls wherever they come from, and easily transfer them within the contact center or outside as needed. Other valuable features which can enhance agent productivity include directory search capability, the possibility to see the presence/line state of wanted parties, keyboard shortcuts to access attendant functions, recall at no answer for transferred calls and camp-on functionality to busy extensions.