Next-generation customer contact: Where the rubber meets the road

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My colleagues and I have been talking for some time about next-generation customer contact: how the increased expectations of today’s consumers are compelling companies to tap into the collective intelligence of the organization by adopting a customer-centric model and integrating a range of communication tools.

Despite our best efforts, we are not immune to the temptation of lofty promises, hyperbole, and blue sky thinking. However, we recognize it’s important to separate the products and applications that can deliver real value now from those that are still years away. That’s where firsthand experience with Aspect customers comes in, because it grounds us as to the reality of the evolution of customer contact and how companies have begun to extend its reach throughout the organization.

Most recently, at our online symposium last week, I led a roundtable discussion with contact center executives from three companies. They shared a number of ways that they have already begun to integrate new tools to support a more proactive, robust dialogue with consumers.

Darren Lloyd, the information service manager with Newport City Homes, talked about how Microsoft Lync has enabled contact center agents to tap experts within the organization, leading to reduced call times, a decrease in agent stress levels, and lower call waiting times. Darren has also integrated text messaging into the contact center to notify his customers of appointments and send them reminders.

Nina Westvold, the director of customer contact with American Century Investments, discussed how her business is focused on more meaningful customer interactions and embraces higher handle times to ensure that customers are getting the service they need. She also noted that the company is also starting to use outbound calls to reach out to customers proactively.

Richard Volel, vice president of contact management for American Home Mortgage, talked about the benefits of a unified platform for his six globally dispersed contact center operations to address the changing mortgage servicing environment. And unlike Nina, he’s looking to offer more self-service options and decrease the volume of customer service interactions. He used an example of a mobile app to provide account updates.

It was great to hear about their experiences so far, and one of the points it drove home was that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to delivering a great customer experience.

You can hear the whole roundtable discussion or attend the symposium’s other sessions free of charge. Check it out and let me know your thoughts.