When asked what their biggest challenges were today, 18.4% of contact center leaders polled by Strategic Contact cited poor cross-departmental collaboration. This was second only to attrition. Contact center employees sometimes find themselves blindsided by decisions made elsewhere in the organization regarding products, promotions, pricing, policies and public pronouncements. The result is an unanticipated spike in call volume and insufficient time to prepare a proper response. These things happen because the contact center is often isolated both geographically and structurally from the head office where these decisions are made.
It doesn’t have to be this way, and it probably shouldn’t be this way. Leading organizations are committed to strengthening customer engagement. Maintaining and advancing customer loyalty is an organization-wide priority and the contact center is instrumental to meeting this objective. There is a natural symbiotic relationship with all other functions which touch the customer such as all sales, marketing, customer support, and collections. It is important to present a consistent impression to the consumer.
Strengthening ties with the broader organization requires both a commitment on the part of contact center management and adoption of tools and technology that facilitate teamwork. On that first point, management and staff need to be proactive in explaining their role to their peers in other departments and bringing their important accomplishments to the attention of senior management. It’s a simple matter of salesmanship.
The second issue is adopting supportive technology. Several innovative organizations, both startups and industry giants, have launched workforce collaboration and messaging platforms. Collaboration software facilitates teamwork among geographically dispersed individuals. They can share information real-time, access knowledge bases, and communicate with each other via messaging apps. Some of the best-known workforce and collaboration platforms are Slack, Microsoft Teams and Facebook Workplace. The concept of collaboration software to facilitate teamwork has caught on and is growing like wildfire. Last year Slack surpassed 6 million daily active users, and its revenue is doubling every year. With growth like that and with attention from industry tech giants, we will likely see collaboration software as a standard fixture in the contact center industry. Workforce optimization software will need to integrate seamlessly with these collaboration tools to provide the power of WFO in a communications medium being increasingly used by agents.
For example, last year, Aspect Software announced the availability of its enterprise chatbot Aspect Mila for Slack. This clever WFO technology allows agents to use an intelligent chatbot to automate and dramatically simplify the scheduling and approval of agent schedule requests via Slack.
At Pelorus Associates, we envision a future where all functions with direct contact to the customer report to a common executive and share the same commitment, tools, and performance goals. Collaboration software augmented by artificial intelligence applications such as the Aspect Mila chatbot are essential to achieving the goal of optimizing customer engagement.