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The new code for contact centres

(Image credit: Image Credit: Tyler Olson / Shutterstock)

Spearheaded by the pioneers of the on-demand economy, today’s consumer has become accustomed to instant, personalised communications – and won’t settle for anything less. We feel strongly that the industry needs to adopt a new code on this basis – grounded in principles that acknowledge the terrific impact technology can have, and remembers that a contact centre only exists to serve its customers.

The new code should encompass responsiveness, flexibility and contextualisation of communications, as well as a necessary focus on the developers who are now at the heart of the contact centre experience. Customers now want to communicate with companies using methods that are convenient to them, utilising their own preferred channels to talk with companies with the same ease that they would family and friends. Business communications need to mirror the way that people communicate and can no longer rely on clunky legacy infrastructure and outdated systems.

Today’s contact centre experience cannot entail long waiting times, siloed conversations, repeated enquiry attempts and clunky call routing systems. Businesses who have already recognised this are empowering their developers to use cloud-based technology to build a contact centre that provides a fluid, integrated experience for customers.

Doing so is critical to the success of any modern business, and yet there is still work to be done. Research conducted by Twilio revealed that a huge 96 per cent of customers said that they were unhappy with the communications that they received from companies. When you consider that 94 per cent of businesses believe their customers are satisfied with their communications, it is clear that they must change the way they think about their customers’ experience or risk alienating their audience. The disparity between businesses’ perceptions of the market and the reality of how their customers feel is huge and needs to be addressed.

Here’s how the new contact centre code should be realised.

Be more responsive: 40 per cent of UK customers rate their business communications experiences as ‘fair to terrible’. As one of the primary ways in which customers and businesses interact, the contact centre should be a key area of focus for improving the relationship between consumers and the companies they are speaking to. Responsiveness is the lifeblood of customer loyalty for any business: according to Twilio’s research, 97 per cent of people would be more likely to spend money with a business whose responses were timely.

While it may seem like a costly outlay to restructure and rebuild your contact centre, in reality the return on investment is significant. The interactions and experiences that customers are having with businesses are just as integral to the success of a business as the actual product or service they are providing. Staying ahead of the game in the contact centre space puts your business in good stead when many companies are yet to appreciate this dynamic. Forward-thinking businesses should look to overhaul their legacy systems in favour of a solution that will enable them to meet the ever-evolving demands of their customers head on.

Contextualise communications: As mentioned above, people want to be able to communicate with businesses in the same ways they do with their family and friends: seamlessly, using the channels they have selected as being the most suitable for them. In order to achieve this kind of fluid experience companies need to build in direct, personal messaging to their contact centre infrastructure. Instant messaging is the perfect example of this, allowing agents to communicate back and forth with their customers and tailor their responses to the individual’s needs. Siloed systems should also be a thing of the past. With the capabilities of integrated systems software, there is no need for any disconnect between the various channels being utilised as a point of contact for a business.

In other words, a simple email or support call no longer cuts it for businesses in a world where instantaneous, personalised responses are so firmly embedded into every other part of consumers’ day-to-day lives.

Tech giants like Uber, Airbnb and Task Rabbit have mastered the art of the on-demand economy. They integrate contextual communications into their business models so they can reach out with the right message, at the right time, and via the right channel. Assimilating popular channels of communication such as iMessage, RCS and WhatsApp into the model is now an essential part of customer relations, and the contact centre sits at the core of this. Traditional means of communication simply don’t cut it – emails, texts and phone calls should only be a part of the whole; building blocks upon which a greater network of communications should be built.

One size no longer fits all: The truth is that it never really did. Now that there is the opportunity to build in the cloud, offering a one-size-fits-all solution is simply not an option for startups and established enterprises alike. It is relatively easy to build a dynamic, flexible solution from the ground up using modern tools and the new contact centre code means that this should be the standard.

It always goes back to the customer: if your organisation is not providing a seamless, customised communications solution then your end-users will take their business elsewhere. Tailored experiences are the only kind that will deliver satisfaction in today’s technology landscape. Take Hero, for example, whose contact centre technology connects online shoppers with in-store experts using live, real-time chat and even video. The results have been tangible: customers were 50 per cent less likely to return their item after this solution was created.

Love your developers: Developers are at the heart of businesses’ ability to innovate and improve. They hold the keys to streamlining existing processes and imagining new ones, so they need to be valued as such. Developers are the ones who will be the drivers of change in the customer experience space. Though software is the tool, people are the architects – which is why businesses need to recognise the importance of the work that they do.

Building a contact centre on cloud-based APIs means that it is made for the future. Doing this makes it much easier to integrate new and emerging channels, assimilate third-party applications where needed and adapt the software to cope with continuous changes in the customer engagement space. Software is flexible, while hardware is rigid, and this difference is instrumental in inciting growth as well as improving sustainability within a company’s business model.

Ultimately, sticking to the new contact centre code ensures that your business won’t leave its customers at the wayside. Forgetting the importance of customer communications risks your business falling behind, while others race ahead.

Devang Sachdev, Director of Product Marketing, Twilio Flex (opens in new tab)
Image Credit: Tyler Olson / Shutterstock

Devang Sachdev is a director of solutions at Twilio. Devang helps businesses find new ways to engage customers and improve their customer journey.