All Change: Customer Expectations for Call Centres in a Hybrid Working World

Tollring’s Global Head of Sales, Andy Bannister, reflects on new dynamics in the call centre industry.

Meeting expectations in times of change

Customers expect their interactions with a businesses’ call and contact centre to be seamless regardless of whether it’s a large multinational or a mid-sized or smaller enterprise.

Outside of the big traditional contact centre operations, a key opportunity for the channel is in the mid-market and smaller businesses.  Many of these organisations have been forced by the pandemic to move from on-premise to cloud-based call handling solutions and resellers now have an opportunity to penetrate this surge of new customers.

These businesses operate with informal contact centres spread across their operations such as the after-sales and support teams and the accounts department, all of which have regular and direct communication with customers. Critically, they need to ensure all these customer facing teams can communicate effectively with the outside world via the phone regardless of where anyone is working.

By adding third party analytics to monitor both incoming and outgoing calls, resellers can give these businesses access to valuable information about how they communicate with their customers at a cost-effective price point as well as drive considerable improvements in their customer service.

A return to normal?

Supervisors live and die by their analytics, they know the dashboards and how to manage their staff.  With everything now in the cloud, the supervisor and agent dashboard experience can be delivered via a web browser, with the ability to work from any location.

The move to the cloud has also enabled smaller businesses to punch above their weight. They can now access the features and capabilities that were previously only available to bigger companies.

This means those businesses that only recruited locally in the past, can now have access to a much wider talent pool and can employ staff from any location, with the analytics and call recording capabilities to assist them in training and keeping staff on track.

Going forward, those businesses that managed in-person contact centres are likely to want to return to an office setting. However, if changes in the Flexible Working Bill are passed, businesses will need to offer flexible working arrangements to attract and retain the best employees.

How are the changes driving innovation?

For the SMB market, cloud call reporting solutions can give businesses with customer-facing teams the ability to improve their customer call journeys, to drive better decision-making and boost team performance.  These SMBs can now maximise the performance of their teams and individuals to effectively handle calls within specified service levels, using live wallboards, dashboards and reporting.

The latest analytics and reporting capabilities for the SMB market include sentiment analysis to reveal a clear understanding of the overall customer experience, with insights into the call journey each customer takes when interacting with an organisation. In addition, integration with data from CRM systems brings the call journey analysis to life.

Tollring latest iCall Suite introduces new supervisor and agent management capability specifically for Cisco BroadWorks call centres that further improves customer interaction management and agent productivity. The new Supervisor and Agent Consoles are optimised for customer-facing teams in the mid-market, and empower supervisors to make real-time data-driven decisions and drive the highest performance from agents. Agents have access to the exact tools that they need to do their job effectively and to maximise customer experience.

Is the SMB-Enterprise feature gap still there?

The gap is closing. With everything in the cloud and based on a cost per user, there is no longer an up-front investment to access call centre technologies – it is easily scaled down to the SMB market.

In terms of analytics, whilst the advanced functionality is exciting, some of the more basic tools such as unreturned missed calls can make a massive difference to a business. National business statistics show that 56.7% of all missed calls never leave a message and never call back.

Businesses need to understand if calls are answered on time, or not answered, how long callers are willing to wait, assess if staff spend the right amount of time on each call and if they respond to customers appropriately – across the business.

With analytics, managers across every department (including the contact centre) can measure and compare the effectiveness of call groups and queues, then structure teams to ensure the right people are available when needed to deliver a resolution on first contact.

The volume of calls dictates what features and how much live data is needed.  SMBs with perhaps five people don’t usually have the flexibility to move people around. They are likely to review activities on a daily or weekly basis.  Whereas a larger environment, with say 30 people, would be more interested in queue management and resource modelling.

Vendor selection golden rules for resellers and CSPs

As an analytics vendor, we work with many of the major CSPs in the UK and Europe. We are seeing they are now adding analytics to ensure customer facing teams can operate more effectively.

Incorporating third-party developed products into core services not only speeds up and boosts go-to-market offerings, it can also deliver a competitive advantage in a saturated market.

Selecting the right vendor is more important than ever before, especially as it is becoming much more difficult to swap out a vendor down the line. In the world of cloud voice and Unified Communications (UC), partnerships can be for life if chosen thoughtfully.

Here are some top considerations:

  1. If you have international or global aspirations, ensure the vendor offers relevant capability including localisation, language support and round the clock support.
  2. Check the vendor has proven products and deployments in similar organisations to your own, or perhaps bigger.
  3. Check that the vendor’s proposition is capable of being sold, billed, and supported through multiple direct and indirect sales channels.
  4. Ask if the vendor will white label products for customisation to your own brand, logo and identity.
  5. Seek a partner who can offer exceptional product support and sales training.
  6. Ask the vendor to demonstrate a solid and viable roadmap that can be integrated with your own.
  7. Where possible, seek a vendor who is financially independent and stable with a long-term business strategy – a change of vendor ownership, direction and commitment can have a devastating impact on your business.
  8. Seek a vendor who can offer a suite of products. A modular fully integrated solution makes it easier to increase and enhance the offering over time.
  9. Ensure the vendor can meet your stringent security and testing regimes. Inherent security must be in place for call recording compliance, testing regimes, documentation, release management, DR, customisation and so on.
  10. The vendor needs to offer a fast ‘go-to-market’ solution which does not compromise on quality over scalability.
  11. Select a vendor who offers both APIs and a customer management portal for easy management by resellers.
  12. The vendor should be able to deliver valuable insights and reporting on your customers from product up-take, attach rates, product choice, utilisation through to revenue intelligence.
  13. Always look for a passionate, innovative vendor with service at their heart. Look at vendors with a strong reputation for being good to work with.