Last month I penned a blog on the latest Enghouse ‘Interact’ road show, which rolled across ANZ at the beginning of March. As always, we had some great insights from the customers that joined us on the speaking panel in each city, which included Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Auckland and Wellington.
This year Enghouse Interactive’s CTO, Alex Black, also joined us during our panel discussions. Alex provided some very interesting perspectives on current contact centre trends and topics, and as is Alex’s way, they tended to be alternative views to the norm.
One of the main topics and phrases in conversations around the contact centres is Omni-Channel, and the growing importance it will play in the future of contact centre communications. Customers are using more channels than ever before, and they expect the businesses they deal with to be ready to engage them in whichever channel or channels they choose.
With the emergence of Multi-Channel, contact centres needed to adapt to accept the new ways customers were choosing to engage them. While it brought challenges, solutions were adapted and staff trained and put into channel-specific teams.
But the way customers are engaging the contact centre is changing again, with them using several channels and swapping between them in the same conversation. Now we are seeing people raising issues on social media, before firing off an email, demanding somebody call them by phone. We are already starting to see Skype video calls being added to the equation too.
Omni-Channel allows the contact centre to ‘join-the-dots’, so the contact centre staff can more easily switch between the channels to match the customer’s needs. However, there is still a situation where we have trained our support staff to be specialists in one (or two) specific channels, but now expect them to be capable of switching between any and all channels when engaging our customers.
However, Alex flags a single incontrovertible problem that we have to understand. The simple fact is that only about 15% of staff have the skills to work across all the channels in an Omni-Channel environment.
Alex was quick to add that this is no slight on contact centre staff. He points out that we all have our strengths and weaknesses, and highlighted his own as an example.
Previously in Alex’s career he worked for British Aerospace, where his impressive ability with mathematics was invaluable. He was, quite literally, a rocket scientist. However, Alex highlighted that he is awful with the written word. So bad in fact that he has actually been declared semi-literate. So in a contact centre environment, Alex is not the man for emails comms…
And this is the situation all contact centre managers will face with their staff and the Omni-Channel. Most will be great at one channel, but probably not another. One may be great speaker and excellent at verbal comms, but not the greatest writer, and so a no-go for email.
Equally when looking at written communication, tonally email and social media are very different beasts. So again, a staff member might be suitable for one, but not the other.
As Alex mentioned, on average, 15% of contact centre staff have the capability to work on all channels. Contact centre managers need to identify who these people are. They can make up the core of the Omni-Channel team, who are then supported by channel specialist teams, which you will already have in place.
Of course this all leads back to good reporting and knowledge management. You need to have them in place, so your managers will be able to sift through the data and identify who the ‘15 percenters’ are in your business.
You can then make sure you are making the best use of their unique Omni-Channel strengths, which will ensure the best engagement with your customers, no matter the channel they are using.
As well as the ‘15 percenters’ topic, Alex also gave his thoughts on artificial intelligence and how it will affect business as it becomes more and more prevalent within solutions, both in the contact centre and elsewhere.