The last twelve months have seen a major acceleration in the use of collaboration and communication tools across businesses thanks to the pandemic and the rise of home working. These tools enable employees to work together seamlessly and access the information they need to do their jobs, wherever they are based.
At a time of increased focus on customer service, collaboration tools have delivered enormous benefits for the contact centre. Using these solutions, employees and agents are able to communicate internally within the contact centre, collaborate with the wider business and directly interact with customers across a variety of channels. As we move out of lockdowns and into a more hybrid way of working, they have the potential to help drive greater efficiency and improved service.
To find out how and why businesses and their contact centres are using these tools, and the benefits they are achieving, ContactBabel surveyed over 100 organisations earlier in 2021. The resulting report, Supporting Contact Centre Remote Working with Team Collaboration Tools, sponsored by Enghouse Interactive, highlighted 5 key trends:
98% of businesses are now using some sort of tool for collaboration or communication. Microsoft Teams is the most popular, being used by 91% of businesses, well ahead of standalone video applications. Over half (57%) of respondents used more than one tool, showing the choice of solutions in the market.
Importantly, applications are not just for internal communication – with 53% also integrating Teams with their contact centre environment for customer-facing contact through its voice, chat, video, and messaging capabilities. Essentially, it provides a single hub to power both internal and external interactions, driving major benefits for the business and customers alike.
Businesses saw a wide range of positives from deploying collaboration tools, with the ability to enable greater communication with individuals and the entire team topping the list. 52% of respondents said that making it easy to communicate one-to-one with particular colleagues was a strongly positive benefit, with a further 43% seeing it as a positive strength. Tools essentially enable managers to provide coaching and support to agents, especially if they were working remotely, rather than within the contact centre.
Using tools to communicate with the wider team was also highlighted as a key benefit, with 37% seeing it as a strong positive and 60% as a positive benefit. Uses included holding team and company-wide meetings, thus keeping everyone informed and in the loop. Respondents were additionally very positive about the impact tools had on knowledge/file sharing and employee well-being.
Given its popularity, the research drilled down into the experiences of organisations that had integrated Microsoft Teams within their contact centre infrastructure. The key drivers for undertaking this integration were both internal and external. 89% highlighted communication and collaboration within the customer contact team as important/very important, with 76% focused on driving improved customer experience.
60% of respondents also saw Teams as important or very important to improving productivity and reducing handling times, through better access to information, automation and greater reliability.
Finally, businesses feel it delivers a definite impact on cost and efficiency. 56% said reducing the cost of managing technology was an important/very important key driver and 42% saw it as part of cutting office costs.
When asked which capabilities they used most when serving customers virtually all (97%) said they used it to enable collaboration during customer conversations. This includes being able to speak to a supervisor in real-time to provide support to agents and therefore ensure the highest possible service levels. 84% use it to communicate directly with customers through telephony and video.
Nearly 9 in 10 (87%) use the ability to collaborate across the organisation, such as bringing in back office subject experts or other team members, allowing them to deliver faster, more comprehensive resolution. This is helped by the in-built presence indicators within Teams (cited by 77% of respondents as a key capability) which let agents know if someone is available to help them. That means there is no need to put customers on hold, arrange call backs or force them to join another queue.
Lockdowns led to the overnight acceleration of home/remote working. And while restrictions are beginning to ease, the majority of contact centres are looking at a hybrid model moving forward.
Businesses understand that collaboration tools make this new model much easier – two-thirds (66%) say they are important or very important to enabling long-term remote working. This is especially true of Microsoft Teams – 83% agree/strongly agree that it underpins more seamless remote and hybrid working. The overall experience is extremely positive – 65% of respondents said that Teams delivered an improved, more efficient experience both for employees and customers, while 59% said it helped integrate the contact centre (wherever agents were based) with the wider business.
The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of collaboration and communication tools (especially Microsoft Teams) within the contact centre and enabled businesses to better manage the transformation in their working models and meet rapidly changing customer needs. As the ContactBabel report shows, businesses are very positive about the short and long term benefits of these tools – both internally and with customers, and are using them to underpin future hybrid working.
Find out more by downloading the full report, Supporting Contact Centre Remote Working with Team Collaboration Tools here.