End of the Contact Center

Prediction by 2016,

Social Media will bring an end to the call center as we know it today.

The social customer is entering the array of networks available at lightening speed. Companies are beginning to rethink what a social enterprise may look like. Once the confusion settles we will see that employees across the enterprise will be interacting with customers, all servicing their needs. Social media will topple the pillars of many organizations, forcing them to change their structures to meet this new customer.

Social Enterprise, meet Social Customer

The purpose contact centers serve is coming to an end. It is time to rethink the concept of contact centers. In times where knowledge is spread across the corporation and where customers are expecting, demanding prompt answers to their questions, the time to break down the silos has come.

“Bringing down silos is already happening across firms. The contact center is another one of these structures”

A contact center has been a great place for firms to direct their customer support tasks to. They have all the smart tools needed to manage this from work distribution to analytics, work processes in place which make for a regulated experience.

There are two problems most customer service organizations face.

1) They are poorly integrated into the enterprise

The contact center is one of the touch points for a customer, at times the only one with a person. Contact centers sit on huge amounts of customer data; their likes, dislikes, suggestions, histories and more. This usually never makes it down or upstream to be of use to sales/marketing or product development often just out-tasked and forgotten. Being separated from the rest of the organization they usually learn late about changes in products, policies and services the company is offering. It doesn’t have to be that way.

2) Many items of work arriving in the center cannot be handled there

An uncoordinated, unmanaged, fevered attempt to locate the right department or person across the landscape begins. Processes are often poorly designed. Work taken out of the contact center is usually unregulated, unmeasured. Who knows where it is. Additionally, there is much work which arrives directly into those other pockets of the company. Again that is not seen or captured.

“So, if everyone in a company is a knowledge worker, handling their own portion of the puzzle, isn’t then everyone potentially a customer service rep?”

Enter Social Media

Companies are beginning to develop social media strategies which include interacting with customers on a variety of platforms. It is a logical step to want to include those tasks of monitoring, replying and managing the social streams in the contact center. They have the people and tools to easily, quickly make this happen. But extending these capabilities across the enterprise using business driven rules is actually almost as easy as bringing social media into the call center.

What will this mean to those who are willing to takes down those walls, extending the servicing of customers across the enterprise, turning the organization into a single customer serving engine? I believe these companies will be the drivers in the future. They will unleash potentials they had not known and their customers will remain more loyal, resist the hoping on and off we see so often today.

I hope you have another opinion! Let me hear it.
Andrew

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2 Responses to End of the Contact Center

  1. Marian February 26, 2011 at 18:31 #

    Andrew,

    I like the article! I believe too it will happen. There is no need to provide real time voice based services. The internet is faster and faster and people are more and more networked. So at the end the customer service will be nearly real time, but individualized and customized to the specific needs of a single customer! The services will be documented inside and through social networks.

    Marian

    • Andrew February 26, 2011 at 19:29 #

      Thanks for your comment Marian. And you bring in a good point about the need to personalize the services to the customer. The social networks will have so much context which could be applied as well.
      Thx Andrew

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