The Multichannel Contact Center — The Benefits are Clear

This is a follow-on to my post from February 20, 2009 (The Multichannel Contact Center — Are We There Yet? http://www.inin.com/Blog/archive/2009/02/20/multichannel-contact-center.aspx). In that previous post I explored how real the evolution from the call center to the multichannel contact center has really been. And there I ask the question why it’s taken so long to get this far with multichannel interactions. Let me answer this last question first.
 
I believe the primary reason for the slow-go in multichannel adoption has been the amount of brute force required to change a business culture. The call center was, well…run by people who understood calls. The technical people were…telecomm people. Web chat, email routing…this was new, unfamilar turf. Yet, slowly (in some cases verrrrry slooooooowly) this group examined the benefits of the multichannel contact center and the evolution (not a revolution in this case) began.
 
So what are those key, primary benefits of moving to a multichannel contact center?
 
  • You reach more buyers and customers. Not everyone will find your toll-free number and give you a call. Add to your volume of callers, all the people who will find you over the web or via an email thread and watch the growth.
  • Your agents can handle a larger number of interactions. How many calls can an agent handle at one time? One. How many web chat sessions can an agent handle simultaneously? We’ve seen as many as ten, but best practice would say three to four. Going past five, you’ll see the quality suffer.
  • You reduce agent talk time. Move some of the agent-required calls over to email and chat sessions that can be auto-responded to from information inside your knowledge base and you’ve accomplished the goal of reducing call volume, while still satisfying your customer or prospect.
  • You create "customer democracy." Okay, I didn’t come up with this term. I first heard it from Gartner, but I like it. Essentially, you are letting the customer decide how he or she wants to communicate with you. That’s something they’ll like.
  • You create a competitive advantage for yourself. What? You’re competitors only offer a telephone media type. Or worse, they let email fall into that big black hole, never to be heard from again. Your customers have a choice when contacting you. That is a service advantage you can play up to retain customers and win new business.
  • You reduce costs. When you drive down the cost of each interaction and move customers to eServices as an option, you’ll see your contact center costs go down.

Clear benefits and a culture that is now comfortable with mutlichannel interactions — looks like we’ll see a continued acceleration of adoption. In a future post, I’ll talk about some "best practices" (some of them need to be "mandatory practices") for the multichannel contact center.