Outbound Communication: Taking Your Contact Center to the Next Level
Legacy contact center systems may have more impact than you realize in terms of the forms of customer support provided. While you may take today’s multimodal world for granted, it’s not the norm in the contact center, where agents can be challenged to meet customer’s communications expectations. Most contact centers are still telephony-centric, but that’s changing as they migrate to IP-based solutions, and that’s a good thing. What may not be changing, however, is how decision makers think about customer service in addition to new possibilities offered by today’s technologies.
A key characteristic of this mindset is the reactive mode of service, in which agents take customer inquiries as they come in. Given the sunk costs of a telephony-centric system, agents are evaluated on how efficiently they manage calls, and the objective is to make it easy for customers to call in and get help. Not only does this tie up agents to engage with customers in other ways, but legacy systems have limited ability to leverage other communication modes or to automate certain forms of customer service.
Given those constraints, contact center decision makers will have difficulty seeing how other modes of service provide new business value. This is where cloud-based contact center offerings start to make sense, especially for providing outbound communications options. I’ve addressed various facets of CCaaS (contact center as a service) in other posts here, but in terms of taking things to the next level, I want to now focus on outbound communications.
Legacy flavors are generic, impersonal, and aren’t very engaging for customers. With CCaaS, this mode has more intelligence once integrated with CRM, and that enables personalized communication that can be highly relevant and timely for customers. To recognize this new value, here are three ways of thinking differently for decision makers to consider.
1) Outbound is a new mode of meaningful customer engagement.
Legacy contact center thinking is all about inbound inquiries coming over the phone. That doesn’t have to change with CCaaS, but alongside that, compelling outbound use cases become possible. To date, the applications for outbound have been limited by legacy technology, but no more. Now, decision makers can consider the business value of proactive customer service, where various channels—not just telephony—can be used to communicate with customers. Instead of solving customer problems, outbound communications can be used to provide alerts, notifications, special announcements, status updates, etc.
When tied to CRM, these messages can be very customer specific, and this is where they bring new value. Doing so expands the scope of customer service; and when thinking more broadly about understanding the customer journey, this is a low-risk way of driving their satisfaction with your products and your company.
2) Outbound can streamline your business processes.
With CCaaS, you can also start thinking more broadly about business processes that span across your organization. Outbound communications are not meant to exist in a vacuum—the value comes from tying them to business processes. Consider a customer that has an annual renewal coming due. It’s simple enough for CRM to trigger an outbound notification about this, but so much more is possible with CCaaS. First of all, the customer can choose which mode to receive the update: voice, text, email, etc.
Building on that, customers can be prompted to update their profile, their payment method, or any changes in their business relationship with you. They could also be prompted to set up an account review, receive a personalized update on new offerings that might be of interest, or provide feedback on how well you’re meeting their needs. The possibilities are endless, and the point is that these notifications can trigger business processes that might otherwise not take place because these dots aren’t being connected.
3) Outbound can help automate contact center operations.
Some forms of outbound communication are best done by live agents, and in some cases, this is the only way to do them. Compared to what CCaaS can support, this isn’t an efficient model when considering the value of the agent’s time, along with the effort involved to make the calls and move on quickly when getting an answering machine. With today’s outbound notification solutions—especially around advances in speech recognition—this entire process can be automated and managed with a high degree of accuracy.
As with other lines of business, contact centers are under increased pressure to automate processes, and this is a great benefit of using outbound communications. Providing proactive customer service is a big step forward, but so is thinking about leveraging new technology to automate the operation. By breaking away from the legacy model of customer service, these forms of value-add become apparent, and from there, good things will happen. In this case, not only will you automate a laborious task, but that will also free up your agents to communicate more effectively when dealing with inbound customer inquiries.