What is a digital contact center?

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Quality of customer service may be the one thing that determines whether someone uses your company or turns to a competitor. It’s surprising how many businesses fail to recognize this, but those who do are increasingly turning to technology to help them offer a positive customer experience (CX).

Today’s tech-savvy customers expect queries to be answered and resolved quickly, using the channels most convenient to them. Digital solutions make this possible, but the technology is developing at pace and it can feel a little overwhelming.

We’ll dive into the latest advances in contact center innovation, and show you how cloud-based providers (like RingCentral) offer a digital transformation strategy to modernize your business.

What’s the difference between a contact center and a call center?

A call center was the traditional way to connect with customers in the days before we carried the internet around in our pockets. Call centers only deal with voice calls, whereas contact centers use a range of technologies.

Call centers may be digitized these days, often using internet phones and some level of automation—such as recorded messages and menus (“press two for accounts”)--but they are still restricted to telephony.

Many customers now prefer digital experiences to interact with an organization. They might not pick up the phone and dial your number, but they will fire off an email or take part in a web chat. Multiple channels of communication enable contact centers to offer a higher level of customer support.

Customer using live chat to ask questions

What is a digital contact center?

A digital contact center is exactly what it sounds like­—a customer contact center that’s undergone a digital transformation to offer customers a seamless communication experience. Digital contact centers are also known as cloud-based centers because their services are hosted remotely in the cloud rather than via on-premises hardware.

Cloud-based solutions like RingCentral Engage Digital offer a whole suite of tools and applications to help businesses connect with customers across digital channels. They enable a high level of automation, which streamlines processes, boosts agent productivity, and reduces costs.

A contact center with full digital functionality integrates channels such as social media, SMS, and chatbots—as well as tech including artificial intelligence (AI), natural language processing (NLP), and the Internet of Things (IoT). This helps agents to follow a customer journey across multiple channels.

Going digital helps a contact center to be more proactive. Instead of just reacting to customer issues, cloud computing leverages analytics to predict common problems, provide personalized support, and significantly improve customer experiences.

What are the benefits of a digital contact center?

In an era when pretty much everything is becoming digitized or “smart”, implementing a digital contact center is a logical next step. Among the many benefits, it’s ideal for:

  • Enhancing customer experience
  • Maximizing efficiency
  • Boosting agent morale
  • Reducing costs
  • Increasing scalability
  • Improving security.

To offer the best customer experience, you need to provide omnichannel customer service. Digital transformation makes this possible because the best software integrates all channels into one app, so agents don’t need to toggle between digital technologies.

Data from these channels is also stored in one place, giving you access to metrics and customer insights in order to offer personalized experiences. Data analytics are a big part of the process, and we’ll learn more about that later.

Digital technology improves productivity in many ways, with streamlining and process automation making the whole system more efficient. Even setting up a cloud-based contact center only requires a few clicks, as the heavy lifting is done by the service provider.

Predictive dialers make it faster for agents to call people back, while skills-based call routing diverts any query to the agent most qualified to handle it—making it more likely that the issue will be resolved first time. Call deflection reduces queues, which helps your business meet customer expectations.

As well as the CX transformation, going digital also improves employee experiences. Because automation eliminates tedious tasks and reduces call volume, the contact center environment is less stressful. Happy agents will perform better and be more productive—and with full training, they will develop new skills.

Another benefit of digital contact centers is that they don’t require a lot of physical space and hardware, as everything’s based in the cloud. Agents can work from anywhere, with full access to all the tools they require, allowing you to run a truly global contact center. And thanks to automated responses, it’s not necessary to have human agents on duty 24/7.

Digital systems are easily scalable, too. With a cloud solution like RingCentral Contact Center, you can add or reduce the number of agents whenever you need to—without having to buy additional software licenses, servers, or storage.

As well as helping you save money on premises and personnel, the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model means your company acts as a subscriber and only pays for what it uses. You also have the opportunity to try out new tools and functions before making a full commitment.

Although some people are wary of trusting customers’ personal details to a remote system, cloud-hosted solutions are actually super-secure. Industry-leading companies like RingCentral offer maximum reliability, with experts controlling the system and performing regular upgrades.

Digital contact center agent recording the call with a customer

How does a digital contact center work?

Now let’s look at some of the key functions of a digital contact center, and how they work.

Automation

Automation is a major part of your contact center digital transformation, and helps to simplify basic and complex processes. One of the most common automations is IVR (Interactive Voice Response), a self-service system that uses speech analytics to recognize common queries and provide an automated response.

Chatbots work in much the same way, by recognizing keywords and automatically sending relevant answers and information. Either way, this form of automation saves time and improves productivity by freeing up agents for more complex customer interactions.

When a customer does need to discuss the issue with an agent, automated resolution protocols can also increase customer satisfaction by solving the problem first-time. Digital technology prioritizes inbound queries and routes them to the most suitable agent.

Rapid, personalized service is made easier if agents have access to a knowledge base, encompassing commonly-experienced problems and product details—plus information about previous purchases, billing history, and preferences.

Automation also means that responses can be sent out at any time and from anywhere. Even if it’s just a message to say the query’s been received and the waiting time is X minutes, the customer feels like they haven’t been forgotten.

Analytics

Customer analytics is another key component in contact center transformations, and one made easier thanks to digital technology. As well as helping you measure the success of your customer care, analyzing readily-accessible customer data gives you insights into preferences and behaviors.

This knowledge management enables contact centers to match a particular agent to a customer, based on that agent’s specific skills, increasing the likelihood of first-call resolution. Contact centers can also use analytics to work out why a call was made, based on customer personas.

When these behaviors are analyzed, contact centers can be proactive in choosing the optimum channel for communication. They may even be able to predict who is likely to experience an issue in future, and prevent customers having to call in the first place.

RingCentral’s contact center software includes real-time analytics to give you an instant insight into both customer experience and agent performance. In the future, too, analytics to aid contact center agents in delivering top-class CX could go one step further. 

If your products contain Internet of Things (IoT) technology, for instance, you can harvest data from them and gain a better understanding of the way they are used. For example, a utilities provider could gather data from smart metering and use it to spot potentially dangerous anomalies. Contact center agents could then reach out proactively to customers to provide timely assistance.

Customer engagement

Customer engagement means the customer feels a connection to your company, and engaged customers are the ones who spend money, remain loyal, and share their experiences with others.

We’ve already talked about analyzing customer data, but it’s also worth asking for personal feedback. For example, RingCentral offers surveys to make customers feel their opinion really matters.

Apart from complaint-handling and technical support, digital contact centers’ operations include plenty of other avenues for engaging customers. A customer may call to discuss billing, or a contact center agent may initiate a custom call to offer a loyalty reward.

Omnichannel communication means you can get in touch to offer marketing promotions, which may be better received asynchronously than with an out-of-the-blue phone call. And customers appreciate visibility of the supply chain, such as tracking a parcel or a service upgrade.

Using multiple channels and analyzing preferences also brings more opportunities for personalization, which is crucial to customer engagement. Even in the digitized customer experience, the “human” touch has never been more important—even if it’s a bot that’s sending the custom messages!

Agents from the Finance Team having a video call using RingCentral to discuss customer concerns

What do I need from a digital contact center?

  1. Fast communication
  2. Productivity tools
  3. Robust analytics
  4. Seamless integrations
  5. Reliability and security

For your contact center to perform well in the digital business era, you’re going to need a robust yet flexible infrastructure for fast responses across all touchpoints. So, when you make the decision to go digital, it’s worth doing things properly.

Some companies attempt to create a digital system by retrofitting a traditional call center—but if you do this, it’s more difficult to add new channels, much less integrate them seamlessly. You’ll end up with unhappy agents using clunky technology and failing to communicate effectively.

Basically, a digital customer contact center should be completely based in the cloud, with the services delivered by an expert provider who can take you from basic automation to complete contact center transformation.

Platforms such as RingCentral Contact Center have all the tools your team requires to build great customer relationships. Digital contact center software should empower you to offer excellent service from anywhere, anytime, on any channel.

You’ll need skills-based and AI routing, and a knowledge base of customer information, to enable agents to resolve issues quickly. RingCentral also features call deflection to reduce waiting, plus an automated IVR system and resource center for DIY solutions.

There’s a suite of workforce management tools, so contact center managers can optimize agent schedules and track progress with voice and screen recordings and supervisory tools. RingCentral software also includes gamification tools, plus in-house collaboration with RingCentral Office.

A comprehensive data management system is the best way to determine whether your system is working effectively, and RingCentral’s intuitive dashboard makes analytics simple with reports, visualizations, and customer surveys.

It also integrates with other business apps, including customer relationship management (CRM) software, and lets you add messaging within your own mobile app. You can carry out digital marketing and sales communications with RingCentral Engage.

We’ve already discussed the top-notch security of cloud-hosted solutions, and RingCentral is no exception—providing powerful encryption, enterprise-class data centers, disaster recovery, and guaranteed 99.99% uptime. Knowing your data is secure will improve your investor relations as well as customer success.

Should I digitize my contact center?

It’s up to you, of course, but we think it’s a definite yes! Customers are more and more confident with new technology, so turn that to your advantage and use the latest innovations to improve your customer service.

Get your team together and come up with a digital strategy that will make life easier for customers and employees alike, and then choose a cloud provider (such as RingCentral) to help you deliver it. Once your contact center has been digitally transformed, you’ll speed up communication, improve productivity, and increase customer loyalty.

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