By: Chris Dellen On: May 15, 2012 In: Contact Center Comments: 0

Guest Post by: Roger Collings, Managing Director of RDC Communications Ltd in the UK and a telecoms consultant specializing in business VoIP.

In today’s business world, customer service is of paramount importance and a number of organizations turn to in-house or third-party contact centers to deliver the same. While the founding principles still apply, there’s no doubt that the contact center industry has transformed in the last decade.

Contact center is critical to an organization’s success because it serves as the primary communication medium for one of the most critical stakeholders – The Customer.  With the global economy in turmoil and organizations evaluating means to cut costs and improve productivity, the contact center industry has taken center stage in the business world. However, establishing and running an effective contact center has its own challenges. Here are the top 7 challenges for the Contact Center industry this year.

1. Infrastructure
Communication technology has improved by leaps and bounds in the last decade. However, a number of contact centers continue to use legacy infrastructure thereby resulting in poor call quality and a below par customer experience. While some organizations are constrained by infrastructure upgrade costs, others simply lack the know-how regarding modern contact center infrastructure or they find the recent technology advancements overwhelming to adapt.

2. Cloud
While most organizations opted for hosted contact center solutions in the past, the rapid proliferation of cloud computing has triggered an explosive growth in the cloud-based contact center solution segment. Though cloud-based contact center solutions have matured over a period of time; security, scalability and interoperability continue to be key operational challenges for this segment.

3. Integration
As technology improves, the choices available for integration grow. Whether it’s predictive dialers, IVR systems, accounting systems, workflow tools or CRM systems, integrating with third-party solutions can often be a challenging task in establishing a contact center. Further, it adds a new learning curve for contact center agents, thereby adding up to the operational costs.

4. Performance
The sole objective of establishing and running a contact center is to cut costs and improve an organization’s communication. The overall performance of a contact center depends on a number of factors including the human aspect (agents) as well as the technology (dialer, routing, queues). Given the number of variables involved, there’s a strong need for advanced reporting, analytics and business intelligence solutions to track the overall performance of a contact center.

5. Social Media
Whether it’s using Facebook to answer customer queries or leveraging Google Hangouts to do video chats in order to troubleshoot customer issues, social media is an indispensable component of any organization’s customer service strategy. A number of modern day contact centers offer advanced social media routing as well as related features such as social media monitoring and sentiment analysis. However, given the dynamic nature of social media world, it’s a challenge for organizations to quickly adapt to these changes.

6. Hiring
From the contact industry perspective, finding people with the right skills has always been a challenge and this year is expected to be no different. Moreover, given the wide array of tools and technologies used in modern day contact centers, it can be a daunting task to find agents with the required expertise.

7. Application Development
Modern day contact centers are no longer COTS (Commercial off the Shelf) solutions. An organization no longer invests in a contact center simply to leverage it for a few years as a communication medium and later discard it once obsolete. Instead, organizations these days tend to invest in building/ procuring apps to derive additional value from their contact centers. While such application development boosts the overall value offering of a contact center, developing such solutions involves technical complexity as well as human (skill) challenges.