Chris Holt, Specialist Customer Engagement Solutions Engineer at RingCentral, discusses what’s needed to become a customer-centric organisation
In an industry-wide change brought on by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, companies in the contact centre space enabled their agents to work from anywhere. Frequently, this is achieved via contact centre as a service (CCaaS) solutions. But enabling hybrid working for agents requires a certain level of support in order to ensure customers continue to receive the level of service they expect – not least when it comes to their communications setup.
“By integrating your contact centre with a unified communications solution, you can just look to improve that agent and back-office experience,” says Chris Holt, Specialist Customer Engagement Solutions Engineer at RingCentral. “From an agent’s perspective, and from the perspective of someone in the back office, being easily able to see each other’s availability makes a big difference. The idea is to bring every function and every facet of the business together and join those dots to reduce the level of effort required to find information or people. With our RingCentral MVP™ platform, and our Cloud Contact Centre, agents are able to call upon an expert in the back office, whilst also handling a customer query through instant messaging, for instance.”
Holt is clear that one of the key elements for maintaining parity between in-office and remote agents is an equivalence of technology and ensuring a consistency of experience. “Your home set up as an agent should be a replica of your office environment, assuming that office environment was already set up properly to allow you to serve your customers and deliver customer experience. What we’re seeing instead is that many businesses are running disparate technologies. When you’re in an office, this is something you can get away with – once you’re working from home or from anywhere, cracks start to appear. We’ve even seen examples of customers switching off channels such as voice because it’s just been too difficult to achieve based on their current setup.”
The key is to consider the agent experience as well as the customer experience, says Holt. “That means sending staff home with the right equipment – be it handsets, headsets, laptops, etcetera. Making sure your CRM is accessible is also vital. Is it cloud-based in itself, or do you have to set up VPNs, for instance?”
Once that hurdle is overcome, businesses are in a much better position to operate in a customer-centric fashion, which is all about reducing customer effort. “You have to meet the customer on their terms. We as customers have a lot of freedom now to interact with businesses however we see fit. But I’ve had the experience where I’ve sent someone tweets and been given a link to a live chat, which can only go so far. So then I’m pushed to an email, and then the email goes to a call. That’s a high level of customer effort. Customers should have the confidence that you understand who they are and what their needs are, as well as the confidence that you can solve those needs.”
It’s a two-way street, however, with an equal focus on agent experience necessary for a high level of service to be maintained. “Agents need to have confidence that, when they’re handling an interaction, they can do everything they need to resolve that customer’s issue,” says Holt. “Often we hear tales of agents going above and beyond. But if we’ve got our setup right, then we don’t necessarily have to go above and beyond because we’re always delivering excellence.”
An example of that philosophy in action came from RingCentral’s work with The Marlowe Theatre in the UK. “They wanted to replace legacy systems and move their contact centre into something that was cloud-based, and they were looking at chat as one of the things that could further personalise that customer experience.” As a theatre, the organisation handled many calls from existing donors. “One of the key bits of feedback they would get was that having already donated money to the theatre, why were they still getting on-hold announcements asking them to do this and that. That’s one of the simple things that cloud-based and integrated platforms can achieve. Knowing that someone’s already donated, you can change their customer experience, acknowledge who they are, and give them different messaging.”
Going forwards, Holt is clear that RingCentral will carry on providing organisations with all they need to integrate CCaaS and UCaaS. So many businesses are still on a journey to bring all their communications across departments into one place, but it’s a vital change that all will need to make eventually for the benefit of their customers and employees. “We’ll continue to do what we do and continue to get better at it as well. Many of our customers have come with us on a unified communications journey so far but potentially haven’t looked at their customer experience as much. We want to help them explore digital channels because, as a business, we’re always asking how we can do better for our customer base.”
Go here to find out more about RingCentral’s CCaaS and UCaaS offerings.