If we could summarize today’s landscape of contact center communications in six words or less, it would be more devices, more channels, more collaboration. We naturally know that we need to meet customers on the channel of their choice at the time of their choosing, but it goes beyond that – the conversations have to be informed with data and agents have to quickly and efficiently engage with the customer. To do that, the tools in the agent’s environment need to function seamlessly.

Your CX strategy begins with an omnichannel strategy

Before diving into apps or suites, let’s address one critical component: If you don’t have an omnichannel strategy, you need one. In a true omnichannel customer service environment, agents are able to handle concurrent interactions with different customers across different channels. The days of handling one interaction, closing it out, and moving onto the next one are dwindling. Giving agents the information they need via the CRM before the interaction occurs is powerful, but it doesn’t stop there. Omnichannel routing and recording enables your organization to not only route calls, chat and social media quickly, it also gives you the ability to wrap rules and analytics around the routing to create better interactions, utilize data in reporting and reviews, and put it into action.

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CTI Integration and the rise of team tools

In addition to Computer-Telephone Interaction (CTI) integrations with CRMs such as Salesforce, Sugar, or Zendesk, team collaboration tools are impacting the center environment and being integrated quickly into the agent interface. Apps such as Glip and Spark improve internal communications and open the collective business knowledge to all agents. Many of these integrations are out of the box, allowing your organization to see immediate ROI and minimized needs for additional developers.

The Evolution of Chat: Advanced chat and co-browsing

The lack of audible clues and instructions that minimized the effectiveness of chat in it’s early days as a “help tool” are becoming a thing of the past. With advanced chat and co-browsing features, customers can receive help from agents in screen, allowing agents to “drive” a session, and receive links, files and even videos from agents through the chat window without ever leaving the web page. Agents can even initiate one-to-one video when words aren’t enough to get the job done. This drastically reduces incoming email and call traffic, improves first contact resolution dramatically, and produces higher conversion rates for forms and enrollments. These tools are evolving quickly and warrant your attention.

Enhance the customer service experience using modern communication tools.

Yes, mobile customer care is definitely “a thing”

Odds are high that your customers are contacting you on a mobile device. Ensure your apps and your contact center can drive the interaction to a satisfying result. There are different tools to do this—In App Escalation is a great example—giving agents the ability to shift from chat to phone within a live interaction. Initiating a call from chat ensures continuity in the interaction and saves aggravation for the customer having to have multiple interactions with one or more agents.

Self-service interactions through traditional IVRs are also evolving—and we are all thankful for that. Companies such as Jacada have invigorated the IVR experience with visual menus for mobile sites. Expanding the capabilities of the IVR visually to a screen is a natural progression in step with how we use our mobile devices.

What Not To Do

Organizations shouldn’t implement new tools in the contact center without actively embracing them and attempting to improve interactions. That may require additional agent training on specific skills and effectively executing the omnichannel strategy. For example, a quick response via social is critical. Social engagement experts Lithium estimate 78% of all consumers who interact with a brand on Twitter expect a response within one hour. People are using media for conversations, not just to consume brands, and being perceived as ignoring customer issues is potentially more disruptive than not being on that channel at all.

It’s an exciting time as both the communications world and the customer experience sectors are converging rapidly, but your organization doesn’t need to forge ahead alone! For a more personalized discussion about how to address your contact center communication needs, reach out to your Carousel representative. You might be surprised at the depth and breadth of options at your disposal.