The Real-Time Contact Center
What Is a Real-Time Contact Center?
Practically speaking, all contact centers that handle live inquiries from customers, partners, investors, or prospects are real-time organizations and always have been. However, a real-time contact center is designed to take advantage of every customer-initiated transaction in real time or near-real time, either when the customer is on the line or immediately thereafter, within time frames established by the customer, to ensure a great experience and complete satisfaction. It's a service and sales environment where, after the initial customer inquiry or sales request has been addressed, the agent or self-service system uses the information provided by the customer, in real time, to extend the relationship. This means that the contact center must hire and train agents who are as comfortable with selling as they are at servicing. It must have real-time systems that are able to spot and assess a customer opportunity while the customer is still on the line and supply the agent with one or more new revenue, retention, or loyalty-enhancing opportunities to present to the customer. The contact center must also be able to capture, track, analyze, and take action on competitive, operational, and policy issues identified during the customer interaction. Further, the contact center must have a method for sharing relevant aspects of this transaction with sales, marketing, operations, the executive suite, and the corporate data warehouse so that the results can be analyzed and acted upon.
How the Real-Time Contact Center Impacts the Corporation
Contact centers have always been real-time organizations. The difference now is that companies around the world recognize the significance and benefit of doing business in real time. Real-time transactions have the potential to reduce expenses, time delays, and redundant activities while increasing profits and enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty. Since contact centers are already doing business in real time, unlike many other business units that would require retooling to do so, they are positioned to deliver some of these benefits immediately. Nevertheless, contact centers need new processes, staff, training, and systems to be positioned to optimize each and every customer contact.
From Call Router to Service Provider: The Expanding Role of the Real-Time Contact
Contact centers have matured rapidly, moving from primitive hardware-based call routers to sophisticated software-driven solution providers that add value to every customer transaction. Changes in process and people have accompanied each stage of the contact center's technological development.
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This was first published in March 2007