In the business world, success often depends on having a competitive advantage over your rivals. Maybe your business is successful because you have the most innovative products and services, or perhaps your competitive advantage comes from low operational costs.
These days, delivering consistently exceptional customer experience (CX) can be a competitive advantage. Consumer benchmark research revealed that organizations that crack the CX code can expect to reap significant benefits. In fact, an overwhelming majority of people will buy more products from companies that deliver great customer service experiences.
Many factors go into establishing and maintaining competitive advantages. Having the best contact center software is one of them. If a contact center is to be a meaningful contributor to its organization's competitive advantage, it needs to be modernized with technology that supports automation, omnichannel experiences, effective labor management, and a culture of continuous performance improvement. This means it needs to have the best contact center software.
The best contact center software has features that allow businesses to be agile and efficient while delivering service that meets customer expectations. This is accomplished with the following capabilities and characteristics:
The best contact center software supports customer expectations for omnichannel experiences. This means allowing consumers to move seamlessly across channels within the same interaction, for example switching from a chat session to a phone call without needing to repeat the issue. Our consumer benchmark research revealed that 93% of people expect businesses to provide omnichannel experiences. This means:
- The ACD needs to be capable of omnichannel routing.
- Workforce management software needs to forecast volume for all channels and create schedules for multi-skilled agents.
- Agents need a unified desktop with a consolidated inbox.
- Reports need to include data about all channels for a holistic view of performance.
When software is "in the cloud," it essentially means it's hosted by a vendor in a software as a service (SaaS) arrangement. This means the best contact center software is more flexible and scalable than applications that are hosted on premises. For example, if a contact center has a huge seasonal volume peak, they don't need to worry about the servers reaching capacity because the cloud allows them to auto-scale up and down as needed. Additionally, a cloud model typically means adding new software modules or new digital support channels is simple and doesn’t require downloading and installing new versions of software.
Leverages artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) has already transformed contact center software, and it's just getting started. Interactive voice response (IVR) uses natural language processing (a form of AI) to allow callers to use their voice to interact with the system. Workforce management software can use AI to select the appropriate algorithm to use for forecasting, resulting in better accuracy. AI-infused analytics can comb through 100% of interactions to identify things like contact drivers and potential compliance issues. And AI-powered chatbots interact with customers to enable self-service. The best contact center software embraces artificial intelligence, which adds efficiency and accuracy to the customer service operation.
Open platform (CPaaS)
A common complaint about SaaS models is that the software can't be customized, meaning users are limited to out of the box functionality. However, the best contact center software is built on an open platform that allows for easier customizations. Open platforms also make integrations simpler, providing the contact center software with additional capabilities. For example, integrating with customer relationship management (CRM) applications allows agents to have quick access to customer context and contact details can be logged automatically in the CRM system. Easier customizations and integrations mean that organizations can hone the software to be the tool they need to support their competitive advantage.
Agents are both a contact center’s most valuable and most costly asset. Agents need to be supported, developed, and engaged and their utilization needs to be tightly managed. The workforce engagement management (WEM) capabilities found in the best contact center software can do all of this and more. These tools perform the traditional functions of forecasting, scheduling, and intraday management. Additionally, they engage agents with performance and quality management functionality that brings visibility to individual results, engages agents in dialog about performance, and motivates agents to continuously improve. The outcome should be high performing and committed agents who are ready and willing to help the business execute its strategy.
All the features and capabilities that make contact center software "the best" can be leveraged to assist a business with executing their competitive strategy. No matter what the specific competitive advantage is, a well-tooled contact center can play a significant role in supporting it. Improved customer and agent experience, better cost control, access for remote workforces, improved information and data, and increased sales are all areas that are influenced by your Contact Center software.