The changing face of the Contact Centre

Contact Centres have been in our life now for many years and have, for the most part, grown with the evolution of telephony and web-based technology.

20 October 2017

Throughout this process, people’s expectations of how they connect with these service centres have changed. Pre-telephone, most people either wrote a letter or turned up to a company assistance desk to solve their problems or enquiries. The phone was a step forward in communication terms, but also perpetuated a level of frustration while you waited in a long queue for your call to be answered.

Then came the technology flood; computers, mobile phones and then the internet, giving everybody access to a wealth of information and knowledge never seen before. The stratospheric growth in social media, e-commerce and smartphones instilled a culture of “everything now”; these days, people expect everything to be instantly at their fingertips, and have thus changed their expectations of how they are serviced by Contact Centres in general.

So where are we now? Today, 1.5 billion consumers have Apple and Android devices. Their new capabilities, like Apple Continuity and Google Now (which preserve context and blend experiences across devices and channels) dramatically raise the proverbial bar for digital customer experience.


When interacting with businesses, consumers now expect the same types of experiences their smart devices and apps deliver to be available when interacting with a Contact Centre. “Omnichannel” has been widely heralded by every vendor as the ultimate panacea for broken customer journeys. It makes perfect sense that customers should be able to start their journey in one channel on one device and continue seamlessly in others. A customer’s experience should be continuous, with context maintained regardless of touchpoint.

To make Omnichannel work in an Enterprise, the Contact Centre needs to consist of the right cross-departmental and cross-functional teams from Customer Care, IT, Marketing and possibly even third-party services. Contact Centre designers and managers must deal with the complexities of changing business processes, integrating the disparate back-end systems, and consolidating infrastructure requirements without any interruption to service. Omnichannel can be difficult to get right because customer journeys can straddle many different channels and devices. 90% of customers use three channels to resolve an issue or conduct a transaction in customer service – voice, email and web chat/social media – and tracking of the customer across these channels has not been common in the industry until now.

Typically, the customer journey begins with a website; indeed, 93% of customers now go to the internet first and 64% of consumers begin their Customer Service journeys online. Most Enterprises already know this but not enough has been done to optimise websites across devices, where dynamic data and intent-driven content make it easier for customers to find the right information, discover transactional capabilities, and have a better overall experience.

Virtual Agents

To complement an Omnichannel strategy the use of Virtual Agents has grown, enabling customers to interact with a “virtual person” or BOT to get information and assistance. There can be very strong gains in reducing web chat and call volume – upwards of 40%. This is very much a reactive form of assistance relying on the customer to drive the requirements and the agent responding to specific question or phrases. The opportunity for Enterprises to deploy proactive chat based on predicting the customer’s intent is growing – offering chat at the right moment (related to the device and journey) when a customer needs assistance, cleverly using business rules to trigger chat invites.

Over 85% of customers that can’t accomplish what they need on a website will cross channels to phone, mobile app, web chat, social media or email, with 70% seeking live agent assistance. Even when websites are optimised there will be a slew of customers that will cross channels and devices in a single journey for a variety of different reasons, including wanting to talk or chat with a live agent, using different devices, time constraints…or simply personal preference.

How can GCI help?

GCI have Contact Centre Solutions which enable clients to take advantage of a Cloud deployment model which is economically palatable. Flexible options enable clients to test Omnichannel capabilities without the significant capital outlay required for the technology, integration and professional services are provided to get it rolled out successfully. We provide straightforward ways to deploy Omnichannel experiences, which can include Visual IVR, website-to-phone, and virtual agent-to-web chat. We will assist you in identifying and evaluate which of your customer journeys can be optimized as a blue print for future expansion.

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