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Huge Growth in Contact Centers to Aid Customer Service, Retention

The need for efficient customer service will spur growth in the global contact center market to $337.8 billion worldwide by 2018, according to a recent report from Global Industry Analysts (GIA).

Behind the growth are new pricing models and technologies available via the cloud that enable the contact centers to provide more robust services at a lower price point than with older technologies, according to the report. Further growth could be realized as more government entities deploy enhanced contact center technologies to service constituents.

Call centers enable companies to provide better, quicker customer service to their constituents, so the growth may even exceed GIA forecasts, according to Ernie Wallerstein, president of Zeacom. “Companies can cut their [support] costs by as much as 70 percent through the contact center.”

More important from a customer engagement standpoint is that the contact center is increasingly the main way that companies interact with customers. Even companies with brick-and-mortar locations don’t have the number of on-site customer service personnel that they once did.

Customer service, and, therefore, customer retention, is enhanced as well if the call center is deployed properly, according to Wallerstein. The solution can’t simply be “a mannequin on the Internet. It has to be able to identify who the customer is and what his value is to their business.”

If a customer has a complaint or an issue (e.g., difficulty assembling or installing a product), the contact center has to be able to quickly respond with the necessary help, sometimes including a live agent, Wallerstein says. “The key is the appropriate routing of calls to provide the customer with a high level of satisfaction.”

Routing incoming help desk calls is important, but so is the routing of communications when a customer places an order, Wallerstein says. “The contact center should be involved right at the end of the transaction window.”

The contact center should be able to communicate via the customer’s preferred channel, be it voice, e-mail, chat or another method, Wallerstein adds.

The contact center, with the customer’s permission, can conduct a quick, five-question survey, using a series of yes/no questions to determine how to further improve customer service, critical in customer retention, Wallerstein says. Rules engines enable the questionaires to be automated, with different questions for customers based on their current interaction with the company. The surveys can also use decision trees to offer different questions at the back end of the survey depending how the customer answered on the front end.

“The surveys enable you to find out quickly how you did so that you can do better the next time,” Wallerstein says.

Despite all of the automated tools available today, companies must also hire and train contact center agents to handle issues beyond the reach of the technology, Wallerstein adds.

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