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  • Tell us about your contact centre systems; are they disparate or seamlessly integrated? 

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    By Seth Millis, Aspect

    By some estimates, 91% of IT staff time is spent on software maintenance. This doesn’t leave very much time for innovation. Over time, systems that (at the time) would never need to communicate, suddenly find themselves reliant upon each other. While originally specialisation and customisation may have driven software architecture, integration is rapidly becoming the primary feature of any system worthwhile.

    Systems designed to communicate effectively with each other seamlessly are easy to use, cut training time, and typically lead your company down the scalability path; but they come at a cost. Disparate systems are highly specialised and are created around the needs of the organization, not the other way around. Often proprietary, these innovative databases help you achieve specific goals that no other company can achieve. Regardless of your choice of system, there are a couple of considerations no matter what architecture you prefer.

    System Upgrades – All systems require scheduled maintenance, costly upgrades, emergency triage, constant training, and a staff with highly specialised knowledge. 

    Third Party Compatibility – Good partnerships require compromise and a little bit of conformity. Connecting with new teams, consultants, and partners efficiently means that eventually, your systems will have to interface with theirs.

    Management – Whether managing a plethora of systems of just a few (nobody manages just one!) You need the right people and the right budget. Keeping multiple systems running requires patience, knowledge, logistics, vision, and a little luck.

    Ultimately, whether using disparate or integrated systems, what really matters is how your data is handled. Your choice of system doesn’t really matter if you can’t perform data exchanges, automation, workflows, while ensuring access and security.

    What systems or services do you have in place to access your data remotely?

    Even before 2020 centres were making the transition from on-premise software to cloud communication systems. The immediate advantages of remote access right now are obvious. But what systems do you have in place to access your data remotely? What services and features are helping your company function as efficiently as possible?

    Cloud Subscription – It’s never been clearer that a system should facilitate a company’s data needs in real time. Unplanned or emergency updates are disruptive and potentially disastrous. But a well-designed system provides your business with greater flexibility and agility, meaning deployments can be completed in a much shorter timeframe, at non-peak hours, and with less staff.

    Streamlined User Experience – Customisation is what makes your agents, team leads, and administrators stand out.  Remote solutions should tailor access experience to display the information employees need at the right time through custom widgets and dashboards, and by focusing on the needs of the business and moving unnecessary features to the background.

    High Availability A highly dependable remote platform is the most important of your business needs. When you need the ability to access data quickly to changing demand, that makes your business tremendously agile and competitive. You simply cannot compromise when it comes to ensuring uptime and functionality.

    Omnichannel Integration – One of the greatest benefits of the cloud is that it facilitates omnichannel service integration. More than ever, channels and data need to be available according to customer preferences. You’ve got to be able to meet your customers where they want. A system must deliver cohesive self-service and agent-assisted data across all channels, including voice, text, social and mobile Web apps. Organisations that provide a consistent and seamless cross-channel experience when customers engage, inquire and request service are poised and prepared to cover all their bases.

    How do you approach disaster and business continuity planning, and how do you ensure that contact centre staff can access the technology they need to maintain critical operations in the event of a disaster or outage?

    Contact centres around the world are on the front-line of servicing their customers and addressing their concerns at this unprecedented time. Organisations are faced with unforeseen challenges and interacting with customers has never been more important. When designing disaster recovery and business continuity plans, it’s also important to consider the impact of lesser events such as power or internet outages.

    The first step of preparing the contact centre for a disaster or outage is to ensure that its technology can be accessed in these circumstances.

    Holding regular training sessions with agents to prepare for an outage helps organizations transition to working remotely more easily. Agents need to be familiar with how to access and download software, connect to an environment or VPNs, and what changes in procedures to expect. Staff should also be aware of any resources to help assist them transition, such as how-to guides and training videos.

    In the event of an outage or disaster, adjustments to escalation rules may be necessary. If there is a surge in demand for front-level supervisors and managers that cannot be accommodated, it may make sense to create a dedicated escalation queue. This will allow management to continue to focus on their core responsibilities when they are needed most.

    The best advice when thinking about an emergency preparedness strategy is to Be Proactive. One of the most effective ways to reduce surge, volume, anxiety, and to minimise mistakes is to anticipate the needs of customers and proactively communicate with them by sending guidance, notifications, or instructions on how to use self-service through their channels of choice.

    It’s also important to remember purpose. During an outage remaining proactive also means that companies should strive to preserve critical contact centre functionality in order to:

    • Maintain customer satisfaction and loyalty
    • Retain at-risk customers and prevent negative customer experiences
    • Support customers when they need it most
    • Maintain revenue sources, which may be even more critical during a disaster
    • Continue accounts receivables / cash collections flow

    Having an end-to-end disaster triage, recovery, and continuity strategy to communicate and implement is critically essential for companies as we continue to navigate collections in 2020 and beyond.

    How important is security to your organisation?

    A solid foundation for a secure, private, and scalable cloud environment is always good systems architecture. This enables shared services to support multiple customers simultaneously across regions and around the world. Your security solution must also centralise control, enabling you to simply and easily manage on-site staff you have, as well as off-site agents at the highest level of security.

    As we’ve seen, the shift to remote work requires additional considerations and planning. In the event of emergencies, temporarily establishing additional security protocols and creating rules about what information can be printed are necessary to keep sensitive information safe. This helps organisations keep sensitive information including customer Personally Identifiable Information (PII) data secure at a time of heightened sensitivity and scrutiny. Organisational security means safeguarding your business, your data, your customers’ data, and your employees.

    Do your policies and procedures reflect this distinction? Blanket policies may offer a general guideline, but as we’ve seen in 2020, very specific and unforeseen circumstances can and will arise. Are your policies and security rules designed accordingly? Do your written policies and procedures match your systems and security rules?

    How does a potential shift to cloud change your expectations regarding your access to your data? How does this impact your future plans regarding management of your data?

    In the last 6 months digitisation and cloud-based access has taken centre stage. The volume of data and immediate need for remote access forced even the most traditional collections call centres to rethink and revamp their strategies.

    While the unexpected and inevitable downtime and latency many businesses experienced forced a temporary reliance on inbound marketing and proactive customer channels; it also forced the rapid deployment of cloud-based data transactions —such as robocalls, SMS, messaging apps, email, social media, and portals. These cloud-managed channels were designed to be minimally invasive and cohesive in messaging—ideal for the unforeseen time/work/life shift that is currently underway.

    Because these strategies require minimal administrative overhead and can be managed in the cloud, data disruptions went largely unnoticed for the businesses who were already tracking the shift. For the companies unprepared or ill equipped to handle this major shift in dynamic, however, the results were catastrophic. Collections call centres and companies that were able to retrieve and maintain data quickly have recently reported major reductions in the number of accounts that require escalation or attention.

    Proactive cloud data management can also be a gateway to improve customer experience. This deeper, more customised experience in turn, can lead to better call centre collection rates by maintaining a consistent message and driving interaction for customers.  Ensuring seamless consistency in messaging and support for high-value customers is the lynchpin of a successful growth strategy.

    When your operations require shifting to the cloud, nothing should be compromised. Aspect has proactive solutions powerful enough to remain versatile and deliver your data when you need it.

    Ready to learn more? Contact us to schedule a demo and talk about your needs.

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