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Call Center Software and the Multi-Channel Contact Center

Today’s Customers Demand Multi-Channel Support
The traditional call center – one in which customers and service agents conduct their interactions solely over the phone – is quickly becoming extinct. Customers are not only demanding better, more responsive service, they are insisting that it be delivered through alternate, more convenient, and more readily available channels.

Today, the multi-channel contact center is rapidly gaining prominence. Representatives are addressing customer issues, not just by phone, but by email, fax, instant messaging, and more. And call center software vendors are designing and delivering the kinds of tools and technologies that will enable effective service delivery – regardless of the mode of communication.

How are today’s multi-channel contact centers conducting business with their customers? And what kinds of call center software solutions are available to support these types of interactions?

Customer Self-Service
Some of today’s busiest contact centers conduct millions of transactions each week. But, even in smaller organizations, whether customers reach out via phone, fax, email, or other channel, agents must be readily available to answer their questions and solve their problems. But, routine inquiries often take up precious agent time, delaying the availability of representatives to address more complex issues. As a result, clients wait on hold. And for each minute they do, their loyalty decreases and their potential for churn rises.

There are many call center software applications on the market that allow clients to “help themselves” to various types of routine information, such as order status, account balance, and simple troubleshooting. For example, interactive voice response (IVR) systems allow callers to access data from a database by using a touch-tone phone or voice recognition to submit their request. Information is then pulled from the back-end system, and repeated to the caller using pre-recorded message blocks, or text-to-speech technologies.

Web-based self-service is another type of popular call center software. These applications give customers the ability to retrieve the same type of information as with IVR systems, only they can do so via the Web (instead of by phone).

A customer has a problem, but since it isn’t particularly urgent, they don’t feel like waiting on hold to speak to an agent.

In many multi-channel contact center environments, those clients can send an email instead, which will then be sent to and handled by one of its agents. Many call center software solutions include advanced email capabilities that enable fast and efficient service delivery via this channel. Service requests that come in via email

can be dynamically routed, and in many cases, a knowledge base can be used to send answers directly back to the requestor – without agent intervention. Additionally, the status of open issues can be continuously tracked, much in the same way that phone interactions can be monitored.

Chat-type applications are quickly making their way into the multi-channel contact center. Many call center software applications allow customers to interact directly with agents in a fashion similar to IM.This is particularly convenient for customers who do not have access to a phone, but can use a Web-enabled handheld device, like a Palm Pilot or a Blackberry, to obtain the assistance they need, whenever they need it.