I’ve been working in the contact center industry for about 20 years, and lately have been feeling pretty much like a dinosaur. Geez, I’ve been around for so long! I wasn’t even born when Rockwell first developed the ACD (Automatic Call Distributor) in 1973 to allow Continental Airlines to run a telephone booking system. But wait… there are claims that the earliest call center was at the Birmingham Press and Mail, UK, in 1965.
Who´s the winner?
Well, it does’t really matter, the whole point I wanted to make is that even though call centers have been around for so long, they’ve also been able to face the changes, evolve and meet the needs of the dynamic customer service industry.
The evolution of technology and customer needs brought along an evolution in the name from call center, to contact center, and now customer engagement center.
What is a call center?
Call centers handle inbound calls, outbound calls, and use the phone as the main communication channel between a company and its customers. Calls are operated by agents that talk to customers calling in for questions related to customer service, campaigns, and other issues about the products and services of a company.
Moreover, agents also call out to prospects and customers to sell products and services. Call centers do not need a lot of technologies to do their job. Most part of times an ACD system and an IVR system are enough to meet the needs.
Technological developments demanded that call centers adapt. The emergence of new communication channels, and their adoption by customers, pushed the traditional call center to change and adapt to address those channels and needs, that’s when we witnessed the shift from call centers to contact centers.
What is a contact center?
Technological advancements gave customers additional communication channels and the call center had to adapt to this new reality.
People started using email, SMS, chat, and others; so rise contact centers that add these new channels to the telephone interactions to support the variety of media that customers used to reach out to the companies they do business with.
Even though contact centers are often integrated with the company’s CRM systems, often they lack unification; that is, customer information is scattered all over the different departments, and there is not a single, unified view of each customer.
Hence the contact center had to adapt to emerging changes again. It was crucial to break company silos and have a unified view of each customer across all touchpoints.
What is a customer engagement center?
All businesses know that customer is the king, or queen! And modern customers are more tech savvy than ever. They know what they want, they want it immediately, they want to feel special and unique.
Being able to pull this out successfully is without any question the best competition differentiator. A customer engagement center is a seamless system for multichannel customer service and customer support.
It engages with customers, in a proactive and reactive way, to answer their questions, solve their problems, give advice, and offer relevant products and services. In short, it builds trustworthy and loyal customer relationships.
Gather all information from each customer, regardless of point of contact or department of the company the customer has interacted with. Present all this information, along with the historical record of the customer to the customer engagement center agents, in a simple and easy way to guarantee that customers have an omnichannel customer journey.
Does your business need a call center, or contact center, or customer engagement center?
It depends on the complexity. What does your business do? Does it communicate with customers by phone only, do you need to integrate other channels, such as email, or do you need to integrate several channels with external applications, such as a CRM? Make sure that you start with the solution that is right to your business, but that is also able to grow with your business in a seamless way.
Most part of companies, regardless of size, across many industries, focus on the call center, contact center, or customer engagement center to help manage the relationship with their best asset: their customers!
Customer engagement centers are a long way from the traditional call centers that operated telemarketing campaigns and did random cold calling. They are flexible, scalable, and cater to all business, from retail, to government services, finance and insurance, among others, joining all departments. Above all, they are crucial to offer the best customer experience.
Altitude Software has over 27 years’ experience and has evolved to meet the technological challenges and customer needs. Altitude Xperience, our contact center solution on the cloud, is a modular suite built from the ground up to successfully manage the relationships between companies, regardless of size and type, and it´s customers!
It doesn’t matter whether your business needs require the simplicity of a call center or the complexity of a customer engagement center.
Do your want to improve the relationship with your own customers?