The shift in terminology from call centre to contact centre was a shift many companies could have easily missed. Mushfiq Hopkins of ZaiLab explores how this journey of transformation came about.
What is the difference between call centres and contact centres?
This may seem like old news to some, but in a nutshell, a call centre is focused on incoming and outgoing calls with a large focus on voice.
Call centres have evolved over the last two decades, and many have broadened their efforts to engage with customers by including other communications media, including email, SMS, chat and webchat. Thus, a company that communicates with its customers across more than one medium can be labelled a contact centre.
How does the contact centre of today enhance Customer Experience (CX) as compared to call centres?
When we look at customers today, we realise that their expectations have changed dramatically. When customers interact with their brands of choice, they want customer experiences that are fast, friendly, sincere, informative and on the channel/medium that they prefer, which is a key differentiator in operating a call centre versus a contact centre.
CX has become more about efficiency in the customer service journey. We need to be able to help clients with immediate answers, personalised service and efficiency. There is major room for growth in this area across various industries where service is rendered. Doing just the basics is just not enough for modern customers.
A recent study by enterprise solutions company NICE, entitled Contact Centre 2025, Trends, Opportunities and Strategies, argues in favour of creating an “experience hub” – an entity designed to drive the CX.
The following “must-haves” can enhance customer interactions in the contact centre and create the wow-factor customers are looking for:
- Answer interactions, across any channel, in under five minutes, and calls within 10-15 seconds
- Have accurate records of previous conversations on hand
- Have knowledgeable, trained staff answering queries
- Provide customers with the correct information in a fast and friendly manner
- Focus on the communication channels favoured by your customers
- Enhance your CX journey with new technologies
- Ensure that everyone in the organisation understands that the contact centre is not the only customer touchpoint. Everyone that deals with any customer touchpoint is part of the CX journey
- Take customer feedback seriously and provide timeous feedback
- Enable your contact centre with the correct tools to service customer needs
- A happy staff complement is a productive staff complement. If you show interest in them, listen to their feedback and try out their constructive ideas, they will assume more of an ownership mentality
We always talk about the importance of customer experiences. Why is there suddenly an emphasis on improving CX?
Competition has increased significantly – the days of having one or two brands having the monopoly over a product is something of the past. Whoever is recognised for delivering the best service generally receives the lion’s share of the market share. If you want to remain profitable and remain relevant – improve your CX.
With the advent of so many competitors, it is easy for consumers to swap brands. There’s a reason so many companies pinpoint positive customer engagement as a focus point of marketing campaigns. Customers love to hear positive stories and they will vote with their wallets.
Your thoughts on AI versus human intervention?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made significant strides in the last few years. The advances have been significant and it certainly contributes towards positive customer experiences, but it will not replace humans completely.
AI has its place. So do human agents. It provides a certain level of predictability and will replace certain functions that are mundane in nature, such as transactions and providing general information. But generally, customers don’t want to express their frustrations to a computer with a distinct lack of empathy.
Where will the industry go from here?
The future lies in embracing technology and industry trends to create the experience hub that modern customers are expecting from their favourite brands. This includes creating decentralised teams and even looking at the home agent model to create a super-force of agents whose role is to deliver excellent customer service.
This is why ZaiLab created a cloud-based system that is flexible to different needs. Technology doesn’t need to be complicated. At the end of the day, the customer should always be the focus.