About the Author:
Hi, my name is Rhiannon Fae, and I have worked in the Unified Communications environment (UC) for almost a decade now, be it directly in a software house or indirectly for a managed services provider. I’ve seen the evolvement of call centres into contact centres, and I’ve worked for traditional telecoms organisations that have also evolved to provide the UC solutions needed in today’s workplace. By providing the necessary service management wrap, I have overseen both implementation and ongoing support to customers who care about the service they can offer to their customers.
While it is easy for a solution provider to focus on their customer, the organisation buying the contact centre application, it is also essential for the provider to remember the customer’s customer. The end customer might be a member of the public using local government or utility services or making a retail purchase, or the end customer might be a business who buys your customers products.
The critical thing one has to remember is that as a UC customer you have a call centre application because you have customers of your own. You choose the product to simplify customer contact in your business, and it is in serving your customers you succeed. Your contact centre solution has been selected to make your life easier, both in managing and meeting the end customers’ needs but also in maintaining the contact centre itself. The right tools determined for delivering to the customer and the right metrics and reporting to allow proper contact centre management via analytics.
What many people forget is the contact centre is often the hub of customer satisfaction and in many cases can be the main revenue stream for the business. So when everything is working as it should and you have little need for support from your chosen supplier it may not matter too much what’s written in the support contract you signed when buying the solution.
So what happens when something breaks? Your contact centre is now the hub of the business, and every second it is not fully functional can affect the customer experience with potential lost revenue, damage to business image and overheads when staff cannot work. A minor fault is often liveable with but still needs resolving in a timely fashion, before it becomes a pain that means contact centre staff see the tool as a hindrance to doing their job when it should always be an aid.
So when you are choosing a contact centre application what should you be mindful of when deciding who the provider is? I have detailed below the top 3 things to look for above and beyond the basics when choosing your contact centre solution provider, speaking from my own experience in providing support to those who run business-critical call centres across the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.
1. Understanding Your Business
Is your solution provider genuinely interested in your business? Do they have an understanding of the impact that any downtime in your contact centre may have? A good solution provider should not only be interested in selling you their product but also in how it helps you do business with your end customer. The Service Desk and those in the support section of the provider should be given at least some basic training to understand the impact on your business a priority one ticket would have. Everyone has an urgent situation to resolve, but if you have an outage in an emergency services contact centre, for instance, the speed of resolution could literally be the difference between life and death!
Many things could cause a contact centre outage, and you may have multiple providers supplying all you need to deliver the solution. The contact centre application may be at the heart of your business, but it may only function because of the network, server infrastructure, etc. When there is a significant problem, you need to be confident that all of your service providers will work together to find a resolution and not work in isolation or do what should now be unthinkable and blame the other! A bridge call and a lead Service Delivery Manager from your major supplier to facilitate all parties should help find the restoration or resolution in the fastest time.
3. Always There
You should know you can rely on the solution provider even if they are a third party reached via another provider. They should be accessible, helpful, supportive and happy to give advice as well as resolve any issues. You should feel that your contact centre solution provider is the expert in their field and they are easy to do business with. If your contact centre provider is via another channel you need to be assured the relationship with the channel is strong and a real partnership where the channel is not going to limit your access to the contact centre provider where it is appropriate. A clear escalation path showing open lines of communication is also key for when things do not work as they should, allowing the fastest resolution with all parties working equally to restore your service.