Technology is revolutionizing communication as we know it. Technology is a double-edged sword: it can be disruptive or make life easier. From a consumer’s perspective, unsolicited sales calls are disruptive; conversely, improved customers service makes life easier.
Call Centers, Facebook, and Twitter provide three quick examples of how technology is making changes in how we communicate.
300% More Productive Call Centers
Today, contact center software can increase call center agent productivity by an astonishing 300%.
It performs this astonishing feat by providing:
- · Intelligent routing of inbound calls to the best agents for the job.
- · Multiple dialing modes to control a call center’s dialing rates.
- · Workforce Management (WFM) and CRM integration with top CRMs like Salesforce, Oracle, Zendesk, and so on.
- · Customizable reports gathering statistics to ensure agents are staying true to best practices.
- · Omnichannel solutions that allow agents to talk to customers making an inbound call from mobile, chat, email, social media, mobile, video, or the web
The Facebook Messenger Bot
Just when we thought that Facebook was the medium for connecting with family, friends, and businesses about diverse things, along come the Facebook messenger bot. As Mark Fidelman explains in a Forbes article: “Insidiously and persistently, Facebook is chipping away at other messaging platforms and moving their users to Facebook Messenger. If they keep it up, by the end of 2017 there will be as many people on Messenger (currently 900 million) as Facebook (1.674 billion).”
Twitter As A Platform To Expedite Customer Service
Twitter itself may be the same as before, but what is different is how businesses are now using it. Beyond presidential tweets, it is being repurposed by health insurers to improve communication with customers, making it easier for customers to contact the company and increasing customer service response time. Twitter has amplified the power of customer service by many orders of magnitude.
Putting Things in Perspective
It’s difficult to appreciate how far we’ve come just by looking at Facebook and Twitter, since these are relative newcomers to the world of communications technology, ushered in after the advent of the Internet. However, we can get some sense of perspective when we review the history of call centers because these originated in the 1950s.
In the 1950s, the first call centers were not yet organized the way they are now: as an agency operating under one roof. Instead, housewives, the first call center agents, dialed out from their homes, calling everyone they knew to sell baked goods to raise money.
In the 1960s, call centers had developed into a more formal business structure, which involved a central location, training, and the use of the latest dialing technology.
In the 1970s, call centers spread their influence across the nation instead of just focusing on making local calls. The invention of the Wide Area Telephone Service (WATS) now made it economical to call anywhere in the United States.
So far, we’ve been discussing outbound calls. However, the development of the toll-free 800 number from the 70s on, now encouraged customers to make inbound calls since they no longer had to pay out of their own pockets.
Things continued to improve for call centers until the end of the 1980s. However, by this time, call centers had become a little too aggressive with their outbound sales processes and experienced a public backlash. Consumer complaints resulted in Congress restricting call center operations by enacting the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991.
Until about the last decades, call centers began to find it much harder to operate. Besides coping with increasing legislation, call centers began to burn out employees. The high turnover was due to employees forced to produce a high volume of calls and consumer indignation. Consumers were either angry because they received unsolicited outbound sales calls or frustrated because they had to endure long wait times when they made inbound calls for customer service help.
However, technology has now made communication far easier for everyone concerned. Agents can leverage technology to manage many of their calls and consumers have many more choices on how to respond to calls, including not using the telephone but using the Internet to get customer service assistance.