Welcoming in a new age of customer service

Welcoming in a new age of customer service

As contact centres adjust to a new way of working, Microsoft Teams is showing its value

Elly Yates-Roberts |

The adoption of collaboration tools within many enterprises has created a revolution that’s driving a new age of customer service. This revolution is shifting to an evolution as businesses over the years have looked to extract added value from services such as Microsoft Lync and Skype for Business, and more recently Microsoft Teams. The arrival of Teams, in particular, has changed the approach of many businesses as they move to unified communications (UC) environments and omnichannel customer interactions. Driven in part by the pandemic, Teams has become the collaboration platform of choice for many businesses. 

So what impact has Teams had on the contact centre? With the customer journey continuing to become ever more important to organisations, businesses are increasingly handling the routine or predictable interactions they have with customers through self-service or automated channels. The remaining queries and interactions tend to be complex or awkward, often requiring the involvement of multiple parties to resolve. That is why we are seeing a growing number of organisations adopting Teams to pull in expertise from across the business to resolve more complex issues, resulting in first contact resolution and an improved customer experience. 

Consider, for example, someone who is applying for a mortgage. If they were just looking to re-mortgage their property, the application would be straightforward and could be done online or handled by front office staff. However, if there were certain conditions to the mortgage or covenants on the property it may need the involvement from middle- and back-office teams for final approval.

Traditionally, before the advancement of UC, this could be a long-winded and protracted process, potentially involving multiple interactions with the customer, and inevitable delay and frustration. The advantage of integrating your contact centre with Teams means that agents can handle calls effectively by engaging with back office experts to provide the best resolution available. 

Teams effectively allows organisations to extend the contact centre from the frontline agent into the middle and back offices, enabling them in turn to streamline the business process and improve the customer experience. The tool combines workplace chat, video meetings, file storage and application integration to deliver a powerful collaboration environment. In the mortgage example above, an agent could use Teams to get almost instant access to relevant individuals and information, quickly tending to the customer’s needs. 

Integrating your contact centre with Teams offers a highly-fluid means of communication that is ideally suited to customer-facing businesses who want to build a highly responsive, interactive and productive customer service environment.  

The core concept of Teams is around bringing everything – including people, conversations, content and tools – together. Users can share assets like calendars, files and emails in real-time. Moreover, because it is cloud-based, it is easy to access from any location and on any device. 

The collaboration platform has really come into its own in the recent pandemic. As with most of the world’s workforce, contact centre agents have had to set up offices from their dining room tables. The collaboration and integration of the contact centre with Teams means ‘business as usual’ for their customers. Agents can answer calls, pull in experts and have access to documentation to provide answers or share with customers, all from the comfort of their own home. These collaboration capabilities mean staff can work from anywhere in the world, which contributes to job satisfaction and helps retain their skills within the business.

All this capability helps make the customer service team much happier too. It reduces friction in the process and agents have the peace of mind of knowing that they can draw on the expertise of the wider team and, by using the latest collaborative technology, can get relevant information back to the customer faster. And the old saying: “the happier the agent, the happier the customer” continues to hold true.

In today’s complex customer interaction environment, collaboration is key to delivering the best possible customer experience. Thanks to the emergence of the latest communications hub-based technologies, that kind of collaboration is increasingly within reach for most businesses today. 

Jeremy Payne is vice president of marketing and alliances at Enghouse Interactive 

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2020 issue of The Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.

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