Is the Traditional Contact Center Still Relevant?

Thanks to the rise of technologies such as unified communications, social media, video conferencing, email and instant messaging, the ways in which people are able to communicate with one another have grown substantially. I think this is an exciting development, as it shows how effective digital innovations are at bringing folks together to share ideas.

While all of these new tools and services are great, sometimes nothing beats a telephone call. Although it is now one of the older communication channels, I think it is still one of the best ways to reach out to others. However, it seems that not everyone agrees with this assessment. Some companies, it turns out, have totally embraced new collaboration pathways and disregarded the telephone.

For example, I recently read on Destination CRM that credit card processing company Square elected to completely eliminate phone support in their contact center. Their argument is that as newer modes of communication gain prominence, the telephone is now obsolete. Instead, the company encourages its customers to reach out via forums such as Twitter and YouTube.

"We've experimented with phone support, but we believe there are more effective and efficient ways to help our customers get answers to their questions immediately," said company spokesperson Aaron Zamost, according to Destination CRM.

Why phones can help your company 
For companies looking to save money and better engage with an audience that is very active on social media, emulating Square could work. But for most companies operating in the real world, abandoning the phone is a bad idea.

Although telephones may seem outdated, customers still love them - and for good reason. Not only is the technology simple, but it's also effective and easy to use. Destination CRM also reported on a recent study from consulting firm Fifth Quadrant, which showed that 71 percent of consumers prefer to talk to agents over the phone versus other means of communication.

"If you are focused on customer experience as a competitive differentiator, you may not necessarily want to be eliminating the voice channel," Forrester Research analyst Kate Leggett told the news source. "Across all demographics, voice is still the primary communication channel used."

In addition, businesses that think a phone-supported contact center is too expensive for them have clearly never heard of Fonality. Our solution can help reduce costs by 23 percent in comparison to traditional contact center solutions that our competitors offer.

While Square's model is short sighted, I think it does touch upon a critical trend that companies should note. While the telephone is still a critical component of the contact centers, customers are turning to newer forums to communicate. In particular, social media sites such as Twitter are gaining prominence as platforms for consumers to talk about their favorite brands and to voice complaints. Additionally, I've seen many businesses leverage email and instant chat more in order to better engage with their audience.

The key for effective contact center management is to utilize an all-of-the-above strategy in which customers have a multitude of options for interacting with a company. That way, regardless of what method of communication a consumer prefers, they can use their technology of choice to start a conversation with a business. Fonality's contact center solutions can enable your business to have a powerful solution in place that effectively incorporates all of these systems to boost customer service efforts.

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