Contact Center

Learn everything you ever wanted to know about contact centers in this comprehensive guide

8x8-contact-center-agents.png

Contact Center

Learn everything you ever wanted to know about contact centers in this comprehensive guide

8x8-contact-center-agents.png

Contact Center

Learn everything you ever wanted to know about contact centers in this comprehensive guide

8x8-contact-center-agents.png

Contact Center

Learn everything you ever wanted to know about contact centers in this comprehensive guide

8x8-contact-center-agents.png

A lot of people dread contacting a business customer support line because of poor service.

Investing in a contact center is a smart way to incorporate an efficient and satisfying communications platform while creating a better customer and employee experience. It can also save you money and offer you additional benefits and technical support you’ve been missing with your current telephony call center or phone system.

In this article, we’re going to cover what a contact center is, how it’s different from a call center, the types to choose from, and how you can use one to transform your business.

What does a contact center do?

What does a contact center do?

What does a contact center do?

What does a contact center do?

In a nutshell, a contact center takes all the separate pieces of customer interaction within your business (phone calls, texts, emails, letters, chats) from multiple channels and consolidates them in one place.

This allows businesses to provide efficient customer service that ensures a positive customer experience. For example, if a customer calls in to discuss a product with a sales agent, the call will be noted in their customer profile. If that same customer sends a message to customer service three weeks later, the contact center agent can quickly read any notes about the previous call and respond accordingly.

A contact center platform helps your virtual agents see all customer behavior interactions and information (including previous touchpoints) in real-time so they can provide the best service possible.

Is a contact center a call center?

Is a contact center a call center?

Is a contact center a call center?

Is a contact center a call center?

The situation isn’t exactly “contact center vs. call center.” A contact center can be a call center, but a call center can’t be a contact center. Call centers specifically handle incoming and outgoing calls for a business. They don’t handle other channels of communication.

A contact center handles all types of communications, including calls. So in a way, it is a call center, but with more functionality because it can handle omnichannel communications. This is essential as customers today use a variety of devices and expect businesses to be available on their preferred channels.

Why you should choose a contact center

Why you should choose a contact center

Why you should choose a contact center

Why you should choose a contact center

While a call center may meet the current needs of your business, to optimize your customer satisfaction, you should invest in a contact center. Here are a few reasons why.

Save time with self-service

Contact centers give you the ability to utilize self-service options that empower your customers to make their own decisions about how their inbound communication is handled.

  • IVR: An IVR (interactive voice response) system is a programmable tool that can assist callers before redirecting them to live agents. For example, if a customer calls to find out how to activate their accounts, an IVR system can be programmed to provide them with the necessary information, removing the need for a live agent altogether. This is a win-win for you. Customers can get the information they need, and agents are free to focus on other issues.
  • Chatbots: Chatbots also offer customers an avenue of self-service. Chatbots use speech recognition software and machine learning to collect information from a customer and determine the best course of action for their query. Chatbots are somewhat limited in what they can help customers with, but they’re a perfect solution for most basic requests.
  • SMS: You’re probably already familiar with text messages from businesses; they’re usually accompanied by the phrase, “Text STOP if you no longer wish to receive these messages.” But they’re an excellent way for customers to interact directly with a business for promotional information and customer service. SMS allows customers to interact on their preferred channel, thus ensuring a better customer experience.

Save money with efficiency

Customer queries can run the gamut of “pretty easy to solve” to “this might take three days to figure out.” Fortunately, contact centers can increase efficiency and digital engagement due to their multifacetedness. Agents can handle a number of queries, and if you’ve employed self-service options, they’ll be getting the cases that need the extra attention.

Contact centers also allow you to scale your needs to demand, so if you know you have a product launch coming up and your customer inquiries are likely to increase, you can quickly boost staffing. In the long run, greater efficiency in how your contact center runs will save your business money.

Improves the customer experience

No one likes to be on the phone endlessly, waiting for a call center agent to pick up and help them solve their problem. Contact centers go a long way to improve customer success in a number of ways. Some we’ve already discussed, like self-service options, but here are a few more you can employ to improve the customer journey:

  • Some contact center software (like CRM) pulls customer data from multiple channels and collates it into a single customer communication profile. This profile can be used to offer better customer service through better call routing, and the ability to get to the heart of customer queries quicker.
  • Customers appreciate the opportunity to choose their communication channel of choice when reaching out to a company. A happy customer who can send a tweet instead of an email is a satisfied customer.
  • A number of cloud contact center systems can directly integrate with apps you already use (including setting up your own APIs), further increasing the efficiency of your customer experience and improving it to no end. For example, if you use a customer relationship management (CRM) system, you can integrate it with your cloud communication channels to see all of your customer information exactly where and when you need to.

Types of contact centers to choose from

Types of contact centers to choose from

Types of contact centers to choose from

Types of contact centers to choose from

There are a handful of contact center types you can choose from, and the one right for your business will depend on certain factors, like your existing setup, your budget, and your physical space requirements. The following are the main types of contact centers you can choose from.

On-premises contact center

An on-premise contact center setup is installed and hosted by your business. Your business handles everything within your own company premises, including hardware maintenance, upgrades, and software updates for your contact center.

Before you commit to an on-premise contact center, it’s important to remember the following:

  • You will need the space in your building to store and maintain servers. This may be a feasible option for a larger enterprise, but small businesses could struggle with the space requirements.
  • You would be responsible for maintaining, fixing, and installing updates on a hardware contact center. If you don’t have a dedicated IT team or someone knowledgeable, this could pose problems. Calling in a professional IT provider or hiring someone will increase costs.
  • You will need to prepare detailed disaster recovery and business continuity plans for your site that take into account how business operations will recover if the servers or data warehouses are down or destroyed.

Cloud contact center

A cloud contact center (also known as a hosted contact center) has all of the contact center infrastructures hosted off-site by a third-party provider. The provider will be responsible for handling the servers, hardware, maintenance, updates, and a variety of other costs and headaches associated with setting up a contact center.

Cloud contact centers can be a great choice for a small business (or any business) looking to save money and time by having a third party do all the heavy lifting.

Cloud contact center solutions offer a lot over other types of contact centers. Here are five advantages you can expect to find:

  1. You can quickly deploy a new office anywhere in the world.
  2. You can easily scale your workforce depending on your business needs.
  3. You won’t need to worry about getting started, or updates and maintenance because the cloud-based contact center will push those through automatically when they’re ready.
  4. You’ll only pay for what you need.
  5. Contact center managers and agents can connect from anywhere in the world, from Los Angeles to Japan to the United Kingdom, as long as they have internet access, opening you up to new job markets and the ability to connect with customers locally.

Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of cloud contact centers:

There are a handful of contact center types you can choose from, and the one right for your business will depend on certain factors, like your existing setup, your budget, and your physical space requirements. The following are the main types of contact centers you can choose from.

On-premises contact center

An on-premise contact center setup is installed and hosted by your business. Your business handles everything within your own company premises, including hardware maintenance, upgrades, and software updates for your contact center.

Before you commit to an on-premise contact center, it’s important to remember the following:

  • You will need the space in your building to store and maintain servers. This may be a feasible option for a larger enterprise, but small businesses could struggle with the space requirements.
  • You would be responsible for maintaining, fixing, and installing updates on a hardware contact center. If you don’t have a dedicated IT team or someone knowledgeable, this could pose problems. Calling in a professional IT provider or hiring someone will increase costs.
  • You will need to prepare detailed disaster recovery and business continuity plans for your site that take into account how business operations will recover if the servers or data warehouses are down or destroyed.

Cloud contact center

A cloud contact center (also known as a hosted contact center) has all of the contact center infrastructures hosted off-site by a third-party provider. The provider will be responsible for handling the servers, hardware, maintenance, updates, and a variety of other costs and headaches associated with setting up a contact center.

Cloud contact centers can be a great choice for a small business (or any business) looking to save money and time by having a third party do all the heavy lifting.

Cloud contact center solutions offer a lot over other types of contact centers. Here are five advantages you can expect to find:

  1. You can quickly deploy a new office anywhere in the world.
  2. You can easily scale your workforce depending on your business needs.
  3. You won’t need to worry about getting started, or updates and maintenance because the cloud-based contact center will push those through automatically when they’re ready.
  4. You’ll only pay for what you need.
  5. Contact center managers and agents can connect from anywhere in the world, from Los Angeles to Japan to the United Kingdom, as long as they have internet access, opening you up to new job markets and the ability to connect with customers locally.

Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of cloud contact centers:

There are a handful of contact center types you can choose from, and the one right for your business will depend on certain factors, like your existing setup, your budget, and your physical space requirements. The following are the main types of contact centers you can choose from.

On-premises contact center

An on-premise contact center setup is installed and hosted by your business. Your business handles everything within your own company premises, including hardware maintenance, upgrades, and software updates for your contact center.

Before you commit to an on-premise contact center, it’s important to remember the following:

  • You will need the space in your building to store and maintain servers. This may be a feasible option for a larger enterprise, but small businesses could struggle with the space requirements.
  • You would be responsible for maintaining, fixing, and installing updates on a hardware contact center. If you don’t have a dedicated IT team or someone knowledgeable, this could pose problems. Calling in a professional IT provider or hiring someone will increase costs.
  • You will need to prepare detailed disaster recovery and business continuity plans for your site that take into account how business operations will recover if the servers or data warehouses are down or destroyed.

Cloud contact center

A cloud contact center (also known as a hosted contact center) has all of the contact center infrastructures hosted off-site by a third-party provider. The provider will be responsible for handling the servers, hardware, maintenance, updates, and a variety of other costs and headaches associated with setting up a contact center.

Cloud contact centers can be a great choice for a small business (or any business) looking to save money and time by having a third party do all the heavy lifting.

Cloud contact center solutions offer a lot over other types of contact centers. Here are five advantages you can expect to find:

  1. You can quickly deploy a new office anywhere in the world.
  2. You can easily scale your workforce depending on your business needs.
  3. You won’t need to worry about getting started, or updates and maintenance because the cloud-based contact center will push those through automatically when they’re ready.
  4. You’ll only pay for what you need.
  5. Contact center managers and agents can connect from anywhere in the world, from Los Angeles to Japan to the United Kingdom, as long as they have internet access, opening you up to new job markets and the ability to connect with customers locally.

Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of cloud contact centers:

There are a handful of contact center types you can choose from, and the one right for your business will depend on certain factors, like your existing setup, your budget, and your physical space requirements. The following are the main types of contact centers you can choose from.

On-premises contact center

An on-premise contact center setup is installed and hosted by your business. Your business handles everything within your own company premises, including hardware maintenance, upgrades, and software updates for your contact center.

Before you commit to an on-premise contact center, it’s important to remember the following:

  • You will need the space in your building to store and maintain servers. This may be a feasible option for a larger enterprise, but small businesses could struggle with the space requirements.
  • You would be responsible for maintaining, fixing, and installing updates on a hardware contact center. If you don’t have a dedicated IT team or someone knowledgeable, this could pose problems. Calling in a professional IT provider or hiring someone will increase costs.
  • You will need to prepare detailed disaster recovery and business continuity plans for your site that take into account how business operations will recover if the servers or data warehouses are down or destroyed.

Cloud contact center

A cloud contact center (also known as a hosted contact center) has all of the contact center infrastructures hosted off-site by a third-party provider. The provider will be responsible for handling the servers, hardware, maintenance, updates, and a variety of other costs and headaches associated with setting up a contact center.

Cloud contact centers can be a great choice for a small business (or any business) looking to save money and time by having a third party do all the heavy lifting.

Cloud contact center solutions offer a lot over other types of contact centers. Here are five advantages you can expect to find:

  1. You can quickly deploy a new office anywhere in the world.
  2. You can easily scale your workforce depending on your business needs.
  3. You won’t need to worry about getting started, or updates and maintenance because the cloud-based contact center will push those through automatically when they’re ready.
  4. You’ll only pay for what you need.
  5. Contact center managers and agents can connect from anywhere in the world, from Los Angeles to Japan to the United Kingdom, as long as they have internet access, opening you up to new job markets and the ability to connect with customers locally.

Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of cloud contact centers:

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Set up is much faster than on-premise installationPricing plans might be limited or inflexible
Provides key features required to retain data from the result of natural disasters, such as flooding, earthquakes, and firesPlatform might need further customization to satisfy your business needs,
Has improved scalability optionsProvides you with little control over downtime issues
Reduces costs and improves ROI (return on investment)
Contact center technology creates a feature-rich, cutting-edge, multichannel contact base

Contact center solutions for your business

Contact center solutions for your business

Contact center solutions for your business

Contact center solutions for your business

You may not be totally convinced that a contact center is right for your business, but there are many situations where a contact center would prove invaluable to any company.

You may not be totally convinced that a contact center is right for your business, but there are many situations where a contact center would prove invaluable to any company.

You may not be totally convinced that a contact center is right for your business, but there are many situations where a contact center would prove invaluable to any company.

You may not be totally convinced that a contact center is right for your business, but there are many situations where a contact center would prove invaluable to any company.

Sales and marketing

Probably one of the first solutions that popped into your head - a contact center is a great way to overhaul your sales and marketing strategy. Agents can make outbound calls to new customers or existing prospects with special promotions or pricing for an upcoming webinar they might be interested in attending.

Additionally, a contact center can help you take some of the chill out of cold calling. People aren’t always receptive to out-of-the-blue phone calls and chats with salespeople, but the right post on social media or a friendly email could get them interested in your business without being put off.

Don’t forget to look for a contact center provider that offers a predictive dialing feature. This can help agents increase their call volumes, thus increasing overall revenue and minimizing downtime.

Customer support

Okay, this was probably the first thing you thought of when you heard the words contact center. And yes, customer support is probably what a majority of businesses would use a contact center for. A contact center gives you so many options for handling customer support.

Automatic call distribution (ACD) can make sure customers are routed to the agent best qualified to answer their questions and solve their problems. Digital channels allow you to see all voice and digital channels in one workflow so your agents assist customers on their channel of choice with less training involved. Agents can even employ video conferencing to assist customers or interact with other employees.

A cloud-based contact center can help you boost your customer service contact center performance. Agents will have higher job satisfaction, and callers will be satisfied with the reduced wait times, short queues, and interaction quality.

Supply chain

A contact center, particularly a cloud-based one with lots of added features, can help you stay on top of your supply chain and logistics operations. Utilize text messaging and email to quickly update customers about when their items have shipped or if there are delays to avoid angry customers calling in to find out where their orders are.

Connect your warehouse management software to your contact center and embrace automation by making any updates about shipping instantaneous.

Customer surveys

While first contact with a customer is always highlighted as the most important, following up with customers to gauge their interactions with your company can be just as important. A contact center can make this process so much easier. Easily automate customer surveys to go out after an interaction or have agents text a follow-up survey in real-time when they’re done. With so many channels to choose from, gathering metrics on customer expectations will be easier than ever.

The final word

The final word

The final word

The final word

You might be attached to your current telecommunications setup or your current call center software, but now you know there’s a whole other unified communications option out there to take your business to the next level. Delight your customers and reward your employees with a cloud-based contact center that makes everyone’s life a little easier.

When you’re ready to take the next step, reach out to 8x8 for the best in contact center performance and client support. You’ll only be sorry that you waited so long to do so.