Shaping Tomorrow`s Contact Center: Trends & Challenges

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20 May 2005


San Francisco, CA, USA May 20, 2005

Shaping Tomorrow's Contact Center: Trends & Challenges Reports Published by Celent

The demands placed upon todays call center are growing. Call centers must deliver the best quality service while being responsible for a growing number of channels and applications. Additionally, agents are not only expected to handle service inquiries, but also to cross sell additional products in support of the industry trend to push products through all channels rather than constrict them to silos.

"Technology has answered many operational inefficiencies and is increasingly moving businesses at the speed of sound. The problems at the call center, however, remain fundamental," commented Ariana-Michele Moore, author of the report.

Labor and cost concerns remain top of mind for many call centers. Having traditionally been cost centers, call centers lack leverage to invest in innovative technologies and strategies. Agent-based transactions remain the costliest channel through which to service customers. Even with support of a new sales approach, it is hard to build a case against hypotheses and what-if scenarios. The use of self-service channels has delivered much relief, but they come with a price. "Banks worry that they may be pushing customers too far down the path of independence. The repercussions of doing so could include stymieing banks efforts to become trusted advisors and providers of most, if not all, of their customers financial needs, said Ms. Moore. "In addition, banks not only risk making the customer feel like a number, but conversely making the customer think of the bank as just another bank."

Many tactics and technologies are being deployed in the market to address these challenges. Even those that have yet to be tested have peaked the interest of many banks. These solutions run the gamut from simply changing procedure or hold queues to implementing enterprise-wide applications. "However, some solutions end up costing more money than they are worth," cautions Ms. Moore.

This report explores the current operating conditions of the call center and the challenges that remain top of mind for call center managers. It also addresses some of the available solutions and the experiences some banks have had. Its first section provides a brief look into the importance of the call center. The second section, "Top Call Center Challenges," provides detailed insight into the problems weighing on the minds of call center personnel and the constraints with which managers must work to develop and implement solutions. Sections three and four delve into the solutions being tested and deployed in the market, as well as insight into their true worth.


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