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Cutting-edge call handling

Tuesday January 15 2013

Networking expert Andrew Bale argues that the latest call handling technology can be a saving grace for retailers in an increasingly online world

Networking expert Andrew Bale argues that the latest call handling technology can be a saving grace for retailers in an increasingly online world


Since the start of the recession, it has been a difficult few years for shops on the UK’s High Streets. The drive to retain and gain new consumers has led many retailers to embrace the world of e-commerce.


Andrew Bale, chief executive of voice communications management provider Resilient Networks, said for the most part this has proven to be a good move, as the European Commission latest Digital Agenda Scoreboard results have shown that as much as two thirds of UK consumers are shopping online – a figure that has been consistently rising since the start of the recession.


“This increase in online shopping has however inevitably caused ripple effects in the retail world, especially with regards to the amount of inbound calls heading toward contact centres from customers looking to resolve issues quickly,” said Bale. “In fact, it is safe to say that the contact centre has become many customers' only point of actual contact with a company beyond a virtual transaction.”


Voice becomes sole human contact


This then means that how customers are treated, their actual experience, is an essential part of the company's brand and it is how companies can differentiate themselves. “It also means that the technology that sits behind a retail call infrastructure is equally, if not more, important than the staff that is hired to fulfil these new ‘customer facing’ positions,” Bale argued. “This is because the right call handling technology can enable contact centre and in-tore staff to do their jobs to the best of their ability. Routing the call to the right person will enable them to share their knowledge, quickly resolve customer issues and even potentially increase order values.”


So, why does call handling technology matter more so now than ever before? Bale responded: “Because, increasingly the calls that result from ecommerce transactions are more made to resolve more complex transactional issues. After all, most online shoppers will only reach out to the contact centre because they have come up against an issue they cannot solve via any other digital channel. The use of intelligent call handling technology, can help retail companies differentiate themselves from competition.”


But just what does ‘intelligent call handling’ look like and what can it do for your business? “Firstly, it is worth pointing out that intelligent call handling technology goes beyond call queuing software,” said Bale. “While this may help you to be able to answer and act upon 100% of inbound calls, it will not help you retain customers and customer satisfaction. Retailers need an inbound call handling technology that can direct calls virtually from anywhere and to anywhere, across any combination of fixed or mobile networks, while call routings can be changed online in real-time.”


He continued: “Perhaps most importantly, intelligent call handling systems will also allow you to route calls to the right people so that issues can be resolved quickly and efficiently. For example, if a customer is calling into a local store and no one is available to take the call. That call may then be transferred to a general contact centre, the call handling technology should, in theory, be able to alert the contact centre employee what location the call is coming in from so that queries can be directed in the right manner. This is especially important when customers want a resolution to a complex transactional issue they faced in a local are on the spot.”


Streamlining call handling infrastructure


Another factor to consider when looking at call handling technologies that Bale highlighted is how call-handling infrastructure should be managed. “The right solution will enable you to manage your inbound call infrastructure from a single central point, removing the burden of updating messages online or in store and ensuring consistency,” he explained. “This will also help retailers cope with any disruptions to business-as-usual when contact centres may have to relocate – this can be a saving grace, especially during busy periods when it is critical that no calls go unanswered.”


He added that the right call handling technology can allow retailers to control customer calls effectively, manage call length and call volumes. It can also help to minimise callbacks, poor customer service ratings and help the business achieve its sales targets, while ensuring return business.


“Ultimately, implementing the right technology can help empower contact centres employees to deliver a personalised service, offer specialist account management services and gain the ability to resolve complex customer issues with greater efficiency,” Bale concluded. “This should ensure that the majority of customers leave a call feeling that they’ve been given excellent customer service and make them more likely to recommend your brand to a fellow shopper – an important consideration in an e-commerce driven world where your competition is just click away.”